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A local museum maintains German culture in Germany
© dpa - Bildfunk
An Indian-born physicist runs a local history museum in Germany

April 04, 2008

Santosh Pinto came to Germany from India in 1972. Affection for his new home prompted him to set up a museum dedicated to local culture.

"Nobody can determine where they are born, but everybody has the power to decide where they will live," says Indian native Santosh Pinto when speaking about his adopted home in Germany.

Pinto lives with his wife Beulah and sister-in-law Sandra Nazareth-Lueth in Randerath, a village of 1,200 souls, close to the west German town of Heinsberg.

The physicist arrived here more or less by accident, having been accepted to study at the RWTH Aachen institute of Technology and then finding board and lodgings in Randerath with an elderly German couple.

Pinto, who was born in Bombay and raised in India's former Portuguese Catholic enclave of Goa, blames books for his decision to move to Germany. During his schooldays he devoured literature, research material and texts from the German Catholic Church dating from the Middle Ages.

"So many scientists and saints came from Germany, or from Europe at least," he explains. "It became my greatest wish to live where the people who were described in my books had once lived."

Since his arrival in Randerath, Pinto has conducted research in his spare time, collecting whatever information he could about the history of the area. In 1984 he opened a local historical museum in a building which still featured an old blacksmith's forge.

According to Pinto, the aim of the museum was "to maintain local culture for my neighbours and to also make them aware of it."

The museum's exhibits bring together more than 5,000 hand-written documents, some of them dating as far back as the 16th century. The oldest of the around 2,000 photographs on display dates from 1861, while various artefacts and objects chronicle the social and cultural history of the region.

Pinto acts as the curator of the museum on an entirely voluntary basis and it operates without any outside financial contributions. He earns money working as a freelance writer of physics and maths textbooks for universities in Asia.

"Our little museum here also allows us to reach out to visitors from abroad, who often have preconceived notions of German history based only on information solely about the Third Reich," Pinto says.

To date, visitors from more then 20 countries have passed through Pinto's remarkable collection, paying homage to regional culture and to the Indian's adopted home.



© dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
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