This 9/11 tribute of Christian Adams touches me personally. Many of you know that I was in the wine and spirits business for years, most of it in importing and wholesale. Mr. Adams was in the wine business. There is a quote from Wilhelm Steifensand below. For what it’s worth, I know Wilhelm. I represented his wines. I have been to his favorite hangout with him in his university city of Heidelberg. Taken a wild ride in his Mercedes on a night when the autobahn was slick with rain –– because that’s the way it’s done in Germany. Wilhelm has been a guest in my home. I bought a Krups coffee maker for him so that he would have a fine cup of coffee when he awoke the next morning, only to learn that he didn’t drink coffee. I love German wines, the wine country there, and the people I’ve met in the business. To hear him speak of Christian Adams makes the story all the more poignant. Of all the 9-11-01 tribute stories, this one stands out in such a distressing way. In 2013 I went to Project 2996, a site dedicated to memorializing each victim who died on September 11, 2001. I was surprised to see one lone person on United Flight 93 without a tribute, and you will be shocked to learn why. I wrote the post, and for some reason didn’t post it. Just
found it in drafts, so the time has come. Christian Adams was a German man, and a much beloved member of the wine community in Germany and the United States. As I began doing some research it didn’t take long to see why his name stood alone, untouched.
A movie based on United 93 portrayed Mr. Adams as the lone dissenter to passengers trying to take over control of the flight. There is no proof of what Mr. Adams did or did not do in those terrifying minutes after the flight was hi-jacked, and before it hit the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Those involved in the film say they consulted family members and received their approval, but Silke Adams, Christian’s wife refused to cooperate. Christian Adams deserves the respect of every passenger on United Flight 93.
Mr. Adams was 37 years old, a native of Biebelsheim, Germany residing in Bad Kreuznach. On September 11, 2001 he was in New York City, traveling to San Francisco from the Newark airport for a wine tasting. He and a colleague boarded separate flights.
He joined the German Wine Institute in 1989. In 1995 he became the Export Marketing Director. He held degrees in viticulture and enology from the University of Geisenheim, Germany and from the University of California at Davis.
Co-workers speak of him fondly – “no job was ever beneath him.” Carol Sullivan, the Director of the German Wine Information Bureau in New York is the fortunate person who was traveling with Adams that day, but took a separate flight.
“He was the hub in the wheel,” said Sullivan, who represented the institute and worked closely with Adams for a dozen years. “There was no one more interested in wine.”…
One of the things that impressed us most was his depth of knowledge,” Sullivan said. Wine Institute officials were so taken by the young man who, later that year, they asked him to help with a symposium on Riesling grapes. There, he met the director of the institute, who hired him to work in its export department. He became deputy director in 1995.
At some point, Ms. Sullivan made this comment, which apparently led to his portrayal in the movie – the snippet of the statement in bold text below is cited by the filmmaker to qualify him for what is being called “the European surrender monkey” on the flight – with nothing factual to back it up:
“Representing the various interests of an entire industry can be a political minefield, but he had the respect of so many people,” Sullivan said. “His success came from his thoughtful, quiet manner. He never made rash decisions and everything he did was always well-considered.”
From that, the actor portraying him, who shall remain nameless here, said because of that quote he believed Adams would have said “Let’s not do this, let’s be quiet, let’s not interfere with [the terrorists] because once we have landed the authorities will take care of it.” The actor felt his assessment was “reasonable.” For that clearly unreasonable decision, Mr. Adams is seen as a coward when nothing that we know of him leads to that conclusion.
Keep in mind that the heroes of United Flight 93 knew about at least one plane hitting the World Trade Towers. At least ten cell phone and air phone calls are reported. Through those phone calls we know that at least one passenger was stabbed and two were lying on the floor. Passengers knew that a flight attendent was dead. It was over for those passengers at 10:06 am in a field in Shanksville.
Cosmo Landesman, writing in the Sunday Times said:
Surely one of the passengers didn’t phone home to point out that there was a cowardly German on board who wanted to give in?”
Christian Adams was a highly regarded and well-known figure in the German wine industry,” said Armin Goering, managing director of the German Wine Institute, in Mainz, Germany. “His passion and commitment was visible in all his work, and he was a great ambassador for German wine. The sorrow of this loss will be felt throughout the whole industry.”…
“For the Wine Institute it is a huge loss, both emotionally and professionally,” said Wilhelm Steifensand, president of Valckenberg wine merchants and a member of the institute’s board of directors. “He played a large role in the export of German wine and I don’t know how the institute will fill the gap.”
It is abhorrent to think that a much-lauded movie exists that so recklessly takes a real life person involved in a real life tragedy with a wife and children, and conjures a story designed to smear his personal integrity and worth as a human being. It saddens the heart.
Christian and Silke Adams had two children, Lukas and Theresa. Mrs. Adams’ family was also in the wine business and Christian was involved in the family winery, Weingut Schnell in Biebelsheim.
My Past Project 2996 Memorials:
2013: David Shelby Berry, South Tower WTC
2013: Wayne Terrial Davis, North Tower WTC
2013: Captain Gerald F. DeConto – The Pentagon
2012: David E. Retik, American Airlines Flight 11
2011 – Robin Kaplan, American Airlines Flight 11
2011 – Laurie Ann Neira, American Airlines Flight 11
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