L-R National Chairman Randall J. Ratje, Col. Rosaline Cardarelli, US Army and her husband Col. John Ballard, USMC (Retired) at Founder's Day. Col. Cardarelli was representing the Inspector General and spoke of von Steuben's contributions
Armed Forces in Iraq and von Steuben Remembered at 88th Annual
Founders Day Banquet
Speech to the Steuben Society of America at Founders Day, 2007:
by Colonel Rosaline Cardarelli
Good afternoon and thank you so very much for sharing your celebration with my husband John and myself. I can't tell you what an honor and a privilege it is for me to be here with you today. I bring you best wishes and greetings from the United States Army and our Soldiers in our Nation's Capitol.
I am Colonel Rosaline Cardarelli, the Executive Officer to the Office of the Inspector General and I'm representing Lieutenant General Stan Green, the current Army Inspector General. I have served in our great Army for over 30 years, (including time as an enlisted Soldier); I am the wife of a Marine (my husband John served as a commander in Iraq in 2004 and today he is a Professor at the National War College in Washington, DC) and I am a mother of a West Point graduate (who by the way served at the Army supply center in Virginia that General Von Steuben commanded in the 1780s).
Today, as in 1778, our Nation is at war and Soldiers are serving in places far away from home. I assure you that the legacy of General von Steuben remains as relative and vital today as it did at Valley Forge nearly 230 years ago.
Today, I wish to share with you my views on the impact General von Steuben continues to exert on our Army. I will talk first about leadership - for von Steuben helped create our American leadership style; then, I will share some observations on the current state of the Army and its challenging mission in Iraq. Every Soldier is expected to be a leader; leadership is one of the key distinguishing characteristics of soldiering.
In my eyes, Leadership = Diversity + Competency + Compassion. Each of these components was brought to life by General von Steuben and each of them remains strong in our Army today, and in our nation because of him. During my last speech as a Brigade Commander at Walter Reed, I quoted Von Steuben's speech of December 6, 1777, for it illustrates what leadership and command means. He said then:
"A Captain cannot be too careful of the company the state has committed to his charge. He must pay the greatest attention to the health of his men, their discipline, arms, accouterments, ammunition, clothes and necessaries. His first object should be to gain the love of his men, by treating them with every possible kindness and humanity, inquiring into their complaints, and when well founded, seeing them redressed. He should know every man of his company by name and character. He should often visit those who are sick, speak tenderly to them, see that the public provision, whether of medicine or diet, is duly administered, and procure them besides such comforts and conveniences as are in his power. The attachment that arises from this kind of attention to the sick and wounded, is almost inconceivable; it will moreover be the means of preserving the nation."
These were more than words - they outline a way of life that has left an immeasurably large mark on all of us. Let's reflect for a moment on General von Steuben: Who was this man? Born in Prussia, schooled by Jesuits, and willing to travel halfway around the world for an ideal called liberty, he joined a rag tag band, composed of multiple ethnic groups and lived Diversity in a place where he could not even speak the language. He also rose to the occasion and stepped into shoes normally filled by one much older and more experienced, when he replaced the Captain's insignia he wore in his homeland with the stars of an American General.
As the father of Army training, and the first drillmaster, he was the force behind our current dedication to discipline; von Steuben made Competency a fundamental of the American Army for the first time. He not only created our first training manual, but also instituted the commitment to standards that marks our Army to this day.
Standing (L-R) Banquet Master of Ceremonies Brother William Hettel and Philadelphia Steuben Parade General Chairman Brother Alfred Taubenberger. Sitting (L-R) Banquet Chairlady Sister Karen Staub and National Treasurer and NYS Council Chairman Brother Alan Staub
And, perhaps in a way most uniquely American, von Steuben turned away from the traditions of his European roots, where the upper class cared little for the fighting man in the front lines, and fostered Compassion and concern for individual welfare on American soil.
Today, an Army fundamental is leadership by example. Von Steuben practiced that quality and inspired others to do so. It was said that he was "One of the most alert men in the camp, up at daybreak, if not before, whenever there were to be any important maneuvres, he took his cup of coffee and smoked his pipe while the servant dressed his hair, and by sunrise he was in the saddle, equipped at all points, with the star of his order of knighthood glittering on his breast, and was off to the parade."
Above all in my mind, it was von Steuben who brought the uniquely noncommissioned officer or NCO leadership to our Army, and to the United States. As Robert Kaplan recently wrote his article "In Praise of the NONCOMs" in the Los Angeles Times, "It was the Prussian Baron Friedrich von Steuben who, during the 1777-'78 winter at Valley Forge, laid the groundwork for the NCO Corps as it exists today. Thus, he created the genius of the American military: the radical decentralization of command so that the general directive of every commissioned officer is broken down into practical steps by sergeants and corporals at the furthest edge of the battleground. Commissioned officers give orders; NCOs get things done." We trust each other to act largely because we have empowered our Soldiers to act and they bring trust home to every community in America.
The Current State of the Army and Iraq
Our Nation is at war, and your Army is in the field, under tremendously capable leadership of the kind von Steuben hoped to instill, in one of the most challenging of all wars. It is a small unit leader war, where the difference between victory and defeat is most keenly determined by the actions of individual Soldiers and Marines on street corners and the doorways all over Iraq.
We are in a difficult position in Iraq after four long years of fighting, but we have a focused vision and we have the courage to prevail. I ask you to think back on the long years Washington and von Steuben endured in pursuit of our freedom. No one believed in 1776 that that war would continue until 1783.
At Monmouth courthouse in June of 1778, the American troops under the command of General Washington stood face to face with the finest soldiers of the British Army. As you all know, during that battle, General Charles Lee retreated and was later sent to the rear by Washington. Who else but von Steuben was given that command. Washington ordered von Steuben to rally the troops and turn them back against the British assault. In a very short time, von Steuben marched three brigades back into the firing line. The British were deterred and, during the night, they withdrew from the field. Some experts believe Monmouth was a turning point in what turned out to be the colonies' successful bid for independence.
L-R: Lars Halter, General Chairman, German-American Steuben Parade and Randall J. Ratje, National Chairman, Steuben Society of America at Founders Day Banquet
Years later, in 1781, von Steuben continued to lead in combat, and played a crucial role in the defining battle of Yorktown. We, and our Iraqi partners, are at such a turning point today. Al Qaeda in Iraq helped facilitate an insurgency and create a civil war between the Sunni and Shia groups. Some thought the revolutionary war would be over in 1776, some hoped for victory at Monmouth in 1778, many knew the Yorktown campaign of 1781 was significant; still the war drew on until 1783...As the war in Iraq continues today.
Today, our Army is using all the discipline and drill imbued by von Steuben to fight a long campaign in Iraq, and one of our most critically important tools in this war is the training we are bringing to the Iraqi Army and other Security Forces. In June 2004, no Iraqi Army units were in the lead, none were capable of coordinating, planning and executing security operations independent of Coalition forces. In November, 2004 four Iraqi battalions participated in the battle for Fallujah. By September 2005, 11 Iraqi battalions participated in Operation Restoring Rights in Tal Afar, outnumbering Coalition forces for the first time in a major operation. Today, 94 Iraqi Army battalions are in the lead in more than half of Iraq's territory.
Like that Prussian leader two centuries ago that we honor today, we are serving under the most difficult of conditions to bring order and professionalism to another new, democratic armed force. We need the same sort of leadership von Steuben displayed then in the face of adversity today.
In 1778, a lack of uniformity in discipline and drill throughout the Army caused General Washington to create an inspector generalship. Baron von Steuben appeared to be peculiarly well qualified for such an appointment; Washington proposed that he become our first inspector-general.
Congress directed von Steuben "to report all abuses, neglect and deficiencies to the commander in chief." Today, in a fitting parallel, as Iraq is also seeking to become a free, democratic country, Iraqis also want a professional army and a government free from corruption. Jerry Bremer, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, signed a law establishing an IG system in Iraq in 2003, and since then, the Department of Defense, the State Department, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and other agencies have teamed up to help the Iraqis establish an IG system across their new government. There are now 31 inspectors general within the Iraqi government, including a Ministry of Defense Inspector General.
In closing, I would like to say, because of the qualities that General von Steuben brought to our Army, Diversity, Competency and Compassion, our Soldiers are ready and focused as they wage the war on terrorism.
We should marvel at the courage of one willing to leave a homeland, stand in the worst of weather at the most bleak moment of a fight for independence, risk life in combat and persevere until the peace is won: that is what von Steuben did for us and what our Soldiers are doing this very day, because of his example and because they believe as strongly as he did in freedom.
In the years ahead, I would not be surprised to hear another speaker, perhaps in another language, telling your descendants how these same qualities helped bring freedom to their nations, in the same way that General von Steuben's example helped make America what it is today.
It has been a pleasure to be with you today. Thank you so very much for allowing my husband and I to share in your celebration of this great man.
Statue Commemorates Prussian's Role in Revolutionary War
Reprinted with permission from
the Asbury Park Press 06/7/07
by Joseph Sapia
MANALAPAN - Visitors to Monmouth Battlefield State Park are greeted by a commanding statue of a man looking over the parking lot from a stand of trees. Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben, or more commonly Baron von Steuben. In the months leading to the June 28, 1778, Battle of Monmouth, von Steuben, a Prussian army officer offering his assistance to the revolutionaries, basically whipped the American troops into shape.
Von Steuben arrived in the New World in December 1777, and the Continental Congress ordered him to Valley Forge, Pa., the next month to meet George Washington and his troops. "What he did was take a series of state armies and convert them into a national army," said Garry Wheeler Stone, park historian. "It wouldn't be quite the same from regiment to regiment, this is my understanding. He got them on the same page. He made them feel more like a national army than they had before.
"What's critical is how you move thousands of men quickly and efficiently," Stone said."He gave more status to drill. He made it clear drill, the moving masses of men, was extremely important. He got them to a very high state of readiness and commitment."
The test was the Battle of Monmouth, where the precision was evident when 18,000 British troops and 15,000 American troops clashed over independence.
Although whether there was a winner is debated, more clear was that the Americans were a revitalized, more precise fighting unit.
"If you look at modern-day textbooks of American history, he's not even mentioned," said Paul Bette, 44, active with the Steuben Society of America, the German-American fraternal organization involved with placing the statue. "We wanted to make sure his contribution is not lost forever." Now, it is hard to miss von Steuben, or, at least, his likeness. The 7 1/2-foot-tall bronze von Steuben stands on a 5 1/2-foot-high granite pedestal.
"Eight years it took us," said Bette, a Plumsted resident, recalling the statue project that began in 1996 and peaked with the statue's dedication in May 2004. Bette chaired the statue committee.
Two organizations - the Steuben Society and the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield - are responsible for the statue, said Bette, a trustee with the Steuben Society's area chapter, the Molly Pitcher Unit.
The idea of the statue was to revive interest in the society, while commemorating von Steuben's role at the Battle of Monmouth, he said.
"We had the idea we're going to honor von Steuben," Bette said. "He's the patron of the German community." What took time was raising funds for the statue. Initially, the idea was to have a statue of von Steuben on a horse "as he would have appeared here in a battlefield," Bette said. The cost would have been $250,000.
Monument Men: The Bettes, father and son, Siegfried and Paul, look up to their accomplishments (Photo by Gary Wheeler Stone, Park historian)
But statue contributions slackened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Money was directed elsewhere. So the design was changed to one of von Steuben standing, Bette said. The new statue cost about $120,000 to $130,000, said Bette's father, Siegfried Bette, 70, a native of Germany who lives in Freehold Township. Siegfried Bette, current chairman of the Molly Pitcher Unit, was the statue committee member who oversaw the design and manufacturing of the statue. The Johnson Atelier in Hamilton, Mercer County, produced the statue.
The statue is brown, rather than bronze, in color, Stone said. "It's a warm, rich color," Stone said. "It reaches out at you," Siegfried Bette said. "I'm happy when young people read the inscription on the monument and get inspired by history."
Part of that inscription reads, "The heroic American performance, a turn in the tide of the war, is attributed in large part to the work of von Steuben. Col. Alexander Hamilton, an eyewitness, declared that von Steuben's system of drilling, reviews and inspection imbued the officers and soldiers with the confidence that, from now on, they were on equal ground with the armies of the enemy."
Regarding von Steuben's training, the Battle of Monmouth was the "graduation exercise," Stone said. "The Continental Army goes away feeling wonderful, psyched up," he said. "It's great when you come into the park," Paul Bette said. "It's probably one of the first things you see - this nice statue."
The First Germans Before the First Germans
by Gary Carl Grassl
The National Chairman was quite right when he told the Association of University Women that the earliest confirmed presence of Germans in the present United States was at the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. Founded in 1607, this was the first permanent English settlement in what is today the United States. Queen Elizabeth II of England and the President of the United States traveled to Jamestown this May to honor these pioneers on their 400th anniversary. There is one small caveat, however, Germans were present already in 1585 at an English colony, but this one lasted only one year.
The very first Germans to come to our country landed in 1585 on Roanoke Island in what is today North Carolina but which the English called Virginia after their Virgin Queen. They took part in the first expedition organized by the English to settle the country that became the United States. They came under the auspices of Sir Walter Raleigh. These Germans were an advance party from the Society of the Mines Royal, a German-run copper and silver operation established by Queen Elizabeth I in the north of England. Their leader was Daniel Höchstetter, the Younger, of Augsburg; he was the son of the first director of the Society. Their job was to find out if this country held valuable minerals and metals.
Their chief mineral assayer, Master Joachim Gans, a German Jew from Prague, constructed an ersatz furnace of home-made bricks. He was forced to this expediency by the sailors; they had thrown his metal furnace overboard when the ship had run aground. On Roanoke Island, Joachim tested native copper for its silver content.
The Germans' log-enclosed laboratory and the surrounding area of technological activity has been dubbed "America's First Science Center" by National Geographic Magazine. This is the only precise site in the New World associated with Elizabethans; these were, of course, the compatriots of the playwright William Shakespeare, the scientist Isaac Newton as well as explorers like William Drake and Martin Frobisher (who were also on Roanoke). The bricks they made for their assay oven are the only extant artifacts made by Elizabethans in this country. It is an irony of history that these Elizabethans conversed among themselves in German. But this is America. In America, Elizabethans talk in German.
You can read more about these pioneer Germans in my book The Search for the First English Settlement in America: America's First Science Center. "Science Center" refers to the activities of Germans at this First English Settlement. You can order the book for $14.99 plus S&H by visiting: www.firstenglishsettlementbook.com
Fellow Steubenite Running for Mayor of Philadelphia
Brother Alfred W. Taubenberger, member of the Pastorius Unit in Philadelphia, is running for Mayor of Philadelphia. Brother Al is highly qualified for the position - he has twenty-six years of professional experience in a broad area, from business management to human resources to public relations, civic activism and budget administration to mention only a few areas.
As President and executive director of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia, PA from 1991 to the present, Brother Al has overseen all aspects of business operations for the chamber as well as doubling its membership from 450 members to 900. As such, he understands that the vitality of a city depends on the vitality of its businesses.
Brother Alfred W. Taubenberger (middle below), General Chairman of the Steuben Parade in Philadelphia, and member of the Steuben Society's Philadelphia Unit, is running for Mayor of Philadelphia
Brother Al is also no stranger to public service. He served on the Philadelphia City Council from 1988-1992 as Chief of Staff for Councilman Jack Kelly. In this position, he administered and managed a nine-person staff and served as Councilman Jack Kelly's representative at many public functions. This same period, he served as an Administrator for the Republican Caucus in Philadelphia, coordinating activity schedules and conducting public hearings on Republican response to Administration proposals. He also contacted and scheduled expert testimony before committees on pending bills and proposals. It seems Brother Al's forte is in business, where he has excelled as a multi-tasker.
In the mid 1980's, Brother Al was county manager for C. Schmidt & Sons of Philadelphia, PA where he handled marketing, advertising, increased sales and visibility for the company. During that same period, as administrator for the Economic Development Committee, Brother Al reviewed and facilitated development and passage of all bills relating to the economic vitality of Philadelphia and acted as liaison to leaders of business and industry.
Currently, Brother Al is President of the Burholme Civic Association and Town Watch and is a member of the Northeast Airport Advisory Committee and Penn State Alumni Association; he is General Chairperson and 20 year member of the German-American Steuben Parade Committee in Philadelphia; is a Board Member of Pilgrim Gardens Retirement Community and the Russian Cultural Association. He was also previously an elected Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2000.
He has served in the following capacities: U.S. Military Academy Selection Committee for U.S. Senator Arlen Specter and U.S. Senator Rick Santorum; Resource Board School District of Philadelphia for Northeast, Lincoln and Frankford Clusters; Vice Chairman & Secretary, Philadelphia Parking Authority, appointed by PA Governor Tom Ridge; Chairman, Taxi & Limousine Committee; Vice Chairperson, Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission, appointed by City Ordinance. He was also Former Comcast Advisory Board Member, Former Board Member, Northeast Philadelphia Family YMCA and Former Finance Chairperson, The Boy Scouts. Brother Al certainly has the makings of a big city Mayor and we wish him the greatest success with his run for mayor of Philadelphia!
The 70th anniversary of the Hindenburg Disaster Memorial Service, Lakehurst, NJ. The crash ended the glorious age of airship travel.
Hindenburg Airship Disaster 70th Anniversary
by Siegfried Bette
Seventy years ago, the airship Hindenburg crashed at her landing site in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Just fourteen months in service and having made ten trips to the USA, the huge airship, much longer than the lengths of three of today's Boeing 747's combined, the Hindenburg was, and still is, the largest structure that has ever flown in the sky.
As in past years on May 6, the day of the crash, a memorial service for the lost souls was held on the spot where the disaster took place. Among the invited guests where the grandchildren of passengers of the Hindenburg, an original member of the ground crew, historians, and -- the Steuben Society of America, represented by a group of members from the Molly Pitcher Unit.
On a very chilly evening, the memorial service began promptly at 7:25 PM, at the exact time when the crash occurred. To be permitted on the base of the Lakehurst Naval Station, one had to submit in advance a name, address and social security number. Even with these new security measures, which did not permit any walk-on visitors, I noticed a much larger crowd of spectators and participants than I has seen here when I here years ago.
Gathered on the spot which is indicated by an in-ground historical marker where the Hindenburg crashed, the crowd watched a US Navy color guard march on. This was followed by an opening prayer, speeches by the base commander, officers of the US Armed Forces, and the president of the Lakehurst Historical Society. The ceremony continued with the presentation of wreaths by a number of representatives from different historical societies. A closing prayer and the playing of taps concluded the solemn memorial service.
Memorial Plaque at the Hindenburg Disaster Site, placed there in the late 1980's on the 50th anniversary of the tragedy
Standing there in the crowd watching, I looked at the enormously large airship hangar in the background at the edge of the field. Now a historical landmark, someone had pointed out some years ago that the cost of electricity, just to raise the front door, would be two-hundred dollars!
Groups had gathered before and after the ceremonies to exchange stories and tell about their long past experiences. Some of them were recalling memories of the Hindenburg when they were children.
What actually took down the airship was never clarified. Was it brush gas that may have ignited a hydrogen leak? Or a ball of lightening? Perhaps structural failure? Sparks from one of the engines? Static electricity? Or was it sabotage by rifle fire from the nearby woods? Much has been written about it, but it still remains a mystery to this day.
One of the original ground crew members on that fatal day, Mr. Robert Buchanan, now 88 years of age, was 17 years old when he witnessed the crash. Of exceptionally sharp mind, he was interviewed by TV Philadelphia Action News. He freely answered all questions to interested persons and signed autographs.
The crash of the Hindenburg brought an end to a glorious airship travel era. Will the real cause of the disaster ever be resolved? Not likely. But history buffs and others will gather in the future again to commemorate the event and honor the persons who perished in the disaster. The 70th anniversary memorial service of the Hindenburg disaster was a memorable occasion.
West Point Convocation Ceremony: BELOW (L-R) Sister Phyllis Kurz, Cadet Sean McBride, recipient of the cross saber from the Steuben Society of America for excellence in German, and Brother Erick Kurz. BOTTOM RIGHT: (L-R) Brother Kurz, Lt. Col. Vargas and Sister Kurz with the scenic Hudson River behind them at West Point Military Academy
National Council Awards West Point Cadet
National Third Vice Chairman Brother and Sister Kurz were honored to attend the Awards Convocation Ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. on Friday, May 25, 2007. Cadet Sean P. McBride received a cross saber award from National Council of the Steuben Society for excellence in German. Cadet McBride wrote a thesis in German on the foreign relations between Germany, Hungary and Romania in 1942. He also received an award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States for excellence in the Computer Science Engineering Sequence. After the Convocation Ceremony, there was a reception at which we were able to meet with Sean and his family.
Cadet McBride will be going to Air Assault School, followed by basic officer training and then flight training. He hopes to eventually fly the Apache Longbow attack helicopter.
After graduation, Cadet McBride will have a sixty-day leave and plans to travel cross-country with his girlfriend, also a cadet at the Academy, to visit family and friends at home in California. He comes from the Sacramento area.
Our escort for the day was Lt. Col. Ralph Vargas. Col. Vargas is an instructor of German at West Point teaching both basic and fourth year German. Although not of German abstraction, he spoke fluent high German. We were escorted to the Parade Ceremony and afterwards a luncheon. We also toured some of the campus including the mess hall which seats 4,000 cadets. The Convocation Awards Ceremony followed and the reception. Our thanks to Col. Vargas for his graciousness.
The Steuben Society wishes the newly commissioned Lt. McBride continued success.
Submitted by Br. Erick & Sr. Phyllis Kurz
The Steuben Society of America's Second Annual
German-American Day Golf Tournament & Dinner October 5, 2007
by Christine Lynn Harvey
Make sure you mark the Steuben Society of America's German-American Day Golf Tournament and Dinner to be held Friday, October 5, 2007 at Swan Lake Golf Club in Manorville, Long Island, NY on your calendar. As last year, this year's tournament coincides with German-American Day. Even if you are not a golfer, we are sure you know a golfer you will want to recruit to this exciting tournament. You, your family and friends are invited to attend the very delicious German-style buffet banquet afterwards. We will also need volunteers to make this event successful - one that golfers will return to year after year. Last year's event was very successful and is an important fundraising event for our Society that members and Units can be involved with in many important ways.
There will be lots of great golf and non-golf related raffle prizes offered which mean raffle prizes need to be bought/sold by Unit members to family, friends and business associates. Selling tee signage, corporate sponsorship and getting prize donations will also be required. Unit members can solicit the local businesses they regularly patronize for support.
Swan Lake Golf is a beautiful 72-par course with a total yardage of 7,011 and slope of 121 from the back tees. Framed by Suffolk County's magnificent pine barrens, cranberry bogs, natural lakes and nature preserves, this course is one of the most well maintained courses on Long Island. Famous for its oversized greens, the 18-hole course presents a fair test for beginners and advanced players alike. Water in play for 9 of the 18 holes and strategically placed fairway bunkers add to the character and challenge of Swan Lake. Eagle's Nest Café offers delicious food in the clubhouse where the tournament dinner will be held. The $150 per golfer tournament fee includes: greens fee/cart, one raffle ticket to win a roundtrip (RT) airfare ticket to anywhere in the US courtesy of Jet Blue airlines (value of $600), pool prize money (longest drive, middle of fairway, closest to pin and others), one sleeve of Nike golf balls, chance to win brand-name golf merchandise, closest-to-pin prizes on each par 3 hole, hole-in-one prize on each par 3 hole. There will also be raffle chances to win gift certificates to German mail order companies, spa and massage services, free rounds of golf at area golf courses, golf vacation resort prizes, a chance to win a set of golf clubs and more.
The $150 fee also includes a BBQ lunch: Brats and German beer/soda with salads and fixings and Buffet Dinner with 2-hour open bar with German Beer: Sauerbraten and Red Cabbage, Potato Pancakes and Applesauce, Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, Chicken Francaise, String Beans Almandine, Caesar Salad, Fruit, Cookies, coffee/tea. The fee for dinner-only guests is $65 by reservation-only before September 25, 2007.
To round off this event and make it very worthwhile for golfers, there will be a free golf tips and instruction before the tournament, club fitting information, free mini-massages and more.
Volunteers will be required to help distribute & registration forms selling raffle tickets & tee box sponsors for the tournament. During the event, volunteers will be responsible for selling prize pools on select holes, mulligans and raffles. Please call Christine Lynn Harvey, Tournament Director and Committee Chair c/o New Living Magazine with further questions or concerns: (631) 751-8819 office; (631) 751-8910 fax. Credit Cards, cash and checks will be accepted.
Directions to Swan Lake: Long Island Expressway, Exit 70 North (Country Road 111). Follow to end and turn right on Ryerson Avenue. Turn right at stop sign on North Street. Make second right on River Road. Entrance is 1/2 mile on left. There are signs posted to trees that point you in the right direction along the way. For more info about the course and directions, please call (631) 369-1818.
National Chairman's Message:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Your National Board of Officers has been very busy this Spring. On May 20th, we celebrated our 88th Annual Founders Day Banquet at the VIP Country Club in New Rochelle, New York. The event turned out to be a wonderful success. All credit for that success has to go to our Founders Day Committee: Sister Ilse Hoffmann, Sister Karen Staub, Brother Erick Kurz and Sister Phyllis Kurz. The week following the Founders Day Banquet, our Second Vice Chairman, Brother William Hettel, presented the Steuben Award at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. On that same week, our Third Vice Chairman, Brother Erick Kurz, presented the Steuben Award at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. May and June are also the months when many of our local units give out their scholarships. We at Steuben News look forward to receiving your reports about these award presentations. On June 23rd, I will be traveling to New Jersey to join members of the Molly Pitcher Unit at the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Monmouth at Monmouth Battlefield State Park. As you know, this is also the site of our von Steuben statue. Anyone who has not ever visited the park should plan to do so in order to see the wonderful monument that we have erected to educate the public about the crucial role our patron played at this decisive Revolutionary War battle. As a final thought, I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Sister Kathy Jolowicz who is fighting an uphill battle to convince Manhattan Community Board 8 to rename part of 86th Street to also be known as "von Steuben Way." This area covers the
erstwhile heavily German "Yorkville" section of Manhattan which is the endpoint of the German-American Steuben Parade. Sister Jolowicz advises us that such street re-naming applications are traditionally denied by the Community Board. Nevertheless, her efforts are commendable. Anyone who wishes to write to the Community Board to urge its members to approve the proposed name change should address their comments to: Manhattan Community Board 8 505 Park Avenue Suite 620, New York, N.Y. 10022
Randall J. Ratje
Commemorating Yorkville 86th Street
Letter to Elected Officials
Letter to: Councilmembers Jessica Lappin and Dan Garodnick; Borough President Scott Stringer; Assemblyman Jonathan Bing; Senator Liz Kreuger.
I am writing you this letter to ask for your support on an historical matter. This has to do with the once internationally famous landmark located in a corner of New York City, called Yorkville/Kleindeutschland in the decades of the thirties through the late sixties. On June 20th, the German-American community will make a presentation to the Full CB8 Board together with some of my exhibit panels depicting an era never to be experienced again.
As you may know, this area - whose heart was situated between Third and Second Avenues - was a "village" comprising a melting pot of Middle and Eastern Europeans who lived in harmony and, whose common language was not English but German. On the 50th Anniversary of the Steuben Parade with Henry Kissinger as our Grand Marshall, and Helmut Kohl as our Guest of Honor, we are seeking to rename that part of 86th Street - General von Steuben Way, to commemorate the history of not just an area, but an era. Von Steuben was the right hand to General George Washington and, without him, the Revolutionary War would not have yielded our country's freedom as we know it today, nor would the US Military have its "Blue Book" which von Steuben created.
Yorkville, in its heyday was a phenomenon of a "gorgeous mosaic," this city will never see again. As the Yorkville Historian, I attach a compilation of some of my published writings on what it was like to live in Yorkville in the 50s and 60s. Its streets and homes were pristine. It was safe. My large exhibit commemorating Old Yorkville, and the Slocum Disaster, a Raison d'être of Yorkville, which evolved into a 24/7 metropolis of gracious excitement, education, entertainment, good food and beer, camaraderie, music and multi-ethnic folklore, sportsmanship, and more - was placed in the Congressional Record by Representative Carolyn Maloney in 1997.
In the 30s, the block between Lexington and Third Avenues contained vaudeville, and live theaters with the names like the Orpheum, the Lyceum, the Casino, the Garden, and the Brandt - thus the "German Broadway;" Third to Second Avenue was packed with famous shops, bakeries, dance halls, restaurants, and cafes which not only served fabulous meals and beer, but held Sunday tea dances and musical dinner theaters as well, and was affectionately called "Sauerkraut Boulevard."
The ships came in daily and everyone flocked to Yorkville to experience New York's Playland. The Avenues were multi-ethnic ribbons richly colored by European patterns of life. With the tearing down of the Montgomery buildings located between Third and Second Avenues in the 90s, the "heart of Yorkville" stopped beating and, now with the demolition on the corners of Lexington and Third Avenues, Yorkville's "tombstones" have been desecrated in the name of progress.
The name General von Steuben was not chosen to commemorate a single person but to represent those Europeans who came here to escape the negative aspects of their countries and build a new life which they did then, and again two centuries later in Yorkville. World War 2 refugees found a home away from home, flocked to and settled in Yorkville enjoying the freedoms they were denied in their homelands.
German parents raised their children as Americans and they became Americans themselves. During World War II, one third of the American military were of German descent. Whether it is called General von Steuben Way, or say Heidelberg Way, does not matter. What is important is that the City recognizes a historic district that has vanished, and that it be remembered for what it was and not what it has become.
On behalf of the German-American Community, I ask that you support our effort to be remembered as a Multi-Cultural European Community with a common foreign language which lived in harmony and was famous all over the world. I know that the City frowns on such requests but as you can see this one is not to commemorate a person, but a historical part of New York City's history.
I look forward to hearing from you.
German-American Parade Committee
President, E. 83/84th Street Block Association (2nd-5th Aves.)
Wounded Warriors Fund Receives
Donation From Local Club
On Thursday, May 10, 2007, Erwin Hildenhagen, president of the German-American Club of the Northern Catskills, presented a check in the amount of $2,150 to the Wounded Warriors Fund. The fund was created by its Founder and Director, Chaplain (Col.) James Griffith, at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Facility in Landstuhl, Germany. The LRMF is the first hospital that our wounded service men and women are brought to from Iraq and Afghanistan before being transported to the "States" for further treatment. Most arrive with no clothing of their own and are wrapped in blankets or hospital gowns. To make their stay a more pleasant one, the Wounded Warriors Fund gives the wounded soldier a variety of civilian clothing and personal care products at no cost. There are no administrative fees! The various US military services take care of their own and issue new military clothing but surprisingly, do not furnish the wounded with civilian clothes or toiletry items.
The money presented was derived by soliciting donations from various German-American Clubs and concerned individuals in the tri-state area in order to make the wounded soldiers lives a little more pleasant in the initial stages of their treatment. This also helps raise support for our service men and women and in no way makes a political statement "for-or-against" the war. The German-American Club of the Northern Catskills started off the drive with a sizeable donation and was quickly followed by donations from such organizations as the Steuben Association Charities of the New York City Fire Department, Bavarian Club Edelweiss, Ossining German-American Club, Germania of Poughkeepsie, German-American Club of Middletown, Rockland County German-American Club, etc., and other concerned individuals and members that gave personal donations.
In photo (L-R) Rosemarie Hildenhagen, Chaplain (Col.) James Griffith, Erwin Hildenhagen
As Erwin Hildenhagen pointed out, the donation from the club was derived from their fund raiser, the Oktoberfest at Belleayre Mt. Ski Center in Highmount, NY last fall and can therefore be deemed a donation from all those that attended the Oktoberfest. The presentation was made in the office of Chaplain Griffith who was quite pleased with the donation and emphatically stated that it would soon be put to good use in buying sorely needed supplies for the WW Store. All that gave will be personally thanked by the Chaplain in the coming weeks by mail.
Hopes were expressed by Erwin Hildenhagen that the drive for funds would be repeated next year with more contributors and more money going to our brave and gallant service men and women. If any readers wish to contribute to the fund at this time, please call Erwin at 845 586-3175 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
GERMANIC CULTURE IS ALIVE AND WELL IN NEW ULM, MN
by George L. Glotzbach
The cultural life of New Ulm, MN still revolves around Germanic institutions, some dating back to the City's founding, others as new as this year. Some examples:
1. The Turnverein and Frauenverein stem from New Ulm's beginning in 1854. Turner Hall and Park occupy one city block in the heart of town. With almost 1000 members, it remains the social center of the City.
2. The Junior Pioneers of New Ulm and Vicinity organized in 1912. They are the direct descendants of the settlers of New Ulm prior to 1871. The JP's own and operate a private park within the city known as Jaegers Rhue (Hunter's Rest).
3. The Brown County Historical Society was founded in 1930. It boasts about 400 members, has a collection of thousands of artifacts dating back to the Indian days, and holds over 5,500 family files, most with Germanic roots.
4. The German-Bohemian Heritage Society organized in 1984 and specializes in the culture, dialect, and history of the Sudetenland and Böhmerwald.
5. The Hermann Monument Society, reorganized in 2006, is dedicated to the conservation, interpretation, promotion, and development of the Monument in the U.S. and internationally. Hermann (Arminius), a Cheruscan chieftan, spearheaed the struggle to defend German tribes against Roman Legions at the time of Christ in the Teutorburger forest.
6. Some New Ulmers who thought they were of German descent have recently learned they are really Luxembourgers. So in April 2007, they formed their own new heritage society.
7. The German language is still taught in the three school systems: public, Catholic, and Lutheran.
8. Martin Luther College trains teachers, pastors, and missionaries for the Wisconsin Synod of the Lutheran Church which serves predominantly German congregations in the US and others abroad.
9. Ulm and Neu-Ulm, Deutschland are New Ulm's Sister Cities. Delegations visit back-and-forth annually.
10. In cooperation with the German cities of Detmold, Kalkriese, Haltern, Ulm, and Neu-Ulm planning is under way for the 2000th anniversary of Hermann's victory over the Romans in 2009.
Future reports from New Ulm will include Germanic celebrations, architecture, and, of course, music!
Senator Feingold's Senate Speech on Wartime Treatment Study Act
Please see below Senator Russ Feingold's Senate floor speech when he proposed the Wartime Treatment Study Act as an amendment to the immigration bill on May 24, 2007. Of course, this does not prevent him from proceeding with the bill on its own, as it has already been introduced independently, but simply offers an alternative opportunity for passage. I am very honored that he would dedicate a portion of the speech to my father and his recent passing.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Madam President, this amendment contains the language of S. 621, the Wartime Treatment Study Act, a bill I have introduced with my friend from Iowa, Senator Grassley.
This amendment would create two fact-finding commissions: one commission to review the U.S. Government's treatment of German Americans, Italian Americans, and European Latin Americans during World War II, and another commission to review the U.S. Government's treatment of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution during World War II.
I am very pleased that my distinguished colleagues, Senator Lieberman and Senator Inouye, have agreed to cosponsor this amendment. They are also cosponsors of my bill, and I appreciate their continued support for this important initiative.
This amendment would help us to learn more about how, during World War II, recent immigrants and refugees were treated. It is an appropriate and relevant amendment to this immigration bill.
I would have preferred to have moved this bill on its own. Senator Grassley and I have introduced the Wartime Treatment Study Act in the last four Congresses, and the Judiciary Committee has reported it favorably each time, including just last month. It has been cleared for adoption by unanimous consent by my Democratic colleagues. But I am forced to offer this as an amendment because the Wartime Treatment Study Act has not cleared the Republican side in this Congress or any of the last three Congresses. It is time for the Senate to pass this bill.
During World War II, the United States fought a courageous battle against the spread of Nazism and fascism. Nazi Germany was engaged in the horrific persecution and genocide of Jews. By the end of the war, 6 million Jews had perished at the hands of Nazi Germany.
The Allied victory in the Second World War was an American triumph, a triumph for freedom, justice, and human rights. The courage displayed by so many Americans, of all ethnic origins, should be a source of great pride for all of us. But we should not let that justifiable pride in our Nation's triumph blind us to the treatment of some Americans by their own Government.
Sadly, as so many brave Americans fought against enemies in Europe and the Pacific, the U.S. Government was curtailing the freedom of some of its own people here, at home. While it is, of course, the right of every Nation to protect itself during wartime, the U.S. Government can and should respect the basic freedoms that so many Americans have given their lives to defend.
Many Americans are aware that during World War II, under the authority of Executive Order 9066 and the Alien Enemies Act, the U.S. Government forced more than 100,000 ethnic Japanese from their homes and ultimately into relocation and internment camps. Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes, their livelihoods, and their communities. They were held behind barbed wire and military guard by their own Government.
Through the work of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians created by Congress in 1980, this unfortunate episode in our history finally received the official acknowledgement and condemnation it deserved.
Congress and the U.S. Government did the right thing by recognizing and apologizing for the mistreatment of Japanese Americans during World War II. But our work in this area is not done. That same respect has not been shown to the many German Americans, Italian Americans, and European Latin Americans who were taken from their homes, subjected to curfews, limited in their travel, deprived of their personal property, and, in the worst cases, placed in internment camps.
Most Americans are probably unaware that during World War II, the U.S. Government designated more than 600,000 Italian-born and 300,000 German-born U.S. resident aliens and their families as 'enemy aliens.' Approximately 11,000 ethnic Germans, 3,200 ethnic Italians, and scores of Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, or other European Americans living in America were taken from their homes and placed in internment camps. Some even remained interned for up to 3 years after the war ended. Unknown numbers of German Americans, Italian Americans, and other European Americans had their property confiscated or their travel restricted, or lived under curfews.
This amendment would not--would not--grant reparations to victims. It would simply create a commission to review the facts and circumstances of the U.S. Government's treatment of German Americans, Italian Americans, and other European Americans during World War II.
HENRY STEINWAY UNIT STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL: Presentation of awards to two outstanding students from Rocky Point High School, June 6, 2007. (L-R) Steinway Unit Education Committee Chairlady Louise Terry, Award recipient Sean Riordan, Steinway Unit Chairlady Margita Collins, Award recipient Katie Meola and Rocky Point High School German Teacher Marjorie Fischer
Now, a second commission created by this amendment would review the treatment by the U.S. Government of Jewish refugees who were fleeing Nazi persecution and genocide and trying to come to the United States. German and Austrian Jews applied for visas, but the United States severely limited their entry due to strict immigration policies--policies that many believed were motivated by fear that our enemies would send spies under the guise of refugees and by the unfortunate anti-foreigner, anti-Semitic attitudes that were sadly all too common at that time.
It is time for the country to review the facts and determine how our immigration policies failed to provide adequate safe harbor to Jewish refugees fleeing the persecution of Nazi Germany. It is a horrible truth that the United States turned away thousands of Jewish refugees, delivering many to their deaths at the hands of the Nazi regime we were fighting.
It is so urgent that we pass this legislation. We cannot wait any longer. The injustices to European Americans and Jewish refugees occurred more than 50 years ago. The people who were affected by these policies are dying.
In fact, one of them died earlier this month. Max Ebel was one of the thousands of German Americans who were interned during World War II in the United States. He died on May 3, 2007. His death brings me great sadness.
Max Ebel was only 17 when he came to America in 1937. He fled Germany after he was assaulted for refusing to join the Hitler Youth. When he came to the United States, he lived with his father in Massachusetts. He learned English. He joined the Boy Scouts. He completed high school. When the war broke out, he registered for the draft.
Nonetheless, in 1942, this new American was arrested by the FBI and interned under the Alien Enemies Act because of his German ancestry. He spent the next 18 months in a series of detention facilities and internment camps and ultimately was transferred to a camp in Fort Lincoln, ND, where despite the way he had been treated, he found a way to help the war effort. He volunteered for a government work detail and spent a North Dakota winter laying new railroad track on the Northern Pacific Rail Line. Max Ebel's crew boss saw how hard he worked and petitioned for his release.
Finally, in April of 1944, the Government let him go home. Despite everything that had happened, he remained loyal to his new country and became a citizen in 1953. A few years ago he told a journalist:
"I was an American right from the beginning, and I always will be."
Max Ebel's death is a loss not only to his family and friends, but also to our country.
But losing Max Ebel does more than bring me sadness; it also makes me a bit angry. It makes me angry because he did not live to see the day that Congress recognized what he went through: his internment at the hands of his newfound country.
I have been trying for years to pass this legislation creating a commission to study what happened to Max Ebel and to other German Americans and other European Americans and to Jewish refugees during World War II. I am gravely disappointed that Max Ebel and many others affected by these policies will not be here to see that legislation become law.
Americans must learn from these tragedies now, before there is no one left. We cannot put this off any longer. These people have suffered long enough without official, independent study of what happened to them and without knowing this Nation recognizes their sacrifice and resolves to learn from the mistakes of the past that caused them so much pain.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board put it, Congress must move forward with this legislation:
Lest the passage of time deprive more Americans of the justice that they deserve.
Let me again repeat that this amendment does not call for reparations. All it does is ensure that the public has a full accounting of what happened. We should be proud of our victory over Nazism, as I am. But we should not let that pride cause us to overlook what happened to some Americans and refugees during World War II. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the Wartime Treatment Study Act that is an amendment to this immigration legislation, and I hope the managers of the bill can accept it.
Veteran Members Recognized at Founders' Day Banquet
by Sister Ilse Hoffmann
(L-R) National Secretary hugs Sister Hermine Krautter at a special recognition ceremony at Founders Day for all her years of dedication to the Steuben Society of America.
The National Council celebrated the Society's veteran members as Sister Hoffmann presented 50-year membership pins and certificates to members of Unit 985 and recognized Sister Carolyn Driessnack for her many contributions over a 25-year period.
Representative of 50-year members, Sister Hermine Krautter received the accolades during the Founders' Day celebration at the VIP Club in New Rochelle. Sister Hoffmann's remarks were as follows:
"Esteemed Guests, Brother Chairman, Members of the National Council, Sisters and Brothers: As we are gathered to celebrate the 88th anniversary of the founding of our beloved Steuben Society of America, let us take a moment to remember in grateful appreciation not only the founders, but also the true banner carriers, who have helped immensely to bring us to this day: our veteran members! They are the unsung heroes whose loyalty, sacrifice, devotion, and integrity over a period of 50 years have earned them "honorary membership." To signify this status for a member, and to express gratitude to the Sisters and Brothers, a golden pin is being presented by the Unit, while the National Council extends accolades and "records its deep appreciation of the services rendered," and acknowledges its lasting debt to the veteran member in the form of a certificate bearing the signatures of the National Chairman and National Secretary.
As your National Secretary and as the Chairperson of the Dr. Gottlieb C Berkemeier Unit No. 985, it is my privilege today to congratulate two members in my Unit on reaching the milestone of 50-year membership. Let me acknowledge at the outset that there are not enough words and not enough jewels to ever thank them appropriately for all they have done, for all these Sisters have meant and continue to mean to us. Unexpectedly, Sister Ester Garbe is not with us at this time so that we can only convey to her in writing what she was meant to hear at this banquet.
It gives all of us great pleasure to remember now, along with you, the glorious years since you first gave your pledge of membership and received the password. Sr. Esther Garbe and Sister Hermine Krautter, you were inducted into the Society by some very powerful, very dedicated Steubenites in the Dr. H. Ernst Schmid Unit No. 835. Let me just mention the names H. Eugene Waldenmaier and Walter Ziehnert, and many of those among us here today will know that you were instantly imbued with the "Steuben spirit."
You faithfully supported the aims of the Society and the program of your Unit by attending meetings and by sponsoring the fund-raising events of the Ladies Auxiliary that enabled countless student awards and scholarships. You supported the Westchester District Council, and the New York State Council and you attended many a Unit and Council dinner and many Founders' Day banquets. You marched in many a parade, proud to be German-American ladies; in fact, the first Steuben Day Parade in Manhattan took place on September 20, 1958 - and you were there.
In the seventies, you helped your Unit to create a Saturday School that provided instruction in the German language to 120 children for about a decade. You also helped your State and National Council to achieve many a goal: preserving or restoring historic sites, like the Statue of Liberty, the Remsen Steuben Historic Site, creating St. Paul's National Historic Site in Mount Vernon, celebrating the Tricentennial of German-American Friendship, and establishing the German-American Friendship Garden in Washington, DC. Your support enabled the Steuben Society of America to defend causes of concern to German-Americans in the halls of government, and you have supported Steubenites when they built a Monument to our patron in Monmouth, NJ, in the new millennium.
Sister Krautter, you and your dear husband, the late Brother Alfred, will never be forgotten for the many ways in which you shared what was yours. The glorious complex of greenhouses that through your hard work has become world famous as the Sprainbrook Nurseries in Scarsdale was so often the scene of Steuben picnics with Bengali lights around the pool, bratwurst from the grill, beer, wine, and soda for everyone's delight and beautiful old-world melodies from the stereo system.
You decorated our Kindergarten float in the White Plains Bicentennial Parade in 1976, you also brought the flowers for every banquet, every memorial service, and every German Christmas Service the Society held in Westchester since 1957. You never failed to send floral get-well wishes when a Sister or Brother needed some cheering up. You showed up for every event ever staged by our Society in the area and you brought your family along as you did today.
You, Sister Hermine, are a role model for Steuben ladies. At our National Convention in the Catskills, just a few years ago, I could not keep up with your pace on our pre-breakfast morning walk around the lake. We still find you in the greenhouse planting seedlings every single day, your dachshund right by your side. And when I stop by unannounced, at noon time, you rush upstairs to make me an egg salad sandwich and a cup of coffee. Now that's a Steuben Sister, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is one jewel of a lady.
I would like you and all of the 50-year members in attendance here to take a round of applause as a sign of our affection, as I am happy to congratulate them all and especially these two Sisters from the Berkemeier Unit."
The German Heritage Museum
by Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann
If you've ever driven through Chicago, you might have noticed the sign at the exit where the Polish-American Museum is located. Or, if you've been to Minneapolis, you might have visited the American-Swedish Institute. In Iowa, you will find the Norwegian-American Museum, as well as the Danish-American Museum. There are countless other museums for various ethnic groups. Most recently, the Native American Museum was established, and there are numerous Afro-American museums across the country as well.
GERMAN HERITAGE MUSEUM IN CINCINNATI Here, German pioneers in the Ohio Valley and German contributions to America's history are celebrated. This building was once the home of the Feist family and is an excellent example of a German-style log cabin.
Although German-Americans constitute the nation's largest ethnic element, there are relatively few museums showcasing German-American heritage. Fortunately, there are a number of regional museums that illuminate the German heritage of the Pennsylvania Germans, the Russian Germans, the Missouri and the Texas Germans. Also, there are museums that focus on religious denominations, such as the Lutherans, the Amish, and the Mennonites that also highlight important strands in the fabric of the German immigration to America.
A most welcome new institution on the museum landscape is the German Heritage Museum, which was established by the German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati (GACL), and which opened in Cincinnati in September, 2000. The GACL serves as the umbrella organization for German-American societies in the Greater Cincinnati area, which includes the tri-state region of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Due to its location, the Museum focuses especially on German immigration, settlement and influences in the Ohio Valley. However, it also takes a national focus by including a broad spectrum of German-American history by including exhibits, relating to the role of German-Americans in the American Revolution that feature Baron von Steuben as well.
The Museum came about as a result of the centennial celebration of the GACL in 1895. To mark this event, it decided to establish the German Heritage Museum. With the support of member organizations and the community at large, the Museum was officially dedicated in time for the celebration of German-American Heritage Month in 2000. The Museum is attractively situated in West Fork Park, where space for the Museum was graciously donated by Green Township. The Park consists of approximately fifteen acres that includes a play area for children, a pavilion with picnic tables and barbecue grills, a wooded area with talking trails, and a parking lot. To the front of the Park, the German Heritage Museum is located.
The Museum itself consists of a mid-nineteenth century log house constructed by a German farmer. This is a German-style log house, which is distinguished from a log cabin built by non-Germans. A German-style log house is multi-level and the Museum has two floors with a basement and also a central chimney, rather than one placed at either end of the building. This provided for central heating for the entire building from the basement to the top floor. Also, the logs are not small and round, but squared off and at least one to two feet in width. This farm home was used by the Feist family of Cincinnati from the nineteenth century well into the twentieth century, but had been covered with clapboards, so that the logs had been covered up.
After the last surviving resident of the log house has passed away, the building was donated to the GACL, which then took it on as the appropriate vehicle for establishing the German Heritage Museum. GACL felt that the log house best represented the typical home of the German pioneer farmers in the Ohio Valley. This was considered important as the home of a well-to-do person, such as a mansion, would not have represented or related to the common German-American experience of the German pioneers, who came to the region.
What had been the Feist family farmhouse was then refurbished with new floors, doors, and a roof - otherwise all was original to the structure. Rather than attempting to restore it as a farmhouse museum showcasing the Feist family, it was turned into a German Heritage Museum with exhibits highlighting regional and national German-American history. There are exhibits, artifacts and information relating to the Greater Cincinnati area's German heritage, but the German element in America as well.
The Museum fortunately received the donation of numerous historical panels that had been created by Joe Reber of Webster, New York. He created large historical panels on topics ranging from: German-Americans in Sports, German-American Legends, German-Americans and Music, etc. that are on a rotational exhibit at the Museum. One panel illuminates notable individuals, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example. Another panel highlights Doris Kappelhoff Day, who was born in Cincinnati. The exhibit panels donated by Joe Reber are considered one of the most valuable contributions to the Museum.
The German Heritage Museum therefore serves as a regional German-American museum, but also due to its national focus, takes on national significance as well. The Museum also serves as an information center and distributes brochures and fliers about other German-American historic sites. Copies of publications, such as Steuben News, German Life, and German World, are also made available to the public. Books are also available for purchase at the Museum.
Open Sundays, the Museum is also open throughout the week by appointment, and encourages school groups in particular to visit and tour the Museum. The Fairview German Language School of Cincinnati, for example, often visits the Museum. Weekend groups often spend the day at West Fork Park, with a picnic on the grounds and then with playtime for the children as well. These features make the Museum a family-friendly place to visit on the weekend. One popular feature of the Museum is the German Genealogy Library that has been established on the second floor. Here, one can search through the various guides and indexes that have been collected for genealogical research.
The Museum focuses on educational outreach to the community at large, but also attracts travel groups from the German-speaking countries. As part of the outreach program, a month-long program of lectures is held each October as part of the celebration of German-American Heritage Month. The emphasis is placed here on German-American history and genealogy. This year's observance will include programs at the Museum that will concentrate on translating German script and evaluating German books. Other exhibits have featured German woodcarvers and dance groups, and are designed to illuminate as well as preserve the German heritage.
Due to recent donations, the GACL has decided to expand the Museum by enclosing its back porch, so that additional exhibit space can be created. Artifacts and items are always welcome, as well as donations to the Museum (the GACL is a 501c3 non-profit organization).
Visitors to the Museum have included the German Ambassador to the U.S., and the German Consul General from Chicago, as well as representatives of the Governor of the State of Ohio, and other dignitaries of the region. The Museum has engendered so much interest regionally and nationally, and many inquiries have been received from those wanting to become a member of the Museum. To accommodate these interests, the Friends of the German Heritage Museum has been established. By means of a contribution in any amount, one can be come a member of the Friends, and thereby contribute to its support. Members also receive copies of the quarterly newsletter of the GACL, German-American News, which contains news from the region, including a calendar of events in German-American festivities and functions in the Ohio Valley.
For further information about the Museum, visit the website of the GACL at: www.gacl.org