It is important to note the long standing commitment the Steuben Society has had to preserving German language and culture in America. This lecture series actually evolved from the Steuben Awards for excellence in German that have been given out annually at our nation’s military service academies dating back to 1936.
It was in 1936, that the Steuben Society presented its first award at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 1965, an annual Steuben Award was initiated at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Then, in 1968, the Steuben Society began its award program at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
However, in 1997, the Steuben Society opted to discontinue its award at Colorado Springs when the Air Force Academy ceased to offer German as a major. To fill the void left by the discontinuation of the Air Force Academy Award, beginning in 1999, the National Council began giving an award for excellence in the field of German-American Studies at the University of Cincinnati.
By 2008, the award was opened up to students anywhere in the country. In that year, the award went to a student at Temple University in Pennsylvania. Then, in the next year, another change came. As of 2009, the Steuben Society’s award for German-American Studies became known as the Erick Kurz Memorial Scholarship. This was thanks to a separate endowment fund that was set up by the Kurz Family to perpetuate this award after the untimely passing of National Third Vice Chairman Erick Kurz in 2008.
By 2012, a decision was made by the National Council for the Erick Kurz Scholarship Fund to be used to commence a lecture series. Thus began the Erick Kurz Memorial Lecture. The first lecture took place on September 6, 2012, at Fraunces Tavern in New York City. The featured speaker of the evening was Nancy Demyttenaere, the Administrator of the Steuben Homestead and Burial Site in Remsen, New York. Her talk was entitled, “Steuben: The Lost New York City Years and Dreams of a Dignified Retirement.”
The next lecture was given by Kristian Roebling, the great-great- great grandson of John Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn Bridge. On September 13, 2013, we once again gathered at the historic Fraunces Tavern Restaurant. That year’s lecture was entitled, “The Life of Roebling.”
On September 9, 2014, the site of the lecture relocated to the friendly confines of the Village Lantern German Restaurant in Lindenhurst, New York. The speaker for our Third Annual Lecture was Dr. Joachim “Yogi” Reppmann of Flensburg, Germany. Dr. Reppmann’s talk focused on a subset the so-called “48’ers” who fought in the ill-fated Revolution of 1848 in Schleswig-Holstein and who later relocated to Davenport, Iowa.
By September 2, 2015, the lecture found another new home at the Plattduetsche Park Restaurant in Franklin Square, New York. Our Fourth Annual Lecture was given by noted scholar and frequent contributor to German Life Magazine, Dr. Robert Selig. Dr. Selig’s talk followed the life and times of a German soldier who fought for the French in the American Revolution. He entitled his lecture, “Georg Daniel Flohr and his Travels in America 1780-1781.”
Considering the evergreen nature of the information from these awards, we’ve begun to collect and post videos and notes on this website. If you have any additional information in your collection about them, or their area of study, please contact us so that we can post it here as well!