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Volume 57, Number 2

April / May 2009

Der Maibaum - The Maypole By: Darlene Fuchs

By: Darlene Fuchs

The Easter celebration goes back to the earliest days of the Christian church. But the date of this festival has been controversial from the very beginning. Even the origin of the name of the most important celebration in the Christian calendar is unclear. The origins of the German Easter traditions are not certain but some say they can be traced back to payments in kind by peasants to their lords; others say it goes back to the pagan worship of the maidengoddess of fertility, “Eastee,” or “Eastre,” “Eostre,” or “Ostara” and the coming of spring. It is not by accident that Easter features such symbols of fertility as the egg and the rabbit, a.k.a. the Easter bunny (der Osterhase). The Germanic celebration customs of Easter (Ostern) is very much like that in most of the Christian world. Parents give their children Easter eggs, colored and boiled eggs, Easter bunnies and other sweets. The children today still hunt for eggs as they did in the 1500s. An inseparable part of the holiday is the Easter meal with an Easter cake in the shape of a lamb enjoyed after the Lenten fast. The art of decorating hollowed-out eggs (ausgeblasene Eier) for Easter is an Austrian and German tradition. The eggs used for cooking Easter meals are not broken but are emptied by blowing the contents into a bowl through pinholes at either end of the egg. The hollow eggs are then beautifully decorated and hung from shrubs and trees during Easter week.

Another unique custom associated with Easter in Germany is the “Easter fire.” For the fire Christmas trees are collected and burned, clearing away the last signs of the winter as everyone prepares for spring. “Easter Markets” all over Germany are a wonderful way to rediscover traditions and rituals and to prepare for the Easter holidays. Local craftsmen display their decorated eggs and there are often other traditional Easter goodies on sale, including baskets and bunnies. Germany is regarded as the birthplace of modern day Easter icons such as the Easter bunny and Easter tree. German kids were told of an “Easter hare” (der Osterhase) that hid eggs and chocolates for children to find on Easter Sunday. German immigrants to America, particularly Pennsylvania, brought the tradition with them and spread it to a wider public. The Easter celebration (das Osterfest) takes on both religious and secular forms. The Christian religious celebration is the most important day in the church calendar, reflecting Christianity’s very beginnings in the Resurrection of Jesus. In the western church, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (die Tagundnachtgleiche). (Eastern Orthodox Easter follows the same formula, but with the Julian calendar, so the date can fall one, four, or five weeks later.) Because this “movable feast” depends on phases of the moon (Mondphasen, Mondwechsel), Easter can be observed between March 22 and April 25. In 2009 Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) falls on April 12.

May is the month most sung about by poets and song-writers. It is a time for people to shed the cold of winter as they rejoice in the warmth of spring. There are many traditions celebrating the arrival of spring that continue in Germany today. One such interactive event is that of the Maibaum (May tree or pole). A Maypole is a tall wooden pole made from a tree trunk (pine or birch), with colorful ribbons, flowers, carved figures, and various other decorations adorning it, depending on the location. In Germany the name Maibaum reflects the custom of placing a small pine tree atop the Maypole, which is usually set up in a town’s public square or village green. The Maypole and the dance around it, is a major symbol of spring’s reawakening of fruitfulness. May was known as the “Wonnemond,” the month of lovers where a young man’s fancy would turn to love. Over time the Maibaum (May Tree) lost its original meaning, that of celebrating a wedding. In the old days, young unmarried men of the village would organize and sponsor parties, dances and celebrations, to get the unmarried maidens of the village into the spirit of May. If then a wedding would take place, a tree decorated with colorful streamers and ribbons would be placed in front of the bride’s house. The traditional Maypole dance starts with long ribbons attached high up on the pole. Each dancer holds the end of a ribbon. The circle of dancers begins far out from the pole, so the ribbons are kept fairly taut. There should be an even number of dancers, facing alternatively clockwise and counterclockwise. All dancers move in the direction they are facing, passing right shoulders with the next, See MAY on PAGE 10

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German-American Journal President’s Corner

Liebe Mitglieder und Freunde! Dear Members and Friends, I wish everyone a happy Easter and Spring Season. With the gloom of winter behind us and the hope that spring brings for warmer weather I also hope that we see a renewed hope for the world economy. Not many are unaffected by the current economic conditions and that includes our members. DANK membership is a discretionary expense for many and we do very much appreciate your continued support of the causes of DANK and thank you for your membership. If you have not paid your dues for 2009 yet, we hope that you will consider doing so, even though the deadline of March 31 has passed. If you want to keep your membership longevity (the number of years you have been a continuous DANK member), there is a $5.00 reinstatement fee, for computer processing. If you don’t care about that we will not charge a fee and you receive a new membership number. In either case we do appreciate your membership and we realize that it is our members that make DANK what it is. If you are interested in additional information about our membership payment policy, please read the small writing in parentheses at the end of this president’s message. When I ran for DANK National President in the fall of 2007, I pledged to our members that I will do my best to improve the value of DANK membership and improve our organization so that we can all be proud to be part of DANK. The following are significant changes, amongst the many that we have made so far, that you might have noticed. There are more to come. We have improved the look and content of the DANK Journal newspaper and the DANK national website with the inclusion of Forums and President Blog. Our national office was remodeled to provide a modern look and make it more functional. A new office manager was hired at the beginning of this year to help us with upcoming programs. We are now offering a very attractive credit card program to benefit our members and the organization. National and local policies have been streamlined and standardized to save us money and set up the organization for growth. A DANK travel and merchandizing/product program are either up and running or in the process. We are also working with our chapters and schools to help them revitalize and instill growth. All this was done at very little cost to DANK through donations or cost savings. We will continue this process and I hope that you will support us to make DANK the best and most valuable GermanicAmerican Organization in the United States. You might notice that I used Germanic as a more inclusive term since we do have quite a few members that are of Austrian, Swiss or other Germanic descent that share our cause and we trying to be more inclusive in our terminology. As mentioned before, our national convention is coming up this November and will be hosted by Chicago-South chapter. We are looking forward to a great convention in this, our 50th anniversary year. I hope that you will join us in the celebration and the convention. We will have much more information in the following issues of the DANK Journal and on line. We also want to congratulate the Chicago, Chicago-South and ChicagoWest chapters, which share the anniversary with the National organization. Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

William Fuchs National President

DIE BRUECKE ZUR ALTEN HEIMAT “Building Bridges to Germany”

April / May 2009

Mission Statement D.A.N.K., a society of German Americans today, was founded in 1959, and is active coast to coast,with the purpose of representing all German Americans in the United States. D.A.N.K., a non-profit organization, supports German cultural landmarks and events, sponsors German American student exchanges and the study of the German language and culture. It promotes harmony and goodwill among German American clubs and societies across the United States. D.A.N.K.’s cultural almanac, with its many programs and suggestions for local events and its D.A.N.K. Journal are the visual and communication links between its members and its corporate headquarters in Chicago.

D.A.N.K. also acts as an information center and exchange on a variety of subjects concerning the German American community at large We welcome your inquiries, contributions and donations for a United German America.

Der Deutsch-Amerikaner

DANK National Executive Board Benefits to belong to D.A.N.K. D.A.N.K. was chosen by many because of our leadership in representing the interests of all German Americans on a national level. D.A.N.K. has many Chapters across the United States of America. D.A.N.K. has over 30 Associated Member Societies. D.A.N.K. offers German Language classes for both children and adults

Editor’s Column

President: William Fuchs 1. Vice President: Erich Wittmann 2. Vice President: Donna Lippert Treasurer: Maria Thompson Secretary: Beverly Pochatko DANK National Executive Office

Who Is My Mother? A lot can be said (and a lot has been said!) about mothers and how they shape our lives as we grow up. One of my favorite quotes is from Abraham Lincoln, who said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” My Mother Gail is half of the Father/Mother team, the one who gave birth to me. When she first held me in her arms, she looked down at me and smiled! She is the one that changed my diapers, gave me my bottle, bathed and dressed me. She is the one who tended to me when I was sick, wishing she could bear my pain, but unable to. There is none like my Mother. If you have children, then you know what it’s like to be a Mother. Often it’s a tough job. A Mother is lucky when she has well-disciplined children, but it is only because she has done her best in order for them to be well-adjusted adults. I have learned that my Mother is a human being, capable of making mistakes. She is not perfect, just as none of us are perfect. But she is the one that I pictured as being perfect during my childhood. As I became older, I realized that my Mother was capable of doing things the right and wrong way, just as much as the next person. But she is still my Mother. The thing that sets her apart is her everlasting love for me and my two brothers. Not until we become adults, do we really begin to appreciate who Mother really is. She nurtured me through my childhood, put up with me during my teenage years, and supported me as an adult. As I grew older and had my own children, I realized that my Mother was a very strong person, and I wondered if I could ever fit into her shoes. No, we wear our ‘own shoes’........we can never do things the same as our Mother, although she has given us the foundation from which to build. Mothers are special. If your Mother is living today, try to make this Mother’s Day the most wonderful day of her life! Show her you care if only by telling her you love her. Take her out to eat, bring her flowers, but show up on Mother’s Day, if possible. You will never know how much this helps a Mother realize her family still cares. Sometimes we get busy doing the usual things in life, and lose sight of the most important aspects - loving our family. And Mother happens to be where that “family” began. Without Mother, there would never have been a family. While you are at it you might also tell Father that you are so happy that he chose Mother to be his wife.

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Editorial Staff Darlene Fuchs, Editor Margita Mandel, Editorial Staff Beverly Pochatko, Chapter News Editor Stephen Fuchs, Layout & Design Erik Wittmann, Membership

Eva Timmerhaus, Exec. Secretary Amelia Cotter, Office Manager

For Advertising & Classifieds, Contact: Darlene Fuchs

General Information Darlene Fuchs Managing Editor

Visit our website,, to listen to Live German radio from “Radio Heimatmelodie” in Germany.

CORRECTION In an article published in the Feb/Mar ‘09 Journal, under the headline “Volkstrauertag - Fort Custer Michigan, November 16th, 2008”, the second sentence should have read: “It (Volkstrauertag) is one of many services held in the USA and Germany.” Another Volkstrauertag ceremony at Fort Sheridan National Cemetery has been hosted by DANK Chapter Lake County, Illinois for 30 years.

You will also find a list of additional live German radio stations that you can listen to online for free.

Submission Deadline For The June / July Issue: May 1st, 2009

- ISSN 1086-8070 - is published bi-monthly and is the Official Organ of the German American National Congress. Periodicals Postage paid at Chicago, Illinois and additional Mailing Offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: German-American Journal 4740 N. Western Ave Chicago, Il 60625-2013

Annual Subscription Rate: $15.00

April / May 2009

German-American Journal


Auma Obama

Muttertag Geheimnisse

President Barack Obama’s German Connection

Mother’s Day Secrets

By: Darlene Fuchs

U.S. President Barack Obama and his eldest half-sister, Auma (ah-oomah), have the same Kenyan father, Barack Obama, Sr. (1936-1982). Although they had been in touch via phone and letters before, Auma first met her brother in person in Chicago in the 1980’s, and also helped him during the U.S. presidential primary campaign. From 1980 until very recently, for a total of 16 years, Auma spent most of her time in Germany and speaks German well. From 1981 to 1987 she studied German literature at the University of Heidelberg. She then was accepted into a graduate program at the University of Bayreuth in 1966 where she studied the relatively new field “interkulturelle Germanistik”. According to Spiegel, she wrote her dissertation on “die Arbeitsauffassung in Deutschland und literarische Reflektionen darüber” (the concept of labor in Germany and it’s reflection in literature). Auma didn’t spend all her time in Germany studying in the library. In the mid-1990’s she was invited by German television to speak about some of the vicious attacks on foreigners that were taking place in the country at that time. She worked for the local newspaper in

Bayreuth and organized seminars for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. She found part-time work as an interpreter at trade fairs, and was chosen among thousands of applicants for admittance into the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. In the capital city she lived in the multicultural neighborhood of Kreuzberg

and, according to Stern, joined a “glamorous clique” of successful black women from the arts and business. After a stint in London, an unsuccessful marriage to the British citizen Ian Manners and the birth of daughter (Akinyi b. 1997), Auma returned to Kenya, where she is now a field director of the UN program CARE.

Tag der Arbeit - Labor Day By: Darlene Fuchs

The first day in “the lovely month of May” is a national holiday in Germany, Austria and most of Europe. This day is known as “Tag der Arbeit” (International Worker’s Day). Oddly, the widespread custom of celebrating Labor Day on the first of May, was inspired by events in the United States, one of the few countries that does not observe Labor Day in May! The International Worker’s Congress in Paris designated May Day as a public holiday in 1889. The attendees, sympathizing with striking workers in Chicago in 1886, voted to support the United States labor movement’s demands for an 8-hour day. They selected May 1, 1890 as a day of commemoration for the Chicago strikers. In many countries around the world May 1 became an official holiday called Labor Day—but not in the U.S., where that holiday is observed on the first Monday in September. Historically the holiday has had special importance in socialist and communist countries,

which is one reason it is not observed in May in America. The U.S. federal holiday was first observed in 1894. Canadians also have observed their Labor Day since September 1894. In Germany, “May Day” (erster Mai) is a national holiday and an important day, partly because of Blutmai (“bloody May”) in 1929. That year, in Berlin, the ruling Social Democratic (SPD) party had banned the traditional worker’s demonstrations. But the KPD (Kommunistische Partei Deutschland’s) called for demonstrations anyway. The resulting bloodbath left 32 people dead and at least 80 seriously injured. It also left a big split between the two worker’s parties (KPD and SPD). The National Socialists named the holiday “Tag der Arbeit” (“Day of Labor”). The name is still used in Germany today. Unlike the U.S. observance, which cuts across all classes, Germany’s “Tag der Arbeit” and most European Labor Day observances are primarily a working class holiday. In recent years Germany’s chronic high unemployment also comes into focus each May.

Letters From Our Readers I am a German-American. German born, American by choice. My journey also started with modest beginnings - but with love and work I never knew any shortcomings. I simply trusted myself and my Lord, and embarked after school and apprenticeship on the voyage across the ocean, seeking a new world to help me grow. The journey was not always easy, but it was solid and progressive. Each day a little better than the last. When disappointment struck, the Good Lord opened new doors.

From Bosch, the German Media Group to Publisher and Trankle, it lead to a strong and healthy family. This is the country I love, this is the way I want to live: free, mobile and productive. This is a good time for all to be Americans. This is the beginning of change, when we German-Americans, also a minority, can be proud again and walk tall. Every American has his or her roots elsewhere. Only what we make of our lives and our future counts. Let us be grateful, and may the God bless you and the United States of America. Bert Lachner (Glen Ellyn, Illinois)

By: Darlene Fuchs

In Austria, Germany and Switzerland Muttertag (Mother’s Day) is observed on the second Sunday in May, just as in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan and many other countries. During the First World War Switzerland was one of the first European countries to introduce Mother’s Day (in 1917). Germany’s first Muttertag observance took place in 1922. While the holiday became “official” for Americans in 1914, Germans had to wait until 1933 to have the celebration declared a holiday. Interestingly enough, the movement was underfoot to have the occasion confirmed as an authorized holiday as early as 1926. You may be surprised to learn that this move was overseen by none other than the Verband Deutscher Blumenhändler (German Florist Union). In 1933 this state sponsored holiday took on more of the Third Reich ideology that encouraged women to bear offspring for the fatherland and was less the celebration of appreciation that children (and others) express to their mothers. There was even a medal, das Mutterkreuz (Mother Cross), in bronze, silver, and gold (for eight or more Kinder!), awarded to mothers who produced children for the Vaterland. The medal had the popular nickname of “Karnickelorden” (Rabbit Medallion).

After World War II and the founding of the Bundesrepublik (German republic) in 1949, Mother’s Day again took on the individualized celebration specifically for mothers. In Germany, if Mother’s Day happens to fall on Pfingstsonntag (Pentecost), the holiday is moved to the first Sunday in May. One might find it interesting that in the walled-off East Germany (DDR), Mother’s Day was not a celebrated event. In its stead, a state-sponsored Internationaler Frauentag (International Women’s Day) was observed on March 8th. The slant on this day was decidedly not in keeping with the idea of private celebrations and instead made it a government sponsored event at which attendance was frequently mandatory. Today celebrations in honor of mom are very much like the celebrations American moms enjoy. The average German mother still receives the box of candy, potted plant, or perfume (usually Kölnisch Wasser). More often than not, dinner at a nice restaurant is also part of the celebration, although the trend is reversing a bit and more and more mothers prefer the quiet meal with their family at home. Very conventional Germans will wear a white carnation in a jacket buttonhole in remembrance of a mother who has passed away, or a colored carnation for a mother still living.

Some Say April Fools Day Originated In Germany By: Darlene Fuchs

Could it be that April Fool’s Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, originated in Germany? On April 1, 1530 a meeting of lawmakers was supposed to occur in Augsburg, Germany in order to consider various financial matters. Because of time considerations, the meeting did not take place. But numerous speculators, who had bet on the meeting occurring, lost their money and were ridiculed. This is said to have been the origin of the tradition of playing pranks on April 1. The day is celebrated in many countries with the execution of elaborate practical jokes on unsuspecting victims. April 1st is the accepted date for April Fool’s Day, when both simple and very sophisticated jokes are known to catch the unwary or the gullible off guard. There is evidence of a similar day in the Gregorian calendar of 1582 and even as far back as ancient Rome when the practice would have been observed on New Year’s Day. Throughout France in the early sixteenth century, New Year’s Day was observed on March 25, the advent of spring. The celebrations, which included exchanging gifts, ran for a week, terminating with dinners and parties on April 1. In 1563 King Charles IX proclaimed that New Year’s Day be moved back to January 1. His proclamation was passed into law by the French Parliament on Dec. 22, 1564. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn

about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe. There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn’t fully account for the spread of April Fools’ Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools’ Day was already well established there by that point. Many theories have been put forward about how the tradition began. Unfortunately, none of them are very compelling. So the origin of the “custom of making April Fools” remains a mystery to some, but as for me I choose to believe it started in Germany.


German-American Journal

April / May 2009

Stories from Camp Frederick: German World War II POWs in Frederick, Maryland (Part 2 of 5) By: Amelia Cotter

Many of the primary sources in this work come directly from the archives at The Frederick County Historical Society in Frederick, Marlyand.

Life In The POW Camp Life in the POW camp could be strenuous, but prisoners also enjoyed some freedoms. There were strict restrictions on the workday of the prisoners, ensuring their productivity but providing the needed rest and downtime to maintain them as effective workers. POWs could work no more than ten hours a day and be away from the camp for no more than twelve hours a day. In many cases, contractors were responsible for providing transportation, and the prisoners had a right to a lunch break and were not to be physically mistreated in any way. The POWs would make an average of 80 cents per day that they were allowed to keep—the pay already earned by a German private—as compared to a normal civilian worker who would receive four or five dollars a day. This provided at least three dollars a day to the Maryland treasury, in the long run essentially allowing the POW program to pay for itself. Interestingly, not only did the Maryland treasury benefit from POW labor, but prisoner labor created a 35 percent increase in Maryland’s tomato crop in 1945 alone. A 40 percent increase in Maryland’s overall agricultural productivity during the war years was also attributed to the work of the German POWs. At the national level, from June to December 1945, German and Italian POWs in Maryland saved the U.S government about five million dollars. The Geneva Convention also declared that POWs must receive the same quality of diet as the captor’s soldiers. The diet in a Maryland POW camp consisted of an average of 3,500 calories a day and included rolled oats, milk, raised bread, and coffee for breakfast, and vegetables, bread, fruit, and water for lunch. Dinner might be soup, vegetables, salad, bread, and tea. Typical activities that the prisoners were permitted to participate in were athletic, cultural, educational, and religious. Some camps even formed small orchestras. POWs at Camp Frederick even leveled a field on which to play soccer. Most soldiers were well treated and well behaved. In at least one instance at Frederick, however, a guard who had recently returned from service in Germany beat some prisoners severely with the butt of his rifle after the prisoners teased him (see page 16). Wales, on the other hand, attested, “I never heard of any time when a gun was even pointed at a prisoner at the camp.” He explained that by the time he got to be a guard at the camp, the war was over and most of the men did not want to fight, but simply wanted to go home. In addition, there were 400 prisoners among 45 American guards who had received little training in handling the prisoners, and they could easily have been overtaken. Some of the prisoners—especially Nazi sympathizers—became violent towards other prisoners or tried to escape. Most prisoners who managed to duck out of the camp guards’ sight and run off were recaptured within 24 hours. An article appeared in the Frederick News-Post on January 4, 1945 concerning the notification of the public in the event of a prisoner’s escape, in which the Mayor declared that he was “100 percent in accord with the suggestion that the community be promptly informed of any such escape.” Some daring escapes did occur in Maryland. Two prisoners at Camp Frederick who had managed to secure unmarked clothes cut through the fence and walked backward away from the camp, eventually catching the bus at Braddock Heights. The driver was suspicious and called the police, and the two POWs were captured in Hagerstown. One of them was Peter Siegfried Muetzel (see page 12 and 23), who pre-

ferred to escape to Cincinnati rather than go home to the Russian sector of Germany where his home had been destroyed. The most dramatic escape occurred when the 21-year-old, English-speaking Hermann Pospiech eluded the FBI for five months after walking out of Camp Somerset in southern Maryland. He managed to get all the way to New York City, where he was found with a Social Security Card in his name and a U.S. Army discharge pin. Strikes were also rare and mostly happened when the prisoners found their work to be too difficult or demanding—some protested because they felt their work was too closely related to the war effort, and therefore, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Others did not want to lift or remove objects that were too heavy, protesting tasks such as clearing out large trees in the winter. To deal with this problem, the “No Work, No Eat” policy of World War I was adopted by the provost marshal’s office, restricting an uncooperative prisoner’s diet to bread and water. A 1944 article from a Maryland newspaper entitled “War Prisoners Wouldn’t Work: Those Here Put On Bread, Water Diet” describes this punishment being inflicted upon prisoners in “a camp near Frederick, Md.,” for protesting and refusing to work. Apparently, the tactic worked as leaders of the camp received “a promise to work [the next] day.” Due to the success of the first two stages of the POW program, in 1944 the War Department developed a new project as part of its third and final phase of development: changing the political views of the prisoners from National Socialism to political democracy. The project was called the Prisoner of War Special Projects Division (POWSPD) and especially took off in 1945 after it was clear that the Third Reich was destined to fall. Since the Geneva Code did not allow the POWSPD to force its ideas upon the prisoners, the program was voluntary, and was euphemistically entitled “Intellectual Diversion.” It should be stated that most of the prisoners did not support Adolph Hitler or the fascist regime in Germany, and only an estimated eight to ten percent of the total German POW population were known to be adamant Nazi sympathizers. Some of the more militant Nazis were known to harass less committed soldiers. Others burned copies of Der Ruf (The Call), an anti-Nazi newspaper written by German POWs across the United States and overseen by the POWSPD. It was based in Rhode Island at the German POW camp, Camp Kearney. Those prisoners who refused to integrate into regular camp life were placed in segregated camps with each other, one of which was in Oklahoma. The POWSPD program chose to focus more instead on anti-Nazis and political moderates, “stimulating individualism among them and eroding uncritical habits.” One method used to help transform the prisoners psychologically was to show them graphic images, such as piles of naked, starved corpses, or to hang up posters with these images throughout the camp. Der Ruf also included haunting images and detailed informa-

tion about the concentration camps in Europe. One major part of the political indoctrination of the prisoners was the POWSPD’s dispatch of Assistant Executive Officers (AEOs) to the campsites to discuss and compare the histories of the United States and Germany. These AEOs attempted to convince prisoners that the German past had been riddled with failures due to their governments, while the American commitment to democracy had helped it develop so successfully. They hoped to instill in the prisoners the idea that democracy was the best option for rebuilding Germany after the war. To be continued...

FIND IT ONLINE If you have missed previous installments of this article, you can now find them on DANK’s website. Just Visit: and select the issue you want to read! (Part 1 located in the February/March 2009 Issue)


We are proud to offer you a lapel pin that shows your heritage with the organization’s logo. This attractive pin comes in 2 sizes: Men - Cost $7.50 (Large) Women - Cost $7.50 (Small) You may phone your order by calling our toll free number at: (866) 926-1109 or write/email our National Office at

April / May 2009

German-American Journal


A Prisoner Without a Name By: Greg McClelland Few historical sites in Hamburg, Germany evoke more painful feelings from the Nazi years than Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, located in the Northern district of the city. It is at this place of horror that history reminds us that the past never remains completely dead and buried. This ominous building with it’s dreadful past, served as one of Hitler’s most brutal prisons and is a place not widely known or recognized outside of Germany, yet over 450 innocent people lost their lives here between 1933 and 1945. Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp was one of the first camps to be created. On September 4, 1933, Fuhlsbüttel was turned over to the notorious S.S. and S.A. by Karl Kaufmann, Gauleiter (District Leader) and Reichsstaathalter (Governor) of Hamburg. Here, virtually all the German resistance-fighters of Hamburg were imprisoned. These prisoners included many Social-Democrats, Socialists, Communists, Trade Unionists as well as many other opponents of the Nazi regime. Many others also were sent to Fuhlsbüttel such as the “Swing Kids” resistance group, Jehovah’s Witness, Sinti gypsies, prostitutes, homosexuals, the homeless and individuals considered to be “anti-social” by the Nazis. Fuhlsbüttel was a remand prison for those waiting a higher sentence. Many prisoners here were later sentenced to other concentration camps such as, Ravensbrück, Buchenwald Sachsenhausen and Neuengamme without court hearings on grounds of “High Treachery”. For many prisoners, this meant almost certain death. Following “Krystallnacht” (Night of Broken Glass) on November 9/10, 1938, approximately 700 Jews went sent to Fuhlsbüttel. This camp was known by the prisoners as “KolaFu”, which was an acronym for Konzentrationslager (concentration camp) Fuhlsbüttel, but after the Gestapo took over the camp in 1936, the name was officially changed to “Police Prison” to disguise its real function as a place of terror within the Nazi concentration camp system. Here, the guards were especially cruel to the prisoners, particularly those who were German and who were considered to be “traitors to the Fatherland”. Prisoners were beaten and tortured repeatedly and for extended periods of time, sometimes with clubs wrapped in barbed wire. Many prisoners died from execution and starvation, while other prisoners committed suicide due to the harsh living conditions and the overall physical, psychological and emotional abuse as well as the general cruelty of the guards. Some were “shot while trying to escape”, a favorite excuse by the S.S. Whenever they felt like shooting a prisoner. Absolute power soon breeds absolute contempt for the powerless and nothing could have been more true than at Fuhlsbüttel. One such man who managed to survive this hell, was a very brave German resistance-fighter named Arnold Hencke and a member of the SPD (Social Democratic Party). He began his selfless and tireless efforts to bring down the Nazi regime, along with his twelve members of his Genossen (Youth Group). Beginning in March 1933, at age 17, he became an illegal courier for information distributing anti-Nazi leaflets which were produced by the members of his youth group on a hectograph machine in a basement. Everyday, he bicycled from Hamburg to the town of Ueterseen, twenty miles to the North and then back again to Hamburg under the cover of darkness covering a distance of forty miles round trip, only to arrive home around 5:00 AM, just in time to get ready to go to his factory job. Day after day, month after month, he distributed his anti-Nazi leaflets with little or no concern for his own safety. He gave them to what he termed “good minded Communists” in the factories in order to encourage them to revolt against the Nazis. He kept his illegal leaflets in a special belt which he hid under his shirt and as he rode his bicycle, he would lick his leaflets and stick them to buildings and telephone poles. His mother helped protect him and his family by hiding the leaflets he couldn’t take with him on his trips. Hencke managed to get away with his illegal resistance activities for almost two years until late January 1935, when his luck finally ran out. One day, a man in Ueterseen was caught by the Gestapo with one of Hencke’s leaflets and was arrested. Under torture, the man revealed the name of the person who gave him the leaflet. Now the Gestapo headed South to Hamburg to arrest Hencke. On January 25th, they arrived in the early morning at the factory where he worked. Two Gestapo officers escorted him outside the building and put him into the back of a big, black car with the driver and another Gestapo man. As the car drove off, the curtains were drawn and the two officers began to beat him with clubs and brass knuckles. When he arrived at Fuhsbüttel concentration camp, he was thrown into cell number 9, Block C spitting out blood. This was to be the beginning of a long painful journey, which almost cost him his life.

Arnold Hencke, a man who fought for his convictions against the Nazis, had lost his freedom. He was now a prisoner of the Third Reich, number 5151, a prisoner without a name. Never again was he to be referred to by his name, but only by his number, This was the how the Nazi’s stole a prisoners identity in the concentration camps. A prisoner was never called by name, only by their number. The guards then tied his hands and put him in a corner of his cell and began kicking him until he fell to the floor, Then they started kicking him in the head with their boots. There were four of them present and one of the guards would encourage the others to beat him harder and more brutally. After his initial beating in his cell, he lost several teeth. He was then forced to wash himself in his own drinking water in his tiny, filthy cell. The living conditions at were absolutely deplorable. He slept on a metal frame bed supported by chains on a straw mattress. For warmth, he had a dirty, wool blanket. During the winter months it got so cold in his unheated cell that he couldn’t sleep at night. When he could sleep, the rats would come out and bite him on his toes. When he would scream out in pain, the guards would go into his cell and beat him. One day, he mentioned to one on the guards that he had six rats in his cell, the guard coldly replied, “The rats belong there. That is their home”. For food, Hencke received only three slice of bread and a small cup of “corn coffee” which was pushed through the door of his cell on a tray by a guard who would then say, “Fressen”, which means to eat like an animal. The physical and emotional abuse continued, sometimes up to 3-4 times a day. “You are a Communist”, the

Hencke stands in front of a display, which reads: Prisoners In Fuhlsbüttel - Social Democrats, Socialists, and Trade Unions.

guards repeatedly screamed at him or “You are a Red Pig” and Hencke simply replied, “No, I am a Social-Democrat”. For six months, he had to endure continual beatings by the guards until late July when the guards received their orders that they could no longer beat him, but only shove him around instead. His court trial was coming up in early November and the Nazis wanted him to look presentable for the German people so as to hide the evidence of their physical abuse against Hencke. He was then sent to the camp hospital to heal his wounds, especially the injuries to his head which had swollen up greatly due to inflammation and puss from the infections. On November 5, 1935, he was brought before the second Senate of the High Court in Hamburg and given a very unfair trial. His lawyer was not a Nazi and tried his best to get Hencke released from Fuhlsbüttel. He told Hencke, “We have to be prepared to accept any sentence handed to you”. However, despite his lawyers efforts, all the cards were stacked against him and everything to no avail. His lawyer flat out told him, “They can burn you, they can beat you, they can hang you and there is nothing you can do!”. At this point, the the Nazi judge charged Hencke with “High Treason” and sentenced him to a total of two and a half years of imprisonment between Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp and Hahnöfersand youth labor camp. Later in November, he was sent to Hahnöfersand to finish out his sentence. Here, he experienced more physical abuse by the S.S. guards, one of which shot and killed one

his friends who died in his arms. Food at this camp was also scarce and by now Hencke became very skinny. Out of sympathy, of a fellow prisoner who was in charge of giving out rations, helped him survive starvation by giving him more food. Here, Hencke was forced to do back breaking work pushing rocks on carts, which would frequently came off the tracks. When this occurred, the S.S. would use this as an excuse to beat them prisoners even more. In 1936, the army decided that they needed more men for Hitler’s newly created Wehrmact and took several young men from Hahnöfersand and gave them a chance to avoid further imprisonment by joining them army. Hencke was one of those chosen. Two Majors lined these German boys and young men, going down each line, asking them, “Do you want to go to war?”. When on of them reached Hencke and asked him this question he defiantly said, “No. Not for Hitler!”. The Major whispered to him, “It is a good thing that I asked you this question and not the other Major, because he would have shot you”. Many months went by until late July 1937, when Hencke was to finally be released from Hahnöfersand, but was instead he was sent back to Fuhlsbüttel where he was told by the camp Commandant that in ten days he was to be sent with the next train transport to the newly established Sachsenhausen concentration camp. When his mother heard the news, she was deeply distressed and immediately walked to the Gestapo headquarters to beg for her sons freedom. Day after day she begged to the Gestapo Chief Johannes Streckenbach to release her son. Finally, on the ninth day, she encountered two highly decorated S.S. officers who asked her why she was crying. When she told them of her sons plight, they were sympathetic and told her told they were speaking with Streckenbach and would see what they could do for her. After a long talk with the Gestapo chief, they managed to persuade him to release Hencke and to put him on probation. Finally, on July 30, 1937, Hencke was released from imprisonment and put on probation. He went to the hospital weighing around only eighty or so pounds. The nurses gave up on him due to his malnutrition, but miraculously he recovered. After his long re-convalescence, he went back to work at his factory job, but was watched by the Gestapo who would show up to check on him and to question his boss. As a result of their spying on him, he began to develop what he called “persecution mania” and became terrified of being arrested again. However, this didn’t deter Hencke in his pursuits and later went to school, but was kicked out by the Nazis after four and a half terms. In 1939, he joined a gymnastics school in Hamburg called Armin where he met several of his comrades from his prison days and he continued his resistance activities. Here, he was protected by a sympathetic gym teacher. After the terrible fire bombings of Hamburg in 1943, Hencke repaired roofs for a living. Later in January 1945, he was forced to work in a factory producing anti-tank obstacles and had to keep watch at night to protect it against bombing raids. Hencke, narrowly escaped death more than once during this time and managed to survive WW II, which came to a dramatic ending on May 7, 1945. Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp was finally liberated by the British on May 3, 1945. After the war, Hencke went on to become a school teacher, teaching gymnastics, wood working, science and math. In 1987, he helped create Fuhlsbüttel as a memorial to over 450 men and women who died at this concentration camp Today, it is mantained by the Association of Social Democrats/ The Victims of Nazi Persecution. As a result of of Hencke’s volunteer work and brave heroism, he was awarded the “Medal for loyal work in the service of the people in silver”. In 2001, the district assembly of Hamburg-North honored him with the pin of honor for his hard work in keeping the memory of the German resistance alive as well as the crimes committed by the Nazis. He continued his work until his death on January 10, 2003 at age 87. Arnold Hencke was one of tens of thousands who fought against Hitler and the Nazi regime. Between 1933 and 1945, approximately three million Germans were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps and prisons. Out of these 800,000 were held on counts of active resistance against the regime. I was very fortunate to have had the chance to interview such a great man back in May 2000 and again in May 2001 and I continue to tell his story after almost nine years. The scars of the Third Reich and the atrocities committed during WW II have had a profound impact on millions of people who lived through this terrible time period in history, an impact which is still being felt to this day; wounds which time cannot erase, feelings that never go away. Let us never forget our history so that the past can be our greatest teacher.


German-American Journal

National Board Member Profile: EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, EVA TIMMERHAUS This is a series in which we would like to introduce to the membership the various members of our national board. The board consists of the elected board (President, two VP’s, Secretary and Treasurer) along with two representatives from each of the three regions of our organization. We hope that you will enjoy these articles which are intended to familiarize our members with the Organization’s leadership.

December 12th, was a very happy day for August and Katharina Göller of Wuppertal, Nordrhein-Westfallen, Germany, as they celebrated the birth of their daughter Eva. At the age of seven Eva Timmerhaus and family left Wuppertal for Thorn, Westpreussen because of heavy bombing in the area. Two years later they were evacuated to Sachsen, Mitteldeutschland. As with all “Flüchtlinge”, the next 3 ! years were spent with her mother living in poor conditions - one small room, one bed and limited food. Eva’s father was able to help her and her mother escape to the West and return to Wuppertal. In 1958 after accepting an invitation from her Aunt and Uncle, who came to Chicago five years earlier, Eva packed her bags and made her way to the Windy City. Landing at Midway Airport on a cold day in January she was greeted with a friendly smile and boisterous “Welcome to Chicago!” from a U.S. Customs Agent, who promptly confiscated the apple her mother carefully packed for her trip. That spring Eva took a job with the Fred Harvey Company at the Railway Exchange Building in downtown Chicago. After carefully saving her money she travelled across the United States enjoying the natural beauty the country had to offer.

In 1961 Eva Timmerhaus did not meet her future husband John by accident, but because of an accident. Her Aunt was involved in an automobile accident and friends recommended Timmerhaus Body Shop, which John’s family owned, for the repairs. Born in Chicago, John’s parents were hard working immigrants from Dorsten, Westfalen. On April 20, 1962 the young couple was married in St. Clement’s Church. By spring 1968 the two “Timmerhäuser” grew to five: twin daughters, Eve and Elizabeth, and son John. From 1980-1985 Eva worked for the German magazine Die Hausfrau, now know as Das Fenster. In June, 1986 Eva Timmerhaus joined the Executive Office headed by then National President, Elsbeth M. Seewald. The fall of the same year her beloved husband John suddenly passed away. Over the past 22 ! years Eva came to handle all duties connected with the Executive Office. Through DANK she has had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and formed close friendships with members. Eva is now working part time. Eva enjoys spending time with her three grandsons, has a passion for traveling, and when at home enjoys working in the quiet of her garden.

April / May 2009

MEMBERSHIP Where Are We As An Organization? By: Erik Whittman Membership Committee Chair

Before reporting on the effort to increase our organizational membership, let me THANK each and everyone of you reading these words because it means your one of those members who has paid his/her membership dues and is an active member of this organization. If you have not paid your 2009 dues, please do so today. Hopefully all of you are undertaking your own effort to support the “JUST ADD ONE “campaign by reaching out to a family member, neighbor or friend and attempted to recruit new members for DANK. Ultimately that is the most effective way of increasing membership in DANK. Where are we as it pertains to our membership drive? Well due to the good work of our webmaster Stephen Fuchs, we have a vastly improved DANK website that makes joining much easier. You now have the ability to pull down an application form and select what chapter you wish to join or just be a national member (previously known as a member at large). On a more direct membership drive effort, some initiatives started over a year ago are coming to fruition. Pittsburgh’s Mason-Dixon sub chapter, started less than two years ago, is reaching the point of having achieved a 40 plus members status. By years end there is the possibility of becoming its own chapter. Credit needs to be given to the sub chapter founder and Pittsburgh VP, Chris Decker. DANK Columbus joined our family last summer through the hard work of Ulrike Zika, which also simultaneously started

a DANK School for that community. Efforts to get chapters established in Syracuse, New York and the upper peninsula of Michigan continue to be addressed with the hope that we will have established chapters in those areas by years end. Pittsburgh’s second sub chapter is about to be established with the creation of the Laurel Highlands unit. William Russell, long time Erie Chapter DANK member and his wife are spearheading this effort. Good news was received this past month regarding Chapter Indianapolis, which held new election and is working at adding new members to reinvigorate that organization. Through the hard work of Katie Viebach, Chapter Peoria has become active again. We still have several chapters that we need to pull out of inactive status and we will work on this in the next year. The good news overall is that we have stopped our membership slide and that Chapters like our 4 Chicago chapters (Chicago, Chicago South, Chicago West and Northern suburbs ), Milwaukee, Erie, Phoenix. Fox Valley, Benton Harbor and Pittsburgh are either increasing their numbers or holding their own. Some of our smaller chapters like Cleveland, Decatur, South Bend and La Porte continue to serve their membership through selfless leadership and dedicated hard work within those chapters. While much work still lays ahead in getting a sizeable increase in our Membership, the process has begun and with the help of all of our membership we should be able to report ongoing success!

JOIN DANK ONLINE Joining DANK is now even easier. Visit to sign up for your membership online! DANK accepts all major credit cards when you sign up through the website.

April / May 2009

German-American Journal


Understanding and Reading the Presidents Blog (For Newcomers) By: Darlene Fuchs

With five million or more bloggers out there and even more readers it is assumed that everyone knows how to read a blog, or how they work. From my blogging experience I can say that this is definitely not true and hopefully this short article will describe the process for newcomers. This article is for the readers of blogs. The DANK Presidents blog is a traditional web-log where the DANK president shares his or her thoughts. It gives readers a feeling of being connected with a more personal side of the organization. Entries of

commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as photographs will be added regularly. The blog allows individuals to leave comments in an interactive format offering another source of communication.

TO GET STARTED To access the blog, go to our website at and click on the Blog button to the left side of the web page. Read the welcome page that comes up and just follow the instructions to get started.

do not have to scroll through posts you may have already read.

COMMENTS This refers to reader comments which can be left under “Leave a Reply”. You will need to fill in your name and email address. Then in the large empty box type in your comments, thoughts or questions. When you click the submit button your reply will be added to the presidents blog.



To go directly to the DANK Presidents Blog, enter the following link into your browser’s address bar...

Blogs are laid out in a last-in-first out style. This means that the last item posted or written is at the top of the blog. So unlike a diary where you would read from the beginning to the end, with a blog you read from the end to the beginning. This is helpful for those who make frequent visits to the blog since you

Discuss Your Germanic Heritage By: Darlene Fuchs

A forum is a public meeting place open for discussion on various topics. An online forum is sometimes called a bulletin board or discussion area. The main idea of a forum is to provide a place where people, of similar interests, can go to interact and exchange information and ideas regarding specific topics. As a “Guest” you can view the forum and read submissions before joining. If you decide to join you will be able to log into the forum, read what has previously been posted, start your own discussions or reply to discussions already started.

copy of the Users Manual to refer to later. Also read the “Forum Rules” and the “Welcome from President Bill”. Now you are ready!


How to Register

Click on Register. You will need to enter a Users Name (this can be your name or a nickname), your e-mail and a password. You should always use an email that you check often since it will be verified before you can access the forum. You will also want to use a password that is easy to remember. Just below this there is a confirmation code in a box that you must retype in the provided text box. Finally answer the simple question, then hit submit. Now you are well on your way.


How to Log in


How to read on-going discussions

On the right side of the Forum you will see Log In. After you click this you will need to enter your User Name and Password. Now you are ready to go.

How do I Use the Forum? From the DANK National Home Page (www. click Forum on the left-hand side of the webpage. Once the Forum page opens you can click on any of the topics and read the current discussions. You will need to register in order to enjoy the interactive participation with other members. Prior to registering open the “Welcome! Read This First” and open the User’s Manual, where you will find more “How To” information. You can print out a pdf

To read current discussions, simply click on the forum category that interests you. You will then see a list of topics, along with the author, how many replies the topic has received, and the date the last post occurred. Simply click on a topic and you will be able to view the original post, and all replies.


How to contribute to discussions There are two ways to contribute to the forum. One way is to reply to an already existent topic. The second method of

contributing to discussions is to create a new topic. To reply to an already existent topic open (click on) the topic and choose “Post Reply”. You will be directed to the Post Reply page. Simply type in the text you want to post, and click the “Submit” button. If you would like to see what your message will look like you can “Preview” first. Before posting a new Topic, be sure to look through the current Category Topics. This will help prevent duplicate postings. Once you have determined the topic you would like to discuss does not exist, choose the “Post New Topic” option. This will take you to the New Topic page, where you will be asked to enter a Subject, and then a message. Be sure the text you enter as the Subject is descriptive of what you want to discuss. Members and Chapters have been insisting that DANK National improve membership benefits and offer support, The DANK Forum is one tool developed to create an interactive environment so that we can learn and grow from each other. But, if we do not use it we can not take advantage of the information it has to offer.

WEB LINK To go directly to the DANK Discussion Forum, enter the following link into your browser’s address bar...


German-American Journal

April / May 2009

Romance Ruled At The DANK Chapter Lake County Karneval By: Ursula Hoeft

Romance was in the air when D.A.N.K. Chapter Lake County, Illinois celebrated Fasching - and Valentine’s Day - at the Gorton Center in Lake Forest, on February 14. The revelry began at 6:11 sharp and continued nonstop through the evening, with many famous romantic couples joining in. The handsome Sir Lancelot and lovely Queen Guinevere, a.k.a. Richard and Brigitte Kaeske, Chapter Board members, were among the merrymakers. Brigitte Kaeske was also Karneval Chair. Other well-

Alexandra Pradella-Ott and Ernst Ott

known lovers from various periods of history made a brief “appearance” on the dance floor. Samson and Delilah, Romeo and Juliet, Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, even John Lennon and Yoko Ono were among them - all summoned by the Mad Hatter, a.k.a. Cobi Stein, Chapter President, who made sure throughout the evening that everyone had a good time. The Fasching spirit was infectious. Even Satan, a.k.a. Ernst Ott, Honorary D.A.N.K. National President, joined in the fun. So did Alexandra PradellaOtt, dressed in a colorful clown costume. And an affectionate pair of insects - lady bug, Irmy Gohs and potato bug, Willi Gohs, D.A.N.K. Chapter Fox Valley President - mingled with the revelers, their antennae bobbing happily all night. But romance and merrymaking weren’t the only reasons folks came to the Chapter’s Karneval celebration. Delicious home-made German food, prepared by Anni Kordas and Victor Kordas, a Chapter Vice President, with the help of Lisa and Harry Kordas and Anna Kolupar, accompanied by scrumptious desserts baked by Chapter members, were a big draw too. So were the drinks served by an irreverent friar/bar tender, a.k.a. Greg Hoeft, a Chapter Vice President, who looked like he had just stepped off a Franziskaner Beer label. And there was dance music, of course,

DANK Chicago Issues Most Wanted List By: Nicholle Dombrowski

An evening out at Zum Deutschen Eck. A cold beer on a muggy Chicago summer day at The Bismark or later, Marigold Gardens. Picking up Kuchen at Hopfner’s Bakery for your sister’s birthday. Dinner dances at Germania Club. Your cousin’s wedding at Matt Iglers or Golden Ox. Pictures of your neighborhood block clubs during World War II. The Archive Committee is developing our first in house exhibit “Lost German Chicago”. Slated to open in October 2009, the exhibit will feature art, artifacts and memorabilia on what has been lost in the Chicago German community and display attempts of archiving and preserving that which has been entrusted to D.A.N.K. Highlights already include: installation of 30 feet of pristine wood carvings depicting Wagner’s operas formerly installed in the Germania Club commissioned by the Oscar Meyer family, tables of Turner trophies, Hessen Verein standards, items from dozens of restaurants including the original Red Star Inn.

Lost German Chicago will also debut The Legacy Project - photographic portraits and filmed oral histories of 15 German-born, senior D.A.N.K. members. The project will showcase the commonality of individual struggles and triumphs as immigrants in the United States. D.A.N.K. will maintain this effort of encouraging future generational cooperation of preserving oral and visual history, by revisiting this project as a yearly installation and maintaining past histories within the museum archives. Do you have photos or other memorabilia from Chicago German establishments or restaurants that are now defunct? Postcards, ashtrays, matchbooks, coasters, napkins, invitations, menus? Do you have letters and family photographs of German life on the north and south sides of Chicago? – do a little “Frühling” cleaning like a proper German and let the world see these treasures. Please donate or loan items to be part of our exhibit. We will gladly handle reproductions for you. Please contact us for delivery or pick up!

Greetings From South Bend By: Christine Weiss

January 17th was a bitter cold day perfect to stay home, turn up the heat, cuddle up under a blanket, and drink hot tea. That day we had our first get together in the New Year. Only the very top die-hard members showed up at the Kison’s door and were welcomed by a steaming hot pot of soup. Needless to say we were only about a handful of people that fitted perfectly around the Kison’s kitchen table which is located near a big picture window. Outside the window birds of all kinds were picking away at the seeds left in the bird house. We were enjoying our meal when to our surprise the door opened and one of our members entered with his son, daughter in law, grand child and their visiting mother in law from Russia. To our delight Mike had brought his guitar and his daughter-in-law Anna her accordion. We retreated in to the living room and had a great time singing while both of them played their instruments. Anna’s mother, Ludmella, gave us a very special treat by singing “Moscow by Night” in Russian. We all had a

wonderful time. Valentines Day was party time at Christine’s house. Punctually, right at 4 o’clock the party started. Food was plentiful and the “Stimmung” was outstanding and the turn out was simply great.

Mike Jones with his daughter in law Anna.

Judged best costumes - From left: Herbert Pluntke, Greg Hoeft, Willi and Irmy Gohs, Brigitte and Richard Kaeske.

provided by the Walter Flechsig Band. The evening also marked the end of the reign of Prinz Greg I and Prinzessin Ursula I who were crowned at the Chapter’s 2008 Karneval. The Prinzenpaar bid the crowd a fond farewell and invited everyone to join them on the dance floor. Afterward, Prinz Greg was overheard lamenting, “the year sure went by fast - like they say, time flies when you’re having fun!” The same was true for the Fasching merrymaking. The fun came to an end much too soon - hopefully the romance lasted longer.

Pittsburgh Celebrates Super Bowl Victory!

HERE WE GO STEELERS was the roar of the citizenry of Pittsburgh and like in any community, our DANK members in Chapter 58 took great pride in the unprecedented 6th Super Bowl victory of our beloved STEELERS. Throughout the greater Pittsburgh area Playoff and Super bowl parties were held including by our Pittsburgh DANK faithful. To add to our pleasure, Region 2 President and National VP Donna Lippert, which covers Phoenix, could not resist challangeing Pittsburgh Chapter President/ National VP Erich Wittmann to a bet suggesting the mighty Steelers would fall to Phoenix. Not only did we “burgers” from Pittsburgh have the last laugh, we also walked away with a half a case of Michigan wine, which was offered as bounty by Ms. Lippert. DANK chapter # 58 offered up both Iron City Pretzels and Pittsburgh chocolates should we have not been victorious but there was never any doubt in our minds. But in good faith, Chapter President Wittmann still plans on bringing some of the Pittsburgh goodies to the next annual Board meeting so that all in attendance can wash down those pretzels and chocolates with that Michigan wine. No worry Pittsburgh Chapter Board members, two of those bottles from half the case will come back home as bounty to be enjoyed by the Pittsburgh Chapter Board. It was all great fun, we had parties, our beloved Steelers won, and best of all Region 2 President Donna Lippert has to pay up for running her “lip”. Now if we could only get Chapter Phoenix, with whom we did not have a bet to send a case of grapefruit.

April / May 2009

German-American Journal

Karneval In Chicago


Dancing The Night Away In Milwaukee

By: Darlene Fuchs

By: Ed Mueller

The Mardi Gras Society of Chicago, dedicated to preserving the German heritage of the area, celebrated Karneval, on Saturday the 21st of February in grand style. It was great to see that many of the costumed revelers in attendance were DANK members. Riding high up on their float, beads and candy were tossed into the crowd by Prince Bobby I. And Princess Sylvia I. Decorated in a sea of color everyone danced and celebrated into the wee hours of the night The festivities kicked off on Thursday, February 19 with Weiberfastnacht which is the start of a weekend full of celebrations.. Generally, Karneval is celebrated with masquerades in Germany and the same is true in Chicago. The Maskenball or Masquerade Ball was held by the Mardi Gras Society at the Donald E Stephens Convention Center. On the following Monday, February 23rrd., everyone continued the celebration with Rosenmontag, at the DANK Haus, which means “Rose Monday.”

The weather was perfect, the place was packed, the costumes were regal, and the crowd danced until midnight. February 7th was the Milwaukee Soccer Club -D.A.N.K. Milwaukee date for the Mardi Gras/ Karneval at the Bavarian Inn. Wow! The “Johnny Hoffmann Band” even played a number after midnight! Three-colored helium balloons and the huge clowns adorned the tables and air balloons graced the front of the stage. Guests for the occasion included the Milwaukee Spielmannzug, with its Prince & Princess, its Drum & Bugle Corps, its dance group and the Mullers “Fasching Dancers, who have been at our Mardi Gras since their inception. Prizes were given to all youth in costume, and 3 prizes for adult singles, doubles and groups in costume.

Michael Dittmann attended Karneval as an excellent “Sopetto-Pinnochio” character.

Pittsburgh Chapter Finishes Its Second Year of Offering Adult Conversational German Responding to the wishes of our members two years ago and adhering to the educational and cultural goals of DANK Chapter # 58 the inception of German Language classes two years ago became a perfect fit. Adult Conversational classes are held both at the Pittsburgh chapter and Mason -Dixon sub-chapter. The Chapter 58 class just completed this semester

Prince Bobby I and Princess Sylvia I

Celebrants from the Reinischer Verein Chicago, The Prinzenpaare & their court from Minneapolis/St.Paul, and members of DANK including Bill Fuchs, National President.

consisting of ten weeks. Chapter 58 classes are taught by Erna Jochum and the Mason –Dixon sub chapter classes are taught by Ernie Jung. This has become the foundation of what will lead to additional classes who goals are for the student to be fluent in conversational German.

Left to right: Sitting is Patrick Joyce, Loretta O!Brien, Eric Dean and Robert Luther. Standing is Fred Geib, Erna Jochum, Chris Sabatini and John O!Connor. Missing is Nadine Durham.

From the Pennsylvania Shore of Lake Erie By: Beverly Pochatko

Threats of yet another snow storm did not deter the hardy members of the Chapter from attending the February meeting and mini-Fasching Party. With the changes in the temperature from 60+ degrees back to the average of 28 degrees, many of our members are battling the effects of sinus infections, flu-like symptoms, and old-fashioned colds. We wish them all a quick recovery. Our event took place in the ballroom of the Erie Männerchor Club (our home and a D.A.N.K. Associate Member) and although really very spacious for our event, we enjoyed the evening. Following a brief business meeting, everyone received the traditional Mardi Gras beads and there was a discussion about the various ways Shrove Tuesday was celebrated by our families. Margaret Potocki and Margaret Carter really were into the celebration and dressed for the occasion. Our baked good included ‘Krapfen’ made by Margaret Potocki, and the apricot filled Fastnacht Keuchle (Maria Getchell’s recipe) and the Fastnachts – we called pillowcases – from the Hartman family made by Beverly Pochatko. Needless

to say, they were truly enjoyed with our cups of steaming hot coffee! It was good to have the various areas of Germany represented in our baked goods referring to the German proverb “ Probieren geht über studieren” – i.e the proof of the pudding is in the eating because attempting something is better than just studying it! Our German language classes have resumed and in April, we will be starting a conversational / traveler’s German class. Our classes held at the St. Joseph RC Church Social Center, the only German Catholic Church in the historic area once called Eagle Village. Nearby is St. John’s Lutheran Church, the oldest Lutheran church in Erie founded by German immigrants. The Chapter is sponsoring a German History Contest for our local high school students to encourage them to learn more about the contributions Germans and German-Americans both to our nation and our own local. The contest is open to Erie County students in the 8th to 12th grades. Deadline for entries is April

30th. A $100 prize will be awarded the winning paper at the May meeting of the Chapter with a reception following. All submitting students will receive a certificate of participation and the teachers of the German classes will receive a oneyear subscription to the German Life magazine. Looking forward to our March meeting, our guest speaker will be Dr. Leo Gruber of Edinboro University who will speak on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and university professor. Bonhoeffer is a very interesting figure in German history, and everyone should take the time to learn more about this man. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a true hero of the German people as no soldier or general ever could be. Let’s hope that the warm days of spring come quickly and the daffodils will soon be blooming. Better yet, support the American Cancer Society and purchase a bunch of daffodils to bring the hope of spring and life into your homes.


German-American Journal

April / May 2009

Expansion Despite Recession By: Wolf D. Fuhrig

It was in the summer of 1978 when I drove into Jacksonville with a lady visitor from Germany. When we passed by the newly opened Aldi store on East Morton Avenue, she expressed amazement that this Midwestern town would have a grocery with the same name as her grocery in Germany. When we checked with the manager, we quickly found out that it was not a coincident at all. We learned that all the Aldi stores here and in Europe belonged to the same brothers, Karl and Theo Albrecht. The two had been raised in modest circumstances. Their father was a miner; their mother operated a small grocery store where Theo served as an apprentice while Karl worked in a delicatessen shop. In 1948 the brothers incorporated their grocery by the name “Aldi”, short for Albrecht Discount. By 1955 they had expanded their business to 100 stores and by 1960 to over 300. At that time, the brothers divided their control over the company. Theo took the northern territories of Germany and Karl the area south of the Ruhr valley. Initially the Aldi groceries carried YOUR LOGO

only its own 500 select brand products to be sold at the lowest prices possible. Overhead expenses were kept to a minimum. That gradually made Aldi the king of the no frills shopping experience. It is the niche the company has found profitable and popular with lower and middle income shoppers. By 1976, Aldi decided to expand across the Atlantic and open its first store in southeastern Iowa. Continuously honing and refining its merchandising methods, the stores added more refrigerated and frozen foods, as well as special offerings of imported items. When the company’s management got concerned about the cost of retrieving unreturned shopping carts, it introduced the German-made shopping carts that require a 25-cent returnable deposit. Since then, employees no longer need to hunt all over the parking lot for unreturned carts. More recently, Aldi stores began accepting debit cards and opening on Sundays. Now they carry about 1,400 regularly-stocked items, including fresh meat, and, in some locations, beer and wine. YOUR By 1997 AldiLOGO controlled over

3,000 stores in Germany, by 2003, 6,500 stores worldwide. In the U.S. today, Aldi owns over 1,000 stores in 29 states, from the East Coast to Kansas. Two years ago, Wal-Mart

closed its discount outlets in Germany, partly because shoppers found the U.S. giant too expensive in comparison to Aldi. In 2008, the company’s American revenues were reported to have grown by as much as 20 percent to $7 billion. Aldi’s continuing growth has


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Continued from page 1 and so on around to braid the ribbons over-and-under around the pole. Those passing on the inside will have to duck, those passing on the outside raise their ribbons to slide over. In Bavarian villages, it has been the custom for centuries to cut a tall and straight tree, a day or two before May 1, place it in the middle of the village and decorate it with a wreath of spring flowers and colorful ribbons. One of the traditions is to attempt to steal the Maypole of the neighboring village the night before, and to hold it for ransom, usually for a couple kegs of beer. At the same time villagers had to make sure that their Maypole was not stolen by their neighbors. Another Bavarian tradition is the Maibaumkraxeln (Maypole climbing) contest. In many parts of Bavaria guys battle to see who can climb up the shaven and polished tree trunk the fastest, a task made even tougher by soaping down the Maypole, so that climbers only succeed if they smear ashes, tree sap or pitch on their hands. The goal is to win the Bretzeln und Würste (pretzels and sausages) that hang on top of the pole and to impress the girls down in the crowd.

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convincingly shown that discount merchandising can be profitable. Since 1961, Karl Albrecht has increased his estimated net worth to over $27 billion. That makes him the wealthiest man in Germany and the eleventh richest man worldwide. (Yet, he is still far behind America’s Warren Buffet, who last year owned some $62 billion and is still ten years younger than the 88-year old Albrecht.) In 1994, Karl Albrecht removed himself from the company’s daily operations and became chairman of the board. At the beginning of 2002, he also relinquished this position and, according to Forbes magazine, retired to raising orchids and playing golf on his own golf course. Presently, the U.S. arm of Aldi is in the process of expanding in Wal-Mart’s home turf and opening 75 more stores, including its first outlet in New York City. As the Aldi experience has shown, merchandising low-cost foods and other necessities cannot only be very rewarding, it is obviously also far more recessionproof than merchandising upscale and luxury goods.

to submit your idea

April / May 2009

German-American Journal


ENGLISH SUMMARIES A Second DANK Haus, Chicago South DANK South, soon to celebrate its 10 year anniversary is serious about building a DANK Haus for those members to the south of Chicago. Startup monies of $18,000.00 along with member donations will make it possible. If all 1500 members donate $25 it would allow the 10 year anniversary to be celebrated in the new DANK Kulturhaus. After 10 Years 20,000 Members After 10 years in a small room on the corner of Western and Lawrence Ave. One reflected back to the founding of the German-American National Congress. It all started on December 12, 1958 that the organization started with the help of the “Abendpost.” Who would have guessed that after ten years the membership would to 20,000.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION D.A.N.K. Chicago North is the first GremanAmerican-National-Congress chapter to own their own Haus. What was once the “Three Links Hotel” will be the location of D,A,N.K’s headquarters. The building purchased for $175,000.00 will open January 1, 1969 and it’s plan is to make room for the D.A.N.K. German language weekend school. Before we can open the doors to events it will take a lot of sweat and gold to make it functional. After 10 years our organizations dream has become a reality. If the Germans would work together, much can be accomplished. We are proud of our members for without them none of this would have been possible. Photo’s - Signing purchase paperwork at Lincoln Square Savings & Loan Association.


German-American Journal

April / May 2009

Teachers From The Midwest Came To Learn About The New German Diploma Tests By: Christa Garcia ZfA-Koordinatorin-Chicago/Midwest

The DANK National Education Committee Co-Chairs, Dr. Anne Marie Fuhrig, Alexandra Pradella Ott and Christa Garcia, and the German Language School Teachers from the Midwest met on Saturday afternoon on January 24, 2009 at the DANK-HAUS in the DANK School Chicago North classrooms. Dr. Inke Pinkert-Saeltzer, Language Coordinator from Washington DC, conducted the Teacher In-service Workshop on the requirements of the new German Language Diplomas levels

A2, B1 and C1. Some of the German Saturday School Language Teachers traveled from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and various other towns in Illinois. After ample refreshments (coffee, tea, water, German bread, various German sausages, cheese, and cake) the twenty workshop participants were reenergized to get started. Dr. Inke Pinkert-Saeltzer demonstrated to everyone the language capabilities that each of the student candidates must possess when planning to pass the German Language Diploma level A2, B1 or C1. Each of the workshop participants

was also shown DVD live interviews of German-speaking students from various countries. The teachers were then given the opportunity to rate the language ability of each student according to definite prescribed criteria. The scoring procedure was then practiced in groups of two and agreement had to achieved in each of the groups. A rather lively discussion emerged during the consensus phase during which our National DANK President, Bill Fuchs, stopped by to greet everybody. He received a big

round of applause when he addressed the audience in German for more then five minutes. It was decided by all present that he had ‘passed’ the test!

The Legacy of 1848 Iowa’s Transplanted Schleswig-Holstein Journalistsand Denison’s Own Henry Finnern By: Dr. Joachim Reppmann

Who was America’s most remarkable and unique immigrant group? Surprisingly, many historians feel it may have been a small group of a few thousand revolutionary refugees from Europe who arrived in the United States between 1847 and 1856. Although unsuccessful in their struggle for freedom in Europe, these “Forty-eighters” provided an intellectual transfusion that had a pronounced effect on the political and social history of America during one of its most critical periods. Many of the Forty-eighters hailing from Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany chose Iowa as their adopted home. There, some of the best and brightest began using their finely honed journalistic skills to argue in favor of the

freedoms and liberties so dear to them. Ironically, the patriotism of these recent immigrants was more grounded in the bedrock beliefs of America’s founding fathers than in many of the attitudes having currency in the United States at the time. The legacy of this extraordinary immigrant group, although far-reaching and profound, is little understood by most Americans today, many of whom are three or four generations removed from their own immigrant ancestors. The overarching purpose of the Legacy of 1848 Conference is to identify and come to grips with the important legacy left to all of us by the Fortyeighters. The conference will also present the biography of Heinrich Christian Finnern, a Schleswig-Holstein immigrant who settled in Denison, Iowa, becoming a successful newspaper owner and respected public servant. The story of Finnern’s grit and determination in overcoming obstacles and prejudices is a poignant one with lessons that are increasingly relevant. His life provides

an example — perhaps even a blueprint — for how an immigrant can succeed in his adopted home, be a constructive part of his new community, and even help shape the future of his fellow citizens. The Legacy of 1848 Conference will be held October 30-31, 2009, in Denison, Iowa. Coordinating the conference events will be Forty-eighter experts Dr. Joachim “Yogi” Reppmann (Northfield/

Flensburg) and Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann (Cincinnati). The keynote address will be presented by Hollywood film and TV star Eric Braeden. Braeden, a Schleswig-Holstein immigrant himself, was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2007 and has twice been presented with the Federal Medal of Honor from Germany’s president for his contributions to German-American relations.

Proudly Announcing German Contest for Students in DANK Schools Students should study one German-American from a list (found at www. for a project. By April 4, they should bring their work to German class, so that the teacher can bring or send it to the DANKHaus for judging by the D.A.N.K. jury on May 3. DANK National will award prizes and exhibit the best projects at the 2009 National Convention at DANK South. Projects should Be on poster board, no larger than 17 x 11 inches Have text and images and Present the chosen person well.

Remembrance Of Expellee Suffering Can Lead To Reconciliation By: Dr. Albert Jabs

As a life long member of the Lutheran Church, and privileged as a soldier, professor, and global researcher, I am convinced of the necessity of supporting the work of the Federation of Expellees which is part of the Berlin Museum; this tells the story of the expulsion of approximately l4 million ethnic Germans out of Poland, the then Czechoslovakia, and other Eastern European areas...and the lost of 2.5 million, largely women and children. This evening I went over a package of letters written by these refugees over sixty years ago. They were written to the Immanuel Lutheran church, in Bristol, Connecticut, and to leaders like the Reverend George Meyer, and my parents, Albert and Lydia Jabs. My mother was a principal leader in organizing “Hilfswerk” packages with the local parochial school and church, which on one occasion sent out over 300 packages of valuable food stuffs.

As a young man, I still recall pulling the strings on the packages. This seemed to be religion in action. The Emergency Planning Council out of the Missouri Synod Headquarters in St. Louis was also coordinating this work, but it is a reflection of a church body responding to desperate human need of the expellees and is relevant for the assistance of millions of refugees which still roam around on this globe.. The Berlin Museum really is an extension of that story studying human need; it would serve to drive home the necessity to work on the resolution of conflict and policies of reconciliation. To distort that humanitarian project as an attempt to revise the causes of WW II is sheer demagoguery and fear mongering. I have traveled on two occasions to Poland and extensively to other central Europeans areas, and am confident that Expellee history has a story of suffering that is not revanchist or vengeful, but a study of a path of sorrows, like our American Indian Trail

of Tears here in the Jackson period of US history in the l830’s. . I have spoken to Polish priests and many of them do understand the value of studying a full and honest history. On the other hand, I recall the former Prime Minister of Poland, in answer to a question of mine concerning ethnic German suffering, dismissed the issue as of little consequence. In fact, at places like Potulace both Germans and Poles combined to study the local camp used for both Poles and ethnic Germans after WW II. Author, John Sack, had stated that there were over l000 of such camps which suffered grievous mortality rates. In studying the ethnic German history, visitors can learn to identify the demonization, stereotypes, and misuse of history. We are not to marginalize any suffering. Suffering, obviously, came to many peoples, during WW II, and it is vital that students of history recognize the dangers of fear propaganda in a nuclear age where Poland and US have security agreements and that there are at least

nine nations in the nuclear nursery... including unstable Pakistan.. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, some years ago, Polish and German Bishops got together to forgive each other and to give forgiveness to each other. A great dynamic in view of the millions who suffered on both sides...and with Ash Wednesday coming up and the Lenten Season...additional motivations can come up supporting the study of Expellee Suffering...which my family also went through in that sixty year plus story. Erika Steinbach is a courageous visionary women; Chancellor Angela Merkel, perhaps the only international leader who can understand Einstein’s theories, and additionally the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman, growing up in in the East Germany, has to face certain ambiguities, but certainly should support the Berlin Museum for the study of the Expellee expulsions and suffering.

April / May 2009

German-American Journal


Dank Travel Program By Mayflower Tours Choose from over 100 tours, domestic and world-wide, many new destinations. Ask for economical 3 and 4 day trips. Please contact or call 630/5588900. Consult your travel WEB Sites: and No one does tours better, ask those who went! Your DANK National board has worked hard to get a travel program started that is beneficial to all of its members. Please enjoy the various tours and take advantage of the many discounts. • • • • • • •

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2009 Motor Coach, Amtrac or Air Tours June: Branson Blast, 4 days, 5 Live Shows July: National Parks of the West September: Washington DC, Williamsburg October: New England Rails & Sails November: New York City Thanksgiving December: California Tournament of Roses

2010 Destinations to Europe Spring: Dutch, Rhine & Russian River Cruises Summer: Europe by Train, London, Paris, etc. Fall: Oberammergau Passion Play incl. tickets December: Christmas Markets in Germany

Remembering Dagmar Barnouw - Her Story, Their Story, Our Story Review By: Dr. Albert Jabs

Dagmar Barnouw. Truly, an astonishing story. It is worth remembering. A young girl, at nine years old, recalling the burning fires of Dresden, Feb, l945, and then fleeing with her mother, to the American Zone in Bavaria, in l945, and coming to America on a scholarship in l962, earning a Ph.D at Yale, but then fighting through discrimination at the University of California. Her story can leave a reader spellbound. But there is more, much more, and the living legacy of this author, professor par excellence, academician, anti-discrimination pioneer, wife, mother, and grandmother, who died in 2008, has an enduring story. Her remarkable words live...when she expressed the statement: “Isn’t there enough charity to appreciate the suffering of other people in Germany during WW II?” Author of 12 books and many articles, I am convinced that she is a kind of Rosa Parks in both her courage, vision, and declared statements. Furthermore, the work of Dr. Barnouw, was carved out

of passages with childhood memories of the bombing of Dresden, expulsion, and various other precarious paths of survival. The work of Professor Barnouw is a living legacy of learning about guilt and suffering. For those who have taught history and traveled this world, and even for those who have not, but have identified with suffering in wars, combatant and noncombatant, vanquished and victorious, and survival guilt, Barnouw’s work should to be reflected upon. Dr. Marianne Bouvier, originally recommended Dr. Barnouw’s life and work worthy of reflection; I most enthusiastically agree, and want to express appreciation to colleague, Dr. Neary, for surfacing this woman who faced daunting challenges throughout her life of seventy two years. Some fresh insights are in Dr. Dagmar Barnouw story and in reading some of the tidbits a hunger

to know more develops. “The War in the Empty Air: Victims, Perpetrators, and Postwar Germans” by: Dagmar Barnouw (2005) - Publisher Comments: 60 after the end of World War II, its impact on German civilians remains a subject that is still difficult to broach in public discourse. The war experiences of ordinary Germans have been little studied, as if the memories of the defeated were not deserving of preservation. In Germany, the subject sparks intense debates about the official national memory that the defeated were collectively guilty. Dagmar Barnouw seeks a place where the memories of the horrors of persecution and the horrors of war together might create a more complete historical remembrance for postwar generations.

German Stories Win Two Academy Awards By: Darlene Fuchs

Kate Winslet accepted the lead actress oscar for her performance as a former German concentration camp guard in “The Reader” (Der Vorleser). Originally published in Switzerland, and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway, The Reader is a brief tale about sex, love, reading, and shame in postwar Germany. Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, a stranger twice his age. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair. Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken. Eight years later,

while Michael is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life - this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As Hanna’s past of unspeakable crimes is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives. THE READER is a story about truth and reconciliation, about how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another.

Spielzeugland, the winning Short Film by Jochen Alexander Freydank, is a film set during the Nazi era during the winter of 1942 in a small German town. Marianne’s son Heinrich entertains a close friendship with David, the son of the Silbersteins, whose deportation is imminent. Heinrich asks his mother about why his neighbors (all Jews) are disappearing. What can Marianne tell her son? For his sake in order to protect him she tries to make him believe that

the neighbors are going on a journey to Toyland. Unfortunately, it sounds like such a nice place that the bot hopes to go there, too, and the film begins with him sneaking off with a shipment of Jews to the concentration camps because he wants to visit this magical place. Much of the film consists of the mother trying to find the boy and eventually the SS officers help her to try to locate the boy. This all ends in a marvelous twist.

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German-American Journal

April / May 2009

CALENDAR OF EVENTS This area is designated for DANK chapters to inform their members and the public of events they are having. In order for each chapter to grow, people need to be informed of the various functions and activities. We encourage full chapter participation since this area is not limited to 3 or 4 chapters. In order to streamline our calendar of events please send an email to the DANK Executive Office at with your calendar as a word attachment. Refer to the 2nd page of the Journal for submission deadlines. We will need your Chapter Name, Name of the Event, Location of the Event, Hours, Ticket Price and contact information including a phone number. 19

APRIL 2009 3

South Bend Fish Fry 6-8pm


Benton Harbor Fish Fry, 2651 Pipestone Rd. Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone 269-926-6652, Doors open at 5:30pm, Dinner 6-8pm, Band 7-10pm, Tickets $8.00


Milwaukee Board Meeting 3:30pm


Benton Harbor Easter Egg Hunt (Members Only) 2651 Pipestone Rd. Benton Harbor MI 49022, Phone 269-926-6652, 2:00pm



Erie 19th Anniversary Celebration and Dinner, Erie Maennerchor Club, Call Margaret Potocki at 835-1939 for dinner reservations, 6:00pm Chicago-West Board Meeting 1:30pm

Lake County Legacy Brunch in South Banquet Room of Country Squire Restaurant, Grayslake, Illinois


Phoenix Meets at Black Forest Mill Restaurant


Benton Harbor Student Award Night (Potluck), 2651 Pipestone Rd. Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone 269-926-6652, 6:00pm


Benton Harbor Spring Dance with Hank Haller, Doors open 5:30pm, Dinner 6-8pm, Dancing 7-11pm, Tickets $6.00 at the door

MAY 2009 1

Benton Harbor Fish Fry, 2651 Pipestone Rd. Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone 269-926-6652, Doors open at 5:30pm, Dinner 6-8pm, Band 7-10pm, Tickets $8.00


Milwaukee Board Meeting 3:30pm


Benton Harbor Membership Meeting, 2651 Pipestone Rd. Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone 269-926-6652, 4:00pm


Chicago-West Anniversary


Chicago-West Board Meeting 1:30pm


Phoenix Meets at Black Forest Mountain Restaurant


Erie Student Awards Night (German Heritage Contest), Reception to follow


Benton Harbor “Fred Meijer’s Garden,” Grand Rapids, MI 8:00pm (Call for Carpool)





WELCOME NEW MEMBERS Beiermeister, Patricia Beiermeister, William Braun, Mary J. Broesicke, M. Contos III, Peter Cotter, Amelia Daus, Daniela Miriam Diamond, Gail Diamond, Jesse Diamond, Luke Diamond, Rachel Durham, John W. Durham, Nadine

Eichhorn, Altagracia Eichhorn, Martin R. Eichhorn, Martina Eichhorn, Nadjeschda Eichhorn, Robert Geib, Alice C. Geib, Frederick W. Grimm, Kristin E. Hartman, Richard Otto Henderlong, Anthony Joseph Ippach, Ingrid Johannsen, Lawrence S. Johannsen, Wilma

Walpurgisnacht By: Darlene Fuchs

There’s a penetrating chill in the wind. The bright moon rises behind the shivering, nearly naked trees. A profound sense of foreboding permeates the darkness. This is a night, after all, when witches ride their broomsticks through the sky, and the natural world is forced to confront the powers of the supernatural. No, it isn’t October 31 and this is not Halloween. It’s April 30 and it’s Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night). Walpurgisnacht is similar to Halloween in that it has to do with supernatural spirits. It is a traditional religious holiday, and like Halloween, Walpurgisnacht it has its roots in ancient pagan customs, superstitions and festivals. At this time of year, the Vikings participated in a ritual that they hoped would hasten the arrival of Spring weather and ensure fertility for their crops and livestock. They would light huge bonfires in hopes of scaring away evil spirits. Still today, in large parts of central and northern Europe, witches are supposed to gather on the occasion. The bonfires seen in today’s celebration still reflect those pagan origins and the human desire to drive away the winter cold and welcome spring. Celebrated mainly in Sweden, Finnland, Estonia, Latvia, and Germany, Walpurgisnacht gets it’s name from Saint Walburga (or Walpurga), a woman born in what is now England in 710. Die Heilige Walpurga traveled to Germany and became a nun at the convent of Heidenheim in Württemberg. Following her death in 778 (or 779), she was made a saint, with May 1 as her saint day. Due to her holy day falling on this day, her name became associated with the celebrations. Early Christianity

Kendler, Peter Kramer, Matthew Joseph Kraus, Don Krug, Frederick Krug, Martin Krug, Miroslava Mejia Krug, Robert William Krzyminski, Jamie Lee Lozada, Rita Helena Mehringer, Karyn Mosch, Hans Dieter Plank, Dorothy Plank, Robert G.

had a policy of ‘Christianising’ pagan festivals so it is perhaps no accident that St. Walpurga’s day was set to May 1st. It was believed that on Walpurgis Night witches met with the devil in certain places, especially the Harz Mountains in Germany. There the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, is considered the focal point of Walpurgisnacht. Also known as the Blocksberg, the 1142-meter peak is often shrouded in mist and clouds, lending it a mysterious atmosphere that has contributed to its legendary status as the home of Hexen (witches) and Teufel (devils). “To the Brocken the witches ride...” (“Die Hexen zu dem Brocken ziehn...”). In Bavaria Walpurgisnacht is known as Freinacht(Free night) also resembling Halloween, complete with youthful pranks. In it’s Christian version, the former pagan festival in May became Walpurgis, a time to drive out evil

Reichman, Eberhard Sales, Hellen Sales, Jorge Sales, Katie Schindler, Kirk Dieter Schindler, Michelle Seibert, Kristi Lynn Spaight, John D. Stalle, David Stalle, Ingrid Vernon, Susan Vogler, Jason

spirits, usually with loud noises, before being banished by the dawn of this saint’s special day. Though St. Walburga originally had no connection with this festival, her name became associated with witchcraft and country superstitions because of the date. It is possible that the protection of crops ascribed to her, represented by three ears of corn in her paintings, may have been transferred to her from Mother Earth and the connection to this pagan holiday.


Fill in the attached form and send it with your check made out to DANK - Membership Fund

Support our national membership activities by purchasing a German Life Cookbook. DANK is joining with the people of the German Life Magazine to bring you this collection oftasteful rememberances. Allow taste and aroma to transport you to Germany as you read and try the many recipes of our culinary heritage. You may find that forgotten dish your GroBmutter cooked in years gone by. Just $10 plus $4 shipping will add this collection of traditional Germanrecipes to your kitchen. The book is also available through many DANK chapters and our National Office.

Name ______________________________ Address ____________________________ City_____________ State____ Zip______ Amount enclosed $_____ # of books____ Please remit this order form and check to: DANK EXECUTIVE OFFICE 4740 N. Western Avenue Chicago, IL 60625-2097 Attention: Cookbook Orders

April / May 2009

German-American Journal

What Happened To The 60 Million Germans? By: Anna Marie Fuhrig

In travels in this country one is left wondering! Could they possibly be camouflaging their identity? They probably do that at work but at night Germans continue to prefer socializing in the way they know, with friends and good music, probably also over a good beer or bottle of wine. Lest we new Americans loose our identity and possibly the opportunity to practice our end-of-work customs, we need to let our preferences be known publically. The occasion where we can do so nationwide is when we get the long form for the US Census of 2010. From one ten year Census to the next, it seems to become more interesting for Ethnic Americans to watch whether they kept their previous proportion of the US population. It seems that some groups actually lobby the particular office in the Department of commerce which runs the US Census. This office has recently attracted attention when Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) cited the Census as a reason for withdrawing as Commerce secretary nominee. That kind of politics does not slow down the planning for 2010 though, and the Office has already submitted the planned questions for approval. If you visit web site: pdf/2010ACSnotebook.pdf you can review all 47 or more questions that every household, which receives the long form, needs to fill out for all members of the residential unit. You will also find justification of each question and, since the office adapts the long form every time, a note on changes since the previous Census. On the upcoming Census, Americans who get this long form will find it again difficult to proclaim their German heritage (or origin or ancestry, as the Census calls it).

Since 2000, this question has looked like this: 12. What is the person’s ancestry or ethnic origin? (For example: Italian, Jamaican, African Am., Cambodian, Cape Verdean, Norwegian, Dominican, French Canadian, Haitian, Korean, Lebanese, Polish, Nigerian, Mexican, Taiwanese, Ukrainian, and so on.) The Census Office has justified this question to politicians like this:

Ancestry identifies the ethnic origins of the population. Federal agencies regard this information as essential for fulfilling many important needs. Ancestry is required to enforce provisions under the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based upon race, sex, religion, and national origin. More generally, these data are needed to measure the social and economic characteristics of ethnic groups and to tailor services to accommodate cultural differences.” Before, in 1990—when Ronald Reagan was in charge—then question 8 asked for the head of household’s country of birth and there is a blank field under the question. Question 13 asked for the person’s ethnic origin and gave German as the first of several examples. It is unclear what prompted the changes for the 2000 Census, but the list of examples for question 8 was reduced from 21 to 16. Dropped from the 1990 list were German, Croatian, Ecuadoran, Cajun, Irish, Thai, and Slovak. You can see more details on the change at web site: population/www/cen2000/90vs00/ index.html . Added for 2000 were Cambodian and Nigerian. Remembering how much help some people need with filling out the Census forms correctly, it is conceivable that some ethnic groups were shorted in the 2000 count which could explain part of the drop for Germans from close to 60 to 43 million. In the service of the truth, German-Americans should remind each other to fill out what is now question 12 by writing in “German,” regardless of what they see in the brackets underneath. By working diligently on this, they serve those of us who also share this heritage and help all of us to proclaim our heritage; after all most Germans have served this country well. Better yet, they should enlist as census assistants; the announcements for training location are beginning to appear in the media Who knows, by going into the regional details of web sites where the Census records these “Germans,” they may even be able to target some of them as potential new members. Some German-American organizations are now spreading the word and encouraging their members and friends to help. They may even be able to get politicians pay more attention to them. Let’s pull together and do it right this time!


OBITUARIES It is with sadness that the Milwaukee chapter of DANK announces the passing of two of its members. Konrad Hauptvogel came to America and worked for Usinger Sausage Company in Milwaukee. He moved to Florida upon retirement in 1990. He recently celebrated his 40th anniversary of membership in DANK. He is survived by relatives both in Florida and southeastern Wisconsin. The funeral was held in Florida and a memorial service will be held in Wisconsin at a later date. Artur Hirt, a Milwaukee chapter board member for many years, passed away in mid January. He is survived by Hedwig, his wife of 57 years and children Ingrid (John) Braun, Helga (Don) Wohlfeil, Bernd, Andree (Dynell) and Gary (Regina). Brother-in-Law of Trudy (Don) Dietzel. As a board member, he advised the board on many issues. His quiet manner and low key approach to problems will be sorely missed. The board and members of the Milwaukee chapter wish to extend their deepest sympathy to both family and friends.

Gerda E. Honigmann a DANK member of Chicago South since November 1, 1964, passed away January 24, 2009 at the age of 94. She is survived by daughter Karin and grandchildren.

THE FIRST MOON LANDING MEDALLION Industrious men and women of German descent have played an important role in making the United States the great country it is today. In tribute to both nations, the German-American National Congress, Inc., is issuing a medal commemorating the progress and contributions of outstanding Germans and German-Americans here and throughout the world. This medal honors three men of German extraction who contributed immeasurably to America’s achievements in space: Willy Ley, whose writings inspired a generation of young Americans to regard space as a frontier of their time; Dr. Hermann Oberth, a pioneer in the field of rocket propulsion, and Dr. Wernher von Braun, whose concepts convinced President Kennedy that America should direct its space program toward the goal of landing men on the moon. The reverse of this medal commemorates the first actual moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969. This medal is designed and produced by The Franklin Mint, the world’s largest and foremost private mint. It is available only through the German-American National Congress, Inc. Measuring 39mm in diameter, the “Pioneers of Space and Rocketry” commemorative is available in solid bronze at $19 and silver at $30. German-American National Congress, Inc. 4740 North Western Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60625 My check or money order is enclosed for: ____ 39mm Solid Bronze Medallions (Mint Finish) @ $19 each .......$_______ ____ 39mm Silver Medallions (Mint Finish) @ $30 each ..................$_______

NAME _______________________________ STREET ______________________________ CITY _________________________________ STATE ____________________ ZIP _______

EURO LLOYD TRAVEL Announcing a special service for members of the German American National Congress **Low discounted airfares from major cities in the USA to major cities in Europe and beyone on scheduled airlines. Also, domestic airfares. **European Railpasses (Eurail, German Rail and many others) plus single rail tickets and reservations. **Car rentals with special low dollar rates in most European contries. **Cruise in the Caribbean, Alaska, Orient, Mediterranean and North Cape on all major cruise lines. Worldwide tours - independent, hosted and fully escorted. When calling, you MUST identify yourself as a DANK Member. Rates are subject to availability and change. Several more rate categories are available at higher prices should these not be available. Sale prices offered when available. SPECIAL FARES TO GERMANY from Chicago. Chicago prices starting from, PLUS TAX: Apr 03 - May 31, 2009 Jun 01 - Aug 30, 2009 Aug 31 - Oct 25, 2009 Oct 26 - Dec 10, 2009 Dec 11 - Dec 24, 2009 Dec 25, 2009 - Mar 25, 2010 Mar 26 - Mar 31, 2010

$792 $1195 $792 $484 $792 $484 $792

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To above rates, add Taxes and $25 for Weekend Surcharge for travel Friday, Saturday, or Sunday each way. Unpublished sale specials may also be available on different Audrey L. Hess-Eberle EURO LLOYD TRAVEL GROUP airlines at time of request. Partner of Lufthansa City Center Other US departure rates as well as multiple airlines are The Monadnock Building available. 53 W. Jackson Blvd. - Suite 863 Chicago, Illinois 60606 Rates are subject to change at any time.


German-American Journal

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April / May 2009

German-American Journal | April/May 2009  

Volume 57, Issue 2