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Thread: Celebrating Germanic Heritage in the U.S.

  1. #81
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    Little Sweden on the Prairie



    Välkommen till Lindsborg - Between barbecued ribs and meatballs, Robert La Bua finds Swedish culture alive and well in Little Sweden, USA.

    Okay, so Kansas isn't New York—even if there is a Manhattan in Kansas. Does every holiday have to be to an urbane metropolis or chic resort? When people asked me where I was going next, their response to mine was "Kansas?! What's in Kansas?" My answer to this question, in turn, was gauged carefully, depending on the level of shock betrayed by questioner's face: no eyebrows raised meant genuine interest, one eyebrow raised conveyed "Convince me". Someone with both eyebrows raised was not even hearing me speak; I had to wait for the horror and disbelief to subside before reciting the long list of activities and attractions on my itinerary.

    The main focus of my visit to The Sunflower State is... curiously Swedish. As Swedes tended to do when they left the fatherland, they sought places exactly the same as the cold country from which they departed, forsaking majestic mountains and tropical paradises for fertile soil in order to recreate the place they had just left. In Lindsborg, the hot water from the tap runs scalding, just like at home.

    The town of Lindsborg is known as Little Sweden USA. It was settled by Swedish immigrants way back in the late 1800s and has been making meatballs ever since. This is no ersatz playland imitation of Sverige; as with everything and everyone else in the fine state of Kansas, it is genuine. The Lindsborg community library is stocked with Swedish books; the local college team is known as The Swedes. Its signs are in Swedish as well as English, and hearing Swedish spoken in the street is an everyday occurrence, even if only spoken by a refined elderly gentleman talking to himself in a quaint version his mother tongue so old that no one from Ystad to Haparanda would today have any idea what he is saying.

    Many Swedes have relatives here and don't even know it. At a time when the Lutheran Church controlled the lives of Swedes, emigrants who grew tired of awaiting approval from their pastors to leave the parish were simply expunged from local records as if they never existed. In order to assist Swedes investigating their ancestry, Lindsborg today has access to the most detailed genealogy records in the United States.

    So, what is this place almost in the geographical centre of the continental United States? First and foremost, Lindsborg is a town where good people work hard and look after each other—and while it seems very conservative on the outside thanks to the bombardment of media stories telling us that all residents of rural America are redneck white supremacists who eat bullets for breakfast, the truth is somewhat less threatening. In fact, the truth is downright welcoming as an antidote to what we urban dwellers call civilisation. While such big-city creations as liability insurance and government bureaucracy have insinuated themselves into life everywhere, others such as abject poverty, homeless people, and heroin addiction are nowhere to be seen; taking their place are friendliness, helpfulness, and a sense of community that pervades every aspect of life.

    Education has been a cornerstone of Lindsborg life since its founding in 1869, with the arts and athletics also encouraged in making the youth of Lindsborg into well-rounded citizens. This explains why Lindsborg children grow up to be doctors and lawyers who sing in the Swedish choir and why shop owners are also tennis champions when not tutoring students or making ostkaka.

    Lindsborg is home to the biannual Svensk Hyllningsfest, a celebration of Swedish heritage which takes place in odd-numbered years. Don't expect crowds the likes of Berlin's Love Parade; after all, Lindsborg is a small town. What makes a deep impression is the community commitment and sheer enjoyment of efforts to make the festival a success. That other denizen of big cities—apathy—has no place in Lindsborg, where everyone participates in one way or another. From toddlers to seniors, almost everyone owns traditional Swedish clothing and is SO PROUD to wear it. Lindsborg adolescents, rather than scoffing at the past, fight for the privilege to dance in the folkdans group.

    Swedish immigrants are still coming to Lindsborg. Like many a Kansan who moved elsewhere for professional or personal reasons, only to come back to enjoy the high quality of life here, Swedish people seeking a better life—just like the original founders—are still making their way to Lindsborg. Tom, owner of a clog factory in Dalarna, opened a small production facility in Lindsborg; Lindsborg's Bethany College hosts visiting professors from Sweden, and there are a few Swedish spouses around town. If SAS is looking for a profitable route, the Stockholm-Lindsborg run would make a good one, what with all the traffic coming and going between Big Sweden and Little Sweden.

    It seems the amber waves of grain found across the state of Kansas beckoned to many Europeans fleeing the Old World for new lives across the Atlantic. The town of Wilson is Czech; many other towns are German. McPherson, just south of Lindsborg, celebrates its Scottish Festival every September just two weeks before Lindsborg's Svensk Hyllningsfest. Despite its Scottish name and celebration, McPherson is also proud of its Swedish heritage, the crowning glory of which is the painting of one Gustav Nathaniel Malm, whose work adorns the proscenium of the soon to be reopened McPherson Opera House.

    The time between the Scottish Festival and Svensk Hyllningsfest creates the perfect window of opportunity to explore other Kansas attractions like Lucas, a friendly little town where quirky artists have built oddities such as the surreal Deeble House and the amazing Garden Of Eden, which looks simplistic but is full of political symbolism railing against the injustices of the day—curiously similar to the ones still thriving today. The humour is drier than the climate in Lucas, so Swedes fit right in. Cottonwood Falls and the Flint Hills are home to tallgrass prairieland that goes on for miles, changing colours with the seasons. The sight of bison at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is certainly something not seen in Europe.

    If you fly into Kansas City, make a stop in Williamsburg en route to Lindsborg to enjoy some good Kansas cooking. So delicious are the barbecued ribs at Guy and Mae's Tavern in Williamsburg that they make the front page of the local Ottawa Herald every day. True, there is a sturdy piece of aluminum foil between the ribs and the paper, but pork grease has a way of permeating even the most impervious of materials—much like the vision of a certain Krypton-born, Kansas-bred superhero—so the paper plays an important purpose in its role more absorbing than any ever portrayed by Liv Ullmann.

    There is something fabulously primeval about eating meat with your hands; no utensils are presented with these ribs from heaven served in what is officially known as Guy and Mae's Bare Butt Bar-B-Que. Observing the fully clad staff, I asked where the bare butts were. Without missing a beat, owner Judy told me "In the kitchen" so I just HAD to go see for myself. I wasn't disappointed. Thankfully, though, the only butts on display were of the inanimate type—and I'll leave it at that. If you're wondering why Judy and her sister Diana are running a tavern called Guy and Mae's, it's because they took over a thriving business founded by their parents in 1974. Not a thing has been done to the place since, making the step into the premises a step into a timewarp of friendly welcome and sincere hospitality.

    What does all this rurality mean? Come find out for yourself; it will do your cynicism a world of good. Kansas is the perfect destination for the quintessential American roadtrip with a Swedish twist. Lindsborg, and Kansas, make for a surprisingly transformational experience. I expected transformation in India, and Ethiopia has had a surprisingly permanent impact on my soul. Kansas, though, came as nothing short of a shock; never did I expect to find so many open-minded people, so much goodwill toward visitors, or so much cloudberry jam in rural America.

    http://www.thelocal.se/22608/20091012/


    Die Sonne scheint noch.

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    There is a statue to Pastorius, who was essentially the leading founder of the Pennsylvania German nation, in Germantown in Philadelphia. On German-American Day (or Pennsylvania German Day), some of us went down to there to visit the statue. Although the park itself is well maintained, the statue is in need of help.

    I have some pics on the site below.

    http://tinyurl.com/pastorius-statue

    Unfortunately, I am not sure how to go about creating a committee or organization either to save the memorial or to force the city to do something about its condition. It really is a beautiful statue, but having trees and bushes growing out of the side of it will, obviously, tear it apart.

    Anyone with experience in dealing with this sort of thing? I sent an e-mail to the Parks Dept. but heard nothing back.

    Rob

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  4. #83
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    Smile In My Home of Cincinnati, Ohio!

    The Munich Sister City Association of Greater Cincinnati History - 1989-1999
    by Gerhard (Art) Pfefferkorn, July 1999

    1. The Beginning
    Cincinnati’s culture has its roots in Europe and especially in Germany. German emigrants started to arrive in 1795 and in 1900 over 40 percent of the population came from that country. The connection with Munich began in 1853 when the “Münchener Missionsgesellschaft” generously supported the, heavily indebted, catholic community in Cincinnati. The Tyler Davidson Fountain, donated by a Cincinnati citizen and cast in Munich, has been the landmark in the center of the city since 1871. After the Second World War the German-American community in Cincinnati contributed thousands of dollars for the restoration of the “Alten Peter”and the “Frauenkirche” in Munich.

    The first effort to establish a Sister City relationship between Munich and Cincinnati was made in 1951. In that year Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution to form a committee of citizens known as the Cincinnati City Affiliation Committee. The purpose of the committee was to create a connection with one or several Western European cities, and to select these cities. Based on our historical ties the committee informed City Council that it had selected Munich. The Cincinnati Mayor, Albert D. Cash, wrote to the Lord Mayor of Munich, Mr. Wimmer, informing him of this selection, and asking if Munich would be in agreement. He also suggested that a similar committee be formed in Munich.

    Lord Mayor Wimmer subsequently informed Mayor Cash of Munich’s agreement and that they also had formed a committee. In spite of many smaller individual activities, this effort was not successful and no significant results were achieved.

    In 1953 and 1954 another connection between Cincinnati and Munich was established by several special transatlantic Munich-Cincinnati broadcasts, aired on WLW, between Cincinnati Mayor Walton Bachrach and Munich City officials. Frederic N. Dittrich, the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Germany and publisher of the "Freie Presse", was the interpreter. The broadcast, received at Munich City Hall, was heard by German citizens on Bavarian Radio and through loudspeakers on the Marienplatz in the center of the city.

    2. The Cincinnati-Munich Sister City Committee
    In 1981 Auguste Kent, the Principal of the Tri-State German-American School, met with Munich Lord Mayor Kiesl and invited him to visit Cincinnati for the 1983 German American Tricentennial Celebration.

    The unofficial Sister City partnership with Munich was revived in 1984 when a Cincinnati-Munich Sister City Committee was formed. The board of trustees of the committee consisted of: President Edmund Adams of the Frost and Jacob’s law firm; Vice President David P. Bitter President of the German-American Citizen League; Secretary Auguste G. Kent; Treasurer Eric A. Liebman; and Members John G. Banner, Wolfgang D. Eschenlohr and Joseph C. Kramer.
    Retrieved From:http://www.munichcincinnatisistercity.org/


  5. #84
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    Expat Swedes gather for Manhattan Midsummer



    With the Statue of Liberty providing the backdrop, modern-day expat Swedes gather to enliven the traditions of the mother country to celebrate Midsummer in lower Manhattan's Battery Park, writes Mischa Benoit-Lavelle.

    New York, with the Statue of Liberty shimmering in the 30-degree heat, this is not a Midsummer celebration like those you see in Sweden. But rising in the central green is a familiar sight - a maypole adorned with sunflowers and linden boughs, a little slice of Sweden in downtown Manhattan.

    "It's an interesting mix of being in the park at the southern tip of Manhattan with a view over the Statue of Liberty and the skyscrapers in the background...and this really Swedish atmosphere. It's a really fun combination," said Melinda Martino, director of public affairs and communications for the Consulate General of Sweden in New York.

    All of the trappings of the holiday are here: a sing-along of new and old Swedish favorites, fiddlers in folk costumes, and traditional dances around the maypole. There is a long line outside of the Swedish Women's Educational Association's stand for flower wreaths, and men, women and children of all nationalities can be seen sporting the arrangements in their hair.

    "I like to do things very authentically, very traditionally," said Abby Ehrlich, director of parks programming for the Battery Parks Conservancy and one of the lead organizers of the event. She says that while other Midsummer celebrations take more advantage of commercial opportunities, "we prefer to keep it a day where it's just about nature and picnicking and being with friends and family."

    For all its authenticity, the event has some distinct New York touches as well, including a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    After a short introduction by David E. R. Dangoor, Consul General of Sweden in New York for the past six months, Brian Anderson of the City Records Office takes to the stage to read the Mayor's proclamation.

    "Ever since 1639," intoned Anderson in a thick New York accent, "when Swede Jonas Bronck settled the area north of Manhattan that would later bear his name, Sweden has made tremendous contributions to New York City."

    New York was never a major center of Swedish immigration the way Chicago or Minneapolis were, but Swedes flock to the city in droves today, both to visit and to stay. While there are no definite numbers, Consul General Dangoor estimates that up to 30,000 Swedish-born people reside in the greater New York area.

    The event has been hosted by the Battery Parks Conservancy for fifteen years and consistently draws a crowd numbering in the thousands, about half of them Swedish, to Robert Wagner Park: a small, neatly manicured set of lawns that overlook the confluence of the Hudson and East Rivers.

    Many of the performing groups that return from year to year are made up not of native Swedes, but of descendants of Swedish immigrants who have rediscovered their roots. Rediscovered, that is, or simply never forgotten: the Swedish Folkdancers, who performed at the event, recently celebrated their 104th anniversary.

    The crowd is in many ways reflective of the Swedish expatriate community in New York: many young professionals and mixed Swedish-American couples and families, slickly dressed businessmen and golden-headed nannies. It is a diverse group, but one that is very proud of its culture.

    "When you move out of a country, somehow the culture of that country becomes more important to you," said Erik Bohman of the Sound of Sweden Choir, who earlier had led the crowd in a rendition of Abba's "Thank You for the Music."

    "When you become an expatriate yourself, you realize how much your home country culture means, and how important those rituals are," said Bohman.

    Bohman added that being a Swede in the US has been a learning experience and one that a lot of his fellow countrymen could benefit from.

    "In Sweden, I don't think the tolerance level is as high. So people sometimes question, 'why do these people keep their culture?' But I'm here as a Swedish immigrant and of course I keep my culture, it's very important to me."

    The New York City Midsummer celebration is a particularly grand example of the Swedish diaspora’s ability to hold on to its culture while fully integrating on a global scale.

    "My parents' generation still know these folk dances that would be forgotten in any other country," said Bohman. "Hopefully we can keep doing it here."

    As the sun starts to set over the swelling waves of Upper New York Bay, the park is still jam-packed with people, picnic blankets cover every inch of green space, and the air is filled with the smell of Swedish meatballs and the sounds of folk songs. It appears that Swedish Midsummer in New York has a long, bright future ahead of it.


    http://www.thelocal.se/27478/20100628/


    Die Sonne scheint noch.

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    The best way to celebrate Germanic culture in America, is by upholding the colonial vision of our Founding Fathers, heirs to our Pilgrim Fathers. I saw Francis Daniel Pastorius mentioned, as founder of Germantown, but he raised his children "Anglus natus" according to his letter for them, meaning that he believed in the nation of Englishmen that he and his wife moved to dwell among and their kids on our soil were raised English. It's no different than J.R.R. Tolkien being from German ancestry, but embracing his Germanic identity of Englishness, like all the Royals from the Palatinate, Nassau, Oldenburg, Brunswick and Saxony who came to be at the top of English society.

    There's something wrong with the Amish, in their denunciation of our society whose land they've squatted on as perpetual foreigners, even as the Dutch assimilated. Amish are responsible for there being daylight between the Insular and Continental Germanic origins of a common culture. After all, Anglo-Saxons were originally from Jutland, no different than Western Danes and Northern Germans, whilst we've got a greater kinship to Frisians than any other Germanic group. When one is acquainted with Schleswig-Holstein, Anglo-Saxons ought to be the first to come to mind and vice versa. Think of the German Ocean and English Channel as one body of water...

    I repeat: ethnic balkanization of Germanic identity in America doesn't bode well for national health, for 'tis the source of the current illegal alien invasion crisis. Once Protestant Germans set themselves apart from the Folk, they gave precedent or excuse for Catholic Austrians to resist loving our culture, thereby leading to Italians and Mexicans disrespecting our Folk and Soil. It's wrong to squat as foreigners on others' soil and demand autonomy and separatism. We are not Welsh/British (unless you Belgians are Walloons, or you Swedes are Finns--own up to hypocrisy) and you who don't understand, ought to see that we are of one kindred. Quit behaving like Muslims!!!

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    German heritage celebrated at large Kitchener gathering

    Kitchener — The Kitchener Schwaben Club hosted a family reunion of sorts over the long weekend.

    More than 1,600 people from all over North America gathered at the club to celebrate their shared Donauschwaben heritage with traditional food, dress, music and dancing.

    "It is really to establish relationships, but also to rekindle them," explained Anneliese Kraehling, an event co-ordinator.

    Danube Swabians are ethnic Germans who settled in various countries of Europe along the Danube River valley. The Second World War in particular brought persecution and displacement, and many immigrated to other countries including Canada and the United States.

    "Because of the displacement, a lot of people don't know about our heritage," Kraehling said.

    The festivities officially kicked off on Saturday with the opening ceremonies including a traditional dress and folkloric parade held across the street in the Eastwood Collegiate soccer fields.

    Performances continued through the weekend with youth and adult dancers from all over Canada and the United States as far away as Los Angeles.

    Sunday's events included a service of remembrance conducted by a priest from Germany, a mass with a Hungarian brass band playing a hymn to honour ancestors, and the day wrapped up with a large dance party featuring a Kitchener Oktoberfest band.

    This is the second time the Kitchener club has hosted the Landestreffen, meaning heritage gathering.

    Debi Tullius travelled with a busload of more than 80 people from Cincinnati, where there's a local Schwaben club and she's a youth group leader.

    "Joy. Pure joy," Tullius said of the event.

    She said it was a chance to connect with friends from all over and celebrate a great culture. People won't just pop into the club like might happen at an Oktoberfest party.

    "They'll be here both days, all day," said Tullius, wearing a traditional outfit including pleated skirt.

    Most people at the club were outfitted in traditional dress. Generally for the men it's black pants and vest, and white shirt. The women's outfit varies depending on the region where they're from.

    "We're very strict as to what our tracht is," said Barb Schlosser-Hill.

    The Kitchener woman has been a member since she was a child. Her mother was an instructor for the club's dancing groups, and her daughter was dancing on the weekend wearing an heirloom shawl draped around her shoulders.

    Katie Becker pointed out a picture in the club's museum taken in 1968 when she won a prize for her cherished burgundy skirt, pink blouse and apron, which is now worn by her granddaughter.

    Her parents belonged to the club too, and Becker likes seeing the traditions celebrated and carried on at the gathering.

    "It's nice to see people here from other places, and they're here from many places," Becker said.

    Club president Monica Anstett said when Schwaben moved to new countries "they all found each other" and created new communities.

    It's the same spirit at the weekend event that draws people together from all over to celebrate their shared heritage, including the youth.

    "They're becoming friends and they're just enjoying their culture."
    https://www.therecord.com/news-story...ner-gathering/


    Die Sonne scheint noch.

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    My hometown is sister cities with Paderborn. In addition, I was a member of the Sister Cities German club for many years before moving away. They still sponsor exchange students from Germany in a member's home for a year at a time. We also had many bands from Germany visit us and we were co-sponsors of the local Oktoberfest.

    There are many Oktoberfest celebrations in this part of Illinois as it is predominantly a German area. Many town and village names are German.

    I display my German heritage every day of the year:

    American by birth, made of parts from Emmingen, Baden-Württemberg.

    Der Familie Rentz seit 1535 - Meine Ehre heißt Treue

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herr Rentz View Post
    My hometown is sister cities with Paderborn. In addition, I was a member of the Sister Cities German club for many years before moving away. They still sponsor exchange students from Germany in a member's home for a year at a time. We also had many bands from Germany visit us and we were co-sponsors of the local Oktoberfest.

    There are many Oktoberfest celebrations in this part of Illinois as it is predominantly a German area. Many town and village names are German.

    I display my German heritage every day of the year:
    Why the Habsburg flag?

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    It's not the flag of Habsburg. If all of it were visible in the photo you would see that it is the flag of Baden-Württemburg.
    American by birth, made of parts from Emmingen, Baden-Württemberg.

    Der Familie Rentz seit 1535 - Meine Ehre heißt Treue

    Das Leben ist zu kurz, um billiges Bier zu trinken!


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