Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Burning Beethoven in The New York Times

Whatever happened to German America? German Americans are the largest ethnic group in the United States, and at the turn of the last century, Germans were the predominant ethnic group in the United States — some eight million people, out of a population of 76 million. German was spoken in many homes, in churches, in newspapers. So, what happened? Erik Kirschbaum is asking—and answering—this question in today's New York Times. Here is the story:
When the United States did enter the war, German-Americans came under intense, and often violent, scrutiny, especially after the revelation of an ill-conceived German plan for Mexico to invade the United States. There had long been doubts about the loyalty of German-Americans, especially in the myriad pockets of the Midwest where they were particularly dominant. Many had hoped to stave off assimilation by clinging to their language and dual loyalties — but that commitment to their culture suddenly became a vulnerability.
If you want to read the whole story, here is the linkAnd here is the book: Burning Beethoven. The Eradication of German Culture in the United States, published by Berlinica in 2015. 

Erik Kirschbaum is a Reuters correspondent living in Berlin. The preface has been written by Herb Stupp,  Trustee of the German-American Hall of Fame, an Executive Committee member of the German-American Steuben Parade, and a member of the American Council on Germany. Burning Beethoven, a 176-page softcover book, is now for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at independent bookstores; also the ebook. The price is $13.95 (or less, depending on the retailer).

Your publisher, Eva C. Schweitzer

1 comment:

  1. I finished Burning Beethoven recently and found it a fascinating, though somewhat sobering read. It certainly enlightened me to the disappearance of the hyphenated German reference that my father so abhored. As a 8 or 9 year old in Brooklyn, my father, whose own father made great use of his bilingual skills in the import/export business, must have experienced the extreme pressure to shed the German language and culture. And that's what he did, to the point of failing his undergraduate language requirement at Columbia University, in spite of having a parent and grandparent at home who were fluent in German. Only a 'technical German' class allowed him to meet the requirement. He was determined to be an American and virtually never spoke of his ancestors or German heritage. Only after dad's death in the last decade have we learned of our artist ancestor who thrived in the Hanseatic port of Riga in 19th century Russian Empire and his son, who emigrated to Brooklyn and carried on the family's artistic activities. But much of the family history has been irrevocably lost in the erasure of German culture in America.


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