The German Family Society was founded in 1955 at St. Bernard’s Catholic church by Danubeswabian (Folk-German), German and Austrian immigrants. In the 1960’s, we moved to the German American Club in Akron, then in 1973 to our present location (Donau Park) in Brimfield Twp. We are a non-profit, private and social organization whose charter is to promote our culture and pass down our ethnic heritage and family values to future generations. We are proud of the fact that our entire facility is maintained by members who volunteer their time and energy. We have approximately 12-15 major functions each year, including indoor dances with themes such as: Vienna Night, a Wine/Grape Harvest Festival, a Royal Ball, a New Year’s Eve Formal and even a Hawaiian Night (with a terrific, authentic Hawaiian show put on by our national prize winning Youth Group Dancers). We also sponsor Concert-Dances each year with famous performers from Germany and Austria. Of course, our best-known events are the 2-day “Old European Days & Bierfest” held every year on the last weekend of June, and our 3-day “Oktoberfest”, called by local TV as the best, most original and traditional Oktoberfest in the State of Ohio.
Our organization has many ways to become involved, such as our Ladies Auxiliary (still regarded as the “Heart of our Society”), which prepares the delicious homemade meals for all of our events and weddings, but still enjoys time together at many other outings. We also have our Kinder, Jr. Youth, Youth folk-dancing groups, a newly formed young adult “Tanzgruppe”(social and dance group), and the Golden Ring Seniors. For those more interested in sports we have numerous soccer teams.
We are a continually growing organization that has always recognized the importance of keeping our youth involved, and the value of God and family in our lives.
Mit freundlichem Gruss:
Rudy Stagl, Praesident
The 15th and 16th centuries witnessed the creation of the powerful Ottoman Empire. It conquered not only the Balkan States and most of Hungary, but even beleguered the city of Vienna in the next century.
Three fierce forces controlled Southeastern Europe for more than 150 years and during this time not only ravaged the land but also scattered the people. Some areas lost all traces of civilization.
When the Turks of the Ottoman Empire were finally defeated in this area with the help of the Austrian emperor's general Prince Eugen, it was the main concern of Prince Eugen to colonize the land again and to make it fruitful.
Emperor Charles VI, the Empress Maria Theresa, and Emperor Joseph II encouraged settlers, farmers and craftsmen for the most part from West German lands, Luxemburg, Alsace Lorraine, etc. to settle the now ravaged land.
Not with wagon trains westward, as did our own[American - Editor] settlers of the time, but with barges, did these people travel eastward on the Danube River to reach their new home. They settled on the potentially fertile land along the Danube and some of its tributaries and hence, were later named the Danube Swabians.
Many of the settlers never saw the fruits of their labor because of famine and plague that swept through their ranks.
The pioneer spirit prevailed, however, and they not only re-established a civilization, but in the span of 200 years, made this area one of the most fruitful in Southeastern Europe. It was even referred to as the "Breadbasket of Europe."
They were extremely proud of their German language and cultural heritage and lived in close-knit settlements to maintain them.
The number of settlers increased to such an extent that land became scarce and the traces of pioneer spirit still remaining caused many to seek America at the end of the 19th century. At the conclusion of the First World War, when the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was dissolved and these areas were parcelled up between Hungary, Rumania, and Yugoslavia, many more came to America.
The result of the Second World War was the annihiliation of about 250,000 Danube Swabians in the concentration camps of Tito. Furthermore, 100,000 of our people from Rumania and Hungary were abducted to Russia for forced labor, and were forcefully displaced to the Baragan Steppes of Rumania, where many thousands perished. The largest part of the surviving Danube Swabians were forced to flee or were expelled from their homeland as a result of the ever advancing communism. Most of them sought refuge in the already overcrowded countries of Germany and Austria, where some of them still remain. To many, the liberal immigration laws of the United States gave renewed hope and the opportunity to start anew as their forefathers had done again and again. A large number settled in Ohio and sought as their home especially the areas of Cleveland, Akron, Mansfield, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Youngstown. Their diligence and honesty caused them to gain the respect of their neighbors. They adapted quickly to the ways of their new home and many of them play a substantial role not only economically, but also politically. Though they are faithful and conscientious citizens of the United States, they have never lost their pride in their heritage and have maintained it and are maintaining it to this day.
The Danube Swabians created organizations and associations such as German language schools, music bands, youth and sport groups, choirs, etc. to preserve their language, songs, dances, and customs. Their favorite sport, soccer, has also been furthered, as the creation of today's many soccer clubs shows. These organizations are welcomed at many public events to entertain with their music and dance. The members of the Danube Swabian groups are especially grateful that they have been welcomed and accepted by the public and praised by the various city, county, and state administrations.