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05 Jan 1959

Orphans Of History
Donauschwaben Find Peace Here After 250 Years Of Fear And Sorrow
By Gerald White, Enquirer Reporter
Published at DVHH.org 25 Feb 2021 by Jody McKim Pharr

DONAUSCHWABEN SOCIETY youngsters wear old world costumes as they prepare for a folk-dancing session fit the society clubrooms, 1708 Logan St. Left to right, Margaret Bogner, Walter Bambach, Hedwig Lang, Peter Lind, Barbara Spiess, Dominik Schneider.

     They started coming to the green hills of the Ohio Valley 10 years ago from the old world of fear and sorrow. Orphans of history, they carried their past in thin suitcases, looking for a place to end their wanderings.
They were doubly displaced persons - the Donauschwabens, German speaking people who had never lived in Germany.
     Their ancestors had left homes In Germany two and a half centuries ago at the whim of a queen. And, after World War II, they were forced by Communist tyrants from their homes in Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary.
Within five yean, 500 families had settled in the Cincinnati area. They got jobs, became citizens and found a new world of peace.
     How do they feel now?

      "I wouldn't go back if they gave me all of Europe." said Karl Mohaupt, 475 Riddle Rd, as he and three other Donauschwaben Society members played cards and sipped beer in their clubrooms at 1708 Logan St.
     Others were Albert Zimmer, 2269 Moffat Ct, society's immediate past president: Michael Lind, 2674 Cora Ave, president, and John Dolwig, 1404 Race St.
     To reach Cincinnati, Mr. Dolwig had to escape from a Yugoslav work camp while Mr. Lind and Mr. Mohaupt fled before Russian armies crushed their people in Romania.
     Mr. Zimmer moved here about 40 years ago from Germany but is a Donauschwaben by marriage.
"What is a Donauschwaben?" Mr. Zimmer, a student of the) history of his wife's people, asked himself. "Well, I would say a Donauschwaben is misplaced German who became an orphan by neglect."
     He explained how the group had moved to swamplands several hundred miles southeast of Germany to please a queen who wanted them to act as buffers between the East-Turks at that time and the West . . . How they had been gradually forgotten by Germany . . . How they had lived in their German speaking villages and worked the soil until Communists chased them away or caught them in a deadly net.
"Tito and his Communist partisans killed 200,000 German speaking people In Yugoslavia."  Mr. Dolwig said sadly. "I lost my father, brother and grandparents. Some people they killed right away - others they stuck into work camps where they starved to death.

'Top center insert'

     'So Geht's..."
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? At least 15 percent of Greater Cincinnati resident could say yes to the question: "Do you speak German?"
     With the influx of many German speaking people from European countries since World War II, the percentage is at a 40-year high.
     After World War I, shout 10 per cent of Cincinnatians spoke German and the figure dwindled until the arrival of the German refugees. One of the largest groups of German speaking people to move here in the last 10 years were the Donauschwaben.

     Mr. Dolwig escaped on a Yugoslav holiday when the guard celebrated drunkenly. He slipped into Romania and later into Austria before moving to Cincinnati.

"I don't like to bring up all this" Mr. Dolwig said as the others at his table nodded agreement. "A man cannot keep remembering all these things we must forget sometime.

 "I don't like to bring up all this" Mr. Dolwig said as the others at his table nodded agreement. "A man cannot keep remembering all these things we must forget sometime.
"But I must tell them because I think America l making a mistake in feeding Tito. He sits in two chairs - takes from us in one chair but he is still a Communist in the other."
     "You can never change a Communist," Mr. Mohaupt said. "Well, maybe, if you cut off his head, then he won't be a Communist. But let's talk about America and our society."
     Mr. Lind said the group was formed in 1953, has a membership of 1000 Donauschwaben families, sponsors singing groups, two soccer teams, folk dancing and German language classes, and is the social heart of the Donauschwaben community.

But the Logan Street clubrooms are not the geographical heart of the Cincinnati Donauschwaben community. No longer do all German speaking people live in the Over-The-Rhine area. Now, they are scattered through the city.
     "They live in no special places and have no special jobs," Mr. Zimmer said. "They do everything they did in Europe. They're carpenters, masons, butchers, repairmen. everything. Anil they live so far apart they need a club like this to meet old friend and have good fun together."
     "But that's not the main reason we formed this society," Mr. Lind added quickly. "Most of us came from farms in Europe and our children didn't know the dangers of city life. So we formed this club so we could help our kids and give them a safe place to go."
As he spoke, the sounds of dancing, laughing youngsters rolled in from the next room.
     "But our kid aren't having much trouble getting along in America," Mr. Mohaupt said. "In fact, sometimes we are worried by the quick way they are learning American ways and talk. We are afraid they may soon forget their parents' history and language all together."
     To help their youngsters maintain ties with the past, the Donauschwaben Society sponsors weekly German language classes st Hughes High School.
"I wish our old people could get along as well as the children," Mr. Dolwig said. In Europe, they concentrated on their churches. Here, they go to churches, but services in English and they won't learn the new language so they don't get much out of church. It is so difficult for them-truly, they are lost in America."
     "You see, we Donauschwaben still have some problems." Mr. Mohaupt said, "But we like America."  I especially like being able to lock my house door at night and to say this is mine and nobody is going to take it away from me in the night."
     "You know what I like best about America?" Mr. Dolwig said. "Everybody is an American here--in Europe, there are so many people and they are all different and proud to be different. And you know something, nobody wants to change you in America--they respect you and let you alone. That doesn't happen in Europe."
"Yah, this is a good country this America," Mr. Mohaupt said. "And we Donauschwaben know we must help this country all we can--and you see, America is our last chance--we have nowhere else to go."


Last Updated: 25 Feb 2021

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