DSFoundationUSA - OMA_ABT_2017
|The Danube Swabian Foundation of the U.S.A., Inc.
Die Donauschwaebische Stiftung der USA, Inc.
|4th year's (2017) writing an essay was:
|What is the future of the Donauschwaben and what can
you do to ensure the continuation of the Donauschwaben
and the Donauschwaben Vereins?
These are their essays:
Sophia Sterzl McMullen
The Future of the Donauschwaben Community
Heather Wagoner Los Angeles Donauschwaben Dance Group
The Donauschwaben Community is currently working to continue the legacy of our ancestors, and preserve
the story of their culture. Our history textbooks only cover the surface of those who suffered under Nazi
fascism– leaving out the atrocity committed against the Donauschwaben under Tito leadership. This is why
it is our responsibility, as the future generation, to carry on the tradition of our ancestors. To ensure a
positive future of the Donauschwaben, we must build a stronger educational system within our dance group
community. By giving historical background to the audience before performing, it will make people aware
of our small, but significant community. Prior to World War II, there were over 1.5 million Schwobs
populating the Banat. The cruel treatment from labor and extermination camps or forced migration reduced
the small community to lose more than one million of these Schwobs. I believe that it
is important to continue the legacy of the Donauschwaben who survived this tragedy because we must
inform and teach our relatives how to spread and keep alive the tradition. It is vital we work with
progressive methods to reach out to the younger generation by using social media. We can patent an app
for fellow Donauschwabens to reach out to one another world wide and post stories of their relatives.
Creating documentaries and interviewing our ancestors who lived through this genocide can help keep
historical documentation for generations to come. These videos can be played for new members of the
dance group to grasp a better understanding of their culture. Another way to preserve the
Donauschwaben tradition is through cooking recipes that were passed down from our Omas and Opas.
Cooking is always relevant and by integrating recipes to cook with our family it will be a fun,
important way to stay in touch with our heritage. I find it important to reach out internationally to more
people by creating exciting events where people can be exposed to our culture with activities, food
and educational programs, possibly including fundraisers. Using these proceeds, we can invest in
building local museums based on the Donauschwaben Verein where their stories our told and there is
information provided to explain the foundation of the historical genocide. My Donauschwaben
heritage is so important to me and exposing others to my tradition is so powerful. There are many
Schwobs that care about our history and want to preserve it. I believe by working together
globally, we can ensure the future of the Donanschwaben and our Verein.
Carrying The Legacy
Sophia Sterzl-McMullen Deutscher Kulturverein Saint Louis, Missouri
Often, we consider the future uncertain- we cannot predict what will happen or even when things will
happen, yet we attempt nonetheless. There is a phrase, “to know the future, one must look to the past.”
The past for us, lies in our forefathers who traveled across the sea from the Schwabenland. They
couldn’t predict what was to come, yet they continued in pursuit of their dreams: better lives for their
future- their children. Soon, those dreams manifested in the form of over 20 Vereins in the US. and
Canada.As they continued to thrive, they extended generations, now reaching mine.
Over 50 years following the immigration of people like my Omi and Opa, my generation faces similar
hardships. These don’t include traveling across an ocean- our challenges are far greater. Today, our
uncertainty lies in the continuance of everything our predecessors worked tirelessly to found, so that
like them, we establish our own future.
Now I know what you’re thinking- who is the future exactly, and how am I a part of it? To both
questions, my answer is simple. We are the future. The future starts with you, and I, and everyone you
encounter. It continues in a long legacy. The first step towards the future comes in remembering where
we came from. Through telling and teaching the stories, traditions, and language which people like Omi
and Opa carried with them, we can keep what they started alive. But, keeping the old traditions doesn’t
mean we can’t start our own, either. For example, my generation carries traditions like the dance we
created to “Anton Aus Tirol” or our “Oh pa lay lay” chant. By combining our new traditions with
those of old, we are keeping our culture vibrant, alive, and evolving.
Next, I and others my age have to become active in the proceedings of our local Vereins. This means
being part of the solution: like assisting in the maintenance of our grounds, or working in our kitchens
selling food for events. In utilizing my abilities and talents, I can become active in my organization;
benefitting my Donauschwaben heritage, furthering it, and encouraging others to do the same. My
generation becomes the generation of future leaders- bright eyed and culturally woke, just as our
parents raised us to be.
Finally, through combining traditions old and new, taking leadership roles, and remaining proud
Schwobs, we keep our heritage going. Not just for 10, 20, or even 100 years, our steps ensure being a
Schwob stands the test of time. We ensure our Omi's and Opa’s legacies will not be left behind. Like
them, we can’t predict what challenges await us. We must persist as they did: joyful for our
opportunities, and thankful for the freedom to express pride in our culture. But more importantly;
It's not about who they are, who you are, or who I am. It's about all of us: where we've been and
where we're going. We have to take charge of our future. Will you?
What is the future of the Donauschwaben, and what can you do to ensure
the continuation of the Donauschwaben and the Donauschwaben Verein?
Megan Landis Akron, Ohio
Our ancestors came from a long line of Catholic peasants and poor artisans, who escaped the Ottomans,
settled along the Danube River and formed a unique cultural heritage and language. The Swabians, as
their neighbors called them, later migrated to the states and created organizations to
bind their communities together. The future of the Donauschwaben rests in the hands of me and
ther youth to pass on the legacy of our ancestors.
At the age of 20 years old, my great-grandfather emigrated from Germany to re-settle in the “Land
of the Free,” specifically Akron, Ohio. Alfons Frank did not know the English language, and he
carried few belongings. In the late 1920s, the job market in Germany was not promising, and despite
my great-grandfather’s immense pride of his German heritage, he felt he would find more opportunity
in the United States. Shortly after arriving in this country, he joined the Akron German Club where he
met his future frau and participated in the Maennerchor - the men’s choir.
After Alfons passed away, my mother decided to join the German Family Society (GFS) of
Akron to stay connected to the German community. She wanted to raise my brother and me under
the Donauschwaben influence so that we would grow up knowing the background of our family.
My brother and I have danced in the Akron group starting as young children. The youth groups
remain the most important key to continuing the Donauschwaben Verein.
To ensure the continuation of the spirit of our Donauschwaben ancestors, I can uphold the
virtues that our ancestors possessed including freedom, individuality, endurance, and integrity.
I can support policies that welcome immigrants to this country, realizing that we, too, once
sought the United States of America as a refuge, a place to escape the destruction of our people.
I believe that part of ensuring the continuation of the Donauschwaben and Donauschwaben
Verein is through allowing otherreligions and peoples to exist peacefully amongst our own,
encouraging the liberty to practice all aspects of their culture.
I can also join with my family, friends, and our club to preserve the cuisine, songs, dances, and customs
celebrated so dearly by the Schwobs. By reaching out to the whole community, including
all German and non-German descendants, everyone can enjoy the Donauschwaben culture.
Friendship and cheer and acceptance should be the common themes prevalent in the groups.
I can also use education as a tool to interest others in their own history. We can tell the real
story about how our relatives escaped devastation in the midst of WWI and WWII or offer to
teach the Swabian dialect. Finally, I can assist with accruing funds from the festivals to organize
trips for members of our clubs across the U.S. to the Donauschwaben region in Germany.
The future of the Donauschwaben looks bright, as long as I and others like me collaborate to
ensure the continuation of the Donauschwaben and the Donauschwaben Verein.