Sunday, January 19, 1902 - Page 1, column 3, middle

The Mission of the German Woman in America


From a German Mother


German Love and German Truth,
German Song, the German Word.
These should always be remembered,
Sweet ancient echoes forever heard.

It's often heard within spirited conversations of German men that since the German Empire holds such an excellent position among the nations of the world, the Germans of this country should also have better standing. But in speaking to people, how can one show that long-despised and ignored Germany is worthy of recognition when no definitive contributions are named. Things are better now than they were in times past. It's now possible for the German people to put their own stamp on things regarding their business and social lives, to live in accordance with their particular customs and manners, to enjoy their particular forms of recreation, and to celebrate their own festivals. German organizations had experienced a tremendous resurgence in recent years and here today there are many German clubs, which perpetuate the cultural life of the old fatherland. They have inscribed their goal upon their banners just as other nations have done. The first theory, which can be postulated from this circumstance, is that the national traits of true Germans may go hand in hand with business acumen. Americans perceive this as a mark of their character.

But — by way of analysis should we not ask: Why is it that our men have remained more German than we have when we look at so many German families? The way in which men conduct their lives outside the home, the manner in which men spend their free time and in which they celebrate their festivals with or without their families - these things are equally German as colored by their diverse origins whether they come from the shores of the Neckar, the Rhine, the Mainz, etc. But when we inspect the realm of German women, especially that of the German matriarch, one may often say, "Germania, hide your head. Here you are not known!"

Whose fault is it when the German word and German song have no place at the kitchen table? If the tone with which children address their parents and the manner in which they deal with them is the direct opposite of the way things were in our parents' house, there's only one possibility. Whose fault is it if our children know nothing of our wonderfully meaningful folksongs and their musical repertoire is made up exclusively by American street songs of the most tasteless variety? Finally whose fault is it when our sons and daughters are ashamed of their German heritage, their parents' language and their German-sounding names? Why should our mothers find it impossible to achieve in their own families what their husbands have managed to achieve throughout the nation: respect for their homeland, their language, their customs and their songs?

Slowly, one step at a time the mother guides the spiritual and emotional life of her children from their birth onwards — many, very many German mothers in this country, have brought their children up to understand the relationship between the parents' manners and ways of thinking and at the same time given them a means of achieving and prospering in their birth land. However many have cared for the physical wellbeing of their children but left their spiritual upbringing to the care of the schools, thus neglecting their souls. The children of German parents, who are estranged from their German community, do not in many cases

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prosper while living the American way of life and the educated American does not hold them in higher regard because they deny their heritage. He just says to himself, "That could never happen in my own family."

From the beginning we mothers should piously apply the German tradition to the task of raising our children. With each word that we utter we should bring our children closer to an understanding for our way of life. We should educate them to heed what we teach and to understand what we esteem. These need not be specific teachings, which impart entire lessons on what we do and how we speak; rather it's a means by which our children grow up amid the influence and become a part of it. Do we not come from a land, which all people of the world look at with respect, so why should the German have to place himself behind the citizens of other nations of the world or hide himself from the American? If we allow the American to continue with his misconception then why should he learn otherwise?

There are people who scarcely step foot in this country and yet who hastily pick up a few tidbits of English and sprinkle them into their German conversations and at the end of the day when they do not manage to master the English language these tidbits, most of which are slang words, become part of their vocabulary at home. Instead of thinking fondly of the old homeland, Germany is rebuked; instead of honoring German customs, they are ridiculed. People don't teach their children German fairytales, people don't sing or teach their children to sing German songs; people don't teach their children German poetry, they only educate them to become American children and never turn to the German educational system, which trained us so well — and one beautiful day we see that the children are grown and the parents notice that there is not the slightest sympathic bond between themselves and their children. They are so estranged from one another that they have nothing in common. Is it up to the native-born Americans of the educated class to elevate their consciences and develop a respect for the German people when our own children deny it to their parents for being German?

The German woman of the middle class can do much to see that we assume a higher status in the eyes of the American than is currently the case. The worth of the German woman will never be esteemed as highly as that of the American woman in the eyes of the native born in their adopted land until she herself believes in her own worth.

We German women have here in this country a double mission: we must learn to respect ourselves as individuals and empower ourselves to educate our children so as to produce a generation which commands respect. "Test everything and keep that which is best!" Remain true to the German character in its best aspects, instill this in your children, and make adjustments for this country and its customs. This represents progress and improvement.

The German language and the German songs, German poetry and the German ideal — the strict customs of our German homeland — we should hold these dear within our families and instill them in our children —this is our duty, this is the mission of the German woman in America!