German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati Deutsch-Amerikanische Bürger-Liga von Gross-Cincinnati
A Brief History of the
German-American Citizens League
of Greater Cincinnati
Cincinnati's German heritage dates back to 1788 with the arrival of the first Germans to the area. In 1819, the first German society, or Verein, was organized, and numerous others were formed in the 19th century.
In 1883, the German-American Bicentennial of the founding of Germantown, Pennsylvania, the first all-German settlement in America, was celebrated on the 6th of October in Cincinnati. Instrumental in organizing this celebration was the Pionier-Verein (German Pioneer Society), and especially its members Heinrich A. Rattermann and Dr. H.H. Fick. The 1883 Bicentennial was called Pastorius Day in honor of Germantown's founder, Franz Daniel Pastorius.
Thereafter, Pastorius Day came to be known simply as Deutscher Tag, or German Day, and was held sporadically until the celebration in 1895 at the Cincinnati Zoo attracted 12,000 people. Part of the entertainment that day was provided by the newly formed Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. As a result of the tremendous success of the event, it was decided that the celebration would be held annually. To facilitate this, an organization called The German Day Society (Deutsche Tag-Gesellschaft) was created. Additional goals were also designated by the newly formed group, primarily directed at combatting the then prevalent prohibition movement and the anti-bilingual instruction movement in schools. Both movements were defeated in Cincinnati thanks to the work of the organization.
The German Day Society changed its name to the German-American Alliance of Cincinnati when it became an affiliate of the National German-American Alliance in 1906. Due to the anti-German hysteria of World War I, the Alliance was forced to change its name again, just as street names, businesses, etc. were also being changed. It became the American Citizens League (Amerikanische Bürger-Liga) until after World War II, when, acknowledging its roots, it became the German-American Citizens League (Deutsch-Amerikanische Bürger-Liga).
Judge John Schwaab, who also served on the Cincinnati Board of Education, served as President of the Bürger-Liga for many years. Other prominent individuals involved with the League were Judge A.K. Nippert and Judge August Bode. The League's meeting place for many years was at the Turner Hall, located at 12th and Walnut Streets in the Over-the-Rhine district and later at the Steuben Halle on Rohs Street. Currently the League meets monthly at the Green Township Administration Building, until relocating its meeting place to the German Heritage Museum after its completion in late 1999.
Since 1895, the League has served as the central German-American umbrella association in the area, and continues to actively support and promote the civic, social and cultural interests of the German-American community. The League's membership is comprised of delegates from the many German-American organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area. The general purpose of the League is to coordinate, represent and promote German-American interests and culture.