It has seemed to me worth while to show from the history of civilization just what war has done and has not done for the welfare of mankind. In the eighteenth century it was assumed that the primitive state of mankind was one of Arcadian peace, joy, and contentment.
The earliest recorded German immigrants to Louisiana arrived inand Germans continue to arrive every year, especially in the New Orleans area. The fact that residents of German descent actually comprise Louisiana's largest cultural group is often overlooked, and it has only been in the last decade that scholarly forays have been made into this history.
Courtesy of Stewart Eastman. According to Reverend Heinz Neumann, who maintains the Deutsche Seemannsmission German Seamen's Mission in New Orleans, "The two world wars contributed to the muting of this culture in Louisiana and America, so that many people are not aware of the German traditions here and the contributions Germans continue to make in Louisiana.
These ties are not often recognized or understood by Louisiana's non-German residents. Recalls Brigitta Malm of Covington: There has been a lot of help by the German government and other institutions after the hurricane.
However, it has been very difficult to get coverage of this support. There was a team of 90 people here from the Deutsches Hilfswerk [German aid organization]; they came with pumps and stayed on a ship in Chalmette and apparently did a great job in pumping out the water from New Orleans.
There was also financial help from the German government, and a donation collected by a North German newspaper in Schleswig Holstein was divided and given to City Park, a food mission on the West Bank, and several other organizations.
The most recent pre-Katrina population statistics available from the state of Louisiana report the number of people who are now Louisiana residents but were born in Germany as 4, Excluding the in Vernon Parish, largely due to the army base there, the statistics break down in the following order, from the largest German communities to the smallest that have 50 or more members.
The German community in our state goes back numerous generations, but continues to be enriched by new immigrants that strengthen the established community's ties to the homeland. Germans were among the earliest settlers in Louisiana; in fact, they arrived earlier than many of the more dominant cultural groups.
Many came from the disputed Alsace-Lorraine region, which helps to explain the easy assimilation of French and German customs, and a small but substantial portion of the earliest German settlers were Jewish. As a consequence of the social and economic success of these early Jewish settlers, attempts to import animosity toward Jews were largely unsuccessful in Louisiana's early days.
Louisiana's sparse population and its great need for enterprising citizens allowed individuals to be judged more on merit than religious creed, and records from the St.
Louis Cathedral make clear that intermarriage between Jews and Catholics was not uncommon. The Louisiana to which our earliest Germans emigrated was a state of tremendous opportunity that was nevertheless known as the "grave of young men.
Charles Parish; it's part of "Cote des Allemandes.
They were German farmers that were brought here by the French to farm, to start a new colony. I remember some things my grandfather and grandmother told me about [that time]; people worked so hard they didn't live long.
They died in their mid-fifties; they worked real hard. The elements-the mosquitoes, the wild animals, the Indians-it was a hard life. But in other ways they lived a good life, you know. They raised fresh vegetables. My family also told me that the German Coast farmers kept New Orleans from starving during one emergency period because they provided fresh produce and the milk and cheeses and that type of thing.
In addition to the advantages a port city like New Orleans offered to budding entrepreneurs of the 18th and 19th centuries, the crime, disease, and lack of sanitation made it a dangerous place that discouraged many who tried to establish themselves there.
Ochsner, Garrett Schwegmann, and Joseph Francis Rummel-rose from a variety of backgrounds to become forces for progress in their new state. Many German names were legally "Americanized"; in Louisiana this meant that the "new" name appears French, so that the German "Troxler" became "Trosclair," "Zweig" became "Labranche," and so on.
The changing of immigrants' names, and the fact that Germans have been discouraged from speaking German or openly practicing their inherited customs for several generations, has had the effect that a good number of Louisiana's younger residents of German heritage do not know about their own cultural backgrounds.
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