Browsing the vendor offerings at the International Germanic Genealogy Partners Conference, I wondered what I could possibly find that I’d be willing to carry home in my luggage. And then, there it was, a book I’d been trying to track down for eight years. In the introduction to the English edition, the translator Steven Rowan notes:
The Swan Song of the Cleveland Germans? The second edition of “Cleveland and Its Germans ” can be scanned for symptoms of the ongoing process of assimilation which would receive a sudden shock of acceleration within a decade with the entry of the United States into World War I.
This statement is painfully true, especially given how strident the anti-German hysteria became in Ohio cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati. As a consequence, German families changed their surnames to sound less German, German books were removed from libraries, the German language was no longer taught in schools. But even without the onset of WWI, the assimilation process was bound to continue. In that light, Rowan’s conclusion also resonated:
At this distance the death of German Cleveland has an inevitable and elegaic quality, but it also warns us of the costs of compulsory conformity in a mass society.
Hmm, food for thought. Anyhow, I’m happy to have the book for its biographies and write-ups, and it completes my collection.
What with the discovery of that book today, and the many great people I met and stories I heard, I’m one happy camper. After many hours inside, though, I felt a bit desperate for some greenery, so headed over for a walk on the grounds of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park. The greenery and serenity and silence were golden.