Shaping the Circle

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EXHIBIT: Cultural Conflict and Acculturation

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anonymous letter
Anonymous letter to directors of Das Deutsche Haus, urging them to change the building's name.

better home
It is a better name.

WORLD WAR I

Since [the] basic cultural conflict between the Germans and the puritanically influenced native element was already apparent prior to 1914, the shift of American preferences and political orientation toward Great Britain at the outbreak of the war in Europe sharpened the differences and widened the gulf between the two groups. . . . The World War and its aftermath deeply affected the German-Americans in Indianapolis and throughout the country. It caused a sharp curtailment of German activities and a decline in German organizations and institutions. The Twenty-fifth Annual Saengerfest of the Northeastern Saengerbund was postponed; most German-language papers were suspended; the names of many groups were Americanized. . . . [In 1918] the name of "Das Deutsche Haus" was dropped and changed to "Athenaeum." The Maennerchor temporarily dubbed itself the "Academy of Music," and the German lettering on the front of Trinity Lutheran was changed to English. There was a nationwide movement to eliminate German names from public buildings, streets and parks, and there were numerous Schmidts who became Smiths, and Muellers who became Millers. . . . These efforts to placate the rest of the community paid dividends, for there were no public demonstrations against the Germans in Indianapolis as there were in other cities. Nor were there any overt acts of oppression. Compared to other Midwestern cities both the Germans and the nativists in Indianapolis behaved themselves and remained, at least outwardly, at peace with one another.

 


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Updated: 29 April 2004, RKB
Comments: speccoll@iupui.edu
URL: http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/special/digproj/circle/exhibit5_6.html

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