Old and new beginnings
40 successful years
Danube Swabians have experienced as much unjust persecution as many other groups during the history of mankind. Their story though is set in the aftermath of WWII and perhaps because of it all the more repugnant. They were expulsed from their homelands of hundreds of years, where they had kept their German culture alive, including the language, no matter who was at the helm. Being expulsed was only the mildest form of persecution. There were unspeakable terrors that some of these people had to endure. While in Germany the Nuremberg Trials dominated the scene elsewhere concentration camps were sanctioned, apparently by the same people who publicly abhorred them.
Wherever they landed after they survived their ordeal these industrious people, with a strong will to survive not just as individuals but also as a group, they build something new. In Canada they formed an umbrella organization 40 years ago. To celebrate this anniversary Danube Swabians came together in Toronto in the month of September. Representatives of various local chapters and guest from as far away as Brazil and Los Angeles, USA, as well as dignitaries of governments congregated in the Blue Danube Club in Scarborough for a night of dining, speeches and remembrances.
The evening started with a cocktail reception for the founding members and special honoured guests, which were afterwards led to their tables by members of the Youth Group, and announced by the MC. This gave the proceedings a formality only reserved for special occasions. After a festive dinner with wine a colourful array of Danube Swabian groups walked in dressed in their traditional costumes. Together all the national anthems were played and sung, the German, Canadian, Swiss, and Austrian, as they were familiar. Only then the long list of dignitaries climbed the stage to the lectern and gave their well-formulated addresses.
In these speeches the sentiments of the Danube Swabians were eloquently reflected. The representatives of other organizations and governments, 21 in all, conveyed their best wishes and congratulations for continued success in Canada.
Pride in the accomplishments of the Danube Swabians was a frequent theme. Some listeners were quite unaware of the tight cooperation between smaller and larger groups worldwide. But this should not surprise. Injustice on such a grand scale tends to tie people together, no matter where they end up and how far apart they might be from one another. Of course, the founding fathers of the "Dachverband der Donauschwaben", as far as they were still around, were honoured for their foresight and good planning in keeping the Danube Swabians together as a "Volksgruppe" in order to maintain and practice German culture in its many different expressions.
German School opens its doors
On a fine sunny day in September the newest edition to German schools in Ontario welcomed the first few students. Planned for long time the wish for a full time school in German, with a curriculum from Germany, and also taking into account Canadian requirements, finally became reality. Located on Carlton Street in the well established Lycée Français, in the heart of Toronto, the school is ready to indoctrinate children from Kindergarten age and a first class into the secrets and pleasures of learning.. Each year, as the children grow into the next class, a new on will be added on automatically. This provides a natural growth. But should the demand suddenly escalate solutions will be found and provided, no doubt.
Parents and children attending this first day of school were pleasantly excited as they sang a special song to open the proceedings with a full compliment of dignitaries in attendance. It was a colourful picture when the kids posed for the camera with their teachers for the first time together as a group while proud parents looked on.
This was also the first time that the new Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mrs. Christiane Geissler-Kuss, officially was at hand to lend her support and say a few kind words. She was joined by the Consul General of France, Mr. Hugues Goisbault and Vice Consul Haack, who also heads up the school.
In our internationally oriented world this school is a wonderful opportunity for parents to ensure the global upbringing their children deserve to make their way. Adults who are stationed here for only a few years while their children are growing up are especially happy to have this venue available to them even though this is not the only criterion the school fits well.
The annual German Gala Ball this month will support the school.
This is a befitting and promising way to start a new Millennium, with an eye to the future.
30 years of Harmony
No one would have thought that the forming of a fanfare corps would mean so much to so many. When members of the Harmonie Club in Toronto helped to create this band, which calls itself now the Harmonie Brass Band, they probably did not have a clear vision of the future. They did not think that they would lose the building, the very structure that supported the cultural endeavours of an entire local German Canadian community. Many wonderful groups and other organizations where spawned there. Some of them still exist.
It is as Toni Baumann, President of the Danube Swabian Club, said on the evening the band chose to celebrate a belated 30th anniversary, when he referred to the difficulty to get young people to participate in the cultural practices of their elder’s culture. So much more amazing is the fact that they grew in every way. The band expanded its repertoire and with it the styles that they could play. Nowadays one could put them into any venue and they would perform to anyone’s expectations.
This evening was actually planned as a fundraiser for Operation go Home, which assists in the noble task of getting kids off the street and back together with their families when ever possible. Gabi Schick had volunteered to help this cause and enlisted us to participate. We could not think of a better way to celebrate life than helping children live a full and rewarding life and gladly helped out, especially since we knew that this organization does not get one penny from the government.
Unfortunately the board of directors pulled the plug on the event, we felt prematurely, and all rallied participants decided to just go ahead and have some fun for the cause anyway.
And fun it was for the 120 or so guests who came on only a few days notice to make it go right. Commendations should go to all of them, but especially to Gabi Schick and the band, which has served this and many other communities for 30 years generously and extremely well. They are so cohesive, have such a loyal following, it is hard to imagine our cultural landscape without them and their spirit of play.
And while we did celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band’s existence, we also raised some funds for the cause. A silent auction, arranged by, of course, Gabi Schick, who also hired the Lidos, a Mexican Band, to serenade the Harmonie Brass and the audience.
It was obvious that night: Good will creates harmony, always!
Kinowelt comes to Toronto
During the Toronto International Film Festival another first was introduced at the Goethe Institute. While around the corner at Roy Thompson Hall a vivacious crowd cheered at the arrival of Stars like Richard Geere and Farrah Fawcet the reception area at the Goethe Institute was filling up with film industry people from Germany and local invitees. With champagne and delicious appetizers the time was whiled away before the official opening of Kinoworl, One of Germany’s and Europe’s biggest promoters and distributors of film and other big crowd-pleasing events. Here too Consul General Mrs. Christiane Geissler-Kuss was at hand.
Kinoworld at the institute means that every Thursday evening from now on to the middle of December a German film will be shown, some of which have garnered much acclaim. All of them have English subtitles.
Whether you are a Margarethe von Trotta fan or you prefer Wim Wenders or Werner Herzog, Fassbinder or Ulrike Ottinger, each film is outstanding in its own right, spanning the period from 1967-1991 with the best Germany has to offer.
Call 416-593-5257 for more information.
The 27th Olympiad is sadly over. Yet, it was clear why it was given the honour of being the best ever. While each country always tries to express the Olympic spirit within its own cultural structure, this time the world played along in achieving something of the original intention, namely that the games should not be linked to political competition, should not be a battlefield of power plays between nations, but an honest measuring of achievements, a display of how mankind can cooperate and be in harmony with its surroundings and people. Even the broadcasts got caught up in this renewed feeling of admiration for all who work hard and can achieve the sheer impossible. Aside from some unfortunate forbidden substance stories this Olympiad stood out with the surrounding aesthetics, good will and playfulness, showing us that big dreams are worth dreaming because they can become reality. Australia and the world’s athletes set the good example; we should follow and support those dreams for a better world. Having watched these Australian Olympics set such a brilliant example we here in Toronto can forget our petty squabbles and get on with creating a unified front in our bid for the Olympics.
No doubt the next Olympic games in Athens will revive even more of the original Olympic spirit and redefine the ancient ideals for us in our modern world.
Until next time and as always
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