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April 2002 - Nr. 4


The Editor
Messestadt Leipzig
Vorsicht Satire!
Antje berichtet
Hier O.K. Berlin!
Purpose of Community
Russian Gala
Musical History
World of Olive Oil
Wine & Cheese Show
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Beethoven's 175th
"The Sphere"
Schönste Bücher
Greek Art & Ideas
Boris Becker in NY
Pinakothek der Moderne
Cleaner Environment
Berlin Funding...
Eiszeit Boot
German-American Exchange
West-Oestlicher Diwan
Christian von Krockow
Romance on the Rhine
Third Gold Medal
Students choose Germany
Soccer World Cup Test

The Purpose of Community

 by Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

The word community refers to togetherness by location or interests or heritage or purpose. Thus a community can consist of people with far-flung ideas from many different locations, which share something, something all members have in common, therefore making them a cohesive community. Therefore we also have smaller communities within our bigger communities. Our German-Canadian community does not hold all interests in common, but we are bound together by much of our heritage and the language. One should think that this is enough to find broad support for any endeavour that forwards German culture in this country. But that is of course not so. The interests, especially when money is concerned, are situated far apart. Broad communal support for any given purpose is not always a given, as some of us might have found out over the years.

Consul General Dr. Ulrich HochschildAs of just before Christmas Toronto has a new Consul General representing the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Ulrich Hochschild. He met some weeks ago with several members of the local ethnic German press in the Danube Swabian Club, offering his viewpoints on this community as he had formed them so far and continued to carry on this search and this message throughout the community at various occasions. Echo Germanica met since then with Dr. Hochschild to clarify some of his objectives.

After many meetings with various leading personalities he got the idea that in over 40 years no one prior to him had tried to unify the community from his post. This might find agreement with some, but not with others, who fondly remember Mr. and Mrs. Fournes as bold and active emissaries for Germany in our midst. But it is true that not all German-Canadian entities pull on the same end of the rope.

Over the years Echo Germanica has occasionally commented on this sad state of affairs. We have been acutely aware that there are many fractions in our community, one might say a hierarchy of betters to lowers; and of course the betters do not play with the lowers. Big business does not mingle with small business, academia does not communicate with anything less than its own members to uphold a standard, and some cultural entities look downright down their noses at some of the other communal efforts. We are dealing in fact with one or the other "prima Donna" as Dr. Hochschild put it accurately in one of his addresses. It is obvious to Dr. Hochschild that for instance the Goethe Institute, the German-Canadian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the German-Canadian Business Associations and other entities like them do not cooperate with the rest of the communities groups much.

He has stated that not all public entities are here to entertain the present German-Canadian community, neither is his office; but it is clear that co-operation between all groups could serve as a good base for improvement. The cross border relations between our two nations, while very friendly, leave a lot to be desired. This is partially because all news is distributed and fabricated via New York. There are no direct contacts or correspondents between our countries. We noticed that a first strong interest after unification of the two Germanys 10 years ago waned quickly. Since then more companies and German organisations have moved their head offices to the USA, including the German National Tourist Office. Thus visibility here in Canada of Germany is at a minimum and can stand improving.

Dr. Hochschild has been busy visiting all sorts of organisations, getting his feet wet, sort to speak, and also planning a change of the state of affairs he found here. In his short time here he has already put together what he hopes to be the "First Canadian-German Festival-Toronto 2002". Between April 24th and June 1st all sorts of interesting events will take place in Toronto and Kitchener, designed to address different aspects of German culture. Art exhibitions, soccer games, political cabaret, movies, concerts of classical music, jazz and winetasting, a fest for children (I will tell German fairy tales there) theatre and an academic symposium will all work against the stereotype of German culture in Lederhosen with sauerkraut and sausage.

The near 100 thousand dollars that have come together by pledge and some money from Germany speak of the commitment possible if the right person comes knocking on the right door. This brings us back to politics, afterall, Dr. Hochschild’s position has a purpose, which he has formulated into 3 points. His main purpose is to correct and/or improve the relations between Germany and Canada by expanding the Canadian perceptions about Germany. As sub-goal could be described the effort to unify the various German-Canadian fractions to that end and to move them towards better cooperation, and another thing will be the energizing of the Consulate through these activities.

Sounds really fantastic and very desirable. How far the broad field will play along after years of apathy and the pursuit of self-interests is another story. And not everyone is willing to give up that one best-loved enemy. Where would be the game?

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