Category Archives: German American Heritage Foundation

Utopia Exhibit opens at GAHM in Washington DC

In an invitation from Petra Schuermann, Executive Director of the German American Heritage Museum in Washington, DC “Last Saturday, on September 6, we opened the biggest and most complex exhibit that has ever been on display at the GAHM: UTOPIA – Revisiting a German State in 

Utopia installation -  Washington DC - September 2014 - photo Peter Roloff-0419America. Last Tuesday, a 40-foot-truck carrying more than 3.6 tons of exhibit material stopped in front of our small museum. Brought to us by the Traveling Summer Republic, an organization of scholars, researchers, and artists headed by project manager Peter Roloff, this exhibit explores a widely unknown chapter of German-American history:

The plan of several hundred people from Giessen who were disillusioned about the lack of a democratic order in Germany and who set out to America in 1834 to create a German-speaking democracy on US soil and to eventually return to Germany to bring democratic order to their home country. As evident by the exhibit name, their goal was never realized, though these immigrants quickly integrated and shaped American society by supporting the Abolitionist movement and becoming involved in local and national politics.Utopia exhibit - Washington DC - opening - September 6, 2014 - photo Peter Roloff-0631-2

The exhibit followed the path of the emigrants from Giessen via Bremen and Bremerhaven to Baltimore where the project team, today’s “emigrants”, where greeted with a welcome ceremony at the Baltimore Immigration Memorial Garden at Locust Point and a reception at the Immigrant House next to the United Church of Christ.

Baltimore gives a very warm welcome!
Baltimore gives a very warm welcome!

It took four days to set the exhibit up in our museum, where it will be on display until October 25. It will then embark to Missouri for its final destination at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. We hope to see you soon at our museum. We invite you to embark with us on a journey through utopian ideas from the past to the present.”

Exhibit Opening on Saturday, September 6, 2014

Muench family holds reunion in D.C. and visits Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America

Upcoming UTOPIA Events at GAHM

Special museum opening hours for Utopia:

September 7 – 13: 11 AM to 7 PM (daily)
Utopia project manager Peter Roloff is available for special tours and interviews upon request. Please contact the museum to schedule interviews at  202.467.5000.

September 9, 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM
Deutsch am Mittag hosted by the Goethe-Institut at the GAHM
Topic: Utopia! – Revisiting a German State in America. Discussion (in German) with Peter Roloff (Feel free to bring your own lunch.) Practice your German while exploring this new exhibit at the GAHM.
September 12, 2014  6 PM
Guest lecture with Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Armin Burkhardt, Institut fuer Germanistik at the Otto-von-Guericke-Universitaet Magdeburg. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Professor Burkhardt will speak about the legendary press conference of Guenter Schabowski on November 9, 1989 and the linguistic misunderstandings that eventually let to the fall of the Berlin Wall that day. Please RSVP to this event
September 13 from 11 AM to 1 PM:
Fruehschoppen with guest speaker Peter Roloff, artistic director and exhibit project manager of “Utopia”,  discussing utopias then and today.

After September 13, the regular opening hours of the GAHM are TuesdayFriday, 11 AM to 6 PM, Saturday 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Screening of Home from Home – Chronicle of a Vision (Die andere Heimat – Chronik einer Sehnsucht). Film by Edgar Reitz (in English)
Wednesday, September 11, 2014, 6 pm
Introduced by Peter Roloff, project manager, exhibition “Utopia: Revisiting a German State in America.” – In the mid-19th century, hundreds of thousands of Europeans emigrated to faraway South America in a desperate bid to escape the famine, poverty and despotism that ruled at home. Their motto was “Any fate is better than death.” This drama and love story is set against the true backdrop of this forgotten tragedy. It centers around two brothers who realize that only their dreams can save them.
Location: Goethe-Institut Washington, Goethe Forum. Admission: $7/$4.
Please RSVP at (202) 289-1200 or

The American Goethe Society Presents German Orientalism
Wednesday, September 17th, 6:45 PM
Assistant Professor Julie Koser, Ph.D. will give a lecture on the role Orientalism played in the literary achievements of author Benedikte Naubert and subsequent German writers. The lecture will take place at the Goethe-Institut in DC. Please RSVP in advance at, or visit for more information.

World War I Film Series at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, DC
Tuesday, August 19th – Monday, October 6th
The Goethe-Institut in Washington, DC is hosting a film series that started August 19th, which centers on the reaction of soldiers and artists to World War I – a war that traumatized Europe. The film series accompanies the exhibit “Postcards from the Trenches: Germans and Americans Visualize the Great War”, on display at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. Please click here for more details.

Postcards from the Trenches at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery in Washington, DC
Tuesday, August 19 – Saturday, September 27th
2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, which is being commemorated in many ways in the United States and throughout the world. One example is the newly opened exhibit “Postcards from the Trenches” at the Pepco Edison Place.  The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 4:00 pm and entrance to the exhibit is free of charge. Please
click here for more details.

Next at GAHM

A Piece of History is on its Way from Berlin to its New Home in Washington, DC. The GAHM is eagerly awaiting the arrival of its newest museum addition.Soon, visitors to the GAHM will be able to get a personal look at a relic of the not-so-distant past: Thanks to the generous gift of the Senatskanzlei of Berlin, a panel of the Berlin Wall will soon be added to the GAHM’s collection.

Although it has been nearly 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down, kickstarting the reunification of East and West Germany, the Berlin Wall’s significance still resonates with Germans in their native country and German immigrants around the world. Stay tuned for travel updates as this massive panel makes its way across the ocean to the United States courtesy of the German-based shipping company Kuehne + Nagel.








Are you following Utopia? Led by an unknown German woman with her precious cargo, who arrived at the Port of Baltimore on Monday evening. She spent the evening at the Baltimore Immigration center after a warm welcome. On Tuesday morning the cargo container followed and pulled up at the German American Heritage Museum. Now the real American journey begins as Utopia -Revisiting a German State in America is unpacked and readied. The Exhibition makes its American debut at the museum at 719 6th St NW at 4:30 pm on Saturday, September 6th. Follow UTOPIA!



Land of Opportunities

The German Historical Institute is contributing “Land of Opportunities”  to Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America in the upcoming exhibit opening on September 6, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. in Washington, the German American Heritage Foundation’s museum.  This is part  of the  Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies  1720 to the Present  program by GHI.  See  the PDF with more information 20140722_Giessener_Allgemeine.

The Giessen Emigration Society was a pioneer of German mass immigration into the U.S. Most newcomers became farmers, craftsmen, retailers, or skilled workers; but German-Americans shaped the U.S. with entrepreneurial spirit and capital as well.

Eberhard Anheuser (1806-1880) grew up in a family of winemakers in Rhenish Prussia. Wine prices, however, declined rapidly, swaying him and his young family to move to Cincinnati in 1843 and then to St. Louis in 1845. He started a career as a soap maker, predominately in the factory of Silesian emigrant William D’Oench.

From the 1850s, he became a partner in several larger soap, oil, and candle firms. In 1860 Anheuser used his capital to invest in the Bavarian Brewery in St. Louis, founded by Bavarian immigrant Georg Schneider. Anheuser benefitted from the Civil War, selling large amounts of beer to Union soldiers. From the 1870s, Anheuser and his son-in-law, Hessian immigrant Adolphus Busch, invested heavily in advanced European technology and used modern advertisement to become, a decade later, the world’s largest brewery.

Mathilde Franziska Anneke (1817-1884) became a social entrepreneur after her arrival in the U.S. in 1849. Having grown up in a wealthy Westphalian family of nobility, she became notorious for her divorce from her first husband. Already active as a writer and a journalist, Anneke engaged herself in womens’ rights topics. She married Fritz Anneke, a former Prussian officer and socialist, and together they were active in the revolution in Baden 1848/49. The family had to flee to America, to Milwaukee. In 1852, she founded the first feminist newspaper in the U.S., Die Deutsche Frauen-Zeitung. She was active as a writer and as the head of the Milwaukee Töchter Institut, established in 1865. Anneke, who published in German, worked closely with Anglo-American women and was an important voice for women’s suffrage and abolition.

The Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America exhibit will open at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis on November 22, 2014.