GACL logoAbout the GACL

Officers and Committee Chairs

History of GACL

Activities and Accomplishments


Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann

First Vice President
Manfred Schnetzer

Second Vice President
Wilhelm Kraeling

Marge Poole

Karin Albrecht

Special Envoy
Chuck Dietz


Committee Chairs:

Editor, German-American News
Marge Poole

Museum Curator
Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann

Museum Guides
Wilhelm Kraeling

German-American Heritage Month
Kenny Burck

German Day Raffle
Pete Poole

Genealogy Information
LeeAnn McNabb

GACL Webmeisterin
Anna Heran

A Brief History of the German-American Citizens League
of Greater Cincinnati

German Heritage historical markerCincinnati's German heritage dates back to 1788 with the arrival of the first Germans to the area. In 1819, the first German society, or Verein, was organized, and numerous others were formed in the 19th century.

In 1883, the German-American Bicentennial of the founding of Germantown, Pennsylvania, the first all-German settlement in America, was celebrated on the 6th of October in Cincinnati. Instrumental in organizing this celebration was the Pionier-Verein (German Pioneer Society), and especially its members Heinrich A. Rattermann and Dr. H.H. Fick. The 1883 Bicentennial was called Pastorius Day in honor of Germantown's founder, Franz Daniel Pastorius.

Thereafter, Pastorius Day came to be known simply as Deutscher Tag, or German Day, and was held sporadically until the celebration in 1895 at the Cincinnati Zoo attracted 12,000 people. Part of the entertainment that day was provided by the newly formed Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. As a result of the tremendous success of the event, it was decided that the celebration would be held annually. To facilitate this, an organization called The German Day Society (Deutsche Tag-Gesellschaft) was created. Additional goals were also designated by the newly formed group, primarily directed at combatting the then prevalent prohibition movement and the anti-bilingual instruction movement in schools. Both movements were defeated in Cincinnati thanks to the work of the organization.

The German Day Society changed its name to the German-American Alliance of Cincinnati when it became an affiliate of the National German-American Alliance in 1906. Due to the anti-German hysteria of World War I, the Alliance was forced to change its name again, just as street names, businesses, etc. were also being changed. It became the American Citizens League (Amerikanische Bürger-Liga) until after World War II, when, acknowledging its roots, it became the German-American Citizens League (Deutsch-Amerikanische Bürger-Liga).

Judge John Schwaab, who also served on the Cincinnati Board of Education, served as President of the Bürger-Liga for many years. Other prominent individuals involved with the League were Judge A.K. Nippert and Judge August Bode. The League's meeting place for many years was at the Turner Hall, located at 12th and Walnut Streets in the Over-the-Rhine district and later at the Steuben Halle on Rohs Street. Thereafter the League met monthly at the Green Township Administration Building, until relocating its meeting place to the German Heritage Museum after its completion in late 1999.

Since 1895, the League has served as the central German-American umbrella association in the area, and continues to actively support and promote the civic, social and cultural interests of the German-American community. The League's membership is comprised of delegates from the many German-American organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area. The general purpose of the League is to coordinate, represent and promote German-American interests and culture throughout the region.

German-American Citizens League
Activities and Accomplishments

* 1995 marked the centennial year of the German-American Citizens League, and the celebration of the 100th German Day in the Greater Cincinnati area.

* The League actively supports the German-American Heritage Month (since 1989) and German Day celebrations (since 1895).

* In 1989 it was instrumental in introducing the study of the local German-American heritage into the curriculum of the schools in the city.

* It was instrumental in organizing the first Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in 1976, and continues to support and be involved in the cultural information booth.

* In the past, the League has sponsored a monthly lecture series together with the German-American Studies Program of the University of Cincinnati.

* In 1996, the League was responsible for the placement of historic informational signs of the former German street names in Cincinnati, which were changed into English street names during World War I.

* Each year, the League presents awards to outstanding students of German at high schools in the area. The League actively supports German radio programs in the Cincinnati area and publishes a newsletter, The German-American News/Deutsch-Amerikanische Nachrichten.

German Heritage Museum* The League's most ambitious project, the construction of The German Heritage Museum, was completed in 2000 and is now open to the public. Hours are Sundays 1 - 5 pm from from the Sunday after Mother's Day through the end of October. The museum is located in West Fork Park in Green Township, a suburban area on the west side of Cincinnati, Ohio. This museum stands as the repository of the history of German-Americans in the Ohio Valley region of the Midwest.

Through all of the mentioned activities, the League has remained true to its goal of promoting German-American interests and culture in the Cincinnati area and beyond.