Frank L. Nechvatal
Our Christmas dinner in the Horizon Room was ausgezeichnet (outstanding). A job well done by our Co-Presidents Delores Kline and Larry Schoenborn! Our January meeting focused on the celebration of Fasching, or Fastnacht, or Karneval. This, of course, is a first cousin of Mardi Gras. What is all of this about? Well, it is the celebration of the start of Lent. Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It commemorates the period of time Jesus spent in the desert fasting before he went to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. He subsequently was arrested and sentenced to death on a cross, a Roman form of execution. On the third day after his death (Good Friday) Jesus arose from his tomb which is marked by the Easter holiday. In many European countries and in New Orleans, the people celebrate with great gusto before the start of Lent which is marked by Ash Wednesday. The frivolity expresses man’s desire for pleasure in wine and food before Christians embark on 40 days of fasting or giving up something in their lives before Easter Sunday.
The German Club usually celebrates by wearing costumes and beads to the meeting with lots of desserts. Plans for the remaining meetings of our 2015-2016 season were discussed.
In our history presentation we left off with the Age of Bismarck. Through the late 1800s Bismarck brought about many reforms in Germany. He attempted to stave off the rise of socialism with anti-socialism laws as well as the creation of healthcare and social security for the people. He also attempted to reduce the political influence of the Catholic minority in what was called the Kulturkampf (cultural struggle). However, things backfired on this attempt and the Catholics grew stronger and formed the Zentrum party. During this same period disputes between France and Prussia increased until France declared war on Prussia after Prussia put a Hohenzollern (a Prussian ruling family) candidate on the Spanish throne. The war resulted in Prussia defeating France after the Siege of Paris. At the Versaille Palace the German princes met to discuss terms with the French and they also declared the Prussian King, Wlihelm I, as the Kaiser (Emperor) of Germany on January 18, 1871. This marked the unification of the German states into the country of Germany until one government, Bismarck, after 1871, embarked on a foreign policy campaign to provide security for Germany against a Franco-Russian Alliance. He crafted an alliance among Russia, Austria and Germany in 1872 called the Dreikaisersbund (Three Emperors Alliance). Later he would form a dual alliance of Germany and Austria – Hungary as a hedge on Russia not living up to the Dreikaisersbund treaty. Before Bismarck’s forced retirement in 1890, he strongly opposed Germany Imperialism. However, due to great pressure he gave in and allowed for German acquisition of overseas colonies. These included areas in Africa, Pacific Islands such as Togo, Cameroons, Marshall Islands and others. Bismarck was finally pushed out by Kaiser Wilhelm II who decided to rule with an iron fist.
We will continue with the march toward global war.