Germanic Heritage Auxiliary

HISTORY: The Germanic Heritage Auxiliary was founded in April, 1991, as the Kentuckiana Germanic Heritage Society, an independent ethnic heritage organization. KGHS merged with the German- American Club Gesangverein to become the Germanic Heritage Auxiliary on January 1, 2002.

MISSION: The mission of the Germanic Heritage Auxiliary is to preserve, study and promote the Germanic heritage of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. The GHA supports and assists other organizations whose members are interested in preserving our common heritage. The GHA is a constituent society of the Society for German-American Studies (SGAS) and, as a part of the German-American Club Gesangverein, is an Associate of the German-American National Congress (DANK).

MEMBERSHIP: All dues-paying members of the German-American Club Gesangverein are members of the GHA. All members of the German-American Club and guests are welcome to attend GHA functions and to participate in planning and organizing GHA activities.

MEETINGS: GHA meetings are varied in content and have featured speakers, presentations, trips and many types of events and community activities. All GHA activities are announced at German-American Club general meetings, promoted by notices posted throughout the Club facilities, and included in our newsletters.

ACTIVITIES: A wide variety of Sunday afternoon programs have been presented with an amazing array of guest speakers, including local historians, Tom Owen, Rick Bell, Gerald McDaniel, Jim Segrest (now deceased), Chuck Parrish; Encyclopedia of Louisville editor John Kleber; religious leaders and historians, Rev. Herman Naber (now deceased), Rev. Clyde Crews, Rev. Gordon Seiffertt, Rev. Dietmar Gröning-Niehaus; German Military Liaison Lt. Col. Werner Gruhl; Honorary German Consuls E. Frederick Zopp (now deceased) and Mark Blackwell; genealogy expert and Civil War historian Joseph Reinhart; German studies authorities Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann and Dr. Giles Hoyt; and representatives of Sister Cities of Louisville and World Communities of Louisville. 

As KGHS and as the GHA, the heritage group has participated in numerous festivals and events, such as the St. Joseph German Heritage Festival, the Festival of Faiths, the Heritage Exhibit at the Kentucky State Fair, German-American month exhibits at the Bon Air Regional Library, ethnic fairs at schools and community centers, National Migration Week celebrations, and WorldFest on the Belvedere. The GHA, in collaboration with the Metro Louisville Mayor’s Office and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, presented a day-long program in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Bloody Monday in 2005, and the dedication of a Kentucky Historical Society marker in remembrance of Bloody Monday in 2006. 

The first event sponsored by the GHA as part of the German-American Club Gesangverein was a symposium commemorating the 140th anniversary of the August Bloedner Civil War monument in Cave Hill Cemetery. The GHA now features a series of “Video Voyages” which involve travelogue-type videos of cities and regions in Germany with commentary by natives of the area and samples of typical regional foods. The “Video Voyages” have taken us to many fascinating places, including Heidelberg, Berlin, Dresden, the Mosel Valley, Lübeck, Bremen, the Rhön, Nürnberg, Niedersachsen, Düsseldorf, Bremerhaven, and more! The GHA has presented a wine tasting, sponsored by Schmitt-Söhne, Inc.; several German music concerts by members of the Louisville Orchestra; featured DVD’s of the Germans in America series, The Berlin Airlift, and Forgotten Ellis Island; and presented programs on local landmarks, such as Butchertown and Fontaine Ferry Park. Each April, the GHA hosts a potluck dinner, the Gründerfest, which commemorates the founding of its parent organization, KGHS, and celebrates its mission to continue to preserve German heritage. 

Suggestions and recommendations for future programming are always welcome.