The FEDERATION OF GERMAN-AMERICAN SOCIETIES OF GREATER CLEVELAND is the fourth such organization to act as the official voice of the numerous German-American groups in Cuyahoga County. Formed in 1890 as Der Bund der Deutschamerikaner von Cuyahoga County, it was an outgrowth of the committee that sponsored the first German Day Celebration in Cleveland that year. It dissolved shortly before the turn of the century. To revive the German Day Celebration and form a political force, its first president, Wilhelm Backus, Sr., led its revival in 1901 as Der Deutsche Centralbund, again serving as president, and immediately organizing a state federation with which it held membership in the National German-American Alliance. After his death, Hermann Fellinger became president. In 1918, as a result of the pressures of World War I, it again disbanded. In 1931 it was reinstituted as Die Deutsch-Amerikanische Buergerliga, and formally organized the next year, initially to provide relief support for unemployed German-Americans. Generally referred to as Der Deutsche Stadtverband, it also directed annual German Day festivities at the GERMAN CENTRAL FARM and sponsored speakers and films about issues and events of interest to the German-American community. In the years prior to World War II, pro-Nazi elements within the community attempted to gain control of the Stadtverband, but its leaders were able to thwart their efforts. Nevertheless, the internal struggles weakened the organization, and growing anti-German sentiment contributed to its demise in 1941. In 1956 it was again revived, carrying the Stadtverband name until the 1970s, when it took its present one. In addition to sponsoring German Day festivities in the summer and fall, it serves as a forum for more than 50 local German organizations, and represents the German-American community in civic and cultural affairs.

Cleveland Stadtverband Records, WRHS

Article Categories