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Celebrate German-American Heritage Month with GACL this October

German-American Citizens League president, Don Heinrich Tolzmann, shares his thoughts about Cincinnati’s rich German heritage and how you can celebrate it throughout October as part of German-American Heritage Month.

[This op-ed was written for by Don Heinrich Tolzmann, President, German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati.  If you would like to sound off about something for UrbanCincy’s weekly op-ed column, please submit your ideas to]

October is German-American Heritage Month, and this year marks its 21st anniversary. Proclamations have been issued in the past by the governors of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana and it has been recognized by the Ohio historical organizations as well. And since 1989, I am proud to say that the German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati has sponsored the month in the Greater Cincinnati area.

German-American Heritage Month takes place in October as it is centered on German-American Day, the 6th of October, the date on which the first German settlement was established in America at Germantown, Pennsylvania. It was officially declared German-American Day in 1987 by President Reagan.

Feeling that one day was not enough to cover German contributions to the Cincinnati region, the German-American Citizens League founded German-American Heritage Month in 1989 and has encouraged its celebration elsewhere. Since that time, other places have followed suit. For example, this year, New York City celebrated the month as well.

We hope that other cities and states with a strong German heritage will also join in celebrating German-American Heritage Month.

This year programs will be sponsored by Northern Kentucky University, Kenton County Library, Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, Hamilton County Genealogical Society, and the German Heritage Museum.

Just think what the Greater Cincinnati area would be like without its German heritage. Without the German heritage, the area would be an entirely different place and look quite different – no Over-the-Rhine, no German brewing heritage, no goetta, no Oktoberfest, no MainStrasse Village in Covington, etc. Many things we accept as part of everyday life in the Greater Cincinnati area would not be here.

Cincinnati’s first Mayor was Major David Ziegler, a veteran of the American Revolution and during the Civil War, German regiments were formed for the Union Army. These and many other facts will be explored during German-American Heritage Month.

German-Americans helped build and make the area what it is today. German-American Heritage Month is the time to not only celebrate this history, but also learn more about it.  A full list of the events taking place during German-American Heritage Month can be found on the German-American Citizens League’s website.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.