DEUTSCHAMERIKANISCHER BÜRGERVEREIN VON MARYLAND, INC.- FOUNDED: 1900 INCORPORATED: 15 April 1904; PURPOSE: To strive for a closer union of German clubs, organizations and citizens of German descent in the promotion of German culture, language, gymnastics and soccer through cultural, educational, social and charitable endeavors. The organization picked up the corporate structure of the Independent Citizens Union of Maryland. Initially the purpose of the Union as stated by Henry Wienfeld, Chairman of the General Committee, was 'largely to oppose the prohibition movement, then in its infancy, under the auspices of the Anti-Saloon League" (The Baltimore Sunpaper, September 19, 1932, page 16) . The Union's activities were much more political and actually were a stepping stone to several state groups that lobbied for laws to protect the German immigrants, including maintaining the German language, etc. The Union was founded on Mary 9, 1900 by 107 delegates representing the societies in Baltimore at that time. The Presidents of the clubs at that time were Engelberth, John Tjarks, Albert Fankhanel, Dr. Robert Haase, Dr. Josef Rehak, and Otto Kappas. One of the original purposes was to assist immigrants from Germany in establishing themselves in their newly adopted country and assist them in becoming citizens of the US. [Baltimore Sunpaper, August 18, 1939, page 5]
The group by the time of WWI were not so much defensive, but actually a strong voice in Maryland politics. The union celebrated their 25th Anniversary at the old Emerson Hotel in May 1925. The Maryland group followed somewhat the politics and lead of the National German American Alliance, which voluntarily disbanded in 1918, after National hearings were held to determine the groups loyalties.
Independent Citizens Union of Maryland - 1902
Standing (from left to right)-E. Berger, H. Hermanl, H. Hofferbert (financial secretary), A.F. Trappo (secretary), K.A.M. Scholtz (attorney), H.G. Denker, Carl Lotz, G.W. Kern, B. Prell and F. List
Sitting (from left to right) H. Porst, F. Kruse (treasuer), G. Himmelheber, A. Roeder (vice-president), J. Tjarks (president), G. Kirschenhofer (vice-president), R. Hofen, H.F. Koester and A. Braecklein.
It was also this 'Citizens Union' that organized the annual 'German Day' which was held on 'Defender's Day, September 12th, to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of North Point. The picnic was initially held at River View Park, but throughout the years moved to several different parks, including Arion Park, Carlin's Park, Gwynn Oak Park, Electric Park, etc. German Day, which was held prior to 1901 on October 6th, was changed to September 12th to conform with the municipal holiday.
Today's Bürgerverein (renamed in 1974) is active and serves as the 'umbrella' organization over the many German clubs in Maryland. They are the responsible organizers of the German Festival and the Oktoberfest. The board is comprised of members of the German clubs according to membership size.