City celebrates its German heritage with the visit of the Consul General | News

The German American Cultural Center (GACC) museum in Gretna recently opened and welcomed two special guests, the German Consul General in Houston and the Honorary Consul based here in New Orleans.

On December 17, while visiting southeast Louisiana, Consul General Thomas H. Meister stopped at Gretna. Meister, whose office is in Houston, covers the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico for the German government.

One of eight regional consul generals appointed by the Federal Republic of Germany, he was accompanied on his visit to Gretna by Susanne Veters Cooper, honorary German consul in New Orleans.

Mayor Belinda Constant welcomed Meister and Cooper to Gretna. Leading the museum tour are Joann and Joe Toomy, founding members of the Friends of the GACC, Carol Schlueter, Center Director, and Ira Hopkins, Deputy Director.

The consuls learned of the important role of German immigrants who settled in southeast Louisiana in the mid-1830s and founded Mechanickham, the town that would become Gretna.

The museum, located at 519 Huey P. Long Ave., in the heart of Gretna’s National Register Historic District, pays tribute to these immigrants. The cultural center interprets the unique contribution of German immigrants to Louisiana history through exhibits, lectures, programs, and other educational activities.

“We are delighted to have had the German consuls here to learn more about the important role that German immigrants played in the development of communities in southeast Louisiana,” Schlueter said.

“Many Gretna families can trace their lineage to Germany. They were bakers, blacksmiths, brewmasters, carpenters, creamers, doctors, engineers, farmers, florists, shoemakers and merchants who chose the West Bank for their homes and businesses, they were our founding fathers and mothers.

“A walk through Gretna’s Hook and Ladder Cemetery will show the many German families who call Gretna home. It is the final resting place of German families such as Fried, Ehret, Dauenhauer, Keller, Burmaster, Neeb, Gehring, Fortmayer, Schwarz, Hepting and Kerner, to name a few.

“The exhibits in our museum depict the colonial experience, immigration, the world of work, culture and religion. An additional exhibition panel presents “culture in crisis” during the two world wars.

“Our mission is to keep alive the German cultural traditions that our immigrant families brought with them to Louisiana,” Schlueter said.

“Another part of this mission is to perform genealogical research to trace and record the histories of the region’s earliest immigrant families who came from Germany. The GACC has a research room with reference materials and offers free computer access to genealogy software such as Ancestry and Fold3, historical military records,” she said.

The following evening, December 18, Meister and Cooper were honored at a reception at the newly built Deutsches Haus in New Orleans, which opened that fall. Cooper will have an office at Deutsches Haus to carry out his consul duties.

Consul offices provide information and services to German citizens such as passports, visas, customs regulations, inheritance issues, notarization of documents and other consular matters. Offices of consuls general such as that in Miester are staffed by official foreign service personnel and report to an embassy.

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Honorary consultants, however, are often businessmen who have ties or other connections with the foreign country and are appointed by a foreign government to take care of the affairs of their citizens in foreign countries.

The German-American Gretna Cultural Center, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2019, is open to the public, free of charge, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday.

The center is supported and operated through memberships in the nonprofit organization Friends of the German-American Cultural Center and other fundraising activities. Contributions, both monetary and volunteer hours, help support the preservation and education of Louisiana’s rich German heritage.

“Annual memberships cost $15 and over 300 people are members of the organization, many from Gretna, but others from New Orleans, Metairie, LaPlace and Slidell. We even have a member from Australia who can trace her German family roots back to Gretna,” said Schlueter.

The GACC sponsors several special events throughout the year. A Maifest celebration takes place in May, with a Maypole dance on the neutral ground of nearby Huey P. Long Avenue and a Bier Garten on the center ground.

A larger Bier Garten is also featured on the grounds as part of the three-day Gretna Heritage Festival event in late September or early October each year. Grilled brats, sauerkraut and pretzels, as well as German beer and wine, are served by volunteer members at the festival and other events, many of whom are dressed in traditional German attire.

Later in October, the center sponsors an Oktoberfest Bier Garten with a German band and similar food offerings.

“We welcome individual and group visits to view our museum exhibits and learn about the history of Gretna’s German families and we appreciate the support of everyone who attends our German-themed events here. in Gretna,” Schlueter said.

Attend the Gretna Pub-Quiz-themed Trivia Night for hysterical historical entertainment on January 26 at the Cultural Center for the Arts.

Organized by the Gretna Historical Society, it is a fundraiser for the cultural center. Bring your own team of up to six players or come alone and join other players. You can also just watch others play!

Doors open at 7 p.m., quiz starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 to either play or watch, available at the Historical Society, Gretna Visitor Center, or at the door. Food and drink offered for sale. Call 504.296.8699 to register.

“Some Like It Hot,” a comedic dinner theater at its finest, will open Fridays and Saturdays with a Sunday matinee Jan. 25-Feb. 10 at the Timberlane Country Club. Tickets are $53 for the show and dinner, $40 for the show only. Call 504.362.4451 for reservations.

Helen Williams is a Gretna resident who writes about people and events of community interest. She can be reached at 504.450.8481 or by email at [email protected]. His messages and videos can be seen on:

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