2015 | 41 | 4 (158) | 27–53
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German-Slavic Relations in Texas and the Midwest

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A telling incident took place in a small Texas town in 1916: not the greatest year for German-Slavic relations on either side of the Atlantic, one might think. But even at this late date, the German language was still being taught in the public schools of Needville, Texas, about 60 km southwest of Houston, using a book originally published for the St. Louis public elementary schools. In the wartime anti-German hysteria, school authorities in Needville ordered all these textbooks to be gathered and burned, but one copy was rescued and preserved–ironically not by a German-American pupil, but by a Czech girl in the second grade, whose parents spoke German as well as Czech, and wanted her to learn the language. As my essay will demonstrate, this was only the tip of the iceberg. In Texas and much of the Midwest, especially in rural areas, relations between German immigrants and their Czech, Polish, and Sorbian neighbors was for the most part quite friendly. Much of this was based on their cultural affinities which set them apart from Anglo-Americans, and at times united them against a common enemy, one might say.
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