With much fanfare, the DANK Haus, one of Chicago's German-American outfits, announced last week that it had raised enough dough to professionally restore a fancy antique oil portrait of, the founder of the 2nd Reich, Kaiser Wilhelm I.
They say they're going to throw a big party in October to unveil it.
|DANK Haus is restoring this portrait of German |
warmonger and anti-Catholic bigot Kaiser Wilhelm I
Why this would be cause for elation by or interest to Americans of German descent defies imagination and reason.
You see, that dreary old Prussian autocrat's principal contribution to the development of German-Americans was in driving them out of Germany to come to America.
He did this by denying basic human rights and civil liberties, persecuting Roman Catholics and imposing a system of lifetime military conscription that makes our Vietnam-era draft seem like a barrel of laughs by comparison.
From the time he ascended to the Prussian throne in 1861 (after his older brother Frederick William IV went insane) until he kicked the bucket in 1888, about 4 million Germans hotfooted it out of his domain to come to America.
A good many of them were, like this writer's ancestors, not thrilled at the prospect of a lifetime spent as cannon-fodder via conscription into his ever-on-the-move Prussian war machine.
(Did I mention that Kaiser Billy earned the sobriquet, "the Bullet King" for firing cannons at unarmed civilian Republican and Social Democratic street protesters during the failed revolution of 1848?)
Many others, particularly from the South and West of Germany came here to escape the Protestant despot's anti-Catholic persecution.
He instituted what he called a kulturkampf, a cultural war, against Catholicism. That very term would be dusted off by Nazi theoreticians in 1933 to characterize their efforts to rid Europe of Jewish cultural influences.
He forced the Catholic church in Germany to close its seminaries and to educate all of its prospective priests in schools run by his government.
At the very time that the Catholic Jesuit educational order was -- in the free air of America -- building such venerable academic institutions as Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Fordham University in New York and Chicago's Loyola University, Kaiser Wilhelm's chief henchman, Prince Otto von Bismarck, branded the Jesuits a subversive force and threw them out of Germany on their ears.
|"Gee, it's old, German and looks expensive, |
let's restore it and throw a party"
In fact, Kaiser Wilhelm I anticipated Adolf Hitler's National Socialists and the 20th century Communist regimes of Europe by at least 50 years in persecuting and imposing state controls over Catholic religious institutions and schools.
But what might you expect of a fatheaded old world militarist who in 1888 - while the genial Grover Cleveland occupied the American White House -- was still prancing around in his plumed hat, insisting that he was anointed by God to a divine right to govern?
And true to his Prussian militaristic roots, in 1870 Kaiser Billy, through his boy, Prince Bismarck, employed Machiavellian treachery and deceit to launch a land war against France. That conflict, most historians agree, despite periodic time outs, didn't actually end until May of 1945. It cost literally millions of European lives.
DANK is a German acronym for German American National Congress.
It was formed shortly after WWII to ensure that Americans of German descent weren't subjected to the same anti-Germanic mania that accompanied World War I.
Given the fact that Germans in the US, by then were probably the most thoroughly assimilated of all ethnic groups and the fact that a full 38% of the returning victorious U.S. Armed forces were German-Americans (including the Supreme Commander of the European Theater and the Chief tactical officer of the Pacific Theater) those fears were entirely unfounded.
So DANK Haus settled in to becoming a social group, ostensibly committed to celebrating German-American achievement and salient aspects of German culture.
|DANK Haus pea brains whooping it up at|
the 2011 Chicago homosexual pride parade
And this DANK outfit makes a good bit of its cash renting out its hall for wedding receptions, more than a few of which are to German Catholics.
In fact, it now rents out room to St. Matthias Catholic School for classes. So you have the absurd situation whereby Catholic children are studying in the very shadow of the portrait of the very German despot who persecuted their ancestors for their Roman Catholic faith.
The dimwits at St. Matthias parish are subsidizing this DANK Haus, a group that is essentially spitting on their heritage. This is unforgivable. Can you imagine a Jewish yeshiva paying to have its kids study in the shadow of a portrait of Adolf Hitler?
Our guess is that some dimwit over at the DANK Haus on Western and Lawrence in Chicago found the portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm moldering in the attic there and thought, "Gee, this is old, it's German, it has a gilded frame and looks expensive. Let's restore it and have a party."
Let's just hope that one of the pea-brains at Chicago's DANK Haus doesn't stumble onto a dusty old, antique, expensive looking, oil portrait of the founder of the German 3rd Reich.
They just might be tempted to restore it so they can throw a party.