The German Unity
Day, marking the peaceful unification of East and West Germany on October
3rd, 1990, is celebrated not only in Germany but also during an annual event
in Michigan at the beautiful, historic Meadowbrook Hall in Rochester. This
special event was organized by the German Honorary Consul Fred Hoffman and
his team and hosted by the German Consul General in Chicago and the
German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest and its Michigan Chapter.
This year’s celebration was very well attended by over 260 guests from the
German-American community, including German companies, cultural clubs,
German language students and teachers, politicians, and consular corps
members. The official part of the program began with singing of the US and
German national anthems by GBU Saxonia Rheingold and the Carpathia Mixed
Choirs. The program continued with a warm welcome by Dr. Walter Maisel,
President of the Michigan Chapter of the German-American Chamber of
Commerce, and Marianne Krenzer, President of the German-American Cultural
Center. Mr. Hoffman read an official statement by John Kerry, Secretary of
State, commemorating the 24th anniversary of the German American Friendship
Day. Mr. Kerry also shared in his statement some of his personal
experiences while growing up in Berlin, where his father worked as a Foreign
Service Officer after World War II.
The evening continued with the recognition and distribution of Deutsche
Sprachdiplom Level II certificates to students. Afterwards, five students
aged 7 to 16 from local language schools presented their essays for a
writing competition organized by the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA).
The topics ranged from “Umwelt” to “Meine Deutsche Bratwurst”, which had the
crowd in stitches. The main speakers of the evening were fascinating public
personalities with very different backgrounds, Eitel Dahm of Eitel Dahm
Motor Group and L. Brooks Patterson, County Executive of Oakland County. Mr.
Dahm, an achiever of the American Dream, explained that in order to succeed,
one should take only one step at a time, and although an elevator can take
you to the top quickly, it can crash down even faster. The charismatic Mr.
Patterson took us back in time and reminded us all of the immensity of the
task of reuniting East and West Germany and how it was ultimately
accomplished despite all initial problems.
At the end of the program, Mr. Hoffman presented his prestigious annual
“Golden Angel Award” to Christina Griesser, who is very well-known and
appreciated in the German American community. Her life’s work is dedicated
to promoting German-American friendship. Christina’s mother ran a successful
German school for many years, and she instilled the love of the German
language and culture in her four children from childhood on. Christina
founded the German Professional Women’s Association in 1997 and started the
Deutsche Schule Metro Detroit in 2006. She works tirelessly with numerous
organizations, businesses and individuals in her quest to continuously
promote German-American culture. Together with the GPWA, DSMD and other
organizations, she organizes and coordinates events such as networking
fairs, Kinderfasching, Sankt Martin Laternenläufe, theatre performances and
dances by children at Christmas events and at the Strauss Ball, as well as
various group outings and trips. The award caught Christina completely by
surprise, but she recovered quickly and warmly thanked Mr. Hoffman for this
great honor. Her genuine thanks also went to her very supportive husband and
family, as well as to the GPWA Board, and the board and staff of the
Deutsche Schule Metro Detroit.
A big thank-you to Fred Hoffman for organizing this annual event! This
memorable evening demonstrated true unity within the German-American
community by bringing together the different worlds of business, education
and culture under one roof. It was an evening to cherish and remember!