Kiwanians given German history lesson

By J. Anfenson-Comeau

jamieenews@bellsouth.net

It’s a little piece of Germany in the midst of Cajun country.

Mary Ann “Rusty” Leonards and Lawrence Cramer, president of the Roberts Cove Germanfest Association, gave Eunice Kiwanians a little history lesson and slideshow on the German community of Roberts Cove during the club’s Thursday noon meeting.

The community was founded in 1880, on a grant of land owned by Benjamin Roberts, by Catholic West Germans escaping religious strife in their homeland.

Familiar local names, such as Habetz, Zaunbrecher, Leonards, Heinen, Dischler and Bischoff, amongst others, derive their origins in Louisiana from the Roberts Cove community.

The community held onto its German heritage and traditions, with their own church and services in German, into the early 20th century.

During World War I, the Louisiana legislature banned the teaching of German and sale of  “anything German in nature,” Leonards said.

Leonards added that, at the time, Roberts Cove was the only culturally viable German community in Louisiana.

Those laws were later repealed, but caused irreparable damage to attempts by the Roberts Cove Germans to retain their language and cultural traditions.

In the 1950’s, Father Charles Zaunbrecher, a tireless preservationist of Roberts Cove’s heritage, began a yearly Zaunbrecher family reunion, or Feierleckkeiten, during the first weekend in October.

Other families began holding their reunions at the same time, and in 1995, Roberts Cove held their first Germanfest, a tradition that continues this year on Oct. 2-3 at the ST. Leo Catholic Church grounds on Hwy. 98.

Leonards said there will be German food, singing, dancing, music, a German Catholic Mass, German beer and traditional costumes.

There will also be folklore demonstrations, children’s activities and a number of exhibits from the Roberts Cove German Heritage Museum.

More information: www.robertscovegermanfest.com.

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