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History of the Danube Cultural Society

 In January of 2003 a group of young adults, their parents, and some close friends gathered in a friend’s basement to celebrate the joys of Christmas and New Years Day which had occurred only a few days prior. Usually such a holiday celebration is used as a time to look back and reminisce over joyous memories. However, on this evening unrest and turmoil were amidst in the minds of many attending. The majority of these friends had devoted the greater part of their lives to the German-American community of southeastern Wisconsin, yet they had become unsure of their future involvement. Certain events prior to this day of celebration had caused their positive thoughts about their commitment to dwindle. Yet deep down their passion to spread the German culture was still stronger then ever.

This group of friends realized they must continue to spread the German culture in one way or another, a new way if so required. On that day the group of friends decided to establish a new German-American organization. Since the majority of the friends and family were of German decent from various areas along the Danube River, the new organizations purpose would be to promote those same various German cultures. It was on this day that the Danube Cultural Society was born.

Little time was wasted establishing the new Society. A week following the gathering a committee of volunteers was set-up to establish a preliminary set of By-Laws which would govern the Society. An initial set of interim officers volunteered to head the Society until its first official general meeting and election would take place. Paperwork was then immediately filed in order for the Society to be officially incorporated by the state of Wisconsin. On January 23rd, 2003 the Society was officially named the Danube Cultural Society, Inc. of Southeastern Wisconsin. Shortly after this the Society was granted membership into the German American Societies of Milwaukee, Inc. and German Fest Milwaukee, Inc.

The first official general meeting and election took place in March 2003 at the Bavarian Wurst Haus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Michael Wagner was elected President of the Society. President Wagner’s first initial focus of the Society was to begin reaching out to a younger generation of German-Americans. Thus, the Danube Cultural Society Jugendgruppe was formed for young adults between the ages of 13-25. The group’s mission would be to carry on and promote the various German dance and singing traditions from along the Danube River. The Jugendgruppe had its first public performance in July 2003 at the Milwauke German Fest held on the lakefront.

As time went by and the Society began to grow rapidly, it was decided that another group would be added to help spread the German culture to the younger generations. In September 2003 the Danube Cultural Society Kindergruppe was formed for children between the ages of 5-13. This group, much like the Jugendgruppe, would spread and promote the German traditions from along the Danube River through dance and song. The Kindergruppe had its first public performance at the German Immersion School’s Foundation Dinner where they performed for the German Ambassador to the United States, Herr Wolfgang Ischinger.

On October 9th, 2004 the Society held its first annual Kirchweih Festival at the Latvian Haus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was the first public event held by the Society and it proved to be a huge success. The Society plans to continue this great festival annually for many more years to come.

Only two years after the first Kirchweih Festival the Danube Cultural Society added another event to its annual calendar. On January 28th, 2006 the Society held its first annual Schlachtfest Dinner Dance at the Sacred Heart Croatian Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The hall was packed, the food was great, and the entertainment was fantastic. The traditional Milwaukee area Schlachtfest had been previously held by the Apatiner Verein of Milwaukee for the previous 34 years. When the Apatiners were no longer able to carry on the event, they generously passed on this great Danube-Swabian tradition onto the DCS. All of us at the DCS were glad to see that our very young club, in only its third year of existence, was able to gain the confidence of such an established club like the Apatiners.

(The 1st annual DCS Schlachtfest Dinner Dance)

To this day the Society plays an active role in a number of ethnic events around southeastern Wisconsin. The Society also continues to grow in membership and continues to reach new heights. In the upcoming years the Society hopes to expand our horizon by adding additional secondary groups, hosting additional events and festivals, and erecting a clubhouse that our Society can call home. With the continuous support and dedication of our members these future goals look closer then anyone could have ever thought possible.

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