German Unity Day – A Grand Celebration at Meadowbrook Hall

Fred Hoffman, Christina Griesser, Jim Stokes and Andy Griesser

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!

Gisela Blevins

Julia Griesser reading essay