The Interwar Years
Thanks to, among others, obituaries in the monthly editions of the Karpatenpost, and a phenomenal article by Kurt Sauter (“Gustav Adolf Weiss & der Zipser Bund von Amerika“) in the 1986 Karpatenjahrbuch (pages 110-115), we now know more about that period. After World War I ended, and mail services started to function again, Carpathian German-Americans learned about dislocation and the atrocities and incredible hunger in their home region.
Relief was not an easy thing to organize. Like other German-Americans, the Carpathian Germans had been vilified and attacked as “hyphenate Huns”, and many of them were surely intimidated so they wouldn’t express their concern publicly with fellow groups of individuals who were German as well. David Kennedy describes that hate-filled atmosphere very well in his work Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1980), and also Joan Jensen in The Prince of Vigilance (1968) sets a clear picture. Many Carpathian Germans were discreetly and directly helping their families in a great way.
But these efforts were not always efficient, so relief associations were set up in many communities, for example, the Zipser House Association of Newark, and the Zipser Hilfsverein of Philadelphia. At that time, some 15,000 Zipser individuals lived in the U.S., and Kesmark-born New York resident Gustav Adolf Weiss (1867-1933), decided to establish the Zipser Bund of America. See also the history of the period 1860s – World War I (1914-1918)
In the fall of 1919, the organization held an impressive benefit fest in Fram Park (Newark, New Jersey), and subsequently, a much larger benefit fest was organized in 1920, on September 5, also in Newark’s Fram Park. The Zips received more than $1,100, and among the many organizers of the fest were Elsa Weiss and Adolph Kaltstein, of New York City. The Zipser Bund of America became a permanent organization on September 14, 1920, and branches were set up in Passaic, NJ, Newark, NJ, Hudson County, NJ, and Chicago.
The monthly publication The Zipser Bote, or Zipser in Amerika, was published in the period 1921-1928, and until 1930, more than one million Czech Crowns were sent over. The money not only enabled local organizations to prevent starvation for countless lives in the years following the WW I fighting at the Southern Zips border that lasted through June 1919, it also funded quite a few German schools around the Zips region.
Gustav Adolf Weiss went over to visit the Zips in the years 1922/23, and in 1929 he was leading a group of 120 Zipser Bund of America members to their old homeland where they were honored by very grateful countrymen. Gustav Adolf Weiss passed away in 1933, on June 16, and he was succeeded as the organization’s president by Alexander G. Rothberg. During the years of the Great Depression, donations were severely cut, due to the fact that many Zipser (usually skilled workers and artisans) had to fight and fear for their personal livelihood. Yet donations and contacts went on until World War II broke out.
After “die Vertreibung”
After World War II, and the German’s “Final Solution” to the Carpathian German minority, the Zipser homeland no longer existed, so the Zipser Bund was collecting much relief for their countrymen who were deported and supported the countrymen who immigrated to the U.S. There were several local activities, for example in Philadelphia, where the local organization (Zipser KUV) and the Evangelish-Luthern Tabor Church were hosting an event for Dr. Adalbert Hudak (KDL Stuttgart) on August 4, 1957.
Dr. Adalbert Hudak described a clear picture of what had happened since the end of WW II and he asked for support. He specifically asked for help for the Carpathian Germans that were stranded in the GDR (East Germany. The GDR (in German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik) was a Communist puppet regime that had even banned the mentioning of “Vertreibung”, and had left the destitute and desperate Carpathian German population to their fate. Older people were suffering terrible poverty, unlike in West Germany, where laws were passed forcing Germans who had escaped ethnic cleansing to take their share of the burden. Dr. Hudak’s speech was announced in the Philadelphia Gazette-Demokrat (a German-language publication) on August 3 and on August 17, the paper reviewed the event. In December 1957, the Karpatenpost also reported on the event.
Later, the Zipser Bund of America and the KUV ceased to exist. The last Zipser Bund President (William Dirr from Zipser Bela), brought the organization’s flag to Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1962. The flag is now shown in the Karlsruhe Heimatmuseum to honor and witness the philanthropy and contributions of Zipser abroad.