In 1834 five-hundred Germans emigrated to the United States, with an intention to establish their own state. Decades of revolutionary struggles had failed, convincing them that the power of their rulers could not be broken, for the time being. Yet, as passionate democrats, they were determined to establish a new German Republic – in North America. This bold, now almost forgotten, venture of the Giessen Emigration Society, was an event much-discussed at that time.
The Traveling Summer Republic – a free association of artists and scholars from all over Germany and in the United States, has been researching this unique chapter of the German emigrant’s movement, and is interested in the connection of this story to today's societal, cultural and political issues. In 2005 the Sommer-Republik launched their project with their "Island Conference" on the island of Harriersand near Bremen, where a portion of the Giessen Emigration Society had to endure a horrific layover awaiting passage to the U.S.. Since then, there has been a broad variety of events and conferences and they have established a large research archives.
In 2013 the traveling exhibition “Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America” opened in the city of Giessen (Germany) and toured along the route of the former emigrants – from Germany to America: the St. Stephens Cultural Church in Bremen, the German-American Heritage Museum in Washington, D.C. and then completed its tour in St. Louis in the Missouri History Museum in 2015. Find out more about the exhibition here.
Regular public events of the Traveling Summer Republic:
Signalfeuer (Light Beacon) – round table discussions
Utopisches Flimmern (Utopia Flicker) – film screening series with discussions
Utopische Bibliothek (Utopia Library) – books about past and present of utopian thinking, including research materials about the Giessen Emigration Society. The Utopia Library is on display on various locations.
Special events (excerpt):
Inselkongress 2005 (Island’s Congress)
Grosse Giessener Flucht 2006 (The Great Giessen Escape)
Schiffskongress 2009 (Ship’s Congress)
A Trip to a Forgotten Utopia 2010
Utopia Revisited, Missouri 2011
Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America 2013-2015
Contact Germany: Peter Roloff
Contact Missouri, USA: Dorris Keeven-Franke