The American Turners: their past and present

Texto

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www.rbceonline.org.br

Revista

Brasileira

de

CIÊNCIAS

DO

ESPORTE

ORIGINAL

ARTICLE

The

American

Turners:

their

past

and

present

Annette

R.

Hofmann

PädagogischeHochschuleLudwigsburg,Ludwigsburg,Germany

Received1August2011;accepted28November2014 Availableonline5March2015

KEYWORDS

Turnen;

Turnersociety;

Germans;

German-Americans

Abstract TheUnitedStateshasbeenanationofimmigrants,whichisreflectedbyits multi-culturalsociety.DifferentimmigrantgroupshelpedshapetheAmericansocietythroughtheir culturesandtraditions.OnegroupwastheGermans;theyrepresentedauniqueandforceful currentinthestreamofimmigrationtotheUnitedStates.IntheirculturalluggagetheGerman immigrantbroughttheirphysicalculturetoNorthAmerica,Turnenwhichwasorganisedinclubs orso-calledTurnvereine.TheAmericanturnermovementhasitsorigininthemid19thcentury, anditisstillorganisedonanationallevel,sincethe1930sunderthenameAmericanTurners. ThisarticlesummarisesthehistoryoftheGerman-Americanturnermovementuntilthe1990s, andwillalsorelatetovariousstagesofAmericanizationwithinthismovement.

©2015ColégioBrasileirodeCiênciasdoEsporte.PublishedbyElsevierEditoraLtda.Allrights reserved. PALAVRAS-CHAVE Turnen; SociedadeTurner; Alemães; Alemães-americanos

OAmericanTurner:seupassadoeseupresente

Resumo OsEstadosUnidosseconstituíramcomoumanac¸ãodeimigrantes,portanto,uma sociedade multicultural. Diferentes grupos de imigrantes ajudaram a moldar a sociedade americana através de suas culturas e tradic¸ões. Um destes grupos foi o dos alemães, que representou uma corrente singular e muito forte no fluxo imigratório para os Esta-dos Unidos. Em sua bagagem cultural os imigrantes alemães levaram sua cultura física para a América do Norte: o Turnen, que era organizado em clubes ou nas deno-minadasTurnvereine.Omovimento dosTurner americanostem suasorigensem meados do séculoXIXeaindaapresentaumaorganizac¸ãoemnívelnacionalsobonomeAmerican Turn-ers,adotadodesdeadécadade1930.EsteartigoresumeahistóriadomovimentodoTurnen

teuto-americanoatéosanosde1990erelataasdiferentesetapasdesuaamericanizac¸ão. ©2015ColégioBrasileirodeCiênciasdoEsporte.PublicadoporElsevierEditoraLtda.Todosos direitosreservados.

E-mail:nettehof@ph-ludwigsburg.de http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rbce.2014.11.020

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PALABRASCLAVE

Turnen;

SociedadTurner;

Alemanes;

Alemanes-americanos

ElTurnerAmericano:supasadoysupresente

Resumen LosEstadosUnidosseconstituyeroncomounanacióndeinmigrantes, loquese reflejaactualmenteensusociedadmulticultural.Diferentesgruposdeinmigrantesayudaron adarformaaunasociedadamericana atravésdesus culturasytradiciones. Unodeestos gruposfueronlosalemanes,querepresentaronunacorrientesingularymuyfuerteenelflujo inmigratorioparalosEstadosUnidos.Ensubagajeculturallosinmigrantesalemanesllevaron suculturafísicaparaAmérciadelNorte:elTurnen,queeraorganizadoenclubesoenlas deno-minadasTurnvereine.ElmovimientodelosTurneramericanostienesusorígenesamediadosdel sigloXIXytodavíapresentaunaorganizaciónanivelnacionalbajoelnombreAmericanTurners, adoptadodesdeladécadade1930.EsteartículoresumelahistóricadelmovimientodelTurnen teuto-americanohastalosa˜nosde1990yrelatalasdiferentesetapasdesuamericanización. ©2015ColégioBrasileirodeCiênciasdoEsporte.PublicadoporElsevierEditoraLtda.Todoslos derechosreservados.

Introduction

Until recently the United States has been a nation of

immigrants,whichisreflectedtodaybyamulticultural

soci-ety. Different immigrant groups from all over the world

helpedshapeAmericansociety throughtheir culturesand

traditions. One of the biggest immigrant groups is the

German-Americans, who, according to the 1990 census,

are,withover20%,thelargestethnicgroupintheUnited

States(Adams,1993,p.3).Thecultureandtraditionswhich

theGermanimmigrantsbroughttotheAmericancontinent

tookonnewformsof expressionin thenewenvironment:

German-American ones. Some have become part of the

Americanmainstreamculture andarenot recognisableas

Germaninorigin.

Germancustoms,ritualsandculturalpracticeswere

per-petuated in the many societies or ‘‘Vereine’’ which the

GermansorganisedintheUnitedStates.Thecontentsoften

werealteredtoadapt tothe newneedsof the host

soci-ety.TheVereinenotonlytransmittedakind ofsecurityto

the immigrants, but also created group solidarity.1

Histo-rian Kathleen Neils Conzen describes them as ‘‘nurseries

ofethnicities’’ inwhich Germanculturecouldspread and

thushelpformanethniccultureandidentity.2The

German-Americandirectoryofaddresseslisted6586Germansecular

societies in the United States in 1916/17. At the end of

the 1990s, in Chicago alone, there were still 80 German

clubsin existence.3 Through suchgroups, Germanculture

is preserved in the United States to a certain degree, as

canbeseeninthecelebrationofGerman festivities,such

astheannual Oktoberfest,a Carnivalor the GermanDay.

These events mostly take place in cities with formerly

hugeGermanimmigrantpopulations.Theyareorganisedby

theGermanclubsofthesetowns.

Among the numerous community institutionsand

soci-etiesfoundedbytheGermansaretheTurnersocieties

(Turn-vereine),whichwereorganisationsforthedevelopmentof

1SeeHobsbawm(1985,p.12).

2SeeLuebke(1974,p.43);Conzen(1989,p.50;58). 3FrankfurterAllgemeine,March12th,1998.

physical education,andoutlets forGerman immigrants to

continue their cultural traditions. Their Turner Halls

pro-videdasocialcentrewithlecturesandlibraries.

Tothisdayover700Turnersocietieshaveonceexistedin

theUnitedStates.Hardlyanyoneknowsthatsome

Turnvere-inearestillinexistence.Thispapershallprovideaninsight

onhowandwhytheTurnersfirstcametotheUnitedStates

andintothehistoryoftheGerman-AmericanTurner

move-ment. It will alsoshow howthe German-AmericanTurner

movement is presently structured.Aspecial focuswillbe

put on the Americanization of the Turners into American

Turners.

ThebeginningsofTurneninGermany

The Turner movement has its origins in 18th- and

19th-centuryGermanyandwascloselyconnectedwith

intel-lectual streams and the political, social and economic

changesoftheperiodsuchastheEnlightenment,theFrench

Revolution,thenewpoliticalorderinEuropeandtechnical

advancement.Inthiscontextideasabouttheeducationof

thepeople,inwhichnationalunity,patriotismandthe

readi-nesstofightfor one’s‘‘fatherland’’playedaspecialrole,

rose. German Turnen,largelydeveloped byFriedrich

Lud-wigJahn(1778---1852),wassuchanidea.4Thegoalsofthe

TurnersweretheliberationfromFrenchoccupation,which

followedthedefeatofthePrussianarmyintheNapoleonic

Wars,theoverthrowofthefeudalorderandanendtothe

divisionof Germanyinto manysmallstates infavour of a

one-nationstate.Thus,theTurnersplayedanimportantrole

intheGermannationalistmovementandinthewarsof

lib-eration;manyparticipatedactivelyinthefightagainstthe

Frenchoccupyingforces.

TurnenwasintroducedbyJahnasacomprehensiveterm

for physical exercises. It not only included exercises on

apparatus, as developed by philanthropists such as Guts

4On Turnen see for example the contributions Stump and

Ueberhorst (1980,p.215---229);Pfister,(1996,p.14---36)andthe specialeditionofSportwissenschaft2(2000).Agoodoverviewof thehistoryofTurnenandsportisalsogiveninKrüger(1993).

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Muthsbutalsogamesandso-called‘‘exercisesforthe

peo-ple’’(volkstümlicheÜbungen)(likerunning,jumping,lifting

andclimbingaswellasfencing,swimmingandwrestling).

Althoughsomeoftheapparatusisstillusedinmodern

gym-nasticsandthe‘‘exercisesforthepeople’’showsimilarities

withtoday’strack-and-fielddisciplines,thenormsand

val-ues, the intentions, principlesand the contexts of Jahn’s

Turnen differfundamentally from moderngymnastics and

sport.

ThecradleofTurnenwasBerlin,whereJahnandhis

fol-lowerssetupthefirstgroundsforTurnen(Turnplatz)onthe

so-calledHasenheidein1811,anareaoutsidethecity

dur-ingthosedays.TodayitisaparkwithinBerlin.Fromthere

theTurnermovementrapidlyspreadthroughoutthestates

of the German Confederation. These gymnastics grounds

that soon spread became meeting points for young men,

whowantedtoparticipateinphysicalactivitiesandgames,

celebrate festivities (Turnfeste) and go together on trips

(Turnfahrten).Anditwasaplacetodiscusspolitics.

Initially, the Prussian authorities supported the Turner

movement,inpartbecausetheyhopeditsgymnastics,which

seemedtostrengthenbothbodyandmindoftheyoungmen,

wouldbeofgreatuseinthewarsofliberation.However,in

1819duringtheeraofrestorationafterNapoleon’sdefeat,

TurnenwasbannedinPrussiasinceitwaspartofthe

nation-alistmovement,whichwasnowconsideredathreat.Under

the‘‘CarlsbadDecrees’’ theGerman rulerswere required

to suppress any opposition movement whatsoever.5 The

Turners,too,alongwithnationalisticfraternities

(Burschen-schaften),wereclassed asforcesof oppositionsincethey

wereagainstGermanparticularismandthusagainstthenew

politicalorderoftheGermanConfederation.Insome

Ger-manstates,Turnplätzewereclosedandaperiodensuedin

which Turnen wascompletely banned (Turnsperre). Jahn,

accusedofhavinglinkswithpersonssuspectedofdisloyalty

oftheauthoritiesandsubversion,wasarrestedinJuly1819

andincarceratedforfiveyears(HofmannandPfister,2004,

p.11---14).

Duringthe ‘Ban of Turnen’boys and young men could

stillparticipatein ‘‘gymnastics’’at some schoolsand

pri-vate institutions but it was only twenty years later that

Turnen asa national movement experienced a revival. In

1842 its ban was officially lifted by a cabinet order and

Turnenwasacceptedas‘‘necessaryandindispensablepart

of male education’’ in the curriculum of boys’secondary

schoolsinPrussia(Krüger,1993,p.73).

InEuropethe1840swasadecadeinwhichliberalideas

and political agitationspread. Inthe German states,too,

demands for political rights and national unity became

louder, and it was in this period of awakening that the

goals and ideas of the Turnerexperienced their revival

---a period in which clubs and societies were founded with

democraticstructures,andinwhichTurnersocietiesbecame

centresofpoliticaldiscussionsandactivities.Alsothe

var-ious Turnfeste which were held in the 1840s offered a

splendidopportunitytocometogether,exchangeideasand

5The‘‘CarlsbadDecrees’’weremeasuresagreedbythestatesof theGermanConfederationtosuppresstheliberalanddemocratic constitutionalmovement aswellasallstrivings towardsnational unity.

make plans. At the centre of these festivities were not

only gymnastic competitions but alsopolitical discussions

anddeclamations,whichmostlyendedwiththedemandfor

‘‘freedomandequality’’.6

Afterthesuccessoftheliberalmovement intheMarch

Revolution of 1848, the Turners thought they could fulfil

theirdreamsandgoals.Theconcessionsoftheauthorities

andthe callfor a national assemblyin the Paulskirchein

Frankfurtseemed tohaveremoved thebarriers toforma

liberalnationstate. Becauseofthisthepoliticalactivities

oftheTurnerclubsincreasedinthespringof1848andthe

Turnermovementplayedanimportantroleintherevolution

of1848/49, partlybecausethe Turnersocieties had

phys-ically fit, disciplined and politically committedmembers.

Jahn had already recommended replacing the mercenary

army by a people’s army. Now the attempts at arming

thepeopleweresupportednotonlybyagreatmajorityof

theTurnerbutalsobyalargepartofthepopulation.Inmany

clubsTurnermilitiawereestablishedwhichstoodpartlyfor

themaintenanceoflawandorderandpartlyforthe

republi-canidealsandtheconstitutionoftheReich(Neumann,1968,

p.30---45).

However, in the summer of 1848, various crises,

upheavalsandarmedconflictsweakenedtherevolutionary

movement. The constitution of the Reich

(Reichsverfas-sung), which wasnot proclaimed until March 1849, could

notbeputintoeffectwithoutmilitaryforce.ManyTurners,

defendingtheconstitutionwithweapons,wereinvolvedin

thefighting.

TheattitudesoftheTurnerstowardstherevolution

dif-feredprofoundly.Somewere‘‘mereTurners’’;otherswere

politicalactivists.KarlBlind,aTurnerfromMannheim,for

example,emphasisedinJanuaryof 1848:‘‘Ourpurposeis

revolution (...) Each Turner is a revolutionary’’, adding:

‘‘Even dagger, blood and poison should not be spared in

thedecisivemoment’’(Wieser,1996,p.37).Especiallythe

TurnersinBadenandWuerttembergdefendedtheidealsof

therevolution:‘‘Freedom,educationandprosperityforthe

people’’(Reppmann,2003).

After the failure of the revolution, many Turners had

toleavetheirhome countrybecauseimprisonmentorthe

death penalty awaited them. Thus, some emigrated to

Switzerland,andsomeleftfromtheretosettleinEngland

ortheUnitedStates(Krüger,1993,36---97).

Cunz (1966,p. 11)referstotheseindividualsfromthe

1848Revolutionasa‘‘newtype’’ofGermanimmigrant.As

BarneystatedinhisdescriptionoftheForty-Eighters,they

were different from earlier German immigrants because

they possessed not only a classical education and had

a strong interest in politics, but also because of their

youthfulness7 and physical fitness gained from Turnen:

‘‘(...) in general being male, in his twenties,unmarried,

in excellent physical condition through training in

gym-nastics, classically educated, politically enlightened and

motivated, not without some economic means, and quite

6OntheroleoftheTurnersinthe1948/49Revolution see,for exampleNeumann(1968)andKrüger(1996).

7Zuckerpointsoutinhisdescriptionof242Forty-Eighters who leftfortheUSthatmorethan60%werebornin1820orlater(1950, p.270).

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likely,disposedtowardsreturningtoGermanyatalatertime

tosupportagaintheforcesofrevolutionagainstthehated

Germanprincesandtheinfluenceoftheircorruptpower’’

(Barney,1982,p.63f).

TransferofGermanTurnentotheUnitedStates

The political refugees of the 1848 revolution in Germany

werenotthefirstpersonswhobroughtTurnentotheUnited

Statesaspartoftheirculturalluggage.Turnenhadalready

beenintroducedtoeducationalinstitutionsinNewEngland

intheearly1820sbytheGermanpoliticalexilesKarlBeck,

KarlFollenandFranzLieber,whohadallbeenfollowersof

Jahn(Geldbach,1975, p.341---342;p. 360---370).However,

itssuccess lasted only afew years. It wasonly aquarter

ofacenturylater---in1848---thatthefirstTurnerclubsor

societieswerefoundedintheUnitedStatesbythoseTurners

whohadleftGermanyinthewake ofthe 1848revolution

whichhadbroughtafewthousandpoliticalrefugeestothe

UnitedStatesfromGermany.8

The political andsocialstructuresof theUnited States

werecompletelydifferentfromthoseexistinginGermany.

It was a young nation, founded in 1776 with a

demo-cratic constitution. It was also a country of immigrants,

evenifwithanAnglo-Saxonpredominance. Fromthevery

beginningTurnenintheUnitedStateshadadifferentfate

thanin Germany.On theonehand,it mustbeconsidered

thatTurnenwasaphysicalculture oftheGermans,

trans-portedto acountryto whichother immigrant groups had

broughttheirsystemsofexercisesandsport.Ontheother

hand,itshouldnotbeforgottenthatitwasdemocratically

and socialistically oriented Turners that had to emigrate,

which isreflected in thepolitical goals of the first

Amer-icanTurner societies andtheir umbrellaorganisation, the

‘‘SocialistischeTurnerbund’’,foundedofficiallyin1851.The

Turnermovement sawitself as a ‘‘nursery for all

revolu-tionaryideas’’ which has their originsin a rational world

view.9TheTurnerspromotedasocialismthatconcentrated

ontherightsandfreedomsoftheindividual,10andopposed

monarchy and the religious indoctrination of the people.

In terms of the socio-politicalcircumstances prevailing in

the United States, this meant that they fought American

nativism,thesystem ofslaveryaswellasthetemperance

andSabbath-daylaws.11UntiltheoutbreakoftheCivilWar

(1861---1865)theTurnersocietieshadastrongpolitical

ori-entation. Their political attitudes reflected the opinions

ofthefreethinkers,ananti-religiousmovement that

advo-catedrationalism,scienceandhistory.AlthoughtheTurners

hadGerman roots,theyconsidered themselves withinthe

tradition of the Americanintellectuals Thomas Paine and

8It is almost impossible to arrive at an exact number of all the‘48ers’whoemigratedtotheUnitedStates.Sourcesestimate thatnomorethan3000---4000personsemigratedforpurely polit-icallyreasonsbetween1847and1856(seeRehe,1996,p.13---15; Reppmann,1994,12---13).

9SeetheConvention ProtokolloftheSocialistische Turnerbund from1859/60.

10 TheTurn-Zeitung(December1st,1851)printedanarticlewith thetitle‘‘SozialismusunddieTurnerei’’.

11 SocialistTurnerbundofNorthAmerica,Constitutionsadoptedat theirconventionatBuffaloSept.24---2.7Buffalo,1855.

Walt Whitman, whoembodied political andreligious

free-dominanenlightenedAmerica.Acloseconnectionbetween

the ‘‘Turners’’andthefreethinkerscanbeobserveduntil

thetwentiethcentury.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries the Turner

soci-etieswere‘‘nurseriesofethnicities’’.AccordingtoConzen

theywereplaceswhereGermanorratherGerman-American

culture and traditions were fostered, as can be seen in

theirsocialandculturalactivities.Duringtheirfirstdecade

the Turnvereine offeredphysical educationclasses ---

Ger-man Turnen. TheirTurner Halls, places in which not only

the German language but also German customs and

cel-ebrations were preserved, provided a social centre with

politicaldebates,lectures,Sundayschoolsandlibrariesfor

the further education of the German emigrants, and the

attachedrestaurants orbars werepopularplacesfor

Ger-manGemütlichkeit.12BesidesfosteringGermancultureand

nationalism, the Turners also tried to establish a bridge

between the oldculture and the newby offering English

languageclasses andstronglysupported American

citizen-ship amongtheir memberstoaccelerate theirintegration

into the everyday life of American mainstream society.13

In1851thefirstNationalGymnasticFestival(Turnfest)was

organised,whichwasacompetitiveaswellasasocialevent.

Justlikeother ethnicgroups, theGermanshadtofight

thehostilityofnative-bornAmericanswhodidnotapprove

ofthehighrateofimmigrationintheircountry.Especially

intheMidwest,Turnerswerephysicallyattackedonseveral

occasions. To defend themselves theywere urged by the

Turnerbundtotakeupshootingandothermilitaryexercises

intheirphysicalprogramme.Lateron,duringtheAmerican

CivilWar,theycouldprofitfromtheseexercisesintheir

mil-itaryservice(Hofmann,2001,p.140).Uptothebeginning

ofthetwentiethcenturyself-defence(Wehrturnen)inthe

formoffencingwaspartoftheTurners’physicalcultureand

couldalsobefoundattheTurnfeste.14

Despitetheattacksbythenativistmovement,the

Turn-ersexpressedtheirpoliticalopinionsintheAmericanpublic

sphere. Mostof the Turners supported the political goals

of theRepublicans duringthe1850sand60s. This support

resultedintheestablishmentofLincoln’sbodyguardduring

hisfirstinaugurationaswellastheformingoftheTurner

reg-imentsatthebeginningoftheCivilWarin1861.Beforethe

outbreakoftheAmericanCivilWarin1861therewereover

130 Turnersocieties inthe UnitedStates(Hofmann,2001,

p.148---161).

Inthepostbellumyearsaneraofreconstructionstarted

not only for the American South but also for the Turner

movement. The SocialisticTurnerbund,which had ceased

to exist during the war years, was reorganised under a

new name in 1865, namely, Nordamerikanischer

Turner-bund. In these years the United States experienced a

big German influx, coming to a peak in 1882 with over

250,000newcomers(Doerries,1986,p.300).The

German-AmericanVereinswesen tookadvantageof thisinflux, and

12For further details see also Spears and Swanson (1988,

p.128---129)andRader(1990,56---60).

13EventodayAmericanTurnersdemandAmericanorCanadian cit-izenshipoftheirmembers.SeeMetzner(1989,p.51).

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sodidtheTurners.InmanyAmericancitiesnewTurner

soci-eties werefounded;othersenlargedtheirmembership.In

theseyearsachangeintheTurnermovementfrompolitical

towardsmoreculturalandeducationalvaluescanbenoted

(PumroyandRampelmann,1996,introduction).Oneofthe

maineducationalgoalsoftheTurnerbundwasthe

introduc-tionoftheirphysicaltrainingprogrammesinpublicschools.

Anotherimportanttasktheunionhadtofaceafterthewar

wastheopeningoftheirsocietiestowomen.Turnenforgirls

hadalreadybeenintroducedinthe1850s;exerciseclasses

forwomenweresetupthreedecadeslaterandbecamevery

popular.Startinginthe1860smanysocietiesalsoestablished

Women’sAuxiliariesoverthenextdecades.

With the growing popularity of Turnen the need for

physical educatorsor ‘‘Turnlehrer’’rose,too,anda

Turn-lehrerseminar,whichlaterbecametheNormalSchoolofthe AmericanGymnasticUnion,wasestablishedin1866bythe

Turneruniontoeducateprofessionally-trainedinstructors.15

Todaythisinstitutionisintegratedinthephysicaleducation

departmentof theIndianaUniversity PurdueUniversityat

Indiana(IUPUI)inIndianapolis.

ThepeakoftheAmericanTurnermovementwasreached

in 1894. At that time 317 societies existed with

approx-imately 40,000 members, more than 25,000 children and

around3000womenparticipating intheactivityclasses.16

This boom had ceased by World War I, a time when the

radical andsocialistic tendencies intheTurnermovement

hadalsodeclined.Onereasonforthisdeclinewasprobably

thegenerationshift,sincemostofthe‘‘forty-eighters’’and

pioneersofsocialreformswerenolongeralive.

AssimilationandAmericanizationoftheTurners

Americanization is a special kind of transformation. It

expresses a process of social and cultural change and

therebyresultsinanassimilationandadaptationto

Ameri-cancultureaswellasanacceptancebythehostsociety.17

ThusAmericanculture,valuesandhabitsareadaptedbya

personoragroup.

Over the years an assimilation process became visible

amongtheGermanpopulation,especiallywiththegrowth

oftheAmerican-borngenerations.Thesenewergenerations

were nolonger fluent in German andto a certainextent

had lost theircultural affinity toandinterest in the land

of theirancestors. This developmenttowardsassimilation

andAmericanizationwasalsointensifiedbytheanti-German

15In1880Dr.H.M.StarkloffofSt.Louis,chairmanoftheexecutive committeeoftheTurnerunion,expressedthedesireoftheTurners tofindanewfieldofinvolvement:‘‘Howwoulditbeifweshould workwithallourmighttointroducephysicaltrainingintothepublic schoolsofthiscountry?Wecouldnotconceiveofamorebeautiful giftthanthistobestowupontheAmericanpeople.’’Thus,cities withalargeGermanpopulationintroducedturneninpublicschools (seeHartwell,1886).Healsostatesthatthiswasthesecond insti-tutionintheUnitedStatesinwhichonecouldbecomeaphysical educationteacher.ThefirstonewasDioLewis’NormalInstitutefor PhysicalEducation,foundedin1861inBoston.

16See,NordamerikanischerTurnerbund(1896)orBarney,(1991,p.

3)andPumroyandRampelmann(1996,p.289).

17 SeeHäderle(1997,p.20)andGleason(1980,p.39)andKazal

(1995,440).

politicsof theAmericangovernmentintheyearsbetween

1914and1918.ManyAmericanswithaGermanbackground

were accused of lacking loyalty to the American nation.

Thisanti-Germanhysteriafoughteverythingthatwas

Ger-man,especiallytheGermanlanguageandGermanculture:

‘‘Kultur ofthe Kaiser’skind not tobepromoted (...)’’or

‘‘TheGermantongue hasnoplaceinAmerica(...)’’were

slogansthat couldbereadin aCincinnatinewspaper(Ott

andTolzmann,1994).Thisresultedinvandalism,a

prohibi-tionoftheGermanlanguageinschoolsanduniversities,the

eliminationofGermanjournalsandnewspapers,thebanof

Germancomposersfromconcerthalls,theclosingof

Ger-mantheatres and the Americanizationof German names,

whetherof persons, streets, towns, organisations or

soci-eties(Luebke,1974,p.248---250).

Theanti-GermanfeelingsduringtheyearsofWorldWar

Ihadadecisiveinfluence onthechangeofidentityofthe

German-Americansandwithit,ontheTurners.The

German-Americanethnic communitycollapsed; thegroup identity

becamemoreprivateinitsexpressions.18However,the

num-berofTurnersocietiesandmembershipremainedconstant

duringtheyearsofWorldWarI.Thedeclinestartedafter

thatwar, and endedin 1943when less than100 societies

withonly16,000Turnersbelongedtotheunion.19

In these decades between the wars the Turner

move-mentalsounderwentan Americanizationprocess,whichis

illustratedbythelossofGermanastheofficiallanguagein

protocolsandthe‘‘AmerikanischeTurnzeitung’’.Byandby

thesocietiesalsoAmericanizedtheirnamesbydroppingthe

Germanparts.TheNordamerikanischeTurnerbundchanged

itsnamein1938into‘‘AmericanTurners’’(AT).Threeyears

earlier, Turnerpresident George Seibel officially declared

that theAmerican Turnermovement ‘‘hasbeen the most

AmericanofallAmericanassociations’’;thenewsloganof

the Turnersbecame ‘‘Turnerism is Americanism’’.20 Thus,

duringWorldWarIIacompletelyAmericanizedTurner

move-mentshoweditsloyaltytotheAmericangovernment.

AfterWorldWarIIthenumberofsocietiesdidnotrise,

butinthe1950sthemembershipnumbersclimbedto25,000

again,organisedin approximately80 societies. Onecause

for this rise certainly was the new wave of immigration,

whichbroughtmorethan500,000Germanimmigrantstothe

UnitedStatesbetween1950and1959(Adams,1993,p.6).

TheAmericanTurnersattheendofthe

20thcentury

At the beginning of the new21 millennium, in 2002,

there were still 58 societies22 with approximately

18 Conzen(1984,p.32).

19 SeeStatisticalReportsoftheNordamerikanischerTurnerbund andAmericanTurnersbetween1914and1943.

20 Annual Report of the Nordamerikanischer Turnerbund (1925, p.11;1935,p.3)andAnnualReportoftheAmericanTurners,(1938, p.6).

21 Partsof thisempirical study have alreadybeen published in

Hofmann(1999,p.79---108).

22 In2011therewereonly 54TurnerSocieties.Themembership numberseemstobestable.

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0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 1865 1870 1884 1890 1895 1900 1908 1910 1915 1920 1939 1960 2000 Year Number of societies

Figure1 Numberofsocietiesbetween1862and2000.

0 5000 10 000 15 000 20 000 25 000 30 000 35 000 40 000 45 000 1890 1900 191 0 1920 193 0 194 0 1950 1960 1970 1980 199 0 2000 Year Mem b er s

Figure2 Numberofmembersbetween1890and2000.

12,000 members23 that were affiliated to the umbrella

organisationAmericanTurners,butnotallofthemshowed

any remnants of German-American culture. The typical

Turnverein does not exist anymore. Besides the athletic

programmesocialget-togethersdominateassociationlife.

Political discussions and the spread of German culture

havelost theirsignificance.The former German-American

societies have grown intomulti-ethnical societies, mostly

withmembersfromdifferentEuropeanimmigrantgroups.

For over 150 years the Turnvereine have been part of

the American world of sport. In 1998 the first American

Turner societies celebrated their 150th anniversary, and

in 2011 the 53th national Turnfest was organised by the

AT, in St. Louis. The Turners were among the first to

introduce physical education to American schools, and

they founded the second institution in the United States

in which physical education teachers or Turnlehrer were

trained.TodaytheAmericanTurnersaremembersin

Amer-icansportfederations,USAGymnasticsandUSAVolleyball

(Figs.1and2).

Hofmann (2001) conducted a study about the

struc-ture of the AmericanTurner societies at the closeof the

19thcentury.Atthattimetherewerestill59societieswith

approximately13,000members thatbelongedtotheAT.24

Theresultsindicatethroughthemembershipstructuresthat

thereisnotypicalTurnersociety.Everysocietypresentsan

individualpicture,beginningwiththenumberofmembers,

23 American Turners:GeographicalDirectory ofSocieties. 2002. UnpublishedinformationandnumbersoftheAT.

24 AmericanTurners:GeographicalDirectoryofSocieties.(1999);

Hofmann(2001,p.269---300).

theprograms,andthedistributionofthemembersbyage

and ethnic heritage. Becauseof the relative

heterogene-ityofthesocietieswhoparticipatedinthesurvey,itisnot

possibletodrawgeneralconclusionsaboutthesociety

struc-tures.Atbest,thesocietiesofthestudycanbeputintofour

categories,withsomeoverlap25:

1. Ethnic-orientedsocieties,

2. Non-ethnic,social-orientedsocieties,

3. Recreationalsports,social-orientedsocieties,

4. Competitivesports-orientedsocieties.

The ethnic category includes societies which primarily

recognise German traditions and culture in their

Vere-insleben(11%).ForthemembersoftheseTurnersocieties,

their Turnvereinrepresentsa kindof Heimatvereinin the

group of non-ethnic,social societies (5%).Forthese

soci-eties, a recreationalsports program is of noimportance.

Themembersareethnicallymixed;however,memberswith

aGermanheritageareinthemajority.Thisisthesamefor

the other categories. The majority of societies surveyed,

(78%),belongtothethirdcategorywhichmeanstheyhave

a recreationaland social program.26 Here,gymnastics for

children,golf,bowlingandballgamesdominatetheathletic

offerings.Otherkindsofrecreationsuchastrack-and-field,

tennis,dancingorfitnessandhealth-orientedexercise

pro-gramsexistonlyinafewsocieties.Thus,itcanbeconcluded

that forthemajority ofmembers, socialaspectsand

net-workingelementsplayaroleintheirdecisiontooffercertain

sportsoractivities.‘‘Lifetime’’sportssuchasgolfand

bowl-ingcanbepursuedatveryadvancedagesandthusmeetthe

needsofoldermembers,who,inmanysocieties,constitute

the majority of members.27 Fivepercent of the societies

that participatedin thissurveybelong tothecompetitive

sports-oriented category.TheseTurnvereineoffer

gymnas-tics for children and adolescents and they participate in

competitions organised by USA Gymnastics. The question

begs to beasked whether it makes sense for them tobe

ATmembers.

ThemajorityoftheAmericanTurnersocietiesstilloffer

asportsorrecreationalprogram;however,theycannotbe

viewed as an organisation which offers a vast sports and

exerciseprogram. Thesocial componentrankshigh inthe

remainingsocieties,whichcanbeattributedtothe

histor-ical origins of the Turners. In the early decades of their

existence,theyservedascentreforphysicalactivitiesand

they alsowerea centre for social get-togethersor

meet-ings forGermanimmigrants.Thissocialcomponentwasof

greatsignificanceandhasprevailed,thoughinasomewhat

differentform.

25Thefollowing informationis basedonthe37Turnersocieties whocompletedaquestionnaire.

26Among these societies, only those that offer morethan two sportswereincluded.

27In the 1940 Mayissue of theATT, volleyballfor seniors and women wasrecommended andwaspopular.However,thearticle statedthatitshouldnotreplacegymnastics.

(7)

ReflectionsontheAmericanizationofthe

AmericanTurners

AmericanizationinthecaseoftheTurnermovementmeans

the acceptance of the American constitution, adaptation

toAmericanvalues,traditions,rituals andsymbols witha

simultaneous decline of expression of German culture. In

closerelationtotheAmericanizationoftheTurnersisalso

theacceptance ofmembersof non-Germanoriginin their

societies,andtherequirementofhavingAmerican

citizen-ship. But there is another side to thisprocess as well. It

isnotonlyexpressedbyalossofGerman-Americanethnic

identityandculture.Americanizationalsomeansaholding

ontotraitsoftheTurnerscultureandtheirdemonstration

by spreading them into a multicultural American society

(Hofmann, 2010, p. 24---26).Some examples have already

beenmentioned.

Bycontinuingnotonlycertainritualsandcustomsfrom

the ‘‘old’’ country, but also by adapting to new ones,

in this case, American ones, new traditions arise, which

are adjustments to the new, unfamiliar circumstances of

the American host society. According to Eric Hobsbawm’s

theory of ‘‘invented traditions’’, traditions areinvented,

constructed andinstitutionalised.They havecertain

prac-tices and rules which either become a ritual or are of

symbolicnature.Bymeansofrepetition,certainnormsand

valuesthatarelinkedwiththesetraditionsariseand

con-tinuityinregardtothepastdevelops(Hobsbawm,1995,p.

1f).Throughthedevelopmentofnewsymbolsandtraditions

theTurnerstookupanewidentity.Thiscanalsobeseenin

the acceptanceof newsymbols, which arenotrelatedto

the German tradition.One of these symbols is the discus

thrower,whichbecametheofficialsymboloftheATinthe

secondhalfofthe1930s.

Otherexamplesarethenationalconventionsandother

big events of the Turners which are held under the

Star-Spangled Banner and sometimes opened by the American

nationalanthemandthePledgeofAllegiance.28TheTurners

arealsopurposelytryingto‘‘invent’’newtraditionssuchas

aNationalAmericanTurnerDay,whichTurnerpresidentEd

Coltoninitiatedin1993,orthecompositionoftheAmerican

TurnerMarch.29

When discussing the Americanization of the

Turn-ers, the ‘‘Lady Turners’’30 should not be forgotten.

Especially the appearance of the ladies auxiliaries during

thelate19thcenturyandtheirexistenceuntiltodayhave

tobeconsideredinthelightofthespecialcircumstancesof

an immigrationcountry,suchastheUnitedStates.On the

onehand,theseladies´clubsofferedopportunitiesforfemale

German immigrants to exchangeproblems, meet friends,

fosterGerman culture andalsosupportthe‘‘male Turner

societies’’throughtheirhelpinvariousways.Ontheother

28Thesourcesmentionthisritualatleastsincethe1950s.Latelyit wasperformedatthesesquicentennialcelebrationsofthe Cincin-natiCentralTurners,whichwereconnectedwiththe67thnational conventionoftheATinAugust.

29SeeAmericanTurnerTopicsvol.40(1993),2f.andvol.41(1994), 3,10f.

30ThisishowfemaleTurnermembersorladyauxiliarymembers callthemselves.

hand,theriseofladyclubsingeneralisan answertothe

socialconditionsinthe UnitedStates.Herethesocialnet

isnotverywellsupportedbythegovernment,andrelieson

volunteerorganisations,manyofthemfoundedinthe19th

century. The ladies auxiliariesof the Turners stillsupport

notonlytheTurners,butalsodonatetheirtimefor

differ-entkinds of volunteerwork andengagein different local

affairs.

Throughout the Turners’ history these women showed

theirloyaltytotheworldoftheirmen,whorespectedthe

ladiesandintegratedthemintheVereinsleben---however,

without a right to vote. Later, in the twentieth century,

mostsocietiesacceptedfemalesasmembers.Certainlythis

wasnotonlyforreasonsofgenderequality;inmanycases

femalemembershipwasneeded forfinancial reasons.But

still,someAmericanTurnvereineheldontotheirtraditionof

beingexclusivelymalesocieties.Notuntilthe1990sdidall

societiesacceptwomen.The percentageoffemalesinthe

ATisnotknown;accordingtotheinformationtheempirical

studyyielded,itisprobablylowerthanthemale

percent-age. Hereit becomesobvious that the AT is a traditional

organisation.

ThefactthatthemajorityoftheTurnersocieties

belong-ing to the AT are over 100 years (and some even over

150years)oldandtheactual contentof theVereinsleben

--- physical turnenand especially thesocial component of

turnen --- did not change much in the course of its

his-tory are further reasons why the AT can be described as

a Traditionsverband. Although the political tendencies of

theTurner movement weakenedafter a few decades and

laterentirelydisappeared,thesocietiesstillsticktotheir

social,culturalandathleticoffers.Thesehavechangedand

adaptedAmericancontents andforms.The attractiveness

ofturnen(gymnastics),whichwasanexpression ofa

spe-cificGermanbodyandmovementculture,wasreducedafter

theturnofthecentury.Especiallyduringthesecond

Amer-icanizationperiod,‘‘sport’’---especiallyteamsports---was

takenupbythesocieties.Thiswasananswertothechanged

membership,whichhadahigherpercentage of

American-bornmembers,theirneedsandtheAmericanenvironment.

Althoughtodaymanysocietiesstilloffergymnasticsfor

chil-drenandyouth,itisofnomoresignificancefortheiradult

members.

The socialpart ofthe associationallife isstillof great

significance. But it changed as well. In the 19th century

itespeciallyofferedthepossibilityforGermanimmigrants

tocommunicate, andthus helpedstrengthen their ethnic

identification. Presently mostsocieties arestill placesfor

communication --- which takes place in their bar areas

---butitisnolongerexclusivelyforGerman-Americans.They

havea‘‘neighbourhood orcommunityfunction’’for

Euro-peanAmericansandfulfiltheirsocialneeds(Doerries,1986,

p.190).

Mentalturnen,whichhasentirelylostitssignificancein

Germany’sTurnvereine,isstillemphasisedinthe

constitu-tionoftheAT,butinrealityitishardlypursued,andithas

takenonnewforms.Politicaldebates,discussions,lectures

oreducationalprogramshavedisappeared.Theformer

men-talturnenhasbeentransferredinto‘‘culturalturnen’’,and

thesocieties´art,handicraft,literaryandmusicaloffersare

(8)

whichareincludedinthecompetitionsatthenational

turn-festeveryfouryears,aswell.

Conclusion

Americanization can be interpreted as acculturation and

assimilation into American society. It occurs at political,

cultural and religious levels. Demographic developments

alsoplayarole.IntheGerman-AmericanTurnermovement,

thisprocessis reflectedintheTurners’ recognitionof the

AmericanConstitution,adoptionofAmericanvaluesand

tra-ditions, lifestyles and symbols. But Americanization does

notmeanmerelytheabandonment, assimilationor

weak-eningofethnicidentityandculture,ratheritisalsoseenin

thepreservation,integration,anddemonstrationofspecific

traitsofGermanculture,e.g.,elementsofthe

Turnverein-skultur,itsvaluesandidealsandintegratingthemintothe

multiculturalAmericansociety.

MostoftheTurnersocietieshavebeentransformedinto

leisure sport and social societies for European-Americans

that could also exist under a different name. The

mem-bersof the individual societies follow the same interests

andgoalswhichtheirsocietyfulfilsthroughitsoffers.These

offersareadaptedtothepresentmembers.Stillthenumber

ofTurnersocieties andTurnershasbeen diminishingsince

the1960s.31

ManyoftheformerGermany-American Turnersocieties

have developed into multi-ethnic societies, with mostly

members from different European immigrant groups. The

pressure of American society to Americanize the Turner

movementwasstrongerthantheinfluencetheTurnershad

onAmerican society.This canbe seen, on the onehand,

bytheirbondagetocertaintraditionsandTurnersymbolsof

Germanheritageandidentityandontheotherhand,intheir

adoption of American values and adaptation to American

society.TheTurnvereineadaptedtothenewcircumstances;

theyweretransformed.However,it shouldnot be

forgot-ten that the ancestors of the Americans with a Germans

past,whointhe1990swerethebiggestethnicgroupinthe

UnitedStates,havecontributedtothebuildingofan

Amer-icanculture,andan AmericanNation,although thetraces

arehardlynoticeabletoday.Sincethebeginningofthe20th

centurytheTurners have losttheirinfluence onAmerican

physical education, and since the late 1960s the Turners

cannot be found onAmerican Olympic gymnastics’teams

anymore.TheTurnershavebecomeaminoritygroupinthe

Americanworldofsport.Thetransformationand

American-izationoftheTurnersocieties resultedintheirinvisibility,

andtheirfutureisuncertain.

Conflicts

of

interest

Theauthorsdeclarenoconflictsofinterest.

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Imagem

Figure 1 Number of societies between 1862 and 2000.

Figure 1

Number of societies between 1862 and 2000. p.6
Figure 2 Number of members between 1890 and 2000.

Figure 2

Number of members between 1890 and 2000. p.6

Referências