Victorian Germans, In the US Civil War?


Odd as it sounds, there appears to be evidence that there really WERE Germans here on our shores during the US Civil War.

This came to light for me because of two things:
1.  I had attended a Civil War Re-enactment in February here in the Seattle, Washington area with my costuming group, Somewhere in Time, Unlimited, AND

2.  I have begun studying the German zither, an instrument which kinda looks like a harp, kinda works like a hammered dulcimer and yet TOTALLY sounds different from either!

Now how exactly do I know about the Germans in the Civil War? Civil War full group
A website called zither.us has these photos on the site in an article
http://www.zither.us/?q=node/13 making the claim that the soldier is either German or at least of German decent. 

Zither InfantrymanI noticed from the article written that the men were singing, “Hinaus in die Ferne…” which loosely translates to “out in the open” or “out in the field”.  This was one of my German grandmother’s most favorite songs and I remember singing it with her many times.  I find it personally  interesting that not only did the song far outlive the Civil War years, that there was a GERMAN or two out in the field, but that there was at least one who had schlepped his zither out there for entertainment! 
Goes-ta-show-ya that the haunting sounds that come from the zither have far surpassed the actual shores of Europe way back when.

As part of my efforts of researching other famous zitherists, I came across the website: http://www.zitherist.com/ The site’s owner, Don, has awesome hook-ups for those of us owning zithers in our closests which we might’ve inherited from family overseas.  He knows how to get replacement strings, instruction books, etc. AND he features cool articles and interviews.

One such article was done with Sebastian Fichtl, an Austrian who lives in British Columbia, Canada, just north of Seattle.  You can find that article and photos of Sebastian’s tour of the Amazon (just imagine THOSE costumes!) right on the front page of www.zitherist.net

Additionally, there is a letter which came from a young man in England who was haunted by the music from the 1950’s movie called “The Third Man”.  The music from the movie was written and played by the infamous Anton Karas.  If you go to orange text at the bottom of Don’s website and then click on the link he provides, you’ll be able to see Anton play in person!

Also, if you’re interested in costuming, be sure to check out the Austrian costume Anton is wearing!  I made a similar one to that for my own husband when my costuming group did a “Kaiser Wilhelm’s Berghaus”.  Scroll down in the photos I’ve posted and you’ll see me and Harry sitting on the couch.

Don’t ya just find it sooo interesting how historical costuming is coming full circle with my current zither interests?  The Universe at work….

Smiles from the lush and green corner of these GREAT United States!  Auntie Rita

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~ by situseattle on March 6, 2008.

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