German Pioneer Monument

The German Pioneer Monument at sunrise in Landa Park. Courtesy of photographer Elisabet Barker.

 

The New Braunfels community as well as all of Comal County and many others throughout the  entire state of Texas were  excited. Something they eagerly anticipated was finally about  to happen. The German Pioneer Monument in Landa Park was to be unveiled and dedicated.

Sister Loretta Liebscher well remembers that time. She was 11 years old.  Sister Loretta is the daughter of Alfred and Franziska (Fanny) Dittlinger Liebscher, granddaughter of Hippolyte Dittlinger and younger sister to Maria and Carl. A short time  before the German Pioneer Monument unveiling John Fuchs came to the Liebscher home to speak with Mrs. Liebscher. He had a concern regarding the unveiling of the Monument. Let us explain: seeking guidance from Fanny Liebscher was not unusual. She was known throughout the community for her ability to “problem solve.” She  found solutions-always with a smile-and got things  accomplished. She was a most active member of  Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church and Charter Member of  New Braunfels Garden Club. When Conservation Society was started she helped reclaim Ferdinand Lindheimer’s garden and maintained it for many years. She, her husband and her brother provided enough funding to make possible the purchase for New Braunfels the site we know today as Prince Solms Park. Not surprisingly Franziska Liebscher’s photo hangs in the Greater New  Braunfels Chamber of Commerce Honors Hall.

After the visit by Mr. Fuchs, Sister Loretta remembers her mother went to town and returned with many bolts of cloth and ribbon. The ribbon was turned into yards and yards of braid. Loretta was informed by her mother that the day of the unveiling Loretta  would sit on the main center podium under  the ancient Oak in Landa Park. She would be alongside the Master of Ceremonies and have the honor of cutting the braided ribbon her mother had made. The braid was attached to the cloth cover surrounding the monument. When the braid was cut, the cover would fall to reveal the completed monument.  How exciting!

And then the day of the event, Sunday, Aug. 21, 1938 finally arrived. Paul Jahn was chairman of the  Arrangements Committee in charge of preparations for the celebration.  His committee was a busy group for quite awhile prior to the event. Those serving on it were John R. Fuchs, Robert H. Wagenfuehr, Chris  Herry,  Albert Ludwig, Otto Rohde, Otto Seidel, E.A. Sahm, Carl Biebers, and their wives.

That special day all of the local churches had their services at 9 a.m. with the understanding  that “giving thanks to the Almighty” was the beginning of the  Dedication. At 10 a.m., the 133rd  Field Artillary Band, under the direction of  Carl Hehmsoth,  played  on the Plaza, while  Landa Park was made ready for the expected large crowds of people to witness and celebrate the Dedication.

Invited to the unveiling was A. Bonschab of the German Consul  office, in New Orleans, He  was scheduled to take part in the event. When he arrived he  insisted that  the flag of the Third Reich be displayed.. The Third Reich  flag bearing a swastika became the national German flag when Adolph Hitler was  elected Fuehrer in 1935.  The Pioneer Memorial Association refused. They explained that they meant no offense to the Consul or Germany but if a German flag was to be flown, the committee along with the New Braunfels City Commission, wished to fly the flag that flew over Germany at the time of the pioneer emigration. Without the swastika flag in evidence, Consul Bonschab refused to participate and returned to New Orleans. 

At 1 p.m., the welcoming of guests began in Landa Park. The Welcoming Committee was chaired by George Haeusler and  included Emil Fischer, E.P “Pete” Nowotny, Otto Meerscheidt, Mark Fuchs, and their wives. Robert H. Wagenfuehr was the chairman of the Program Committee. Serving  with him were John R. Fuchs, George Haeusler, Bodo Holecamp, Carl Hehmsoth, Ernst Raba and Leo M.J. Dielmann.

At 1:30 p.m., the 133rd  Field Artillary Band played  to the gathering throngs near the huge ancient oak tree directly across from the Monument. The visiting and music continued until shortly after 2:30 p.m. When everyone joined in singing “America”. Pastor Gottlieb Mornhinweg of the German Protestant Church that we now know as the  First Protestant Church, gave the invocation followed by  a welcome from Robert H. Wagenfuehr. 

An enthusiastic and appreciative large audience awaited the unveiling of the statue dedicated to the perseverance of the German pioneers and their contributions to Texas. John R Fuchs, president of the Monument Association for the German Pioneers of Texas, Inc. directed the unveiling. He was assisted by 11-year-old Loretta Liebscher, who represented the young people among the pioneers. Loretta was seated in her pristine white dress and slippers on the platform with John Fuchs, who was at the podium. The Monument was draped in a red, white, and blue fabric, bound by a braided ribbon made by Mrs. Liebscher. The braided ribbon extended to the podium and where Loretta was seated. Fuchs introduced Loretta and upon his request she cut the braided ribbon with a pair of scissors she brought from home. The cloth flowed gracefully to the ground unveiling the remarkable Hugo Villa sculpture of the German pioneer family. 

A hush fell over the gathering and then an appreciative gasp followed by thunderous applause and shouts of  approval. Hearing the crowd that day, one would know the Monument was greatly appreciated.  

Appropriately the unveiling event was followed by a presentation from  Dr. Rudolph Leopold Biesele. Dr. Biesele, author of the heralded book on the German immigration to Texas, The History of the German Settlements in Texas 1831 -1861, gave the major address that afternoon to an attentive audience.  A professor at the University of Texas, Dr. Biesele spoke on the importance  of the German emigration to the development of Texas. 

Carl Biebers, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Pioneeer Memorial Celebration, officially gave  the German Pioneer Monument to New Braunfels by presenting it to Mayor Walter Sippel. On behalf of the citizenry of New Braunfels, Mayor Sippel proudly accepted. 

The people attending the dedication that day long remember  the event. The German Pioneer Monument with plans beginning in the Texas Centennial year, 1936, remains a memorial to the German pioneers in Texas acknowledging what they accomplished through faith, devotion to family and hard work.

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