Cincinnati: Our German History

Cincinnati's Best Kept Secret

By the early 1900s, the population of Cincinnati was more than 60% German Americans. Fondly called "Zinzinnati" by it's German residents, Cincinnati was home to brewing companies like Christian Morelein, a number of German language printers and newspapers
Cincinnati: Our German History
Neighborhood: Covedale
Cincinnati, OH 45238
United States of America
 and German speaking schools. The evidence of the German migration was everywhere to be seen, from the brick and stone Bavarian architecture to the names of canals and neighborhoods like Cincinnati's Over the Rhine.

In late 1917, the waves of the anti-German movement fueled by World War I began to hit Cincinnati hard. The Germans of Cincinnati scrambled to hide their heritage out of fear of persecution. German language printings became obsolete, German schools began to close, saloons even took pretzels off their counter as every bit of German was eradicated from the city. Restaurants began to sell "liberty slaw" instead of sauerkraut, doctors diagnosed "liberty measles" instead of German measles. As the war grew more heated, so did the anti-German movement, and Germans were finding themselves unemployed, beaten and on a couple of occasions, lynched.

Cincinnati's German heritage was all but lost as German Americans changed their names to more acceptable variations. "Schmidt" became "Smith," as families attempted to show their patriotism and avoid the masses by denying their history. Streets with German names were changed or flipped backwards, and even today when driving around Cincinnati you can see where "Mueller Avenue" became "Relleum Avenue" and "Kuller" became "Relluk" to keep the neighborhood from having a devaluing German association. The death knell for Cincinnati's Germans came with the passing of Prohibition, forcing the breweries to close.

Laura Hetzer
Written by Laura Hetzer
I have been a stay at home mom for five years after leaving my career in marketing and public relations. I have been doing freelance articles and copywriting in my spare time.  -  Full profile
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It is sad that Cincinnati has lost such a great/rich heritage. Most other cities still have a thriving active heritage: New York's jews, Chicago's Italians, Miami's cubans. But, Cincinnati's identity is lost forever in history.

Posted on 01/11/2009 at 8:01:49 PM

Fascinating. I live on Relluk Drive. I always knew it was kuller spelled backwards but didn't know why.

Posted on 01/05/2009 at 10:01:11 PM

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