Germans in America (Four-part Television Series)

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For years we heard from friends and teachers what a pity it was that so much was shown on TV about other culture groups such as the Irish-Americans and the African-Americans. Why was nothing available about the Germans? And our teacher friends complained about the shortage of materials about the German-Americans. They told us that, if materials were available, they would use them in the classroom, but they did not have the time to produce materials themselves.

In March of 2008, with little fanfare, South Carolina ETV and the Goethe-Institut released the English-language version of the Germans in America a four-part television series shown on PBS and now available on DVD.

Germans in America recounts the story of German immigrants to the United States, using gripping stories about naive settlers and successful farmers, about devout free-thinkers and political refugees, about the heyday of the German-language press in America, and about the founders of industrial dynasties in the new homeland.

Public television has been broadcasting the series in selected areas throughout the United States. This great series is well worth the effort to be shown on many more PBS stations. In terms of promotion, if it has not yet been shown in your area, you might check with your local PBS station to see if they know about the series and are willing to schedule it. It helps to get friends and acquaintances to write letters and postcards, requesting a showing and demonstrating support.

For more information about the Germans in America series, visit  Program details for the US offering are available at the NETA link,  Public television programmers should contact Polly Kosko of South Carolina ETV at

An educational version of The Germans in America series is available on DVDs in both German and English for showing at home or in clubs and organizations. Each program may be purchased online as a single DVD or as part of the series from the ETV Store in South Carolina at

Teaching materials in English were produced for Social Studies teachers by Transatlantic Outreach Program (TOP), of the Goethe-Institut, Washington. The lessons in each series can be used independently or collectively as a unit of study. They can be downloaded from the website ( as pdf files.

TOP offers workshops introducing the Germans in America series together with other new teaching materials to teams of Socials Studies and German teachers. They arrive on location with boxes full of great handouts and new materials for the teachers. For information on these workshops contact Wood Powell at the Goethe-Institut in Washington at

Germans in America recounts the story of German immigrants in the United States. The four-hour video series relates to little-known stories: the epic of the Texas-Germans and the quiet lives of countless Midwestern farmers; the tales of prominent families like the Steinways, as well as the multitude of poor immigrants gathered in "Little Germanies" in American cities.
Program 1: Into the Promised Land Learn about how a whole German village packed up and moved to America.
Find out about the adventures of German-Americans in the California Gold Rush and how their descendants tried to pass on their heritage to the next generation. Lessons for Program 1 (PDF, 2.9 MB)
Program 2: The Price of Freedom Full of hope, families crossed the Atlantic to develop a massive settlement in the Texas hill country, only to learn that they had been swindled. Learn about the struggles and battles these heroic people overcame. Lessons for Program 2 (PDF, 2.4 MB)
Program 3: Little Germanies Little Germanies in American cities across the country provided everything for the German-Americans. Follow two families who represent both ends of the economic spectrum. Lessons for Program 3 (PDF, 2.8 MB)
Program 4: A People Disappears Learn how and why this important ethnic group "Americanized" their names and tried to suppress their identity. Learn about the struggle for cultural survival and how immigrants dealt with the melting pot.
Lessons for Program 4 (PDF, 2.5 MB)

Over 60 Million Americans have their origins in German-speaking countries. As America's largest ethnic group, the Germans made a significant mark on America's cultural, business, and public life for centuries until their identity fell victim to feelings of shame and repression during and after two World Wars. But their achievements are still the basis for much of American culture. Location shooting, archival footage, the descendants of immigrants, and carefully done historical recreation bring German-American history to life.

This series was originally created for broadcast in Europe by Engstfeld Filmproduktion, produced by Fritz Baumann. Coproducers were ARTE Straßburg, WDR, Goethe Institut/German Cultural Institut with support from the EU MEDIA program and the Filmstiftung NRW.

Thanks to generous support from the German Information Center USA, South Carolina ETV and the Goethe-Institut released the English-language version starting in March 2008 (satellite feed) via NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association.

Teaching materials for the Germans in America Series was produced for Social Studies teachers in English by Transatlantic Outreach Program: A Public/Private Partnership (TOP). Teaching materials for the US social studies classroom are available for download (PDF Format). Lessons for each program were written by experts Robert Jervis and Joann Prewitt for educators of students in grades 6-12. The lessons align with specific National Social Studies Standards. They also incorporate ideas from research-based best practices such as Dimensions of Learning (R.
Marzano) and Understanding by Design (J. McTighe & G. Wiggins).

The lessons in each series can be used independently or collectively as a unit of study. The successful application of the lessons depends on teachers and students viewing the appropriate video program in its entirety. Each program may be purchased online as a single DVD or as part of the series at

DVDs (bilingual German/English) are available for homevideo and also for educational use from South Carolina ETV. To purchase a DVD of one program or the entire series, please call +1 (800) 553-7752, visit the ETV Store online, or write to this address:

SCETV Marketing
1101 George Rogers Boulevard
Columbia, SC 29211

Please refer to Catalog #363-000
$24.95 for individual program; $85 entire series.
This offer (homevideo or educational use) made via SCETV.

Created 24 June 2010 SJS