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Gottscheer Relief Association, New York

History of the Gottscheer Relief Association

Long before the end of the Second World War, Gottscheers living in America grew increasingly concerned for the welfare of their fellow Gottscheers in Europe.  At that time, they had very little information regarding the fate of the people in our homeland; an almost impenetrable curtain of uncertainties permitted only rumors and assumptions to arise.  From the limited reports, though, they learned of their terrible plight.  The circumstances clearly indicated that assistance from all Gottscheer organizations and individuals would urgently be needed.

 

As early as in January 1945, the Gottscheer Organizations in Ridgewood, New York, appointed committees at their general meetings whose duty it was to prepare for relief activities.  The end of the war, with its chaotic and cruel results for the Gottscheers in Europe, who had lost the homeland and all their possessions and suffered unspeakable hardship as refugees and expellees, necessitated immediate action.  A large-scale and well-coordinated relief activity was essential for bringing aid to our countrymen.  As the Constitutions and By-Laws of the then existing Gottscheer Organizations did not permit them to engage in an undertaking of this kind, a meeting was called at Gottscheer Hall in Ridgewood, New York on May 23, 1945, in which the following organizations participated:

 

  • Gottscheer Kranken Unterstützungs Verein (Sick Benefit Society)
  • Österreicher Männer Kranken Unterstützungs Verein (Sick Benefit Society)
  • Gottscheer Central Holding Co. Inc. (Gottscheer Hall Management)
  • Gottscheer Männerchor (Men’s Chorus)
  • Gottscheer Damenchor (Women’s Chorus)
  • Deutsch Gottscheer Gesangs Verein (Women’s Chorus)
  • Gottscheer Vereinigung

This group was later joined by the

  • Gottscheer Kranken Unterstützungs Verein von New York (Sick Benefit Society of New York)
  • Gottscheer Kegelklub (Bowling Club)
  • Fisch und Jagdklub (Rod and Gun Club)

[The Blau Weiss Gottschee Soccer Club joined immediately following its founding in 1951.  In 1981 die Erste Gottscheer Tanzgruppe (Folkdance Group) also joined.]

 

At this meeting, the Gottscheer Relief Association of New York was formed.  Nineteen people were elected from the ranks of the participating organizations as a provisional Board of Directors: Frank Deutschmann, Alois Fink, Mary Gregoritsch, Mathias Hoegler, Mary Hoenigmann, John Kikel, Rudolf Kump, Mathias Lackner, Frank Meditz, Hilda Meditz, Joseph Meditz, John Petschauer, Ferdinand Sbaschnig, Adolf Schauer, Victor Schauer, Joseph Schneller, Karl J. Stalzer, Fanny Staudacher, and Ferdinand Stimpel.

 

Collections of money and clothing were underway immediately.  Postal exchange with our people in Europe was not possible at that time and there was no way to send goods to private individuals or groups.  Only churches and religious organizations were permitted to send medicine and medical supplies to hospitals and refugee camps.  Thus, in March of 1946, the Gottscheer Relief Association joined the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC) and immediately contributed $6,000 to that agency, in the hope that the needy Gottscheers in Europe would be given some consideration when distributions were to be made to the various refugee camps. 

 

The Gottscheer Relief Association was officially incorporated in accordance with the laws of the State of New York on April 15, 1946.  It should be noted that the Gottscheer Relief Association thus became not only the first auxiliary (and holder of Certificate No. 1) of the NCWC, but also the first organization in the country authorized to work for the support of a specifically identifiable ethnic minority group.  The relief effort now gained momentum.  Our people here were charged with the task of bringing in the names and addresses of all who had lived in the villages and hamlets of Gottschee.  Within a short time, more than 2,000 Gottscheer families were registered.

 

The "Relief News" was published to serve as a source of communication for the Gottscheer people.  It supplied necessary information regarding the status of the relief efforts and provided a special column entitled, "Verwandte und Freunde Gesucht" (Looking for Relatives and Friends), thus serving to reunite hundreds who had lost contact with each other.

 

Obtaining and publicizing important information was possible through close ties with the NCWC.  There was also a two-month radio campaign transmitted over station WWRL via half-hour weekly programs in the Gottscheer dialect.  The officers involved privately funded expenses for correspondence, printing, radio programs, travel, transportation, etc.  They provided all work, most notably legal work, without charge.

 

First Officers and Provisional Board of Directors, elected April 15, 1946

Adolf Schauer           President (member NCWC)

Karl J. Stalzer         1st Vice President

John Testin             2nd Vice President

Louis Klun              Secretary

Frank Meditz            Finance Secretary

Joseph Schneller        Treasurer

John Kikel              Editor (Memorial Book)

 

Directors

William Baum            Anton Gliebe            Aloisia Hoegler

John Koenig             John Loser              John Loske

Ferdinand Matzelle      Alois Perz              Willy Schmidt

John Stangel            William Verderber

 

As soon as the charity organization CARE came into existence, the Relief Association promptly established contact.  Soon the first 1,000 CARE packages were sent at the cost of $15,000.  The Gottscheer Group of Cleveland, Ohio contributed $5,000 of this amount.  In the next few years, 3,000 additional CARE packages were donated, as well as tons of clothing, powdered milk and eggs.

 

As time went on though, it became more difficult to raise the needed capital.  The expenditures incurred during the first year were covered by donations.  Also, the member Gottscheer Organizations listed above placed all income derived from club functions at the disposal of the Relief Association for a period of two years.  Nevertheless, new sources of income had to be secured in order to prevent the relief efforts from becoming stagnant.

 

On June 29, 1947 the first Gottscheer Volksfest (Picnic) was held in Franklin Square.  The Volksfest was not only a huge financial success as a fundraiser for the relief efforts, but was also the largest Gottscheer festivity ever to be held.  No one realized then that the Picnic would become a meeting place for Gottscheers from all over the world.  After more than half a century, this festival, with its large and small events and activities, continues to be a significant part of our heritage and tradition.

 

On October 26, 1947, a Memorial book entitled, "Gottscheer Gedenkbuch," edited by Attorney John Kikel, was formally released.  Besides the monetary gain derived from this book at that time, it will always serve to honor and give credit to those who worked together and were responsible for publishing a historical reference for future generations.

 

By this time, the collections and the relief activities had reached their peak, and shipments to needy Gottscheers were being sent to Europe regularly.  Volunteers for the relief project numbered in the hundreds.  All contributed time and money to the cause.  Selflessness was indiscriminate; the only thing that mattered was to help fellow Gottscheers in need and misery.  Distributions were entrusted to Gottscheer organizations in Austria and Germany and their designated representatives.

 

Still, the future of our homeless people in Europe was clouded with hopelessness and desperation.  Poorly sheltered in refugee camps, many unemployed and dependent on strangers, or serving as hired hands on farms and doing other temporary work, they struggled for the survival of self and family.  These circumstances would not be bearable for long.  Due to the endless influx of refugees from eastern countries into Austria and Germany, no decisive help from the authorities toward resettlement of the Gottscheer refugees could be expected.  Nonetheless, we are sincerely thankful to the peoples of the Austrian States; countless refugees were spared from starvation because of the brotherly compassion displayed by people who shared the little they had for themselves.

 

For the Gottscheer Relief Association, finding a solution to this desperate situation was of utmost urgency.  A mass emigration and group settlement was taken into consideration.  At that time, immigration to the U.S.A. was not possible, so other countries, such as South America and Canada, had to be considered.  Negotiations were taken up with the Vice Consul of Venezuela but did not produce a satisfactory result.  Lengthier negotiations were held with the Canadian authorities.  Although Canada permitted immigration of individuals according to need, a group settlement was not possible.

 

In the meantime, the immigration quotas of Germany and Austria to the United States had been reinstated for a temporary period of two years.  One-half of these quotas (23,000) were allotted the Volksdeutsche (ethnic German) expellees and refugees.  According to estimates of the Catholic welfare organization, however, the Germanic refugees in Europe numbered roughly 11 million. The Gottscheer Relief Association, having done much preparatory work in anticipation of such an opportunity, stood ready with a list of the names of 11,000 Gottscheers.  This list had been compiled by our representatives in Europe, to be used in the event the immigration movement should become a reality.  The president of the Relief Association at that time, founder and first President Adolf Schauer, was personally a member of the NCWC.  This put him in a position to conduct countless interviews and negotiations, thus starting work on the immigration matter immediately.

 

A major obstacle turned out to be the existing Displaced Persons law, which at that time did not include ethnic Germans, but was preoccupying immigration officials and slowing down the regular quota processing.  As a result of this, by the end of the two-year period only about 10,400 Germanic refugees immigrated to the United States.  Remarkably, though, this figure of 10,400 included about 2,000 Gottscheers, or approximately 20 percent of those immigrating, while all of the Gottscheers constituted only one-tenth of one percent of all of the Germanic refugees.  Still, many fellow Gottscheers who had all of their papers in order and had sold what little they possessed, waited in Salzburg for visas that were never issued, and had to return to the camps.

 

On June 16, 1950, President Truman signed the anti-discrimination law.  A new Displaced Persons law was enacted and a Displaced Persons Commission (DPC) had been formed.  The ethnic German issue, however, continued to be treated separately and was placed mostly at the end of the agenda of the meetings of the NCWC and the DPC.

 

The new law required that a potential immigrant be guaranteed employment and housing, which was contrary to the previous quota-immigration setup.  Job and residence assurances were generously supplied by Gottscheer businesspeople here; it was not an easy matter though, as housing was scarce and, moreover, no one was sure what the responsibilities of the sponsors would entail in the event of unfortunate circumstance.  At a convention of the NCWC in Belville, Illinois, Father Zurin of Missouri, in response to an appeal by our representative, gave assurances for fifty Gottscheer families.  Luckily, though, it was possible to provide sufficient places of employment and residences within the Gottscheer circles because our countrymen were reluctant to go to farms in remote regions of the country.

 

During the second half of 1951, immigration came to a standstill.  This made it necessary for the representative of the Gottscheer Relief Association, its President Adolf Schauer, to travel to Europe, particularly to Germany and Austria.  At that time, a conference dealing with refugees was being held in Brussels.  An investigation was also taking place in Frankfurt/Main, the result of which mitigated some of the stringent rules governing immigration and enabled more Gottscheers to apply.

 

Assurances from within our own circles were exhausted.  Our representative was then informed that the NCWC had obtained assurances for 5,000 families.  An urgent appeal for our people to Monsignor Bernas, the regional representative of the NCWC, resulted in the Gottscheers receiving 500 of these assurances.  Mr. Schauer was told that as many as 2,000 persons would be able to immigrate with these assurances.  The meeting with our representative, which had been recommended and approved by the DPC and NCWC, rendered a further advantage in that it gave the Gottscheers due recognition, much needed for the long submitted immigration applications to be processed.  It was thus that, in the year 1952, the largest number of Gottscheers immigrated.  The Displaced Persons Commission was dissolved on August 31 of that same year.  Gottscheers continued to come to the U.S. in 1953 and thereafter in small numbers.

 

The majority of the new immigrants settled in cities which already had an established Gottscheer community.  Those who entered through the efforts of the Gottscheer Relief Association under the NCWC quota were often placed in distant regions.  They too found their way to the "Gottscheer Communities" that were always ready to help the new arrivals.  They recall with a feeling of gratitude those people who secured for them their first job.  The new immigrants became quickly rooted in their new homes, learned new trades, and made their own contributions as good citizens.  Those who remained in Europe, however, would still be offered emergency assistance by the Gottscheer Relief Association where possible.

 

Looking back, it must be said that the action taken by the Gottscheer Relief Association back then was the only possible means to free the Gottscheer people from their catastrophic situation in the most expeditious way.  Despite the tragic loss of their homeland after a difficult but honorable 600+-year history, the Gottscheers, now living in all parts of the world, continue to hold that Homeland dear.  It was their strong feeling of togetherness that sparked the spontaneous post war relief action among the American Gottscheers.  Considering that the direct aid of the Gottscheer Relief (by the year 1970 well over $100,000) had in large part gone to those who did not have relatives of their own here, it can be assumed that the total relief contributions of all Gottscheers towards their kinfolk and friends must have exceeded this amount many times over.

 

The great influx of immigrants brought new life into the Gottscheer community in New York.  The existing Gottscheer clubs grew and new clubs were founded.  Club activities flourished.  Also, because of the great economic boom of the postwar years, general prosperity soon was prevalent.  Sadly, this good fortune did not befall everyone.  It was especially difficult for the elderly to find their place in the new surroundings.  Funds saved during their few working years were quickly depleted during retirement.  Several cases of severe hardship emerged.  For this reason, the statutes of the Gottscheer Relief Association were changed in 1965, making it possible to also provide assistance in the United States.  A committee for social aid was established within the framework of the Gottscheer Relief Association to help where such assistance was needed.  To this day, the committee remains in existence and attends Gottscheers in need.  Many people have been helped, particularly by the committee's assistance in attaining Social Security benefits and other entitlements.  Although nowadays the contributions to the needy do not add up to a great sum of money, they are very valuable in terms of moral support.  The sense of being remembered by their fellow Gottscheers sustains the lonely through many a dark hour.

 

In the year 1966 a new administrative body was elected from among the new immigrants:

 

Ernst Eppich            President

Richard Eisenzopf       1st Vice President

Karl Moschner           2nd Vice President

Josef Novak             Secretary

Albin Samida            Treasurer

Josefa Moschner         Cultural Affairs

 

This new administration adopted a policy of continuing business as usual, but also embarking on a course of action into new endeavors.

 

At the General Meeting of the Gottscheer Relief Association in January 1967, a committee was formed to seek restitution for expropriated properties in the homeland.  On October 30, 1967, a petition was mailed to German Chancellor Dr. Kurt Kiesinger.  In the letter it was requested that those Gottscheers who were now living in the United States, as well as those living in other western countries, be included in the laws governing reparation and compensation by the Federal Republic of Germany, regarding the Resettlement of 1941.  Correspondence was sent to the president and to the heads of the political parties of the German Parliament (Bundestag).  Dr. Viktor Michitsch, Chairman of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gottscheer Landsmannschaften, gave us his advice and expertise.  Information pertaining to the foregoing was also received from German government official and fellow Gottscheer, Ferdinand Wittine.

 

[See  The History of the Gottscheer Relief Association: Resolution of 1963  for the resolution of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gottscheer Landsmannschaften, instituted on the occasion of their meeting of August 3, 1963 in Klagenfurt, as translated into English.]

 

Josef Novak, Secretary of the Gottscheer Relief Association, was the driving force in the committee.  Hundreds of letters were written to the State Department in Washington, D.C., and to officials in Germany and Austria.  Petitions were sent to political representatives requesting that they intervene at the appropriate state offices.  Demands for justice were made unremittingly for years.  Many responses gave hope, others just the opposite.  Unperturbed and unrelenting, the efforts were continued until success was achieved.

 

On June 1, 1969, the day of the Gottscheer Volksfest, we were able to announce that our work had been crowned with success and that the Gottscheers were now included in the laws governing reparation by the Federal Republic of Germany because we were, in fact, German citizens at the time of the loss of our properties.  204 letters and petitions had been exchanged on this subject between the Gottscheer Relief Association and German and American authorities, including Senators, Delegates of the Bundestag, and Ambassadors.  From June 1969 until January 25, 1970 alone, the committee processed 79 letters from people living in America, Canada and England requesting information regarding applications.

 

The officers of the Gottscheer Relief Association, giving of themselves and their time without compensation, joined the members of a temporarily enlarged committee processing individual applications for compensation of Resettlement property.  To be mentioned honorably are our voluntary legal counselors: William A. Schauer, Esq. (in the U.S.A.), Dr. Viktor Michitsch (in Austria), and Gottscheer kinsman Ferdinand Wittine (in Germany).  Our legal representative in Germany, Dr. Richard Derner, was paid for his services.

 

The team began its work in March 1970 and brought it to a close on April 18, 1975, having completed a total of 1554 individual claims by fellow Gottscheers, who were paid compensation by West Germany.  This was an enormous undertaking in the span of five years.  It is fitting to remember with gratitude all those that were involved with the task.

 

Much was also accomplished on a cultural level.  As time passed, the Gottscheer Relief Association repeatedly addressed the need for change and targeted new directions.  Originally founded for the purposes of the relief effort, the Gottscheer Relief Association has taken on a broader range of activities.  The Association is supported by the other Gottscheer organizations; its Directors consist primarily of the presidents and representatives of those clubs.  The new works of the Gottscheer Relief Association are dedicated to collectively benefit all of our people.  To that end, the officers of the Gottscheer Relief, elected by the body of directors, work without monetary gain in conformance with tradition.

 

Contacts with Europe strengthened in the cultural arena as well.  On Saturday, March 29, 1969, Gert Meditz (born in Unterdeutschau, Gottschee), renowned violinist and musical director in an Italian Opera House, made an appearance with the Akademie-Kammerchor of Graz, Austria, at Gottscheer Hall in Ridgewood.  This was the first of no less than a dozen concerts over the years by visiting Gottscheer and Austrian artists and musical ensembles at Gottscheer Hall, events that were organized by the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Gottscheer Relief Association and supported by other Gottscheer clubs.

 

The Cultural Affairs Committee further initiated a “Trachtengruppe”, a group that devotes its effort to preserving the native Gottscheer dress.  Traditional Gottscheer costumes, “Trachten”, were made by our industrious women, and worn with pride by the young and the old at numerous festive occasions.  Created by the late Josefa Moschner, the group is currently supervised by Therese Kump, who sees to it that the old costumes go on display at our special events.

On the occasion of the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, an Austrian team recorded a film at the Gottscheer Volksfest with the title, “Servus Amerika,” to be broadcast in Austria.  The Gottscheer Relief Association is in possession of a copy of this film.  Also for this memorable celebration, Ernst Eppich, the president of the Gottscheer Relief Association at the time, was presented with the flags of Austria and Germany.

 

The Gottscheer Relief Association annually sponsors participation of the Gottscheer clubs in the German-American Steuben Parade, which takes place each year on the third Saturday of September on Fifth Avenue in New York City.  For a number of years now, our people have participated specifically under our own name, “Gottscheer Division”, and for the last two years we again had a float of our own, donated by Karl Ehmer Quality Meats of Ridgewood, New York.  On this day, Gottscheers express their solidarity with other German-Americans of the Greater New York area.

 

A very important event sponsored by the Gottscheer Relief Association is the annual “Weihnachtsfeier” (Christmas celebration) at Gottscheer Hall.  The event was introduced in 1964 and has become an annual tradition that is open to all.  Initially dedicated to our senior Landsleute who continue to be presented with small gifts, the affair is now popular with all who cherish our Old World traditions.  The Gottscheer Men and Women’s Chorus provides the background to a program that has featured to this day several generations of young people, enacting and bringing to life our old holiday traditions, and paying tribute to our native language, Gottscheabarisch.  The afternoon is a treat for all who wish to learn about the Homeland and hear the old Gottscheer tongue spoken.  Since 1969, the program is prepared and presented by Albert Belay with the help of members of the Cultural Affairs Committee.

 

For three consecutive years (1988 to 1991), the Cultural Affairs Committee organized annual art exhibits at Gottscheer Hall, giving Gottscheers who are artistically active an opportunity to show their work among their Landsleute.  Each exhibit featured about 25 participants.


The Gottscheer Relief Association has the interest and the mission to support all work for the benefit of our people.  Accordingly, the Association also financially supports the German American School Association, so that children are given the opportunity to learn the language of their parents.

 

The Gottscheer Relief Association also participated financially in the building of an Emigration Monument in Bremerhaven, Germany (erected in honor of those that left their homeland to build our great nation in the new world).  The name "GOTTSCHEER" is engraved in the foundation of the monument.

 

One of the main responsibilities of the Gottscheer Relief Association has always been the preparation of information of every kind on the subject of our Homeland.  During the course of the years, many informative writings about Gottschee, such as books, short stories, maps, newsletters, etc. were made available to our fellow Gottscheers.  In 1999, a documentary film recorded in Gottscheer villages in 1936 by Father Joseph Trapp was made available on video, and became widely popular.

 

Among the publications, the most noteworthy is, "Das Jahrhundertbuch der Gottscheer," by Dr. Erich Petschauer.  This book, which was first released in 1980, is a significant contribution to the preservation of Gottscheer history.  Since the book was written in German, its information was not accessible to the many English speaking of Gottscheer descent.  Thus, in 1982, the Directors of the Gottscheer Relief Association decided that there should be an English version as well.  The author, the publisher, and Frau Hilde Otterstaedt (regarding photo rights) gave us permission to proceed on this project.  Herma Moschner did an excellent job creating the English translation.  In 1984, the book was released with the title, "Das Jahrhundertbuch, Gottschee and its People Through the Centuries."  In addition to Herma Moschner and her assistants Reinelda Moschner and Elfriede Parthe, we also remember the significant contributions of our late Honorary President and founding member, Karl J. Stalzer, toward the publication of this book.

 

The distribution of this book permitted us to collect about 1300 addresses of fellow Gottscheers.  It then became the Gottscheer Relief Association's desire to stay in contact with these Landsleute and friends.  In 1989, the first edition of the "Jahresbrief - Newsletter" (original editors Martha Hutter and Herma Moschner, currently produced by Martha Hutter and Eleanor Zach) was mailed.  This mailing is sent out annually during the Christmas season.  It has met with much approval, and has invoked a positive response from our readers.  It provides a new stimulus for maintaining and strengthening ties with fellow Gottscheers everywhere.  The publication is supported by the generosity of our many Friends of the Gottscheer Volksfest, through their purchase of the raffle tickets and donations.

 

It goes without saying that there are many expenses associated with the newsletter and all other endeavors.  The Gottscheer Relief Association's members do not pay dues.  The only source of steady income at this time is the Gottscheer Volksfest.  The Gottscheer Volksfest remains the largest and currently most significant undertaking of the Gottscheer Relief Association, an outdoor event that has taken place at the Plattdeutsche Park in Franklin Square, Long Island, since 1947.  The Gottscheer Relief Association receives 30% of the profit from the Volksfest.  The balance is divided among the other participating Gottscheer organizations of New York.  As is apparent, the Gottscheer Relief Association operates with a small budget, and thus is grateful for donations.

 

In 1996, the Gottscheer Relief Association celebrated its 50th Anniversary.  A celebration banquet was held on June 1st at Gottscheer Hall, on the eve of the 50th GOTTSCHEER VOLKSFEST, in the presence of 240 distinguished guests, among them the heads and representatives of all the major Gottscheer clubs in North America and Europe, and including the personal representative of New York City’s Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  The event served as a day of Thanksgiving for every Gottscheer.  It also gave occasion to honor many members who, in the years since the founding of the Association, have given of themselves to the Gottscheer community.  The following day, a record crowd of 3000 experienced the Anniversary Volksfest in Franklin Square in an aura of togetherness, an exuberant feeling of, “It’s great to be a Gottscheer!”  The lasting impression of the sparkling celebration weekend was one of encouragement and optimism about the future of our Gottscheer community.  The 50th Anniversary Journal issued for the occasion commemorates the event as well as the story of the Gottscheer Relief Association in text and pictures.

 

The year 1997 brought us another milestone achievement, the creation of the Gottscheer Archive, a permanent repository of Gottscheer heritage materials at the Library of St. John’s University in Queens, New York.  Our members had long been collecting archival material and working closely with others in search of a central Gottscheer Archive, most recently with the Gottscheer Heritage and Genealogy Association. The arrangement with St. John’s came about through the work of the Gottscheer Relief’s Vice President William Schauer, who initiated and carried out the successful negotiations.  The Gottschee Collection in the University Library’s Special Collections department at St. Augustine Hall was established on August 6, 1997, and formally opened on April 28, 1998.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, the Gottscheer Relief Association, under its President Ernst Eppich, sought to be of immediate help to our stricken city with donations to the American Red Cross and the disaster relief services of Catholic Charities – an institution that we closely identify with since the founding of our Association.

In the summer of 2002, parts of Austria along with other European regions were devastated by a record flood disaster. A call for help by Austria’s foreign minister addressed to our President Ernst Eppich was mailed out to Gottscheers all over North America.  The response was overwhelming.  Remembering their post war experiences and the vital assistance they had received from ordinary Austrian citizens in their hour of need, our people rallied to help those who had helped them at a crucial time: The sum of $31,900 was collected and delivered to the Austrian Consul General in New York for distribution among the Austrian victims of the flood.

The year 2003 marked the retirement of the Gottscheer Relief Association’s long time President Ernst Eppich, and the election of William Osanitsch to take his place at the head of the Association.  Mr. Eppich had served as our president since 1966.  At the Gottscheer Volksfest on June 1, 2003, the officers of the Gottscheer Relief Association bestowed upon Mr. Eppich the title of Honorary President, and on June 22, he was saluted by the Gottscheer organizations of New York at a banquet given in his honor at Gottscheer Hall.  On August 1, 2003, Ernst Eppich became the recipient of the Gottscheer Ehrenring, an award given by the world wide affiliation of Gottscheer Organizations (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gottscheer Landsmannschaften) to individuals who have made a significant contribution toward the preservation of the Gottscheer heritage.

Under the new leadership of William Osanitsch, the Gottscheer Relief Association, Inc. of New York continues to serve the interests of the Gottscheer Community at large.  The Association maintains relationships with other Gottscheer organizations in North America and in Europe; its members attend and support the Gottscheer Treffen of North America and the events sponsored by our Landsleute in Austria, Germany, and Slovenia wherever possible.  It is through the energy and the talents of our individual members that we can bring events like the Weihnachtsfeier and the beautiful gift baskets for our shut-ins during the holiday season; collect, catalog and display photos, articles and other artifacts of our heritage from both our European and American history and present, and maintain the Archive at St. John’s; secure scholarship funds for Gottscheer/American students at some of the best universities in New York; and continue to pursue new avenues of communication, like the establishment of this website.   And, in keeping with the traditional purpose of the Gottscheer Relief Association, we have sent small care packages to our American soldiers of Gottscheer descent serving our country in this time of war.

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657 Fairview Avenue
Ridgewood, New York 11385
tel: 718-366-3030