Behind Our Name: Part V, by Michael Fricker

In part IV, we discussed the various buildings that our club has called home and the names we gave them. Now in this part we will finally tell the story of how our club went from the Banater Männerchor to the United German Hungarians of Philadelphia and Vicinity.

The Handwriting on the Wall
Why don’t we begin with the text itself?

“The year 1938 witnessed the ‘handwriting on the wall’ for BANATER MAENNERCHOR. At a directors’ meeting on October 2nd of that year Matt Noll, the financial secretary, announced that he still had 400 1938 membership cards on hand, but felt certain that he could dispose of at least 300 of them if the name of the organization were changed. Wenzel Osti immediately made a motion, which was carried unanimously, that all chartered German-Hungarian clubs in this area be contacted in order to arrange a general meeting at which a general merger should be discussed. At the directors’ meeting on June 21, 1939, a special five-man committee reported that the People’s Meeting (Volksversammlung) had founded a new organization. It was thereupon decided to call a special general membership meeting for the 29th of June in order to let the general body decide whether it wished to merge with this new organization. At this special meeting on June 29th the committee reported that every effort was being made to unite all the German-Hungarians in this area in one organization to be known as the UNITED GERMAN-HUNGARIANS OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY, and the members of BANATER MAENNERCHOR were strongly urged to support this movement. After quite a lengthy discussion it was decided unanimously by the general body to join the new group. At a special general membership meeting on October 24, 1939, it was decided after some discussion to accept the name UNITED GERMAN-HUNGARIANS OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY, and so, after almost twenty-nine eventful years, the BANATER MAENNERCHOR not-so-quietly passed away.”

-Rudy Rack

It seems complicated. In more recent versions of the history, this section has been simplified. Wording has been changed and so forth, but what really matters in this story is the idea of unity. Like our original purpose, the change in name was to bring more people into the fold. President Frank Kirsch wrote in 1966, “Let us remain “UNITED” for in Unity there is Strength.”

Michael N. Fricker

This piece is part of a series that was originally published in 2014, in the Monthly Progress. It was re-released in 2022 here online.

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