Texas German, a unique German dialect developed in Central Texas, was once a thriving language with over 110,000 dominant speakers during its peak in the early 20th century. Today, however, it’s on the verge of extinction.
The concept for All Güt Things was initially developed as part of the Fusion Five Day Doc Challenge. We had five days to concept, film, edit and submit the short. The film was an Official Selection and aired on FusionTV.
The story of the German, and other central European immigrants, coming to Texas in the 1800s is not only a dramatic and compelling narrative by its own merit, but is also extremely significant to Texas history, and to that of the the greater American story.
It continues to resonate with modern audiences because the ripple effects are still being felt to this day, as we continue to deal with and debate many of the same issues and themes that turn of the century Texas Germans dealt with.
As the generations pass we often forget that many of the cultural cornerstones that are now considered “American” or “Texan” have strange and unexpected origins. Ideas and lifestyles that were brought to this land were often considered strange, radical, heathen, traitorous, or cult like.
Now many aspects of these cultures have become the adopted bits of fabric sewn together to create our collective identity as Americans. Some of the early political ideas first planted by these settlers continue to be debated everywhere from the local coffee shop to the halls of congress, continuing to echo back and forth for centuries.
Hot button issues like immigration, race relations, environmentalism, sustainability, education, religious freedom, community building, and patriotism continue to be topics relevant to the current Texas German speakers just as they were when they first migrated in the 19th century. As these debates rage on and we cycle through the generations, it becomes all the more important to revisit and fully understand the historical context of these issues.
It is undoubtedly important to understand the historical context of the German immigration to Texas. Sufficient time in the film will be devoted to setting up the viewer’s knowledge base, and to breathing life into the flesh and blood of the people who we are referencing.