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To Home Page of Echo Germanica20 years Echo Germanica/10 years Echoworld Communications

 April 2010 - Nr. 4
The edior: Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

Dear Reader

When we brought our first issue of Echo Germanica to the printer one fine day in April of 1990 the night was illuminated by a full moon. We were excited about our new endeavor. It promised to be an adventure, and was – in hindsight - sometimes more than what we bargained for.

I had written for 8 years a weekly column in 2 other publications and realized that our ranks were shrinking and that we needed to expand our horizon to continue to exist. After much surveying the idea was born, the name chosen - also by survey - and we plunged into the bridge building business to unite the younger generation with its parentage and other cultural groups. Our hope was to give relevance to the German community beyond its language bound perimeters.

A reward gladly acceptedLet us not forget that 20 years ago interest in all things German were not as great as they are now. The last 2 decades changed a lot in the way the world perceived Germany and the German culture here and abroad. This is due to the good work of many organizations, some of them with a political role and others in the cultural arena. To forward some of the relevant points and illustrate what goes on in our local German culture has been our great pleasure these past 20 years.

We covered the activities of our local German clubs and official organizations, as far as they promote to us. This latter endeavor has had its up and downs since it depends largely on the personal interest of whoever is at the helm. For instance, we had a great relationship with the Goethe Institut. At that time we also were close to the German Canadian Chamber of Commerce, who now only promotes to its members, but never to the German local media at large. We had wonderful Consul Generals in the past that took great interest in the local German culture and solicited it to help its own cause, but also contributed by showing an interest in our local affairs.

Each set of circumstances presents its own set of problems and solutions that need to be found or created.

We especially enjoy helping artistic venues with German content or otherwise. The creativity in our ranks and around us is astounding and continuously demands our admiration. We have often been told that our contributions help keep the German culture alive. That is quite a compliment and we actually do believe that this is true in parts, because we gave ourselves only 10 years from the start before we thought the community would be no longer be in existence to any degree. So we all need to give ourselves a pat on the shoulder for keeping it going this long.

Our concept of bilingual content won awards at Canadian government levels as well as other professional organizations of a cultural and political nature. We are continuously thanked for allowing families of mixed heritage to share in our culture.

We are also considered a source for non-German organizations who want information on our group, including other media. Our popularity expanded vastly when we started our website ( 10 years ago (April 2000). Here again we took only our public into account and not the commercial value of it. Its commercial value is estimated by experts as substantial with over 2000 unique visitors daily, which surprised us to find out. Its usefulness could be vastly extended – we have lots of ideas but little personnel.

Looking back there have been a few stellar moments in our existence. I am not talking about the many recognitions and awards we received, I mean those other moments that give purpose and special meaning to our work. I recall the exhilaration we felt when we were the only “ethnic” paper invited to a press conference with Mr. Gorbachev and then, when only 3 publications were chosen to ask a direct question it was our correspondent Klaus Hofer who was allowed to do so, and he could do it in Russian!

I had an opportunity to address the students of Upper Canada College on the subject of “Art and War” and was able to do so about the historical facts of the past as well as of the current victims of a then still apparent cold war, which was barely over and still had much fallout.

I recall voting as a “German” with other members of the Canadian communities at a CBC Radio Show before the historic vote of the United Nations decision was to take place on the war in Iraq.

I remember interviews with great artistic people like tenors Mark DuBois and Michael Schade and Baritone Russel Brown, conductor Erich Kunzel and piano virtuoso Anton Kuerti.

20 years Echo GermanicaOur work also afforded us opportunities of different types of work, like working on a TV project about the Canadian Charter of Human Rights, (coproducing the German version, translating, directing talent in German and doing voice-overs) which won an award; subsequently an online learning tool followed; or a solo project about Bonhoeffer, a German Pastor who died at the hands of henchmen of the 3rd Reich on the very day I was born; narrating a concert of Austrian composers in a church with tenor, conductor and artistic director Geoffrey Butler.

There are so many very special moments and a lot of people to thank who contributed to the work we do as a team or individually. I want to thank the many editorial contributors that have enriched the paper with their point of view. I definitely need to thank our business partners, who so loyally stood by us in good and in bad times. I hope they will all continue to help us do our work for the community.

There are many highs to recount in our 20 year history. We experienced together a few milestones like the fall of the Wall, the unification of Germany, a soccer world championship and many other events that had an influence on our daily lives.

We hope to continue this work, even though it changes, as do the challenges, all the time. We have to re-invent ourselves occasionally, add something, and edit something out. But we always hope that our work remains interesting and appreciated.

We thank you, our readers, for being there!

The team at Echo Germanica

Rolf Rentmeister, Dr. Richard Altermann, Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

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As the editor of Echo Germanica Sybille reflects on cultural, artistic, political and daily events within the German-Canadian landscape.

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