103 Orchard Street North
Northfield, MN 55057
Tel: +1 (507) 664-1065
Dr. Joachim "Yogi" Reppmann was born in Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, in 1957. He attended the Altes Gymnasium, a school founded by Danish King Frederick II in 1566. He matriculated at the University of Kiel, where he studied history, American literature, and philosophy. In 1984, he completed his masters thesis entitled Transplanted Ideas: The Concept of Freedom and Democracy of the Schleswig-Holstein Forty-Eighters — Origins and Effects 1846-1856. He has written several books on notable Schleswig-Holstein emigrants and the mass migration to the United States; served as a professor of German at St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges in Northfield, Minnesota; and chaired several conferences on topics ranging from the Low German language to Forty-Eighter Hans Reimer Claussen. The Steuben Society of America’s History Award, 2014, has been presented to him for his research on the 1848 movement’s democratic impact in Germany, and the USA.
My name is Yogi Reppmann. I’m an historian from Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein. I first came to America in 1978 as a young college student with aspirations of learning everything I could about the country that had fascinated me ever since I’d read Karl May’s Wild West novels as a child in Flensburg (border town to Denmark at the Baltic Sea). After arriving in New York, I spent $150 on an eight-cylinder car manufactured by the now defunct American Motors Company. Fittingly, the name of that car was “Rebel,” which was exactly what my German parents thought I was by traveling four thousand miles to America.
My travels took me deep into America’s Midwest to Iowa towns with names like Schleswig in Crawford County and Holstein in Ida County. I also spent time in the Mississippi River town of Davenport, which a century and a half earlier had become the home for so many Forty-eighters, 1848er democratic revolutionaries, who’d emigrated from my home state of Schleswig-Holstein. Davenport’s Putnam Museum changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. A chance discovery of information about two very impressive men, Christian Müller and his father-in-law Hans Reimer Claussen, opened the door to my lifelong research into the remarkable legacy of the Forty-eighters. I discovered that many of the achievements of this illustrious immigrant group had been consigned to the dustbin of history. My historical mission became to address this oversight.
Members of the Forty-eighters made their mark in the fields of politics, education, business, journalism, the arts, and the military. Carl Schurz, perhaps the most well-known of the German Forty-eighters who settled in America, achieved great success in no less than four of these areas. (His wife covered a fifth, helping develop the kindergarten in the United States.)
One of these pressing problems is the dramatic increase in immigration to Germany these days. It has made more important than ever to establish the proper framework for the absorption of newcomers. Carl Schurz’ solution – assimilation with the retention of each newcomer’s ethnic heritage – is as valid today as it was in the nineteenth century when he first formulated it. The fusion of ethnic identities and German or American values is critically important, and Carl Schurz’s life is a worthy paradigm for all immigrants to emulate.