A 'Swenglish' journey through family photos, notes and postcards from the early 20th century.


The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair

Panoramic view of the 1933 Century of Progress World's Fair (Wikimedia Commons)

In The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair – A Century of Progress by Cheryl R. Ganz (Google books preview), Otto L. Schmidt is mentioned (p 141 and 146) as first vice president of the German Group of the World’s Fair. During America’s neutrality phase before the First World War he had been a spokesman for German patriotic support in Chigaco . When the US joined the war, German Americans were forced to downplay their German heritage and language. During the late 1920s, they gradually recovered from these negative experiences and began to reassert themselves.

At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, diplomatic problems arose as supporters of the National Socialism wanted the fly the German swaztika flag, while other members of the German American community objected.  The German Group of the World’s Fair took active stand against it. Among other things, the president and the first vice president (Schmidt) of that group refused to attend an event held in connection with a much-discussed landing in Chicago of the German airship Graf Zeppelin (October 26, 1933).

Photo of the Graf Zeppelin (Wikimedia Commons)


I’m not sure if my great-aunt Gerda got to visit the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. What I do know is that she was in the United States that year, see the post Gerda, Pleasantville, July 1933; and by then (evidently)in the employ of Estelle and Folke Bernadotte. 

Folke Bernadotte did attend the Chicago World Fair in 1933. He gave a speech there on behalf of King Gustav V of Sweden (his uncle) on the Swedish-American day.

In 1933, Folke and his American wife Estelle had two sons: Gustaf (born 1930, died in 1936) and Folke, born 1931. Whether or not Estelle accompanied her husband to the World Fair, also bringing two boys aged 2 and 3 might not have seemed like the best idea. My guess is the boys stayed at Estelle’s parents’ estate in Pleasantville, New York; with Gerda to keep an eye on them. I think I may have photographic evidence to support that idea … Coming up soon!


Sammanfattning på svenska

År 1933 var Chicago-läkaren Otto L. Schmidt (Gerdas arbetsgivare år 1910, se föregående inlägg) engagerad för den amerikansk-tyska gruppen i världs-utställningen i Chicago. Han tycks dock ha tagit avstånd från nationalsocialistiska symboler och propaganda i samband med detta. Bl.a. bojkottade han att delta i en tillställning som gavs i samband med att luftskeppet Graf Zeppelin landade i Chicago under utställningen, och där sådana symboler och propaganda var inblandade.

Jag är inte säker på om Gerda fick tillfälle att besöka världsutställningen i Chicago. Jag har dock fotobevis på att hon befann sig i USA år 1933, i Pleasantville, där familjen Manville (Estelle Bernadottes föräldrar) hade sitt gods.

Folke Bernadotte deltog på Chicago-utställningen och representerade Sverige med ett tal å den svenske kungens vägnar (Gustav V var hans farbror). Folke och Estelle hade vid denna tid två söner, 2 och 3 år gamla. (Den äldste, Gustaf dog ung, redan 1936.) Även om kanske Estelle följde med Folke till Chicago, så verkar det troligt att pojkarna lämnades kvar på morföräldrarnas gods tillsammans med Gerda. Jag tror jag har ett foto som stöder den tanken – återkommer till det i ett annat inlägg.

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