Project Description

A German republic in the USA.

Traveling Exhibition Utopia

Revisiting a German State in America

“We are exerting our God-given human right by leaving a country which no longer accords to our individual needs, and by founding a new fatherland in cooperation.”
Paul Follenius & Friedrich Muench: Call for Emigration, 1833

Equal fundamental rights! Political participation! Free elections, and freedom of speech, education and personal development! To achieve these ideals, a group of 500 people left their homeland in 1834. They were the subjects of German princely states and were full of desire for change. They aspired to a “Utopia“ as a compass on their pathway of life: the formation of a model democratic German republic in America.

Led by the attorney Paul Follenius and pastor Friedrich Muench, the Giessen Emigration Society crossed the Atlantic Ocean and risked a new beginning in an unknown “Land of the Free“.

Since 2005 the Traveling Summer Republic, a production network of artists and scholars, has explored the physical and spiritual adventures of these historical utopians, discovering their inspirations for our present day.

From 2013 to 2015 the exhibit Utopia traveled from Giessen to Bremen to Washington D.C., and finally to St. Louis, Missouri in the tracks of the former emigrants. Around 75,000 people visited the events and the exhibit itself.

artistic directors: Oliver Behnecke & Peter Roloff
genre: traveling exhibition


Municipality of Giessen
in co-operation with Traveling Summer Republic

Edition Maxim Bremen in collaboration with
City Archives Giessen with support from the
Cultural Office of the University Town Giessen

Cultural Church St. Stephen, Bremen
German-American Heritage Foundation, Washington D.C.
Missouri History Museum, St. Louis, MO

Project Manager and Academic Director
Dr. Ludwig Brake – City Archives of Giessen

Project Managers & Artistic Directors
Oliver Behnecke, Bremen
Peter Roloff, Berlin

Scientific and artistic realization:
Team of Traveling Summer Republic

Andrew Cook | translations | Berlin
Sala Deinema | curator film screenings | Berlin
Manuela Demmler | PR | Bremen
Annette Eidmann | organization, event programs | Gießen
Julia Erb | production assistant | Gießen
Christiane Gartner | youth projects| Bremen
Christoph Geiger | graphic design exhibition | Frankfurt
Timea Gremsperger | translations | Berlin
Manfred Hielscher | video installations VideoBook Dialog, video montage | Berlin
Dorris Keeven-Franke | Missouri liaison, research, text | St. Charles, MO
KULTURMASSNAHMEN | performance „The Message“ | Berlin
Andrea Kuserau | Utopia Library | Schweinfurt
Maja Maria Liebau | exhibition texts, video “8 and 16” | Bremen
Gale McKiddy | translations | St. Charles, Missouri
Gary McKiddy | educational programs | St. Charles, Missouri
Stephan Moskophidis | website | Berlin
Rita Rohrbach | educational syllabus | Gießen
Rolf Schmidt | research, text | Bremen
Ulla Schmidt | graphic design book | Berlin
Henry Schneider | research, dramaturgical advisor | Berlin
Klaus Seifert | travel musician | Odenwald
Kilian Spiethoff | research, text | Bad Reichenhall
Esther Steinbrecher | staging & performance Travel Agency „Muss i denn Tours & Cargo Trips“
Christian Weber | Utopia today | Berlin
Manuela Weichenrieder | production manager | Bremen
Hendrik Weiner | exhibition design | Bremen
Folker Winkelmann | photography | Bremen

Project Partners
CARGOTRANS (Bremen) GmbH – Internationale Spedition
BLG Logistics Group, Bremen
German Historical Institute, Washington D.C.
Goethe-Institut Washington D.C.
Embassy of Germany, Washington D.C.
Heinrich Böll Foundation Bremen
Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO
Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen
Chamber of Labor Bremen
Bremer Rat für Integration
Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Bremen
Filmbüro Bremen e.V.
Kultur Vor Ort e.V., Bremen
Gesamtschule West Bremen
Neue Oberschule Gröpelingen, Bremen
Liebigschule Gießen
Baltimore Immigration Memorial Inc.
Society for the History of the Germans in Maryland
Begegnungsstätte Schwanewede e.V.
Museum Schloss Schönebeck
German Heritage Club of Saint Charles County, Missouri
St. Charles County Historical Society
The Missouri Council for History Education
“Die Brücke” Deutsch-Amerikanischer Klub Gießen-Wetzlar e.V.
German Emigration Center Bremerhaven

Exhibition funded by
Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany
The Prime Minister of Hesse

Sub-Projects funded by
Hessian Cultural Foundation (Hessische Kulturstiftung)
The Senator for Culture of the City of Bremen
Chamber of Labor Bremen
Hessian Ministry for Science and Arts
Hessen Cultural Foundation (Gießener Kulturstiftung)

November – December 2013
Georg Büchner Years 2012/2013

April 2014 – July 2014
Cultural Church St. Stephens

Washington DC
September – October 2015
German-American Heritage Museum

St. Louis, Missouri
November 2014 – April 2015
Missouri History Museum

The English Double DVD Utopia is available in the US:
German-American Heritage Museum, Washington DC
Missouri History Museum, St. Louis
Deutschheim State Historic Site, Hermann, Missouri
Blumenhof Winery, Dutzow, Missouri

The German Double DVD Aufbruch in die Utopie is available on

The accompanying book Utopia, published by Edition Falkenberg, is available in the US at the University of Chicago Press and on ISBN No. 978-3954945955

A free educational Syllabus in English and German, the historical “Call for Emigration” in English and German, novels by Rolf Schmidt in German language, and information about exhibit and events are available here: