The German Language School of Union County, also known as the Deutsche Sprachschule Inc., has enjoyed a long and proud history of providing German education in the New York metropolitan area. Starting in 1934, our school has evolved with each generation of students to become a thriving, diverse, and challenging language school with the highest academic standards. Please see a short summary of our history below:
In the Fall of 1934 members of Newark’s Emanuel Methodist Church recognized the loss in status the German language suffered following World War I and unless the German language and customs were tended, they would be lost to the next generation. Therefore, in January 1935, the church established a Sunday School providing German language instruction, with Gottfried Schwing as its founder and first president. Private contributions sustained the effort until January 1936 when the Deutsche-Amerikanische Verband von Newark und Umgebung (The German-American Association of Newark and Vicinity), led by Dr. Francis Just, stepped in; the first example of support from New Jersey’s German-American community. The Winter of 1937 marked the school’s worst pre-war financial crisis, bringing on reorganization in March 1938, the formation of an association of parents and the formal establishment of a school board. The Deutsche Sprachschule von Newark und Umgebung, opened a kindergarten in January 1939, and so rapid was the school’s growth that it moved into new quarters at Montgomery Hall, Irvington that same month. The school’s sixth year also saw the creation of two adult classes. The clouds of war that spread across Europe as the Thirties drew to a close presented the Deutsche Sprachschule with a cruel dilemma. Enrollment had never been higher, the teaching staff was experienced, the Parents’ Association enthusiastic; yet on December 14, 1941, three days after the Axis Powers declared war on the United States, Principal Schwing stepped forward at the school’s traditional Weihnachtsfeier and announced the closure of the Deutsche Sprachschule.
The school reopened on September 15, 1951, and Montgomery Hall was again the site of classes, school board and parents meetings. In the Fall of 1952, the school moved to its third location, Saint Paul the Apostle School, which would be the Deutsche Sprachschule’s home for 25 years. On August 14, 1952, the school was officially incorporated as a non-profit association with the mission “to engage in, assist and educate students in the German language and culture.” On April 17, 1956, the corporation changed its name from Deutsche Sprachschule Newark, N.J. und Umgebung to Deutsche Sprachschule, Inc., acknowledging its students came from throughout northern and central New Jersey. In 1961 Hans J. Ludscheidt, an engineer by profession, became the school’s seventh president. Under his guidance, a revision of the constitution and by-laws was accomplished, followed by the establishment of a working board of officers and trustees and a finance committee which put the school’s fund-raising activities on firm footing for the first time. By the mid-1960s the Deutsche Sprachschule was acknowledged as one of the nation’s best German-language Saturday schools. Enrollment rose to 290 students by 1970 — an all-time high. Hans Ludscheidt introduced the American Association of Teachers of German [AATG] tests to the school and in 1980, obtained authorization for the school to administer advanced college placement tests. In October 1983 the school joined Delta Epsilon Phi, the national honor society for high school students of German and was authorized to officially recognize students who demonstrated “high scholastic achievement.” In 2002 the school moved for the fifth time, to the Winfield Elementary School, Winfield Park; home to today’s diverse student body, united in a desire to further its education in the German language.
In a letter of commendation to the Deutsche Sprachschule graduating class of 1987, then-New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean stated, “Studying a foreign language is a worthwhile form of personal enrichment that requires dedication and a passion for learning. I commend you for your perseverance and for your efforts to achieve a well-rounded education.”