It’s no surprise that Frankenmuth is proud of its German heritage. You can see the homages in our architecture, food, and hospitality. One aspect of Frankenmuth’s connection with Germany, that you may not know about, is that the town is officially-recognized as the Sister City of Gunzenhausen, Germany!
Becoming Sister Cities
In 1956, President Eisenhower created a cultural exchange program as a means to ease international tensions from the Cold War, the “People to People” program. In January of 1962, Frankenmuth extended an invitation to Gunzenhausen, Germany to become sister cities, citing their shared ancestral and Christian heritage.
On March 7, 1962 Frankenmuth heard word that the Gunzenhausen council unanimously accepted their invitation with “great enthusiasm.” 1st Mayor Friedrich Wust of Gunzenhausen said they “would be most happy to join with Frankenmuth in the ‘People to People’ program to promote long lasting friendly relations between his city in Germany and the city of Frankenmuth with its rich Bavarian heritage.” Wust also mentioned many correlations between the cities including “good cooking and good beer.”
Since then, the Frankenmuth-Gunzenhausen partnership has grown to become one of the longest continued and most active “People to People” Sister City relationships in the world. Parties of people from both Frankenmuth and Gunzenhausen have taken international trips to each other’s city in a tradition of community and shared culture.
Student Exchange Program
According to the chair of the Sister City Committee and co-chair of the St. Lorenz Heritage Committee, Dan Haubenstricker, two Frankenmuth High School students travel to Gunzenhausen each summer as part of a sponsored foreign exchange program. In years past, Lodge owner and President, Judy Zehnder, would take a group of students and adults each summer. Tour groups still continue to travel every five years to Gunzenhausen; the 60th Anniversary trip will take place in 2022.
Gunzenhausen Platz Fountain
On June 7, 2012 the Gunzenhausen Platz was unveiled as a way to celebrate and commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Frankenmuth and Gunzenhausen becoming Sister Cities. It is topped with a bronze pair of dancing figures sculpted by Midland artist, James Ardis. Nearly 100 Gunzenhausen residents came for the dedication. You can find the Platz on Main Street, across from the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.
Want to Learn More?
For a complete account of Frankenmuth’s relationship with its Sister City Gunzenhausen, Germany, check out this old report: “50 Years of Sister City History: 1962-2012.”