In the early 1990’s, the Salzburger Monument Committee was formed. The committee, chaired by Jack Gnann, consisted of Greg Arnsdorff, Marvin Brown, William Cone, Alice Rhoda Ferrell, Milton Rahn, Sidney Waldhour, Gary Wisenbaker, and others.
The Committee’s correspondence with Officials of the State of Salzburg, Austria resulted in the Salzburger Monument of Reconciliation. The Monument of Reconciliation was dedicated by the country (predominantly Roman Catholic) to the descendants of the Georgia Salzburgers (Protestants) who were exile in 1731 from Salzburg because of their religious beliefs and had come to the new Colony of Georgia and settled Ebenezer.
The monument is green serpentine stone from the homeland of the first Georgia Salzburgers. The stone is from the Hohe Tauern region of Austria. The human figures sculptured in the stone depict the people forced from their homes in Salzburg. The inscription reveals the story of these Salzburgers…
“Denied Their Religious Freedom They Were Forced to Leave Their Homeland.”
Dr. Hans Katschthaler, then Governor of the State of Salzburg, commissioned Anton Thuswaldner, a renowned Austrian sculptor, to chisel the figures of the exiles on the stone. The completed work of art, given to the Georgia Salzburger Society by the people of Salzburg, was first displayed in May 1994 with a ceremony held in front of Christ Lutheran Church on the Salzach River in Salzburg, Austria. A delegation of the Georgia Salzburger Society was in attendance when Dr. Katschthaler and the people of Salzburg unveiled and dedicated the monument.
From translations of speeches made at the unveiling, “speakers celebrated the new gesture of reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants: the unveiling of the monument.” It was, also, noted “Even though freedom and ownership of property had been guaranteed to Lutherans in Augsburg in 1555, it was during a period when the religion of the ruler of a particular area determined the religion of his subjects. To those who disagreed there was only one choice: to flee. Balthasar Sieberer said that the monument would be remembered as the monument to understanding, so that this never happens again.”
“Superintendent Wolfgang Schmidt, rector of the Cathedral, spoke of the similarity of the stone monument to Ebenezer, the name of the German settlement in Georgia. Ebenezer translates as I have erected a stone monument. The emigrants took the name from Samuel’s conquest of the Philistines. According to the passage in the Bible, Samuel had a stone monument erected after the battle to commemorate the help he received from the Lord.”
September 5, 1994, the Salzburger Monument of Reconciliation after shipment from Austria was unveiled and dedicated to the Georgia Salzburger Society and given to the City of Savannah. This was the first monument to be given to Savannah by a foreign government. The Society is very grateful to the people of Salzburg and Savannah.
THE HISTORICAL MARKER…
February 9, 1996, a Historical Marker was dedicated and placed on the site near the Monument. The marker tells the story of the Salzburgers as it relates to the monument.
Two hundred seventy four years ago on March 12, 1734, the first Salzburgers to come to Georgia landed at this site. General James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the New Colony of Georgia, welcomed them. The Salzburgers were provided food and temporary shelter before being taken to their new settlement that they named Ebenezer.
As this site was unnamed, the Georgia Salzburger Society petitioned the City Council of Savannah to name the half-acre area Salzburger Park. On June 6, 1996, the Council unanimously approved and officially named the site Salzburger Park. The dedication of this historical park was July 9, 1996.
Salzburger Park lies between the Lincoln Street and Abercorn Street ramps on Bay Street in Savannah. At this beautiful historical site, one can view the Salzburger Monument of Reconciliation and the Historical Marker.
Due to the devoted service of Chairperson Jack Gnann, Committee Members, and other faithful volunteers, the Society and all descendants of the Salzburgers are forever indebted for their actions in preserving the heritage of the Salzburgers and their arrival to the New Colony of Georgia.
A display of the dedication events can be
seen in the Old Parsonage at Ebenezer.
Georgia Salzburger Society