Guenter Bischoff and Michael Mizell-Nelson: German ties should sway steel firm

Historians in the News

It's amazing to me that it is taking ThyssenKrupp so long to decide where it will locate its new steel plant. There's only one logical place in the American South for such a plant: Louisiana's "German Coast."

A pair of UNO history professors recently made the connection between our German history and our potential German future and noted that the St. James Parish site the company is considering adjoins the German Coast area.

"Have Governor Blanco and her economic development team considered appealing to the German managers and financiers via less tangible cultural and educational attractions Louisiana has to offer? There is a rich history of German connections with our state," Gunter Bischof and Michael Mizell-Nelson wrote.

"In the 18th century German immigrants to Louisiana settled on the very shores of the mighty Mississippi that the German steel producers would be 're-Germanizing,' " they wrote.

Historical precedents

Bischof chairs the history department at the University of New Orleans and specializes in American diplomatic history. Mizell-Nelson is an associate professor in the department specializing in New Orleans history and is coordinator of the Katrina and Rita Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, an online archive.

"We were just talking after a recent news article that there was a sense that Alabama might have the edge," Mizell-Nelson said. "But it just occurred to us that they are thinking of siting this plant almost in the area of the German Coast.

"Our goal was to help swing the balance before the May 11 decision," Mizell-Nelson said.

"Countless German emigrants from overpopulated German territories (including the Rhine regions where ThyssenKrupp is headquartered) looking for a better life found a home in the Pelican State and made a good living, contributing mightily to the economic growth of Louisiana," the pair wrote....

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