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German Immigration To The United States And Their Contribution To This Country

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In the United States of North America ethnic groups are easily found everywhere. As a result, the American culture is a combination of many other cultures such as Irish, Latin, African, British, etc. However, one of the most significant of these is the German culture. German influence over this country is so strong that it goes through science, to architecture, to music, to sports and entertainment.

Germans left their homeland for several reasons such as, looking for an improved standard of living, and later looking for freedom from military connection and political oppression (1796-1815), etc. It is possible to say that Germans have been present in America since the United States belonged to Great Britain.

According to Eltis (2002), as many other immigrant groups, German immigrants constituted a small group; however, the members of this small crew were the pioneers of reasonably prosperous colonists. Their success and the communities that they built provided models for other German fellows. An important article available online (German Immigration, 1999) explains that one of the reasons why Germans left their homeland is the increasing industrialization and the use of machinery, which affected employment, driving Germans to urban areas in search of employment. Unfortunately, the cities became overcrowded very quickly and jobs declined as well, forcing some Germans to migrate to other countries such as the United States. Another reason for migration was that life in America was reasonably

promising for Germans, especially, because of the increase in taxation, which affected the German economy. Therefore, an economical factor played an important role in German migration to the U.S. In addition, Germans’ unstable political situation (1848) was another factor that drove Germans to America, “…revolutions in opposition of the monarchical governments were springing up throughout Europe [...] the leaders of these revolutions wanted new, republican forms of government to replace the existing monarchies. However, the revolutions failed and resulted in even stricter regulations being placed upon the people.” (German Immigration, 1999) In order to avoid dictatorial governments, many people fled Europe and; consequently, America was a good option for them.

Germans, as many other ethnic groups, where willing to arrive in the “promised land” at any price, which can be noticed in what they had to do to come here. Eltis notes that since the voyage was long, difficult, and expensive, “indentured servitude […] allowed emigrants in effect to charge the price of the transatlantic fare until after their arrival in America.”(2002) At the time, it was pretty common that immigrant groups were bound to their ethnic lines; for example, German immigrants were bound mostly to German-American masters. In effect, German colonists financed the surge of German immigration вЂ"families and single young men, “Merchant with interests in developing the shipping of immigrants across the Atlantic into profitable business introduced the innovative adaptation of indentured servitude вЂ"a strategy which depended in large part on the willingness of German settlers to invest in the future labor of kin and former neighbors.” (Eltis, 2002)

Although German-speaking immigrants complained about indentured servitude concerning particular abuses or situations, they complained about the whole system almost as much. For instance, a German Lutheran pastor “condemned the circumstances that forced parents to bind out their children to strangers and that pressed German immigrants into service with Englishmen.” (Eltis, 2002)

As Luebke (1990) infers, the United States was not the only country that Germans headed to, they also used Brazil as another destination. However, Brazil was not their favorite destination due to many reasons; one of them is the many diseases that the people had at the time. Luebke noted that Germans in the United States were more likely to get used to their new country than those in Brazil because the difference among Germans’ culture and the American culture -mostly based on European customs- was not as large as it was in Brazil.

The last census shows that German-Americans was the leading ethnic group in the United States with 17% of the American population (Selected Population Profile in the United States, 2005). Also, California and Pennsylvania have the largest populations of German origin within the United States. However, it is possible to find German communities in almost every American county. The German influence is so great in the United States, especially in Pennsylvania where German along with English were co-official languages until the time of World War I.

On another subject, Germans’ accommodation to the new world was not as difficult as it was for other immigrants. One of the most representative characteristics of Germans was their unification as a group; even though they were in separate lands, they remained unified. In fact, they were willing to give up part of their good land in order to stay near other groups of Germans. This union helped Germans cope with the new culture and begin to embrace it as their own.

Unlike other ethnic groups in the United States, Germans were neither prohibited to immigrate to the country, nor forced to leave it, not even when the United States was at war with Germany. In fact, “Germans were considered full citizens and suffered no limitation. The only immigrant group that fell under suspicion on the grounds of possible disloyalty was the Japanese.” (Luebke, 1990) Indeed, by 1920, German-Americans were already settled in the US, and felt that this land was their own, which they could call “home”. An illustration of this is during Hitler times, when it was thought that German descendants were loyal to their country and would follow Hitler. Actually, “the only group Hitler could actually rely on in his plans to unify the diverse German-American groups under National Socialist ideology and revive the German-Americans’ royalties to the Reich , was an organization of fanatical German Nazis in the USA, the German-American Bund .вЂ™Ð²Ð‚™ (Secret intelligence in the twentieth century, 2003) However, this organization failed in achieving its goals because it was difficult to control, due to the members’ fanaticism and idealism. Following the same line of thought, during World War I, German-Americans were a target and a source of recruitment for the German intelligence services; nonetheless, not every German-American felt like betraying their new home, therefore, only a few joined the German intelligence



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