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The Pent-Up German Flood

Not long after Germany lost World War I, a 1920 article predicted a coming surge of German immigrants to the U.S. While German immigration did increase that decade, it still fell well short of the numbers from a few decades prior.

German immigration peaked at more than 1.4 million during the 1880s, plummeting to less than 200 thousand during the 1910s as the U.S. fought Germany during World War I. It increased again during the 1920s, approximately doubling to just under 400 thousand, though that was still a fraction of its prior peak.

Source: Immigration to United States, based on statistics from the Department of Homeland Security.

As the 1920 New York Times Sunday Magazine article predicted:

In all classes there is evident a mighty urge to flee from the burdens pressing upon the losers in the World War. Emigration is today the one beacon of hope for thousands of Germans, who are convinced that they can no longer find in Germany the possibility of a satisfactory livelihood.

All hindrances and hardships are disregarded. Anything to get away, to put the Fatherland behind them. The value of the mark, making what once would have been regarded as a fortune a beggarly sum in most of the markets of the world, does not hold them back. Neither do difficulties of travel, the multiplication of frontiers — with endless harassments at each — the lack of facilities, due to restricted means of transportation, the perils of ventures into the unknown — not even the uncertainties of their reception into the known state of hostility to Germans existing in a large part of the world.

German immigration to the U.S. has actually been at its lowest recorded numbers in the past few decades, likely owing to most Germans not wanting to escape, as their country has been at peace with the largest economy among European Union members.

 

The Pent-Up German Flood (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 21, 1920

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Written by Jesse

November 18th, 2020 at 3:00 pm

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