Throughout the 1930s, Germany went under the control of the anti-Semitic Nazi Party and its leader, Adolf Hitler. “I could see the danger, being so close to Hitler and the Nazi’s in Munich. Many of my school friends, former school friends, were becoming big Nazi’s.” (Lowen) Most Germans did not agree with this form of ideology and could see the danger that would come of it so, in strong opposition to the system, they left the country. The Germans who opposed to the changes or the country but didn’t leave were either, forced to leave, held in concentration camps, or put to death.
The transition for Germans from Nazi Germany to America–in obligation to the fact that they were German– was fairly easy, even with the lowering exception of immigrants. In America, Germans, particularly scientists, musicians, and novelists were offered good jobs which allowed them and their families to blend in communities and strive. The immigration of Germans during this period was believed to be a benefit to the American culture which, at the time, was going through a Great Depression. The beginning of the 30s in Germany was run under a president by the name of Paul Von Hindenburg and the country, still recovering from World War I, was under good control. Since Hindenburg became president in 1925, he would make laws and decisions without the consent from Parliament, mostly because he did not agree with their decisions. In 1933, Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany, a title he kept for a short time, due to the death of Hindenburg a year later. So, in 1934, Hitler declared himself leader, or in precise words, dictator of Germany. By the time he had control over Germany, Hitler overthrew the constitution, permitted only one political party, and formed a new government called The Third Reich.
The single political party he allowed, and lead, was called the Nazi Party. He founded it in 1919, but it didn’t become noticeable until the 30s. This time period had given the party a gained amount German elections, only because it was led by a man who promised to bring prosperity to the people through it. Not only did this party promise wealth, it also ignored the Treaty of Versailles– a treaty which made Germany agree to pay its debt from World War I–as well form and rebuild stronger armed forces. The Nazi group was anti-Semitic, just like its leader, and all those who were of non-nordic race were considered inferior and had their rights as German citizens taken away. These inferior people in Germany were allowed to be taken away and put in concentration camps by the consent of Hitler who, although being partially Jewish himself, forbid a non-nordic Germany.
These inferior people faced torture, sickness, and eventually death in concentration camps, that is, if they were not forced to leave the country or brutally beaten and murdered by Hitler’s private army known as the stormtroopers. On top of the primary goals of the new Hitler had Germany, his Nazi group was also taking control over schools, teaching the young German children how to serve the leader (poster “Boys – Serve the Leader! All 10 Year Olds – Join the Hitler Youth!”) industries, court, police, and even the news–mainly to spread propaganda of the Nazi Party’s racist goals and ideals. These changes led Germany to a better or worse, depending on what the people agreed with, country to live in.Through this period of time Germany was undergoing the privation of a depression, its people represented economic hardships and the humiliation due to the previous war. The people needed someone to look up to, someone who would get them out of the despair they were facing.
Adolf Hitler, at the beginning of his leadership, was seen as a savior for the German people, “So this man was not only admired, but welcomed, longed for…
..” (qtd. in Century for Young People 75) He fascinated a crowd whenever he gave his speeches of promising to make Germany a prosperous country and it’s people proud. He also spoke of peace and no conflicts for the healing country (News article “Hitler and Peace”). Now, there existed, in the early years of this period, two main sides of feelings toward the new leader and his Nazi Party. “At that time he never spoke of war. He promised us that unemployment would end, and that Germany would once again take its place in the world as a state worthy of respect…” (qtd.
in Century for Young People 75) On the one side, there were Germans who felt that their country needed to regain the respect and power they had lost after the first World War. They saw the changes as something good, even if they didn’t agree with the methods of doing so. “We were never allowed to see anything that would tarnish Hitler or the image of his leadership. Of course, we didn’t see everything as positive.” (qtd. in Century for Young People 75) The people, although were not allowed to say anything against the methods or be to critical, were able to look past the bad and appreciate the new leader, mainly because he gave them the feeling of being positive, which they treasured, and moving forward as a nation. On the other side, there was the Germans who were strongly against Hitler and his political Nazi Party. “I could see the danger, being so close to Hitler and the Nazi’s in Munich.
” (qtd. in German American Album 17) Many could see the danger that this new leader would bring, even though he mostly spoke of peace and prosperity for the German people. Though, as time went on, it was becoming clearly obvious the Hitler’s policies were aimed at threatening people as much as governments or armies. Germans had to decide whether or not to go along with the new Germany and prosper, or to go against it only to end up being prosecuted. “Many of my school friends, former school friends, were becoming big Nazi’s. Naturally i had to give everything i had, except my furniture, which they allowed me to take with me.
” (qtd. in German American Album 17) Germans who opposed were forced to leave, if not murdered or put in concentration camps, and they were only allowed to take very little with them. In the eyes of the many others these opposers were set as examples, mainly for German youth who had just been introduced to the ways of the Nazi Party.In the years 1933-1936, several German families decided to depart from their home country.
A few months before they left, many of the children were taken out of school for the reason that Jewish students were going through trouble. Then when the time came they set out with a few of their personal possessions and some food, but they were not allowed to bring marks, German money, with them. A common route German’s took was on a train to Switzerland and they went on without any major problems. Some of the families traveling by train would smuggle marks with them by baking it in their food, such as a cake. After the train ride, most families stayed in Switzerland for a short period of time, others made their way to Vienna and stayed there also, for a short time.
Most of the German families traveling this way were, sooner or later, making their way to America, mainly because the parents were offered positions such as musicians, teachers, or scientists. Depending on what year these Germans were making their way to America reflected on how easy it would be to actually enter the country. So if a family made the choice to come to America before 1933, then they would enter through Ellis Island easily. However, by the time 1934 hit, America was feeling the sting of the Great Depression and was accepting less immigrants. “Imagine the ships, bulging with human cargo, racing through the Narrows and into the New York harbor, actually colliding with one another in their hurry to be at Ellis Island before the last minute.” (qtd. in American Immigration) Thousands of immigrants were rushing to get to Ellis Island but only a small portion of them got admitted, compared to the 20,000 they would except in previous years.
And those left behind were held as prisoners until they could be shipped back home. Those that were allowed through were, in a sense, smart or thought to be beneficial to the failing American industry.After arriving through the New York harbor and becoming American citizens, a large amount of German took the train to Los Angeles, accepting job offers or to start a farm. The west coast was an ideal settling place for leading German immigrant artists, and it was here where there were large emigre communities.
Blending in and growing up in this area was fairly easy for German immigrants. “Never in my childhood during the 1930s did i feel any sort of “minority complex..
.”” (qtd. in The German American Family Album) The children most likely would have taken English lessons during the summer of arriving. Reading books like “Dick and Jane” contributed to helping immigrants read english, and when school was in session, they would be prepared to learn.
Some parents would send their younger children to a German schools once a week, maybe for them to have a strong understanding of their heritage. The German communities were fairly close internally, and even though they might of not all had tight relationships, there was a friendly like atmosphere. Growing up in this encouraging or supportive atmosphere and around American culture influenced Germans to become actors, musicians, or scientists.
Works CitedAdams, Willi Paul, La Vern J Rippley, and Eberhard Reichmann. The German-Americans: An Ethnic Experience. Amer ed. Indianapolis: Max Kade German-American Center, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, 1993. Print.Alpha History.
d. Web. 11 Feb.
2014. .American Cultural History. N.
p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014. .American Immigration.
Danbury: Grolier Educational, 1999. Print.Armstrong, Jennifer, et al. The Century for Young People. New York: Random, 1999.
Print.Bowen, Ezra. This Fabulous Century 1930 – 1940. Repr. ed. Alexandria: Time-Life, 1987. Print.Galicich, Anne.
The German Americans. New York: Chelsea House, 1989. Print.History. N.p., n.
d. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. .Holocaust Encyclopedia. N.
p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan.
2014. .Hoobler, Dorothy, and Thomas Hoobler. The German American Family Album. New York: Oxford UP, 1995. Print.Living History Farm. N.
p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
.Luebke, Frederick C. Germans in the New World: Essays in the History of Immigration.
Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1999. Print.Owen, Marna.
1930-1940. Belmont: Fearon Education, 1989. Print.Readex: A Division of News Banks. N.p.
, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
.Sacred Destinations. N.p., n.
d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. .Steinbeck, John. “The Harvest Gypsies.” San Fransisco News San Francisco 2 Oct.
1936: n. pag. Rpt. in The Harvest Gypsy Articles. N.p.
: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.Timeline of Emmigration- Germany.
N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. .
Virginia EDU. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
.Wikiepeda. N.p., n.d.
Web. 24 Feb. 2014. .
The World Book Encyclopedia G. Vol. 7.
Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational, 1970. Print