Those who engage in genealogical research will probably sooner or later discover that family members packed up and emigrated. Emigrants left Germany for overseas mostly from the cities Hamburg or Bremen. North and South America and Australia were common destinations. However, it was not unusual either to travel eastwards, all across the continent to reach Bessarabia (Southern Russia) for example.
Whoever plans to emigrate nowadays, will probably first find information on the internet, might need a visa, engage movers, books a flight or loads up the car trunk. But was such a travel like for our ancestors? Why did they decide to emigrate, what requirements did they have to fulfill in order to be allowed emigrating or immigrating, what means of transport were available to them and what had they to expect after arrival? And what happened if for example they were ill at the time of immigration?
While in 2020 the Corona virus worries us, back then illnesses like cholera spread fast, were perilous and no cure, vaccination or extensive medical care were known. The last great cholera epidemic that afflicted Hamburg in 1892 caused about 17,000 cases of illness and almost 9,000 deaths within the population of the city. We have to face closings of the borders (whereas in between European countries border controls are normally suspended), refusals of entry or bans on leaving countries, quarantines, curfews etc because of Corona and feel that these restrictions on our daily lives are unprecedented. Travelling has become a health risk. Maybe one of your ancestors made very similar experiences: being sent right back home upon arrival because of the fear that he or she might be ill. (We can already share with you that the immunity from sickness was seemingly inclusive when purchasing a first class ticket to New York! But who had the means to afford such a ticket?)
In the near future, we would like to give you insights into the history of emigration from Germany and take up the already mentioned topics. When looking at the historic relations we will find that past and modern emigration have much in common. Depending on the interpretation of migration movements we speak of emigration, exile, flight, immigration, displacement, departure ... Ultimately, migration has existed since the human kind came into being. And this is why this topic is of so much interest to genealogists: All of us are concerned! Stories of migration can be found in almost every family. Therefore, in the end of our little series on emigration, you can read our blog entry describing the most important sources when doing research on your migrating ancestors.
In the near future, we invite you to read these interesting blog entries on emigration:
- Ranging the fields - reasons for emigration and formal requirements to meet before leaving the country
- Going on a journey - costs, means of transport, and conditions of travel
- Arrival in a new world – entering and arriving are two very different things
- Sources for genealogical research
We invite you to joins us on a journey for a couple of blog entries, whether you will travel from your sofa, your home office, or your balcony. Needless to say, we have booked a first class ticket for you. All aboard!