Home > Politics > When emigration was a necessity

When emigration was a necessity

I use the phrase “people with my genes” to be able to relate to those moving west, to try to put myself into their shoes. I was very close with my grandfather, who was born in 1883. My grandfather was very close with his grandfather, who was born in 1812 and had 6 children. All but one of those emigrated to the United States – 2 sisters and 3 brothers. Which was hard for those staying behind (namely their parents) – as well as for those who departed.

Looking at pictures of my great-grandfather and at pictures of his brothers’ and sisters’ descendants in the US it strikes me how certain traits prevail on the outside appearance over the generations. So it might be correct to assume that some of the inner features are there and were there nearly 200 years ago.

So if I talk about “people with my genes” I talk about people who love their peace and quiet, who like to work but want to own the results of their work, who are rather timid than bold, who love to eat and drink (and smoke) well, who dislike insecurity and adventure and like to be firmly rooted in their environment. We hope for the best but have a vivid imagination to fear the worst.

If “people with my genes” went on their way west from  the kingdoms of Hannover and later on Prussia within the German empire they must have had damned good reasons. Not just “to have a better life” – but to have a life at all. To escape extreme poverty and  brute, oppressive authorities.

That’s the reason why when I was looking at that wagon in Gonzales, Texas my genes said: “Oh, shit! Out of the fire into the frying pan.”

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