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Loss Of Heritage Essay

898 words - 4 pages

There are many people who are proud of their heritage, whole communities will hold celebrations in honor of their ancestors. Many people celebrate the holidays and traditions of their ancestors, but there is one ethnic group who will hardly show any favor toward their heritage. These people used to be the “best-organized, most visible, and most respected group of newcomers in the United States”. (Press Princeton) They were the highest immigrating group to the Unites States for multiple decades. In fact, “more Americans trace their ancestry to Germany than to any other country” (Press Princeton). But now there are relatively few signs remaining of this once proud ethnic group.
The first group of German immigrants came to America on October 6 1683 according to Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler of Ancestry.com. They were “thirteen families from the town of Krefeld” (Hoobler). These first immigrants came to seek relief from famine and poverty that was abundant in Germany. These first families founded a small community, which they called Germantown.
Over the next few decades many thousands of Germans came to live in Germantown and the surrounding areas.
“During the flood of emigrants from Germany, its rulers tried to stop the flow, but to little effect. In fact, the flow increased, and in 1709 about 15,000 Germans left for Britain, and 3,000 crossed the Atlantic to New York. In 1745, there were an estimated 45,000 Germans living in Pennsylvania alone.” (Immigration)
“From 1790 to 1815 German immigration slowed” (Hoobler), but immigration was soon on the rise again. From around 1850 to 1859 over one million Germans immigrated to America. Most of these immigrants came in hopes of finding fertile land and a free country. Then from 1860 to 1870 there was close to another million immigrants. Around this time the conditions of travel for immigrants became much better. This was because of the arrival of the steamship. “Steamships made the voyage in two to three weeks, half the time it took previous to this” (Hoobler). This made it easier for immigrants to America, keeping immigrants coming in a steady stream.
These immigrants were very respected by everyone. They “made up the largest single nationality among the foreign-born” (Kazal 2). But something happened to make these established group of immigrants go through what one historian has called a “through submergence” (Kazal 1). The cause of this submergence has stumped many scholars. Why would an entire nationality want to disappear?
The reason is that the Germans were ashamed of their heritage. According to John Hawgood, “the intense nativist backlash that accompanied American intervention in World War I is the key to the destruction of this ethnic world” (Kazal 4). World War I and II were a...

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