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eyes on the U.S.

History Lessons For Trump: When America Feared German Immigrants

Donald Trump's ancestors left Germany for the U.S. with dreams of a better life. They faced longstanding fears about the "Germanization" of America.

Protests outside the Trump Tower in New York
Protests outside the Trump Tower in New York
Hannelore Crolly

BERLIN — By now, it has become general knowledge that Donald Trump is the product of serious Palatine-German immigrant ambitions. Camera teams from as far away as Tokyo and New York have traveled to Kallstadt, situated along the German Wine Route, to discover Granpma and Grandpa Trump's hometown. There isn't much to see, with just a boring house (only the outside of which can be filmed) and a few distant relatives of the man with the yellow hair (who make themselves scarce when spotted by the press.)

But there is also a grave with the inscription "Trump." Despite comedian John Oliver's insistence that Trump's family name was changed from Drumpf generations back so as to not sound too German — or like a grape splattering against a window — it can now be proven that it actually always was Trump.

Trump's Granddad Friedrich was an exemplary economic refugee, arriving in 1885. Wealth and a good life were the only things that the Palatine migrant desired, despite the fact that he was too slight for hard work, could not speak English and sailed across the sea to the U.S. without any money. The Americans let him in nonetheless. His son became a millionaire, and we all know how many times that was multiplied by his grandson. But what can we learn from history?

Well, then too, America has always been a little reluctant to welcome refugees and migrants. When the first wave of Palatine refugees arrived in the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin, of all people — one of the nation's most enlightened Founding Fathers — ranted that: "they will soon so outnumber us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language." Sound familiar?

How about this little gem of Franklin's: "Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation."

Or this one: "Even our Government will become precarious" due to the influx.

The early German immigrants, it should be noted, stubbornly preferred to keep to themselves in tightly knit groups, even refusing to learn English so their children would not grow up "English." Franklin protested, predicting that the foreigners "will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them."

The Germanization of the New World, an American horror story? It all sounds more than a little ironic these days. There was of course a happy end to the story, and the Germans integrated perfectly well in the U.S.

Today, after all, there are more U.S. citizens with a German background than with an English one, and each and every one of them feels like a true American. A history lesson more relevant than ever.

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The West Has An Answer To China's New Silk Road — With A Lift From The Gulf

The U.S. and Europe are seeking to rival China by launching a huge joint project. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States will also play a key role – because the battle for world domination is not being fought on China’s doorstep, but in the Middle East.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and U.S. President Joe Biden shaking hands during PGII & India-Middle East-Europe Economics Corridor event at the G20 Summit on Sept. 9 in New Delhi

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and U.S. President Joe Biden during PGII & India-Middle East-Europe Economics Corridor event at the G20 Summit on Sept. 9 in New Delhi

Daniel-Dylan Böhmer


BERLIN — When world leaders are so keen to emphasize the importance of a project, we may well be skeptical. “This is a big deal, a really big deal,” declared U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month.

The "big deal" he's talking about is a new trade and infrastructure corridor planned to be built between India, the Middle East and Europe.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the project as a “beacon of cooperation, innovation and shared progress,” while President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen called it a “green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations."

The corridor will consist of improved railway networks, shipping ports and submarine cables. It is not only India, the U.S. and Europe that are investing in it – they are also working together on the project with Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia is planning to provide $20 billion in funding for the corridor, but aside from that, the sums involved are as yet unclear. The details will be hashed out over the next two months. But if the West and its allies truly want to compete with China's so-called New Silk Road, they will need a lot of money.

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