My Grandfather Arrived to the USA 100 Years Ago Today

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by Carl Kruse

Exactly 100 years ago today my grandfather arrived to Ellis Island, New York, having left 12 days earlier from Hamburg on a ship called “THURINGIA.” He was 18, traveled 3rd class and hit New York with $25 in his wallet, if he had a wallet. I never met him as he died when my dad was 12. But I learned more about him at the Emigration Museum in Hamburg where some dedicated souls have digitized every record of who left that port for the U.S.A. The place documents the human quest for re-invention. I found an actual photo of the THURINGIA, a mock-up view of what 3rd Class looked liked, a copy of my grandfather’s original exit documentation from Germany as well as copies of his entrance papers from U.S. immigration authorities on Ellis Island, where among other questions they asked newcomers if they were polygamists or anarchists.

Carl Kruse Blog - SS Thuringia
SS Thuringia

Carl Kruse Blog - Arrival to USA docs

Arrival to the USA

Carl Kruse Blog - Ellis Island

Anyway, my grandfather was only one of millions who launched themselves into the unknown hoping for a better life, but I was moved by his story, amazed at what emigrants did (and still do), and felt immense gratitude that life at least on the material level for me was much better than the one he lived or could have imagined. Now I live in Germany, about two hours south of Hamburg from where he had left and feel a familial journey coming full circle.

The Carl Kruse Blog Homepage.
Contact: carl AT carlkruse DOT com
The blog’s last post was Breaking The Canon of Western Lit.
You can also find Carl Kruse on the blogs of Princeton Alumni site.

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