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At home at the Rhine and in America, an emigrants' story

We do not know much about the people who in the early modern age left their beloved homeland because they were suffering hunger and hardships, or persecution for their beliefs. This story is about them. We will take a wander through German and American History from the time of Louis XIV of France until the outbreak of World War one, but we will draw our attention to people like you and me.

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Anton Tombach, master-builder in the service of the Elector-Archbishop of Cologne and his foster son Andreas had to leave the home in the Seven Mountains, and built up a new life for themselves in Pennsylvania, North America. They found friends from Ireland, England and America.

Anton's and Andreas's fate is closely connected with that of the Bergmann family, also from our region. Some members of that family also emigrated to Pennsylvania, but their homeland at the Rhine remained in their hearts. The family stuck together, "over generations and across an ocean," as Lena Bergmann said, "a family who is at home in two continents."

An important historical person in his story is Carl Schurz, a Rhinelander who had to flee after the failed revolution of 1848/49 and emigrated to the United States of America, where he became an important statesman. While doing research for the English version, I found an interview with Barack Obama in Harper's magazine, and in it the following passage (shortened). [..] it is time to remember that the Republicans did far better in the past [..] once they elevated the nation's political dialogue, gave us hope and preached a new form of patriotism which sought to include rather than divide, which valued education and chastised ignorance, which extolled the liberties of our constitutional order and cursed tyrants and slaveholders. [..] Among those Republicans [..] I remember Carl Schurz."

I was deeply touched by the words "to include rather than divide". Today, a sense of togetherness within a society, within Europe and the international community of states is conjured in every time more urging words, but at the same time more and more deep rifts appear. Now my story got longer - I wanted to write about people who lived openness, tolerance and compassion. Let us give our best attention to the courageous and upright people, because its them who give us hope and courage - not the often destructive headlines.

Found here:

Schurz: The True Americanism, Harper's Magazine:
retrieved on November 8, 2011