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European-American Topics - Pazifische Rundschau- Neisse University

The New German Emigration Center in Germany

By Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann
President, Society for German-American Studies
Published August 2005

On August 8, 2005, the Deutsches Auswandererhaus/German Emigration Center will be officially dedicated in Bremerhaven, Germany. This will be the largest emigration museum in Europe, and is appropriately located in the north German city of Bremerhaven. Since 1830, more than seven million Europeans departed from Bremerhaven on their way to the New World. This will be of great interest to Americans of European ancestry, since the US, as well as Canada are nations of immigrants. In the US alone, there are more than sixty million Americans of German ancestry, and many of their ancestors came to America via Bremerhaven!

            Going to Bremerhaven to visit the German Emigration Center offers the opportunity of re-connecting with the Old Country in Europe. The three focal points of the new Center are: experiencing emigration, tracing roots, and understanding migration. The Center itself is located in the authentic location of the Old/New Harbor (Alter/Neuer Hafen), and the city of Bremerhaven is well known not only as an emigration port city. It is also well known as the site of the famous Auswandererdenkmal, a monument paying tribute to all German emigrants that was built by means of contributions from German-American donors.  

            In an entirely new approach and based on stories of individuals, visitors will accompany the seven million emigrants on the various stations of their long journey to the New World. They learn why the emigrants wish to embark on this dangerous journey, their account of the ocean crossing and what they hope to find on arrival in the New World. Details on all the important historical aspects of emigration will be included: 19th century emigration for economic and political reasons, persecution during the Third Reich and emigration since 1950.  

            Visitors will relive that moment when emigrants landed in the New World, their home-to-be – full of hope, apprehension and anxiety. Spectacular historic reconstructions, multimedia productions and interactive displays lend authenticity to the depth of the visitor’s experience, and the very unusual discovery tour he or she is about to embark on. At the end of the tour they will meet the emigrants’ living descendants and find out how much they still know about the language, tradition and culture of their ancestors today. 

            The concept of presenting historical background information that is thorough, absorbing and attractive to tourists is designed to appeal to the public in general while meeting the demands of expert authorities on migration as well. 

            As the leading European center for emigration issues the German Emigration Center at Bremerhaven will feature a special exhibition area focusing on specific aspects of worldwide migration. Furthermore, picture and text material plus background information and comprehensive information on international emigration regulations will undoubtedly make the Center an attractive destination for visitors from all over.  

            The main target groups at the German Emigration Center will include interested visitors from Germany and abroad as well as authorities on the subject of migration, school classes, children’s groups and youngsters. The overall concept takes the differing needs of these various groups into account. 

            As a member of the Board of Trustees, who has worked in the preparation of the new German Emigration Center for some time I highly recommend that anyone going to Europe should plan to go to Bremerhaven and visit the German Emigration Center. It is especially a valuable place to bring the entire family and learn more about the Old Country, and emigration to the New World. Anyone visiting friends and families in Europe should also include the German Emigration Center in their planning. And when there, also have your picture taken at the famous Auswandererdenkmal! For further information, visit the website of the Center at:

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