On 5 July, the BallinStadt Emigrant World Hamburg, located on Veddel Island in the River Elbe, opens
Contributed by Michelle Young
Tuesday, 03 July 2007
On 5 July, the BallinStadt Emigrant World Hamburg, located on Veddel Island in the River Elbe, opens to the public. Situated on the site of the historical emigrant city built by the HAPAG shipping company under its general manager Albert Ballin between 1898 and 1901, and extended again in 1906/07, this fascinating new centre will attract visitors from Germany, Europe and America. The BallinStadt tells the moving story of more than five million people who left their homes between 1850 and 1939 via the Port of Hamburg to start a new life in America.
The centrepiece of the BallinStadt is the careful reconstruction of the three original living and sleeping pavilions. The main exhibition, housed in the second building, provides an authentic and moving impression of all the phases involved in emigration.
From 1891 on, Hamburg became one of the most important ports for emigrants from all across Europe. In 1901, Albert Ballin had an "Emigrant City" built for the many thousands of people, most from eastern and south-eastern Europe, who arrived in Hamburg to await their embarkation. In the busiest years, the accommodation was used by up to 190,000 people a year. The site, which gradually grew in size until it covered 55,000 square metres, housed 30 buildings: in addition to living and sleeping quarters, there were two hotels, large dining halls, a church, a synagogue, a music pavilion, hygiene and disinfection facilities and several administration buildings. During the extension work in 1906/07, additional living and sleeping pavilions and an impressive reception building were added.
The BallinStadt Emigrant World Hamburg is a private-public partnership headed by the City of Hamburg. The total cost of construction will be 12 million. The project is generously supported by private sponsors, with Hapag Lloyd AG donating 1.6 million, Norddeutsche Affinerie providing 1.0 million, Hamburg Airport donating 0.25 million and Hamburger Feuerkasse 0.2 million. The City of Hamburg selected LeisureWorkGroup GmbH from a pool of 15 international competitors for the project to provide the exhibition concept, construction services, fittings and equipment, and operational planning. LeisureWorkGroup has invested 0.45 million in the project so far.
The concept behind BallinStadt emigrant World Hamburg
The BallinStadt Emigrant World Hamburg gives visitors a comprehensive and very moving impression of the mass phenomenon of emigration, covering all phases from packing up to arriving and settling in a new country. In addition to providing fascinating glimpses of the different phases of leaving one life and travelling to start a new one, the exhibition also examines what made people choose to leave their home and it traces their fortunes after their arrival in New York. The interactive edutainment exhibition allows visitors to relate to past and present aspects of emigration; innovative technology enables them to slip into the role of an emigrant and embark on a journey to a new life. Children can accompany their parents on this journey, thus allowing them to experience the topic from their own perspective. The exhibition will offer special school programmes for varying age groups.
The BallinStadt Emigrant World Hamburg is divided into three separate areas which are interlinked:
The main entrance and lobby is located in Building 1, as are special exhibition areas and a public research section with computer workstations for visitors interested in tracing the emigration history of their ancestors. BallinStadt staff specially trained in genealogy are on hand to provide assistance. Visitors can search the passenger lists from 1850 to 1934 and the MyFamily database (in Germany: Ancestry.de) which includes, among other information, the U.S. census lists that can help the millions of descendants of emigrants to pinpoint where their family originally came from. The Hamburg passenger lists provide a wealth of information about the five million emigrants who left from Hamburg and they are a unique source of information for researchers.
Building 2 houses the main exhibition with a round tour of the main phases of emigration. Visitors learn about a number of topics, including Living in Europe, Decision and Departure, Hamburg - The Port of Emigrants, The Ocean Journey, The New World and A New Home.
Building 3, which contains an exhibition about the life in the Emigrants' Halls, actually includes the last remaining sections of the original historical building. Visitors are given a deeply moving impression of the atmosphere in these halls one hundred years ago. The centre will also have a restaurant/cafe and will serve as an event location for all kinds of special events.
The official opening ceremony for the BallinStadt will take place on 4 July 2007. The new centre opens to the general public the following day, on 5 July 2007.
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17.1% of the U.S. population (2009)
Regions with significant populations
United States Throughout the entire United States
Plurality in the Midwestern states
American English and German
Christian 51% Protestant Lutheran Reformed Mennonite Amish others 26% Roman Catholic 1% Jewish (1%) 16% other
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Germans Alsatians Austrian Americans Swiss Americans Dutch Americans Pennsylvania Dutch German diaspora German Canadians
German Americans (German: Deutschamerikaner) are Americans who were either born in Germany or are of German ancestry. They comprise about 50 million people, making them the largest self-reported ancestry group ahead of Irish Americans, African Americans and English Americans, although English Americans more than likely form the largest ancestry group in the U.S. due to Americans primarily of English ancestry identifying as simply American or with an ancestry group more recent in their family.  They comprise about 1⁄3 of the German diaspora in the world.
None of the German states had American colonies. In the 1670s the first significant groups of German immigrants arrived in the British colonies, settling primarily in New York and Pennsylvania. Immigration continued in very large numbers during the 19th century, with eight million arrivals from Germany. They were pulled by the attractions of land and religious freedom, and pushed out of Europe by shortages of land and religious or political oppression. Many arrived seeking religious or political freedom, others for economic opportunities greater than those in Europe, and others for the chance to start fresh in the New World. The arrivals before 1850 were mostly farmers who sought out the most productive land, where their intensive farming techniques would pay off. After 1840, many came to cities, where "Germania"—German-speaking districts—soon emerged.
German Americans established the first kindergartens in the United States, introduced the Christmas tree tradition, and originated popular American foods such as hot dogs and hamburgers. Like many other immigrants that came to the United States, an overwhelming number of people of German or partial German descent have essentially become americanized.
German American celebrations are held throughout the country, one of the most well-known being the German-American Steuben Parade in New York City, held every third Saturday in September. Also traditional Oktoberfest celebrations and the German-American Day are popular festivities. There are major annual events in Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and other cities.