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Germans in America 3 : Little Germanies (2005) RatingRatingRatingRatingRating

Germans in America 3 : Little Germanies
June 15, 1904, screams fill the air over the East River. The screaming of people who are drowning. The “General Slocum,” an excursion boat, is on its way to Long Island. On board are mostly families from New York’s Little Germany. Over one thousand German-Americans die in the river on this early summer’s day. From drowning, burning, or caught up in the boat’s paddle-wheels. The catastrophe marks the end of this Little Germany, a neighborhood in New York’s Lower East Side.

“Little Germanies” are blooming all over the United States in the second half of the 19th century. Businesses and cultural institutions, schools and churches, newspapers and clubs—everything is there for the powerful and rich German-speaking communities. In New York’s Little Germany, there are more than 70,000 Germans in the second half of the 19th century. Castle Garden and thenEllis Island are the central points of immigration. The newcomers are overwhelmingly working-class people without substantial wealth. They live and eat cheaply, work hard, and economize in everything. Many immigrants bring a small bag of dirt with them. They plan to be buried with this little handful of the old country, since generally there’s no way to go back home again.

The program follows the stories of two immigrant families.

First, the Steinwegs, who found Steinway & Sons three years after their arrival and settle in und Manhattan. All the children work in the family business. They develop the Steinway grand piano, obtain many patents, and their instruments earn a world-wide reputation. In 1865, the business moves to Queens—where it’s still located today.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Gumpertz family, which struggles to find a way out of the slums of New York’s Little Germany. Overcrowded apartments without sanitary facilities are breeding places for tuberculosis, typhus, and cholera. One-third of the children die before they learn to walk. On October 17, 1874, Nathalie Gumpertz waits in vain for her husband to come home. Julius never returns. In those hard times, many men committed suicide or simply disappear, because they can’t stand the misery that their families are living in.

For one of these families, the American dream becomes reality; for the other it’s a test of life and death.
Laufzeit: 51 min.
Sprache: English
Genre: Documentarys, English, Fremdsprachen, Germans in America, Series
Land: Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
Produzent: Axel Engstfeld
 

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