allin-Stadt is a new concept and public-private partnership project that will
be accessible to the public in July, 2007. It will consist in part of an emigration
museum at the site of the previous emigration halls and quarantine station
that were removed in stages some time ago, beginning in 1938.
Hamburg used to be one of the leading European emigration ports. The actual site is located at Hamburg-Veddel (just
about a 45–60-minute walk from the street in which I was born and raised), a
small island between the larger island of Wilhelmsburg and Hamburg proper (or
the part of town called
Rotenburgsort). Beginning in 1900, this
where persons wishing to emigrate used to be registered and then quarantined
up to 14
ocean liners bound for the “New World.”
Emigrants’ Halls (Auswandererhallen) compound included accommodation, dining
and bathing facilities, churches and synagogues — approximately 30 buildings in all.
immigrants disembarking at New York
City’s Ellis Island (Courtesy Wikimedia
It was primarily here that at that time the
emigrating ancestors of most European Americans spent their last days on
many of those bound for Canada, Latin America and Australia, too. This includes
most emigrants from Eastern and Central Europe (though many of them also
sailed from Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven and the then Austro-Hungarian-ruled
port of Triest). Most would-be emigrants arrived in Hamburg by train and were
to the Emigrants’
of those that were cleared for their respective voyages were later processed
and often quarantined again at New York City’s Ellis Island facilities. Thereafter,
the fulfilled dreams of many began with life in crowded, unsanitary tenements
and unspeakable working conditions in sweatshops, as is particularly eloquently
described in American Yiddish literature of that time.
Lowlands languages dominated the pre-independence period of what are
now the United States of America: Dutch and English. Dutch preceded
English by having been the predominant language of the early Dutch
colony, and there were direct contacts between Dutch and indigenous
languages such as Mohawk. English began dominating with the establishment
of the British colony, but Dutch continued to be spoken in the states
of New York and New Jersey. Speakers of other Lowlands languages, such
as Frisian and Low Saxon (“Low German”), established
colonies a little later, and these languages continue to be used. In
the Midwest there are even one or two American dialects of Low Saxon!
that, but there are some early-day patriotic American poems written
in Low Saxon!
The Ballin-Stadt project runs parallel with an exhibition about Hamburg as an
emigration port at the Museum for Hamburg History (Museum für Hamburgische
which holds most passenger lists and offers ancestry research services.
The project is being sponsored by the container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd
whose predecessor HAPAG (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft)
used to handle and regulate emigrants’ processing and transport.
Ballin-Stadt (Ballin-Town) is named after Albert Ballin (1857–1918), director
of the shipping company Hamburg-America Line and the person credited with the
invention of cruise ships. Erection of the Emigrants’ Halls and their facilities
was largely due to his initiative.
Although Ballin made an enormous success
himself, helped many Europeans realize their dreams for a better life,
and was friends with Emperor Wilhelm
Hamburg’s old- and new-money
“aristocrats” due to being a descendant of humble Jewish second-hand clothing
merchants that had immigrated from Denmark. Virtually all of his accolades
which includes naming a “posh” Hamburg street (Ballindamm) and this commemorative
compound after him. However, he was stripped of several of these accolades
during Germany’s fascist era