Teacher | Student
Originally produced in: Deutschland
Also available in: en


  1. Germany as a “country of emigrants“. [PNG Image and Graphic]
  2. Motives of the emigrants. [Text]
  3. Arrival in the USA. [Text and PNG Image]

Curricular level

History classes (NRW): Gymnasium / Realschule / Gesamtschule. Gymnasium: Topic: Europe is changing, especially: “industrial revolution” = 7th or 8th grade. Realschule: Topic: Europe is changing, especially: “industrial revolution” = 8th or 9th grade. Gesamtschule: Topic: Europe is changing, especially: “industrial revolution” = 9th grade. Deutschland


At the end of the 19th century Germany became an immigration destination country. Until that time people rather emigrated from it – mainly because of socio-economic reasons. In times of crisis, more and more people emigrated. During the 19th century there were three waves of emigration: a) the years after the 1848 revolution, b) 1865-1874/75 and c) in the 1880s: 1880-1894. The United States was the country most of the migrants wanted to go to.

The sources introduce the three big migration waves, they show why people migrated and where they arrived (Castle Garden).

The ”Probstei”-source gives exemples of the socio-economic motives of the migrants.

Conceptual Objectives and Skills

The pupils understand that migration is caused by certain socio-economic factors and they learn how to set it in a chronological, spatial and thematic context.

The pupils describe the development, effects and continuity? of the industrialization.

They develop an understanding of the migrants‘ motives on the basis of historical sources.

They shift the perspective in order to understand the point of view of others.

They use basic methods to interpret historical sources in order to get information from graphs and pictures.

They analyze, compare and assess what people did in the context of their values and the way of living.

Suggestion of Activities

The pupils should learn to understand that during the 19th century the USA have been a very popular place to migrate to and that the number of Germans (and others) who migrated there was extremely high. But at the same time, that the decision to migrate was not always easy. In order to show a reflection of this the pupils should imagine,

  • that they are a craftsman from a small German town who migrated to the USA. They are asked to write a letter to a brother back in Germany and describe the crossing and arrival at Castle Garden. Should the brother follow?

Nowadays migration is still an important topic, but the ‘situation’ of the participating countries has changed. In order to reflect this, the pupils

  • Check on contemporary migration routes. They could start with the question if the USA is still a country people migrate to? If yes, where are the migrants from? What are their chances?
  • How is the situation in the respective country of the pupil?
  • Are there any parallels between German migrants in the 19th century and migrants today?

Suggestion of Evaluation

Both the conceptional and methodological objectives and skills should be evaluated. But also the ability of the students to compare what they have learned with similar phenomena of the contemporary world. (In order to do this they might use other sources and texts.)