A new study charts how extreme weather events, like droughts and floods, drove a 19th century wave of German immigration to North America.
By Stephen Leahy | MOTHERBOARD
Climate was a major reason why people bearing some of Americaʼs most famous family names, including Trump, Pfizer, and Heinz, emigrated from southwest Germany in the 19th century, a new study reveals.
Over 5 million Germans moved to North America from 1816 to 1886, mainly to the US, which is why German-Americans are America’s largest single ethnic group today. The 19th century Germans, including Trump’s grandfather Frederick, left their homes after a number of chilly winters and cool summers, as well as other extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, said Rüdiger Glaser, a professor at the University of Freiburg and lead-author of the study published today in the journal Climate of the Past.
Although southwest Germany experienced a great deal of poverty, war, and revolutions in the 19th century, climatic factors explain almost one-third of the migration to North America based on a quantitative analysis, Glaser told Motherboard in an interview.
“Unfavourable weather conditions led to low crop yields, which led to higher food prices and resulted in emigration,” said Glaser.