REASONS FOR EMIGRATION
The wave of emigration from Mecklenburg between 1820 and 1890 is a research topic at the University of Rostock. In this article the "Mecklenburg-Magazin" is going to introduce new facts out of a doctoral thesis by Reno Stutz. This chapter of Mecklenburg's history is going to become a research center at the alma mater of the Hanseatic city within the next few years. One is currently trying to establish relationships with Historians in Hamburg, Bremen and Oldenburg.
Mass emigration, a phenomenon, that formed the grand duchy Mecklenburg - Schwerin substantially. Between 1820 and 1890 about 250,000 people left their homes in Mecklenburg in several waves. People especially went to the USA or to other cities in Germany, such as Hamburg and Bremen, as well as the province of Schleswig-Holstein.
This movement was caused by several things. One of the reasons were the mideavel home- and poor-man-laws in this region, as well as the guild regulations in the cities or the hard working and living conditions of the rural people.
But one thing was of a much greater importance. Almost every peasant or farmer hoped to one day live on and cultivate his own piece of land and that would have been almost impossible to achieve in their home country.
Even though people were extremely economical and diligent whole generations remained socially and economically dependent.
Due to this fact a lot of people from Mecklenburg were attracted to the fertile regions of North America. Anyone could purchase land there for very low prices.
The government did not support this movement at any time. The landowners on the opposite did. They supported emigration because a lot of them wanted to save the church- and schooltaxes and they did not want to support their older workers in their old days. They used all kinds of methods to get rid of their workers and their families.
Some landowners harassed some of their day laborers until they finally left. Others lent money or paid for the crossing to the US. English teachers were hired in Grabow to encourage the will to emigrate. In some cases the landowner even bought land in North America to make people want to emigrate.
In some regions of the grand duchy this attitude was fatal: The population rate sank 10 to 15%, despite of the high birth rate. This caused an acute man power shortage, which lasted until 1914 and lead to the employment of Swedish, Polish and Galician people. For a short period of time even some Chinese were hired. The number of the so-called "Schnitter" increased continually so that by the eve of the first World War every third agricultural worker in Mecklenburg - Schwerin was a foreigner.
Article in 1990/13 by Reno Stutz; translation: Daniela Garling