The Business of Migration since 1815

Millions of American immigrants, who worked in business or started new businesses of their own, also used businesses in order to reach America in the first place. Before the mid nineteenth century advent of the telegraph, railroad and steamship, this migration usually relied on the services of multiple businesses and intermediaries in order to carry out long multi-stage journeys across land and ocean. In the modern “global village,” interconnected by widely available fast air travel, key services needed by international migrants are also generally dispersed across multiple businesses, often related mainly to surmounting and adapting to legal restrictions. In between, during late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the business of migration was concentrated mainly on the crossing of the North Atlantic. Mass transatlantic migration then became the core segment of the world’s first major intercontinental travel industry, a business in which large German shipping lines played a leading role. Within a longer term context, this essay emphasizes that middle epoch of commercially-provided physical relocation from Europe to the United States, and also includes a sub-focus on entrepreneurship of German origin.

Updated: November 28, 2016

Introduction and Overview

The simplest and clearest shared trait of German immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States is that they all physically moved to America from German regions of Europe. This common experience of long-distance relocation generally meant—until the mid-twentieth century advent of jet airliners—a journey of days or weeks across thousands of miles of land and ocean as willing customers of an organized, far-flung international travel industry.[1]

The transatlantic business of migration travel was used by American immigrants from all over Europe,[2] including those who were from Germany, those who were entrepreneurial, or those who were both, or both and also included among the German Historical Institute’s Immigrant Entrepreneurship project biographies. This commerce in oceanic transportation was for centuries at the core of a shifting bundle of businesses of migration, with German migration to America a significant, long-lasting, and diverse part of the market for those businesses. Well over five million Germans moved to the United State between 1815 and 1914 alone. The principal subject here will be the business of migration travel during that long heyday, but in a context also reflecting other migration-businesses and later time periods.[3]

Broadly defined, business customarily connotes purposeful and remunerative activity requiring time and effort, engaged in as a means of livelihood, and migration means medium- to long-term relocation between geographical locations. From this wide-angle perspective, the business of migration refers to a fundamental feature of human history, and suggests commercial underpinnings and outgrowths of voluntary, sustained, and large-scale human population flows across the boundaries of sovereign political states.[4]

The modern international system of states emerged in Western Europe and had spread to the Western Hemisphere by the early nineteenth century, along with modern, voluntary, economically-oriented and long-distance mass migration. The young United States became the leading global destination for intercontinental relocation, and German-speaking regions of Europe were among the largest sources of immigrants to America.[5]

In the eighteenth century, Germans were the first major immigrant group to the Western hemisphere not arriving there as subjects or slaves of European colonial empires. Germans were thus antecedents of the voluntary transnational mass migration that has been a common feature of the global economy since then. In the growing exodus after 1815, Europeans resettled all over the nineteenth century world, but especially in the United States.[6] By the late 1800s, German-Americans retaining Old World ties had connections to Europe’s predominant industrial power, in the process of becoming itself a country of net immigration.[7] Since the 1960s, Germany has been a comparatively small quantitative exporter of people to the United States. Nevertheless, outflows of German exiles during the two world wars and the early Cold War lent impetus to the development of modern refugee and asylum policies, and helped catalyze international cross-fertilization of talent in the arts, sciences, and business.[8]

Historiographical Background

The business of migration has been peripheral in most previous histories of migration. American immigration history has been segmented mainly by ethnic origin, and there has been more attention to ultimate effects than to underlying causes of migration. An early definitive scholarly treatment by Hansen (1940) covered the whole Atlantic movement, and dealt extensively with both origins and outcomes. Thistlethwaite’s 1962 essay more explicitly advocated a still wider transatlantic agenda, endorsed later, to some degree, by Daniels and Jones. Complementary social science oriented analyses, encompassing both flows and causal factors, include those of Hoerder, Sowell, and Hatton and Williamson.[9]

Migrant transportation received limited attention in those histories: Hansen touched on shipping and recruitment, Taylor on overland journeys and on-board transatlantic accommodations, and Jones on steamship soliciting and lobbying. Preliminary studies explicitly treating migration in conjunction with shipping were carried out by Günter Moltmann (Hamburg) and several of his students. Ottmüller’s rare study of the migration business of a single major shipping firm was better at salient questions than definitive answers, yet offered a well-organized balance of themes, chronology, and source literature. Scandinavian scholars were among the first to develop complementary insights into the activities of migration agents. More recent historical analysis has focused more directly on and dug deeper into businesses of migration, from numerous angles. The question of whether people migrated in order to pursue entrepreneurial possibilities, or if entrepreneurial opportunities mainly emerged only post-migration, was explored in Godley’s comparison of Russian Jews in London and New York. Examples of entrepreneurialism and immigration interacting in both causal directions can be found in a number of Immigrant Entrepreneurship project biographies. Probably many German immigrants in the United States found reinforcement between venturing into new territory aboard, and venturing into new products, services, and enterprises. Others likely put entrepreneurial dreams on long-term hold while making more immediate ends meet in America, or turned down transatlantic opportunities in favor of new ventures in Europe.[10]

Migration Motives, Methods, and Movements

Historical accounts of migration and popular commentaries often resort to logical yet at times misleading “hydraulic metaphors.” Such analogies envisage mass migration as a current of water flowing mainly of its own accord with an unchanging downhill direction. Unless that is if the “water” is blocked, diverted, pumped away, forced to flow uphill by continued pressure, dispersed by spraying, filtered through holes and pipes, evaporated, mixed with other fluids or solids, stored indefinitely in vessels, perhaps to be later released in powerfully directed torrents, or used to irrigate fertile gardens, etc.[11]

For the corporate shareholders and executives of, and officers and crew aboard, a New York-bound 700-foot long coal-fired steamship, circa 1910, for example, or for Ellis Island examiners meeting disembarkees from that ocean liner, or an immigrant association monitoring the performance of those inspectors, the hydraulic metaphor has obvious value. In business and regulatory terms, steerage passengers were flows: of revenue, of costs, of customers, of potential disease carriers, and of people needing bedding, food, water, toilets, and monitoring.[12]

Yet, once the business model for this business becomes itself an object of study, the water analogies require paradigmatic revision. Immigrant entrepreneurs usually moved voluntarily and for principally economic motives. Their aggregate decisions, in a sense, often flowed like waves, but the essential economics driving the whole process operated much more on the level of something like individual—and often quite autonomous—particles. Voluntary mass migration rarely functioned much like a spigot which, for example, transport company sales forces could turn on or draw from at will. By the mid-nineteenth century, economically speaking, the firms transporting European immigrants to America in large numbers were more like the riders of the phenomena, while the migrant travelers were (collectively) more like drivers.[13]

Why then did Europeans, German entrepreneurs and many others, decide to relocate across the Atlantic, and perforce to buy transport services from transport businesses? Two short answers (incomplete yet important) would be: to pursue commercial opportunities, and to pursue wage-labor job opportunities. Three caveats also apply, however. To have widespread actionable appeal, a potential move to “greener pastures” abroad needed a credible potential, firstly for benefits exceeding costs, secondly for net benefits (benefits less costs) outweighing risks, and thirdly for surmountable upfront hurdles. Germans make excellent potential case studies concerning migration motives because their moves to America were so diverse, and long-lived through different epochs, sets of pushes and pulls, regulatory regimes, and available processes of relocation, including those implicitly or explicitly operated as businesses.

Table 1 (below) categorizes historical phases in transatlantic migration, in terms of the processes and forms of transportation affecting it. Before the 1820s or ‘30s, the costs of accessing American opportunities were still relatively high. There were as yet few organized corporate fleets of transatlantic ships. Getting to America involved reliance upon multiple migration businesses: travel to European embarkation ports, making and financing the Atlantic crossing, inland travel in America, and services to help with a period of adjustment and accumulation there, before land could be acquired or other significant long term opportunities effectively tapped.[14]

After the end of the Napoleonic wars, during the second and third time periods of Table 1 when the transatlantic movement became overwhelmingly self-funded by migrants and their family/kinship networks, the relocation evolved into a more massive, sophisticated, and yet also more routine process. In the 1850s, corporately organized large steamship lines began providing increasingly faster, safer, and more “full service” relocation to immigrants who were increasingly independent seekers of urban wage employment. By the 1880s, German lines had become the largest of these multinational migrant transporters.[15]

Table 1: Transatlantic Relocation to the United States from Europe by Travel Epoch: Phases of Development in the Business of Migrating and the Orientation of the Migrants[16]
Time Period Form of travel Relocation of Processes
Pre 1820 Sail Organized-Redemption
1820-1865 Sail Organized-Self-funded
1866-1930 Steam Independent / Family
1930-65 Motor/Air Political / Elite
since 1965
Air Independent


Quantitative restrictions on European immigration, enacted by the United States in the wake of World War I, were fully installed by 1930. Arrivals from Europe thinned down into a movement governed more by political quotas, in which mostly middle- to upper class migrants pursued more selective, “white collar,” service industry, or intellectual opportunities. The latter part of the fourth period of Table 1 was also marked by notable flows of World War II and Cold War related refugees. The last period of Table 1 begins in 1965 when the basis of U.S. immigration quotas shifted (from limits by nationality towards family reunification) and by which time airplanes had nearly fully replaced diesel-fueled motorships in transatlantic travel.

Most European (and most German) immigrants to the United States arrived during the second and third periods of Table 1, during a half century of legally unrestricted and economically-oriented transatlantic mass migration by steamship, and a quarter century of German corporate leadership in handing that migrant traffic. Before examining these central epochs of migration travel more closely, it is useful to first survey key factors behind the demise of the earlier redemptioner system used by Germans moving to the mid-Atlantic region of colonial America and the early United States.

End of the Redemptioner System

On the order of half of European immigrants to colonial British North America arrived under servitude contracts. Through such arrangements, new entrants—particularly Irish and Germans—paid for their oceanic travel by working as servants for a period of years after landing. Indentured servants could be and were bought and sold, like slaves, and could not legally terminate their service before completing the contracted period, often about four years in colonial America, falling somewhat thereafter.[17]

Most immigrants who could afford it paid for their transatlantic passage costs up front, thus avoiding servitude contracts, and potential mistreatment from masters. Some eighteenth-century German emigrants with more than sufficient funds nonetheless chose servitude not for the travel financing it provided, but because it offered an organized process of adjustment to life and work in a new and different land. Language barriers, for example, were greater for German migrants than for most English migrants and Scotch-Irish migrants in this period. German emigrés on return visits to Europe, sometimes called “Newcomers,” were often involved as middlemen in redemptioner migration. Initial placement for a few years in a German-American setting could be a useful bridge to integration in America.[18]

The “redemptioner” system favored by German newcomers was generally considered less onerous than the indentures used by Irish emigrants, because a “redemptioner” was not necessarily bound to a pre-arranged employer. Upon arrival, he could instead choose to “redeem” his transit cost obligation by having relatives in America (if ready and willing) pay the ship owner, or he could pick from and negotiate with available future employers, who would pay the travel bill. Despite these advantages, the redemptioner system largely died out in America by the early 1820s, having lasted not much longer than other forms of contracted servitude.[19]

Historical explanations for the collapse of the redemptioner system in the 1820s have varied. Marcus Hansen (1940) laid weight upon the sharp depression of 1819 as a “blow the redemptioner trade never recovered from.” Bankruptcy was so widespread amongst redemption agents, in this account, that none ever again “dared to revive the system.” Roger Daniels (1990) instead highlighted overcrowding and abuse associated with mass flight to America following the “year without a summer” (1816, resulting from the “most powerful [volcanic] eruption of the past 500 years”). Complaints from German-Americans prompted new U.S. legislation which “presaged the end of the [redemptioner] system,” as Daniels put it.[20]

Farley Grubb (early 1990s), however, noting that redemptioner migration had bounced back from prior economic downturns, deemed the 1819 depression “coincidental with, rather than a cause of, the collapse of the servant market.” He also pointed out that unusually bad weather and poor harvests in Europe during 1816-17 “temporarily inflated” redemptioner numbers, “masking” a slow longer term declining trend already underway.[21] Taking apart and rejecting various alternative explanations, Grubb arrived at the plausible conclusion that the supply of new redemptioner servants in the United States dried up by the 1820s because superior methods of financing immigration (prepaid tickets and remittances) had displaced the servitude system. Observing that prices of servitude contracts rose (periods of required service fell) during the system’s final decline, Grubb logically deduced that shrinking supply of redemptioners outpaced shrinking demand for them (e.g., wage work having gained relative to contracted service in agriculture).[22]

This explanation, however, does not rule out the possible broad relevance of examples in which demand and supply jointly disappeared (as merchants set redemptioners—unsaleable in the post 1819 economic slump­—free to fend for themselves), or of changed public attitudes helping eviscerate legal enforceability (ahead of legislative curbs). Grubb also did not examine the possibility that newer chain migration techniques (remittances, prepaid tickets, more circular travel), helped supplant not only the financing role of redemption relocation but also its function in reducing migration risks and facilitating adaptation to America.[23]

Incisively surveying the final years of redemptioner migration, Boyd illuminates several further factors contributing to its demise, namely more restrictive laws on migrant transit through Hamburg and Holland, a shift towards new Atlantic ports and carriers, and the emergence of new classes of “more affluent” migrants. These dimensions suggest that a “new era” of migration emerged in the late 1820s and 1830s, which all but precluded any long term resumption of the redemptioner trade curtailed during the hiatus of the Napoleonic War, and further interrupted by the 1819 depression. The new era was marked by a more selective German migration evidently more conducive than before to transatlantic transfer of entrepreneurial talent and ambition.[24]

The circumstances of the redemptioner system’s disappearance signaled changes integral to the more massive transatlantic relocation business which followed later. Resurgent German migration to America from the late 1830s on occurred within a context of two increasingly industrialized and increasingly national markets becoming increasingly connected. In this new environment, German entrepreneurial inclinations were deployed on a wider scale.[25]

The German Lines’ Preeminence in Migrant Transport

In the early twentieth century, Bremen-based NDL (Norddeutscher Lloyd) and Hamburg-based HAPAG (Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Aktiengesellschaft) were not only the largest shipping companies in the world, they also transported the two biggest shares of the thus far largest transoceanic mass migration flow ever. Organized a generation before the founding of the unified German state in 1870, during at time when their home ports were still prominent semi-independent city states, HAPAG and NDL were among the earliest North Atlantic shipping companies still actively carrying migrants to North America on a large scale on the eve of the First World War. Their swift rise to pre-eminence in the migrant travel business by the second half of the nineteenth century is indicated by the trends shown in Table 2.[26]

Migrant transportation between Europe and America constituted for many decades the core business of North Atlantic passenger shipping. German oceanic carriers’ preeminence in this long-distance transport can be partly, but only partly, explained by several structural advantages. For most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, German regions of Europe were a large supplier of American immigration, second (only slightly) to the British Isles. A related travel business on a significant scale first developed for German transporters after Germany’s mid-nineteenth century economic and political unification and industrial growth helped boost the international competitiveness of German merchant shipping. Meanwhile, the contemporaneous shift from sail to steam (and the interruption of the U.S. Civil War) severely diminished the role of American shipping in North Atlantic travel, opening up opportunities for new European—especially German—lines. Finally, just as German migration fell sharply in the 1890s, the U.S.-bound exodus from Central and Eastern Europe exploded, and Germany sat squarely astride the major overland transit corridors to the Atlantic embarkation ports.[27]

Table 2: German Immigrants and Steeragers Carried by German Lines, 1815-1914[28]

Immigrants of German nationality to USA German shipping lines’ share of steerage passengers to New York Average annual European immigration to USA (millions)
1815-1862 33% 10% .1
1863-1889 33% 28% .3
1890-1914 7% 34% .7


But, Germany’s geographical position and late industrial boom during 1890-1914 do not suffice to explain the high fraction of migrant traffic on the German passenger liners then. As Table 2 shows, migration to America doubled vis-à-vis the previous period, and the growth all came from outside Germany, yet HAPAG and NDL increased their market share. In the sailing era, German carriers had captured less than half of German migrant flow to America. By the early twentieth century, NDL and HAPAG were carrying total steerage volumes to America seven times that of the German emigration flow alone. Furthermore, although after 1890 the principal overland corridors for U.S.-bound migration went through Germany, migrants used other overland routes as well, Hamburg and Bremen also competed with other ports for the multi-ethnic traffic from central and Eastern Europe, and those burgeoning throngs were not the only source of HAPAG and NDL’s growth in steerage volumes.[29] Other factors, notably public policy and managerial capability, were also significant to the success of the NDL and HAPAG in transatlantic migrant travel.

Reasons for the Leading Position of NDL and HAPAG

HAPAG and NDL’s rapid rise to international prominence in oceanic shipping in general, and in North Atlantic steerage carriage in particular, is fairly often linked to nationalistic, chauvinistic, and empire-building factors and motives. This at times dramatic and historically compelling line of argument is nonetheless ultimately unpersuasive.[30]

Relations between Europe’s two foremost economic and military powers, Britain and Germany, became famously troubled during the quarter century preceeding World War I, due in part to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II’s love-hate relationship with his grandmother Queen Victoria (1827-1902), her successor King Edward VII (1902-10, Wilhelm’s uncle), and Edward’s successor George V (1910-36), the Kaiser’s first cousin. It is typically pointed out that envy and mistrust between these related royals was not purely coincidental to Wilhelm II’s fascination with naval and maritime matters, with emerging German colonial ambitions, and with a new Anglo-German naval race.[31]

Ill will between the Hohenzollerns and Saxe-Coburgs, and between their respective civilian governmental administrations, was indeed of historical moment at one noteworthy juncture involving HAPAG’s General Director Albert Ballin, who was both a close friend of the Kaiser and an Anglophile periodically dispatched as an informal emissary between Germany and Britain. Ballin, from an energetic though not particularly prosperous Jewish family of artisans and merchants in Hamburg, had displayed strong entrepreneurial and diplomatic skills throughout his meteoric career (further described in the “brokers and entrepreneurs” section below). At age 28, he became head of HAPAG’s passenger department, already then the second largest carrier of migrants across the North Atlantic (after NDL). By the time he was appointed General Director of HAPAG (by then world’s largest shipping concern) he had become a prominent personality in Hamburg and Germany.[32]

A week before the outbreak of World War I, almost surely with the Kaiser’s go-ahead, Ballin met the British First Lord of Admiralty Winston Churchill in London. Their meeting turned out to be a last face-to-face attempt to avert the European calamity both of them, and the Kaiser, dreaded and could see coming. Pulling back from the brink was by then already a forlorn hope: Last ditch personal resolve for peace could not undo many prior years of destabilizing miscalculation.[33]

Among dozens of “what ifs” which might have stopped or ameliorated the First World War, this has to rank highly in potency though low in probability. The Great War as it unfolded, and many quagmires and horrors later ensuing, are difficult to imagine had these two great powers, traditionally allies or friendly neutrals, not entered on opposing sides into an all-out conflict of such irreversible damage. Historian Niall Ferguson called it “the greatest error of modern history.”[34] It was certainly a historical watershed moment. A more pragmatic, less impulsive, and less belligerent German ruling elite, less distracted by impractical and destabilizing naval ambitions, and less insistent on measuring progress through comparisons with Britain, might well have had a major game-changing effect during the early 1900s slide towards catastrophe: for the course of the European and global twentieth century.[35]

How exactly does this sleepwalking into world war relate to the early 1900s competition in the business of transatlantic migration? In reality, the two are little more than tangential to each other. The often popular impression of inter-connected impending doom is colorful yet ultimately illusory. Ballin had not much power to head off world war in 1914 and played little role in the slide toward it before that. A much celebrated and sometimes dreaded executive in international shipping, Ballin was considered an autocratic empire-builder, and a long-time friend of kings, but has also been called “The King of Steerage.” His prowess there developed during his early success as a steerage agent—and from his talent at hammering out functioning market sharing passenger pools in Atlantic shipping—much more than it did from royal connections, as helpful as those connections also were occasionally.[36]

HAPAG became second only to NDL in transatlantic steerage volume already in the early 1880s, several years before Ballin even joined the firm (and when the future Wilhelm II was but a relatively unheralded grandson of the still reigning Wilhelm I). The routing of German emigrants had changed markedly by then, vis-à-vis its patterns in the German emigration boom of the early 1850s, when the departing throngs preferred Le Havre first and Bremen second. Hamburg then had not yet advanced beyond vying for third place against Antwerp and Liverpool. In those years, more German emigrants still embarked for overseas destinations at non-German rather than German ports.[37]

By the early 1880s the two principal German ports were boarding over 80 percent of such emigrants. Compared to the 1850s, the main difference was that Hamburg and Bremen had meanwhile produced fully equipped modern steamship lines. Their vessels still came from U.K. shipyards, but by the mid-1890s they were placing orders with new and competitive German steamship builders.[38]

In the post Waterloo century of very limited legal barriers to transatlantic migration, the mass overseas relocation of Europeans was primarily driven by the pull of the burgeoning U.S. economy (more so than the push of adverse circumstances in Europe or the long term decline in real travel costs). Of potential overseas destinations America had by far the greatest ability to absorb immigrants, based on abundant and diverse natural resources, on “neo-Europe” climates amenable to European crops and animals, on a stable decentralized political system with ties to many European entities yet independent of them all, and an early head-start on mass immigration, population growth, and economic expansion.[39]

In late-nineteenth century Europe, Germany had a dynamic, fast-growing economy, powered by political unification, a newly integrated national market, coal mining, railroad building, public education, engineering skills, metallurgy and foreign trade. In these areas of rapid technological and economic advancement (unlike colonial civil service administration in Asia, gunboats on African rivers, or international financial market-making), Germany competed very successfully and profitably against England. Hanseatic Hamburg and Bremen (with its newer harbor at Bremerhaven) had the resources, expertise, and experience to quickly build up world class shipping enterprises. Both used the fruits of Germany’s rapid industrial expansion to help cater to the large and growing demand for relocation to the then also booming industrial United States.[40]

HAPAG and NDL proved adept at capitalizing on fortuitous potential, and at managing its fast-growing realization. They bested local competitors in Hamburg and Bremen, and astutely cultivated local political connections.[41] Although their rivalry was at times fierce, they more often found ways to share opportunities, compete productively, and collude effectively on solidifying nationwide connections, warding off competition from other German ports, and eventually establishing reasonably workable networks to cooperate with major lines based in other countries.[42] They turned adversity into triumph following the 1892 cholera outbreak in Hamburg, by persuading the German authorities to put them in charge of migrant inspection stations at border checkpoints with Russia and Austria-Hungary, giving them an indirect influence on which shipping lines U.S.-bound migrants used on the onward overseas journeys. Although a moderate fraction of those eastern European passenger flows were ceded, over time, to other lines through conference shipping pools, HAPAG and NDL partially offset this effect by also opening up new services in the 1890s able to successfully handle a hefty chunk of the fast-expanding steerage traffic out of Italian ports.[43] 

Although some leading executives and managers began as self-made entrepreneurs, long-run corporate success in the nineteenth and early twentieth century migration North Atlantic passenger shipping business was more a matter of shrewd management than of bold innovation. Although on-board ships accommodations evolved and improved over time, as did the technology to deliver them, the underlying transportation service and corporate strategies remained fairly standardized across lines. For the most part, official regulation of migrant transport was also similar across jurisdictions. Detectable quality and marketing differences between the lines were not usually significant drivers of volume or profitability.

Oceanic passenger shipping was a fast-growing, potentially quite profitable, publicly prestigious enterprise in an age where it quickly became ubiquitous in global travel, following the mid-nineteenth century steamship revolution. It was also known as a risky business, with migrant traffic often and justifiably considered to be the most profitable and riskiest segment of a diverse revenue stream. Demand for migration travel grew briskly though unevenly, as did the speed, size and schedule frequency of transatlantic steamships to transport them. Across the decades, a good dozen other North Atlantic corporate success stories developed contemporaneously with those of HAPAG and NDL, including, for instance, the Holland America and Red Star lines, which both started in the early 1870s. There were also more than a few failures, however. Inept or miscarried risk management often contributed to the downfall of lines which folded up or were sold to competitors, and corporate exits from the industry often occurred during cyclical low ebbs in migration traffic.[44]

Migration volumes could fluctuate radically, because international migrants are typically on the marginal edge of national work forces. (This is not necessarily true for immigrant entrepreneurs, but they were a relatively small minority of the mass migration reaching America during the open-borders era before 1914). These migrants were prominent among the most recent entrants to the U.S. labor market and by the 1890s were generally the first to leave it (and in some instances returning home to Europe as well), during recessionary periods of high U.S. unemployment. Immigrants from abroad were over-represented in expendable and temporary positions, in temporary job sectors, and in cyclical industries.[45]

A drop of few percentage points in the domestic product can often dip an economy into recession, and in the pre-1914 laissez faire era, annual average employment might then fall by something like 10 percent. American immigration inflows, however, not infrequently shrank by over 50 percent. The nearly completely fixed costs of shipping lines meant that there was almost no compensating offset to costs when revenues declined so drastically. To take a stylized rough example, if NDL got one third of its overall revenues from migration traffic, and typically enjoyed—in a normal positive year-—a 10 percent  overall profit margin (profits from all segments divided by revenues from all segments), then a 60 percent decline in migration revenues (e.g., if passenger volumes dropped 60 percent and fares remained unchanged) would translate into a nearly 20 percent drop in overall revenues and the 10 percent profit would turn into something close to a 10 percent loss.[46]

The leaders of HAPAG and NDL nevertheless marshaled the necessary acumen to manage the rapid expansion of a dynamic business segment. More crucially, they also developed a capability for coping with the many hazards of a business based on technologically fast-changing, fixed-cost mobile assets, whose complex operation had to be quite meticulously yet flexibly managed. These ocean-going vessels were very expensive to build and operate and were subject to numerous forms of damage, loss at sea, or potentially sudden regulation. The German lines became proficient at staying up-to-date technologically, by prudently coping with cyclical downsides of highly fluctuating steerage volumes. An instructive example of their leadership forte is the system of market-sharing cartels which HAPAG and NDL), helped to spearhead, and whose linchpin were the late nineteenth and early twentieth century international corporate agreements to pool and carve up the North Atlantic steerage market.[47]

International Steerage Cartels

Although pre-1914 North Atlantic shipping lines also actively coordinated and colluded in the freight and cabin passenger markets, steerage was their core business and often at the heart of their various cooperative interfirm agreements. In order to appreciate the logic and potency of these market-sharing deals in migration traffic, however, one needs to navigate through some lingering confusion, in the primary and secondary literature, concerning how they were set up to operate, and actually operated.

One barrier to clarity is that the companies themselves were considerably less than forthcoming about these cartel arrangements. Generally called “conferences,” these contracts to regulate passenger traffic were designed to inhibit certain forms of competition, and to discriminate against non-member companies. When they functioned effectively, they also tended to produce at least modest increases in the prices passengers paid. When the agreements broke down, the typically resulting market confusion and recriminations were bad public relations for the whole industry. After these passenger conferences came into widespread and sustained use in the 1890s, the shipping lines learned to be general and nondescript when discussing them publicly.[48]

The most detailed account of the evolution of these conferences is in the 740-page 1921 treatise by Erich Murken, a lawyer and legal scholar who worked for Albert Ballin and HAPAG, over nearly a decade (and before that had a formative stint with NDL), specializing in the negotiation, tracking, and frequent revision of these interfirm deals. Murken wrote in often long and clearly formulated yet intricate German sentences which do not appear to have been widely read and understood by latter day scholars. Furthermore, although the structural details and step-by-step chronology of the conferences are extensively laid out, the fundamental economic logic underpinning them is often less clear. There are very few footnotes through which to track down loose ends, and seek augmentation in underlying sources. Furthermore, a sizable portion of the source material Murken evidently used appears to have since disappeared.[49]

Murken’s basic conclusions—largely corroborated by documentation later released and by the assessments of subsequent historians—can be clearly stated, however. His introduction quoted evidence from a November 9, 1914, court ruling on a U.S. government antitrust lawsuit brought against these passenger agreements. The court found that the purpose and practice of the conferences showed that they did not violate U.S. antitrust law, because they were not directed against the interests of customers or the public, but indeed could well lead to improvements in the safety, comfort, and health of millions of steerage passengers. Francis Hyde’s history of the Cunard line similarly referenced rulings in that anti-trust case, as being favorable towards allowing shipping companies to “legally combine for the purpose of avoiding rate wars.” A contemporaneous Congressional report also noted with approval an argument that the “primary purpose” of these steerage pools was to maintain “reasonable price” levels by thwarting “cutthroat competition,” which—should it break out and persist—would drive companies out of business thereby reducing competition in the longer term.[50] Although Murken was hardly an objective outside observer, contemporary information and economic logic back up his detailed history on nearly all essential points concerning four central characteristics of shipping competition underlying these market-sharing deals.

Firstly, the essential breakthrough was to agree on a system of fixed market shares, measured tangibly and transparently, not by revenues but by passenger counts, with a system of periodic compensationfrom lines whose actual volumes were above their agreed percentage quotas to lines whose actual shares were below their quotas. The typical compensation rate was set in the neighborhood of 60 percent of the normal steerage fare, with the result that companies would typically have neither an incentive to overshoot their target steerage volumes (because most of the revenue gained would be offset by the later required compensation payment) nor to undershoot (because then the compensation received would be well below the revenue which might have been gained by actually booking passengers). The first comprehensive and lasting agreement of this type was reached in 1892, spearheaded by HAPAG and NDL, and organized with help from German jurists familiar with German cartel law. The companies signing included Holland America and Red Star, and the contract became a model for other similar “conference” deals to follow.[51]

Secondly, because the shipping lines’ costs—in both acquisition and operation of their ships—were mostly “fixed” (did not, and could not, vary much up or down when revenues varied), the number of passengers carried was of vital, even existential, importance. The difference between a year or two of ships filled to, say, 60 percent capacity rather than 30 percent capacity, could be the difference between record-breaking profitability and corporate bankruptcy. Because overall migration volumes fluctuated, inevitably and considerably, it was essential that companies contain losses during periods of low migration, and have sufficient financial reserves in order to survive until the next economic recovery.[52]

Thirdly, although low-cost transatlantic travel was an international market, it was often nationalistically regulated, and the top ten or twelve transatlantic companies were based in almost as many different countries. It was generally difficult for even the dominant companies[53] to prevent new competition from lines founded with subsidies and other discriminatory support from their home authorities. Furthermore, as long as the high seas and at least some key ports, such as New York, were open to all comers, inherently mobile shipping capacity, spread widely across myriad political jurisdictions, made long term monopolistic profit-maximizing prices very difficult to maintain over the long term. (This is an important difference compared to many industrial cartels.)[54] It meant that there was little prospect of using the passenger conference deals to significantly raise profit margins on a sustained basis. In other words, making a rough distinction between offensive and defensive cartels, there was little expectation of those collaborations becoming viable offensive cartels featuring collusion to gouge more out of the traveling public. They were, in fact, overwhelmingly designed to be defensive in nature and impact.[55]

Fourthly, rarely did Europeans decide to relocate to America based on reduced fares. Nonetheless, temporary but unusually deep cuts in ticket prices often did induce some already-decided migrants to shift carriers or routes in order to take advantage of bargain ticket prices. For example, when U.K. steerage rates were cut by half or more, during the fare war of 1904, overall Jewish emigration from Russia did not change much but there was a detectable re-routing of Jewish emigration towards those U.K. ports.[56] A persistent faith nonetheless holds that aggregate migration flows often increased in response to temporary drops in travel costs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[57]

Normally, of course, more people will on average buy something when it becomes cheaper in price. However, when that something is a ticket to leave home and family, quite possibly for good, and take up new residence many days or weeks journey distant, it suffices to say that whether the ticket price amounts to a week’s or a month’s or two months’ worth of wages earned in the new location, is not necessarily going to be a key factor in deciding whether to pull up stakes, leave home, and become a stranger in a strange land.[58] Furthermore, there is now quite a lot of detailed information on prices and volumes of steerage travel between Europe and America in the first decade and half of the 1900s. The fares were on a marked upward trend in nominal terms, were roughly flat in terms of affordability, and passenger volumes were also on an upward path over the period as a whole. There was fluctuation for both fares and volumes within those trends, but for the most part there is little clear relation between the two. Fares and volumes moved up and down together more often than oppositely.[59]

The general non-responsiveness of migration volumes to changes in fares made it very unlikely that a company could gain revenues by slashing fares, unless it could do so undetected. If detected, the rivals would usually match the cuts, with the result that all competitors would share an only slightly large number of passengers generating a lower overall level of revenue and profit. It would be a clear loss all around except for migrant passengers who might save a week or two’s worth of net earnings from U.S. employment if they were fortunate in when and where they purchased their ticket. Most passengers, if they paid close attention to such details when committing to a voyage, gave more regard to the safety, convenience, and reliability (of the ship and the line) than to the fare incurred. The one recurring loophole enabling surreptitious fare slashing was for companies to subsidize their ticket agents to do it for them. Even that was difficult to get away with, however, over the longer term, once a regular system of reporting the head counts of incoming passengers at Ellis Island was organized as part of the German-led conference arrangements (see “Moore’s statistics” below).[60]

The North Atlantic shipping companies understood all this clearly enough, even if the general contemporary public—and much subsequent scholarship­—has not. The contemporary companies’ understanding is, however, more relevant as to why and how their steerage deals were set up. Because of relatively low barriers to the entry of new lines and especially to the expansion of capacity, the passenger steamship companies could not realistically hope for significant boosts in price margins to offset volume drops during migration slumps. Nor, with migrant passenger flows usually not very responsive to even sharp fare cuts, was there much chance of “making it up on volume” should such fare cuts occur. Instead, the generally most feasible strategy (in 1892, etc.) sought to inhibit competition over market shares from drifting into its severe form: aggressive cutting of prices to below average cost. The conference steerage agreements thus fixed short-term market shares, providing thereby a formal mechanism for sharing the financial pain of sharp drops in migration traffic during cyclical recessions, and collectively discouraging fare cuts which would compound that pain.[61]

The resulting agreements did not set steerage prices, but indirectly helped keep a floor under them by setting shares of the overall steerage traffic “pool.” The pool deals fixed volume shares (with periodic readjustment), instead of fixing fares, mainly because steerage passengers were reliably and accurately counted, for regulatory reasons, by steamship agents and U.S. authorities at stations such as Ellis Island (“Moore’s statistics”). Cheating (a major risk if companies had tried to set steerage prices directly and police compliance with those levels once set) was much more difficult under these volume-based cartel agreements. The compensation system deterred companies from trying to carry much more than their agreed pool shares.[62]

The inherent logic of market carving arrangements to avert cutthroat price competition in the fixed cost shipping business was apparent to major participants long before enduring North Atlantic passenger conference deals were reached in the 1890s. It took many years before that, however, to work out the practical details of establishing and enforcing collaboration across national boundaries.[63]

Before 1892, attempts at establishing steerage deals based on prices (rather than market shares) were often undermined by companies using ticket agents to disguise price cutting, and gain market share temporarily at the expense of competitors. The pooling approach, emphasized from 1892 on, was more effective, because actual traffic shares were regularly computed based on transparent weekly passenger counts from independent U.S. landing agents. Clandestine fare cuts might still lure passengers to fare-cutting lines, but that diversion would soon become apparent in the weekly volume reports, after which any gain from it for any member line would eventually be negated through the compensation clause. Agents working alone or with lines outside the conference could still disrupt the conference’s ability to determine market shares and influence fare levels, but this was curbed by collective conference measures, backed by political authorities, to regulate agents, share routes and schedules, block new outside lines from access to the major existing ports, and eventually persuade new lines which proved successful (many did not) to also join the conferences.[64]

HAPAG and NDL led in the long back and forth processes of reaching and implementing the four company 1892 (NDLV) deal, later extended to British and other lines. Ballin was the dealmaker and negotiator par excellence throughout. He even sometimes served as an arbitrator to settle disputes where his own company was not involved. Ballin garnered criticism as well as praise on many issues, but there were few complaints about his role in orchestrating interfirm agreements and his finesse as a dispute resolver and deal facilitator was widely acknowledged.[65]

Brokers and Entrepreneurs in the Business of Migrant Travel

The expertise of Ballin and his industry colleagues had been honed over many decades of interplay between transatlantic shipowners, managers, agents, and migrants of entrepreneurial inclination. Before limited-liability joint stock corporations became the dominant organization form in North Atlantic shipping during the mid-nineteenth century, agency, brokerage, and intermediation functions had been paramount. Prior to the early nineteenth century advent of Atlantic lines operating fleets on regular schedules, transatlantic shipping was largely organized, financed, and administered as a series of one-off brokered ventures. Agents and partners invested in part ownership of specific voyages, often including renting on-board steerage capacity to be “freighted” with migrants.[66]

Many nineteenth century shipping operators and magnates had previous experience as agents.

Ballin’s career started when he inherited his father’s emigration agency. He parlayed his success there into becoming exclusive agent for a small Hamburg-based competitor of HAPAG which, however, soon garnered so much steerage business that HAPAG felt compelled to buy the line. Ballin was then appointed to run HAPAG’s own passenger department, replacing August Bolton, a HAPAG co-founder who for many decades had been the company’s passenger agent. The principal founder of NDL, Hermann Meier, had also worked earlier for his father’s emigration agency. Shipping brokers and agents were key founders or co-founders of the Holland America and Red Star lines (in Rotterdam, and Philadelphia/Antwerp), who together with HAPAG and NDL comprised the formative 1892 passenger cartel. The Liverpool agents for the largest pre-Civil War sailing ship line, the American-based Black Ball, moved over to steamships in the 1860s, serving first as steerage agents for Cunard, and then as general agents for the National Line, before setting up their own firm, Guion. In the early 1870s it had grown to become the second largest carrier of steerage passengers to New York.[67]

Migration middlemen played significant roles in the period before railroads and steamships, when the overland and overseas journey from Europe was a longer, more arduous, and multi-stage process. In narrower functions, but on a broader geographical scale, agents and subagents continued to operate into the twentieth century. Many steerage agents were former migrants. Already in the redemptioner era “Newcomers” or “Yankees” who returned to Europe from America were often involved in facilitating additional overseas transplantation. The role of already-migrated family members grew thereafter, with increased use of remittances, prepaid tickets, correspondence, and return trips to Europe, to then accompany other family members ready to relocate to the United States. These proliferating forms of kinship chain migration often displaced or reduced the role of brokers and agents in long-distance physical relocation. Nonetheless, estimates suggest that as late as 1890 there were well over five thousand Atlantic steamship agents active across Europe and perhaps almost as many in North America. Furthermore, in the late 1800s, senior shipping agents such as Emil Boas (HAPAG), and Gustav Schwab and the Oelrichs family (NDL) grew into new roles as key public spokesmen for their companies, and for North Atlantic passenger shipping generally.[68]

Many principals in the business of migration had also earlier been migrants, or extensive international travelers, or passenger agents. Samuel Cunard, whose company was the first to offer regular transatlantic steamship service in 1840, emigrated to England from Canada (his father had moved there from South Carolina, and his great-great grandfather had emigrated to Pennsylvania from Rheinland-Pfalz). The Sloman family, active in the early development of transatlantic passenger shipping between Hamburg and North America, were immigrants from England. The first directors of HAPAG and NDL, Adolph Godeffroy and Eduard Crüsemann, had both previously spent formative years in the United States. Ballin’s stays in England, and choice of the well-known German-American and former U.S. senator Carl Schurz as HAPAG’s U.S. representative (predecessor of Boas) are further illustrative examples of a broad phenomenon.[69]

The guest list for the “captains of industry” luncheon in New York, honoring the February 1902 visit of the Kaiser’s brother, Prince Heinrich, reads almost like a who’s who of German and American business and political leaders connected to transatlantic transportation. In addition to those seated near the host, banker J.P. Morgan and the Prince (Edison, Bell, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Tirpitz), other attendees included the heads of six major U.S. railroads, leading American shipping executives and directors Clement Griscom and Peter Widener, Charles Cramp (head of the largest U.S. shipyard), top HAPAG and NDL executives (Ballin, Wiegand, Gustav Tietjens, Georg Plate) and their U.S. agents Boas and Schwab.

Heinrich was officially in America to attend the launch of his brother’s new yacht, christened by Alice Roosevelt one day before, but also to meet with Alice’s father U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt during a whirlwind tour of Washington D.C. two days earlier. The German shipping chieftains were in New York to conclude—with Morgan’s newly formed Anglo-American shipping “trust” —a wide-ranging deal which ultimately amounted to a key stepping stone on a circuitous path towards Ballin’s North Atlantic wide umbrella conferences of 1908-09.[70]

From different standpoints, Morgan and Ballin had compatible approaches to strategic cooperation and alliances within heavy industry and transportation. Morgan’s shipping “trust” —later announced as the International Mercantile Marine holding company (IMM)—soon turned into his “biggest flop,” however. In late 1903, Ballin passed up an opportunity for a stint as a German-American entrepreneur by turning down an “alluring” offer from Morgan to come to New York, “even if for only a year or two,” to help IMM achieve sustained profitability. As grounds for declining, Ballin later cited “my relations with the Kaiser” but by then probably also realized that the expensively organized and unwieldy IMM amalgamation was, as his lawyer Murken later put it, “hopeless from the get-go.”[71]

Ballin in 1903 thus passed up a chance to move to America and earn a salary probably several times higher than what he had. Millions of immigrants were enticed to cross the Atlantic by the likely prospect for substantially increasing their financial remuneration. But Ballin was not like a typical immigrant. His orientation and calculus was much closer to that of a typical immigrant entrepreneur.[72]

Forms of Migration and Passenger Numbers

Although the set of individuals chosen for this historical series was not intended to be, nor can it function as, an overall sample representative of entrepreneurial German immigrants, it nonetheless amounts to a formidable and rich comparative source in its own right, with interesting commonalities across the many biographies. Two frequently found features of these German-American immigrant careers are worthy of closer examination despite being relatively uncommon among American immigrants in general: The immigrant entrepreneurs profiled in this project often migrated (firstly) in furtherance of already identified career ambitions or inclinations and (secondly) despite being relatively well-to-do beforehand. Compared to most immigrants, these (future) entrepreneurs sought through immigration something more specific than a general upgrade to a set of less limited economic opportunities. Before considering (below) a wider sample from the German-American immigrant biographies collection, five specific examples (three from that sample) can illustrate how these two atypical features—or their absence—can be usefully viewed from the perspective of physical migration processes.

The following five immigrants moved to America because of their work, unlike most immigrants, who came because of wanting to work in order to… (for instance, make a new life in America, or return home with a nest egg of savings). First: “Rudolf Wurlitzer carefully maintained his network of contacts in Germany throughout his life…[and] took frequent business trips to his old homeland” (in what sounds like an entrepreneurial example of applying training and experience to building up a new business in a new market). Second: “In 1875…four out of five musicians at the New York Philharmonic were of German origin.” This remark, attributed to a German-American contemporary of Heinrich Steinway, suggests a time-honored immigration strategy: bringing in desired skills which natives are not adequately supplying. Third: Photographer Arnold Genthe found his calling in America, after going there for quite different reasons and “no intentions to settle.” This appears to be a not uncommon example of migration resulting mainly from unpredictable circumstance. Fourth and fifth (two early-twentieth century NDL employees): Captain Willy Drechsel settled in America after being transferred to New York as an Inspector by NDL in 1924, and “Heinr. Petersen” (of Bremerhaven, member of the engine crew of S.S. Rhein, arrived at New York, December 28, 1905) “mustered out of service…[and]…presented himself for inspection and registration,” at Ellis Island on December 30. Drechsel’s is a case of immigration following an expatriate employment posting. Petersen, unlike the other four, could quite possibly be an instance of “wanting to work in order to” achieve general economic improvement, but it is nonetheless interesting because it involves the migrant having been part of the business of providing his own migration.[73]

Except (probably) for Petersen, these are instances where the motives for the relocation were more specific, and more career-oriented, than moving abroad in search of generally more abundant and better-paying job prospects. The quantitative scale of such “career-oriented migration” might be very roughly gauged by estimating the size of the overlapping category of “elite migration” (where motives other than general economic advancement often prevailed). The size of the “elite” category, in turn, can be approximated by estimating the scale of immigration in the first class. Available data on passenger flows between Europe and the United States by class of travel during the fifteen years ending June, 1914, shows about a 3 percentnet movement of Europeans to the United States in first class. That amounts to some thirty to forty thousand “elite” migrants over that decade and a half. This is small compared to the nearly eleven million total (net) European migrants moving to the United States during those years, but is large relative to the circa two hundred individuals chronicled in the German-American Immigrant Entrepreneurship biographies.[74]

Examples and Insights from the Immigrant Entrepreneurship Biographies

Historians have so far gathered more information about the businesses of transatlantic migration from the perspective of its providers than of its customers. The biographies of the Immigrant Entrepreneurship project promise a bit of rebalancing, because nearly every German-American profiled was at some point effectively a paying client of such migration businesses. For this essay, information was gathered from eighty of these biographies.

The sheer extent of information assembled for this biographical collection makes it a unique and valuable source of data. It bears reiterating that these biographical essays were not chosen to be a representative sample, and with few if any exceptions cannot be characterized as such. As a group these individuals came from more prosperous backgrounds than most immigrants, were more predisposed to entrepreneurial success, and—partly by virtue of such success—often left much more than usually extensive documentary trails (which have assiduously traversed and collected from for this project). Unavoidably, by the same token, the collection includes few cases of immigrants with good entrepreneurial potential who instead pursued other careers, or whose entrepreneurial ventures were either unsuccessful or unrecorded or both. All this said, the historical literature is not lacking in instances where samples of immigrant histories, generally less extensive, less comprehensively and consistently arrayed, and less rich in usable detail that this one have nevertheless been analyzed comparatively and yielded useful historical insights.

What these immigrant entrepreneur career synopses do offer instead of representativeness is historical depth. They provide a broad range of comparative glimpses at migrant self-selection, personal and family responses to migration opportunities, coping with migration challenges, and carrying out post-relocation adjustments.[75] With modest aims, data was thus extracted from the sample of eighty of these biographies, with an eye towards the following issues:

Firstly, did special circumstances such as a pre-existing family enterprise, assist the entrepreneurial endeavors? In other words, were the immigrant’s entrepreneurial pursuits in America more like a redirecting of past achievement than like a fresh start at something new? Twenty (one quarter) of the eighty immigrants in the sample were (rather subjectively) categorized as having pre-existing entrepreneurial circumstances before immigrating.

Secondly, did special non-economic circumstances encourage emigration? Metrics used here indicate whether the immigrant was a “48er,” Jewish, or in some other way possibly somewhat like a “pushed” refugee rather than, or in addition to, being pulled by economic opportunity. Twenty-eight (one third) of the eighty immigrants were Jews, eight of whom immigrated between 1935 and 1941 (during the Nazi era). Many if not most other Jewish immigrants in the sample probably relocated mainly for reasons other than anti-Semitic discrimination or persecution. The sample also includes one other (non-Jewish) 1930s refugee, and two Forty-Eighters.

Thirdly, did pre-migration personal economic wherewithal manifest itself in the form of transatlantic travel in cabin class, rather than steerage class? Seven of the eighty are reported as having had a ticket in cabin class. For most of the sample there is no information on travel class; it is likely that others (possibly a majority overall) crossed the ocean in cabin.[76]

Fourthly, how transnational was the career of the immigrant? Two gauges are applied here: (a) was the move to America one in a series of moves involving at least one “third” country? and (b) after relocating to America, did the migrant later return permanently or temporarily to Europe? Twenty eight (35 percent ) of the immigrants came to America through another country, and about half (thirty seven) returned to Germany in most cases more than once, though rarely permanently.

Although there was no formal effort at completeness, it is believed that the eighty immigrant histories chosen include most who were at least 14 years old, and were, or later became, entrepreneurs themselves. (Second generation immigrants and relatives of entrepreneurs were not included in the set of eighty).

The overall results of the data collected on these eighty immigrants are limited. Two general conclusions, though fairly unsurprising, may however be noted.

In the first place, this sample of eighty (roughly half of all the project biographies), is generally quite rich, diverse, and balanced. Some overall observations can thus be made at least with respect to these eighty as a group. The viability of the data metrics taken from these eighty histories is further enhanced by noting that the wide diversity of business fields present, and the distribution of years of age upon arrival in America, seem to fairly closely match known patterns of American immigration from Europe and from Germany.

Secondly, relative to German immigration to America overall, Jews (one-third) and immigrants under age 25 (two-thirds) are over-represented in the sample, and immigrants arriving between 1896 and 1923 (zero) are underrepresented, although relative to famously successful German-American immigrant entrepreneurs much less so. During the 1930s, Jewish Germans from already successful, and well-connected families can be expected to be especially prevalent in those years of the sample. Achieving entrepreneurial success and fame takes even the ultimately successful immigrants quite some time, so one can logically expect, in eighty immigrant entrepreneurs, that most of them immigrated before reaching the age of 25. German immigrants arriving in or after the late 1890s would have had less time than other cohorts, however: not much more than a decade or two before the long hiatus of world wars, Depression, political upheaval, and travel restrictions between 1914 and about 1950. It is therefore not surprising that none of that generation is in the sample. Jewish German emigrés of the late 1930s had higher than average rates of repeat migration, stage migration, and pre-existing capabilities and potential for entrepreneurial business (e.g. experience in trading businesses). Nonetheless these characteristics (Jewish, pre-existing business or potential, stage migration and repeat migration) are still well distributed across the rest of the sample, e.g. there is no particular skewing effect from the ‘30s Jewish refugees in the sample.

A third general conclusion, less immediately obvious, is based on the high rates of stage migration (over one-third) and returns to Germany (nearly half, probably over if information were complete on this metric). It would appear that these successful immigrant entrepreneurs were a more upscale, experienced, and cosmopolitan group than immigrants or German immigrants generally. That further suggests that examining how these features of entrepreneurial immigration overlap with the characteristics and the migration processes and migration businesses associated with “elite migrants” could be a fruitful avenue for future research. [77]

Embedded Businesses of Migration

Although nineteenth and early-twentieth century physical migration was largely carried out by discrete businesses (notably that effecting the transatlantic travel itself), these businesses also overlapped with many other mechanisms and institutions of the overall immigration. With markedly reduced mass transatlantic relocation after 1914, many of these overlapping or ancillary processes continued in their own right, often containing an embedded business of migration component, sometimes of vestigial, other times of quite active relevance.

Business-of-migration functions were often interlinked with business organizations and achievements created or administered by or with immigrant entrepreneurs post relocation. Some of these other institutions and business entities were in effect bundled together with businesses of relocation, such as housing accommodations in embarkation ports and or near work sites. Some were communication and financing services such as banks, money transfer services, travel agencies, post offices, and immigrant self-help organizations.[78]

Other activities more closely adjoined to the “customer” side of migrant travel businesses were used by entrepreneurs to transfer, transmute, or coordinate technical know-how, or strategic direction, back and forth across the Atlantic. Legal services, marketing research, capital importation, fund-raising, etc. were often integral to the physical arrival and integration of the individual businessman, entrepreneur, or as yet inexperienced but energetic young immigrant on a kind of rite of passage crossing. The human capital of such immigrants thus became “human venture capital,” by virtue of various business decisions, explorations and gambles prerequisite to or otherwise interlaced with the long-distance relocation decision. Examples would include transatlantic banking families such as the Hamburg-based Warburgs, intellectuals and artists from Austria-Hungary such as economist Joseph Schumpeter moving to America through academic ties, or composers Antonin Dvorák and Gustav Mahler spending years in the United States to tour, conduct or seek artistic inspiration. Human, business, and artistic ties between America and Europe later served as beachheads for the wave of German cultural and scientific exiles during the 1930s and 1940s.

American immigrants were thus users and sometimes co-producers of foreign adjustment operations, such as labor market intermediaries, labor unions, trade schools, and ethnic or cultural associations. Many of these sorts of functions and entities retained a migration business dimension even for German immigrants who arrived as penniless World War II refugees in the 1940s and ‘50s, or as war brides, research scientists, operatives of non-governmental organizations, or as corporate expatriates to help head up foreign direct investment subsidiaries of rapidly expanding German multinationals taking advantage of low dollar exchange rates in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[79]

Regulation of the business of migration became more important after 1914. Navigating the post- World War I labyrinth of permits, screenings, visas, applications and allocations was another locus of business overlap between immigrant entrepreneurs, venture partners, travel companies, and employers of immigrant labor, whether the overlaps and connections were pro-actively engineered, reactively opposed, or skillfully evaded. Many mid-twentieth century immigrants were, in essence, what might be considered “cultural refugees,” whose art, writing, music or educating, was itself a sort of migrating business, or was launched or developed through the creative act of a written or artistic adaptation of the journey towards, escape to, or exile in, America.[80]

Post-World War I

The more limited and embedded forms which the business of migration increasingly assumed, from the 1920s on, were part of a broad reshaping of immigration rules, practices and selection patterns following the Great War of 1914-18. The advent of quantitative immigration restriction, especially in the United States, coupled with world wars, economic instability, and the Depression raised the costs and hurdles of relocating to the United States and constrained the opportunities accessible by overcoming such barriers to entry.[81]

Interesting and rich diverse immigration possibilities nonetheless remained or were reborn or created anew. Though more constrained than before World War I, “pulls” of immigration still operated. The decades of transatlantic war were a time of great destruction and displacement of lives and careers, yet also generated new business opportunities. War activities created employment and business prospects directly and indirectly, by siphoning off labor and management from peacetime enterprises.

The new era of constricted immigration nonetheless involved considerable war and business related relocation. Many of HAPAG’s and NDL’s steamers headed for neutral U.S. ports in August of 1914, but later served as American troop carriers, if they were not sunk by German submarines. Passenger liners converted into convey vessels, or used to ferry GIs for the D-Day landings, later brought refugees out of Europe. The Marshall Plan also created European employment for American expatriates, who later attracted flows of European investment to the United States, along with “brain-drain” professionals, university students, and tourists visiting America’s cities and national parks, and some of these visitors ended up staying permanently.[82]

In recent decades, near instantaneous communication, growing dual nationality, and increasing cultural diversity within countries coupled with decreasing cultural diversity between countries, are making international migration in the early twenty-first century seem more like (what to some extent it has long been already): a series of transitions along the more active segments of a spectrum of transnational living.[83] In the jet and Internet age, businesses of transatlantic migration are usually not identified as such, yet remain embedded in niches of activity and enterprise within the increasingly connected “global village.”[84] Contemporary co-movements of people, goods, finance, ideas, and culture often contain elements of entrepreneurial potential even if such multimedia migration occurs, for instance, by means of a multinational scholarly website rather than a gangway for a polyglot throng of passengers disembarking at Ellis Island.


Mass migration of Germans to America lasted roughly a century and half, from the early 1700s to the late 1800s, becoming the most prolonged of major ethnic relocations across the North Atlantic. German relocation to the United States also continued thereafter in important, though more nuanced and bi-directional forms, and on a relatively reduced scale.

By the mid 1800s, the transport network for this mass physical migration was becoming a discrete yet complex business in weeks-long travel, dominated by a small handful of firms, and focused on a few massively traversed routes. A leading German corporate role in this transport system was an outgrowth of a then large human exodus from Germany, but more significantly a consequence of the nineteenth century industrial and transportation revolutions which helped to more powerfully and closely connect European labor supplies with American labor demand, and to facilitate an extensive exchange of business talent and ideas in both directions. This development happened towards the latter stages of mass emigration out of Germany, but while the achievements of German immigrant entrepreneurs were still expanding and flourishing. The two largest German shipping lines became leaders both in global shipping generally, and in transporting record levels of migrants to the United States specifically, especially from new source regions in Eastern and Central Europe.

The business of migration travel continued as the core segment of North Atlantic shipping, with German lines as major actors, for barely a generation past the tailing-off of German mass intercontinental relocation in the 1890s. Migrant traffic as an extensively organized multinational business suffered an abrupt, severe and mostly permanent downsizing with the outbreak of the First World War, and the disruptions and restrictions which followed. Businesses of migration between Europe and America have continued since then, but in more limited and sporadic ways, as small components embedded within broad, often even ubiquitous long-distance interactions characterizing the recent epoch of globalization.

The depth and breath of the Immigrant Entrepreneurship project of biographies, interwoven by topical thematic histories, will undoubtedly yield valuable historical insights. That long-lived interaction and movement between two economically dynamic countries on opposite sides of the Atlantic, during the era of modern business, should have notable historical ramifications, within both regions and beyond, is of course not very surprising. Expectations along such lines, after all, helped motivate this broad yet innovative research project focused on the innovation, development and success of illustrative German-American business careers.

In addition, however, the mechanisms and processes enabling these wide-ranging personal, corporate and entrepreneurial German-American interactions were themselves both a fount and locus of business ambition and entrepreneurial activity. An extensive business of migration connecting the business histories of Germany and the United States has had a significance outlasting its prominence at the outset of the last century, when some of the largest and most technically advanced human-built constructions ever seen were German-owned passenger steamships plying the North Atlantic.


[1] Drew Keeling, “Transatlantic Shipping Cartels and Migration between Europe and America, 1880-1914,” Essays in Economic and Business History 17 (1999): 195-213, here 195. In a small minority of cases covered by the Immigrant Entrepreneurship project, it was the parents of these entrepreneurs who migrated across the Atlantic. I am grateful to Hartmut Berghoff, Jessica Csoma and the staff at the German Historical Institute for their support, and for the earlier encouragement and guidance from my University of California faculty doctoral chair, Gerald Feldman, faculty advisors Jan de Vries, Richard Sutch, Brad de Long, Jon Gjerde and Richard Abrams, and my other professors in German history there, especially Margaret Anderson and Thomas Brady. Thanks also to Regula Schmid, and to Christina Ziegler-McPherson and other authors in the Immigrant Entrepreneurship project for their assistance and information.

[2] Although omitted here for reasons of space, time, and focus, businesses of migration from regions other than Europe have been treated in a number of recent studies. For example, re: transpacific shipping and migration, see Robert Eric Barde, Immigration at the Golden Gate: Passenger Ships, Exclusion and Angel Island (Westport: Praeger, 2008); and, in comparison to the Atlantic, Drew Keeling, “Oceanic Travel Conditions and American Immigration, 1890-1914” (Munich: MPRA, 2013) (accessed September 30, 2015).

[3] Historical Statistics of the United States (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1975), series C 89-119,106-09. Unless otherwise indicated, all later references are these same pages.

[4] William H. McNeil and Ruth S. Adams, eds., Human Migration: Patterns and Policies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 3-19; Drew Keeling, “Patterns and Processes of Migration,” in Settler Economies in World History, eds. Christopher Lloyd, Jacob Metzer and Richard Sutch (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 273-95,” here 290-94.

[5] Historical Statistics of the US (1975 edition), Walter F. Willcox and Imre Ferenczi, eds., International Migrations (New York: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1929-31).

[6] Europeans who moved to Europe’s largest overseas colony, India, across the entire nineteenth century, were one-seventh as numerous as German migrants who arrived in America in the single decade of the 1880s: Drew Keeling, The Business of Transatlantic Migration between Europe and the United States, 1900-1914 (Zurich: Chronos, 2012), 20, Historical Statistics of the US (1975 edition).

[7] Colin McEvedy and Richard Jones, Atlas of World Population History (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1978), Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 20, 25, 28, 72-73.

[8] Historical Statistics of the US (1975 edition), R. Daniel Wadhwani, “From the Postwar Boom to Global Capitalism, 1945-Today” (updated January 23, 2012) (accessed July 25, 2016). 

[9] Marcus Lee Hansen, The Atlantic Migration 1607-1860 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940); Roger Daniels, Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life (Princeton: Harper Collins, 1990); Maldwyn Allen Jones, American Immigration (2nd ed) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992); Dirk Hoerder, Cultures in Contact: World Migrations in the Second Millennium (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002); Timothy J. Hatton and Jeffrey G. Williamson, Global Migration and the World Economy: Two Centuries of Policy and Performance (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005); Thomas Sowell, Migrations and Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 50-104.

[10] Andrew Godley, Jewish Immigrant Entrepreneurship in New York and London, 1880-1914: Enterprise and Culture (New York: Palgrave, 2001). For a pithy example of Moltmann’s contributions to the literature on migration transportation, see Günter Moltmann, “Steamship Transport of Emigrants from Europe to the United States, 1850-1914: Social, Commercial and Legislative Aspects” in Maritime Aspects of Migration, ed. Klaus Friedland (Cologne: Böhlau, 1989), 309-320. His students completing useful analyses on related subjects included Michael Just, Agnes Bretting, and Hans-Jürgen Grabbe. Birgit Ottmüller’s dissertation is the first systematic survey of the board meeting minutes of the Hamburg America line (HAPAG), with attention to the migration business: Birgit Ottmüller-Wetzel, Auswanderung über Hamburg: Die H.A.P.A.G. und die Auswanderung nach Nordamerika, 1870-1914. Ph.D. diss. (Freie Universität Berlin, 1986). Cf. also the research of Frank Broeze, cited below, and various writings (e.g. those of Georg Bessel, Edwin Drechsel, Detlev Ellmers, Lars Scholl) directed more at Bremen and North German Lloyd (NDL). Overviews of the historical literature on migration agents can be found in Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 158-60; and Drew Keeling, “Costs, Risks, and Migration Networks between Europe and the United States, 1900-1914,” in Maritime Transport and Migration: The Connections between Maritime and Migration Networks, eds . Torsten Feys, Lewis R. Fischer, Stéphane Hoste and Stephan Vanfraechem, Research in Maritime History 33 (St. John’s: International Maritime Economic History Association, 2007): 113-173, here 118-22. Other recent examples of studies more specifically addressing the intersection of shipping and migration include, for instance, Raymond L. Cohn, Mass Migration Under Sail: European Immigration to the Antebellum United States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009); John Killick, “Transatlantic steerage fares, British and Irish migration, and Return Migration, 1815–60,” Economic History Review 67.1 (2014): 170-91; Nicholas Evans, “The Role of Foreign-born Agents in the Development of Mass Migrant Travel through Britain, 1851-1924,” in Maritime Transport and Migration: The Connections between Maritime and Migration Networks, eds. Torsten Feys, Lewis R. Fischer, Stéphane Hoste and Stephan Vanfraechem, Research in Maritime History 33 (St. John’s: International Maritime Economic History Association, 2007): 49-61;Torsten Feys, The Battle for the Migrants: The Introduction of Steamshipping on the North Atlantic and its Impact on the European Exodus, Research in Maritime History 50 (St. John’s: Maritime Economic History Association, 2013); Tobias Brinkmann, “Why Paul Nathan Attacked Albert Ballin: The Transatlantic Mass Migration and the Privatization of Prussia’s Eastern Border Inspection, 1886-1914,” Central European History 43 (2010): 47-83; and Drew Keeling, “Repeat Migration between Europe and the United States, 1870-1914” in The Birth of Modern Europe: Culture and Economy, 1400-1800 in Essays in Honor of Jan de Vries, eds. Laura Cruz and Joel Mokyr (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 157-86.

[11] Roger Daniels and Otis L. Graham, Debating American Immigration, 1882-present (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001), 7.

[12] By almost any measure, these ships were huge. In 1910, the longest passenger steamer on the North Atlantic was Cunard’sMauretania (790 feet). Weighted by passengers carried (in all travel classes, west and eastbound), Cunard’s average vessel length then was 685 feet, for White Star 650, HAPAG about 600 and NDL 570 (all tallied for routes from northern European ports to the United States). By 1914, the longest ships were HAPAG’s Vaterland (908 feet) and Cunard’s Aquitania (902); the fleet average then for NDL was just about 600 feet, for the other three about 700. Across all North Atlantic lines to the United States, the average in 1914 was 590 feet versus 485 feet in 1900. The largest commercial passenger aircraft today are small in comparison. The Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-81 are about 250 feet in length, and their normal capacity, on two decks, is for about 500 passengers. HAPAG and NDL’s very first oceanic steamers in the 1850s were bigger than that. HAPAG’s Vaterland of 1914 had eleven decks and could take about 3600 passengers (see depictions here  (accessed July 29, 2016)). Typical early twentieth century publicity sketches were those of HAPAG showing its two largest steamers in 1906, when upended, being double the height of the tallest buildings in New York and Hamburg (Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 227). Statistics from Drew Keeling, “Migration as a travel business,” Database of transatlantic voyages, 1900-1914 (accessed June 30, 2016); "Boeing 747," and "Airbus A380" Wikipedia (accessed on November 30, 2015), N. R. P. Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway: An illustrated history of the passenger services linking the old world with the new (Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 1975-1980), 387, 415, 544; Frank Braynard, World’s Greatest Ship: The Story of the Leviathan (New York: South Street Seaport Museum, 1972), 48- 49; Vincent J. Cannato, American Passage: The History of Ellis Island (New York: Harper Collins, 2009), 218-22.

[13] Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 2-3.

[14] Ibid, 1-20, 33-44.

[15] Philip Taylor, The Distant Magnet: European Migration to the U.S.A. (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), 116, 170, 192; Walter Nugent, Crossings: The Great Transatlantic Migrations, 1870-1914 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), 36.

[16] Table adapted from the periodization used in Drew Keeling, “Atlantic Historic Migrations, 1500-1965,” in Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, Immanuel Ness, ed. (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). Regular transatlantic steamship service began in 1840, steerage passengers were first carried in the early 1850s, a majority of immigrants to America were arriving by steamship by the end of the U.S. Civil War in 1865, and virtually all of them by the mid-1870s. The shift from steamship to (diesel) motorship began after World War I and was nearly complete by the early 1930s. During the 1950s and ‘60s airplanes replaced ships (Drew Keeling, “The Transportation Revolution and Transatlantic Migration, 1850-1914,” Research in Economic History 19 (1999): 39-74, Peter Kemp, The History of Ships (New York: A and W, 1978), 247).

[17] Marianne S. Wokeck, Trade in Strangers: The Beginnings of Mass Migration to North America (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), 84-104; Farley Grubb, “The End of European Immigrant Servitude in the United States: An Economic Analysis of Market Collapse, 1772-1835,” Journal of Economic History 54.4 (1994): 794-824, here 794.

[18] Daniels, Coming to America, 71-74; Drew Keeling, “Amerikanische Arbeitsmärkte und die Einwanderung von den Britischen Inseln und Deutschland, 1700-1914,” in Perspektiven in der Fremde? Arbeitsmarkt und Migration von der frühen Neuzeit bis zur Gegenwart, eds. Dittmar Dahlmann und Margrit Schulte Beerbühl, Migration in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 6, Gesellschaft für Historische Migrationsforschung (Essen: Klartext 2011), 171-89 here: 184; and the early examples noted by Christopher Sauer in the 1720s, see James Boyd, "Merchants of Migration: Keeping the German Atlantic Connected in America’s Early National Period," in Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 1, edited by Marianne S. Wokeck. German Historical Institute. Last modified February 12, 2015. (accessed July 25, 2016).

[19] Klaus J. Bade, Europa in Bewegung: Migration von späten 18. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart (Munich: Beck, 2002), 122-36; Farley Grubb, "The Incidence of Servitude in Trans-Atlantic Migration, 1771-1804," Explorations in Economic History 22 (1985): 316-339.

[20] Hansen, The Atlantic Migration, 104-05; Economist, “After Tambora,” April 11, 2015; Daniels, Coming to America, 74-75.

[21] Hansen, Ibid, 105; F[arley] W[ard] Grubb, “The Disappearance of Organized Markets for European Immigrant Servants in the United States,” Social Science History 18.1 (1994): 1-30 here: 13, 20; Farley Grubb, “End of European Immigrant Servitude,” 814.

[22] Supply drop outpacing demand drop (because falling supplies tend to raise prices, falling demand to lower them): Grubb, “Disappearance of Organized Markets,” 20-23.

[23]Joint supply and demand drop: Hansen, Atlantic Migration, 105; examples of public attitudes trumping legal status: Hans-Jürgen Grabbe, Vor der großen Flut: Die europäische Migration in die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika 1783-1820 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2001), 352-64; risk management: Keeling, “Amerikanische Arbeitsmärkte,” 183-87.

[24] Boyd, “Merchants of Migration”: the “new era” described in the second to last paragraph. See also Hansen, Atlantic Migration, 120-198.

[25] Hansen, Ibid, 177-198, 213-31; Historical Statistics of the US (1975 ed.).

[26] Between 1880 and 1914, HAPAG and NDL had the largest volumes of incoming steerage traffic to the port of New York (Keeling, “Transatlantic Shipping Cartels,” 207). The shipping lines’ revenue breakdown for Europe to United States routes are estimated for 1900-14 at: 50 percent  migrants, 25 percent  freight, 20 percent  non-migrants, and 5 percent  mail, based on company annual reports (Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 307), fares and passengers by class (Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 286-87, Drew Keeling, “Transport Capacity Management and Transatlantic Migration, 1900-1914,” Research in Economic History 25 (2008): 225-283, here 271-74); Keeling, “Database of transatlantic voyages,” (accessed June 30, 2016). See also Erich Murken, Die großen transatlantischen Linienreederei-Verbände, Pools und Interessengemeinschaften bis zum Ausbruch des Weltkrieges: Ihre Entstehung, Organisation, und Wirksamkeit (Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1922), 584. Re: the founding of HAPAG and NDL see Lamar Cecil, Albert Ballin: Business and Politics in Imperial Germany, 1888-1918 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), 3-14, 20-21; Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway, 347-48, 509-10.

[27] From 1700 to 1880, about one-third of European immigration to the United States and its colonial predecessor regions came from German-speaking Europe. (The British Isles had a 35-40 percent  share.) During the 1880s emigration boom (movement across the North Atlantic doubled compared to the 1870s), Germany pulled equal with the British Isles at a 31 percent  share of Europeans moving to the United States. In the recession of 1893-95, however, German migration to the USA plummeted by two thirds and—until well into the twentieth century—never  returned to previous levels. By the final decade of the nineteenth century, Germany was in a major industrial growth spurt and for the first time in the modern era had itself become a region of net immigration. Russell L. Menard, “Migration, Ethnicity, and the Rise of Atlantic Economy,” in A Century of European Migrations, eds. Rudolph J. Vecoli and Suzanne M. Sinke (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 58-88 here: 59-61; Wokeck, Trade in Strangers, 45, Historical Statistics of the United States (1975 ed); Nugent, Crossings, 66-71. Re: vessel registry on the antebellum Atlantic: Hermann Wätjen, Aus der Frühzeit des Nordatlantikverkehrs (Leipzig: Felix Meiner, 1932), 12-23; John Hutchins, The American Maritime Industries and Public Policy, 1789-1914 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1914), 319-24.

[28] Sources for immigrants (lefthand column of percentages, righthand column, average immigrants per year in millions): from Historical Statistics of the United States, except for 1815-19, which is from Grabbe, Vor der großen Flut, 58, 93, confirmed by Grubb, “End of European Immigrant Servitude,” 818-19.

Sources for steerage percentages (middle column),

1815-62: based on Cohn, Migration Under Sail, 128, supplemented by Hansen, Atlantic Migration, 178,188-95, Wätjen, Aus der Frühzeit, 12-17, Cecil, Albert Ballin, 8-14, Rolf Engelsing, Bremen als Auswandererhafen, 1683-1880 (Bremen: Schünemann, 1961), 85-86.

1863-89: from New York Commissioners of Emigration, annual reports, except New York Times, March 8, 1882 (for 1881), January 13, 1885 (for 1884), Daily Alta California, January 18, 1890 (for 1888).

1890-1914: Keeling, “Transatlantic Shipping Cartels,” 207, except U.S. Marine Hospital Service, Abstract of Sanitary Reports (May 5, 1893), 277 (for 1892), Henry Fry, History of North Atlantic Steam Navigation (London: Clowes,1896), Appendices (for 1893-94),

Times (London), January 26, 1899, 4 (for 1898).

Comment: Germany displayed the starkest contrast between a decreasing emigration of its own populace and an increasing share of transatlantic migration traffic handled by its own shipping lines. This table covers the circa 90 percent of U.S.-bound migrants arriving then in steerage, at the largest port of entry (New York, circa 75 percent of the whole country) during three time periods: 1820-62 when most migrants to America came from northwest Europe by sailing ship, 1863-89 when most came from northwest Europe on steamships, and 1890-1914 when most came from southern and eastern Europe on steamships. After the immigration restrictions following World War I, businesses of mass migration to America survived, in revised forms and on a very reduced scale, as discussed briefly towards the end of this essay.

[29] The shift of emigration origins towards southern and eastern Europe was essentially complete by 1899. From then, until 1914, nearly half of European departees to the United States came from Russia and Austria-Hungary. (A further quarter were Italians.) Few embarked directly for North America; nearly all transited a third country enroute. Most crossed through Germany, and most of those U.S.-bound German transit migrants boarded German ships in Bremen or Hamburg. Based on shipping records about 5 percent  of migrants from Austria-Hungary and Russia journeyed directly to America from Baltic and Adriatic ports, and a further 10-15 percent  transited third countries other than Germany (from Russia through Austria-Hungary to Adriatic ports, through Switzerland to English Channel ports, or across the Baltic to Scandinavian, British, or Channel ports). The remaining 80-85 percent  of emigrants from Russia and Austria-Hungary traversed German territory to reach Atlantic ports. Of these, some 60 percent embarked at Bremen and Hamburg (based on Willcox and Ferenczi, International Migrations, 704-05, confirmed by shipping records (see web link following), the remaining 20-25 percent  traveled on to Channel or UK ports. Migrant volumes here estimated by second and third class passengers, from Keeling, “Database of transatlantic voyages,” (accessed June 30, 2016).

[30] Nonetheless lively and informative treatments include those in Terry Coleman, The Liners: A History of the North Atlantic Crossing (London: Penguin, 1976), 40-60; and in Frank Broeze, “Shipping Policy and Social Darwinism: Albert Ballin and the Weltpolitik of the Hamburg-America Line 1886-1914,” Mariner's Mirror 79.v (1993): 419-36, see especially 422.

[31] Recommendable surveys include those in Bernhard Huldermann, Albert Ballin (Berlin: Gerhard Stalling, 1922), 277-98; Cecil, Albert Ballin, 98-142; and Gerhard A. Ritter, “The Kaiser and His Ship-Owner,” in Business in the Age of Extremes: Essays in Modern German and Austrian Economic History, eds. Hartmut Berghoff, Jürgen Kocka and Dieter Ziegler, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 15-39. Also useful may be Bernhard Rieger, Technology and the Culture of Modernity in Britain and Germany, 1890-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), e.g. 25-26.

[32] Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 30-31, 249-50; Cecil, Albert Ballin, 15-18, 36-38, 107.

[33] Drew Keeling, “A century ago, march began to World War I” (Wharton blog network, July 24, 2014)  (accessed June 30, 2016).

[34] In part because these two colossi being on opposite sides militarily greatly increased the chances of the 1914 conflict becoming protracted and global. Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War: Explaining World War I (New York: Perseus, 1999), puts primus inter pares responsibility on pusillanimous British parliamentarians, but, as in Ballin’s own assessment, the “insane war could have been avoided” if leading statesmen on both sides had handled matters more intelligently (“Ich glaube auch noch, dass dieser wannsinnige Krieg vermieden worden wäre wenn die leitenden Staatsmänner -und zwar nicht nur die englischen- klüger gehandelt hätten.”). Albert Ballin, letter to Gustav Stresemann, September 28, 1916. Nachlass des Reichsaussenministers Dr. Gustav Stresemann, microfilm.

[35] Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 257-60.

[36] Ron Chernow, The Warburgs: The Twentieth Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family (New York: Random House, 1993), 103-05; Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway, 354-60, 380.

[37] Wätjen, Aus der Frühzeit, 192.

[38] Willcox and Ferenczi, International Migrations, 697; Coleman, The Liners, 40-46; Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway, 403-16, 519, 556-71.

[39] Keeling, “Patterns and Processes,” 281-82.

[40] Clive Trebilcock, The Industrialization of the Continental Powers, 1780-1914 (New York: Longman, 1981): 22-111; Heinrich Flügel, Die deutschen Welthäfen Hamburg und Bremen (Jena: Fischer, 1914); Lars Maischak, German Merchants in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic, German Historical Institute publication series (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Cohn, Mass Migration Under Sail, 128-37.

[41] Of major transporters of transatlantic mass migration enduring up to World War I, HAPAG was the only one to have successfully transitioned from being (for nearly a decade) a line of only sailing vessels to a pure steamship fleet.

Other notable examples include NDL and HAPAG outlasting local rivals North American Lloyd and Adler in the 1860s and ’70s, the 1880s compromise of Carr/“Union” with HAPAG and Ballin, and the costly but successful warding off in 1912-13 of the “Fürstentrust” scheme to launch a new competing passenger service out of Emden. See Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 18-19; Murken, 491-91; Bonsor, North American Seaway, 347-48, 1163-65. 

[42] Cecil, Albert Ballin, 3-14; 39-44, Eleanor L. Turk, “The Business of Emigration: The Role of the Hamburg Senate Commission on Emigration, 1850-1900,” Yearbook of German-American Studies 24 (1989): 27-39; Dirk Hoerder, “The Traffic of Emigration via Bremen/Bremerhaven: Merchants’ Interests, Protective Legislation, and Migrants’ Experiences,” Journal of American Ethnic History 13.1 (1993): 68-101; Frank Broeze, “Albert Ballin, The Hamburg-Bremen Rivalry and the Dynamics of the Conference System,” International Journal of Maritime History 3.1 (1991): 1-32. Management or neutralization of competition through overt or silent ownership participations was used by HAPAG and NDL with several Mediterranean lines starting in the 1890s, and with Holland America in 1902. See, for instance, Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration 29, 78-79.

[43] Re: migration from eastern Europe through German ports, and German subsidiary lines see Cecil, Albert Ballin, 39-40; Michael Just, Ost- und südosteuropäische Amerikawanderung 1881-1914: Transitprobleme in Deutschland und Aufnahme in den Vereinigten Staaten, in Von Deutschland nach America, vol. 3, ed. Günter Moltmann (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1988), 41; Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 26-29. Of the German lines’ 34 percent  steerage share during 1890-1914 (shown in Table 2), about 6 percent derived from HAPAG and NDL services from Italian ports.

[44] Like HAPAG and NDL, Red Star (Antwerp and Philadelphia) and Holland-America (Rotterdam), were both developed with strong local support of their home ports. These four formed the core steerage pool agreement of 1892. The leading British lines were larger rivals to the German passenger shipping firms, however. By the early 1900s, those four (HAPAG, NDL, Cunard and White Star) accounted for upwards of two-thirds of migrant traffic to the United States. See, Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 9-20, 63-70, 96, 303.

[45] For key economics of pre-1914 North Atlantic shipping, see Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 41-42 (general); 14, 41, 174-80, 228-39 (accommodations); 226-30 (standardization); 18-20, 205-10, 289-91 (profits and losses); 44-53, 301 (risks in migrant transport); 48-49 (sharp cyclical fluctuations in revenue from migrant traffic). See also Robert G. Albion, Square-Riggers on Schedule: The New York Sailing Packets to England, France, and the Cotton Ports (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1938), 42-48, 266-68; Edward S. Meade, “The Capitalization of the International Mercantile Marine,” in Trusts, Pools, and Corporations, ed. William Z. Ripley (Boston: Ginn, 1905), 105-20; and Drew Keeling, “The Improvement of Travel Conditions for Migrants crossing the North Atlantic, 1900-1914,” in Points of Passage: Jewish Trans-migrants from Eastern Europe in Germany Britain, and Scandinavia, ed. Tobias Brinkmann (New York: Berghahn, 2013), 107-29; Drew Keeling, “Return Migration from the United States to Europe During the Recession of 1907-08,” inKrisen - Ursachen, Deutungen und Folgen, ed. Tobias Straumann, Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte 27 (Zurich: Chronos, 2012): 245-60.

[46] NDL annual reports, Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum Archiv, Bremerhaven; Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 325-27; Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 44-64, 206, 216 (re: fixed costs).

[47] Cecil, Albert Ballin, 44-62; Karl Thiess, Deutsche Schiffahrt und Schiffahrtspolitik der Gegenwart (Leipzig: Teubner, 1907), 66, 70-71; Paul Overzier, Der Amerikanisch-Englische Schiffahrtstrust, -Morgan Trust mit besonderer Berücksichtigung seiner Beziehung zu den Deutschen Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaften (Berlin: Carl Heymanns Verlag, 1912), 24.

[48] Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 63-70, 138-41; U.S. v. Hamburg Amerikanische...1911-16, records and briefs, 239 US 466 (microfilm); Christina A. Ziegler-McPherson, "Emil Leopold Boas," in Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt. German Historical Institute. Last modified November 10, 2014.  (accessed July 25, 2016); Reports of the Industrial Commission on Immigration and Education (U.S. House of Representatives document No. 184, 57th U.S. Congress, 1st session, 1901), Part 1 (“Hearings”), 103, 107-08, 118 (testimony of Gustav Schwab, agent for NDL and Robert Floyd, Chief Clerk, Cunard).

[49] Murken,Linienreederei-Verbände especially, vi-viii.

[50] Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände vi-vii; Francis E. Hyde, Cunard and the North Atlantic, 1840-1973: A History of Shipping and Financial Management (London: Macmillan, 1975), 117; Report on Steamship Agreements and Affiliations (House of Representatives document No. 805, 63rd U.S. Congress, 1914) 24-25. For more on U.S. antitrust actions against the pre-1914 steerage pools, see Ziegler, “Emil Boas” and Feys,Battle for the Migrants, especially 151-52, 200-05.

[51] Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände 23-57, 636-89. The 1892 steerage traffic agreement sealed by HAPAG, NDL, Red Star and Holland America (the Nordatlantischer Dampfer Linien Verband -North Atlantic Steamship Line Association- or NDLV) later extended on a bilateral basis to the major British carriers in 1896/98, and then across nearly all the European lines in 1908/09.

[52] Thiess,Deutsche Schiffahrt, 66, 72, Robert Schachner, Das Tarifwesen in der Personenbeförderung der transozeanischen Dampfschiffahrt (Karlsruhe: Druck und Verlag der G. Braun’schen Hofbuchdruckerei, 1904), 62-63. Cf. Naomi R. Lamoreaux, The Great Merger Movement in American Business, 1895-1904 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 87.

[53] HAPAG, NDL, and two big British groups, White Star and Cunard, which as a foursome accounted for nearly two-thirds of steerage transport by the early 1900s (Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 17-18, 303).

[54] Murken,Linienreederei-Verbände, 81; Broeze, “Shipping Policy and Social Darwinism,” 432; Overzier, Amerikanisch-Englische Schiffahrtstrust, 20-24.

[55] The limited primary literature is as clear and consistent on the difficulty of maintaining monopolistic price at a profit-maximizing level as is Murken (he shows little ambiguity on that point) and as the logic here suggests. Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände vi-vii, 16, 61, 78; Arthur Salz, “Auswanderung und Schiffahrt mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der österreichischen Verhältnisse,” Part 2, Archiv für Sozialwissenschaften und Sozialpolitik 42 (1916): 842-884, here 850-51, cf 865; Thiess, Deutsche Schiffahrt, 70-73.

[56] Re: assumptions that migration flows increased in response to drops in fares, see examples in Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 3-9, 33-35, 138,157-58. Late in the steamship era, with an increased incidence of repeat travelers more familiar with travel conditions, well-publicized fare drops could sometimes boost steerage volumes, although first-time travel was less effected. In other words, when they occurred at all, overall traffic increases during fare declines were more a result of people deciding to migrate again than of people deciding to migrateat all. However, even that fairly circumscribed response of migrant volume to fare levels could hardly occur westwards during U.S. recessions: Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 30-32, 374; Brinkmann, “Paul Nathan,” 65-70; Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 131-32, 213; Drew Keeling, “North Atlantic Shipping Cartels and the effects of the 1904 Fare War upon Migration between Europe and the United States,” in Regulierte Märkte: Zünfte und Kartelle, eds. Magrit Müller, Heinrich R. Schmidt, and Laurent Tissot, Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte 26 (Zurich: Chronos, 2011), 359-75, here 366-67.

[57] See Drew Keeling, “The Transportation Revolution and Transatlantic Migration, 1850-1914,” Research in Economic History 19 (1999): 39-74, here 41-43.

[58] Keeling, “Transport Capacity,” 228-29, 250; Keeling, “Costs, Risks, and Migration Networks,” 168-70. From the 1830s to 1910s, fares averaged around $30, but could be as low as $10 during severe fare wars. $30 amounted to roughly two months low-skilled U.S. wages in the mid 1800s, and about three weeks wages by the early 1900s, so a very low bargain fare of $10 versus “normal” fare levels, might save a migrant or prospective migrant six weeks of U.S. wages in the late sail era, and two to three weeks in the Ellis Island steamship era. A typical, fully employed, frugal and single nineteenth or early twentieth century low-skilled immigrant could often live in the United States on about half of his wages.

[59] J. D. Gould, “European Inter-Continental Emigration, 1815-1914: Patterns and Causes,” Journal of European Economic History 8 (1979): 593-679, here 611-616, and especially on 612: “In light of these characteristics of the movement of fares -long run stability combined with short-run volatility according to the pressure of demand- it is very probable that the correlation between fares and the volume [is] positive rather than negative, particularly…after about 1830 or 1840.” Extended time series of steerage fares and volumes can be found in: Grabbe, Vor der großen Flut, 141-52, 285-305; Killick, “Transatlantic steerage fares,” 6, 22; Feys, Battle for the Migrants, 323-64; C. Knick Harley, “North Atlantic Shipping in the Late Nineteenth Century Freight Rates and the Interrelationship of Cargoes,” in Shipping and Trade, 1750-1950: Essays in International Maritime Economic History, eds. Lewis R. Fischer and Helge W. Nordvik (Pontefract: Lofthouse, 1990), 147-171, here 171; Kristian Hvidt, Flugten til Amerika eller Drivkræfter i masseudvandringen fra Danmark 1868-1914 (Aarhus: Universitetsforlaget, 1971), 456-59; Keeling, “Transportation Revolution,” 64-65; Keeling, “Transatlantic Shipping Cartels,” 207; Drew Keeling, “The Voyage Abstracts of the Cunard Line as a Source of Transatlantic Passenger Fares, 1883-1914,” Business Archives Sources and History 96 (2008): 15-36; Keeling, “Costs, Risks, and Migration Networks,” 163-67; Keeling, “Transport Capacity,” 271-78; and Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 51, 64-65, 130, 213-14, 274-303.

[60]  German lines’ leadership in organizing and promulgating the passenger conferences (cartels) was reinforced by relatively advanced and favorable German cartel laws, but that regulatory factor evolved only over time. In the late 1880s when Ballin and colleagues conceived of the “passenger pool” or market share approach, their leading role models were inter-firm deals of U.S. railroad lines (Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 66-67, Ziegler, “Emil Boas.”) For more on agents see Just, Ost- und südosteuropäische Amerikawanderung; Torsten Feys, “Prepaid Tickets to the New World: The New York Continental Conference and Transatlantic Steerage Fares 1885-1895,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American History 26.2 (2008): 173-204.

[61] NDLV, see Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 11-50; Cecil, Albert Ballin, 44-48; Ziegler, “Emil Boas,” Broeze, “Shipping Policy and Social Darwinism,” 420; Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 96-97 (correction on 97, line 17: should be 8+9+10+11, not 15+9+10); Feys, “Prepaid Tickets,” 192-93.

[62] Floor price:  Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 31-32;, Schachner, Das Tarifwesen in der Personenbeförderung, 121-22;, compensation rates and arrangements: Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 31-32, 55, 60-62, 345, 644-45, 661, 682. Moore’s statistics inhibiting cheating (Moore was the shipping lines’ New York landing agent): Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 66-67, 274-76. Re: compensation, see also two endnotes lower, periodic adjustments: Thiess, Deutsche Schiffahrt, 77.

[63] John Armstrong, “The Vital Spark: The British Coastal Trade, 1700-1930,” Research in Maritime History 40 (St. John’s: International Maritime Economic History Association, 2009): 77-90; Hyde, Cunard and the North Atlantic, 39; Huldermann, Albert Ballin, 42-51; Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 23-24.

[64] Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 294 (route and schedule sharing). Because compensation rates paid by overquota to underquota lines were typically high enough to wipe out any profits gained by the excess volume, they thus also acted as defacto floors on fares. Although market shares, not fares, were fixed and controlled through the steerage pool deals, fares were still deliberately adjusted in order to help keep actual market shares in rough line with quotas, and periodically the quotas would be re-adjusted as well (Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 30-32; Broeze, “Hamburg-Bremen Rivalry,” 7-8). Another persistent challenge was excess capacity: the tendency of oceanic shipping companies, sometimes egged on by nationalistic governments, to build new, ever bigger, ships ahead of actual travel demand (Murken, Linienreederei-Verbände, 81). The pre-1914 cartels developed no mechanism per se against this tendency, but it was blunted by a combination of ongoing technological advance (quickening the obsolescence of older vessels), non-price competition encouraging the providing of more space per passenger, not just space for more passengers, ongoing long term growth in travel demand (from more passengers and more crossings per passenger, i.e., increasing repeat migration), and of periodic cyclical recessions which came down heaviest on lines with the most excess capacity, sometimes even bankrupting some lines. Undermining of cartel agreements by agent activities also declined after 1890 because agency functions were gradually, and to a considerable extent, absorbed and replaced by steamship lines in-house (Agnes Bretting, and Hartmut Bickelmann, Auswanderungsagenturen und Auswanderungsvereine im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1991), 88-90). Re: new lines joining the conferences: Thiess,Deutsche Schiffahrt, 673.

[65] Murken,Linienreederei-Verbände, 19; Broeze, “Hamburg-Bremen Rivalry,” 12-15.

[66] Gordon Boyce, “64thers, Syndicates, and Stock Promotion: Information Flows and Fund-raising Techniques of British Shipowners Before 1914,” Journal of Economic History 52.1 (1992): 181-205; Robert Greenhalgh Albion, The Rise of New York Port, 1815-60 (Hamden: Archon, 1939), 336-53; Wokeck, Trade in Strangers, especially 59-112; Taylor, Distant Magnet, 108.

[67] Cecil, Albert Ballin, 14-20, 46-47; Kurt Himer, Geschichte der Hamburg-Amerika Linie, second part: “Albert Ballin” (Hamburg: Gustav Petermann, 1927), 10-11; Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway, 347, 354-55, 509, 701, 828-29. WikipediaH.H. Meier  (accessed on November 26, 2015).

[68] Hoerder, “Traffic;” Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 158. Estimated numbers of agents in Taylor, Distant Magnet, 80, and Dillingham Report (Reports of the Immigration Commission of 1907-1911, 61st U.S. Congress, 1911), vol. 4, 62, and Jones, American Immigration, 160. By the 1880s, through tickets (train-steamship-train) from inland European origins to inland U.S. destinations were said to be common (Bretting and Bickelmann, Auswanderungsagenturen, 88). As overall migration journeys became quicker and better organized, ancillary businesses shifted (less need for self-provisioning enroute, more information and forwarding services, immigrant banks, etc.), and direct selling displaced much of the intermediation common earlier. Strengthened regulation of “runners” and other dubious uninvited solicitors in port cities after the mid-1800s also reduced their activity (Taylor, Distant Magnet, 116-30). See also Salz, “Auswanderung und Schiffahrt,” 881 (former migrants as agents); Walter D. Kamphoefner, “The Volume and Composition of German-America Return Migration,” in A Century of European Migrations, 1830-1930, eds. Rudolph Vecoli and Suzanne Sinke (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 293-311; and Feys, Battle for the Migrants, 71-118.

[69] Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway, 195-98, 347, 509, 1070-73; Otto J. Seiler, Bridge Across the Atlantic: The Story of 135 Years of Ocean Transport (Hamburg: Hapag-Lloyd, 1983), 20-25.

[70] “Prince Henry’s busy day in Washington,” New York Times, February 25, 1902; “Miss Roosevelt names Kaiser Wilhelm’s Yacht,” New York Times, February 26, 1902; “Prince welcomed by chiefs of Industry,” New York Times, February 27, 1902; Ziegler, “Emil Boas;” Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 76-78. Ballin also solicited Roosevelt’s interest, and later counted him as an important cabin class passenger. The world’s then second largest passenger liner was launched in 1905 by HAPAG, christened Amerika, and featured a “Roosevelt deck” (Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 249-50, 271-73).

[71] Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 80-88 (Morgan’s “flop”), 85 (“hopeless” – “von Beginn an hoffnungslos:), 114 (“alluring” offer to Ballin); Steven H. Gittelman, J.P. Morgan and the Transportation Kings (Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 2012), 237-40.

[72] An average immigrant from Europe in those years might reasonably hope to double or triple his wages by going to America, and with frugal living, double or triple his take home savings too. Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 34, 288.

[73] Petersen: U.S. Bureau of Immigration, microfilmed passenger lists of arriving vessels. U.S. National Archives. Re: “working the passage,” see Lewis R. Fischer, “The Sea as Highway: Maritime Service as a Means of International Migration, 1863-1913,” in Maritime Aspects of Migration, ed. Klaus Friedland (Cologne: Böhlau, 1989), 293-307. Also Drechsel, Norddeutscher Lloyd, vi, “Biography” of Drechsel Photo Collection, U.C. Berkeley Transportation Library.

[74] Keeling, Database of transatlantic voyages, (accessed June 30, 2016).

[75] Hartmut Berghoff and Uwe Spiekermann, “Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present” (updated May 27, 2014) (accessed July 25, 2016).

[76] Thanks to Frank Caro for supplying the additional information that Emile Berliner traveled in second class. See also Frank Caso, "Emile Berliner," in Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 2, edited by William J. Hausman. German Historical Institute. Last modified March 25, 2014 (accessed July 25, 2016).

[77] The high rate of return visits by these immigrant entrepreneurs underscores a growing awareness among migration historians that transatlantic migration was always in some ways a two-way movement, and generally become somewhat more so over time. See, for example, Günter Moltmann, “American-German Return Migration in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” Central European History 13 (1980): 378-92.

[78] Moltmann, “Steamship Transport of Emigrants,” 314-18; Taylor, Distant Magnet, 117-19; Feys, Battle for the Migrants, 98-110

[79] Jones, American Immigration, 24-47, 257-60; Daniels, Coming to America, 411-21. Direct foreign investment into the United States in 2011 was ten times as high as in 1981, and about two-thirds of it came from Europe (“Foreign Direct Investment in the United States,” President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 2013). In 2014, half of Europeans working in the United States were employed in “management, business, science and the arts”—versus about one third of all immigrant workers, See Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova, "European Immigrants in the United States," Migration Policy Institute, (accessed December 1, 2015).

[80] Martin Münzel, “Expulsion – Plunder – Flight: Businessmen and Emigration from Nazi Germany (1933-1939),” in Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 4, edited by Jeffrey Fear. German Historical Institute. Last modified March 24, 2014 (accessed July 25, 2016).

[81] For the immediate impacts of World War I on German immigrants in the United States, see Katja Wüstenbecker, "German-Americans during World War I," in Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt, German Historical Institute. Last modified September 25, 2014 (accessed July 25, 2016).

[82] World wars: Keeling, Business of Transatlantic Migration, 260-65. Students: Between 1960 and 2000, foreign student enrollment in American colleges and universities rose from 1.2 percent  to 3.4 percent . At twenty five “leading institutions” (larger “Ivy League” and public universities) the overall foreign student fraction was nearly 15 percent by 2010 (Historical Statistics of the United States, Millennium edition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), table Bc523, International Institute of Education data on “leading institutions”). See also: Fritz Stern, "German History in America, 1884-1984." Central European History 19.2(1986): 131-63.

[83] Nancy Foner, “What’s New About Transnationalism? New York Immigrants Today and at the Turn of the Century,” Diaspora 6.3 (1997): 355-75.

[84] In 2015, a key priority for Middle Eastern asylum-seekers, who were charting shifting overland paths across changing international border conditions in eastern and central Europe, was to finding convenient places to recharge mobile phones: “Tech helps refugees make journey - and survive when they arrive,” New Scientist, September 7, 2015 (accessed November 26, 2015).

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The steamship “Deutschland” broke the record set by “Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse” for fastest crossing time

  • Drawing of German emigrants aboard the ship “Samuel Hop” bound for America, circa 1850
  • Sketch of immigrants on deck of the steamer
  • Abschied der Auswanderer (emigrants‘ farewell), painting by Antoine Volkmar, 1860
  • Hotel Cecil and the Hotel Savoy with Cleopatra's Needle and the embankment along the Thames River, London, England, ca. 1901

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