SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN-ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN-ROOTS > 2000-08 > 0966591195
From: Lars Jørgen Helbo <>
Subject: Re: [S-H-RTS] Killings in the 1880???
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2000 11:33:15 +0200
At 23:55 16-08-2000 -0700, Judith Wells HORSTMANN wrote:
>I too would be interest in knowing if this was, in fact, true. I had
>thought that the reason for the migration during these years was the
>takeover of the Prussians and the 1st Reich.
IMO you will have to be extremely carefull with such stories.
First of all the story about "killings" is plain rubbish.
Conscription may have been a reason for some emigration. But again you will
have to be _very_ careful not to overestimate it.
Please consider that the 1880's was a period of deep peace. Germany was not
involved in a single war from 1871 to 1914. Denmark had an unbroken period
of peace from 1864 to 1940. So the main period of emigration falls in a
period of peacetime.
Secondly you must understand that we in this area have a tradition for
conscription, which is _very_ different from the anglo-saxon countries.
Conscription was introduced in 1788 and has been used continuously ever
since. In 1849 it was written in the first democratic Danish constitution,
because it was seen as closely connected to democracy. Please don't think
that conscription as such was unpopular - this is _not_ the US.
With that said it is true that some young men left Schleswig in the time
after 1866, because they felt Danish and did not want to serve in the
_German_ army. But this has to do with nationality. It was _not_ because of
a general wish to avoid serving in the army. And therefore you should only
expect to see it in the Danish dominated areas (the northern half of
In this area you could then see that young men (age 18-20) would cross the
border to Denmark and take a job on a farm for some years instead of
joining the German army. But if you hear that a father would smugle his 10
year old son to the US to avoid conscription, please don't believe it.
On the other hand it is of course interesting that these legends are so
widespread. Last year I heard a US genealogist claim that his ancestor had
left Denmark in 1885 at age 28 to avoid being send to war. As I said there
was absolutely no war in Denmark in those years, and military duty was
usually at age 20. So the story is obviously rubbish, but you hear such
stories ever so often.
IMO it is an American legend created in the years around WW1. I imagine an
old emigrant in 1920. His children or grandchildren asks him, why he left
Europe. Should he tell them that he left because he was poor (admitting
that he was unable to find a job)? Or should he say that he left to avoid
being called up as a conscript to the German army? Remember how unpopular
both conscription and the German army was in those days.
The real reason for emigration was overpopulation. During the time from
1776 to 1850 agriculture in this area was improved _very_ much. The
peasants took over their own farms and their technic was improved
dramatically. As a result their children did not die anymore. Around 1750 a
family might have 8 children, but 5 or 6 would die early. 100 years later
only 1 or 2 would die.
Because of this the population exploded. In 1801 the kingdom of Denmark had
one million inhabitants. In 1901 we had 2.7 million even though 300.000 had
emigrated. With 6 surviving children in the family, 4 had to leave the
village. They could seek a job in one of the towns or they could try to get
a farm in the US. That is the reason for emigration.
Lars Jørgen Helbo
|Re: [S-H-RTS] Killings in the 1880??? by Lars Jørgen Helbo <>|