Germans Immigrants to America: An Interactive History Adventure

Book review by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

Raum, Elizabeth. German Immigrants in America: An Interactive History Adventure. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2008.

This book is written for children to get a glimpse of German immigrants from Germany and from Russia. Although there were Germans in North America as early as the 1600's, this book deals with those coming here in the 19th century, and it covers especially well the trials and tribulations of early German settlers in Texas, mid-America, the Dakotas, and even Milwaukee. It also shows how these immigrants overcame severe hardships, problems with climate and illness, initial settlement difficulties, even fights with Indians, further struggles with taking on the English language, the climate, American culture, yet eventually becoming prosperous and highly contributive members of American society.

The book even delves into the problems of conscience and conflict of interest for German-Americans during the First World War.

The only minor negatives I observed, which are far outweighed by the positive aspects, are as follows:

1. Children are going to find it a bit confusing traversing the glossy variety of paths they can take through this book, but those paths are definitely worth taking, because it puts the reader into the place and into personal experience of 19th-Century true-to-life German immigrants to the United States!

2. As usual, there are a couple of simplifications that are not truly historical: Catherine the Great is the only one mentioned in regard to attracting Germans to settle in Russia, while Alexander I does not find any mention of his efforts to have Germans come to the Black Sea region. Moreover, there is a hint that Germans arrived at the Black Sea way before 1804, which is simply not the case.

3. The bibliography could be more extensive.

Overall, though, I would definitely recommend this book for children and grandchildren who ask questions about how our German-Russian-American ancestors came here and how they struggled to become some of the finest Americans, with genuine loyalty to their new home, and with contributions to this land that few are aware of. Remember also: the price of this paperback book is very reasonable. I am a “native-born” Black Sea German whose ancestors did not come to America until 1953, but that makes no difference in the great scheme of Germans from Russia..I am ordering several copies for children in sub-clans of my own immigrant clan.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller