Distant Magnets: Expectations and Realities in the Immigrant Experience, 1840-1930

By Dirk Hoerder; Horst Rössler | Go to book overview

many myths or legends. One can account for this with at least two reasons: the shorter distance and peasants' knowledge of basic German, which made communication in this language possible. The hopes and expectations of migrants to Germany had a more solid foundation and were more realistic. The migrants could easily return home in case of failure. All the hopes and expectations did not form a coherent system. They were simply a collection of images, many of which were incomplete and conflicting. Whenever knowledge of facts was insufficient, gaps were filled by the imagination, where oral accounts blended with peasants' ideals and dreams of farms, money, and good fortune. These original hopes could be completely fulfilled neither in Westphalia nor in America, but had to be modified in the course of the stay abroad.


Notes

We are grateful to Janusz Stygares, who translated the manuscript from the Polish.

1.
For the background of Polish mass migration see Celina Bobinska and Andrzej Pilch, eds., Employment-Seeking Emigrations of Poles World Wide in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ( Cracow, 1975); William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America ( New York: Alfred E. Knopf, 1927); Krzystof Groniowski, "The Socio-economic Base of Polish Emigration to North America, 1854-1939," in The Polish Presence in Canada and America, ed. Frank Renkiewicz ( Toronto: The Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1982); Christoph Klessmann, Polnische Bergarbeiter im Ruhrgebiet, 1870- 1945 (Göttingen, 1978).
2.
See Gazeta GÓrnośląska (hereafter cited as GG), 10 Mar 1880; Ludwik Caro, "Nasi Wychodźcy Zamorscy," Przeglqd Powszechny 296 ( 1908): 157-58.
3.
See Andrzej Brożek, "Polityka Imigracyjna w Państwach Docelowych Emigracji Polskiej," in Emigracia z Ziem Polskich w Czasach Nowożytnych i Nainowszych, ed. Andrzej Pilch ( Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1984),123.
4.
Gazeta Polska w Chicago (hereafter cited as GPC), 1 Mar 1877.
5.
See Ryszard Kantor, "Tematyka Emigracyjna w Polskim Folklorze Ustnym w XIX i XX Wieku: Wprowadzenie do Problemu" (unpublished manuscript).
6.
See Klaus J. Bade, "Massenwanderung und Arbeitsmarkt im deutschen Nordosten von 1880 bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg," Archiv far Sozialgeschichte 20 ( 1980): 309, n. 102; see also letter from Jan Moczygemba,

-101-

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