American Letter

Erika, Christina

Germany to Angel Island

How German immigrants were treated by U.S. citizens

Life in the United States are so much different than we ever expected back home. Nothing is what I expected.

When we first got to the United States we were at Angel Island. It was not a pleasant place. We were stripped naked, probed and examined by white doctors. It was absolutely humiliating. If someone had a disease, they were sent back to their home country. We were forced to stay here for up to quite a few weeks. The living conditions at Angel Island weren’t great either. Bunks were stacked up to 3 high. People couldn’t sleep with their husbands and wives. People would call out to their spouse at night to let them know that they were okay. The bathrooms were absolutely disgusting. Few toilets were working. We ate by a strict schedule, and the food didn’t taste good and their wasn’t a variety. The mess halls could have been confused as the bathrooms. We were also interrogated and we had to prove our innocence. The Americans saw us as a threat. We weren’t trusted. They accused us of being anarchists and they saw us as a servant race. I expected opportunity, safety, stability and freedom. That wasn’t my impression when I got the the United States.

I finally made it out of Angel Island after a few weeks. I got a job at a bakery.

The economy here in the United States is so much better than our economy back home. I found out that a lot of german boy here emigrated so that they weren’t conscripted in the German military service. I’ve barely escaped poverty here. Jobs here are easier to find. The climate here is better, and there’s more fertile soil for farming.

Germans here assimilate more slowly than other immigrants due to our high numbers within the population.


a German immigrant
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