Ships of Destiny

The Emigration Industry--"Pumping up the Natives"
A staggering number of people emigrated from Eastern Europe in the late 1800s, creating a thriving industry for the shipping magnates. Advertisements, (examples 1 and 2), written in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian, were posted in Jewish shtetls, luring people to emigrate to other lands. They promoted the idea that finding work and a better life could be just a "boat ride away".

Sailing to "Libau"(the shipping line unknown)
"Castle" line, luring people to travel, as if for a pleasure trip

The following excerpt from the article, "Brief Galician History" (1), discusses the "stagnant economy" in the province, Galicia, Austria which lead to mass emigration.

"Emigration from Galicia in the period between 1880 and 1910/1914 was a so-called "work-seeking-emigration". There were no other causes like the political emigration of ethnic minorities from Russia, no religious motives or political persecution in Galicia.

While the US of America and Western Europe had enormous encreasing of industry in that time, Galicia had an enormous overpopulation. From 1772 till 1910 the population of Galicia encreased from 2,600,000 to 8 millions. Galicia was the densely populated agricultural country of Europe, the largest crown country and the most populated country of Habsburgian Austria."

Mr. Inhofner translates and quotes relative passages from an article written by Martin Pollack, ["To Galicia", Vienna 1984].

"Ten-thousands seeked for their luck in Emigration: in news-papers the insertions of the ship's agencies were tempting, well-speaking ship's agents went from Shtetl to Shtetl and told them about the brightness of golden mountains in the land of glory behind the Ocean: America! The shipping-companies were searching for human freight for their steamers and each agent received a reward for each head. Some wrote from America that there was not all made from gold and they have hard to work to survive. Nevertheless, America was tempting." Hoping to get land and secure income, oversees emigration started in the 1870's, reaching a big dimension in the 1890's. The most important immigration countries were the United States of America, Canada, Argentina and Brazil.

The shipping agents were very imaginative. After the death of Crownprince Rudolf in 1889 in Mayerling they told the story that he was not really dead but he had sailed over the Ocean to establish a new Empire in Brazil, where he waits for his beloved subjects to welcome them with open arms. A terrific boom of emigration followed. Other curious rumors arose. They told that the Russian Tsar and the Austrian Emperor had made a barter: the Tsar let his Jews to the Emperor and Franz Joseph therefore sends his Ruthenians to the Tsar. Again,columns of Galicians left their country.

The Polish nobility feared to lose their cheap farm hands, getting only about 20 or 30 Heller per day; the military to lose their recruits, but the Ministries of Transport and of Finances as well as the shipping companies and their agents made a lot of money with the emigrants. Until 1914, nearly 1 Million people left Galicia."

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Compiled by Susana Leistner Bloch and Edward Rosenbaum.

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