The Master Butcher's Singing Club

German-American heritage

Erdrich uses some of her personal family history and background as source for The Master Butcher's Singing Club. In this case, it is important to note some of the information surrounding German-American lifestyle. Overwhelmingly, Germans immigrated to the United States in search of an improved standard of living. There were incentives from land and railroad compaines as well to insure jobs for German immigrants.

After a failed German Revolution in 1848, there was the greatest wave of political asylum seekers who left Germany. The majority of the German immigrants had in mind their idea of achieving, "The American Dream." They wanted to be where soil was fertile and space was abundant. By the end of the 19th century, most immigrants were unmarried industrial workers who came to the United States seeking seasonal work but never returned to Germany.

Many immigrants would settle with or around others who spoke their native language or were from the same area of Germany. Many settled in the Midwest where they became bakers, butchers, shoemakers, and cabinet makers. Germans also became high profile businessmen and shopkeepers. The largest group of German immigrants in any given time period were the skilled craftspeople. They immigrated to major cities such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Chicago.

In 1900, Kaiser Wilhelm II instituted the idea of national German pride. His influence was felt across the sea in the United States by way of a divided feeling of German-Americans on the stand of an imperialist Germany. This idea of loyalty was felt not only in the U.S., but in Germany as well. The Socialists felt that the Kaiser's power centerred on a too militaristic reign. Millions of Americans held on to an attachment to the German language and culture. The 1830s through the 1870s saw a massive immigration of Germans to the U.S. resulting in their being an important ethnic block of society. The immigration explosion of youthful Germans resulted in their bringing a pro-imperialist view of Germany to the American public by way of the German-American press. 1901 saw the formation of the German-American alliance, a pressure group used to enforce upon the politicians propaganda geared to an imperial Germany.

The United States entrance in World War I in 1917 caused an increase in abuse on German-Americans. The public opinion of the time rejected all forms of foreign language and culture. Thus, upon the eve of World War II, there was no form of Nazi propaganda, leaving the German-Americans to have no view on the war without public retaliation. To this day, there remain untold accounts of German-American internment camps during World War II.


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