Read the Letter Trump’s Immigrant Grandpa Wrote Begging Not to Be Deported
“Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family.”
In November, a German tabloid unearthed a 1905 letter from Donald Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump, in which he begged German authorities not to deport him. The handwritten letter—originally in German—has now been translated and published in the latest issue of Harper’s.
The elder Trump first emigrated to the US from the Bavarian town of Kallstadt in the German Empire in 1885 at the age of 16, illegally skipping out on mandatory military service (sounds familiar). That move lost him his citizenship, and he later became a US citizen where he made his fortune running brothels and bars during the Yukon gold rush.
Trump returned to his homeland in the early 1900s, but he was scheduled to be deported because of his draft-dodging history. The newly translated letter is a plea to Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, who ruled over the Kallstadt at the time, not to deport Trump back to the US.
“Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family,” Trump writes. “What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree—not to mention the great material losses it would incur.”
Apparently the letter didn’t do enough to convince the prince, since history has it that Trump wound up in the United States again, churning out a lineage of children that would someday wind up in the White House. Would the 2017 political climate be a different place if a well-bearded Bavarian royal did Friedrich Trump a solid in 1905? Let’s not dwell on that one too much.
From a letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Trump had been ordered to leave Bavaria for failing to complete mandatory military service and to register his initial emigration to the United States twenty years earlier. Prince Luitpold rejected Trump’s request for repatriation; the family later settled in New York. Translated from the German by Austen Hinkley.
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,