My Journey To America: July 22, 1914

Exactly 100 years ago today, my 18 year old grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, wrote the following entry into his journal:

 We woke up at 5:00am.  At 6:00, we all went to the train station [where his dad took the train back to Plauen].  The four of us got on the 6:45 train to Cuxhafen [60 miles NW of Hamburg].  We arrived at 9:00.  We were invited to board the ship “Vaterland” which stood ready.  [The Steamer Vaterland was built in Germany in 1914, this steamer service sailed from Cuxhaven, Germany to New York City and back. It was the largest liner in the world from 1914-1921. It was seized by United States authorities in 1917 and renamed USS Leviathan. ] We searched for our cabins.  There was a big crowd.  The band was playing.  More and more people gathered on shore.  We got off the ship and went to have lunch.  When the extra trains had arrived, we quickly went back on board.  We noticed that hundreds of people were waving their handkerchiefs and shouting farewell greetings to us.  We did the same.  The ship left shore exactly at noon.

When the ship was brought to the open sea, the ship’s propellers were set in motion with increasing speed.  The German homeland disappeared in the distance.  I looked the ship over a bit.  At 3:00 the call to coffee came.  After that, there was more activity on deck.  Music was made with an accordion, while some Bohemian country people were performing their dances.

Occasionally, a ship was visible in the distance.  The seagulls were following behind the ship.  When one looked at the waves created by the ships propellers, it was a wonderful spectacle.  It was 6:00 when, suddenly, a heavy rain began and it continued through the night.  At 7:00, the bells chimed for the evening meal.  It became stormier and the ship swayed a little.  Despite the disturbance, there was still dancing on the deck.  I added to the concert with my harmonica.  I went to bed at 11:00.

Click here to watch a video about the Steamer Vaterland complete with some incredible vintage videos and photographs.

You can read my grandfather’s entire journal by clicking below.  It’s quite interesting!  Of course, I’m biased!   🙂

Thanks for your interest!

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