Exactly 100 years ago today, my 18 year old grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, wrote the following entry into his journal:
I realized that I was on the last ship to come over to America from Germany, for on August 1st World War I broke out in Europe. I still had good fortune. I didn’t know that there was a war going on, since I couldn’t read or understand English yet.
According to Wikipedia, the SS Vaterland had made only a few trips when she arrived at New York City in late July 1914 just as World War I broke out. A safe return to Germany was rendered virtually impossible by British dominance of the seas, so the ship was laid up at her Hoboken, NJ, terminal and remained immobile for nearly three years. She was seized by the United States Shipping Board in April 1917 and turned over to the custody of the U.S. Navy in June 1917.
As a direct descendant of Kurt, I can’t help but imagine how different my life would be if his trip to America had not occurred exactly when it did.
That’s all the journal entries from his initial introduction to America, but there’s a lot more to read. He continued to journal for several years on topics such as living and working in Peoria, the war from the perspective of a German immigrant, the terrible winter of 1917-1918, getting the Spanish Flu, finding love in America, and much more.
You can read my grandfather’s entire journal by clicking below. It’s quite interesting! Of course, I’m biased! 🙂
Thanks for your interest!