CGSI Quarterly Program - Feb. 2012

A CGSI Quarterly Program was held at the MGS library building Saturday February 11, 2012.

The presentation was entitled The Lands They Left: A Look at the Societies Which Bohemian, Moravian, Slovak and German Emigrants Left in the 19th Century. Presented by Dr. Diethelm Prowe.

Have you wondered why your ancestors chose to leave their homelands for an uncertain future in a new land? The Habsburg lands, from which the Czechs, Moravians, Slovaks, and Germans emigrated, mainly in the second half of the 19th century, were going through major economic, demographic, social, and cultural transformations.

Traditional feudal social patterns were still widespread in the countryside, while population growth and early industrialization put new economic pressures on both countryside and rapidly growing towns. At the same time the Habsburg state, which had been rapidly modernizing under the enlightened monarchs of the later 18th century, was eager to industrialize but found it difficult to cope with the consequences of urbanization and education.

This program looked at the conditions and changes in our ancestor’s homelands which influenced their decisions to emigrate. We looked at the remarkable cultural and political changes that led to the national awakening and look at the ways in which both new opportunities and pressures favored the spurt of migration, above all to the United States.

              Dr. Diethelm Prowe
                                      Dr. Diethelm Prowe

Presenter: Dr. Diethelm Prowe is the Laird Bell Professor of History, emeritus, at Carleton College, Northfield, MN where he taught modern European history for 42 years. From 2001 to 2011 he served as editor of German Studies Review, which publishes articles on history, literature, politics, and interdisciplinary topics relating to the German-speaking areas of Europe. While at Carleton he regularly taught a course on the history of Eastern-Central Europe, and in the fall of 2000 he directed the ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) Central European Studies Program in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Since then he has spent three shorter periods doing archival research on the interaction of Czechs and Germans in Moravia in the 19th century, primarily in Olomouc and Brno.

A native of Germany, he immigrated to the United States with his family at age 16 and has kept in touch with central Europe since then, with a first visit to Czechoslovakia and then-communist East Eastern Europe in 1971.