‘The Long March through Leipzig’: Train Terminal Chaos and the Transmigrant Registration Station, 1904–1914

in Journal of Migration History
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Responding to a cholera scare in the 1890s, German steamship companies, backed by the state, set up transmigrant control stations along eastern Prussian borders. Millions of Eastern European emigrants passed through these medical and financial checkpoints as they made their way by rail to northern European harbour cities, where steamships carried them across the Atlantic. In 1904, officials opened a registration station in the Saxon city of Leipzig. A major European railway hub, Leipzig seemed an ideal location. However, the city layout soon proved problematic. Leipzig had no fewer than six separate train stations, one an hour’s walk from the registration station. Saxon police and shipping officials needed to direct transmigrants arriving in Leipzig to the registration station, despite logistical problems and sometimes uncooperative migrants. Building upon a growing scholarship on the continental journey of transoceanic migrants, this article demonstrates how a single city could affect an intricate transatlantic network.

‘The Long March through Leipzig’: Train Terminal Chaos and the Transmigrant Registration Station, 1904–1914

in Journal of Migration History



  • 5

     See Tobias Brinkmann‘Why Paul Nathan attacked Albert Ballin’Central European History 43 (2010) 47–83. Other works on transmigrant control in Germany include Christiane Reinecke Grenzen der Freizügigkeit. Migrationskontrolle in Großbritannien und Deutschland 1880–1930 (München 2010); Katja Wuestenbecker ‘Hamburg and the transit of East European emigrants’ in: Andreas Fahrmeier et al. (eds) Migration control in the North Atlantic world. The evolution of state practices in Europe and the United States from the French Revolution to the inter-war period (New York 2003) 223–236; and Michael Just Ost- und südosteuropäische Amerikawanderung 1881–1914. Transitprobleme in Deutschland und Aufnahme in den Vereinigten Staaten (Stuttgart 1988).

  • 7

    Tobias Brinkmann‘Travelling with Ballin: The impact of American immigration policies on Jewish transmigration within central Europe, 1880–1914’International Review of Social History 53 (2008) 459–484465. Also see Brinkmann’s article in this issue.

  • 36

    SimmonsThe railway in town and country26–27.

  • 38

    Bayer and SobekDer Bayerische Bahnhof13.

  • 39

    SchivelbuschThe railway journey171.

  • 40

    BergerHauptbahnhof Leipzig35.

  • 41

    SchivelbuschThe railway journey180–181.

  • 42

    BergerHauptbahnhof Leipzig34–35.

  • 45

    Barbara Schmucki‘The machine in the city: Public appropriation of the tramway in Britain and Germany, 1870–1915’Journal of Urban History 3:6 (2012) 1060–1093 1077.

  • 56

    Volkmar Müller‘Die Auswanderer-Registrierstation in Leipzig’Leipzig Illustrirte Zeitung17 May 1906 782.


  • View in gallery

    Transmigrants arriving at the Bayerischer Bahnhof (quadrant 5D) walked or rode a tram to the registration station across from the Dresdner Bahnhof (3D). Map from Baedeker, Northern Germany, 239. Image courtesy of University of Texas Libraries.

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