Trump's Grandfather Begged to Stay in Germany but Was Refused

Frederick Trump petitioned a Bavarian prince to intercede on his behalf to no avail.

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Elizabeth and Frederick Trump.
Elizabeth and Frederick Trump.Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's grandfather begged German officials not to be deported from Germany in 1905, archival documents exposed in German this week show. One of the documents records a petition by Trump's grandfather that reached as high up as Prince Leopold of Bavaria, but was declined.

Frederick Trump, Trump's grandfather, was born in Kallstadt, in Kingdom of Bavaria, in 1869, and immigrated to the United States in 1885, when he was 16. There, on the other side of the Atlantic, he made his first fortune in different business ventures in including the hotel and restaurant businesses.

The document that revealed Trump's petition to stay in Germany:

In 1901 he returned to his hometown where he met his future wife Elizabeth. He later returned to the U.S. with her. In 1904, Elizabeth's homesickness worsened, and the two wanted to return to Germany. It had been reported in the past that the German authorities rejected Trump's petition stating that he emigrated from Germany in order to avoid military service and was considered a draft evader.

Now, German researchers uncovered documents describing the affair in the Rhineland-Palatinate archive in Speyer. One of the documents recently published is a letter from Dürkheim district officials to the Kallstadt mayor's office sent February 27, 1905. "The American citizen and pensioner currently residing in Kallstadt, Frederick Trump, needs to be informed that by May 1, he must leave Bavarian territory, or else he will be deported."

Roland Paul, former director of an institute for Palatinate history and folklore studies, researched the affair and presented his findings to German media. According to the documents released by him, Trump's grandfather attempted to fight the decision, sending a letter to Prince Leopold of Bavaria, son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Trump flattered the prince calling him "noble, wise, just and beloved," but the prince declined to help.

Left with no choice, Frederick and Elizabeth Trump boarded the SS Pennsylvania on July 1, 1905, and returned to the U.S. Three months later, Trump's father Fred was born. "It's all Leopold's fault," a Swiss newspaper wrote humorlessly in an article on the Trump family history.

Indeed, if the Bavarian prince had helped the Trump the grandfather his grandson may have been contending for Angela Merkel's job in the German elections next year, and not have won the recent U.S. elections.

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