The Heart of the Museum – The Collection

As almost every German family has a relative who emigrated at some time or other it is not surprising that the German Emigration Center attracts increasing numbers of people who wish to donate photos, documents and other memorabilia to the museum’s collection.

The German Emigration Center is the largest theme museum for emigration and immigration in Europe. What is essentially important for the collection is the story or the experience related to the object as the combination of both evokes the emotional aspect and makes history come alive. Hence the collection is a unique record of European migration history.

Memorabilia – An Emigrant’s Story from the Museum’s Collection

The father of 17-year old Martha Hüner had no doubt that, once in America, his daughter would marry a cowboy. And so, in 1923, when Martha Hüner emigrated to the United States he gave her this horse brush with the words, “You take this with you. I’m not going to be getting a horse in Bremerhaven. And when you’re in America you’ll surely marry a cowboy.”

But there never was a cowboy. Instead Martha married a baker and used the brush to brush the crumbs off the counter in their bakery or the cake crumbs off their table at home. This family heirloom accompanied her all her life. Now, it tells museum visitors the story of a bright young woman who set out for the New World, her heart full of hopes and dreams.

Together with many photos, letters and documents Martha’s family brought the horse brush to the German Emigration Center where it exemplifies one of more than seven million stories of emigration.

Contribute to Our Collection

Maybe your family has hidden “treasures” of this kind, too. They are usually found in boxes up in an attic or in a basement corner or even in old suitcases. When homes or apartments are cleared objects or documents like these are often heedlessly thrown away. We would love to have them and the story that goes with them. Objects like these will receive a place in the German Emigration Center’s collection and exhibition.

We are searching for:

  • • your emigration story or the emigration story of your ancestors,
  • • photos (from the emigrant’s native country and new home),
  • • travel documents,
  • • personal documents (such as letters, postcards, diaries, journals),
  • • documents (such as passports, certificates of naturalization, ID papers) and
  • • personal memorabilia (for example, the contents found in a piece of hand luggage, a brooch, a carved pipe).

It is important that you are willing to bestow these objects to the German Emigration Center.

German Emigration Center
Tanja Fittkau
Columbusstrasse 65
27568 Bremerhaven
Tel: +49 471 90220 – 260