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Dear Minnesota - Laura Hill

Laura Hill shares the challenges her Grandmother faced as the daughter of German-speaking immigrants during World War I

By Laura Hill

My grandmother, born in 1903, was the daughter of an immigrant from Germany and of a mother whose father immigrated from Germany. Grandma spoke German at home, attended a German-speaking church, and attended a German school.

The U.S. entry into WWI changed all that.

She never completed her confirmation at church as they switched to English. She told me many times, "One dasn't speak German on the sidewalk lest they spit on you." She had other stories of harassment of ethnic Germans. I think of her when I hear languages other than English being spoken in public.


Young woman dressed in a long coat and wearing a hat
Grandmother Gertrude Eggert Curtis in her young teens; she was born in 1903.
Line of older people dressed in formal clothes posing for camera
"Eggert clan" was taken in 1963 in Isanti, MN. My great-grandmother Emma Schmidt Eggert is at the front of the line, followed by all her children in order of age except for one son who had moved to Detroit. My Grandmother Gert is the second oldest child. The photo was taken by an amateur photographer from Isanti after the funeral of an in-law.
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