When Donald Trump’s German grandfather was ordered by a royal decree to leave the country and never return, he wrote a letter pleading the prince regent of Bavaria not to deport him.
Friedrich Trump wrote the letter in 1905 when he returned to Germany with his wife and daughter after having emigrated to the US.
German authorities had given him eight weeks to leave and denied him repatriation because he failed to complete his mandatory military service and to register his initial emigration to the US 20 years earlier.
In the letter, Mr Trump described the moment he received the news from the High Royal State Ministry he had to leave as “a lightning strike from fair skies”.
“We were paralysed with fright, our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick,” he wrote.
“Why should we be deported?” he asked, “This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree.”
The letter, translated from German into English and published in Harper’s Magazine, shows how desperate Mr Trump was to remain with his family in Bavaria.
Writing to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria, he begged for mercy.
He said: “In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.”
Mr Trump was born in the village of Kallstadt, in the Rhineland region in west Germany in 1869.
He left the country at the age of 16 with little possessions and went to the US in the hope of making fortune.
He trained to become a barber and he went on to run a restaurant, bar and allegedly even a brothel and became a wealthy man.
Despite his letter, Mr Trump was not allowed to stay in Bavaria and returned to New York, where he settled with his family.
More than a 100 years later, his grandson, Donald Trump, imposed new immigration rules that would have kept his grandfather out of the US.
The Trump administration’s hardline immigration stance has also set precedent for the First Lady Melania Trump to be deported.
Meanwhile, deportation raids in the US which are part of a crackdown by the Trump administration on all undocumented immigrants have led to a increase in arrests of immigrants who do not have criminal records.
In the latest deportation sweep, immigration officers arrested 650 people in communities across the US over a four-day span in July. Among them, 520 had no criminal records.
In June, President Trump reversed on his campaign promise to deport immigrants’ children, known as “Dreamers”, but their parents could still be sent back to their home countries.
Here is Friedrich Trump’s letter in full, translated from German by Austen Hinkley:
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,