During Last Mass Migration, Europeans Were the Immigrants
Fifty-five million people left Europe, and they encountered some of the same heartbreaking problems as today's refugees.
It was one of the greatest migrations in human history. From 1846 to 1940, some 55 million Europeans packed their bags and sought a new life abroad, mostly in the United States and South America. Whole regions were emptied out, forcing governments from Vienna to Prague to use propaganda—and punishment—to prevent the spread of so-called “America fever.” But as Tara Zahra describes in her new book, The Great Departure: Mass Migration From Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World, the streets of America were not always lined with gold, and many emigrants returned home, broken and disillusioned. (See the world’s busiest migration routes today.)
Speaking from Venice, Zahra explains why Western rhetoric has not always been matched by generosity