Grandpa Trump Was Banished From Germany for Draft Dodging

Roland Park, the former director of the Institute for Palatine History and Folk-Life Studies, has unearthed a decree from Bavaria banishing Donald Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trumpf, never to return to his homeland. The reason? Breaking an 1886 law prohibiting draft dodging by moving to the United States.

The legend of Friedrich Drumpf Trumpf Trump

Trump’s grandfather Friedrich was born in Bavaria in Kallstadt in 1869. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1885 as Friedrich Trumpf, eventually moving to Washington and Canada to cash in on the goldrushes with a series of restaurants and brothels. He changed his name to Trump when he became a U.S. citizen in 1892. Gwenda Blum, who wrote “the definitive biography on the Trump family, ascribed Friedrich’s success to “mining the miners,” since they needed food, lodging, and entertainment whether or not they found gold. In situations “that created many losers, [Trumpf] managed to emerge a winner.”

U.S. Immigration records. Line 133 mentions "Friedr. Trumpf." age 16, born in Kallstadt, Germany. From Wikipedia
U.S. Immigration records. Line 133 mentions “Friedr. Trumpf.” age 16, born in Kallstadt, Germany. From Wikipedia

A wealthy man, he returned to his home in Bavaria in 1901, married his former neighbor’s daughter Elizabeth Christ, and brought her back to New York in 1902. She was extremely homesick, so he moved his wife and young daughter back to Bavaria in 1904. According to Blair’s biography, the Bavarian Department of the Interior issued a decree to banish Trump, because he had immigrated to the U.S., thereby dodging his compulsory military service.  Now the documents confirming this legend have been found.

Draft dodging, banishment and begging to stay.

According to the tabloid BILD, this is the letter dated February 27, 1905 from the the Royal district authority of Dürkheim to to the mayor of Kallstadt.

Letter banishing Trump from Bavaria
The letter states that Friedrich Trump is prohibited from staying in Germany. From BILD

The letter says ‘The American citizen and pensioner Friedrich Trump, currently residing in Kallstadt, is to be instructed to leave the state of Bavaria by May 1 at the latest, or else has to expect deportation.”  According to Roland Paul, Friedrich “failed to de-register from his homeland and had not carried out his military service, which is why the authorities rejected his attempt at repatriation.”  In 1886, the Royal Ministry of the Interior adopted resolution 9916, which punished emigration to North America to avoid military service.

Biographer Gwenda Blum writes that Trump asked his mother to file for release of his Bavarian citizenship in 1885, however that request was never received by the government.  So when Trump returned in 1905, the Bavarian authorities saw that the “situation was open and shut: young man leaves, waits until he’s overage, then wants to return to hearth and home, scot-free, with the nest egg he amassed while on the lam.”

As a result, Blum says, Trump was labeled a draft dodger, although he countered that his “innocent virtue [was] battered by bureaucratic bungling.” Trump then sent the following letter to the Prince Regent Luitpold on June 6.

Trump's letter begging to stay in Bavaria
Friedrich Trump’s letter to Prince Regent Luitpold, asking to be allowed to stay in Bavaria despite breaking the law by dodging his military service. Photograph: Landesarchiv Speyer/AP. Source: The Irish Times

Addressing the Prince as “the much-loved, noble, wise and righteous sovereign and sublime ruler,” BILD describes the letter as “obsequious…practically begging the Prince Regent for a residence permit.”   However, Business Insider reports that “the prince regent did not indulge and rejected the ‘most subservient request.'”  Trump moved his family to New York for good on July 1.  At the time, his wife was 6 months pregnant with Donald Trump’s father, Fred.

Echoes of a future President-Elect

Friedrich Trump cashed in on other people’s misfortunes, engaged in shady business deals, angered a foreign leader, blamed a system rigged against him, and got caught draft dodging. Sound at all familiar? According to The Guardian, residents of Friedrich Trump’s home town of Kallstadt, “joke that the blame for Trump becoming US president-elect lies with the German authorities who threw his grandfather out.”



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