It isn’t just about Angela Merkel or Trump’s general misogyny. The current U.S. President’s negative attitude toward Germany is rooted in his grandfather’s murky personal biography.
The political record shows pretty conclusively that Trump always needs a woman to beat up on. He generates his inner mojo that way. His candidacy for the office of President of the United States depended on denigrating Hillary Clinton.
With Hillary in the shadows now, Trump’s new pinata is Germany’s Angela Merkel. Fitting the pattern at home as Trump is continually beating up on Senator Elizabeth Warren, a presumable Democratic Presidential.
To be sure, Germany has its faults, but it is not the source of anywhere near as much evil as Trump suggests. Angela Merkel is not beyond criticism. For example, her stance on defense spending warrants criticism.
What it does not warrant, though, is for Trump to ceaselessly attack Merkel as he had done with Hillary Clinton before.
The other part of the story explaining Trump’s reflexive criticism of Germany reads as if it were from a satirical magazine (think of Germany’s Titanic, France’s Canard Enchainé or the United States’s The Onion). But it isn’t.
We know that Trump is famously thin-skinned and that he can hold a grudge forever.
These are the facts that Roland Paul, former director of the Institute for Palatinate History and Folklore in Kaiserslautern and an expert on German-American emigration history, has culled together from the archives.
• Donald Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump, who lived from 1869 to 1918, hailed from a small town called Kallstadt an der Weinstrasse in Germany’s Palatinate region. Today, it has a population of around 1,200 people.
His grandfather – wouldn’t you know it? – trained as a hairdresser. Donald’s fascination with wild hairdos thus appears to be genetically rooted.
• After having arrived on American shores in 1885, the 16-year-old worked in a barber shop in New York City, before moving West to seek a fortune in those heady gold rush days.
• Out there, Trump initially ran a restaurant in Seattle, Washington. In 1892, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen and changed his name to Frederick.
• Subsequently, he ran a hotel and a brothel in the gold and silver mining town of Monte Cristo. Later, he opened a restaurant and hotel of dubious distinction on Lake Bennett in British Columbia. It helpfully advertised “private boxes for ladies.”
• Grandfather Trump thus didn’t become a gold digger. Rather, he made his initial pile of money – the original source of Donald Trump’s wealth – with ancillary services related to the gold rush, restaurants and brothels.
This explains Donald’s genetic predisposition not just with “grabbing” stuff, but also his longstanding business interest in the Miss Universe contest.
• To please his homesick German-born wife, whom he had married in 1902, wealthy Grandfather Trump decided to return to Germany. However, his application for repatriation was rejected by the King of Bavaria in 1904. (Trump’s home region of the Palatinate then belonged to the Kingdom of Bavaria).
• The apparent reason for the rejection? As a young man, Grandfather Trump had evaded the then-compulsory military service.
No wonder that, two generations later, Donald J. Trump was so determined to secure several draft deferments for himself as a young man. It’s a family tradition.
• In 1905, the family returned to New York. Trump became managing director of a hotel and worked as a real estate entrepreneur. In 1918, he died of the Spanish flu.
• His son Fred C. (“Freddy”), DJT’s father, entered the paternal real estate business in the 1920s. He very much benefited from the social housing program launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, building tenements and housing estates in New York.
Thus, the Trump family’s wealth is remarkably closely connected to social spending by the government, which the grandson – in an apparent case of self-hatred – now detests so much.
The real reason for The Donald being so mad about government social programs is this: The “old money” of New York has always shunned the Trumps and, because of the lowly roots of its wealth, never gave them the social standing the Trump clan thought their wealth deserved.
Even three generations in, the Trump clan still displays the sign of the “nouveau riches,” they must at every instant show their wealth through gaudiness. They are still not, what they should be — “old money.”
His grandfather: No longer welcome in Germany
• It stands to reason that the earlier social status slight – the grandfather’s request for repatriation being rejected by the King of Bavaria – led to a lasting traumatization on Donald’s part.
• Donald’s father Freddy even went so far as to deny his German origins and curiously claimed for a long time that his family hailed from Sweden.
The fact that Donald’s skin is not just famously orange, but also very, very thin probably explains best why he has such a negative animus toward Germany today.
***Editor’s note: The facts presented in this account of the Trump family draw heavily on the German-language local press feature, which is gratefully acknowledged.