SynopsisThe film documents the dramatic ascent of Ludwig Nissen, an emigrant from Husum Germany who reached the pinnacle of New York society in the late 19th century. Nissen was born December 2, 1855, the sixth of ten children, the son of a ropemaker.
On August 28, 1872, 16-year-old Ludwig left his hometown and traveled on the steamer Westphalia from Hamburg to New York. On September 11, 1872 Nissen arrived at his new home. Portraits from the period show a confident young man who, despite his small-town background, was able to make his way in New York.
Nissen first settled in the neighborhood known as "Little Germany," in Manhattan. His first job was at a German barber's as a bootblack. He then worked at a hotel, as a shoe shiner, waiter, cashier, and accountant, before eventually opening a German restaurant with a man from Hamburg. Nissen got his American citizenship in 1879, and sold the restaurant to become a merchant.
In May 1881, Nissen opened the jewelry shop "Schilling and Nissen" with the Hamburg diamond setter Fred Schilling. The company was burdened with debts, but had a quick upswing. In 1885 he founded his own firm, Ludwig Nissen & Co. He moved his business to the most prestigious street in New York, Fifth Avenue. He became involved in the New York jeweler's trade union, and became its President.
For more than thirty years, Nissen demonstrated an active interest in public and economic affairs. The American President Theodore Roosevelt sought his advice. Nissen became an American through and through, and served his new home country well. Nonetheless, he stood up for Germany, for example, against the accusations that the Imperial regime in Germany was to blame for the outbreak of World War I.
On October 26, 1924 Ludwig Nissen died in Brooklyn. As he and his wife Katie had no children, Nissen donated a large part of his estate to the city of Husum, thus laying the foundation for the Nordfriesland Museum Husum. Nissenhaus.