In Trump's German Ancestral Village, The Locals Are Not Impressed : Parallels "Ich bin ein Kallstadter," Donald Trump likes to say. But many of the villagers are more proud of other famous American descendants with links to Kallstadt: the Heinz family, of ketchup fame.
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In Trump's German Ancestral Village, The Locals Are Not Impressed

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In Trump's German Ancestral Village, The Locals Are Not Impressed

In Trump's German Ancestral Village, The Locals Are Not Impressed

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/466536011/466648909" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump strongly opposes illegal immigration, and that's putting it mildly. This perplexes many in his paternal grandfather's hometown in Germany. They say the elder Trump got on a boat 130 years ago without a visa and sailed to America to make his fortune. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson went to Trump's ancestral village, where many residents claim king to the wealthy candidate.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Donald Trump wrote in his 1987 book, "The Art Of The Deal," that his grandfather came from Sweden. These days, the real estate mogul embraces different paternal roots.

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NELSON: The teetotaler's grandfather actually hails from this medieval winemaking village called Kallstadt in southwestern Germany. The younger Trump brags about him in a 2014 German documentary called the "Kings Of Kallstadt."

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DONALD TRUMP: (As character) My grandfather, Frederick Trump, came to the United States in 1885. He joined the great gold rush. He did fantastically well. He loved this country. But you know what, I love Kallstadt, also.

NELSON: The 69-year-old even recites a famous JFK line with a local twist to show solidarity with his ancestors.

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TRUMP: (As character, speaking German).

NELSON: But many of the villagers aren't impressed by their famous American connection, says resident Martina Fuhrmann.

MARTINA FUHRMANN: (Speaking German).

NELSON: She calls Trump a questionable personality. She says he deserves credit for his business acumen but that he comes across as an unsympathetic sort who doesn't appeal to her politically. Other Kallstadt natives, like the documentary's filmmaker, Simone Wendel, refused to even talk about the American's candidacy. She says she is a distant relative of Trump by marriage. Wendel says people here want journalists to ask them about other things the village is famous for, like the ice wine served at Queen Elizabeth's coronation or stuffed sow's stomach that is a favorite delicacy of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The filmmaker says villagers relate more to their other famous American connection, the Heinz family.

SIMONE WENDEL: It's easier for the people in Kallstadt to know about the ketchup because ketchup is also in bottles, and somebody fills something in and sells it. It's like wine. It's a very, very similar product. So I guess it's much easier for them to understand this way of earning money.

NELSON: The father of the H.J. Heinz company founder immigrated to the U.S. around 1840. Several of the immigrant's great-grandsons returned to Kallstadt more than a decade ago to reconnect with their roots and taste local wines.

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NELSON: According to the local Protestant pastor, those visits led to the Heinz family donating more than $56,000 toward restoring his church's 1775 baroque organ.

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NELSON: By comparison, there are no obvious links to Trump in Kallstadt. The ancestral home has been renovated and resold a number of times. Village Mayor Thomas Jaworek says the last Trump moved away from Kallstadt a while ago.

THOMAS JAWOREK: So now I think it's more the Heinz ketchup which makes us well-known worldwide. But perhaps if Donald Trump becomes president, then it might change. And the Trump family is more important to Kallstadt.

NELSON: The village's neighbors aren't waiting, however, to poke fun at its Trump connection. For instance, a nearby town's newspaper called Die Rheinpfalz, earlier this week, superimposed an image of the Trump world tower onto a picture of the Kallstadt skyline. The paper told readers, that's where the next wine festival will be held. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Kallstadt.

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