Nina Burleigh, Author - Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump's Women

Nina Burleigh, Author
Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump's Women


Both of Donald Trump’s paternal grandparents Frederick and Elizabeth Christ Trump came to the United States from Kallstadt, Germany, where the local delicacy is called saumagen, a pork and vegetable sausage flavored with marjoram. The long-time German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, had saumagen regularly delivered to him in Berlin.

If you remember Kohl, he was a massive man who was probably the only world leader of our time who could go belly-to-belly with President Trump.

Trump’s cultural-genetic inheritance probably has not extended to eating saumagen.  He’s a steak and burgers guy, and for both of them, he likes lots of ketchup.  Well, it turns out there are two families from Kallstadt who got mega-rich in America, and became literally, brand names: the Trumps and ketchup-making Heinz family.

Not that a tendency toward gluttony is a political signifier.  Helmut Kohl was a unifier, the man who brought together West and East Germany.  Donald Trump is the greatest divider the American nation has ever known.

Here’s what President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton called Helmut Kohl: “the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century.” What are some of the things, do you suppose, Bush the elder and Clinton have called Donald Trump?

It is good to be reminded that the most anti-immigrant president in American history is separated by just two generations from immigrants from Kallstadt, Germany and is the next generation of his Scottish immigrant mother.

While Trump is quietly respectful of his mother, he’s always made it redundantly clear that he’s his papa’s boy.  And, boy, did Papa Fred Trump have a relationship with his mother!  Elizabeth Christ Trump saved the family from ruin when her husband Frederick Trump, the elder, died and left her with three young children, including Fred who was just 14.  She took her inheritance and consolidated it in real estate, which, as soon as he was able, young Fred took over and never a time after gave her any public credit.

It’s a faux-self-made-man meme that seems to run in the family.

Speaking of genetic inheritances, the one shared pleasure of Fred Trump and his mom was mocking Mary Anne MacLeod Trump; Fred’s wife, President Donald Trump’s mother and fisherman’s daughter from the Isle of Lewis.  What they mocked was what the immigrant girl had learned from her one American job, more than five years of service in the household of the widow of the mega-millionaire Andrew Carnegie: a love of high-society affectation and gaudy display.

Among the Trump family values Donald seems to have acquired are his father’s deep disrespect for women, and from his mother, the gold-plate on those hotel doorknobs and bath fixtures.



Nina Burleigh is the national politics correspondent at Newsweek, an award-winning journalist, and the author of six books. Her most recent book, just published is Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump’s Women.  Her previous book, The Fatal Gift of Beauty, was a New York Times bestseller. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in and reported from France, Italy, and the Middle East. She lives in New York City.



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