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German Diasporic Experiences

Identity, Migration, and Loss

Mathias Schulze

Publication Year: 2008

Co-published with the Waterloo Centre for German Studies

For centuries, large numbers of German-speaking people have emigrated from settlements in Europe to other countries and continents. In German Diasporic Experiences: Identity, Migration, and Loss, more than forty international contributors describe and discuss aspects of the history, language, and culture of these migrant groups, individuals, and their descendants. Part I focuses on identity, with essays exploring the connections among language, politics, and the construction of histories—national, familial, and personal—in German-speaking diasporic communities around the world. Part II deals with migration, examining such issues as German migrants in postwar Britain, German refugees and forced migration, and the immigrant as a fictional character, among others. Part III examines the idea of loss in diasporic experience with essays on nationalization, language change or loss, and the reshaping of cultural identity.

Essays are revised versions of papers presented at an international conference held at the University of Waterloo in August 2006, organized by the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, and reflect the multidisciplinarity and the global perspective of this field of study.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press


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pp. v-vii

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The Speckled People

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pp. ix-xii

In his memoir, The Speckled People, Hugo Hamilton, an Irish writer and the son of a German mother and an Irish father, tells the story of an Irish German family in Dublin through the eyes of one family member, a young boy. The following excerpt...

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1 Diaspora Experiences: German Immigrants and Their Descendants

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pp. xiii

"Diaspora Experiences: German Immigrants and Their Descendants" was the title of a conference organized by the Waterloo Centre for German Studies in 2006. From 24 to 27 August, about two hundred participants— researchers in history, literature...

I: Identity

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2 Language and Identity in the German Diaspora

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pp. 3-20

This chapter addresses the role of language in the construction of identity among German emigrants and their descendants living around the world. Speakers of Pennsylvania German are taken as a first example, with a focus on how characteristics of group identity are constructed through varieties of German and English. The chapter...

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3 Language and the Negotiation of Identities among German-speaking Diasporic Communities in Central Europe

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pp. 21-34

This chapter develops recent work in linguistic anthropology on language ideologies and the negotiation of identities in a study of the language biographies of German speakers in central Europe. Based on interviews conducted in 1995 and 2005 with three generations of German speakers in Hungary and the Czech...

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4 German-speaking Swiss in Australia: Typical Swiss, Model Immigrants, or a Sonderfall Abroad?

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pp. 35-46

This chapter explores how fifteen immigrants to Australia from Germanspeaking Switzerland relate their migratory experience of building a new life in a different language. The analysis of written and oral life-story data focuses on two aspects: First, the language practices and attitudes discussed show that the linear pattern...

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5 Migration, Language Use, and Identity: German in Melbourne, Australia, since World War II

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pp. 47-60

This chapter presents an overview of the German language in Australia, concentrating on the period from 1939 to 2001 and using census and interview data. Australian national census data are used to provide the large-scale context for family case studies of a number of subgroups of German- speaking immigrants to Australia...

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6 Language and Identity: The German-speaking People of Paarl

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pp. 61-72

Paarl is the third-oldest town in South Africa, situated approximately sixty kilometres from Cape Town, and many Germans have settled there over the last three hundred years. This chapter provides an overview of the history of the German-speaking immigration to Paarl and reports on a series of interviews in which...

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7 Canadian German: Identity in Language

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pp. 73-82

Whenever speakers of one language move to a place where a different language is spoken, language contact phenomena are to be expected. This chapter investigates such phenomena within the social context of language use and, in particular, links them to questions of identity. It bases its analysis on interviews and conversations...

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8 “Memories from Afar”: Aspects of Memories Spanning Several Generations in Families of Austrian Jewish Refugees

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pp. 83-94

How did Austrian Jewish refugees remember their former home and culture, and what memories and narratives did they pass on to later generations? The research in this chapter is based on interviews with children and grandchildren of Austrian Jewish refugees in New York with at least one Jewish grandparent who had...

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9 Pulitzer, Preetorius, and the German American Identity Project of the Westliche Post in St. Louis

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pp. 95-106

Divided by imported regional prejudices, religious differences, political affiliations, and spread in pockets across the city, the Germans in nineteenth- century St. Louis comprised the city's largest immigrant ethnicity and possibly its least cohesive. An examination of...

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10 “We dont want Kiser to rool in Ontario”: Franco-Prussian War, German Unification, and World War I as Reflected in the Canadian Berliner Journal (1859–1918)

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pp. 107-116

For a long time the Berliner Journal was the mostly widely read German language newspaper in Canada. It stands out because of its nationwide reach and its long period of publication. For nearly sixty years the Berliner Journal was published weekly in Berlin...

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11 The Politics of Diaspora: Russian German Émigré Activists in Interwar Germany

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pp. 117-130

This chapter explores the essential role that Russian German émigrés to Germany played in shaping the politics of German diasporas in the interwar period. Together with völkisch activists in Germany, they generated new narratives of common German identity between Russian Germans and Germans in the Reich, thus expanding...

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12 Creating Transcultural Space: Ethnicity, Gender, and the Arts in Chicago, from the 1890s to the 1950s

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pp. 131-144

In this essay, I introduce the Columbia Damen Club (cdc), a group of women who inserted themselves into the urban landscape of Chicago with a determined interest in "high cultural" issues. These women, ensconced in a bourgeois culture...

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13 The German Democratic Republic and the Citizens of German Origin in Canada: The Role of the Gesellschaft Neue Heimat, 1980–1990

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pp. 145-158

Since 1964 in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Gesellschaft Neue Heimat (GNH) endeavoured to maintain cultural contacts with citizens of German origin abroad by offering these individuals informational material and "information tours." This society was subordinate to the Liga für Völkerfreundschaft, which aimed...

II: Migration

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14 Moving beyond Hyphenated German Culture: Establishing a Research Agenda for Expatriate and Heritage German Literary Studies

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pp. 161-180

This chapter examines the history of the study of German literature outside of Germany and central Europe. Using examples drawn from German Canadian and German American literary scholarship, it explores the research agendas of these disciplines in the twentieth...

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15 Some Facts and Figures on German-speaking Exiles in Ireland, 1933–1945

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pp. 181-192

This chapter presents a brief introduction to Ireland in the early 1930s, Irish policy toward refugees, and the question of anti-Semitism in Ireland. Research into German-speaking refugees in Ireland has started only recently. For the first time some indications on who came, and on when and where, are presented. This...

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16 Conversion as a “Two-edged Sword”: Evangelicalism among Pittsburgh’s German Immigrants

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pp. 193-204

As evangelical Protestantism swept the United States in the nineteenth century, some Methodist leaders turned their eyes to would-be converts emigrating from the German states. Pittsburgh, growing rapidly at mid-century, numbered among the cities where Methodism established an outpost for immigrant evangelism. This essay...

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17 The Diasporic Moment: Elise von Koerber, Dr. Otto Hahn, and the Attempt to Create a German Diaspora in Canada

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pp. 205-216

In the two decades of the 1870s and '80s, a confluence of factors created the ideal political conditions for the creation of German-speaking settlements in Canada that could provide a permanent connection to the homeland. During this time, German...

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18 German Migrants in Postwar Britain: Immigration Policy, Recruitment, and Reception

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pp. 217-230

The reception of Germans in Britain in the immediate postwar period must be seen in the broader context of a labour shortage that could not be satisfied by the domestic workforce. Germans were targeted as part of a comprehensive recruitment initiative that was aimed primarily at eastern European refugees and...

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19 Immigration of German-speaking People to the Territory of Modern-day Turkey (1850–1918)

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pp. 231-244

German migration to the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century and prior to World War i was a phenomenon altogether different from the waves of German emigrants to North and South America. The number of German people in Istanbul...

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20 Associating or Quarrelling? Migration, Acculturation, and Transmission among Social-democratic Sudeten Germans in Canada

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pp. 245-258

Sudeten Germans, who immigrated to Canada after World War ii due to the loss of their homeland, have become a diaspora within the German Canadian mosaic. However, approximately one thousand of them, refugees from Nazism, settled in Canada...

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21 Sudeten German Refugees in Canada and the Forced Migration of Germans in Postwar Central and Eastern Europe

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pp. 259-270

Virtually all works on the Sudeten German refugees in Canada focus on aspects of their immigration. This chapter, by contrast, sheds light on the way these refugees reacted to the Allied-approved expulsion of Germans from central and eastern Europe...

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22 Language Attrition among Germans Living in the Netherlands

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pp. 271-280

This chapter discusses language attrition among German students in the Netherlands. The experimental group, fifty-two Germans living in the Netherlands, were asked to judge the grammaticality of German infinitive constructions. Among the constructions...

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23 Der Onkel aus Amerika: The German Emigrant as a Figure of Speech and Fictional Character

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pp. 281-292

The "uncle from America" has been a figure in German culture for more than two hundred years. The following analysis examines the function of this figure in literature and film, showing how the representation of the uncle influences the social construction of migration, the hopes and dreams of the ones who wanted to...

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24 “Ich will nach Amerika, mir eine neue Heimat suchen”: The Emigration of Expellees in Post-1945 West German Film

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pp. 293-304

In the first years of the Federal Republic of Germany (frg), 230,000 refugees and expellees emigrated. Compared to the eight million refugees and expellees in the country at the time, this is a relatively small number. Nevertheless, the topic of emigration is generally underrepresented in West German film of this...

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25 German Diaspora Experiences in British Columbia after 1945

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pp. 305-316

German immigrants to British Columbia in the 1950s had a different experience than their contemporaries elsewhere in Canada. Within this ethnic group, diverse patterns of immigration and integration into the host society are discernible. Although the Canadian mainstream would characterize all of them as...

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26 The German Language in the South Seas: Language Contact and the Influence of Language Politics and Language Attitudes

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pp. 317-330

Between 1884 and 1900, Germany established protectorates in large areas of the South Pacific. The authorities assumed that the linguistically extremely diverse areas would pose communication problems. Thus the question arose whether German should become the lingua franca in the South Pacific. After a controversial...

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27 Migration, Gender, and Storytelling: How Gender Shapes the Experiences and the Narrative Patterns in Biographical Interviews

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pp. 331-344

This chapter offers a short overview of the issues raised by German women and men in interviews and of the different ways they referred to their immigration experience. This analysis is based on a comprehensive research project on the oral history.

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28 The Domestication of Radical Ideas and Colonial Spaces: The Case of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche

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pp. 345-356

This chapter explores Bernhard Förster's and Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche's pursuit of the colonial dream in Paraguay. It outlines and contextualizes Förster's political and colonialist ideas and asks what motivated Förster- Nietzsche to participate in his enterprise. With an eye on the role of women in the male colonial project...

III: Loss

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29 Reasons and Conditions of Population Transfer: The Expulsion of Germans from East and Central Europe and Their Integration in Germany and Abroad after World War II

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pp. 359-378

It is a truism that most of the Germans who immigrated to Canada did not come from Germany proper. Many of them were former citizens of Russia, the United States, of Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic states, etc. The notion of "Canadian German" is mostly related to ethnicity. Considering the self-declaration...

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30 Emigration and Wiedergutmachung : The Social History of Jewish Entrepreneurs from Frankfurt,1933–1963

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pp. 379-390

This chapter deals with the social history of the emigration of Jewish entrepreneurs from Frankfurt during the Nazi era and analyses the impact of restitution and indemnification on their lives in exile. First, the diminishing possibilities of property transfer from Germany are described. The loss of large parts of their property...

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31 Dissolving the German Diaspora in Poland: A Different Approach

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pp. 391-404

The Nazi regime took the decisive steps, starting September 1939, to dissolve the German diasporas that had existed for more than a hundred years in Poland and eastern Europe. The preoccupation of historians and the German public with the forced migrations of 1944—45 has twisted the understanding of the larger...

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32 Suffering in a Province of Asia: The Russian German Diaspora in Kazakhstan

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pp. 405-418

By 1989, nearly a million Russian Germans lived in Kazakhstan. They constituted the third largest nationality in the territory after Russians and Kazakhs. At almost six percent of the population, the Russian Germans played an important role in the economic development of the republic. The vast majority of Russian...

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33 The Nationalization Campaign and the Rewriting of History: The Case of Blumenau

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pp. 419-430

During the Estado Novo ("New State," 1937—45), the Brazilian government practised an authoritarian nationalization policy to forge a greater sense of national unity.The government undertook many measures against different populations in order to homogenize them. This was intensified with Brazil's entry into...

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34 Pennsylvania German in Kansas: Language Change or Loss?

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pp. 431-442

Pennsylvania German (PG), spoken mainly by Amish and Mennonites in the United States and Canada, is an immigrant language in contact with American and Canadian English. PG is of special interest for research on language change because...

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35 Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph: Negotiating the Past in Huntsville

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pp. 443-454

After Germany's capitulation in 1945, hundreds of engineers, scientists, and technicians were brought to the United States from postwar Germany as a form of "intelligence reparations" under Operation Paperclip. Approximately 118 of them had worked...

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36 Brave or Naive? Memory Work and Vergangenheitsbewältigung in Gertrud Mackprang Baer’s In the Shadow of Silence

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pp. 455-466

This chapter explores how Gertrud Mackprang Baer's 2002 autobiography, In the Shadow of Silence—From Hitler Youth to Allied Internment: A Young Woman's Story of Truth and Denial, takes part in what has been in Germany a long and arduous process: that of Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Born in 1925, Baer grew up in Hamburg in...

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37 A German Post-1945 Diaspora? German Migrants’ Encounters with the Nazi Past

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pp. 467-478

The Germans who immigrated to Canada and the United States after 1945 were a heterogeneous group, but they had one common experience: they had multiple public and private, media and personal encounters and confrontations with Germany's Nazi past in the context of North American society and intercultural...

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38 Di Brandt’s Writing Breaks Canadian Mennonite Silence and Reshapes Cultural Identity

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pp. 479-490

One cultural storyline of the German-speaking Mennonites—a practice they learn and live by, and express in their discourse—is that of the Mennonites as peacemakers. Admirably, the Mennonites have been opposed to war and conflict for centuries. However, the work of critically acclaimed poet Di Brandt, of Canadian Mennonite heritage, suggests that pacifism, or nonresistance, can silence individual...

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39 Use It or Lose It? Language Use, Language Attitudes, and Language Proficiency among German Speakers in Vancouver

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pp. 491-502

This chapter reports on an investigation into the overall first-language proficiency of a group of long-term German immigrants to Canada. It attempts to link individual scores on a number of language tests as well as performance in free speech to reported language use in daily life and to attitudes toward both...


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pp. 503-510


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pp. 511-518

E-ISBN-13: 9781554581313
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554580279
Print-ISBN-10: 1554580277

Page Count: 540
Publication Year: 2008