Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ethnic Discussion over Germany

Up until the 1950s era in Germany....there was basically one single 'other' ethnic group in Germany besides Germans....and this group was the German-Danes.  This kinda goes back to the 1870s period of Germany, when the entire German state of Schleswig-Holstein was Danish property.  After the brief one-year war...this state slide into Germany, and the locals now....one-hundred-and-forty years later....consider themselves Germans, with a Danish heritage.

The 1950s opened up this massive industrial complex in Germany, and the Germans simply didn't have the manpower to meet requirements.  So the door was opened and various European groups came on work-visas.  This open-door also included Turks.

Today....while the population is widely advertised at roughly eighty million residents....the truth is that around eighty percent (roughly 64 million)....are Germans.  The rest?  Ethnic groups.

It's believed that around three million Turks now reside in Germany....either in permanent citizen status or on a work-visa deal.  Centered around urban areas, it's rare to find Turks in rural regions of Germany.

Generally, counting the Turks, there are around fifty-odd ethnic groups in Germany at present.  A lot of them....are in small numbers.  An example of this are the Mexicans (yeah, a shocker).  The brief history to this is that when revolution came to Mexico shortly before WW I....a large number of people got caught up in the violence and elected to leave.  The Kaiser apparently gave some type of blessing over their stay (perhaps intended to be brief), and the rest is mostly history.  Germans will say around 12,000 Mexican-Germans reside in the country today.

During the Warsaw Pact era, Berlin (on the DDR side) attracted several deals where Vietnam sent guest-workers to support DDR, and some just stayed on.  After the wall came down, Germany will admit there are roughly 12,800 legally residing in the county.  Some estimates show another thirty to forty thousand illegally in Germany.

There are a minimum of seventy thousand Chinese-Germans within Germany.  The brief history of their introduction goes back to the late 1800's when they were brought in as guest-workers for manual labor jobs.  Other groups were brought in during the Warsaw Pact era as workers or students, and they simply stayed on.

There are roughly 100,000 Americans in Germany (a 2010 listing from the German gov't)....either as residents or on a work-visa.  The number doesn't include GI's, their dependents, American workers on bases, or DODDs school teachers.  Over the past year, some business journals suggest that another ten thousand American tech-workers have entered Germany on the work-visa program.  If you counted up all of them....to include GI numbers....Americans would likely come up around 300,000.

This brings up this odd cultural discussion since Crimea came up recently.  The birth rate in Germany is in decline....no one ever argues about that and some statistical wizards will say that the sixty-four-million German number will decline by half over the next hundred years (unless something changes).  This generally means.....more ethnic groups being introduced, and Germany being less Germany, and more.....something quiet different.

Russians in Germany? Yes....to the tune of roughly 3.5 million.  But there's a story here.

What Germany will say in public....is that there are three separate groups of Russian-Germans.  First, the Russian-German Jews.....somewhere in the 200,000 range.  They may speak Russian and German....but they are Jews.

The second group could be more described as old Germans-who immigrated to Russia in the 1700s-who immigrated back to Germany since the wall went down.   It's an odd story.  Decades ago....going back to the 1700s....Germany sent off people in search of farming land to areas deep in the heart of Russia.  For the most part, those Germans will say they are Russian.....but they kept the languages and some traditions.  When the wall came down.....they made decisions to immigrate back to Germany.  Numbers?  It's believed between 2 and 2.5 million of these Russian-Germans exist in Germany.

The third group?  Plain old Russians, period.  Between 550,000 and 650,000 reside in Germany.  Most came looking for better economic conditions, stability, and improved living conditions.

Over the past five years, with the economic slippage occurring throughout Europe....Germany was the only place where business operations was improving and high-tech skills and university graduates were in demand.  Italian, Spanish, Cypriot and Greek residents have moved in and found jobs.  Some HR folks think it's a trend....but they won't say "permanently here" or hint that the folks will still be here in ten years.

So, when you gaze over at Ukraine and it's ethnic problem....it's not a singular one.  Most European countries have the same issue brewing.  Each will tell you after a decade that it was good to move off to the 'new' land, but some things were better in the old land versus the new land.  Yet, they won't move back.  The Russians in Crimea?  I doubt if they'd dare raise their hand and move back into Russia.  The Russians in Germany?  They'd just laugh if you asked if they'd like to move back.

Everyone was looking for something better, and found it.

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