Being German Abroad, Germans Abroad


Germans have always emigrated; they have done so not only for economic but also—especially after 1848—for political reasons as well. Germans in the diaspora varied greatly in terms of politics, culture, religion, and self-conception. Indeed, there was as much diversity among Germans who emigrated as among those who remained in Germany itself. At the same time, identification with the German language and culture remained a touchstone for emigrants, an important part of feeling German. This explains both the high number and the enormous importance of German schools worldwide. But debates about the German language also reflected the fact that many Germans abroad also felt a sense of belonging to their host country. Those who were unwilling to accept the idea of multiple attachments felt that Germanness was lost or diminished, for example, if German was mixed with other languages. In addition, certain feelings or longings (for the “German forest”) or characteristics (such modesty and athleticism) served as markers to set Germans apart from others.


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