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The changing face of Germany

The Local · 5 Aug 2011, 16:28

Published: 05 Aug 2011 16:28 GMT+02:00

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Who are the Germans?

When I first came to this country two decades ago, the answer was pretty clear: Being German meant you were German by blood – even if your family had spent the last few centuries living along the Volga River.

If you were a recent immigrant from Turkey, Vietnam, Portugal or elsewhere, you might have had citizenship but many people didn’t really consider you a German back then. This attitude led to all sorts of integration problems in the 1990s. There was a huge influx of Russian-speaking “Germans” after the Iron Curtain fell, but other “immigrants” of the second and third generations born here never felt completely accepted in their adopted home.

Fortunately, it seems such antiquated views of German-ness are finally changing in favour of a modern, values-based interpretation of what it means to be a citizen of Germany.

According to a survey released this week, criteria such as mastering the language and adapting to society have superseded the question of ancestry when it comes to whether someone is considered really “German” these days.

Of course, as Germans have become more welcoming of outsiders willing to integrate, newcomers have become keener to consider themselves German.

As a well-integrated immigrant myself, I can confirm this shift with my own experiences over the years.

Back in 1992, a “Greek” university student who was born and raised in Baden-Württemberg told me she would never consider herself German because she had grown up being told she wasn’t one. I imagine the poor woman is still living in her own cultural limbo.

Fast-forward 18 years to the 2010 football World Cup: Germany fielded a multicultural national team reflecting the diversity of the country’s society – something that would have been unthinkable not so long ago. That Mesut Özil, who grew up in the gritty Ruhr Valley, plays for Germany and not Turkey has made him an example to people on both sides of the integration equation.

With Germany facing a demographic implosion in the coming decades, immigration and integration will only grow in importance. Germans from all walks of life have to be encouraged to have more children to ensure Europe’s largest country doesn’t collapse. But the fact is, Germany will not keep its economy booming nor will it be able to support its cherished welfare state without more immigrants, too.

So it’s encouraging to see that those valuing this society and having a stake in its future are now being considered German. I know I’ll be raising a tasty Teutonic beer to salute them tonight.

Story continues below…

Marc Young



The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:48 August 5, 2011 by harcourt
I SINCERELY hope that the sentiments put forward in this article are true or become true. If so I see a very bright and perhaps a more relaxed future for Germany.
18:51 August 5, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
In Germany, and indeed most European countries, have a 2,000 year old history. They take pride in having specific traits and indentities. Could you or I change our "classification" simply because we choose to be something else? If I choose to be Polish, but come from Ireland, am I now Polish? Would they treat me the same way as they would another Pole, since I have now decided to change citizenship? Culture is something fundamentally congenital, and the nature of identity cannot be chosen. Immigrants should be treated fairly and with respect of course, but why go so far as to say "there is no difference between an immigrant to Germany and a German", or some such thing. Of course there is a difference! But that isn't a bad thing! You can integrate into German society, and at the same time not be a German. It takes a long time to "learn" how to be a "native", and it isn't a commodity that can be exchanged with a different passport.
19:37 August 5, 2011 by michael4096
@Jack - if I take your words as written, the incumbents decide, there is almost no such thing as an American. After all, the Americans of 300 years ago would not recognise anyone other than a native American as such. However, the commenters here show that this is not so: being American has nothing to do with the blood of your ancestors. Why one rule for Americans and another for Germans? How come you can you be an American after getting your passport, as so many are, but not a Gerrman similarly?

You say Europeans take pride in a 2000 year history. I agree, though I would put it somewhat longer. Europeans are proud of leading the world into the one we have today. Why should they not continue to lead the world into whatever we have tomorrow?
20:00 August 5, 2011 by farmon
Ethnic Germans have to immedatly start increasing the size of their families to stave off the multicultural mess that is coming.
20:41 August 5, 2011 by yourholiness
@ Jack Kerouac

Your concerns are well founded indeed. Pay no attention to those who would like us all to combine into what they think is the perfect composite, boring cookie cutter cutout. You can spell that attitude Politically Correct with capital letters. Don't like the current situation? Let michael4096 and company design mankind into how they think it ought to be. For your own good of course.
22:34 August 5, 2011 by jg.
If you want to experience discrimination in Germany, when someone asks your name, give them a Russian name and see what happens.

I know quite a few "Russian-Germans" and without exception, they are paid less than their "real German" counterparts and don't expect any kind of career advancement. One electrician friend found out that he was even being paid less than the apprentice he was training. The only Russians I have met who are not in this situation have their own business, work for a Russian firm or for a multinational, in a role that requires Russian language. As far as I can tell, most Germans believe that Slavs should be pushing a wheelbarrow, cleaning toilets or working at a supermarket checkout.
09:08 August 6, 2011 by harcourt
Jack Kerouac #2

You rightly point out the 2,000 year history of most European countries. I wouldn¦#39;t want to go back that far necessarily, so I would point out that say Poles are not much changed today as they were perhaps 200 yrs ago. In your words ¦quot;having specific traits and identities¦quot; This goes for the Irish, Spanish, Greeks, French etc. one could go on.

However there are some who write in the columns of The Local who would have us believe that today the Germans (alone) are ¦quot;totally¦quot; different from Germans a mere 80yrs ago. This is patently impossible as you so convincingly point out.
12:29 August 6, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
quote :(Back in 1992, a ¦quot;Greek¦quot; university student who was born and raised in Baden-Württemberg told me she would never consider herself German because she had grown up being told she wasn¦#39;t one. I imagine the poor woman is still living in her own cultural limbo.)

I don't understand why the author put Greek in brackets and then go to describe his acquaintance as (poor woman): even if someone with foreigner parent was born and raised in a country, he or she, still has the right to choose there identity. no one have the right to say this woman is not German just because her parent are Greek but no one should be offended if she feels otherwise.

often people with foreigner roots are still considered as nonnatives and then criticized by the same people for not feeling native enough!
16:36 August 6, 2011 by dcktz
Bogus story- pure propaganda.
18:23 August 6, 2011 by WestUnite
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
22:27 August 6, 2011 by Kennneth Ingle
This might be a generation question. I moved to Western-Germany in the sixties, before the students started causing trouble. The country was still divided and the people were much poorer in those days, but one did not have to fear walking home after dark, as is now the case is in this town. There were no foreign gangs robbing on the streets. The standard of hygiene and morals was much higher and the public service transport was not only punctual but also clean. The clock cannot be turned back, but for me, the really German Germany was a better place than it is today. Had I wanted to live in an inter-cultural Mishmash, I could have stayed in England.
11:29 August 7, 2011 by harcourt
WestUnite #10

Here we go, the "blood myth" and "master race" rolled into one !!
12:01 August 7, 2011 by jomamas
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:46 August 7, 2011 by Celeon
The question on what actually makes one a german is very old and complicated. It played a major role in the time before the founding of the german empire which founded Germany as a nation very late in European history.

The original sole and generally accepted requirement for being considered german was speaking german as first and primary language. Thats all. It did not even matter where you lived or what you thought you were.

In fact, speaking fluent german was the only definition for being german before Germany as a nation was founded and the german citizenship by birth was created. This point of view still kinda exists in many heads today with a majority of people considering austrians and german speaking swiss people to also being germans. No matter if you were of 100 % slavic ethnicity with polish or russian ancestors. You spoke fluent german regularly because you lived in a city state with many german speakers, you were automatically declared to be german by general opinion in Europe and the future of your family was sealed.

Whatever you were, your family was doomed to become german. :-D Take the astronomer Nikolaus Kopernikus as an example. Was he german or was he polish? The germans say he was german , the polish say he was polish. By definition of modern nationalism he was neither. ;-)
13:15 August 7, 2011 by LiberalGuy

I remeber hearing something similar with the Ukarinian immigrants not long ago. Now Canadian's can't get by without their perogies
13:42 August 7, 2011 by harcourt
jomamas #13

Calm down. Readers would take you more seriously if you put forward some practical ideas as to how YOU would stop mass migration
13:50 August 7, 2011 by karldehm
Multiculturalism doesn't work period! It has never worked and will never work. Let's stop listening to those who say we need to be more opened minded. Germany is quite tolerant and opened minded enough. There is a saying in Texas. Love it or leave it.

Well if you don't like Germany, go back where you came from! I'm sure you'll love it there much better.

Here's a comment for the poor Russian who cannot get a break. Have you been in Grunewald? Your ex-countrymen seem to be doing quite well for themselves.

Go home, please.
14:22 August 7, 2011 by harcourt
karldehm #17

Well you certainly have a closed mind yourself. I guess you are quite content to be that way.
14:38 August 7, 2011 by yourholiness
I take jomamas very seriously. He's right of course which is why the left tries so hard to dismiss his ideas.
15:51 August 7, 2011 by Lachner
I am an "Ausländer" living in Germany and proud to be fully integrated, but I would never consider myself a true German. Sure, I speak German fluently, I pay taxes, I have a degree from a German University and I work in Germany, but it would be ridiculous to all of a sudden say that I am German simply because I live here, when in fact I was proudly born and raised in Latin America and my mother language is Spanish (granted I do have German blood since my grandfather is from Bayern) and I have double nationality. I have no problem in not being a true German, but just as long as I am not discriminated and I have the same rights and freedoms as the other citizens of this country. Who cares what nationality or race they want to label me with, the bottom line is that I'm very happy to live here, I want to work hard, I want to integrate and I want to help make this great country even stronger.

I hate people that cry and moan for every little thing that happens to them and then call themselves the victims of discrimination. Things have changed a lot in Germany since the end of World War II, so leave history in the past and move on for God's sake. If you are not pleased to live as a foreigner in Germany, then the door is wide open and you are welcome to go back to your country. If things were so good in your home country, then why are you in Germany?
15:59 August 7, 2011 by Klaipeda
I think it takes some nerve for a foreigner to tell a country how to run their country and what their values should be. This kind of attitude is what allows the USA to destroy Iraq for no reason at all, threaten Iran and of late, murder Libyans. Because after all, Americans know best. Americans may be best known for this, but other countries do this now too.

My parents were German. I love visiting Europe. In my opinion there is no other place like it in the world like it. It has the highest culture, competing for #1 in engineering and I think it may take back its traditional leadership in science one day.

I think Paris is beautiful. I've only been to northern Italy, but I think Italy is a very beautiful country too. I also think Germany, Austria and Switzerland are lovely. I've seen parts of eastern Europe and I loved it there. What I think is so great about Europe are the differences between the peoples and there definitely are differences. I think it would be a shame if Rome started putting up bratwurst stands all over the place, Parisians started speaking Italian and Munich adopted Naples method of dealing with garbage and put a pizzeria on every corner. I don't want Rome to erect the Brandenburg Gate and I don't want Germany to re-create the Rome Colosseum.

When I visit Italy, I want to neet an Italian, France a Frechman, etc. It would be a crime to destroy the different cultures of Europe by homogenizing them into one. Germany, France and Italy aren't America and I hope they don't become America. Europeans can freely travel from one country to another, they marry one another, they move and take on a new citizenship and they are at peace.

Here is the latest riot in England. This one in Tottenham. The rioters were people that moved to England from their former colonies. I don't think other Europeans want their cities to be like Tottenham or New York.


I like Germany for being clean orderly and beautiful and thats how I want it to stay.
16:05 August 7, 2011 by harcourt
So did the Nazis !!
16:25 August 7, 2011 by Klaipeda
You've just made my point about how some people always know best, how they tell others they are superior. Since WW II, Americans and English and many others have dispalyed this chauvinism every minute of every day. They cover up the horrors they committed and then talk about NAZIS.

Here is an article on England's deliberate starvation of three million Indians. This was done on the orders of the allies leader and well known racist Winston Churchill.


As the Indian leader Ghandi said, "the difference between Churchill and Hitler is only of a degree". But he didn't say which was a degree worse.
16:58 August 7, 2011 by Kennneth Ingle
London riots: Dozens injured after Tottenham violence! Is this the future for Berlin?

It would seem that some people never learn. Multi-culti just does not work, because you will always have one group trying to tell the others how they should live. Its better to live in peace as neighbouring nations than as in conflict together.
18:09 August 7, 2011 by harcourt
Klaipeda #23

My point was that cleanliness and tidiness are not the be all and end all in life. I would much rather live in a country that was a bit messy and the buses and trains didn't always run to time BUT where the inhabitants were friendly, considerate, smiled more often and were helpful - plus demonstrating love their children and family.
18:36 August 7, 2011 by Kennneth Ingle
In ref. to Klaipeda post 23

Nearly every European country had colonies, the people of which were treated with little respect. Ghandi's remarks which compared Churchill with Hitler were therefor not completely unexpected. Many of Churchill's ideas - especially during his time as state-secretary - were practically identical with those of his German rival.

Hitler however proved himself to be a poor political doctor. On the one hand He recognised in detail, the illness of the European continent, which followed the first world war, but his nationalist medicine almost killed the patient.

Churchill did neither of the above, after helping Poland to provoke Germany into starting WW2, he took a complete U-turn when it was over and stated in the house of parliament "We have slaughtered the wrong Pig."

Ghandi took a quite different line of approach for the independence of his home country. But whether the people of India currently - despite his efforts - have in any way a better standard of living than under British rule, can certainly be questioned.
19:04 August 7, 2011 by harcourt
Klaipeda #23

Also I wouldn't delve to deeply into how the German colonial masters treated the native Africans in German S.W. Africa, German East Africa, Togoland and German Kamerun. You might get a rather nasty shock !!
19:40 August 7, 2011 by karldehm
Dear Mr. Harcourt

What are you doing in Germany if you prefer living in a dirty country. Let me guess your English? How about Nottingham? Multiculturalism seems to be quite the hit there, or Northern Ireland. I can't think of one example it has worked. If you consider this to be closed minded then I'm a very happy man.

Canada is considered one of the leading multicultural minded countries in the world.

Well, I lived there for many years and I can tell you it's a failure. It only works if the ethnic groups live in their own ghettos.

It may work to some degree if the immigrants are limited and given time to integrate, but when they outnumber the native people then you're only asking for trouble.
21:28 August 7, 2011 by harcourt

Multiculturalism seems to be your greatest worry, and in that case you are on the wrong side of history, it will happen I can assure you.

May I point out that it was perhaps a great error of judgement for the then German government to invite guest workers from Anatolia to come to Germany in the 1960s. Knowing the inherent xenophobia of the German people they surely knew that this move would lead to great social problems. Or were they so naive as to think that these workers would earn sufficient money and then go back !!

Perhaps another example of a German kneejerk reaction to a problem and not looking far enough ahead before acting !
01:32 August 8, 2011 by yourholiness
@ harcourt

the guest worker program was not an error in judgement but rather a deliberate policy to provide cheap labor for the present while criminally ignoring the long term disastrous consequences. Our kids will have to deal with the chaos and cultural dumb down those clowns in the 60s initiated.
02:56 August 8, 2011 by LecteurX
Yes, that's the funny thing about these poor xenophobes whining all over the place day in day out. Guys, no matter how much bile you pour on this site, the thing is: the immigrants and their children or grandchildren are already in Germany. They are becoming German by the thousands, whether you like it or not. You can froth at the mouth that they'll never become "real Germans", keep saying "go home please" every so often and cling to your nostalgia of an all-white, ethnically "pure" Germany and as much as you want - it ain't coming back, well, unless some guy comes up with a "final solution" on multiculturalism yet again... Well, that would have to be pretty drastic, as 19.5% of the current population of Germany, ie a mere 16 million people, have "Migrationshintergrund". Even by sparing those white enough to be kept, still, you'd be left with an awful lot of people to drive away...

So maybe instead of being so unwelcoming and saying that "they" will never become like "you", how about opening up and embracing your new countrymen? Rejecting them and repeating all the time "go home, go home" will certainly not help them integrate, especially for those who were born here, and ultimately, it's your own country that suffers... Well, I'm dreaming.

@ Jack Kerouac - I guess that by your reasoning of culture being "fundamentally congenital", the descendants of Huguenots here in Berlin, like the de Maizières and others, are culturally French then? Or maybe after some generations, the immigrant families do have a chance to become German enough?

@ Celeon - How dare you tell the truth about the myth of the "ethnically pure" noble German blood? Don't you see that you're an embarrassment to Yourholiness and Karldehm and all those worshippers of the German blood? They have nothing to answer to this!
03:35 August 8, 2011 by Klaipeda
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
04:58 August 8, 2011 by jimfromcanada
As a Canadian I must disagree with karldehm. In Canada the people who segregate themselves are first or second generation immigrants. Their children usually form relationships, find jobs, and move outside their communities, and become integrated into Canadian society. They speak the language, go to public schools, take jobs and careers along with everyone else. We welcome them because a generation or two ago we were them. The national groups who have been here the longest may whine and cry that it isn't like it used to be, but society has changed so drastically for technological reasons, that even if there were no immigration, they would still be whining and crying. It is a part of growing old.

However it is important to have some groundrules for immigrants and citizens alike. They are: respect for the law, willingness to learn the language, willingness to work, support yourself and contribute to society.

The major fly in Canada's multicultural ointment is the difficulties that First Nations people have had in surviving as a culture, and achieving equal status in our society.
07:53 August 8, 2011 by harcourt
yourholiness #30

To imply Germans made "Errors" is perhaps the biggest insult you can hurl at them. - Of course I knew the REASON the Anatolian workers were invited in, BUT "ignoring the long term term disastrous consequences" WERE an error of judgement!!

Incidentally Germany should be very grateful to the immigrant workers who came in over the last 50yrs because it is on their backs that you enjoy the prosperity that you do today, You should also realise that had it not been for the Euro the prosperity would not have been so great as it is.
18:17 August 8, 2011 by michael4096
"ignoring the long term term disastrous consequences"

nobody has shown any short-term disasterous consequences, let alone long-term ones - or, maybe you have another meaning for the word 'disasterous' than I
18:52 August 8, 2011 by harcourt
michael4096 #35

Were you replying to me? I was quoting yourholiness #30 as you could see by the quotation marks. I can't see what you are getting at anyway !

klaipeda #32

Don't blame the British for the extensive use of the " N " word. I'm afraid the prize for that "used" to go to America, mainly in the Southern States, in days bygone ! And about the treatment of Africans, have a look at the history of German colonies in Africa before WWI !!
20:17 August 8, 2011 by whpmgr
This article has done what it was supposed to, create discourse. I admire many who think they have the answers. You see, everyone can be a bit right in most of the posts above. Multi-culturalism is the end of one society. If that society then is ruled by say, people from Country X (the Xians). If more Xians come, and bring their values, over populate (or just have babies, depending on your point of view)they can then take over, change the face of the society they captured and whatever they say is right will be right, until that happens again.

If you are a one worlder, this is great, as long as those Xians respect you and your culture and wishes. It is when they do not, and then deny you the right to be who or what you want to be, that is when you think it is no longer a good Idea to have a world of one.

I think that if you are a one worlder, you say, hey this is great. NO more fights, no more stress, everyone will respect everyone and all is good. Most of the migrants are coming from places that they can't survive in. They bring the cultural baggage they left with them and wind up staying with more people like them. Build false images of how it really is, and then move forward changing the political scene slowly to reflect what they want. If their societies were so great that you should imitate them, why did they leave? Don't FIX something that isn?'t broken, please. Leave things as they were when you found them. Utopia does not exist, and men in power will always stay in power- you will not de-throne them.

We are dead as a society and there is no going back. I am not even sure if we should, but afraid of what is to come, since it is not obvious how it will all shake out

If you aren't afraid, you are so damned stupid that you should never be incharge of anything.....
21:06 August 8, 2011 by So36
@whpmgr Let go of all that fear, buddy. It only leads to hate.
23:52 August 8, 2011 by whpmgr
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
04:46 August 9, 2011 by michael74
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
07:11 August 9, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ michael74

"Germans made Germany what it is." - But of course! And I like your broad inclusion of what German mean. After all, this is what the article is about.

In any territory, people working there and people spending money there (for example while studying) are the ones making the country what it is. So all expats are a bit German, all foreign students are a bit German. And of course you cannot put aside the economic & cultural contribution brought in by the immigrants starting 1960. They all became German by living and working in Germany. Germans are also those speaking the recognised minority languages as Danish, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian and so on. One cannot say that Germany's 16 million people of foreign/immigrant descent are not Germans.

Look at the German national football team. Germany would have not be such a strong team without the Germans that it is composed of. Even if some are of foreign descent, it would be hard to claim that they are not German.
11:37 August 9, 2011 by yourholiness
Looking for " long term term disastrous consequences"? Maybe you can see the smoke rising from London or Birmingham from where you live.
12:25 August 9, 2011 by trallallero
I will never understand why in every topic regarding Germany, one of the first comments says "Nazis", but if the argument is UK, France or Spain, nobody mentions the Atlantic slave trade. 6 millions Jews Vs 12 millions Africans, that's it.
13:08 August 9, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ yourholiness

Oh, yes, we are stupid not to realise that the guest worker program is responsible for the riots in the UK. The newspapers gave us lots of hints (ex. "Some looters were young women with manicured nails and customized BlackBerry smart phones."), even the name of some rioters ("This is the uprising of the working class. We're redistributing the wealth," said Bryn Phillips), but we failed to understand that they are all immigrants.

Or is it just that you blame foreigners for all evils?
17:16 August 9, 2011 by harcourt

I sometimes think it is pointless to present other opinions to closed minds !!
18:37 August 9, 2011 by yourholiness
Thats nö answer harcourt when London is in flames. We all Know who causing Most of the Damage. Close your politically correct eyes at your own Risk.
18:42 August 9, 2011 by karldehm
Germans will decide what is best for Germany! Further discussion is pointless, especially with those who's opinion is irrelevant. Go run your own country and leave Germany to Germans
19:21 August 9, 2011 by harcourt

Comment #47 is the sort of comment I was talking about in the "Syria regime losing credibility" article !! Of course we are not 100% sure it is a German but I wouldn't mind taking bets on it.
19:43 August 9, 2011 by LiberalGuy

isn't it time you went on your lunchbreak?

'A fanatic is someone who can't change their mind, and won't change the subject'

Winston Churchill
20:13 August 9, 2011 by farmon
@ LiberalGuy

Open your eyes and quit hiding behind all your liberal fantasies. England is up in flames and it is coming to a country near you with with multicultural policies.
20:54 August 9, 2011 by trevzns
15:59 August 7, 2011 by Klaipeda

I think it takes some nerve for a foreigner to tell a country how to run their country and what their values should be. This kind of attitude is what allows the USA to destroy Iraq for no reason at all, threaten Iran and of late, murder Libyans. Because after all, Americans know best. Americans may be best known for this, but other countries do this now too.

My parents were German. I love visiting Europe. In my opinion there is no other place like it in the world like it. It has the highest culture, competing for #1 in engineering and I think it may take back its traditional leadership in science one day.

Your parents were Europeans and Citizens of Germany. The Colonist and immigrants that established the USA were also Europeans, from the UK, Holland, Germany and Scandinavia etc.

Yes, Germany has a long and proud history, however, it¦#39;s too late to be concerned about homogenizing the cultures of Europe…and there is one European culture, with many heritages, but one culture.

As for the rioters and the people from the former slave colonies that live in the UK and throughout Europe, many of them are descendants of the culture that contributed to the homogenizing of Europe.

African and Africans have had a long history with Germany, before the Roman Empire arrived and not to mention, the Heiliges Römisches Reich - The Holy Roman Empire. As the Americans would say, you have a nice!
22:13 August 9, 2011 by harcourt

What the hell are you on about??
22:17 August 9, 2011 by LiberalGuy

Liberal fantasies? My fanatsies usually involve Megan Fox and the Zombie Apocalypse. Biut OK, liberal fanatsies. Boy I can picture it know. Free healthcare for everyone.. hmmm... Equal rights for all. Wow this is getting hot.

23:34 August 9, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ LiberalGuy

Those fantasies with Megan Fox are libertine, not liberal :)
01:37 August 10, 2011 by Struwel
It was interesting to read all the comments and someway nice to get to know that Germany is liked "for being clean orderly and beautiful..."

Cleanliness and beauty, I like them but they are not everything. To me more important are, for example, friendliness and fairness, as well open minded people and I hope that can be found here too. As for meeting a German in Germany and so on - most people, even though perhaps their skin color is different or they may have different roots, you meet here are German. And of course, they also will decide what is the best for Germany - they are German after all.

As well I hope that those of you, who have a different culture don't kind of forget the former culture but share the good things of it with us so that we get to know/can learn them too.

LiberalGuy's liberal fanatsies sound pretty good to me. I hope some day they will come true.
02:05 August 10, 2011 by yourholiness
@ LiberalGuy #49

'A fanatic is someone who can't change their mind, and won't change the subject'

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill also wrote:

"...the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness...the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness.

No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."

"It ain't over 'til its over."

Yogi Berra
07:02 August 10, 2011 by trevzns
22:13 August 9, 2011 by harcourt


What the hell are you on about??

I'll be happy to answer your question later.
08:51 August 10, 2011 by LiberalGuy
yourholiness (gezz I feel silly writting that)

My quote wasn't meant for the muslims.

'There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion'

10:10 August 10, 2011 by Asgarli
And here comes another smart policy of German naturalization law: that you have to give up your current citizenship in order to get German. Like is it going to make me feel German? Well, on contrary having a double citizenship someone could say that he is, lets say, Moroccan-German, but now he will most probably say that he is Moroccan, but has German citizenship. Integration? Fail.
18:49 August 11, 2011 by trevzns
Hello harcourt,

Regarding your question, ¦quot;what I¦#39;m about¦quot;? Can you be more specific and I¦#39;ll do my best to answer your question.
21:39 August 11, 2011 by harcourt

Sure, where you completely lost me was your final paragraph.
22:35 August 11, 2011 by yourholiness
Trevzns lost me too harcourt. Something about how we're all originally african I think.
09:04 August 12, 2011 by harcourt
Ah now I've got it, I'm afraid it was too deep for me !!
13:07 August 12, 2011 by AbhilashD
Woah, what a ruckus this article has kicked up. It has done its job, hasn't it?

Actually, I can't help agreeing with nearly everyone's point of view here, including the ones who come across as ethnic nationalists (even though they might not be). As a foreign student myself, I probably have earned the right to reflect on this issue.

1. The reason I didn't go to England to study was because it wouldn't really have been too different from Bangalore. Seriously. The world is becoming smaller. Exposing yourself to different cultures only makes you wiser and more humble. Wisdom is always good. We all know the story of the frogs in the well, don't we?

2. It is indeed a point of debate whether our living conditions in India are better now than during the colonial times, or not. In the south, definitely. In the North; well, its becoming more and more of a cultural, moral and economic black-hole of the country. My point is, it is futile dwelling on what-ifs. We respect the good the English did for us, and at the same time condemn the tyranny. We don't hold any grudges, because that wouldn't help. We are cognizant of our place in the developing world.

3. Compare Europe to India, humour me. India has never been, and will never be one cultural "Nation". 600+ Kingdoms were forcefully unified in 1947. That over-arching narrative of the new Indian nation was necessary to overthrow the English. Before 1857, the kingdoms continually fought amongst themselves. We're too many different people, cultures, languages, religions to be called one Nation. How different is that from the EU? The richer southern states face the same problems as do the richer European states. Poor immigrants come in to Bangalore every year by the droves, don't learn the language, actually expect US to speak Hindi to them, don't respect our rules and create a general mess. They live in ghettos too. Bangalore 20 years ago was the pensiones' paradise, the garden city. Clean, green, orderly, beautiful, maybe a little posh...the Munich of India, if you will. Multiculturalism has failed in India too. But is the solution, saying, "Ausländer raus"? No. We need the unskilled manual labour from the North of India, the same way Europe now needs skilled immigrants.

4. But yes, there is absolutely no question that the immigrant must make every effort to integrate. Learn the language, adapt to the customs, respect the laws of the land. But at the same time, I think it is very important to hold on to your native identity too. I was born in Bangalore, lived in North Carolina, New Delhi, back to Bangalore and now I've lived in three cities in Germany. I speak 4 languages fluently and German I manage, and understand two others. I love my language and customs, and at the same time, I am at home with the northern food, language and customs and I don't feel too out of place here.
15:13 August 12, 2011 by Michel_Berlin
Honest question for every immigrant:

When told about the holocaust are you also accepting it as something you have to take responsibility for? Because it has been done by YOUR people?

And no, if I would immigrate to Japan I would still stay a German and not become a Japanese, it's just impossible.

Just my two cents!
17:08 August 12, 2011 by AbhilashD
I get your point Michel_Berlin, but why would you as an ethnic German still take responsibility for it? It is not your burden anymore. It is not Germany's burden to bear anymore. Definitely not of Germans who were never in the Nazi Party, never supported or who were born after the war.
17:19 August 12, 2011 by harcourt
And yet many writing in these columns of The Local would have Britain still carry the burden of the British Empire. A bit of a double standard don't you think !
17:28 August 12, 2011 by davidjc1
THANK YOU Klaipeda for your comments! My family is background is also German (my dad's father was from Duesseldorf, his mother from the Schwarzwald). Anyhoo, the bashing of Germany, a country that has done everything possible, and then some, to show remorse for the past. But an even more interesting tidbit: we have a world that is full of violence, repression, and brutality, and guess who colonized the world in the last two centuries? Not Germans. The U.S. and Great Britain are truthfully the most brutal nations to ever exist on this planet, if you honestly look at history. But here Klaipeda, and also in the UK, I'm sure, people are self-righteous and indignant. You see, America is still very racist, and there is absolutely no remorse amongst white Americans, as I'm sure it is with Britons, about their own past, first the genocide committed against Native Americans, and then the brutal enslavement of a RACE of people. But in the minds of the American right wing, brown people don't count, really. And the American right wing is VERY strong and entrenched. The U.S. and UK like to criticize others, while shoving their own dirt under the rug. The ultimate in hypocrisy, for sure. Now, about your other point, I agree. The GREAT thing about mainland Europe is that there ARE DIFFERENT cultures. I appreciated that very much when I've gone there. And contrary to the vulture-like media that always wants to carp at Germany and other European peoples, they are actually VERY hospitable towards visitors. It is rubish and nonsense to characterize them negatively, like the old characterization of Germans as 'Huns' to whip up war-frenzy in America during WWI. In truth, the U.S. and UK are jealous of Germany, I think, because the Germans have moved beyond the patriarchal, paternalistic, jingoistic cultures that permeate the U.S. and UK to this day. Advice to the U.S. and UK, cut your military budgets and stop trying to run the world. It's a new day - Es un nuevo día, es ist ein neue Tag, everyone speak your languages and be proud, anglo-American culture should not rule the world.
19:02 August 12, 2011 by harcourt

The first part of your diatribe sort of proves my point in #67. However, you can say what you like about the US and UK but please don't group us together. I know we roughly speak the same language but that's where it ends. America is a far more right wing country than Britain has ever been and if you were to ask the British people whether they actually liked the Americans and their culture, what there is of it, I think you would only get a very small minority that had a positive perception of America.
19:43 August 12, 2011 by Michel_Berlin
>>"I get your point Michel_Berlin, but why would you as an ethnic German still take responsibility for it? It is not your burden anymore. It is not Germany's burden to bear anymore. Definitely not of Germans who were never in the Nazi Party, never supported or who were born after the war. "
21:08 August 12, 2011 by harcourt

You obviously seem very pleased that somebody agrees with you. Why, doesn't it happen very often??
22:47 August 12, 2011 by Michel_Berlin
Nah...there were problems with posting :(

Here my answer to AbhilashD again:

It isn't a burden, not for me nor for most of the Germans I think but it's a responsibility!

A such important part of our recent history, which changed our country and the life of millions.

"Real" Germans don't get the choice either...they just have to take the good, all the composers, poets, inventors and what not with the bad and the worst!

If they want to or not!

And the same should apply for all Germans, don't you think?

Or else it will always be only a "not quite there" kind of immigration.

(And there is nothing wrong with that if all sides can live with that!)
06:04 August 13, 2011 by davidjc1
Actually, the US and UK have quite a bit in common, contrary to some beliefs out there. Both have relentlessly pushed, as a matter of policy, corporate interests above the rights of the people. Politically, they are joined at the hip, still fighting futile wars of empire, because they simply feel compelled to show everyone else that they are the world's dominant players. Truthfully, the UK and US governments are quite right-wing, in fact it is not a stretch to call them fascist entities. Look at their policies. Corporate interests converging with political offices, military budgets trumping domestic development..yep, sounds right-wing to me.
07:24 August 13, 2011 by ValleyLad
As long as all women stay sexy, " Real " will never exist.
08:03 August 13, 2011 by harcourt

I'm afraid it IS stretching the imagination to claim that UK governments are fascist entities. Perhaps, unfortunately, they veered towards it under Margaret Thatcher however.

My main point was that, although speaking roughly the same language, the British people and their way of life is unlike that of the Americans.

In fact when I first came to live in Germany 20 yrs ago I was struck how Americanised it was. Of course having the US military based in Germany for so many years could have something to do with it. However may I remind you that over 50 million Americans claim German heritage!
17:33 August 13, 2011 by trevzns
Harcourt and yourholiness, regarding post #62 and #63, I¦#39;ll take harourt¦#39;s remark as a compliment.

09:04 August 12, 2011 by harcourt

Ah now I've got it, I'm afraid it was too deep for me !!

22:35 August 11, 2011 by yourholiness

Trevzns lost me too harcourt. Something about how we're all originally african I think.

My Dear Good People,

On the subject of culture and heritage, regardless of our different cultures and heritages, we are all Africans. Harcourt and yourholiness, you¦#39;re included.
18:40 August 13, 2011 by harcourt
That's fine by me I've always been a firm supporter the migration theory, thousands of years ago, of Africans moving northwards into the Middle East, Europe, India and eventually the rest of the landmass. In fact I'm proud to be a descendant of homo sapiens on the African continent.

Incidentally it WAS a compliment because I hadn't thought of that angle. ie looking that far back.
18:42 August 13, 2011 by trevzns
Not, sure what you mean
00:55 August 14, 2011 by yourholiness
Our family lost touch with the dark continent long ago. As far as I can see most africans and I share nothing else but our common humanity.
08:11 August 14, 2011 by trevzns

Angle…its realty!

I have read many of your posts, thousands of years ago?

You seem to have a selective memory of the reality and events contributing to our existence. I feel you have a good understanding of the Theater we live in and call western culture, and its been 519 years since the last African Empire ruled and occupied a European country.

Please note, this period of time was 1492, when the Great Christopher Columbus got lost and arrived in the Bahamas.


You share more than your humanity with most Africans. When the Africans arrived in the UK and mainland Europe thousands of years ago, with them came, the Alphabet, Math, science and Civilization.
11:46 August 14, 2011 by karldehm
To Jim, the Canadian. I don't know which Canada you are a citizen of, but the Canada that I know was founded on two separate ethnic groups: the French and the English.

For over 200 years, the French were suppressed by the English. That means, if they wanted to get ahead they had to speak English. This all changed in the 60's when French speaking separates came to power in Quebec and changed things around. Now to get ahead in Quebec, you must speak French. The English speaking minority left in the thousands and moved to Ontario and took their companies with them. This resulted in Toronto becoming the center of commerce rather than Montreal. Quebec has never recovered.

Since the 60's Quebec has been trying to separate from Canada and there have been two referendums. The last one only lost by 1%! I won't say that is an example of successful integration.

After the American revolution, many British people there decided they wanted to remain part of the British Empire and moved to Canada. Of course, they took their slaves with them. These slaves were freed, but their integration into the Canadian mainstream is questionable.

As for immigrants integrating into Canadian society, I would have to agree with you

to a degree. As long as the differences in cultural background between the immigrants and the so called Canadians wasn't that great it worked, but when the number and the difference in cultural background are great it doesn't work.

Immigrants may have been able to make a good living for themselves, but that doesn't mean they have integrated. A better word is equal but separate. In metropolitan areas where large numbers of immigrants have settled this is quite evident. The Jews live in their own area with their own schools, community centers and the such. They have done quite well for themselves and have prospered. This also applies to a great extent to the Chinese.

At the other end of the social spectrum, there are the blacks. Many have also done quite well for themselves, but there are areas of Toronto that are similar to London where there is chronic unemployment. These areas are just waiting to explode, because the people there don't have a future. They are unwilling and in some cases in cable of functioning in a modern society and rely on crime to support themselves. If you're white, I wouldn't suggest going there as the police are afraid to go there.

My summary, all be it short, I think points out the very nature of immigration and its

pluses and drawbacks.

I don't think Germany needs any more immigrants: it has already unhappy people now, not to mention those complaining, know it all, vagabonds
19:48 August 14, 2011 by arbeitsbiene3
17:28 August 12, 2011 by davidjc1


Yes, Mainland Europeans are different from the Americans, but more of the same. The Native Americans experienced the same diabolical treatment as did the Namibians in German South-West Africa.

Germany was the first of the European Empires to build a slave fort in West Africa, Großfriedrichsburg which was later sold to the Dutch.
01:05 August 15, 2011 by yourholiness
@ trevzns

If thats true we left them behind many, many centuries ago. At the moment the african continent has largely become a huge liability and one that the west is struggling to cope with.
18:16 August 15, 2011 by gherhardt
It always makes me laugh when I hear somebody try to argue that their bloodlines are what ties them to Germany. It is an useless argument from a genetics point of view; useless because it is absolutely impossible for anyone, not even a German, to claim that their blood is pure Germanic.

Some claim that Europe has been European for 2000 years... Ha! Europe has been in constant racial and cultural upheaval since the Romans. In my opinion, Germany today is not as dynamic as it was 500 to 2000 years ago.

Even before the Romans, there has been tremendous genetic and cultural intermingling in all Germania due to migration, wars and invasions. Hannibal, Attila the Hun, Moorish conquerors, Ottoman invaders; these are all Mediterranean, Mongolian, North African and Turkish invaders who left their Genetic footprints all throughout Central Europe (The Moors and Ottomans were in Europe for a good 800-900 years... that's a long time to leave genetic material all over Europe.)

Are there any undiluted Alamanni, Saxon or Thuringii in Germany anymore? Was any of your ancestors immune from intermingling with Baltic, Slavic or Hunic peoples? How many of you are pure Celtic? Are you sure you have no Mediterranean, Mongolian or Turkish genes in you? Even the eternal Euskara (Basque) are hopelessly intermingled with their Spanish and French blood and cultures.

We take for granted that the way we look and act today (White, Germanic) is the way our ancestors looked or acted 500-2000 years ago. I think that every time there was intermingling and upheaval, Germans (or Bavarians, or Thuringians however they called themselves at the time) slowly came to accept the half-breeds that resulted from all the conflicts, resulting in evolving looks and evolving cultures that borrowed from others (Moorish spices and ideas of romance and chivalr; Ottoman fashion for ex.)

European cultural and racial identity is not the most ancient (like Africa or Asia) but it is more varied than we like to admit. One thing is for sure... maintaining homogeneity in bloodlines or culture is an impossibility. That is unless all modern communication, business and transport stop completely (sending us back to agrarian mode.) Otherwise our ideas of bloodlines, culture, nationality and belonging will continue to change more and more, because intermingling no longer has to be forced by invasions or wars; we are in an era of constant, and inevitable migration.
18:57 August 15, 2011 by trevzns
@ yourholiness

Such a noble Western mindset…you mean left back, by being forcibly held back, denied human rights, striped of dignity and homelands, many, many centuries ago?

The huge liability of the continent of Africa is, the African peoples and their lack of self-respect and inhumanity towards each other.

Unlike many in the Asian and European cultures, many Africans and African descents have lost their way and are ignorant of their rich cultural heritage.

African people have to change their attitudes and practice better religious tolerance in their respective western religious beliefs.

Many political and religious leaders are suffering from Opiate of the masses and continue to embrace and accepted, the divide and conquer doctrine imposed on them by Western missionaries and Western colonists…many, many centuries ago.

The problems in Africa are a set of conditions and conditions can change.

Until the African people change their attitudes and behavior and begin resolving their differences in Africa, the suffering will continue and so will the inflow of weapons and aid from the US, Europe and now China.

When the African people and not the Europeans at The Hague hold accountable the pimps, masquerading as political and religious leaders for their acts of violence, corruption and the wholesale prostituting of resources that benefit a handful of misguided African traitors and their supporters, then can genuine progress be made.

A positive sign today, there are many young Africans that have an understanding of their potential and their responsibilities to help move Africa forward.

Without a good business plan for changing the conditions in Africa, by Africans, the Western and Asian governments handlers and their poppet master aid donors programs will continue.
00:19 August 16, 2011 by yourholiness
Well I'm all for that trevzens. Anything that keeps the majority at home rather than seeking to migrate in this direction.
00:26 August 16, 2011 by swingCrew
I had been thinking often about learning to speak German; next thing I know someone on TV is saying, "German is my favorite; It bridges Latin and English." Like alot I was; because I don't think.
07:53 August 16, 2011 by trevzns
@ yourholiness

Regarding your condition of Simple Denial, see by gherhardt #84.

Your unstable high group self-esteem is known as Collective Narcissism.
11:32 August 16, 2011 by yourholiness
I suspect trevzns that even you have no idea what you mean.
15:23 August 16, 2011 by Send Flowers
First as a 5th generation Canadian, I resent it when people as Jim assumes all Canadians are only one or two generations old.

Second karldehm left out a few facts we have laws that prevent racial discrimination, that allows many immigrants opportunities to do well in Canada.

And many times the new immigrants abuse our system by only hiring there own. Much of the construction industry is dominated by this practice as are small manufacturers.

I have often been the only Canadian in a company. And this does cause resentment among Canadians who speak only English and have to listen to the third language.

One last thing the Bloc Party lost in the last election because the french Canadians no longer see the so called gains in the separatist movement. To many job losses.

I think we all(three Canadians here) would agree that once a child has grown up here they adopt the new culture.

Third I think gherhardt says it all we are all mixed race due to tribal wars, conquerors, and nomadic lifestyles. But immigrants have a responsiblity to adapt to the new culture.

This is a good debate as having a totally Americanized world would really lack the benefit of such great histories. Unfortunately, the USA has it written in their constitution that they have the obligation to protect all American interests, be they security or corporate.

Rather an Imperialistic view I'd say.

One last think I don't agree the Americans do not free shame for their treatment of the native peoples or the slave trade.
15:28 August 16, 2011 by An d
The changing face of Germany?? This reads like a joke to me! !

To my mind with more immigration things have become even worse in Germany. As someone who grew up in Germany in the 70s I see it in the eyes and reactions of Germans everyday. Germans simply don't integrate and nothing has changed in this regard.

What I've seen all my life is that the average German considers himself superior to EVERYONE else, even to neighbouring, highly civilized countries like France for example. Sure, they won't admit it, but deep down they do. Most of them think that their own purely apollonian, monochron values are universal and that they are the standard by which all others are to be judged. Have you ever met average Germans abroad?

My personal guess is that without any major mentality changes in the future this society will be drawn apart by inner conflicts among different groups. Usually Germans simply want and expect foreigners to do their dirty labor and pay for their pensions, that's all.

Obviously integration is always a problem, in most countries, but I think that the German case is very special and different from others. Having lived in several European countries I clearly see the difference. Now what happens is that Germany obviously tries to portray itself as a modern, open-minded country... Yet in advertising and in the German media the blond, pale and blueeyed stereotype (especially for women) still is the norm overriding all others.

Another example: While many European countries have had especially mulatto beauty queens for ages (France, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, the Uk to name a few) and despite of the many mixed-race people in Germany today, a mixed-race Miss Germany still seems unthinkable in Germany today (I guess that the average German doesn't even now what a mixed-race person is, neither does he care). A couple of times I've seen mixed-race Germans with a Germanic mother being used in order to portray foreigners. (I've chosen the example of mixed-race Germans because the situation of people with one germanic parent and who are many times, if not most of the time culturally entirely german is particularly dramatic but obviously I could have chosen other origins) In any case, for most Germans it's certainly not culture that defines national affiliation, but descent, pure descent...Yet they are upset when those people leave the country because they're fed up with it. Most Germans don't want to have the feeling that something is wrong with them or their country. They cannot tolerate it.

That's how most Germans still perceive themselves (Ironically I noticed that the traditional upper middle-classes at large tend to be a bit less blond in Germany than the lower classes , but this is just an impression)
15:57 August 16, 2011 by trevzns
@ yourholiness

16:52 August 16, 2011 by expatriarch
@An d - You made me laugh out loud. You could have replaced many other, especially western countries and people with "Germans" in your comment and it would have been 100% equally accurate. If that description applies to anyone at all, it would apply to the USA.

Beside the "example" of Germany not having a "mulatto" (which is offensive in and of itself) beauty queen (which is a sexist, degrading, and objectifying practice at best), you describe the USA just as much as you describe many other western countries. I don't even think that Germany choosing a beauty queen that has attributes that are distinctly German characteristics is necessarily a bad thing. Why should "mulatto" characteristics be valued when determining Germany's beauty queen. Besides bringing up the inherently disgusting characteristics of all "beauty queen" competitions, why should what makes one unique be muddled into a hodgepodge? You don't complain about ugly people not being crowned "beauty queen" why would you demand that Germany crown someone that does not look German be crowned Germany's "beauty queen"?

I think it is a foolish venture to hate one's self and the unique characteristics a people have. Strength comes from diversity. Diversity means being different, not everyone being the same!
17:49 August 16, 2011 by Raycr
Frederick the Great had no problems considering Poles and Jews part of the Kingdom of Prussia as long as they spoke German, paid taxes and were loyal to the Prussia. He even encouraged Sephardic Jews and French Hugeunots to emigrate since he admired their work ethic. This was the traditional view in Prussia before the madness of Hitler.

It was the WORK ETHIC and thriftfulness!
15:49 August 17, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
There is a lot of junk in this thread. And more crazy then one could shake a stick at.

Culture is not congenital. That's just stupid. Dumb stupid. Mouth breather stupid. Culture is taught and learned. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

This Editorial was in fact right on the money. The German identity of the past coalesced from a linguistic/political identity, to a "blood" identity, and now it is shifting back to a linguistic/political identity with splinters of regionalism and supra-regionalism thrown in to the mix. The short of it is that what it means to be German is definetly changing.

Is that good? Probably. Bad? Is immigration going to destroy the country? Hardly. Is the place a worse place to be now than it was before? Depends on what you like. I think it's gettting better. Germany's foreign population is like a breath of fresh air really.

The real issue is successful immigration/integration policies. The Canadians do a relatively good job. Come in, join the club, say the words, learn the language and you will belong...But, your kids must learn either French or English, no exceptions, and they will be integrated to our system and our values. That has worked relatively well for Canada, I think it would work well here too. Time will tell.
20:54 August 17, 2011 by Raycr
England, France and Belgium have more people percentage wise from Africa and Asia since they had colonies there and these people were subjects of the King/Queen or Republic. Germany had no such colonies after WWI. This also gives them decades more of experience with multiculturism.

Germany has a very high population density especially in the cities already since they are 40% smaller than a hundred years ago and 14 million ethnic germans from as far as the Volga River in Russia were forced there into after WWII.

In America I have heard virtually every ethnic group disparaged by another group over the decades and I think it is part of the human condition , however, best suppressed. That is why attempting to discern what is in the hearts and minds of others is an area best left to the Divine .
17:58 September 21, 2011 by Johannantoinette
Maybe you feel you are german, but most germans who look at you judge you "not german", and the first impression if strong even when they are told otherwise.

My first name is common as cold in Germany but I'm finnish and our bloodline is half-germanic and half-finnic that defines our souls, physical traits and who we are.

it is not enough to just been born in a country and loving it's beer. You have to be linked into the soul of the folk.

I never will even though I speak german, have half-german kids and very german husband, and the first impression of berliners will be that I am german. But it's something deeper than that. Same goes to my husband in Finland. His father was born in Latvia to a long line of Latvian germans. It didn't make them latvians and they lived side by side in the same country. But in different culture. It's natural.

Even a person moving to USA will still be linked to his past in his old country and maybe his children as well. It takes time and generations. There are no short cuts.

Why fight? People see you as asian and then german, what is the bad in that? Reality is reality no matter how much you kick back.

I would be happy to see more germanic children being born in this country. Germans have invented and done so much to benefit everyone in this world. Finland and finns would not exist if you had not step in to help various times in history. We owe a lot to your bloodline.
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