Volksdeutsche ("ethnic Germans") is a historical term which arose in the early 20th century and was used by the Nazis to describe ethnic Germans living outside of the Third Reich, although many had been in other areas for centuries. During World War II, Hitler forbade the use of the term because it was being used in a derogatory way against the many ethnic Germans in the SS. It is used by many historians who either deliberately or innocently are unaware of its Nazi history.
Auslandsdeutsche (adj. auslandsdeutsch) is a concept that connotes German citizens living abroad, or alternatively ethnic Germans entering Germany from abroad. Today, this means a citizen of Germany living more or less permanently in another country (including long-term academic exchange lecturers and the like), who are allowed to vote in the Republic's elections, but who usually do not pay taxes to Germany. In a looser but still valid sense, and in general discourse, the word is frequently used in lieu of the ideologically tainted term Volksdeutsche, denoting persons living abroad without German citizenship but defining themselves as Germans (culturally or ethnically speaking).
Ethnic Germans are a minority group in many countries. (See Germans, German language, and German as a minority language for more extensive numbers and a better sense of where Germans maintain German culture and have official recognition.) The following sections briefly detail the historical and present distribution of ethnic Germans by region, but generally exclude modern expatriates, who have a presence in the United States, Scandinavia and major urban areas worldwide. See Groups at bottom for a list of all ethnic German groups, or continue for a summary by region.
In the United States census of 1990, 57 million people were fully or partly of German ancestry, forming the largest single ethnic group in the country. According to the United States Ancestry Census of 2009, there were 50,764,352 people of German descent. People of German ancestry form an important minority group in several countries, including Canada (roughly 10% of the population), Brazil (roughly 3% of the population), Australia (roughly 4.5% of the population), Chile (roughly 3% of the population), Namibia, and in central and eastern Europe—(Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Russia).
Distribution of German citizens and people claiming German ancestry (figures are only estimates and actual population could be higher, because of wrongly formulated questions in censuses in various countries (for example in Poland) and other different factors, f.e. related to participant in a census):
Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein each have a German-speaking majority, though the vast majority of the population do not identify themselves as German anymore. Austrians historically were identified and considered themselves Germans until after the defeat of the Third Reich and the end of World War II. Post-1945 a broader Austrian national identity began to emerge, and over 90% of the Austrians now see themselves as an independent nation.
In Belgium, there is an ethnic German minority. It is the majority in its region of 71,000 inhabitants. Ethnologue puts the national total of German speakers at 150,000, not including Limburgish and Luxembourgish.
Though the Luxembourgish language is closely related to the German language, Luxembourgers do not consider themselves ethnic Germans. In a 1941 referendum held in Luxembourg by ethnic German residents, more than 90% proclaimed themselves Luxembourgish by nationality, mother tongue and ethnicity.
Before World War II, some 30% of the population in the Czech lands (historically known as Bohemia and Moravia) were ethnic Germans, and in the border regions and certain other areas they were even in the majority. There are about 40,000 Germans in the Czech Republic (number of Czechs who have at least partly German ancestry probably runs into the hundreds of thousands). Their number has been consistently decreasing since World War II. According to the 2001 census there remain 13 municipalities and settlements in the Czech Republic with more than 10% Germans.
The situation in Slovakia was different from that in the Czech lands, in that the number of Germans was considerably lower and that the Germans from Slovakia were almost completely evacuated to German states as the Soviet army was moving west through Slovakia, and only a fraction of those who returned to Slovakia after the end of the war were deported with the Germans from the Czech lands.
Many representatives of expellee organizations support the erection of bilingual signs in all formerly German-speaking territory as a visible sign of the bilingual linguistic and cultural heritage of the region. The erection of bilingual signs is permitted if a minority constitutes 10% of the population.
In Denmark, the part of Schleswig that is now South Jutland County (or Northern Schleswig) is inhabited by about 12,000–20,000 ethnic Germans They speak mainly Standard German and South Jutlandic. A few speak Schleswigsch, a Northern Low Saxon dialect.
Prior to World War II, approximately 1.5 million Danube Swabians lived in Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. Today the German minority in Hungary have minority rights, organisations, schools and local councils, but spontaneous assimilation is well under way. Many of the deportees visited their old homes after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990.
There are smaller, unique populations of Germans who arrived so long ago that their dialect retains many archaic features heard nowhere else: the Cimbrians are concentrated in various communities in the Carnic Alps, north of Verona, and especially in the Sugana Valley on the high plateau northwest of Vicenza in the Veneto region; the Walsers, who originated in the Swiss Wallis, live in the provinces of Aostatal, Vercelli, and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola; the Mòchenos live in the Fersina Valley. Smaller German-speaking communities also exist in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region: the Carinthians in the Canale Valley (municipalities of Tarvisio, Malborghetto Valbruna and Pontebba) and the Zahren and Timau Germans in Carnia.
Contrarily to the before-mentioned minorities, the German-speaking population of the province of South Tyrol cannot be categorized as "ethnic German" according to the definition of this article, but as Austrian minority. However, as Austrian saw themselves as ethnic Germans until the end of World War II they can technically also be called Germans. The province was part of the Austrian County of Tyrol before the 1919 dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. South Tyrolians were part of the over 3 million German speaking Austrians who in 1918 found themselves living outside of the newborn Austrian Republic as minorities in the newly formed or enlarged respective states of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Italy. Their dialect is Austro-Bavarian German. Both standard German and dialect are used in schooling and media. German enjoys co-official status with the national language of Italian throughout this region.
Germans have been present in the Iglesiente mining region in the south west of Sardinia since the 13th century. Successively since 1850 groups of specialised workers from Styria, Austria, followed by German miners from Freiburg settled in the same area. Some Germans influenced building and toponym is still visible in this area.
The remaining German minority in Poland (109,000 people were registered in the 2011 census) enjoys minority rights according to Polish minority law. There are German speakers throughout Poland, and most of the Germans live in the Opole Voivodship in Silesia. Bilingual signs are posted in some towns of the region. In addition, there are bilingual schools and German can be used instead of Polish in dealings with officials in several towns.
In France over 100,000 German nationals residing in the French country (the exact number is not known, some statistics indicate more than 300,000 Germans in France but are not officially sanctioned.) There, the Germans live mainly in the northeastern area of France, i.e., in regions close to the Franco-German border, and the sunny island of Corsica. German tourists are the most frequent visitors of France (more than British tourists in France) in the year 2013.
In the United Kingdom, a German-Briton ethnic group of around 300,000 exists. Some are descended from nineteenth-century immigrants. Others are 20th-century immigrants and their descendants: German-Jews who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s (who are unlikely to identify as ethnic Germans), and World War II prisoners of war held in Great Britain who decided to stay there. Others arrived as spouses of British soldiers from post-war marriages in Germany, when the British were occupying forces. Many of the more recent immigrants have settled in the London and southeast part of the United Kingdom, in particular, Richmond (South West London).
The British Royal Family are partially descended from German monarchs.
The Anglo-Saxons were the population in Britain descended from the Germanic tribes who migrated from continental Europe and settled the south and east of the island beginning in the early 5th century. The Anglo-Saxon period denotes the period of English history after their initial settlement through their creation of the English nation, up to the Norman conquest; that is, between about 550 and 1066. The term Anglo-Saxon is also used for the language, today more correctly called Old English, that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons in England (and parts of south-eastern Scotland) between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century, after which it is known as Middle English.
During the long decline of the Roman Empire and the ensuing great migrations Germanic tribes such as the Vandals (who sacked Rome) migrated into North Africa and settled mainly in the lands corresponding to modern Tunisia and northeastern Algeria.
Germany was not as involved in colonizing Africa as other major European powers of the 20th century, and lost its overseas colonies, including German East Africa and German South West Africa, after World War I. Similarly to those in Latin America, the Germans in Africa tended to isolate themselves and were more self-sufficient than other Europeans. In Namibia there are 30,000 ethnic Germans, though it is estimated that only a third of those retain the language. Most German-speakers live in the capital, Windhoek, and in smaller towns such as Swakopmund and Lüderitz, where German architecture is highly visible.
In South Africa, a number of Afrikaners and Boers are of partial German ancestry, being the descendants of German immigrants who intermarried with Dutch settlers and adopted Afrikaans as their mother tongue. Professor JA Heese in his book Die Herkoms van die Afrikaner (The Origins of Afrikaners) claims the modern Afrikaners (who total around 3.5 million) have 34.4% German ancestry. Germans also emigrated to South Africa during the 1850s and 1860s, and settled in the Eastern Cape area around Stutterheim, and in Kwazulu-Natal in the Wartburg area, where there is still a large German-speaking community.Belize: 5,763 Mennonite Low-German speakers.
Canada (3.2 million, 10% of the population), see also German Canadians.
Mexico: See German immigration to Mexico, 100,000 Mennonites; 22% of Mennonites also speaks Low German which is not Standard German but derived from Old Saxon, 30% speaks Spanish, 5% speaks English and 5% speaks Russian as second language. Different sources estimates that there are between 15 000 and 40 000 German citizens and Mexicans of German-citizen origin. Also of note, the 'Colegio Alemán Alexander von Humboldt', or Alexander von Humboldt school in Mexico City is the largest German school outside Germany.
In the United States, German Americans are the largest ethnic group. There are around 50 million Americans of at least partial German ancestry in the United States, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group. including various groups such as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Of these, 23 million are of German ancestry alone ("single ancestry"), and another 27 million are of partial German ancestry, making them the largest group in the United States, followed by the Irish. Of those who claim partial ancestry, 22 million identify their primary ancestry ("first ancestry") as German. The 22 million Americans of primarily German ancestry are by far the largest part of the German diaspora, a figure equal to over a quarter of the population of Germany itself. Germans form just under half the population in the Upper Midwest.
Central America: In 1940, there were 16,000 Germans living in Central America; half of them in Guatemala, and most of the remainder were established in Costa Rica.
Argentina: Those of German ancestry constitute about 8% of the Argentine population — over 3 million — most of them Volga Germans alone — about 2 million. There are more than 400,000 of other German ancestries including Mennonites and German Swiss. These two groups are more common in Southern Argentina, and also in Santa Fe, Entre Rios and Cordoba provinces. A notable example is the town of Villa General Belgrano, founded by Germans in the 1930s. In the 1960s it became the site of the Fiesta Nacional de la Cerveza, or Oktoberfest, which has become a major attraction in Argentina. By 1940, there were 250,000 people of German descent living in the country. The German embassy in Argentina estimates that 660,000 Argentines, or 1.5% of the total population, are descendants of Germans who emigrated directly from Germany (It means that it doesn't includes other ethnic Germans who emigrated from Austria, Switzerland, Russia/USSR, etc.). 50,000 German citizens live in Argentina.
Nazi Minister Walther Darré was born in Argentina. After the Second World War, almost a thousand prominent Nazi leaders and politicians fled to Argentina. Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele were among them. Kurt Tank, who developed some of the greatest World War II aircraft fighters also entered Argentina in the late 1940s.
There are about 500,000 German-speakers in Argentina, slightly over 1% of population.
Bolivia: There are 2 different German groups, the descendants of those who emigrated from Germany and Brazil (estimated in about a quarter of million, 2.0% of Bolivian population), and the descendants of Mennonites that emigrated from Canada and Mexico (at least 85,000 of them lives in agrarian communities). Germans are 375,000 or 3% of Bolivian population.
There are over 20,000 Standard German-speakers, plus 85,000 Mennonite Low German-speakers.
Brazil: Mostly living in Southern Brazil. Brazil received 250,000 Germans between the 19th and 20th centuries; a source claimed there were 5 million people of German descent in 2000, 2.5% of the national population, but there are no official figures. Hunsrückisch and Pomeranian are some of the most prominent groups. By 1940, the German diaspora in Brazil amounted about a million.
There are 3 million German-speakers in Brazil, slightly over 1.5% of population.
Chile: The German-Chilean Chamber of Commerce estimated at 500,000 the descendants of Germans, about 3% of the total population of Chile estimated at 16 million (in the same source). There are 40,000 Standard German-speakers.
Paraguay : 166,000 Standard German-speakers (including 18,000 Mennonites, who don't speak Plattdeutsch or Mennonite Low German), most Germans in Paraguay are of Brazilian descent and Portuguese speakers; plus 20,000 Mennonite Low German, spoken by Mennonites who live in Chaco and Eastern Paraguay The Mennonites emigrated to Paraguay from Chihuahua State (in Mexico), the Soviet Union, Canada, and Bolivia. Non-Mennonites German emigrated to Paraguay mainly from Brazil, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the German Empire.
Those of German ancestry are 290,000 or 4.4% of Paraguayan population.
Peru: The communities of Oxapampa, Pozuzo, and Villa Rica in the high jungles of the Peruvian Amazon basin were settled in the middle of the 19th century by Austrian and Prussian immigrants. Many of its present-day inhabitants speak German In the 18th century, German immigrants settled the areas of Tingo Maria, Tarapoto, Moyobamba, and the Amazonas Department. German immigrants largely settled in Lima, and to a lesser extent Arequipa. Over 160,000 Peruvians are German-descendants.
Uruguay: By 1940, there were 10,000 Germans living in the country.
In Japan, during the Meiji period (1868–1912), many Germans came to work in Japan as advisors to the new government. Despite Japan’s isolationism and geographic distance, there have been a few Germans in Japan, since Germany's and Japan's fairly parallel modernization made Germans ideal O-yatoi gaikokujin. (See also Germany–Japan relations)
In China, the German trading colony of Jiaozhou Bay in what is now Qingdao existed until 1914, and did not leave much more than breweries, including Tsingtao Brewery.
Smaller numbers of ethnic Germans settled in the former Southeast Asian territories of Malaysia (British), Indonesia (Dutch) and the Philippines (American) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Indonesia, some of them became well-known figures in history, such as C.G.C. Reinwardt (founder and first director of Bogor Botanical Garden), Walter Spies (German of Russian origin, who became the artist that made Bali known to the world), and Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn (owner of a big plantation in the south of Bandung and dubbed "the Humboldt of the East" because of his ethno-geographical notes).
Members of the German religious group known as Templers settled in Palestine in the late 19th century and lived there for several generations, but were expelled by the British from Mandatory Palestine during World War II, due to pro-Nazi sympathies expressed by many of them.
Communist East Germany had relations with Vietnam and Uganda in Africa, but in these cases population movement went mostly to, not from, Germany. After the German reunification, a large percentage of "guest workers" from Communist nations sent to East Germany returned to their home countries.
See also: German colonial empire and List of former German coloniesAustralia has received a significant number of ethnic-German immigrants from Germany and elsewhere. Numbers vary depending on who is counted, but moderate criteria give an estimate of 750,000 (4% of the population). The first wave of German immigration to Australia began in 1838, with the arrival of Prussian Lutheran settlers in South Australia (see German settlement in Australia). After the Second World War, Australia received a large influx of displaced ethnic Germans. In the 1950s and 1960s, German immigration continued as part of a large post-war wave of European immigration to Australia.
There have been ethnic Germans in Australia since the founding of the New South Wales colony in 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip (the first Governor of New South Wales) had a German father. But, the first significant wave of German immigration was in 1838. These Germans, mostly Prussian immigrants (but also winegrowers from the Hesse-Nassau state and the Rheingau). From there after, thousands of Germans emigrated to Australia until World War I. Also, German Australian was the most identified ethnicity behind English and Irish in Australia until World War I.
After World War II, a huge number of Germans emigrated to Australia to escape the war-torn Europe.New Zealand has received modest, but steady, ethnic German immigration from the mid-19th century. Today the number of New Zealanders with German ancestry is estimated to be approximately 200,000 (5% of the population). Many German New Zealanders anglicized their names during the 20th century due to the negative perception of Germans fostered by World War I and World War II. New Zealanders of German descent include the late former Prime Minister David Lange (/ˈlɒŋi/ LONG-ee). The vast majority of Germans in New Zealand settled in the North Island, with a couple settling in the Christchurch area. Cities such as Tauranga, Nelson and, to a lesser extent, Auckland have been somewhat influenced by German culture and values.
From Celtic times the early Germans settled from the Baltic all the way to the Black Sea until the great migrations of the 4-6th century AD. Germans migrated again eastwards during the medieval period Ostsiedlung until the expulsion of Germans after World War II; many areas in Central and Eastern Europe had an ethnic German population. In the Middle Age, Germans were invited to migrate to Poland and the central and eastern regions of the German Holy Roman Empire and also the Kingdom of Hungary following the Mongol invasions of the 12th century, and then once again during the late 17th century after the Austrian-Ottoman wars to set up farms and repopulate the eastern regions of the Austrian Empire and Balkans.
The Nazi government termed such ethnic Germans Volksdeutsche, regardless of how long they had been residents of other countries. (Now they would be considered Auslandsdeutsche). During World War II, Nazi Germany classified ethnic Germans as Übermenschen, while Jews, Gypsies, Slavic peoples, mainly ethnic Poles and Serbs, along with Black and mixed-race people were called Untermenschen. After the war, central European nations such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, as well as the Soviet Union in eastern Europe, and Yugoslavia in the Balkan region of southern Europe, expelled most of the ethnic Germans living in their territories.
There were significant ethnic-German populations in such areas as Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine at one time. As recently as 1990, there were one million standard German speakers and 100,000 Plautdietsch speakers in Kazakhstan alone, and 38,000, 40,000 and 101,057 standard German speakers in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, respectively.
There were reportedly 500,000 ethnic Germans in Poland in 1998. Recent official figures show 147,000 (as of 2002). Of the 745,421 Germans in Romania in 1930, only about 60,000 remain. In Hungary the situation is quite similar, with only about 220,000. There are up to one million Germans in the former Soviet Union, mostly in a band from southwestern Russia and the Volga valley, through Omsk and Altai Krai (597,212 Germans in Russia, 2002 Russian census) to Kazakhstan (353,441 Germans in Kazakhstan, 1999 Kazakhstan census). Germany admitted approximately 1.63 million ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union between 1990 and 1999.
These Auslandsdeutsche, as they are now generally known, have been streaming out of the former Eastern Bloc since the early 1990s. For example, many ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union have taken advantage of the German Law of Return, a policy which grants citizenship to all those who can prove to be a refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or the spouse or descendant of such a person. This exodus has occurred despite the fact that many of the ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union were highly assimilated and spoke little or no German.
According to the 1921 census, the German community was the largest minority group in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (505,790 inhabitants or 4.22%).
Note that many of these groups have since migrated elsewhere. This list simply gives the region with which they are associated, and does not include people from countries with German as an official national language, which are:Austria, Belgium, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
In general, it also omits some collective terms in common use defined by political border changes where this is antithetical to the current structure. Such terms include:Ungarndeutsche / Germans of Hungary.
Serbiendeutsche / Germans of Serbia.
Rumäniendeutsche / Germans of Romania.
Roughly grouped:Germans of Bohemia and Moravia, often known as Sudeten Germans
Germans of Silesia
Germans of East Prussia (the largest group), including
Germans of Poland; see also:
the Polonized Bambrzy (notice that Bambrzy are not part of German minority).
those from Lithuania: Prussian-Lithuanians and Baltic Germans.
Baltic Germans of Latvia and Estonia, Prussian-Polonians, Prussian Latvians, and ethnic Germans in Belarus.
The German-Briton group of the United Kingdom (sometimes called British Germans), and German Poles living in the UK since the end of World War II.
Schleswigsch Germans in South Jutland County, Denmark.
German-speaking citizens of the Netherlands (386,200 - 2.37% of the population), including Limburger Germans.
German-speaking Belgians, mostly in the German-speaking Community of Belgium (DGB - Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft Belgiens), and about 1 to 3 percent of Belgians speak German.
South Tyrol, a majority in this province of Italy.
Walser originally from Wallis in Switzerland, now in Italy.
Cimbrians in Italy.
Móchenos in Italy.
Germans in Slovenia: in the Gottschee County, in the Lower Styrian towns of Maribor, Celje and Ptuj, and in the Apače area.
the Bruderhof Communities.
the original Hutterites.
Russian Mennonites in Ukraine, including the Mennonite Brethren.
Transylvanian Saxons in Romania.
Transylvanian Landler Protestants in Romania.
Carpathian Germans in Romania, as well as nearby Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine.
Zipser, from Spiš (Carpathian German heartland) to northern Romania.
Regat Germans in southern and eastern Romania.
Danube Swabians, including:
those in the Bačka.
Banat Swabians in the Serbian and Romanian Banat, as well as a handful in Bulgaria.
Satu Mare Swabians in Romania, a much smaller colony as a result of the two world wars and the Communist era.
most Germans of Hungary (especially Swabian Turkey).
in Croatia (where it is a recognized minority language).
and Bosnia and Herzegovina, though are now minuscule in number since World War II.
Black Sea Germans in southern Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria including:
Germans of the Crimea.
Dobrujan Germans of Romania and Bulgaria.
Bukovina Germans from Bukovina.
Bessarabia Germans roughly from what is now Moldova.
Germans of Volhynia (German Volhynians).
Galiziendeutsche in Galicia.
German Russians, estimated at 5 million throughout Russia, and German Ukrainians, included in Ukraine.
Caucasus Germans (also Swabians) in the northern Caucasus, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.
the rest of the Germans in the former USSR, including:
Germans of Kazakhstan.
Bosporus Germans, originally craftsmen in and around Istanbul, Turkey.
Cyprus has a German expatriate community.
In the Americas, one can divide the groups by current nation of residence:German Canadians and German-Americans, the largest ethno-ancestral group in the USA documented by the 2000 United States Census.
Texas Germans (see also the List of German Texans).
Hutterites who speak Hutterite German.
German Mexicans, including Mennonites in Mexico as well as many notable figures, see German-, Austrian-, Hungarian-, and Polish- subcategories of European Mexicans, esp. in the Northern states.
Deutschbrasilianer in Brazil, whose various languages comprise Brazilian German.
German Argentines with prominent personalities and a notable German impact on Argentine culture.
German-Chilean with prominent personalities and a notable impact in Southern Chile.
Germans of Paraguay.
Germans, mostly from outside the borders of Germany, in the rest of Latin America, especially:
Peru, not many are German speakers, see German Peruvian.
Uruguay, known for a German community.
German Venezuelans, for example Colonia Tovarwhere settlers came from Baden, and Colonia Agrícola de Turén where settlers were Germans of the Bukovina Region and some Germans of Poland, in Colonia Tovar the dialect Alemán Coloniero is dramatically disappearing and losing popularity being replaced mainly by Spanish, meanwhile in Colonia Agrícola de Turén some German is still spoken.
Colombia, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
...or by ethnic or religious criteria:Pennsylvania Dutch
Amish found in the USA, notably Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and New York.
Volga Germans and Plautdietsch-speaking Russian Mennonites.
in Canada, (e.g. Chortitzer Mennonite Conference).
in the United States, for instance in Kansas, New York, and Chicago, Illinois where millions of residents self-claim to be German (American).
throughout Latin America, most notably in Mexico.
Hutterites who speak Hutterite German.
the Bruderhof Communities, the USA and Paraguay.
In Africa, Oceania, and East AsiaGermans of Namibia, Togo, Cameroon, Tanzania and South Africa, which was never a pre-WWI German colony.
German Australians and German New Zealanders.
Germans in the colony of Jiaozhou Bay, China, who founded (among others) the Tsingtao Brewery in today's Qingdao.
Small numbers of German expatriates in East Asia (Burma, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea).
German cultural traits remain in Papua New Guinea.
A visible sign of the geographical extension of German language are the German-language media outside the German-speaking countries.