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Who can say "Ich bin Deutscher"?

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At the beginning of the year I received my German citizenship which is all fine and good - however it drives my Eastern European wife crazy if in conversation I happen to mention that I'm also German.

 

Her argument is that in Europe, one generally refers to their nationality with which they were born. As such, Germans would look at me funny for daring to make any additional assertion that I'm German too when queried about where I'm from.

 

While typically demure, in this argument she leans heavily on her highly educated, well-read background and insists that the ease in which North Americans adopt other cultures doesn't translate to Europe at all. Smells of chauvinism to me.

 

I've spent more than half of my adult life here, speak fluent German and plan to stay here. Of course I will never be de facto German. That said, is it really an affront or on some level inappropriate for adding this piece of information or do I have to always respond that I'm just Canadian?

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3 minutes ago, circuits said:

Her argument is that in Europe, one generally refers to their nationality with which they were born.

That is bullshit. I lived only 5 years in Poland, but whenever I meet Poles here in Germany, after a couple of drinks (haha), I'm almost always told that I must be a Pole, too. Just because I speak the language and know a bit about the country is enough to be treated as an almost native.

 

Regarding Germans it's region depended, but overall ability to speak the language fluently determines if you can say you're German or not. Nobody has a problem with that.

 

I would say: just don't bother with idiots and tell them to go fuck themselves. You are German.

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4 minutes ago, circuits said:

I've spent more than half of my adult life here, speak fluent German and plan to stay here. Of course I will never be de facto German. That said, is it really an affront or on some level inappropriate for adding this piece of information or do I have to always respond that I'm just Canadian?

 

Do you feel that it's an important part of your identity that you have a German passport?  I think it is up to you to define who you are although you may want to keep the peace with your wife if possible. :)

 

I think you are always at least partially from where you've grown up though.  I grew up in Iceland and haven't lived there in 15 yrs. and still feel very much Icelandic.  I have a Canadian passport as well, lived there 7 yrs. but I don't really feel Canadian.  Definitely don't feel German.  I know a guy too who is German but was born and grew up in S-Africa and lived there until his mid 30's and when he introduces himself to people and is asked where he is from, he says S-Africa although he never had an S-African passport.

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Thanks for the reaffirmation yourkeau. I almost question my sanity after putting so much effort into communicating in German and understanding the history, norms, etc... not to mention a degree in German philosophy.

 

Pandamunich - I do trust my wife and don't treat nationality like a cavalier fashion accessory. I'm simply at a loss as to how this long-term personal investment translates to zilch with respect to coming one step closer to somehow not being a complete Ausländer. Can't I be half or 2/3 Ausländer lol?

 

Maybe I'll just say I'm a Passdeutscher in a humourous and typically self-effacing Canadian manner :P The problem is that some Germans may not get the joke.

 

In any case, peace in my little expat family has to prevail so I'll have to avoid uttering the words that shall not be said.

 

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I love to confuse people. in my job, at a hospital, I'm in daily contact with new German patients and often the ask me Where do you come from? what nationality are you? I take these questions literally. if it's the former I say truthfully, Guyana. if it's the later, I say, truthfully, German, and that totally baffles them because what German has brown skin??? But it does start a conversation. Sometimes they try to guess, and it's astonishing that a few have guessed Indian, though I don't have the typical Indian hair at all. one guy wouldn't allow me to tell him and spent days trying to guess. every day he would come up with some new country from Indonesia to USA to Costa Rica. Finally I had to tell him. I then lent him a book on Guyana so he could learn a bit about it. 

 

i dont identify with with any nationality. I am who I am and my nationality or culture or whatever is just a part of they, not Who I Am. All these influences went into my mental makeup, Guyana and India and German and neither my birthplace not my passport is enough to give me an Identity. I cling to neither. living 41 years in Germany has certainly had a. strong influence and I can easily say I am German, but that's not all of it. I enormously dislike all labels that put people in a cultural box.

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"Where do you come from?" is generally to be answered by "from over there" (accompanied by pointing in some direction).

Alternatively, I answer with the name of the small village outside of Hamburg that even those that live in the adjacent part of Hamburg have likely never heard of.

"But no, where is home?" is answered with "Largs, Scotland", which is where I grew up (technically true, because I became the fat bald alcoholic I am today there)

I cannot wait for the day that I can answer "German" to the question "What nationality are you?" :D

 

Not that I'll fool anyone, because my accent will likely give me away until my dying day :)

 

I agree with arundasi; a passport is a bit of paper that allows me to travel.

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5 hours ago, RedMidge said:

Just say you have dual citizenship.

 

Could it be that he had to renounce his Canadian citizenship to become German? He doesn't say.

 

7 hours ago, circuits said:

I've spent more than half of my adult life here, speak fluent German and plan to stay here. Of course I will never be de facto German. That said, is it really an affront or on some level inappropriate for adding this piece of information or do I have to always respond that I'm just Canadian?

 

No, it's not inappropriate at all. It shows you have made a huge effort to integrate, though your accent will show that you are not originally German. Just say that you are originally Canadian but hold a German passport now and that you feel very much part of Germany. This is what you probably explain anyway, so I don't know what your wife's problem is. 

 

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To the question, "where are you from", I would answer "I am from Canada, but I have a German passport/have been granted german citizenship". How many people can say that? if someone told me that, I would be very interested in their story. Just saying Ich bin deutscher doesn't show allll the colors of your rainbow :D

 

I only have a residence permit, but when I meet people abroad I always say I am French Canadian and I live in Germany. And I will never say, just "Canadian" because. well, you know :P

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1 hour ago, Uncle Nick said:

John F. Kennedy wasn't born in Berlin, but he still said "Ich bin ein Berliner"

Which means 'I'm not from Berlin, but I feel here at home'. If you want to say 'I'm from Berlin', you do not use the article: Ich bin Berliner.

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If someone asks me where I'm from I just say the name of the village where I live which throws them a bit. :D

 

I've lived here more than half my life and now hold German citizenship but will probably consider myself British until the day I die.
Not really through choice and I much prefer Germany to the UK but some things are just fixed.

 

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22 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

Which means 'I'm not from Berlin, but I feel here at home'. 

Just because of the context, else that sentence very well means that the Person saying it, is actually from Berlin.

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38 minutes ago, Erdmann said:

Just because of the context, else that sentence very well means that the Person saying it, is actually from Berlin.

Indeed, it can be a Berliner citing Kennedy.

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2 hours ago, Uncle Nick said:

John F. Kennedy wasn't born in Berlin, but he still said "Ich bin ein Berliner"

 

 Never understood the doughnut reference... ;) 

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I had an odd conversation with a German woman. My daughter was friends with hers. It was World Cup time and I noticed she had a Croatian flag hanging at her house. So I said innocently "Oh your husband is Croatian"  and she about jumped down my throat and said "Yes but he has a German passport."

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I was brought up in both Britain and Germany, so am culturally and linguistically both.  But my pre-teen years were spent in Wales. Welsh father, German mother. I still very strongly feel Welsh, which goes to show how impressionable one's childhood years are. My Welsh accent speaking English, though very slight, is still discernible. But my teenage years spent in Germany (German relatives, German school, vocational training) also impressed itself culturally and linguistically deeply on me, which I didn't realise until I went back to Britain when I was 20. That's when I realised I had a dual identity. Took a while though to accept that, mainly due to British negativity towards everything German prevalent in the post war era of my childhood, youth and early adulthood. Once I could accept it, I was simply proud of it. I subsequently spent many years alternating between living in different areas of Britain and Germany due to marriage with a British soldier. I've got dual citizenship since last year. My spoken German is native German quality (Rheinland accent). I have childhood ties to my German town where I live. My only give away in Germany that I'm not originally German is my first and last name, which are Welsh and Scottish (ex-husband was Scottish), which always provokes interesting conversations.

 

I realised some time ago that I'm a Third Culture Kid. I think many children of expats will develop a similar identity - or already have. 

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Thank you all for the colourful medley of responses.

 

It makes me realize how I've internalized what I perceive as important aspects of the German identity. Associating with a German identity is not something I take lightly either (*cough* WWII *cough*). Let's just say I had to do a bit soul-searching before accepting German citizenship.

 

@bramble  I finagled dual-citizenship after living here for 13 years and posted about it in another thread.

 

@PandaMunich (as well as those who feel that one in my position shouldn't ever say they're also German) - some questions:

 

- What if I had given up my Canadian citizenship and was only German?

- What if my parents were German and born in Germany? (Jus sanguinis)

- What if I was born to Canadian parents in Berlin but was raised in Canada? (Jus soli)
 

I'm sure there are other odd cases.

 

 

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5 hours ago, bramble said:

 

Could it be that he had to renounce his Canadian citizenship to become German? He doesn't say.

 

 

No, it's not inappropriate at all. It shows you have made a huge effort to integrate, though your accent will show that you are not originally German. Just say that you are originally Canadian but hold a German passport now and that you feel very much part of Germany. This is what you probably explain anyway, so I don't know what your wife's problem is. 

 

As a dual Brit/ Canada passport holder- will always remain English !

So agree with your comment. I get asked if I am Danish or Swedish. Leads to friendly, interesting conversations. These days- so many people hold 2 passports,  and it comes down to how you feel your roots are. 

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