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Who can say "Ich bin Deutscher"?

52 posts in this topic

3 hours ago, yourkeau said:

 

15 minutes ago, circuits said:

Associating with a German identity is not something I take lightly either (*cough* WWII *cough*).

 

What does this even mean? Please elaborate.

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42 minutes ago, circuits said:

- 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.

There is a significant group of Germans who came from the former USSR and are:

1. Ethnic Germans, some of them are descendants of Prussians who came to Eastern Russia in 17 (or 18) century on invitation by Russian Emperor. Most of them were assimilated and did not speak the language, they only had Germanic family names. Another group are descendants of WWII POWs who were settled mostly in Siberia and for some reason did not return to Germany until 80s-90s. They usually did speak German at home, but not in public for safety reasons (according to my former German teacher who was such a child and came to Germany in the 80s).

2. People of Jewish origin, they could at some point (from 80s, I think) immigrate to Germany but only if a local synagogue accepts them as a member. They also got citizenship on spot similarly to Volksdeutsche from the first group.

 

And there is also a refugee group from territories Germany lost in WWII (now part of Poland and Czech republic). Their descendants, however, doesn't differ from native Germans except weird date of birth in the IDs, listing towns and regions which now have totally different names (i.e. Breslau, Schlesien, today it's Wroclaw, Poland).

 

People from groups 1-2 are called Russlandsdeutsche and there is a Verein for them. I think most of them still has a separate identity.

 

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You might be a German citizenship, through law but you're not going to be a German national unless you were born here and/or have German parents.

I could never say I was German even if I had the passport and lived here for 100 years.  British with German citizenship maybe, but never "I am German."

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38 minutes ago, Erdmann said:

What does this even mean? Please elaborate.

 

It's pretty straightforward. Nations do good things, nations do bad things.

 

For me, "not taking lightly" meant asking big questions: When you accept citizenship as an adult, which past acts of that nation do you embrace and which do you condemn ...and how? Is it an active or passive process? Could this citizenship affect the relationship with my family and relatives that fought in WWII? What does it mean to my parents who were born in the early 30's and who had friends and family die in WWII?

 

Conversely, thoughts about Canada's ongoing systemic mistreatment of First Nations is also part of my internal dialogue, so I'm not placing Canada on any kind of moral pedestal.

 

@bennetn In case I wasn't clear at the beginning, my question wasn't whether it's socially acceptable to say "Ich bin Deutscher", but rather "Ich bin Kanadier - und auch Deutscher".

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9 hours ago, Gwaptiva said:

"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 love it when they ask: "How did you come to Germany?".  I always say "by plane".

 

I have two homes.  One is here and one is in Iceland.  A friend asked me recently what I'm doing for xmas.  I said I will be at home.  They said oh, you can hang out with us then.  I said no, I will be at home in Iceland with my family.

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26 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

 

People from groups 1-2 are called Russlandsdeutsche and there is a Verein for them. I think most of them still has a separate identity.

 

 

i was working with several Russian Germans and some of them mentioned that in Russia, their families "were the Germans".  Many of them have German last names and spoke German at home.  And then they came here and here they are "the Russians".  I think they are bound to have their own identity because of that.

 

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You're free to say what you like, but your wife is absolutely right: unless you speak German like a native, people will still ask you where you came from.

That is the reality.

 

To answer your question, we have had German minorities spread out all over Eastern Europe, for example the Siebenbürger Sachsen in Romania for over 800 years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transylvanian_Saxons

They were luckier than the Germans in Russia in that their culture wasn't suppressed, they had German churches and German schools, but they also learned to speak Romanian like natives, so they could pass as either.

The present president of Romania, Klaus Johannis, is one of them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaus_Iohannis

 

So when these people came to Germany back in 1980s, they dropped seamlessly into German society, no problem.

Even now, they only recognise each other when they see one of those German settlements as the birthplace in the other's Personalausweis.

They are German, because their native language and culture has always been German, even after 800 years.

Does that answer your question?

 

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5 hours ago, yourkeau said:

 

 

2 hours ago, circuits said:

 

 

Quote

 

1 hour ago, circuits said:

It's pretty straightforward. Nations do good things, nations do bad things.

 

For me, "not taking lightly" meant asking big questions: When you accept citizenship as an adult, which past acts of that nation do you embrace and which do you condemn ...and how? Is it an active or passive process? Could this citizenship affect the relationship with my family and relatives that fought in WWII? What does it mean to my parents who were born in the early 30's and who had friends and family die in WWII?

 

And how did you solve all these internal conflicts?

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49 minutes ago, Erdmann said:

And how did you solve all these internal conflicts?

 

There is no clean and neat solution. But... I found solace in making a lifelong commitment to better understanding where I came from vs. where I ended up. This definitely demands ongoing reflective dialogue with others here and in Canada. I speak with my family members regularly and most of them have visited me. It's clear to them that so many things have changed in Germany.

 

At my citizenship ceremony Bezirksbürgermeisterin Monika Herrmann gave a rousing speech about how given recent events, fighting racism, right-wing/Nazis is an incredibly important task for Germans. She thanked the 20 of us for naturalizing at a time like this and for contributing to cultural diversity. Take that for whatever it's worth.

 

 

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4 hours ago, bennetn said:

You might be a German citizenship, through law but you're not going to be a German national unless you were born here and/or have German parents.

No. A part of naturalization is an exam on German Constitution. And there you have the definition of German nationality: a German is those who has German citizenship. In statistics OP will be noted as a 'German with migration background', that's it. Also OP may be called as a 'gebürtige Kanadier', but this term refers to place of birth rather than nationality (gebürtige Berliner, gebürtige Münchner etc)

 

4 hours ago, LeonG said:

 

i was working with several Russian Germans and some of them mentioned that in Russia, their families "were the Germans".  Many of them have German last names and spoke German at home.  And then they came here and here they are "the Russians".  I think they are bound to have their own identity because of that.

 

I was called 'Russian' for the first time at the age of 32, interesting Nobel lecture by Andre Geim. He is such a Russian German with Dutch and UK citizenships (4 identities simultaneously!)

 

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There is a difference between ethnicity and citizenship. A person can have one without another.

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4 hours ago, LeonG said:

 

I love it when they ask: "How did you come to Germany?".  I always say "by plane".

 

I have two homes.  One is here and one is in Iceland.  A friend asked me recently what I'm doing for xmas.  I said I will be at home.  They said oh, you can hang out with us then.  I said no, I will be at home in Iceland with my family.

Nothing to be surprised over these days. I have four homes. :)

 

When I am asked where I celebrate my Christmas, I say "Nowehere. I don't believe in god."

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,,just  a little anecdote here:rolleyes:..you all know how your accent can change if you live outside your home country and it can take a while to get back into the groove if you return..

a few years ago, I got into a taxi outside Heathrow Airport... I said something eg where I wanted to go to and the cabbie simply asked: " Dutch or Kraut, mate? ":lol:

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8 hours ago, LeonG said:

in Russia, their families "were the Germans".  ... And then they came here and here they are "the Russians".

 

You're right, LeonG. The same applies to a number of other ethnic groups living in Russia. I once overheard my estranged husband's mum telling his niece that in Russia they are Jews, but in Europe they are Russians. Another time I asked him if he preferred to say that he is Russian or Jewish and he told me that it depends on what is more convenient and on who he is talking to. 

 

4 hours ago, yourkeau said:

Nobel lecture by Andre Geim

 

Thanks for the link, yourkeau. Interesting that Geim says that "there have been a lot of discussions whether this prize is British, Dutch, Russian, German or Jewish" as I seem to recall above-mentioned husband telling me a few years ago that Geim is a Russian Jew. I didn't know it was a lot more complicated than that. 

 

Another problem is that being Jewish can be seen as having to do not only with ethnicity and/or nationality but also religion, which makes matters even more confusing. 

 

So there I am, in the middle of all of this, a non-German EU citizen living here, an atheist using a Jewish name. I left my 'home' as a teenager and lived in 3 other countries since. I don't feel that I belong anywhere. My home is where my books are. I think that I will apply for German citizenship as soon as I'm able to even though that will mean losing my other citizenship (yes, I am aware EU citizens can have dual nationality here -- this goes back to Hungary's silly nationality law amendment of 2010, resulting in a ridiculous amendment of Slovak citizenship act; the ministry has come up with a temporary solution, but who knows what they'll decide in the future). There are plenty of people who do not understand how I feel. That is fine. It is worse if somebody doesn't want to accept or acknowledge that -- in my experience this often comes up during sporting events, though a bit differently to what @programdirector described (why do you support that team and why not this one?).  

 

@circuits, I don't think there is a right answer and you will not please everyone regardless of what you say. (If I am giving an answer people expect to hear, I feel like I am lying. If I try to explain, it's too long and I feel I am making the conversation about myself, which I don't want to do. I wish people didn't ask about it.) You have the right to feel whatever you do and call yourself accordingly, since you're not making things up.

 

It's also not really about people wanting to be seen as German; it goes both ways. I had a German classmate who really did not want to see the German flag at our international school graduation as it was there just for her and she did not feel German at all. I remember being surprised then about how strong her reaction was to seeing it hanging there.  

 

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14 hours ago, circuits said:

 

 

At my citizenship ceremony Bezirksbürgermeisterin Monika Herrmann gave a rousing speech about how given recent events, fighting racism, right-wing/Nazis is an incredibly important task for Germans. She thanked the 20 of us for naturalizing at 

 

 

 

12 hours ago, yourkeau said:

No. A part of naturalization is an exam on German Constitution.

 

 

 

 

when i became german I had neither a ceremony nor did I have to take an exam. this was in 1983.

 

(sorry for the lack of punctuation. writing this on iPad and it doesn't do caps and I'm too lazy this morning.)

12 hours ago, klubbnika said:

Nothing to be surprised over these days. I have four homes. :)

 

When I am asked where I celebrate my Christmas, I say "Nowehere. I don't believe in god."

what does Christmas have to do with a belief in God? it's surely a purely secular celebration these days, Santa Claus, tree, presents, Love Actually etc etc. :) .

 

 

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6 minutes ago, arunadasi said:

what does Christmas have to do with a belief in God? it's surely a purely secular celebration these days, Santa Claus, tree, presents, Love Actually etc etc. :) .

It's a religious fest and the secular celebration is built on it.

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In purely practical terms seems to me the other way around -- it's now developed as totally secular, with those people who are religious doing their Jesus thing behind closed doors. For example, try finding a Christmas card with a religous message -- almost impossible! Christmas songs? all secular these days, with traditional carols reserved for church. Or what about drunken office Christmas parties? Or  non-booze celebrations.  I've been to several employee Christmas parties over the years and never once has anything religious been mentioned. Families gather together not for any religious puposre, but simply to be together. I personally like it that way... it means for instance that we can celebrate Christmas in a totally secular way with our Muslims in the home, and they don't mind at all. It makes them feel included. They all got Nikolaus plates yesterday and some have been making decorations and hanging them up.

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... but to get back on topic: I've been in discussions with several Americans who find it exceddingly offensive to be asked "where do you come from". INvariably they have been non-white Americans, who find the question offesive because it means they are regarded as foreigners. I could say the say thing, but I don't. I like the question, as it is often an ice-breaker and it gives nme the chance to talk about a little-known country, and so to educate others just a little. The next question is invariably: Where is that?

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