Monday, November 30, 2009



By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden, Germany

According to the late Bernt Engelmann, the author of DU DEUTSCH?, subtitled the “History of Foreigners in Germany”, makes a very strong case that from the time that warring Prussia took over most of what became known as Germany in 1870, there were living in the geographic borders of Germany already a very large number of foreigners. Moreover, Engelmann notes that from the turn of the 20th century census statisticians were fudging the count of foreigners so that these large “foreign” population with in the German Empires’ borders, from Kalingrad to Strassbourg were vastly undercounted.

This is something which Germans, especially German civil servants, who abuse foreigners with their rules and arbitrary actions should come to understand about real German history. After all, as part of the current citizenship process, German-citizen-wannabes are required to study German history.

Engelmann began the second chapter of his history with the question “Who are foreigners?” with a quote from Kurt Tucholsky. Tucholsky had stated in the early 20th Century, “Only once in Europe is man a citizen. The other twenty times is he a foreigner [wherever he goes]. . . . Who knows? Maybe that is true 32 times that. This happens when one writes down German Reich as one’s address.” This was because even within the new Germany, people from one part of the Reich were seen by many other Germans as coming from a foreign place, such as Detmold an der Lippe or East Prussia or the Palatinate or Bavaria—rather than as a local citizen. In many cases, only if the address on the passport-used was clearly of the entire German Reich would local civil servants refer to the person in question specifically as a German national. This is because over many centuries, the local government’s civil servants have historically had great powers to define rights of a resident according to German federal development.

In short, 19th Century Europe, was a patchwork of states, nations, and peoples looking for a land to call German Patria. Before this was the Roman empire and then there was the German bund. In the German bund there existed up through mid-century into at least 30 different autonomous states in a very loose confederal system. Other countries, like the Austrian Habsburg Empire, were also made up of 30 different peoples and nationalities, but they did not consider themselves a bund. They were an Empire of various Slavik, Hungarian, German, Romanian, Bulgarian and Albanian groups. It was only through nationalist movements and wars of aggression that a few political leaders were able to begin to further tidy up some of the borders and the checkerboard of countries making up the maps of central and southwestern Europe starting just before 1860.

This is why Engelmann warns students of history that the 1900 census in Germany was largely fictitious affair as far as the list of foreigners living within the borders of the Kaiser’s Empire was concerned. Officially, according to the census figures, there were 56 million people living within German borders in 1900. Of these, only 780,000 were specifically listed as foreigners. On the face of it, it appeared that only 1.4 % of the population of the German Reich were foreigners at the turn of the 20th Century.

“Not really true, “ explained Engelmann, who survived concentration camps in Germany in the 1940s as Nazi-led Germany fought wars for its popular “Germany for Germans” myths. Engelmann wrote, “Many millions of foreigners by today’s standards were called national in that census, simply because they had always lived in German borders for a few years within the Reich’s borders.”

For example, Englemann noted, “No Polish were counted because they didn’t have a country at the time. . . . The Polish Party of Germany was even represented in parliament with 14 representatives as of 1903. “ The same could be said of dozens of other peoples and nationalities within both the German and Austrian Reichs. (Many Austrians moved to Germany looking for work as the Industrial Revolution took off in the 19th century, but as they learned to speak some German by 1900 or spoke it already and because Germany had its eye on-and-off on Austria as apotential Anschluss-partner, almost none of the German speaking one-time Austrian Empire residents were counted as foreigners either.) In short Engelmann reports, when one includes all the various language and national groups and cultures busily employed in Germany as of 1900, there were over 3.6 million foreigner, who were often mislabeled “Inlanders” by the German Census bureau.

There were among the many “Inlander” Lithuanians, Sorb, Czeks, Slowaks, Walloons, Russians, Ukranians--and in many cases Russians or Byelorussians—included in that some of 3.6 Million. Now, simply add 3.6 million and 780,000 (Italians, French, Dutch, Danish, Americans, Brits, and other who were in the foreigner statistics) and you have a sum of nearly 4.4 million foreigners in Germany as of 1900. That means at the very least there were 7.8 percent foreigners living and working in Germany officially or full-time as of 1900.

Later, in Engelmann’s German history book we discover that there were likely well over one or two million migratory workers and uncounted workers—mostly from Eastern Europe-- in German censuses under the Kaiser. This was because the great farms of the Junkers and other East Prussians were farmed only by laborers from abroad who often officially were not permitted to stay after harvest “inland”. However, there was often need even in winter for many of these to stay and be housed on German soil. This pushes the population of foreigners in the German Kaiser Reich to well over 10 % of the population.

In short, just like Germany in 1900, Germany in 2000 through 2009 has been a nation of many nationalities and immigrants. The difference is that the census figures are more exact today.

What should be the repercussions in German society if the vast number of government leaders, civil servants and German populations were to come to recognize the facts of history—rather than the myths of earlier Reichs and German Reich-era historians?
Obviously, Germans would have to quickly acknowledge that the land had often been a melting pot of sorts, which already had a vast number of people’s already integrated into the system by the 1930s, when German nationalism ran amok and tore down the multicultural (called at that time cosmopolitan) society. It is likely that the myths of German national identity and statecraft (and war craft) covered up a more authentic history and identity of most in Germany for most of the 20th Century.

In the 21st Century, Germans must come clean with their history and work for the first time in a century or more on real integration issues, instead of blaming the foreigners and new-comers for all their ills—as has been occurring under the thumbs of government officials in this decade. These officials see themselves as the last bastion of resistance to promoting German Nationhood in the face of globalizing influences and migration. This attitude and attack on the personhoods and attributes of so-called foreigners must end.

Otherwise, there will be a demographic collapse in Germany in less than a decade or so. Germans need to embrace a more multicultural identity and understand their historic mission to integrate others more efficiently and in a people friendly manner. The population of Germany has been sinking each year for a generation and the aging German working population depends on migrants to fill the holes in the sinking ship caused by the retirement of the last baby boom generation in German history (1945 to 1960s). With less than two children per household, such a blindly nationalist immigration and integration system needs to be rethought through.


Interestingly, as I prepared to publish this article, a case from Wuppertal (held now in Munster) is being undertaken in court to decide whether a young Jordanian youth, who was born in Germany and who only knows his homeland—if at all—through visits in school vacation, should be deported after being involved as a minor in various criminal activities. The youth’s name is Samer S. and his lawyer uses the language of Berndt Engelmann, i.e. calling the young man an “Inlander” (as opposed to the German word Auslaender, which means foreigner in German. Berndt Engelmann in DU DEUTSCH?
had used the term “Inlander” to talk about the 5 million uncounted long-time residents and longtime foreigners in Germany in the 1900 census.

The current German law used to expel foreign trouble-making youth was created to mirror the American legislation, which expels primarily Central American youth to their parent’s homelands when they are involved in gang-like criminal activities in the USA. In America, then, any minor or who (1) was not born in a foreign land but (2) who does not yet have USA nationality, and (3) who likely only knows his homeland—if at all—through visits there in school vacation may be expelled through American law to another country if that homeland-of-the-youth’s-parents agrees to accept the adolescent criminal.

Meanwhile in another German city tomorrow, on December 2, in Bremen a conference of German ministers from each state (or Bundesland) will be the point of protest actions and counter-conferences led by numerous stateless youth and by children of long-term refugees in Germany who are facing the possibility that they, too, soon be expelled from their current home country.

One reason for this time-and-date to organize such protests is that one-year ago some 38,000 youth, all without German papers and work permits, were given one-year only to get a regular job or face deportment immediately from Germany. As of now only 7,000 of these have been able to come up with permanent work during the economic crises. Moreover, the lack of proper German IDs makes it very difficult for anyone in Germany to find a good job.

Most Germans and German officials fail to see that there is any direct connection between the fact that a youth becomes criminal and the fact that his life chances have been so restricted by German laws identifying him or her as a non-German resident or “Auslaender” (foreigner) even though they were born and raised here.



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