Integration of immigrants under the aspect of nation building has always
been widely discussed. When at the beginning of the 20th century
European emigration changed from middle and northern Europe to eastern
Europe and the Mediterranean countries, integration of Polish and Italians
seemed to be difficult, whereas the German one did not seem to be problematic,
even was remembered as easy.
Reality was different. In the 2nd half of the 19th century the American public, but especially the Nativist movement, wondered about the strange peculiarity of Germans and not seldom fought their activities and ideas. What about this peculiarity?
Germans had a peculiar propensity in establishing Vereine
and clubs as quickly as they arrived. Here they took part in the
community, expressed their ideas, helped and assisted their compatriots.
This was their way of political participation, whereas they mostly left general politics to others.
Germans were active fighters for better labour conditions. They founded and supported trade unions.
Having worked hard during the week Germans loved to spend their weekends
drinking beer in the public (beer garden/Biergarten), organised picnics
and assisted to theatre and dancing events. They fought for these
rights when puritanically influenced politics tried to abolish their
customs. What remained from these habits, today is accepted and often
circumscribed as German Gemütlichkeit.
©Peter Teuthorn, 2003-08-15
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