as Germans one designates both humans with German nationality, and humans, which have an ethnical descent of German-speaking humans from Central Europe. The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany defines “Germans” in article 116 both over nationality and over descent.

Persons with German ancestorsin another state, frequently than are ethnic German designated, even if they do not have alone German ancestors. Ethnic Germans, who particularly maintain their German inheritance, their German language and German traditions, call themselves partly also than Germans or foreign Germans. Also Germans, inForeign country drew - e.g. for vocational reasons or as pensioners - foreign Germans are often called. With this more rarely taking place definition over an ethnical descent of German-language ones from Central Europe the number of the Germans is clearly more highly than with definitions over nationality or native language andup to 150 million one indicates (including according to self indication about 50 million Men in the USA, which attribute their main descent to Germans).

The citizen of Austria, who is not Switzerland and other German-language countries, even if they speak German than native language, by definition Germans,if it not also the German nationality possess or due to their descent culturally with Germany identify themselves. It gives scarcely over 100 millions Humans of German native language, whereby as 75 million than Germans understand themselves less. One includes the number of the second and third speakersone comes on 128 million speaker.

Table of contents

history and origin

of origins

the forerunners of the Germans are essentially eastern into that of Rhine the settled Teuton (thus the Saxonia, Friesen, Thüringern, Franconias, Alemannen, to look for Baiern) but contributed also the Celts, Slawen and different to the development of the German Ethnie, those for instance since that 9. /10. Jh. in itself a people to recognize believed, as the training of a German commonwealth as a resultthe karolingischen divisions of the Franconia realm began. It was in 19. and at the beginning 20. Jhs. usually to use also for the Germanic forerunners of the Germans this term (e.g. see. Marking of the Cheruskers Arminius as “German” or also the designation “Ludwig the German”), actuallyit concerns thereby however anachronism. Only the combination some certainly Germanic trunks in a state formed the condition for a German Zusammengehörigkeitsgefühl. Continuities can be naturally determined, the crucial aspect of the community feeling become however perhaps clear, if one clarifies,that originally e.g. the Saxonia the Dane and the fishing rod Saxonia linguistically and culturally far more near stood than the Baiern and only the emergence (Roman) of the German Reich from the east Franconia realm also the connections the northern to the southern Germans intensified.

The term “German” (theodisk), actually:people-moderately, related to the people, likewise however soon the meaning restricting is occupied regarding (Roman) the German Reich and its inhabitants since the spätkarolingischen time and understood themselves first as demarcation to the Roman one (“Wel”), in this sense also with the fishing rod Saxonia was used, attained.

the Middle Ages and early modern times

in the course of the high-medieval settlement movement eastward went large parts of the Westslawen, starting from late 6. and 7. Century to the areas vacated to a large extent by the Teutons during the people migration had immigrated (in approximately identical to that new Lands of the Federal Republic, the eastern Holstein, the turning country of Lower Saxony and parts of Upper Franconia as well as eastern Austria - see Germania Slavica), in the German-speaking population up. Last non-assimilated groups of these Slawen are the today all bilingual Sorben (max. 60.000) and in certain way also those kärntner Slovenes in Austria, who represent however - differently than the Sorben - a direct continuation of the Slovenian settlement area in today's Slovenia.

In the holy Roman realm, which carried since approximately 1500 the additive for “German nation”, increasingly sovereigns territories, of them developed below the KönigtumsSubjects thereby also an appropriate identity referred to the small state developed: Thus one fought in wars for its prince against the army of the neighbour prince, also the kind of the worship in the age of the reformation was not determined by an all-German authority (differently than for instance in Englandor France), but of respective territorial gentlemen. Therefore a German identity was limited naturally to the linguistic and cultural range. This became however with the time, above all in addition, by the increased sharing of the population at the writing culture, ever more important.Ulrich of huts and Martin Luther could build therefore with their fight against “welsche” church rule on broad support. Also the baroque poets exerted themselves for the German language and against influences of other languages, even if still for example Friedrich the large one gave preference to the French culture, in thatgave early modern times to the German culture important impulses (model of Ludwig XIV., Huguenots). The German culture experienced also by immigrants important suggestions, mentioned is here beside the Huguenots (under their descendants also Theodor Fontane is) e.g. Polish scholars such as Chodowiecki. Also Jewish Germans hadcrucial portion of the German spirit life (Moses Mendelssohn, Heinrich Heine, among other things). Since Germany was not a central state such as England or France, also the training of a German nation with clear delay took place and took place only via the argument with the napoleonischen France.

In the run thatTimes immigrated further subpopulations to the German linguistic area, thus in the second half 19. Century many Poland and Masuren in the Ruhr district, and assimilated themselves in the course of the time. On the other side also German subpopulations moved (from the Netherlands, Switzerland, GermanRichly, etc.) into fremdsprachige or overseas areas out, created there own colonies or by the there population were assimilated.


a change brought only the national movements in the first half and the center 19. Century (see Burschenschaft, March revolution of1848 among other things). Only 1871 were justified with the German Reich the first German national state. Its inhabitants were called “realm Germans” accordingly. Their settlement areas had other German mostly in many people states and called themselves for example than “Banater Swabia “or than” Sudeten Germans “etc. For it mainly in connection with the national socialism the comprehensive term people German was used.

only these

two States of still the word “ German” led Germany today after establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic in their state name. Since the reunification becomesgenerally only spoken of Germany. If today from Germans the speech is, usually the inhabitants of the Federal Republic of Germany are meant. In addition, humans retained themselves regional identity designations here and to designate itself depending upon context for example as Bavaria or as Lower Saxony.

Germanin the sense of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (article 116) is, subject to other one legal regulation, who is a German national or as refugee or a refugee of German nationality or as its spouse or descendant in that areas of the German Reich after the conditions of 31. December 1937Admission found. Included also ethnical Germans, which had their domicile in other countries, are approximately in the Soviet Union at that time, and there due to their nationality Repressionen or were driving out suspended. Former citizens of the German Reich, those between that 30. January 1933 and that 8. May 1945 the nationality for political, rassischen or religious reasons extracted is and their descendants on request into the FRG is in-patriated. These persons are not considered as expatriated, if them after that 8. May 1945 their domicile in the Federal Republic of Germany orin the GDR took and not an opposite will to have expressed.[1]

to the term “German trunks”

“German trunks” is a completely veralterter term, which besides is still erroneous. It describes the old Germanic trunks in the today's German area (“old trunks” Baiern , Franconias, (down) Saxonia, Swabia and Thüringer, Später were added by the east settlement the “new trunks” Pommern, Schlesier, upper axles, Mecklenburger, breaking citizen, Austrian). This designation is not however in several regard applicable: On the one hand one could at present as these Germanic groups of peoples itself inCentral Europe did not establish yet at all about Germans talk. Dieser Begriff kam erst viel später auf (s.o.). The Germanic trunks did not understand themselves by any means as a common people, it led even wars against each other. On the other hand their descendant in the course of the time mixed itself among themselves. Of trunks can one today thus no more only possibly does not speak, of mundartlichen and cultural-regional differences within the German linguistic area.

countries and regions with German-speaking population

the Netherlands

the Dutchmen, (Niederdeutsch countries) inhabit low (flatten) country and are come out from thatwestGermanic and/or. German (part) trunks of the Westfriesen, Lower Saxony and Niederfranken, whose dialects still speak it also today. The state is developed after the westfälischen peace in Münster and Osnabrück. Their language and culture are Niederdeutsch and in such a way designated it the Netherlands land (dütsche taal the nederen)to in 20. Century (end 2. World war), e.g. neederduitsche kerke. The mundartliche down-German word Dutch from the Netherlands for the high-German word German was transferred to English and means the Dutchmen, although into English is to be translated the Netherlands with (the) Netherlands. Their high-Netherlands writing languagemainly from „Niederfränki” - a down-German dialect - did not develop and has itself from the outset together with the forms of Lower Saxony Niederdeut parallel to the high German developed, however by any means independently of it.

As in 18. , 19. Century homogeneous national states in mode, became the term came“German” primarily taken up by the areas for itself, standing under high-German influence. With the conceptions at that time of a monocentric national state the presence of several language forms, which meant Plurizentrismus automatically, got along not. This led on the one hand to the fact that in the German national state (German Reich) underPrussian guidance the Netherlands writing language by introduction of the high-German office and school language, still applied in the west, it was suppressed and finally displaced, on the other hand that the Dutchmen began to dissociate itself from the term “German” slowly, finally however only after that 2. World war. In particular the experiences secondWorld war strengthened this distance.

In the Netherlands live however also a considerable number of Germans. At the 1. January 2005 amounted to their number of 386,000 and formed thereby the second largest foreign total population.


just like the Dutchmen are actual (upper) German-speaking Swiss since that Swabia war, formally since the Westfäli peace, politically separately from Binnendeut. They call themselves further as German Swiss and their dialects with the comprehensive term Swiss German and/or “Schwyzerdütsch”, but do not regard themselves them for a long time any longer than associated to the German people. This attitude became throughthe Wilhelmini time and then the rule of the national socialism in Germany finally strengthened.


parts 18. and 19. Century were characterized by the taper of the conflict between Prussia and Austrians around the priority within the German state system. Since 1804 that existedKaisertum Austria, a German emperor existed after the resignation for some decades no longer. Still in the revolution of 1848 one argued violently about whether a role in one should come to the Austrians German national state which can be formed and if, which. ThisQuestions became 1866 and/or. by the fact 1870/71 solved that Prussia obtained first the military victory over Austria and thereupon interspersed the solution of a to a large extent Prussian coined/shaped German one of Reich without Austria. Nevertheless existed alliance-political connections further away, in addition came the usual cultural connections, how them between friendlyNeighbour states are usual.

After the decay of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy 1918 the Republic of Austria (those as “German Austria” developed one designated at short notice). There was much skepticism, to what extent this was alone lebensfähig „remainder “or „trunk state “- rob the Hungarian agrarian and of the böhmischen industrial areas -. A union alsothe German Republic of (late Weimar Republic) became however by the contract of Saint Germain not possibly. With its ratification in the year 1919 also the name in Republic of Austria was changed.

In the time of the austrofaschistischen Ständestaats (1933 to 1938) - with the elimination of the parliamentand the elimination of democratic structures by the Federal Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss began - it was the official point of view of the governing, Austria as „the second “- and because of the catholic foundation - „better German state “to regard. Its own national consciousness was present only in beginnings, one felt itself asAustrian, defined itself however opposite the Germans only in a diffuse way. When Federal Chancellor turned out for Schuschnigg briefly ever more strongly under German pressure and set a popular vote whether Austria was to become part of Germany, and but even to the support of the Social Democrats pursued to date to fall back meant, requiredthe German leadership ultimatively to set the tuning off. Finally the German armed forces marched into Austria. „The connection of “ Austria to the National Socialist German Reich to 13. March 1938 was welcomed by numerous humans, others again had to flee or were arrested. Prominent representatives of the Austrian social-democracy howalso the patriotic front, under it also Schuschnigg, in concentration camps were spent. The popular vote originally initiated by Schuschnigg took place finally under pseudodemocratic circumstances - without secrecy of the vote - and led to from the new authorities agreement aimed at. The name Austria was rapidly forbidden andalso from regional designations erased (in such a way Lower Austria became Niederdonau). The following events, the Second World War and the National Socialist dictatorship, led then to intensified desire for the return to the Austrian national state. Many Austrians worked as resistance fighters against the National Socialist regime - z. B. Carl Szokoll - had or because of its oppositional attitude - as for instance Franz Jägerstätter, which had already rejected 1938 the connection of Austria to the neighboring country - with its life to pay for.

With release Österrichs and the redirection of the independent Republic of Austria in the year 1945and supported by the successful history of the second republic also a clear demarcation accompanied opposite the Germans. Substantial Austrian politicians had suffered from the National Socialist regime - like Leopold Figl and Adolf sharp - or emigrieren must (about Bruno Kreisky). Thus call themselvesthe Austrians today almost unanimously (with exception it stresses German national circles which constitute according to empirical investigations less than five per cent) despite the common language - where however differences in grammar and style are to be determined - not as „Germans “; its own Austrian national identity is mittlwerweile longunmistakably. In the Republic of Austria distinctive between German, Slovenian and kroatischsprachigen Austrians, accordingly are also the office languages regulated.


South Tyrol was surrendered 1919 from Austria to Italy; the German language and culture were first suppressed there (S. Italianisierung). Also afterto the connection of Austria at Germany South Tyrol should remain with Italy. The German-speaking inhabitants (at that time 80% of the population) with „the option in such a way specified “before the choice posed between a future life in their homeland belonging to Italy, however under task of the German languageand culture, and a resettlement into at that time areas in Poland or Galizien, occupied by Germany. 86% of the voters tuned only few for the resettlement, were actually resettled however. was entitled to 1946 South Tyrol formally an autonomy, however only with that the 2. Autonomy statute of 1972 were completely converted. Today about 69% of the population are German-language, but only few of them still understand themselves as Austrians or as Germans. Lately (2005) in South Tyrol a discussion arose whether the German south animal oilers a German or Austrian minority in Italyare. For Austria the fact speaks that South Tyrol belonged for a long time to Austria and the Austrian government always supported it in the tendency to achieve a large autonomy. Regarding the language the Austrian dictionary before the Duden applies in South Tyrol in the case of doubt.


Luxembourg also in Luxembourg the wartime situations 20. Century, above all the inconsiderate policy during the German occupation from 1940 to 1944, to an emotional separation from Germany and the German, at least suggested from official side, led, whichalso in a revaluation of the native moselfränkischen dialect to the fully equipped writing language of Luxembourg expresses itself.


see also: Liechtenstein

the Principality of Liechtenstein was in 19. Century member of the German federation and has as only country in the German linguistic area excluding German as office andSchool language.


German is one of the three office languages of Belgium and in the east of the country, in the cantons Eupen and sank Vith spoken. In the region Flanders is spoken Netherlands.

See also: Flanders, east Belgium


German-language minorities liveamong other things in Belgium, Denmark, in France (Elsass and Lorraine), in Italy (South Tyrol), in Poland, Tschechien, the Slowakei, Hungary and Romania, as also in Israel, Namibia, Brazil (see also German Brazilians) and inthe USA (see also Germans in the USA).

In the groups of emigrants and/or. refugee groups (Germans of Jewish faith) the assimilation took place in different measure: many immigrants adapted completely to the culture of the host country and partially also its names accordingly changed (e.g. Schmidtin Smith), others keep, upright in more or less intensive form, cultural and folkloristische traditions. In particular the 2. World war contributed to the fact that many Germans dissociated themselves from the German motherland rather. Against it above all the Hutterer, old Mennoniten and Ami remained traditional into thatThe USA.

To the USA there were different emigration waves. In 18. Many Germans settled century in New York and Pennsylvania , among them in particular in Germantown as well as the area around Lancaster (Pennsylvania). Center 19. Century was the middle west as a goal particularly likes. Underthe cities were Cincinnati, pc. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee the preferential places, in addition, many rural areas of Ohio over Illinois until North Dakota were preferred by the rather agriculturally interested emigrants.

Before nearly 400 years the Germans emigrated to Eastern Europe hadtheir cultural identity partly retained, however to a large extent also with the respective native population mixes itself. After the end of the Second World War they were driven out nearly completely, fled or emigrierten in the following time. Only in Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan, Hungary and in fast decreasing number in Romania gives it (after own self understanding) still to minorities, which descend partially from medieval or modern German emigrants.

The German communities emigrated around the Second World War have themselves their identity particularly in Brazil (area over Blumenau as well as around Novo Hamburgo in Rio Grande DO Sul), Argentina (Misiones), Chile (for example areas around Valdivia or Puerto Montt), Paraguay (among other things Mennoniten in the Chaco and Swabia in Itapúa) and in Namibia receive. There there is also in each case German-languageNewspapers (e.g. the general newspaper in Namibia), schools and a more or less active culture life.

See also: Ethnic Germans

see also

Wiktionary: German - word origin, synonyms and translations

reference works

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