‘I Will Never Be German’: Immigrants and Mixed-Race Families in Germany on the Struggle to Belong

Thirty years after Germany’s unification, nearly 500 readers shared with us what it means to be German.

Comments: 222

  1. Thank you for this sad insight. It confirms much of our own experience. My wife and I are both Germans, born and raised in Bavaria. We lived abroad for a decade and then moved to Hamburg. Even we experienced open and overt rejection for having adopted a strange accent and not being able to fulfill all the cultural rituals that we forgot or never learned, to the point where our neighbors stole our parcels and we had to call the police on them. We had lots of international colleagues and friends in town and some of their experiences were exactly like the ones you describe in the article. We’ve managed to stay three years but since moved abroad again, among other reasons because the atmosphere is simply too hostile to anyone who is “different”. The saddest thing about this is that I was never able to explain this to my family or German friends. They don’t see it, they don’t believe me. They truly think everything is fine and Germany is open and welcoming to foreigners, they often say even too open when they talk about refugees. I am at a loss what I personally could do to make them aware and better the situation.

  2. Everything you have said rings so true — I have been trying to articulate these feelings — thank you! I am a Chinese American woman married to a German husband. I moved from New York to Frankfurt area 15 years ago. My lovely son who is top of his class in German identifies himself as Chinese because that is how everyone addresses him in school. We are social economically comfortable and I do enjoy many very German habits such as bicycling in the forests, constantly cleaning the streets and keeping a beautiful garden. Slowly I do feel that people who know me well are treating me with curious respect rather than automatic condescending politeness which I used to receive. The turning point, still vivid in my mind, is when I started driving a posh company car with a Frankfurt license which any German neighbor in our village is able to recognize and reach a shocking conclusion that I can make a living myself. Till today, when we three go out, I still feel the automatic pity from stranger Germans with the clear assumption that I am not able to support myself and married my husband for a German passport. They often take long looks at my handsome and well groomed husband as if asking why had he not married a blonde woman. Yes my relatives believe Germany is a very open society and very welcoming to foreigners.

  3. @Max Thank you for that account of your personal experiences. According to my observations, Germans have always been rather intense, intensely focused on identity, far more than they should be in the 21st century. Things have to be "right", and that's "right" according to local custom, circumstances. They accept, of course, differences across borders (the French, for example); but they have a hard time accepting diversity within their own society. This is somewhat different, I feel, from the entrenched, historical racism in the US. Germans may be simply over-reacting to the recent influx of non-Germans. The best-case scenario is that there will be an adjustment, increased acceptance, over the next few generations. Hope, maybe against hope ...

  4. @Max I can't tell you how much I agree with you. I totally understand how you must have felt here in Hamburg or would have felt in any other German region in which your accent wouldn't have been native. Being different in the context of a mixed-race background or simply regional differences always put you on the spot. I guess sometimes it's the German souls' uncertainty how to act (with all that happened in our history) that even strengthens the dilemma. Your statement "the saddest thing about this is that I was never able to explain this to my family or German friends. They don’t see it, they don’t believe me. They truly think everything is fine and Germany is open and welcoming to foreigners," really resonates with me and I am equally uncertain on what to do. Let's hope we will be able to keep AfD from brainwashing even more of our peers. I'd be really interested in continuing the conversation.

  5. Frankly, I don't get it. Why would anyone have any objection to all these wonderful people? To their critics, I can only say, "get a life!" Full disclosure: I'm a white dual US/Belgian citizen living in the Netherlands.

  6. @Rebecca i hear you, and if only it were that easy.

  7. When we are born into this world, we don't get the opportunity to choose the color of our skin, facial & body features or race as so many like to point out. With that simple understanding, love one another as brothers & sisters.

  8. @Jeff Relax, Jeff. There's nothing offensive about mixed-race couples, they haven't committed any crimes by marrying, and they don't deserve censure or hostility from anyone for loving each other. They certainly aren't to blame if some crazy people view their marriage as a personal affront, just as you're not to blame if a crazy person takes deep offense at the shoes you're wearing. Interracial couples and their children aren't coming to get you, and no one is going to try to scare you into marrying within or outside of your race. Who you marry is your business, as it should be. Drop the fear-mongering about "thinking twice about mixing it up." You're better than this.

  9. @Jeff So how mixed is "mixed"? You can marry a northern Italian, but not a southern? A very pale Norwegian can marry a blonde French person,but not a brown haired, brown-eyed German? Would my Slavic relatives be acceptable? But, oh wait, my brother has dark eyes & hair even though all of our grandparents came from the same province. Then again there is Pushkin who had an African grandmother. What a pity her "mixed" offspring produced one of the great Russian writers.

  10. @Larry Angela Merkel was born and bred in so-called East Germany and has a PhD in physical chemistry. An accomplished scientist and politician she is a real credit to her German origin that I would trade for the entire Trump German Scottish Czech Slovenian barbarian Neanderthal clan. Vladimir Putin was stationed in East Germany under KGB diplomatic cover when the wall fell. Putin speaks fluent German. There are no Aryan nor Jewish nor German 'races'. Despite my paper and genetic documented white European, black African, brown Native and yellow Asian heritage in America I am all and only black African American by historical convention. While I do not run from nor shun this white European America Judeo-Christian definition of who I am when asked I proclaim my race as human and my national origin as Earth.

  11. My Asian-American-Irish multi-racial family has lived in Germany for the last 10 years. I thank the NYTIMES for exploring this topic. It resonates with me, and I find the article accurate. As part of our immigrant experience we quickly committed to learning the German language. We realized very quickly this was not only clearly expected of us, but hugely increased the chances of us being accepted by the locals. Despite this it has been no easy task to reach local inner circles, and "acceptance criteria for foreigners" is not an easy discussion to initiate. How long do you attempt to join a group that is ok with you being on the cusp, but pushes back when you want to take the floor, or get backstage access? Complicating this is that racism based on skin color is blatant. My white skinned European husband gets far better service than I do. I'm fully aware that as a light skinned Asian female my experience is not the same as young dark skinned males. But, countless examples exist from subtle to hostile. Our children started to notice it from a very young age. That Croatian and Bulgarian friends at school were clearly foreigners too but somehow classified differently from their brown skinned Turkish and Persian neighbors. Interestingly, this experience is not all that different to what I saw growing up and living in the USA. People automatically question your right to belong to a cultural group based on visible criteria. Multiculturalism challenges this, and not just in Germany.

  12. @Lily I am German born of German parents who immigrated to the US when I was a child. I spent time living & working in Germany. Germans tended to be closed to strangers. Were it not for my own relatives I doubt I would have had invites into German homes. Generally work colleagues are not invited for dinner, neighbors may get an invite for a holiday drink; and people are generally addressed with their title, not first names. I’ve experienced German traveling in the US who won’t chat with other traveling Germans because it is intrusive.

  13. I grew up in Germany, born in the US and moved back and forth most of my life. Always lived in Bavaria, and it did not seem racist to me back then. I live in the US now and haven't been back since 2012 - wonder if things have changed a lot since then, and also the people featured here all seem to be from the former East German or Northern regions ... I do think Bavaria is more tolerant? Am I wrong?

  14. @Barbara As a German having lived both in the East and West I can just say there is a difference like night and day with the West being quite tolerant and people in the East openly voicing racist opinions... But honestly i do feel slightly offended when reading this as I can guarantee you, that you can find people in any European country having the exact same experience. So I do think this is more of a global problem and the article makes Germany seem like a horrible place. Now living in Norway I find Germans being rather tolerant and open to immigrants in comparison and when I lived in Oklahoma, well you can imagine...

  15. @Barbara I spent five months living in Munich this year. I didn't experience any overt racism as a South Asian. I was very much an outsider, but some people would make small talk with me, which I appreciated given my German is far from perfect. By contrast, I found people to be a lot colder towards me when I spent a month living in Freiburg. One funny thing--in Munich and also when I was visiting Berlin, Turkish people working in restaurants would frequently (and gently) correct my German--something that I very much appreciated!

  16. It's interesting to me that the white American expat is the only person who feels accepted -- when she is one of the few here not born and raised in Germany. So actual Germans, born & bred, with darker skin feel unwelcome, face violence and hatred (the other article is upsetting at best) in their home while a white woman just wants to be able to understand the jokes. The fact that she hasn't noticed it is not surprising, but it does reinforce the fact that white skin often means easier access -- even to another country. It reinforces that it is about white skin rather than nationality in many cases. It's terrifically worrying to me that this is the trend in Germany, when they were such a promising place just 10-20 years ago.

  17. @Ella McCrystle Her expectations are also much lower. She is OK with being a guest, but the rest are at home and want to feel it.

  18. @Ella McCrystle I am an Asian-American married to a German man who speaks fluent German. Germans who don't know me always start with English when they speak to me. I always answer in German. It doesn't surprise me at all that as an White US Expat, she feels at home and accepted in a way that as someone who looks different. Because I do not look like a German, I am immediately 'other'.

  19. @Lisa Wang Might they be trying to be polite? What was the context? In my many visits to Germany, although I speak German and am white with German ancestry, likely as not I will be addressed first in English. One way or another, by dress, accent or context, the other person, not always a German, assumes that I do not speak German comfortably.

  20. I thought there was just one race of humans? As I understand it the different “races” of humans was a nineteenth century construct by Northern European cultures. Until we get the terminology correct, we will continue to promote differences that don’t exist.

  21. @Swampy This is false. There are different races. Deal with it.

  22. @Swampy 18 people recommended this preposterous comment. Do you honestly believe that there was no concept of "race" before the 19th century? How did the Romans differentiate blacks from whites, according to your theory? Or how were races differentiated in biblical times? LOL.

  23. I'm married to a non white person and we left Germany in 2010. My wife would agree with the overall point of this article, but I think people who responded to you have self selected for those who are unhappy. I'm not disputing that they are and that they have valid reasons, but I also know many mixed race couples and non white immigrants who are happy to call Germany home despite the flaws. To only have one positive voice and that being the one from an almost self hating American is a little ridiculous. If it was THAT bad, no one would deal with the "awful German language" and comparatively less attractive food...

  24. @Till Hey, don't knock German food! The bakeries are excellent, they do great stuff with meats, and you can't fault their beer!

  25. @Till I agree and would like to see a similar "survey" about the situation of mixed race people im America.

  26. @Till What’s not to like about kasespätzle? I live in Germany, near Stuttgart, about 2 months a year. When I’m not working I’m traveling the country by bike and bahn. I completely agree with your assessment. That said, I’m a white American woman with a German last name. Most Germans probably assume I’m German until I open my mouth. Plenty of white, USA northerners would find it hard to believe that racism is still rampant the in southern US if they visited.

  27. When I moved to Germany in 2002, I was astonished by the range of people who'd ask me the same question: "How long are you staying in Germany?" It became obvious that the underlying issue was xenophobia. After two years, I moved to Stockholm.

  28. @CHARLES 1A And when I moved to the U.S., I was astonished by the number of people asking me when I would become a U.S. citizen, as if my own nationality needed to be replaced asap. Wonder what the underlying issue was with that?

  29. @CHARLES 1A Yeah, Sweden, where 102 bombs have gone off so far this year, more than double last year.

  30. It's uncomfortable to explain to people why my husband and I are leaving Germany, but for every nine people who find me interesting as a foreigner, there's one who glares at and talks down to me, as soon as they hear my accent. Anti-foreigner phrases and swastikas have been spray painted outside of our apartment building. I've had more conversations about how immigrates need to integrate, need to speak German, need to forget their culture, than I care to count, many with people who would never have the courage to walk up to someone who doesn't look like them and start a conversation. As a white person, I know without a doubt that I don't experience the worst of it, but I'm afraid to speak up because my language skills and nationality disqualify me from having an opinion with most Germans.

  31. @Joan ...and when I say afraid of speaking up, I mean tired of talking to people who tell me constantly that I just don't understand.

  32. Where did you make that experience? I never ever witnessed something like that.

  33. @Joan This is all perfectly normal. Random countries are under no obligation to roll out the welcome mat for people whose culture differs from their majority's. This is an American/New-World idea, and Americans are friendly by default, but you're extrapolating this expectation to other cultures. Just try being an outsider in India, or in Latin America. Are you aware that Catalonians don't even want to live with their Spanish cousins and want to secede from Spain, as one example?

  34. This confirms my feelings and experience visiting Germany and working with Germans, which is at odds with their verbal claims (that Germany is multi-cultural, that post wwii self flagellation beat the racist out of them, maybe too much so, etc). I identify as white in the US but not in Germany. In Germany, my dark hair mark me as an inferior species and it is very much felt. It’s the kind off place where you have to make immediately clear that you are not poor/uneducated/or a bad passport holder. I am amazed at the blinders the American lady above seems to have. My impression is that Germany has done a great job of advertising how amazing it is (is it truly?) and made it the envy of some in America but I don’t believe for a minute that the collective cultural sickness that erupted a couple of generations ago has healed. And those that could find themselves in the crosshairs of that sickness should know that.

  35. My experience in the USA was, that people were not willing to listen to you carefully, when you have an accent; that would be too much of an effort for them. My question for you is, did you speak German in Germany or did you expect, the others talk to you in English (like so many visitors from the USA do)?

  36. While riding on the elevator of a well known hotel in Berlin, Germany, I witnessed an incident where an Indian couple asked a tall white German woman what floor was the dining room on. I couldn't believe the racist comment of the white german woman to the Indian couple. It was so uncalled for. I intervened to try to help the couple. After the couple got off the elevator, she walked over to me and said "the nerve of them to ask me for help, who do they think they are?" That incident happened in 2014 and remains etched in my brain especially since I was a minority too. It was a reminder to be careful in this foreign country.

  37. I don't think you can generalize your experience. There are rude people everywhere on earth, but also nice ones.

  38. Like it or not we humans are biologically animals. As such we are tribal and I am sorry to say, like dogs we tend to have a pack instinct. This goes deeper than straightforward identifiable racism. Prejudice, I have noted, is often shown towards people of a different town or region within a country. Similarly people are often judged and shunned on the jobs they do or the social strata they are judged to belong. I know that in Britain folk are frequently judged by their accent or the way they construct spoken English. The issue of some human societies looking down on another is historical. Consider how the Samaritans were despised in ancient Israel.

  39. @midenglander A sad part of the human condition. Us vs. them. On any level. Even the neighbor down the street. Until the late 20th century, France against Germany. Now the countries live in relative harmony after hundreds of years of war. It took over a thousand years for the three areas ruled respectively by Charlemagne's grandsons to work out their differences — and the racial differences were de minimis — though the tribal differences that remained preceded Charlemagne.

  40. @midenglander You’re theory is not accurate. I’m a professional dog walker and my father is a dog trainer. While it’s true as you mentioned that dogs naturally like living in packs, they do not care if the pack is a mixture of different types of dogs. Human beings are also essentially the same inside and perfectly capable of living in groups with a variety of viewpoints and appearances. The issue is that many people are too insulated. Actual exposure and up close connections with a variety of people are the recipe for realizing our similar humanity.

  41. I am from mixed descent - German, French, and Algerian. In my experience, it depends a lot on where in Germany you are. Saxony, but also places in Brandenburg or Mecklenburg, which are actually quite close to Berlin, can feel threatening. In cities like Munich, Frankfurt or Nürnberg, my family and I have never had any troubles, in fact we never had any in the Bavarian or Hessian countryside either. In Berlin, I've only rarely encountered open racism, and in the few cases where I did, there was thankfully always someone to intervene. I don't know how common that is, but that's my experience. Overall however, I think everyday racism and xenophobia, by random civilians as well as public servants, is everywhere. I've encountered it in equal measure, though in different guises, in Germany, France, the US, the UK, Algeria, and everywhere else I've spent longer stretches of time. I believe that it increases with ignorance: it's always strongest where people have the least contact and the least experience with foreigners. I personally am less afraid of drunk hooligans yelling racist slurs at me, even though they might physically hurt me, and more afraid of politicians who wax lyrical about how we need to be understanding of the fears of people who get their knickers in a twist if someone's skin is darker than theirs.

  42. Is it true that Turks who emigrated to Germany and took German citizenship retain their Turkish nationality, are addressed as Turks by Erdogan and vote in Turkish elections. Maybe that is one of the reasons for this nationality schizophrenia.

  43. @debating union : It depends, not all of them retained it and not all took German citizenship. The institution is called dual citizenship ("doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft") and according to the Federal Center for Political Education in 2016 close to 1,87 mil. Germans had dual citizenship. People of Turkish descent constitute only to 12-13 per cent of this group, while the single biggest group comes fro mthe Russian federation and other Eastern Bloc countries That is due to the fact that the german law of citizenship follows the ius sanguinis. which means that even people who have lived abroad for generations or even centuries (and there were a lot of "Aussiedler" in Eastern Europe) will attain german citizenship when moving to Germany. You can gather the facts (in english) from: http://www.bpb.de/die-bpb/138852/federal-agency-for-civic-education

  44. @debating union Dual nationals who can vote in multiple countries exist. Interestingly enough, it only seems to be a problem when the other nationality is from the Middle East, or when the dual national in question is not white. When it's Dutch-German, British-German, Russian-German, or American-German, or white anything-German (my case) none of the people who worry about Turkish-Germans seem to care. Of course, you can guess why.

  45. @debating union, It is ironic that the volume of racism and xenophobia under the official Turkish motto of " one nation, language, flag, religion" in Turkey is uncomparable with the one Germany. This kind of state ideology creates a state of mind that makes it difficult for Turkish citizens to integrate fully in their second home countries.

  46. There is only one biological DNA genetic evolutionary fit human race species that began in Africa 300, 000 years ago. What we call race aka color is an evolutionary fit human pigmented response to varying levels of solar radiation at different altitudes and latitudes primarily related to producing Vitamin D and protecting genes from damaging mutations in ecologically isolated human populations. What we call race aka ethnicity aka national origin aka faiith is an evil malign socioeconomic political educational demographic historical myth meant to provide power and privilege over an inferior group by a group claiming superiority. The only biracial left in human beings is the 2-5% average of Denovisan and Neanderthal on average in Asian and European populations. See ' The Race Myth: Why We Pretend That Race Exists in America' Joseph L. Graves: ' Decoding Watson" American Masters PBS.

  47. Excellent comments and thanks for the references. Sadly people don’t believe in something 30k years ago. They barely remember the makeup of the world 1K years ago. Most action is guided by the last 200 years, if that. Thus history repeats.

  48. @Blackmamba But race is only a marker for culture. Along with racial differences go cultural differences. And these cultural differences matter to people. When you deny people their cultural identity, they are bound to take refuge in race.

  49. @Blackmamba It's easier to overcome racial prejudice than accepting people and groups whose culture is foreign. Unfortunately it will take a few generations to work out.

  50. There is only one race...the human race. If we fail to embrace this reality, the future of this human race looks very bleak!

  51. @Ben We're not a race but a species. And one for which I, a zoologist specialized in ecology, am not particularly proud- though I do sympathize with the individual.

  52. @Ben there is indeed only one race, but many cultures. Why do we want to blend cultures? I would like to see newcomers to a country honor and participate in the culture of their new home. Only the US, Canada and Australia have some tradition of melting pot. Germany is right to worry about the loss of its culture. And anything done quickly will cause backlash.

  53. @Ben Clearly there is not. People are being discriminated against by virtue of their racial origins and identity. Sorry, but I feel your comment overlooks the whole premise of the article.

  54. In the 1990s, there was a news article that Joan Baez had been denied entry into a nightclub in Germany because the staff thought she was Turkish.

  55. @Mel She should not have been denied entry. But it is a mistake to turn her non-entry into some kind of big event. I am an admirer of Joan as are many others and I did not even know about this event. When the glass is 95% full, stop saying, "It is still empty."

  56. Germany is surely bigger than Berlin and Saxony.

  57. Oh man that American woman’s comments are chilling.

  58. @Jeanine University is free only if one has the grades, and spots are limited. I am surprised she doesn’t know this. As a community college instructor in California, I had German students preparing their portfolios to try to qualify for admission to German colleges.

  59. @Jeanine Real, not snarky question: why? Because her experience here is mostly fine? And she appreciates the good things Germany has to offer? I'm a white American immigrant to Germany, albeit one with an instantly recognizable German-Jewish surname. And my experience has mostly aligned with this woman's. I think the negative experiences other responders in the article have faced are truly awful, but it doesn't mean the American woman liking living in Germany is "chilling."

  60. @Jeanine I also was struck by how she is oblivious to how people of color are treated in Germany.

  61. This is really something to think about. I use race as descriptive at times. Such as that "Black lady", "my Asian neighbor", "my Hispanic friend" and so on. My son had a friend who was bi-racial, and he even called himself a "halfrican." I do see where issues can arrive when a basically homogeneous culture is thrust into a diverse population by immigration. It seems we are fighting the same issue in the USA. Mexican immigrants for years were largely ignored, as they performed a lot of jobs that were very difficult and paid little. Today they are vilified. It's a strange world we live in.

  62. I will never forget my experience on a train from Frankfurt to Munich in 2004. The federal police came on board to do a spot check of passports. They singled out everyone in our train car who did not look stereotypically German: two Asian women, a black man and a few people who looked Middle Eastern. Some of these people had German passports and, quite possibly, had spent their entire lives in Germany. As a white person (with only a US passport) who physically blends in with ethnic Germans, I wasn't asked to show my passport. Nor was a white woman who just moments before had been speaking on her cell phone in a Slavic language. I was stunned and speechless. However, to be fair, I've personally witnessed accounts of ethnic profiling in the US as well, most notably my Middle Eastern spouse being pulled aside for "special questioning" by immigration officials nearly every time we've entered the country. And my elderly mother-in-law being pulled aside by TSA security for a special pat down and check because her head scarf and long skirt were considered "bulk items".

  63. Germans have a VERY strong sense of what their culture is. Also, their adherence to rules of any kind is an absolute. That is ingrained into their psyche. Having said that, I am a white, American woman who is married to German man. When we visit Germany, I have not experienced ANYTHING but warm acceptance and kindness. I am working on my German language skills and I do try to speak as much German as I can when I am in their country. When the Germans see me struggling, they immediately switch to English. Conversations with my husband's family usually are a 50/50 mix of English and German. I tell me husband that I am German-lite because 25% of my DNA is from southern Germany.

  64. Of part German heritage. But I don’t admit it. Stodgy, set in their ways it seems. That’s not who I am, or ever was, or ever will be.

  65. I am an well-educated professional working in the Stuttgart area. I speak fluent German, and married to a German husband, and have mostly German friends. I am also Chinese-American. One of the defining aspects of my experience of having lived here for almost a decade is how present my outward asian appearance is in the judgement and assessment that Germans have of me. From always addressing me first in English versus speaking to my white American friends in German, to asking where am I 'really from' when I answer Philadelphia, to expecting me to understand how visas work for Chinese citizens (I have a US passport), they first see my race and form strong assumptions that I have to actually argue with to correct. I really value the many privileges of living in Germany, but I don't expect to ever feel like I belong here. For that, too many people would have to stop staring at me and arguing with me over my cultural heritage.

  66. @Lisa Wang People will always have assumptions regarding physical appearance. I am latin/hispanic by name in the US but caucasian/white European in looks because of my family ancestry. I live in a very multicultural area of NYC and no latino ever addresses me in Spanish and whites can only tell I'm a foreigner when I speak as I still have a slight accent. I have been to China and Hong Kong for work many times and felt that they put every 'white' foreigner in the same bag no matter where they come from.

  67. @Lisa Wang You can't apply the American experience to other countries. Not every country is a melting pot. nor is it obligated to be, by the way. Japan certainly isn't, for instance. If a white person went to your ancestral country of China, they wouldn't fit in either.

  68. This is not unique to Germany. It is distressing that pretty much everywhere in continental Europe non-white, non-Christian immigrants forever live at the margins. Their children too. And their children’s children. This must cause considerable despair. There are a as few exceptions, but of such painfully small significance. The Anglo world fares better (except Australia). This is why there has been a large camp of refugees at Calais for years, with people wanting to cross to Britain. The UK, Canada, USA, while imperfect, are just far better. Those who are quick to criticize the USA should realize that, while it has tremendous legacy issues with descendants of slaves, it is an engine for immigrant integration.

  69. I am a Scot & worked at the Zugspitze ski resort in the 70s one of my co workers a Bavarian farmer said to me in Bayrisch, Du, you are almost like a Bavarian, much more than that other Auslander. I said but I am the only Auslander here, & he said nein, nein, the other one, Eberhart. I said but Eberhart is from Frankfurt, & he said "Exactly, two auslanders! Back then there was definitely anti north German feelings among some Bavarians, but I think there is a generational change & most young West Germans are very tolerant & non discriminatory.

  70. @pburg Nice! When I llived in Munich years ago, my brother-in-law, from Cologne, many years in the US, visited us there. Within 24 hours he was cursed as a "Pig Prussian."

  71. I will never forget my experience on a train from Frankfurt to Munich in 2004. The federal police came on board to do a spot check of passports. They singled out everyone in our train car who did not look stereotypically German: two Asian women, a black man and a few people who looked Middle Eastern. Some of these people had German passports and, quite possibly, had spent their entire lives in Germany. As a white person (with only a US passport) who physically blends in with ethnic Germans, I wasn't asked to show my passport. Nor was a white woman who just moments before had been speaking on her cell phone in a Slavic language. I was stunned and speechless. However, to be fair, I've personally witnessed accounts of ethnic profiling in the US as well, most notably my Middle Eastern spouse being pulled aside for "special questioning" by immigration officials nearly every time we've entered the country. And my elderly mother-in-law being pulled aside by TSA security for a special pat down and check because her head scarf and long skirt were considered "bulk items".

  72. Germany also strongly identifies by region, and this is among the so called ‘bio-Germans’, long ingrained in Germans. Germans are not nearly as mobile as Americans who frequently change hometowns. People from Saxony are laughed at, most regions make fun of Bavarians, and many Germans are leery of people from East Prussia (I experienced this in the 60’s when I was with my parents in Bavaria.) And go and ask people about the traits of people in East Friesland. Accents give people away. There are strong regional prejudices. So I’m not surprised it carries over to other cultures.

  73. @ellie k. I am German, born nearby Stuttgart. You are exactly right, a Bavarian moving to Northern Germany will have issues, just as if it was the other way around. Everything you said, I totally agree with.

  74. The experiences described here do not surprise me. We have hosted 4 high school exchange students, 3 from Germany , 1 from Poland. Our public school district is racially and economically diverse. The German students had some challenges adapting to this feature of US schooling and we had to have some periodic discussions on correct words and behaviors. All of them were surprised, by the time they went home, that for the first time they now had friends of different races. In the US we get a lot of things wrong, and institutionalized racism is still horribly prevalent and damaging, but in urban, generally blue areas, we are doing everyday-getting-along-diversity a bit better than Germany, at least

  75. "Germany does so much right that America gets wrong: affordable health care and day care, excellent public schools, free university, great public transportation, an eco-friendly culture and an appreciation of time (six weeks of vacation, as well as parental leave)." The Unesco should step in and protect the German six weeks of vacation and take action to make it world standard. The US is the only country in the entire world with no laws stipulating minimum vacation!!! From the poorest country in Africa or Asia to the richest country in Scandinavia ALL countries have laws stipulating minimum vacation.

  76. "Germans remain deeply divided over the question of what it means to be German", this question does not hold any interest to me nor anyone I know here in Germany. It seems so American to ask this kind of question. "What does it mean to be human?", is a much more interesting question to me. It is human to be fearful and aggressive. It is also human to be loving and full of joy. And what is truly human is, that we have the conciousness to choose between the two.

  77. @Sophia You have succinctly demonstrated what the author was describing in German society. The question of "what it means to be German" is uninteresting to YOU, but is intensely interesting to the immigrants to Germany who are trying to integrate and make a life for themselves and their families. Then you talk about "choice" but I cannot figure out what the point of this comment is. I could interpret it to mean that Germans have a choice and that far too many Germans choose to hate, reject or otherwise shun people who are not "bio-German". No empathy, no respect and not even concern for who is going to pay your pensions, look after you in you in old age or work in the many jobs for which there are not enough "bio-Germans" to support your lifestyle. It's a very unattractive aspect of German society to me.

  78. @Sophia When I lived there from 1971 to 1990, I asked that question "What is it to be German, standards, values, etc?" often. The answer I was ALWAYS given was that Germans are orderly, clean and punctual. Since those are things that can be valued by anyone, anywhere, I'd say the question is pretty open and undefined.

  79. I will never forget my experience on a train from Frankfurt to Munich in 2004. The federal police came on board to do a spot check of passports. They singled out everyone in our train car who did not look stereotypically German: two Asian women, a black man and a few people who looked Middle Eastern. Some of these people had German passports and, quite possibly, had spent their entire lives in Germany. As a white person (with only a US passport) who physically blends in with ethnic Germans, I wasn't asked to show my passport. Nor was a white woman who just moments before had been speaking on her cell phone in a Slavic language. I was stunned and speechless. However, to be fair, I've personally witnessed accounts of ethnic profiling in the US as well, most notably my Middle Eastern spouse being pulled aside for "special questioning" by immigration officials nearly every time we've entered the country. And my elderly mother-in-law being pulled aside by TSA security for a special pat down and check because her head scarf and long skirt were considered "bulk items".

  80. @X. Pat Maybe this was an isolated incident. I have been asked for my passport on German trains. My ancestry is Northwest European.

  81. During a press trip to Germany some years ago, I was chaperoned to several towns in central Germany. Towns and cities that had once been ideologically annexed by communism and territorially divided by the east-west wall – but were once again united. The idea being that we would all see first hand how Germans along the former bloc lines had wholeheartedly embraced the reunification process and lived joyously again as a single country beholden only to a common bright future. In one of the small cities we visited, Eisenach – famous as the location where Martin Luther once translated the bible from Latin to German and for being the birthplace of composer Johann Sebastian Bach – we had an enthused local guide show us the sights and scenery. At the end of our daylong tour of Eisenach, the entire press troupe was invited for a lavish dinner at rustic gaust hause where, after a few glasses of wine, our guide become increasingly nostalgic about life during the DDR era and how easy things had been when father (Erich) Honecker took care of everything for the folks in Eisenach. So, there we sat, a dozen or so European journalists, invited by the German government in Berlin to see with our own eyes how well the reunification process had gone in northern Bavaria. All the while listening to a voice telling us that at least some were not as pleased to take part in Germany’s reunion.

  82. If there’s a parallel to what’s going on in Germany with the United States, it’s that the Democratic Party Sees immigration as a way to widen the tax base, while the Republicans see immigration as a source of cheap labor. Both political parties don’t seem to care about the human cost, only the bottom line.

  83. I don't doubt for a minute that racism is on the rise in Germany. And I read about the "Leitkultur" (core-culture) in the German-speaking media every day. The fact that this is openly debated is a big plus. The word "Heimat" (native country) and "Heimweh" (homesickness) has deep roots in German culture and imagination. It can even mean an eternal longing for places that once belonged to Germany but no longer (e.g. East Prussia or Silesia). Yet I have also found many Germans genuinely warm, and accepting of, and interested in, other cultures, to a degree I had not seen in the many years I lived in the United States. I feel a stronger connection with my German friends that is absent with my American acquaintances, who are very wrapped up and self-absorbed in the huge "American Bubble" that is their only view of planet Earth.

  84. Germany has historically been a collection of small regional principalities. The larger framework was Prussia, Bavaria, etc. The mentalities are so different that even today it will hardly be possible for a white German coming from North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, to be emotionally accepted in a Swabian village near Stuttgart. I exaggerate it a little bit:) On the other hand we have the globalization and the internationalization. The mixed marriages, for example, I think are a good thing. I myself are married for 30 years to a half Colombian and a half Bulgarian, we have three grown-up children. I believe that tolerance and the joy of cultural diversity is an achievement of new open minded middle classes who can afford to travel etc. to which I may also belong a little bit. It is precisely the lower classes and those who have never come out of their village who are resentful of other people from other cultures. Paradoxically, in some East German regions, xenophobia is greatest where there are no strangers. But these people anticipate their fears of being hung out. To put it simply, where openness and exchange with other cultures, even marriage, works, one was often active and agile oneself. Where resentments against other cultures reign, it is often the case that the "others" have entered the personal sphere. But you also have to offer a chance to them or at least their children, otherwise the tensions will increase.

  85. As a Canadian living in Germany, my thoughts resonate with the American woman. While many foreigners from EU and beyond like me moved to Germany in search of better life and values, many of us agreed that we are never able to truly call Germany home. The entrenched, subtle rejection of different ways of lives is a constant reminder of our otherness. To this end, I will eventually move back home, where diversity in culture and ways of life are much more celebrated.

  86. @RJ You can't impose your values on other people. Not everyone is obligated to hew to a particular dogma.

  87. I am that American woman, decades later. When our babies were young, I thought we could forge a life there. My German husband would be a link to the culture, I learned so much German that some neighbors occasionally asked me to write to the local newspaper because my letters got published more easily, we lived in a small rural community in Schlewsig-Holstein, I made sure that the boys learned to speak and read German ahead of English. We bought a small house and planned to just keep on living there. After about 20 years, it was clear that the slings and arrows described in this article would never go away. Life as someone who had been "born on a different piece of dirt" could never be comfortably be a part of the country of residence. The bitterness of unification magnified this. Even though both sons were fully integrated, in good standing at the Gymnasium, those comments about "always being a bit of an outsider" and "might have trouble forging a career" hurt. This subtle reminding of the outsider status quietly and invisibly wears you down. In 1990 we sold everything, found work for my husband and literally faded into the woodwork - a rather nice feeling. Until the present climate, hardly anyone ever noticed or commented on those 20 years spent in another country or questioned my husband's status or background. It was perhaps deflating that few wanted to know what we'd done for two decades, but in retrospect, the sense of belonging here is better. None of us would return.

  88. I am an American woman living in Switzerland; I have now been married to a Swiss man for 36 years, and unlike Cleo, I feel completely integrated, actually assimilated, here. The local population elected me to the Board of Education three times and to the cantonal parliament. I also served on the Board of Trustees of a major university here for 16 years. Maybe the problem is the language. I speak German fluently - I still have a bit of an accent, but most people can't really guess where I am from, they just know it is somewhere else. Ironically, we spent two weeks in Germany on vacation in September. There, everyone thought that I was Swiss! If you live here, you have to make an effort to learn the language - then integration is easily possible.

  89. @Sally Sally is right: knowledge of the language is crucial. I am pleased when I, despite my accent or appearance, am taken only as foreign somehow. But Sally is too modest: she speaks Swiss German as well! That can be a challenge even for Germans!

  90. @Sally the point is clearly missed. A significant number of people above speak German just fine - they were born and raised there, have ethnically German parents - yet they still are outcast because they don’t present as German. You perhaps do - and that is why you pass. I will refrain from commenting on the smugness of being able to speak a local language. Switzerland is also very different from Germany.

  91. Very insightful article. My family immigrated from India to US 12 years ago and I became a citizen 4 years ago. In the US, I feel lucky to be able to embrace my Indian heritage publicly while still being an American. I could not imagine living and knowing only one place but still feeling like a foreigner. We are lucky in the US that we were all once immigrants and our collective culture has been defined by immigrants from different cultures.

  92. @Adi Maini Black Americans (with ancestry predating 1900 or so) were never immigrants.

  93. I think you can have a society that is mostly ethnically homogeneous or one in which, as the American woman expressed, "does so much right that America gets wrong: affordable health care and day care, excellent public schools, free university, great public transportation, an eco-friendly culture and an appreciation of time (six weeks of vacation, as well as parental leave)". You can't have both.

  94. @Neil I consider that it is possible to reach both, homogeneous society and affordable public services(i.e. education, health, etc.). Sadly as society we are in a point where affordability is slipping out of our hands (i.e. housing anyone?), and instead of having a more homogeneous and welcoming society, the actual president has fostered the anti-immigrant sentiment to unprecedented dangerous levels within his white supremacists followers.

  95. @Neil The implication of this false dichotomy is concerning.

  96. @Neil why can't you have both? The USA could have everything that Germany has. The problem isn't diversity. It's politics. Specifically the capture of politics by big money interests. P

  97. Born to Peruvian parents of German direct descent, having lived as a teenager in the US for four years, then in Germany and now since many years in Ecuador, I can fully embrace Cleo Godsey’s opinion that when you live in a culture that fits your values, you can feel at home. That is the best description of “home” I have ever heard. And I’ve been looking for one for decades.

  98. Interesting article reminding me of 2007 incident I experienced in Frankfurt. I was enrolled in two month German language course at highly respected German cultural institution - housed in ‘dorm’ at nearby town Niederrad. Each day after class I’d stop at Imbiss (street vendor) and purchase a beer to enjoy in my room. The German vendor was always kind. Yet, two weeks into my stay and quick stop at vendor - whom, unlike other visits, threw my change at me. When I reached down to pickup change I noticed 3 German men drinking beer staring. When I looked at vendor, his disgust at this African American was written all over his face - I silently walk away. This episode reminded me of Italian friend’s warning several years prior “....best be careful when Germans are with their friends.”

  99. I am also a white American woman in Germany and have been living here 13 years. My background makes a difference, in my opinion, not so much because of my race, but because Germans are accustomed to the idea that most Americans they come across are either expats (sent here by their U.S. companies or spouse was sent here by the company) or are military personnel. This means to the German, that the American is probably not going to stay in Germany his or her whole life - unlike migrants in Germany. Why is this relevant? Because German culture is about conformity, uniformity and deference to authority. A German will not expend so much effort telling an expat what he or she is doing wrong, how terrible his kid is performing in the school (if the kid actually even attends the public system), and that all the expat's difficulties are because he/she is not doing things the "correct and German" way. After all, expats come and go over here, so why bother since they do not intend to be a part of German society? Ms. Godsey, as a professional American woman living over here, can still "skate along" on the usual German perception that she is an expat whose company might send her back home with her family in tow. My advice to her would be to never leave her job, to also send her son to a private school, and keep that perception going!

  100. I am as “bio-German” as you get to be with an Austrian mother, a German father, and a German passport. I lived in the Middle East for over a decade and am a Muslim convert, so I get the occasional question which I tolerate. Interestingly enough, the most disturbing comments came from my own (immigrant Austrian, still non-German passport holding) family, who tell me that, as a Muslim, I am not part of the local society and can’t possibly share their values. I asked them if they preferred going back to “their country”. The looks I got were priceless. I know not all are like his. Still, I can’t imagine staying here, in my country.

  101. I was yelled at in a Munich bakery in front of patrons, none of whom came to my defense, because as a white American tourist, after five days of buying food, I could still not speak a word of German but still showed up to buy daily bread, pointing to what I needed. To this day, my liberal German host vehemently denies that this could have happened to me. But those downcast eyes of about ten patrons Behind me in line, shamed and humiliated for me but unable to speak up and come to my defense remain my proof. They watched while the screaming from this enraged bakery owner continued. Paralyzed by some social norm they dared not break. It has been explained to me that if Germans fail to learn English in school, they are prevented from higher education; lots of shame involved there about that failure. The bakery was the perfect place to vent anger about that perhaps. Something awful happened to me in that bakery. Screaming and rage. As I was quietly pointing to a loaf of bread. This happened. No one can tell me it did not.

  102. @Ray I believe you. That happened to me frequently - these odd humiliating situations where people would angrily vent on me and the Germans I knew would deny it totally. Germany is probably the only place I know where total strangers will correct your grammar when you are speaking with your companions in public. We arrived at a car rental 15 minutes early in Berlin in May and my German husband was totally offended when the agent sternly upbraided him for being "ueberpunktlich". And punished us by sticking us with a car way to large for the streets we wanted to drive.

  103. @Ray Well buddy, when Hitler & Nazis were taking those innocent women & children to concentration camps, the parents of these same people who were in the bakery line behind you & did not utter a word of support, did exactly the same. They saw their innocent neighbors being taken from their homes in front of their eyes to slaughter houses, and said nothing. And do you think Germans have learned from their past history? Some beg to defer.

  104. As a German living very happily in the US for a long time, I would like to make a few comments. This same article could have been written about any country in Europe. The falling of the Berlin Wall has very little to do about racial attitudes in Germany today. Unlike Britain, France and Belgian, Germany lost it's colonies after WWI and has been a very homogeneous country until recently. The influx of non-white refugees has been to many and too quickly. By the way, Brexit was bought on largely by uncontrolled immigration.

  105. @Rolf Germans aren't a homogeneous group.. Even if they were, that homogeneity has been in decline for decades longer than just since 2015. Before that there were large numbers of Italian, Greek, Turkish and Polish immigrants, as you may remember.

  106. Race only makes these attitudes obvious. The exclusion sentiment is there, no matter the foreigners’ color.

  107. The thing that people forget is that this type of behavior can be found in practically every single society in the world. (Doesn't make it right though) As a Colombian-American woman, I can safely say this happens in Latin American too. And not just with skin color but with accents and "regional" last names. Someone from Bogota might not get hired by a company in Medellin because they are an 'outsider'..... and that's in the same country! Same thing in Germany, the divide between north and south, east and west. I think people forget that Germany and Europe in general are not an immigrant continent. Not even 60 years ago it was the Germans, the Italians, the Spaniards who were immigrating to the Americas. And in even those cases they would identify themselves from their region, not their country. They were tribes before....I mean for god's sake, the unification of Germany, and other nation states in Europe, happened 150 years ago. I'm not saying that any of the behavior or overtly racism that people are feeling is right (I was verbally attacked in Rimini by an Italian because my accent sounded "Romanian"-- this same man also attacked other Italians because they were southerns) but change is not going to happen overnight.

  108. I am now a 74 year old retired Vietnam Era Vet. I enlisted in the Army (with my father's written permission) when I was still 16 years old. Assigned to Augsburg, Deutschland for almost three years. I remember observing older Germans my age now or older on the Street cars who wouldn't even look at me let alone speak to me. I remember asking my girlfriend what that was all about. She told me some of these older people were from the Nazi era and still despise non-Germans, Americans like me.

  109. There is a certain naivete in one reader's comment, "There is only one race...the human race. If we fail to embrace this reality, the future of this human race looks very bleak!" I would say on the contrary that we humans have a tendency to divide ourselves into groups and people derive comfort from the group that they belong to. Different groups should treat each other with kindness and friendship and without violence. But progressives make a huge mistake to deny the identities of various groups and deny people the emotional comfort that they get from their own identities. Only the naive will think that the current racism is not a response to the enormous amount of immigration which Frau Merkel invited into Germany and Europe. Progressives need to learn to listen and to preach less. The other side is not evil, they have a point.

  110. @Ludwig the law is on progressives side

  111. Like Ms. Godsey, even after three German cities in 20 years and a deep appreciation for all the things German have that Americans sadly lack/enjoy/benefit from and therefore choose to make it my permanent home, I will never BE nor become German – and wouldn't surrender my US passport for the privilege. At least in America – warts and all - you always had the feeling that anybody from anywhere could make it with a little bit of luck and sweat – that you BELONGED to something bigger than the individual. Hard to put your finger on, but you felt it. Here? Not so much. Not a chance. Unless you're white and northern European/American, Germany is not a very inclusive society or immigrant-friendly, never has been, and probably never will be. I doubt that you find many Germans (on either side of the former Berlin Wall) or long-term expats who would disagree with the sentiment.

  112. @BobX is the "American dream" actually real though? Do you seriously believe that non Germans are relegated to be an economic underclass?

  113. I think the American woman said it best, she chose her outsider status and that can’t be blamed on the Germans. Obviously it’s a bit easier for her as she said since she is white American but the fact remains Germany is not America, it’s not a settler land. It has a shared language, culture history etc. Asking them to give it up in the service of diversity or multiculturalism is a bit much. Few people ask that of the Han Chinese or Japanese.

  114. @Ed what would Germans actually be giving up though?

  115. @Ed Its one of the poissoned myths, that the powers that be somehow require us to 'support multiculturalism'. The only thing that actually required, is applying at least the same courtesy to strangers, that we grant any of our perceived compatriots.

  116. I grew up in Germany during the 70/80ties. Both my parent families were persecuted during the nazi regime. After the war my parents participated in building a new country. I am proud of my education that I received both from my family and my school, proud of the values that are always with me. In that way I identify as "German". Together with my wife I lived in various countries. She does not speak German, her English is not the best. In 2007 we lived for a couple of years in Germany with our son, it was the most welcoming experience in our odyssey. We lived in a small town at the Baltic and in Munich. In both places we encountered open, curious, tolerant people from different demographics. When the past of my families came to light, I encountered strong empathy, even sense of responsibility. We live in New York for ten years now, and I can not say the same. We encountered skepticism and refusal when for instance the accent of my wife unveiled that we are not Americans. The party which would be the equivalent to the Alternative for Deutschland does not have 12% or 23%, but over 40%, the leader is the president. The nation never took on the responsibility for its crimes against black people. At my workplace I was addressed as “white man” which is grotesque. I was judged by my outer appearance, something that I hoped we managed to overcome. Changing times.

  117. Most people who complain about not being accepted are the people who, in the first place, do not want to assimilate in the host society by learning host language and adapting to host culture. They would like to live with their own people from their home countries, resist learning host language and resist adapting to host culture and respect host religion. They do this while enjoying benefits and comforts offered by the host country and at the same time complain about host country and about not being accepted. One should be happy to have escaped from violent and poverty stricken countries and found refuge in the host country.

  118. @Matt Your comment is obviously from an "insider's" point of view. I'm Asian American, my parents immigrated to the US when I was an infant, so I'm technically a statistic - naturalized citizen. I grew up in the US, knowing that I'm an outsider, even though I only speak English. Just by my appearance, I'm Asian; therefore I'm an immigrant. Asian Americans have been in the US for multiple generations, yet still have a strong "outsider" identity. African Americans have been in the US since before the US was a country, are still treated like outsiders. Mexican Americans are treated like immigrants, even though the land was originally Mexico. Native Americans are absolutely treated like outsiders, even though, by definitions, they're Natives to the US! So save your criticism for the small minority of immigrants that refuse to fit in; that's more the exception than the rule. The forces of institutional racism are much stronger than a few people that don't want to "fit in", by your definition.

  119. That is uniquely untrue especially when it comes to highly educated individuals who try very hard to learn the language and integrate. The micro aggression is real, the discrimination is real, as is exclusion. It’s almost comical to try to pin the blame of not fitting in on people who have no change of even trying.

  120. @matt. Nowhere does the article indicate that these people who use the most benefits or won’t learn the language. In fact, the people in the examples were the opposite. Besides, it takes most people a while to learn a new language...that’s different from refusing. Your comment is indicative of your assumptions.

  121. Depressing reading reflecting depressing times we are experiencing...

  122. Unfortunately, this is not exclusively a German problem but a human one. Some years ago in England I met a young man (perhaps age 19), who is a distant cousin of my wife. His father is English; his mother is Japanese. I asked him if he felt more English or more Japanese? The young man asked: "In England or in Japan?" Both, I said. He continued, "In England I feel Japanese and in Japan I feel English." How sad that he did not feel part of both societies instead of an outsider in both. Yet Obama, when still candidate Obama, if memory serves me correctly, was criticized in the United States for connecting both to his mother's whiteness as well as to his father's blackness. Obama's ideal is the world we should strive for: valuing one identity should not require denigrating or excluding another.

  123. I couldn't agree more with Cleo. The only difference, I live in France. I will never really be French but I feel so much more happy and comfortable living here. It just fits my life style and each time I visit the US, my decision to move is just reinforced.

  124. The plight of mixed families is clear - even the well meaning remarks of educated Germans can be cutting and offensive. The perpetual question “but where do you really come from?” Implies that one should rather return. Because you don’t belong. Even for migrants who don’t look different, the last name, place of birth, slight accent or God forbid, imperfect German, guarantees a lineup of struggles and disappointments. Most jobs, even in big international companies require a “natives speaker” label, since these companies know that the success of their employees is keenly connected to their ability to “pass” for Germans. Therefore, a lot of good career paths are closed to those who don’t have the “right” background and deep understanding of German bureaucracy, despite degrees from German universities. In practical terms, there is a subtle but clear exclusion, even if the migrants tried really hard to adapt and become Germans. What is left is confusion - what can one do to really belong? What needs to change? Because there is a huge difference between being welcomed as an outsider and being really accepted.

  125. as an individual living in a mixed-race family with three grown children, I can tell you that it is no different here in the United States. Frankly, my wife and and our children have always found ourselves subject to overt and covert racism he in the US. This includes while living throughout the country while being in the military for 24 years. The worst was Fort Bragg where factors of “the old south” and the ability for selected MOS’s (military specialties) to “homestead” (effectively allowing individuals to spend large portions of their military career at a single base) accentuated the problem. However, we have noticed a clear rise in overt racist and racially-tinged actions and speech since Mr. Trump came into office. He has emboldened the worst of people’s tendencies and tamped down those of good intentions.

  126. A close German family member is married to a dark-skinned Moroccan. They have had zero problems. Interestingly, this Moroccan family member was the first to support the immigrant wave of 2015, and also the first turn against it. She saw how the recent immigrants were given preferential treatment and yet were mostly unwilling to integrate. She is incensed that a newly-arrived Iranian refugee family, who she personally knows, was given a 4 bedroom apartment, while her own family is completely priced out of even a 3 bedroom apartment. She recently came out of the closet…as a Trump supporter. I was shocked, but probably should not have been.

  127. @John ask her, does she think that refugees should be simply put out on the streets? Does she not think that maybe the problem isn't immigrants, but the fact that social housing construction has been neglected for years?

  128. @Trans Her answer is that the refugees shouldn't have been allowed to come to Germany in the first place.

  129. I guess the grass isn’t always greener. That doesn’t mean we can neglect our American lawn.

  130. “, I feel more at home here in many ways than I do in the United States. When you live in a culture that fits your values, you can feel at home.“ She unwittingly points out just how insidious racism is as well as the inability of some so called “ professional” people to recognize it. I can’t help but wonder what “ values” she’s speaking of? Safety, love of family, well being of those around you. I would think others in the story share that but just aren’t able to enjoy it as much as she. I also fail to see what value she brought to this discussion.

  131. @Carlton James the values of a society which doesn't place organized selfishness on a pedestal. Where society and solidarity still matters. Where the constitution prioritizes human dignity rather than a vague Nd easily abused notion of "freedom" that is really only freedom for the rich.

  132. Thank you for this wonderful article. All who complain about negativity, keep an open mind. You may learn to understand. I met my non-white husband when I came to the US as an exchange student in high school. We lived together in my home town of Dresden (recently most famous for its anti-immigrant demonstrations) for a while, but decided to build our life in Seattle. One of the most important reasons was the constant racist undercurrents my husband was exposed to. Back then I thought he was just really sensitive, since many of the people weren't trying to attack him and were really just charmingly clueless. I have learned a lot since then. About the blindness of white people, including myself, to their privilege. This is certainly not a uniquely German issue. Here in liberal Seattle, I can stand and stare at a neighbor's garden, and get greeted with a friendly hello. My husband, if he glances at someone's property, is asked, "can I help you"? The frustration of not being accepted as normal because of your ethnicity, even if your family has lived in the area for generations. I identify as East German more than anything. I think about moving back constantly. But then I remember my friend, who tried living in Dresden with her black Cuban husband and mixed race children. They picked the most tolerant (how I hate this word, actually) neighborhood, but the big and little aggressions were still constant. I still have hope. People, we can do it!!!

  133. @Jule I find it hard to understand why someone would move to a country controlled by big money interests when one could live in Germany (preferably a more open part of it than Dresden). It's not like the US is that much less racist.

  134. @Swampy I am not sure if race is the problem, as it is culture and immigrants defiantly and boldly not assimilating in countries that kindly took them in as most of them wouldn't be there if their country was so wonderful. As for mixed race, which I am, that I feel depends on the mix and place.

  135. @LM who in this article is defiantly refusing to assimilate into Germany?

  136. At a meeting one time in Berlin a fellow coworker in Germany asked me where I got my name from. I told him my father and walked away.

  137. It is true: Germany was a much better place 10, 20 years ago, more tolerant, relaxed and welcoming. At least, we were making progress. But there has been a turn to the worse. The reason is easy to see from a place like Stuttgart, which has a very high percentage of migrants and comparatively few problems with racism. Why? Because in general, people are well off. Everybody can make a living, so everybody gets along. Under Angela Merkel, the gap between rich and poor has widened, there is a lot of economic anxiety, while people are told that there is no alternative to this. Little wonder then, that they are drawn to a party, which claims to be just that: an alternative for Germany. Foreigners and foreign-looking people are always easy scapegoats, and our political and cultural establishment is making things worse, because they are preaching multiculturalism without offering a viable perspective for more equality and social security. All this is deeply saddening and my heart goes out to the people who are suffering because of this change for the worse, be they black, brown or white. Full disclosure: with both grandfathers in the Nazi-party and looking the part, I should not be afraid of racist thugs, but I still am, because ultimately they hate everybody who doesn‘t belong to THEM.

  138. According to German migration expert Herbert Brücker, at least 35 percent of the German population will have immigrant backgrounds by 2040. In some major cities, the proportion will be as high as 70 percent over the next 20 years. This is what Brücker says as head of migration research at Das Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), in an interview with Die Welt. Currently, about a quarter of Germany's population has an immigrant background, and over the next 20 years, according to Brücker, the share will thus increase to 35 percent. It can also become as high as 40 percent. "In a city like Frankfurt, we will have between 65 and 70 percent," says Brücker. In 2017, Frankfurt became the first German city with a majority of people of foreign origin.

  139. White Europeans who travel to Latina America are derisively called "gringos" and also don't fit in and are treated as outsiders. Their physical appearance makes them stand out and they're also isolated from the local culture. There's nothing unusual about that, it's the fact that they're a minority relative to the established historic population. Moreover, unlike the New World, Germany and Europe are not "lands of immigrants."

  140. @Eugene >>"Moreover, unlike the New World, Germany and Europe are not "lands of immigrants."<< A mantra, that Mr. Seehofer kept repeating through the past 20+ years. But a denial of reality in face of the facts. Many of the problems in Germany are caused by this sort of ignorance.

  141. Both Germany and Europe have an impressive migration history. No idea why such phantasies of ethnic purity are paraded around but they are definitely wrong.

  142. @Ini FORGET White Supremacy! It is dying an inevitable natural death. I congratulate all those brave enough to contribute to it, while having to struggle against those still fighting it. And Languages are not just to give you "cultural identity" - they are mostly for communication. Communication is very important and I love that about America, my adopted country, that no one makes fun of you when your English is not perfect or "sounds a little funny". It encourages people to communicate and be accepted beyond their outward appearance. Germans tend to be snobs about Language.

  143. Pretty clear what’s going on. If a German man marries a non-German woman - no issues. The opposite starts creating massive issues in East Germany due to a) the huge emigration of young women to the West and b) the sexist attitude of men who don’t want to see “their” women go to people of different ethnicities.

  144. This is tragically disappointing and all too familiar. Having been born in Ukraine, lived in Soviet Georgia, Italy and finally the United States as a young child, I can attest to the fact that America’s fixation with “skin color” is gravely misplaced. I’ve lived in places where everyone was white and native born for many generations and they all hated each other. It is nothing more than tribalism. Eliminate skin color differences, foreigners and create a unified religion, and we will divide ourselves by class, region, family, house number, anything and feel just as much distress about whatever trivial “otherness”.

  145. @Julie Thanks for that one. Finally one who gets it right.

  146. Nationalism is a problem. All that flag waving, chest thumping so that one group can claim dominance or superiority over another. This will not end until human beings embrace their common humanity. Race is an artifical construct. There is only one race and that is the human race, the rest is melanin and ethnicity.

  147. An old saw, but, please, those in glass houses should not throw stones. I think we have plenty to do correcting racism here in our own country before acting self righteous about other countries.

  148. @Mary i didn’t read any self-righteousness in this piece. It is an all too familiar story for an expat like me.

  149. @Mary Never mind. I, for my part, actually enjoy to get an outside perspective. And none of the contributions was offensive.

  150. @Mary Bravo

  151. Most of today's countries in Europe unified only 100 years ago and it is what they consider their greatest achievement, to be homogenous, free, and no longer run by any kind of invaders or outside empires to tell them how to live their lives. Enter the US empire putting pressure on them to give up their most cherished accomplishment that took them about 1000 years to fulfill and open their borders to all the world's opportunists in search of better benefits.

  152. @Alexgri Let's just say its well-deserved payback for the centuries of colonialism and exploitation that has left most of these immigrants' home countries bereft of good governance and vibrant economies. I consider this to be a form of reparations, and of course, the petulant howling of ethno-nationalists is simply the cherry on top of the cake.

  153. @Alexgri Sorry German wasn't homogenous 100 years ago. Read a history book and it will tell you so.

  154. If you really wish to experience the real frustration, try standing in the line of immigrants at 6 am at frankfurt's foreigners office. The first place a foreigner (refugee, student or a legal worker) has to go is this place. The staff expects you to know german or come back with someone who knows german (remember new people, they all cannot be fluent on their first weeks), shouts and barks at you. For many this is the first experience of the german bureaucracy, and the reality check of things to come.

  155. So how do you think that works elsewhere? When you move to a country, you accept that the working language may be different than the one you speak. Learn the new language, and be resourceful until you master it. And yes, that includes getting help with translation from other parties. No country rolls out the red carpet for immigrants (even though Germany pays for housing, healthcare and basic keep from day one, if needed). You want in, you sumbit to the law of the land.

  156. @Beyond Repair actually Germany doesn't pay for any of those things for any type of immigrants besides refugees, which is reasonable, because they had to leave their own country.

  157. @Beyond Repair You're right that we should learn the language, but the immigration office could be a lot more professional. The immigration officials here in Japan don't typically speak English, so when I first came here, I had to come with an interpreter. (I can do things on my own now.) You had to have the forms all properly filled out with the proper stamps or they would not process them and they were strictly bureaucratic about it all. Nevertheless, in my experience here in Japan, they were always very professional about things. When I compare that with the US, it is absolutely dreadful. It probably doesn't help that the immigrant workers are probably overworked, underpaid, and constantly confronted with conflicting policies. (In Japan, the bureaucracy is largely independent of the immediate political machinations going on at the top -- so the machinery churns alone just fine whatever is being mouthed off at the rallies.) So it is not necessarily fair to compare one-to-one, but there is an unfortunate lack of professionalism that emerges from the system in the US, and it seems the same may very well be true in Germany.

  158. As a white German I've never considered any other-colored German as any less German as myself but I've often witnessed many of those with a migration background claiming various national and ethnic partial identities instead of actively embracing their German-ness. I would attribute that to the problems of German national identity in general, but I now guess it was also a response to the reception by many non-migrant (as if such a thing exists in the middle of Europe) Germans around them. I would still advise them to actively embrace their German-ness, to stand up for our beautiful constitution, indulge in the intricacies of the rich and complex language and culture and history and claim it. So much that your national identity isn't dependent on other people, because there will always be a rude lady on the train or a grumpy man on the elevator. Pity them for their behavior and the belief they have a say in what you identify as.

  159. Unfortunately racism is part of our nature, it implies the reason to stop it, for example you with this great remark. But even here in Mexico, people is racist with Chinese, Central Americans, Mexicans with indigenous features. I think you're right when you say that being racist is being insecure and lost because at the end, world id becoming a global place. I am learning German because I find it very interesting and I love your country but I assume I'll never go visiting untill Germany people learns to see their beautiful country in a global way.

  160. @Dessalines Standing up to racism and prejudice is tiring and defeating, especially when fellow comrades don't also stand up with you (as one interviewee experienced). You cannot just be nonracist; you must also be antiracist

  161. ‘I Will Never Be German’ This is why Merkel's policies were so misguided and cruel. It was obvious that, despite the good intentions, the German society is incapable of absorbing non-Blut-und-Boden citizen, and perhaps never will. This is generating a two-tier society, with millions seething of resentment and prone to radicalization.

  162. @Kai Misguided? Cruel? To whom?! Reading between the lines, who exactly is "seething with resentment and prone to radicalization"? Based on the article, it actually sounds like ethnic Germans, which makes me wonder if that justifies rejecting refugees...

  163. @Kai So disagree. Being different is always a challenge. Always. It is not a German problem, but a human one. We always think the here & now exceptional, when humans struggle with their imperfections. We blame “others” for what we should be held responsible. Angela Merkel in her famous speech about immigration had it right. America’s greatness has always been dependent on its immigrants. In Texas, in a cert Polish community outside San Antonio, the natives castigated me for being an outsider. When I started to introduce myself by my grandmothers maiden name , they went into shock. I was a part of one of the founding families from 1845. As a cultural German , a Foerster , a Kainz & a Peisl, I identify with certain “German” traits. Reason , fairness, conservation , industriousness , & commitment to a better & just country. I am glad to be many things. It sounds as if the people of Saxony need to wake up. Ask themselves why their children are not German. Behave in anti German manner. Reason, fairness, conservation , industriousness & commitment to a better & just country.

  164. @Kai I'm German, didn't vote for Ms. Merkel, but still I disagree. Its not Ms. Merkel, who is misguided, but those that are still unable to cope with 'others' being 'different'. Why is it so difficult, to be tolerant? I know, it can be sort of a challenge, to understand each others, but there can be no excuse for the unique mixture of hatred, envy, and ignorance that is exposed of some of my compatriots. Throughout history, Germany has always been a target of immigration, brought about by turmoil, when: - the Romans swept through what was a wilderness inhabited by tribal communities, - the Mongols pressed from the east, displacing whole nations, that left their traces passing through - during the thirty years war, which saw the swedish king dying in battle on german ground - when the French Hugenotts fled from political persecution, and later when Napoleon led his army through deep into russia, on his way back bring the Russians along on his heels, - sometimes also peacefully, like the Poles, that came to work in the coal mines during the industrial revolution. German 'purity' is an illusion of people that don't know their history.

  165. i have to say, germany and europe are not the only places this kind of shunning of "outsiders" takes place. my parents moved to the "south" of the US 45 years ago. to this day, they have no "southern" friends. the myth of southern hospitality is just that -- a myth. so called "yankees" are still not accepted, or reached out to...even my brothers and sisters who grew up there are still considered outsiders... their children are only just accepted, though warily. and my family is white (or was until the new generation) as white can be. being "of the land" and "on the land" exists just as strongly in parts of the US...

  166. @bronxbee Uh.,. You do realize that issues of acceptance, racial discrimination, segregation, etc is widely well-known and reported in the US when compared to in Germany (or arguably anywhere else) right? Although, that you start with "germany and europe are not the only places this kind of shunning of "outsiders" takes place." leads me to believe that you don't realize this??? ...or maybe (and this is how your comment reads to me) you're being a bit defensive, needlessly reminding readers "LOOK! IT ALSO HAPPENS IN THE US"....

  167. My wife niece who happens to be Hispanic lives in Berlin with her German husband. The family is doing just fine especially with her eight year old daughter who is now playing the violin. I guess they are getting her ready to one day play with the greatest orchestra in the world - the Berlin Philharmonic.

  168. Americans passing judgement on other nations. Good grief.

  169. The article just focuses on Saxony and Bavaria? I moved to germany 6 years ago, its been a mixed bag. There is no overt racism, I have successfully changed jobs while working with German teams as well, and so has my wife. Making friends with Germans is hard and I do find it easier to connect to other immigrants (even if they are white). Some acquaintances make inappropriate jokes. I have learnt from it and avoided them, at times cracking similar jokes on their german-ness if I had to. I do worry if my child will feel as accepted at school; in his daycare he does feel welcomed, is making friends and gets invited for birthdays. Our german 'old' neighbors bring him gifts and love him too. Indeed I wont expect everyone to welcome us, and idiots exist everywhere! There will be bias, but it can happen anywhere.

  170. If you are a white American woman who is physically indistinguishable from a German, then, yes, you can make your outsiderness a privileged choice and suffer few consequences on the street. However, if you are a brown American woman living in Germany with a German husband, as I was, your outsiderness is no longer just a choice. It is a rationale for Germans to treat you with contempt in public. In both cases, you have an American woman. The mistreatment of one is determined purely by skin color. My husband always told me Germany is not a country for immigrants. There is something deeply primitive and tribal about the old European mind set that treats outsiders, particularly dark-skinned people, with extreme suspicion and hostility. Thank God I could say goodbye to all that and return to America to live as a full human being again.

  171. Ms. Takenaga may have wanted to write about racism in Germany but she actually describes the United Stated in the tragic and repugnant era of Trump.

  172. It always strikes me as ironic - bizarre, even - that white people can't get beyond their racist leanings, while people of color are expected to rise above any racial hatred and bigotry inflicted upon us. Black Americans are some of the most forgiving people. When the brother of the man in TX who was shot by the police woman embraced his brother's killer, I was astounded. More importantly Germans and all the other predominantly white countries - Italy, England, France, America - that continue to allow race hatred to prevail, need to be shamed into turning things around. Other countries need to boycott soccer events or do whatever else they can to send a clear message that racism is not acceptable.

  173. Part 1: As someone who has lived most of his adult life in a country where I was the one that was "different" from the general population, I can give you the following advice that has helped me a lot. At some point, after having lived in that country for a couple of years, I became aware that, whenever I had a negative experience with a "local", my thoughts were always revolving around the same question: "Did he just say or do this because I am a foreigner ... because I have a different color of skin?" If you fall into this trap, you will not be able to live a happy life anymore. You will see "racism" everywhere & you`ll become so preoccupied with it, that eventually you`ll start to dismiss any and all criticism, justified or not, because it`s way easier to just think "well, he probably hates me because I`m a foreigner" than to find out if thats actually true, or, heavens beware, that the criticism is actually warranted! Dont go there! It`s really not worth it. Just think about this: If it were one of your close friends, or even family, people with the same background/skin color, etc, who gave you a hard time about something, you`d never think that it is because of your ethnicity. Because it wouldnt make any sense. So it must be something else: Maybe the person is having problems himself atm, hasnt slept in 3 days, just broke up with his partner, etc. There`s a million reasons for people to be unfriendly. Why not give "the others" the same benefit of the doubt first?

  174. Germans -- including German governmental bodies -- judge neighbourhoods not by median income but by what percentage are foreigners, even if these are people with doctorates and university professorships. Many of the least racist people I know are Germans, particularly those old enough to remember the war, but the difference from being on my own in parts of Germany and being in public as part of a mixed race family can be striking. What is really frightening, though, is how far the quality of medical care can fall if you don't fit into the right box. The admission the next day that I would have had an easier childbirth had the medical team known that my husband and I were professors was the moment I temporarily at least lost my white skin.

  175. Our world is and always has been filled with racism and xenophobia. For a time, it seemed like maybe we could move past it, but as this article makes clear, that was just a dream. As disturbing as this piece is, what's even more frightening is the virtual certainty that such bigotry/racism/nationalism/xenophobia is only going to increase as global climate breakdown worsens, making ever-larger areas of the planet uninhabitable, depleting critical resources, and displacing millions (if not billions) of people on every continent. Unless we find a way to open our hearts, and our borders, to those in need -- to recognize our common humanity, to work together in a spirit of genuine love and compassion  -- there is little hope for our species.

  176. This happens the world over, but perhaps we expect more from Western countries that are seemingly diverse and tolerant? After living in the same community in China recently for several years after college as a white American, and despite learning the language, developing friendships, and making it my home, I couldn't go a day walking down the streets without hearing "laowai" (outsider/foreigner). Although it was clear I would always be an outsider, even if I lived there for 100 years, I didn't ever experience any outright hostility. Probably due to my skin color, which can't sadly can't be said for my colleagues who were black.

  177. I an an immigrant to the US from Germany. I have lived about the same number of years of my adult life in one or the other country and feel completely at home in both countries. I assume it is easier for me because my parents passed on their white skin color along with knowledge of the languages and cultures.

  178. There is no doubt that there is a level of racism in Germany and that the far-right is on the rise and worthy of media attention. (The authorities in Germany are aware of this and actually taking action in contrast to some high-level officials in the U.S.) The comments here only seem to want to take an odd pleasure in condemning the racism of another country than reflecting on one's own. There seems to be a strange expectation that Germany would have no racism. Of course some Germans are racist, just like some people in all countries are racist. I also fail to see how a focus on racial inclusion relates to the fall of the Berlin Wall, which joined overwhelmingly white East Germans with a primarily white West Germany. Don't get me wrong, this is an important article, but the context it has been put it makes little sense.

  179. Despite current vitriol in our country - let us all be grateful that we are all Americans. And for the most part - for many coming to our shores - find it easy and proud to say I am an American. I should know. I was born in India and spent all my working career in the oil patch - for many, a notorious industry for race relations. I am here to tell you that these reports are way way over exaggerated. Now, just turned 70 - and having lived all over the world and traveled to some 114 countries - I feel most at home in America. India does not even come close. America is still that shining city on a hill.

  180. To read the article and the comments makes me conclude one thing - the idea of "belonging" to a nationality seems like a moving target. Is there some Platonic ideal of German identity? Or any national identity, for that matter? The people who hold that passport, who pay those taxes - ~that~ comprises national identity. I, for one, am buzzed to see people from other parts of the world change the definition of "German." (For the record, I'm doubly happy to see that happen in the US). There will always be people whose purpose in life is to find a way to make you feel different, or on the outside. They can go sit and spin. Find your tribe, ignore the rest.

  181. Over the very long term, you will eventually develop friendships in foreign lands. There are some people who will never accept you, there are a lot of people who are largely indifferent and basically leave you alone, and there are some people that you can be friends with. The greater the difference in the culture, the longer a time that takes to happen. Although it is far more starkly recognizable when one lives in a very foreign land, in a way, maybe this is always true. A person who falls on a terrible misfortune (in his/her "home") is often faced with learning who his/her real friends are. In those times, one also discovers that they are few as well. The main difference is, in a place where one is of the dominant culture, one doesn't start out with a "mark".

  182. When I am in Germany, people can't tell where I'm from because I don't have an American accent, but I also don't have a regional dialect because my parents decided to speak only Hochdeutsch. In smaller towns and cities, some Germans are a bit parochial, but the "Where are you from?" questions can also stem from a Teutonic sense of order, of sorting into categories. Many people find Germans to be too direct, and they take that directness as a desire to insult, which it usually isn't. Remember when Juergen Klinsmann was the USA soccer coach and was asked if he thought his team could win? He said he thought they'd go far, but not to the finals. Ah, the outrage!!

  183. @Katrin This isn't unique to the Germans. Having been to India and Indonesia, this was almost always the first thing I was asked when getting into contact with people on the street. Mostly this isn't evil, but curiosity, sometimes even a way to start a conversation. Usually you can find out the intend by looking into the face of the one asking.

  184. @Katrin This isn't unique to the Germans. Having been to India and Indonesia, this was almost always the first thing I was asked when getting into contact with people on the street. Mostly this isn't evil, but curiosity, sometimes even a way to start a conversation. Usually you can find out the intend by looking into the face of the one asking.

  185. I am shocked that after all the generations of people moving from one part of the world to others we are still having these problems. The more we get to know each other the better off we are !! I love the fact that I came from a small town in MA. to live in NYC 53 yrs ago and I have good friends from many backgrounds!! The only race is the human race we must all remember that !! I come from an Italian American background and 52 yrs ago I married a wonderful man from Haiti and we have melded our two cultures together without any problems with either families or friends!!!

  186. The reason why so many foreigners have a hard time learning German is because Germans won’t talk to them. Then they rant about foreigners not being able to speak German.

  187. I live in Germany as a Mexican citizen and I can confirm the feeling... You can literally see the immediate barriers created by German „redneck“ people, if you don’t have white skin, blue eyes, or your German sounds a bit funny. Although all generalizations are bad, you need to build resilience for this voiceless discrimination.

  188. @Hector most Germans do NOT have blue eyes, also not blonde hair.

  189. I am DISGUSTED and HORRIFIED by some of the white supremacist comments! I'm in an interracial relationship with a biracial child. It's just sickening to read comments justifying why people don't have to "tolerate" my child. I am going to vomit.

  190. Gee, sounds just like Newport Beach, California.

  191. I find it shocking all the overt racism in these comments. “Don’t mix” “Mix society doesn’t work” “Your fault for choosing to mix” and then to see the numbers of likes?! How vile. How ignorant. How sad. The world needs more love not less.

  192. Don't be naive. What do you expect from Germans? They vacation here in Florida, only associate with other Germans, have Germain real estate offices to help them secure lodgings. They will always behave this way. It's in the DNA.

  193. @Beverly speak for yourself. Unlike most U.S. citizens, most Germans are at least bilingual and interact with others when the vacation in the U.S. Observe how many Americans go to Mexico only to stay in an all-inclusive resort where everything--except for the weather--is like back home.

  194. @Beverly Yep, Trump's DNA. He just moved to Florida from NYC, remember. Had to get away from all the Italians, probably...

  195. The NYT could interview mixed-race families across the U.S. and find similiar issues depending on where they live. And the headline incorrectly puts the onus on immigrans and mixed-race families. Such families don't "struggle to belong." They struggle against racism and prejudice in society.

  196. @M C Lets agree that they do both

  197. Racism is alive and well as evidenced by the words of my fellow Americans on this site. The truth, however, is that in America, people like them are destined to be part of a multi ethnic plurality with their ugly views tumbling .into the dustbin of history.

  198. Black Americans reading this are not surprised. This is our existence in the USA. Funny I was getting ready to book a trip to Berlin. I’ll pass.

  199. As a German I am utterly ashamed of what this country has become. I cannot get my head around how so many people in Germany seem to have forgotten about the past and openly display their racist attitudes. It is disgusting, disgraceful and embarrassing for everyone else! I want to issue an apology to all these lovely people who shared their experiences in the article. I can assure you that these ignorant, small-minded fascists are the minority and that, despite the percentages the AFD achieves in elections currently the vast majority of Germans does not share these opinions and values, but is proud of the multiculturalism that exists in many cities in Germany.

  200. This article definitely hit home for this bi-racial half-German, but the problem has existed for longer than the three decades since the Wall came down. It's just that it's getting more traction now since masses of immigrants and migrants started streaming into Germany and Europe after Chancellor Merkel extended an invitation to war-weary Syrians, and the rest of the world came instead. There's no doubt all that contributed to recent the rise of right-wing neo-Nazi parties like the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and anti-immigrant activity which has spread across Germany like a plague. In some respects, it's almost a mirror-reflection of what's also happening here these days, where increasingly one's outer appearance is the sole defining factor of whether one is considered "American" or not. Of course in New York City and most parts of Berlin, it's no big deal if you are mixed-race, but there's also no guarantee that you'll be spared the ignorance of others -- even other family members. I may have been fairly fortunate in not having had too many encounters, that may just be a matter of luck...and time. If anything, it only shows you can feel like a stranger or at home now matter which side of the Atlantic you happen to be on.

  201. "I do not share the language, the history and the deep cultural understanding to truly fit in." And that is the problem, because except the language there is no deep cultural understanding or a uniting history, you can fit in. For years people try to define a "Leitkultur" (core culture) and constantly fail to please but a fraction of the german society. And as a "biological" german a can assure you, even germans do not fit in, they just bully their own narrative, because they have the right passport. But americans, look at yourself, compared to us, you are much more estranged at each other than we are. And you don't even need a border torn down decades ago to develop this attitude. All this talk about belonging is so preposterous, we will not please everyone, not even in our local community. But coming from a different country gives you a pretence. So why do we struggle to belong? because we do believe, belonging is something magical, and stupid people tell you so.

  202. Just goes to show how deeply, maybe into their DNA, racism, and white supremacy goes. Even with all the social pressure and education that has gone on for 75 years. White people must have it built in to hate all people of color. Makes absolutely no sense. And most of them refuse to fight the tendency, by letting their brains lead them, instead of their emotions, their fear, and their feelings of inadequacy.

  203. @ChesBay please refrain from generalizing. We live in a multiracial family/household made up of European and Caribbean heritages.

  204. I like Ben's comment. It speaks volumes!

  205. This is the same in the U.S.

  206. The author of the article appears to be too young to remember the 2004 election, but she might usefully review the ridicule heaped on Teresa Heinz Kerry (born and raised in Mozambique, then a Portuguese colony) after she introduced herself to a black audience as "African American". But perhaps reviewing that record might prevent her from quoting uncritically cringe-making comments like "..The more you research, the clearer it becomes: Germanness is about whiteness..." What else COULD it be? A sense of history, and proportion, wouldn't come amiss - with respect.

  207. Whatever one might say, North America is still better than Europe for immigrants except UK.

  208. The distinction between bio-Germans and passport-Germans is frightening, especially in light of its similarity to the distinctions made by Hitler's Germany of the 1930's. It is similarly alarming to see that the US Department of Justice recently published a proposed rule that would require all immigrants and refugees who pass through border detention centers to have their DNA taken and published in the FBI's National Criminal Database. "and when they came for me, there was no one left to say anything..."

  209. Perhaps it was naive of me to expect otherwise, but there’s a depressing number of comments on this article justifying racism. Needless to say, people of all identities can peacefully coexist, and the only obstacle to racial harmony is the ignorance and xenophobia of those who claim it’s impossible. Looking forward to the day our species outgrows this foolishness.

  210. no surprises here till this day most turks have not assimilated into germany society and even merkal stated that and certain that with the recent arrival of some one million immigrants the future looks complicated to say the least for germany. and no surprise that the only person in article who seemed to be accepted was a white america.

  211. @raymond frederick - The Turks came as guest workers, meaning that they were to be in Germany on a temporary basis. They never left.

  212. I have lived in Germany since 1990. my ten year old son and I moved here when I became a teacher at the John F Kennedy School, a bilingual, bicultural school founded on Kennedy‘s desire for friendship between Americans and Germans. I taught there for 20 years. I lived in other places in Germany for three years before and my brother was in military intelligence in Germany for 20 years. My son’s wife is German and French Algerian and they have two daughters. I’m comfortable here as a foreigner. I have dark hair and olive skin. Many Germans think I’m Turkish. I’ve been accused of shoplifting, had derogatory comments aimed at me. But the most interesting thing is that many Turkish people think I’m Turkish. I have great relationships and help from Turkish people, but I also tell Germans and Americans that I have an idea of what it means to be Turkish in Berlin. I have also raised an African American/African German child, now 23, for nine years. He is completely bilingual but identifies with his German roots more than American. Together we have had no problems, but he has had his share of incidents. His charm and size (tall and big) are his armor but I still worry about him in both countries. I have never identified as a German. I am comfortable here living as I do with my son’s family nearby. There’s a lot to love about Germany, and as we approach a move back to Minnesota in January, I fear culture shock.

  213. This issue is worldwide - as a white American living here in NZ, we (my American wife & I) experience xenophobia quite a bit although the kiwis would say they 'love Americans', and don't even get me started on the blatant racism we've seen and heard towards people of darker-colored skin....

  214. Douglas Murray the author of "The Strange Death of Europe", 2017, argues that there is an expectation that immigrants/migrants/refugees can be assimilated and integrate once in Europe. But he puts forth the argument that no one would have the same expectation if a Caucasian European or North American went to China, India, or Iran. Could I, as a white Canadian, live in China and become Chinese? Or travel to a native reserve in Canada and become Indian or First Nations?

  215. And then you have the Muslim immigrants who refuse to accept when one of their German-born children marries someone not of their faith. Like my friends - a wonderful couple who have been married for 15 years, even though doing so meant the husband lost his relationship with his religious Turkish-German family. For these Germans, love trumped dogma, even though it meant losing ties to parents and siblings because my friend dared marry a non-Muslim white German woman.

  216. I wonder why Cleo Godsey does not see that is important that she learns German. That to me embodies privilege because she knows as a White American she will face little to no discrimination. I could never imaging that I would have not learned English when I moved to the U.S. some 15+ years ago.

  217. What a depressing read: a once unique ethnic group and national state ravaged by the false religion of multiculturalism. Whenever you force groups of disparate, unrelated people together you get conflict and less global diversity.

  218. @EuroAmerican Well at least the food will taste much, much better.

  219. @EuroAmerican Germans were never unique and have always been a mixed bunch.

  220. @EuroAmerican Germany has been matter of factly multicultural even before it existed as a state. See my Reply to Kai.

  221. Selection bias!!!! The ones mostly likely to respond are the ones who are most distraught!!

  222. Apart from the countries of the New World and the former Empires of the 19th century (UK, Holland, etc), the rest of the world's countries have gelled around indigenous populations are against immigration, multi-racialism, and multi-culturalism. They see it as a direct threat to national identity. Then there is a question of degree -- people can be friendly to a few "different" people but are really made uncomfortable by many. It is easier to integrate into a white, Christian country if you are white and Christian and you also learn the language. Of if you are Hispanic, you would assimilate easier in a Hispanic country, if you are black, in a black country, if you are Muslim, in a Muslim country. To expect otherwise is wishful thinking.