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German Canadians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

German Canadians
German ancestry in the USA and Canada.png
German Canadians % of population by area
Total population
(by ancestry, 2016 Census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Ontario, Western Canada, Atlantic Canada, Quebec
English, French, and German
Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Anabaptism (Amish, Mennonite, Hutterite)
Related ethnic groups
Germans, German Americans, Austrian Canadians, Swiss Canadians, Luxembourgish Canadians

German Canadians (German: Deutsch-Kanadier or Deutschkanadier) are Canadian citizens of ethnic German ancestry. The 2016 Canadian census put the number of Canadians of German ethnicity at over 3.3 million. Some immigrants came from what is today Germany, while larger numbers came from German settlements in Eastern Europe and Russia; others came from former parts of the German Confederation like the Austrian Empire and some emigrated from Switzerland.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Eric Weitz: "The Promise and Tragedy of a Constitution: Weimar Germany, 1918-1933"


[ Music ] [ Applause ] >> Kevin Butterfield: Good morning, and welcome to the University of Oklahoma. Thank you for joining us today for our Teach In on The Strength and Fragility of Constitutions. I'm Kevin Butterfield, the Director of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage at OU. In a few minutes, you'll hear from OU President, David L. Boren, who will introduce the first speaker for our wonderful event today, author and scholar, Eric Weitz. But first, please join me in thanking two tireless advocates for education, for our students, First Lady, Molly Shi Boren, and President, David Boren. [ Applause ] And I'd also like to welcome a special guest today, OU regent, Frank Keating, who served as Oklahoma Governor from 1995 to 2003, and his son-in-law, Ryan Leonard. [ Applause ] Now I'm pleased to share with you just a bit of information before we begin the day about the IACH, the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage, and the teach ins of years past. The Institute that I now direct was established in September 2009 by President Boren for the study of the U.S. Constitution, its influences, its history. It's an interdisciplinary center for the study of American constitutionalism that is housed in the Department of Classics and Letters and is committed to ensuring that OU is a place where students can study the ancient roots of law, self-governance, the historical and ideological background of the American founding, the development of civil rights in American history, the relevance of the Constitution to contemporary debates over justice and freedom. We've also created, an OU website featuring hundreds of short lectures on constitutional law, constitutional history, to make civic education of the sort that we have today available to anyone at any time. All of our programs are designed to enhance civic education, not just for our students here at OU, but far beyond. Five years ago in 2012, and I remember it well, the ICH launched the university's successful Teach In series, drawing audiences of thousands across the day-long events, broadcast broadly on OETA, online, downloaded by tens of thousands of viewers, and we're able to chart these things. We see people from all across the globe. That first year, we had a teach in on the American founding. In fact, our lunchtime speaker today was one of our first speakers at our first teacher, Professor Gordon Wood. We then had a teach in on the Great Depression and the Second World War, the Civil War, the American West, the First World War, and as you know, this year's teach in focuses on the strength and fragility of constitutions. Today's speakers will help to broaden our understanding of how and why constitutional democracies succeed and fail, historically and in our own time. As you made your way into the hall this morning, I'm sure you noticed items on display. This exhibit, I Do Solemnly Swear, The Fragility and Strength of the American Presidency, is a joint exhibit with the Carl Albert Center, the Western History Collections. These materials focus on how the Constitution provides guidance in moments of crisis, in the absence of leadership. Democratic checks and balances have always managed to ensure smooth transitions between administrations. However, no succession has occurred without anxiety and uncertainty. You'll see great things, including a short letter of resignation from Vice-President, Spiro Agnew. I encourage you to visit the exhibit between sessions today. It'll be out all day. I'm now pleased to introduce to you the longest-serving president at a flagship university in the United States, David L. Boren, who is now on his 23rd year as President. We've all benefited from his leadership. President David Boren is now celebrating 51 years of public service to our state and nation, and he and Mrs. Boren have given so much to this university. President Boren is the first person in state history to serve as governor, US senator, and president of the University of Oklahoma. He was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the country's oldest and most distinguished honorary societies. Students know him not only as the president but also as a teacher. He's one of the few presidents in this entire nation that teaches a course every semester, and I'll tell you something everyone here at the University already knows. His service as president has been marked with an emphasis on putting students first. He's prioritized and fostered a strong sense of community on all of our campuses. He's strengthened academic standards and improved retention. In fact, during his tenure, OU has year after year, had the highest academically ranked the student body in state history, a record we just keep breaking year after year. Just last month, OU achieved an all-time record freshman to sophomore retention rating, students that come back for a second year of 92.1%, ranking OU among the top universities in the nation. President Boren consistently advocates for the needs of the University, enabling it to grow. He's initiated more than 30 new academic programs in his time here. He's raised more than $3 billion in private support, provided funding for dramatic fellowship opportunities. A number that completely shocked me when I saw it, he's increased the number of endowed faculty positions at this university from 105 when he began to 564 now. One of our speakers, when he arrived yesterday, help me do the math on that. That's a 537% increase. It took me a while to do the math. He helped me. Thank you, Johan. [ Applause ] He's quadrupled the number of scholarships available to students, as well. Even in a difficult fiscal environment for higher education at the university, we have continued to witness incredible generosity from our alumni, from our friends, our supporters, all of this a direct result of President Boren's commitment to maintaining OU's tradition of excellence in education. Since 2004, over $300 million in scholarship funds have been raised to benefit students. Thanks to his dedicated leadership, OU is the remarkable institution that it is today, with an impact reaching across the state, nation, and the world. Please help me in welcoming OU President, David Boren. [ Applause ] >> David L. Boren: Oh, thank you. Oh, thank you very much. [ Applause ] Thank you very much. Thank you. [ Applause ] Thank you very much. You're going to spoil me. We're so glad that all of you are here this morning, and I want to thank Kevin Butterfield for his kind words, and also, as we were talking, Kevin reminded me that after the Institute was established, he was the first faculty member we recruited to be part of the core faculty for the Institute, and now, of course, as the director of the Institute, as he has been for several years, and I want to thank him for an outstanding job. Let's thank Kevin again for his work. [ Applause ] Well, this is a special day, indeed. It's hard to believe this is the sixth time we've come together to talk about pivotal moments in American history. As has been said, we can't remain great if we do not understand how we can became great in the first place. The strength of our country. How we overcome adversity in the past. Today's subject is of particular importance, and it's an indication of how much all of us need to understand and be familiar with all aspects of our history and our heritage. We're very fortunate in this country. When we think back about our founding, and we think back about the first few years, and we think about over 200 years of, with the exception of the Civil War, tremendous stability in this society, which continues today. That society continues because we're a nation that values at the core of our beliefs, the statement of law, which of course, is our founding document, the Constitution. Other countries have had constitutions. Our first speaker is going to focus upon the fragility and the failure of one constitution. How did the Weimar Constitution fail and allow Hitler to come to power? It's very clear that just because we have a constitution, doesn't mean it will last. It doesn't mean that it will continue to protect us. Documents cannot protect themselves. Documents can only be protected by loving, caring, and informed citizenry. We are all, in essence, the foot soldiers who assure that our constitutional form of government will continue, continue to provide that stability, continue to provide that protection of individual rights. How did we get started on that path? Why aren't we a country like many others, where a popular personality or a dynasty, for example, continued for several years before it was disrupted? One person who made sure that that didn't happen was a remarkable man, George Washington. I think sometimes we don't fully, fully, really understand the role that he played. We know that he was commander of the troops. We know that he gained immense popularity by being the successful leader of the effort, military effort, to gain our independence, but what else did he do? He had a very keen understanding that he should not be the center of the future of this country. Indeed, he was unanimously elected president twice. The only person to be unanimously elected and reelected. He agreed to serve a second term, not because he wanted it for his own political ambition, but because he wanted play -- it was a very conscious action by him. He wanted to play a role in changing the allegiance of the people away from George Washington, the popular figure, and focus the allegiance and love of the citizens, the confidence of the citizens, the belief of the citizens in a constitutional form of government, which was established. He was very conscious of what he was doing all the time. And he made a remarkable contribution to this country by making it a main tenant of what it means to be an American, to support and believe in the Constitution and fight to keep the Constitution strong, and that has provided the stability for this country ever since. So we owe him so much, and we have to realize that if it's to continue, it is now up to us. It's up to us to not only support the Constitution, defend the Constitution whenever it's challenged. We must be ourselves students of the Constitution. We must understand its language. We must be really ready to be the foot soldiers for the Constitution, and that requires information. That requires knowledge about it, about its history, about its formation, and about what it actually says. And so we're reminded today, as we focus this conference on the fragility and strength of constitutions, the strength has to rest with all of us if it's to be preserved. So that's why it's very important for us to take time today to study this important subject. It's critical to our future. It's critical to our nation. It's critical to the continued well-being and strength of our society. So we're so glad that all of you could be here today and join us on this occasion. We're very proud of the fact that the University of Oklahoma is one of the few schools in the country that actually gives a degree centered around study of the American Constitution. I'm sorry to tell you that only 8% of the colleges and universities in the country, only 8%, require a single course in American history or American government, in order to receive a degree, and I'm proud to tell you that the University of Oklahoma is definitely in that 8%, and it should be 100%, and I hope we'll fight the day when that happens. [ Applause ] Our first speaker today is Eric Weitz, who will speak on the promise and tragedy of the Constitution, Weimar, Germany, 1918 to 1933. Professor Weitz is the former Dean of Humanities and the Arts at the City College of New York. He was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota and St. Olaf College. Trained in modern German and European history, Professor Weitz has also worked in international and global history. His most recent books Weimar, Germany, Promise and Tragedy, was first published in 2007. It's already had its second edition, and next year, it will be published in its third edition, as we celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Weimar Republic. He is currently completing A World Divided, A Global History of Nation States and Human Rights since the 18th Century. He is a frequent lecturer in public and academic settings. He's written and lectured on international human rights, the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide. Since 2006, he's edited a book series with Princeton University Press, Human Rights and Crimes Against Humanity. We are indeed fortunate to have him here with us today, and for him to speak on the subject of great interest to us, and as we learn lessons from what happened with the Weimar Constitution, which apply to the preservation of our own Constitution. Please welcome Professor Eric Weitz. [ Applause ] >> Eric Weitz: Thank you so much, President Boren. I'm thrilled to be here. This is a shame to say, the first time I've ever been in Oklahoma, but I've already seen that there are many, many good reasons to come back. I don't think I've ever seen or heard of a president of a university receiving a standing ovation. So that was quite a lovely moment to see the support that President Boren has among all of you, and I'm sure much wider in the state. In the 1920s, Germans lived in the most democratic conditions that they had ever experienced or that they would ever experience again until the 1960s. The Weimar Constitution, which was proclaimed in August 1919 and from which the Weimar Republic was founded is a key reason for the great expansion of democratic practices, democratic beliefs in the 1920s. The Constitution, like so many others, proclaimed the people as the sovereign entity of the nation, not the royalty, not the Emperor who had been recently forced to abdicate, Kaiser Wilhelm II. the Constitution elaborated a whole set of democratic rights that the population enjoyed. It established equal rights for all citizens, equal rights for men and women, proclaimed freedom of speech, the inviolability of the home. Proclaimed the family as a core institution of society that needed to be protected by the state, supported by the state. All of the democratic provisions that run through the American Constitution, that run through many, many other constitutions around the world. And Germans took to that opening with alacrity. They ran with the promises of the Constitution. They felt freer and sought then to use that freedom to establish new programs, new reforms throughout German society. This was a democracy that was lively, sometimes raucous. Oftentimes more raucous than what we would really want. It's not like it was all polite deliberation in Parliament, but it was also a place where people engaged with one another. This is Potsdamer Platz in Berlin in the 1920s, and you see people in a coffeehouse. I love coffee houses in Berlin and other European cities. Here engaged in conversation. You see people out on the street. You see the new signs of modern urban life with the trolley behind it. The automobiles. People walking. People coming and going. That was a part of democracy, the liveliness of it, the public engagement in all sorts of arenas. For women, they were out in society on a much greater level than they had ever been before. Certainly, more so than before World War I. Germans celebrated, in the 1920s, the new, modern life that was opened up to them, to a significant degree, by the Constitution. Here you see Columbus House by the German architect, Erich Mendelsohn. And here you see a very, kind of traditional German building from, I don't know when. Probably from the 18th century. Now Columbus House is a dramatic statement that we are modern. We are progressive. Architecturally, it was made possible by the new technologies, the new materials available to architects and engineers and planners, namely I beams, steel for construction, plated glass, reinforced concrete, which allowed architects to design buildings with the structural elements moved to the core center, opening up the possibilities. You see the band of windows, and I'll show you another slide in a moment, and it shows something very similar. The band of windows that opened up the interior, if you're working in the building, to streams of daylight. Whenever there's daylight and Germany. There's not much in the wintertime. It's dark and gray and cloudy all the time, but at least in the spring, summer, and fall, you get some sunlight, and it's also a statement outside. It is, in a sense, a metaphor for democracy. Openness, transparency, light, out in the public. A very, very strong statement of the modern world that many Germans believed they were creating in the 1920s. Leisure time, as well. Here you see Germans at play on a weekend. That is the famous [inaudible] Wannsee on the western side of Berlin looking across the Wannsee. And here in the 1920s, Germans, many for the first time, working people, lower-middle-class people, had access to the lakes, the picnic areas, the beaches. They had access, again, partly because of technologies. Because since the turn-of-the-century, trolleys, trains had opened up the further areas from the inner core of the city. Part of the social measures of the Weimar Republic included reducing the workday from the prewar 14-hour workdays six days a week to an 8 or 8-1/2-hour day 5-1/2-hour work week. that was an enormous progressive advance. It's not related, perhaps, to the text of a constitution, but it expresses the sentiments of democratic, of a freer society. All that became available to Germans in the 1920s. Here, some of you probably know this, the classic Bauhaus Building, the Art and Design School founded in Weimar in 1919 by the architect, Walter Gropius, and here you see, again, these plates of glass that symbolized openness and transparency, that are connected to the actual politics of the Constitution and democracy. Here also by Erich Mendelsohn, the Schocken Department Store in the city of Chemnitz, which is actually one of my favorite buildings, because the bands of glass are just phenomenal. I mean, what we take as a sort of everyday forms of architecture are being pioneered here in the 1920s, and public housing. In the inner cities of Germany, the great industrial power that Germany became, the inner cities were full of the worst kinds of tenements, barracks, really, with courtyards, internal courtyards, so that the poor people lived inside, in courtyards, with virtually no sunlight whatsoever, and the model among architects and city planners and reformers in the 1920s was light, sun, air. And that's huge expanse of public housing developments, built in the 1920s, which provided just that. They also provided gas and running water and plumbing, new to many, many people in the 1920s, a great, great advance in their living conditions. Before World War I, women in so many cities would haul coal or haul wood up and down, sometimes, four, five, six flights in the tenements, just to cook. Just to keep the tenement warm. They'd also go down to a street pump and haul water up. These kinds of provisions, the kinds of things we all take for granted so much, that Germans take for granted today. They were in innovation in the 1920s. They're associated with the Weimar Republic. They're part of the Democratic efforts of the republic. And here, one of my favorite buildings, which I have to say, they lacked a bit of knowledge, because this building, the Einstein Tower, started to crumble as soon as it was built. They didn't quite realize how much rebar they had to put to reinforce the concrete. It started to crumble. It had been redesigned. This was the result of a very significant renovation in the mid-1990s. It's the Einstein Tower. It is set among very traditional German buildings. It's a scientific park in Potsdamer outside of Berlin, and it was built in an effort to prove the relativity theories that Einstein had just so recently published. Never quite managed that, though there are laboratories in it. But in the way it soars upward, situated in a grove of trees, it symbolizes the search for knowledge, the search for -- the recognition of science, the support for scientific explanations. It, too, was a part of the very progressive nature of the Weimar Republic and the Weimar Constitution. So what I would like to convey to you is actually much the same as what Professor Boren said in his last remarks. That constitutions are absolutely critical, of course. They establish the skeleton, the framework for democratic practices, but they are also important because they percolate through society. They percolate through the culture. It's not just the texts. It's not just the provision that says, for example, the home is inviolable, that says Germans have a right to free expression. They can publish what they wish. They can express their opinions wherever. They can set up a soapbox on a street corner and express their opinions. It's the way in which the meaning of a constitution percolates through society that makes it so important. Both of those factors, the text itself, the exact provisions, as well as its cultural impact. That's all the good part of the Weimar Constitution. President Boren gave the game away already by saying, in the end, of course, the Weimar Republic collapsed. This was a highly fragile democracy. The Constitution itself, not so much, but the democracy itself, highly fragile, highly contested. The constitution was born in revolution in 1918-19, and born out of World War I, the war that Germany lost. So for some Germans, those origins made it tainted from the very beginning. I'm taking you back in time a little bit, a few years back. In the fall of 1918, September, October, the two leading generals who essentially were running Germany as a dictatorship in the last two years of the war, went to the Kaiser, threw up their hands, and said, we have nothing left. We don't have more men to put into the army. We don't have resources. Yes, our armies are still in the field in France, in Russia, but we do not have the resources any longer to bring Germany to victory. I mean, truth to tell, Germany had lost the war in September 1914, four years earlier, when it's troops had been stopped on the Marne in France. Then four years of incredible human destruction for all belligerents continued until the generals finally recognized that Germany could not bring this war to successful completion. And then ensued, in September and October, 1918, a series of diplomatic messages back and forth between the German government and President Wilson, and President Wilson proved to be less accommodating than the German generals had imagined, than the Kaiser had imagined. They thought they could negotiate as equals, but in fact, they were the losers, and Wilson was very clear about that. In late October, almost at the end of the month, 1918, sailors in the northern port of Kiel were told to stoke the boilers. The German Navy had done little except destroy American shipping across the Atlantic, which brought the United States into the war, submarine warfare. It had tried one big battle against the British Navy that it had lost in 1915. The British had strung up a naval blockade. So the Navy had really done little except, again, to bring the United States into the war, one of the dumbest decisions of many stupid military and strategic decisions. Well, at the end of October 1918, everyone knows that the war is coming to an end, and no soldier or sailor wants to be the last person to die in a war, especially in a war that you know your side is losing. The sailors mutinied. They refused to stoke the boilers. They did not know, and we don't know exactly to this day, whether their officers, and by this point, there was complete antipathy from the rank-and-file sailors towards their officers. Rank-and-file sailors had terrible food, barely enough food, while their officers ate very nicely, thank you, in a mess with tablecloths and all that. So there was some deep-seated hostility towards their officers, and they didn't know whether their officers were going to take the ships out to sea and scuttle them in some last-minute heroics, or whether they were going to try to actually run the British blockade, which they had successfully managed in four years of warfare. So the sailors said no. They mutinied. And they set off a revolution in Germany, and over the course of the winter of 1918-19, Germany is engulfed in a virtual civil war. Workers went on strike countless times. Sailors, after this first mutiny, were joined by rank-and-file soldiers, who refused to follow orders. Everywhere in factories, in the Army, in the Navy, councils, soviets, councils were established. These are rank-and-file, democratic organizations. Workers would take over factories. Sailors would take over their units. They would make decisions very democratically. This is democracy in action. Again, raucous democracy. Sometimes brutal. Sometimes a hated foreman was thrown down a mine shaft. Sometimes a hated officer was thrown off a bridge. So one shouldn't have a completely romanticized view of what this kind of democracy entails. And there were leaders in the social Democratic Party, in the Liberal Party, and the Catholic Center Party, who were trying to manage the transition to a more stable, more regular democratic order. And those political parties and representatives in the middle are pretty much successful over the course of the winter of 1918-19 in suppressing the more radical forms of revolution and trying to steer Germany to, you know, what we would call -- what would be recognizable to us as a liberal -- liberal small case, liberal democratic order with elections, representative organs, political rights. The Weimar Constitution -- it's called the Weimar Constitution because when elected delegates met in Berlin in January 1919 and chose a committee to draft the constitution, Berlin was engulfed in civil war. So the drafters of the constitution decamped from Berlin to Weimar, which was more stable and safer. So they helped, and it was. And they set about drafting the constitution there in Weimar and ended up with a very successful democratic document. All during this time, while the drafters are writing the constitution, while civil war is raging in Germany, something else is going on of tremendous significance, which many of you no doubt know. That is, the Paris Peace Conference, to bring World War I to a final conclusion. The Armistice had been signed on the day we still celebrate, November 11, 1918, but that was an armistice, the cessation of hostilities. A final treaty still had to be worked out. President Wilson came to France, the first sitting president to travel abroad during his tenure as president. He was feted; he was celebrated everywhere he went after he landed, the ship landed in Chambord in the North of France, and he made his way down to Paris and Versailles. The Germans, meanwhile, while they're drafting a constitution, while they're trying to resolve the very chaotic situation at home, are thinking that, again, why they were thinking, I don't know. They should have known better. Are thinking that they will be treated as co-equals. Instead, in April 1919, the representatives of the German government, the Foreign Minister and the League are summoned. They are summoned to Versailles. When they reach the French/German frontier, they are transferred to a train which creeks along very deliberately at 5 miles an hour, so that the German representatives can see the destruction that, and the allies' terms, had been caused, and they had been caused, by the German army, and its invasion of France. When they get to Versailles, there are delegation of 240 man. Their luggage is literally thrown into the courtyard of the hotel, and then they are there. Their aides have to spend time rummaging through this mountain of luggage to figure out who's suitcase's who. That was the first signs that things were not going to go well. Things were not going to go well, and you can imagine, the delegates start getting a little bit worried, and indeed, they are summoned, and they are delivered the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty, and the delegation is literally in shock. The news travels immediately via telegraph to Berlin. The German newspapers are incensed. The populations is incensed. They ask for time. They're given some few weeks, but the Allies are not going to negotiate and moderate the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty. There's calls in Germany to renew the war. There's other kinds of craziness like that, because, in fact, the Allies would have then occupied Germany. I'm telling you all this, because it is directly related to the fate of the Weimar Constitution and the Weimar Republic. Infamous Article 241, which these are the provisions of the treaty that Germany had to sign, stated that Germany was solely responsible for the war, and we can debate about whether that's true or not, accurate or not, but that was the provision, and the article right after that then said that Germany would have to pay reparations but did not specify an amount. So Germany was forced to sign a treaty in which it accepted that it was guilty, the sole party guilty for the outbreak of the war, and it had to accept the fact that it would have to pay reparations with no idea how great that bill would be, and ultimately, it would be very large. If other things had not happened, The Great Depression, World War II, if other things had not intervened, Germany would still have been paying us reparation bills from World War I in the 1990s, by the final negotiations later on in the decade. The point of all this is that the Allies should have been a lot smarter. You don't burden a fragile democracy with yet another enormous burden that the republic would have to bear the responsibility for. When the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, it was not the generals, it was not the Kaiser. The Kaiser already abdicated and in Holland. They did not sign the Armistice. Those who were responsible for the war, but the representatives of the new Democratic government sign armistice. Similarly, on June 28, 1919, it was not the generals. It was not the old government that had brought Germany into war on August 4, 1914, who signed the peace treaty. It was the democratic government. Throughout its history, the Weimar Republic was burdened by the charge that it had sold out the interests of the country, because it was they who signed the treaty. More than that, the infamous stab in the back legend, which begins already before the end of the war, begins with the leading generals expressing it, the claim that Germany had never lost the war in the field, but it was traders at home. Jews and socialists, who had undermined the popular will and had been the cause of Germany's defeat. It was a very powerful political slogan that ultimately the Nazis would make great use of. So the Versailles Peace Treaty is just the first of the burdens that the republic had to carry. What we get -- I should have shown that before. We also get, in the 1920s, great creative artwork. That's by the German artist, Hana Hirsch, photo montages, a new form of artistry in the 1920s, and this is a photo of German troops returning home. You can see they don't look as happy as they looked on August 4, 1914. They look rather bedraggled. You can see in the background a man on crutches, bandaged. A defeated Army on the way home is never an uplifting sight. And the evidence of the war, the tragic human cost. Not only the over 2 million men who died in the war. The women who worked 14-hour days seven days a week in the war munition factories, but also the war wounded, and this is a very typical site. Every German town, every German city, you would see this in the 1920s. So the legacy of the war is present politically, and the burdens that the republic had to carry from the Versailles Piece Treaty is also present in everyday life encounters that people had, just on the streets. And then the economy actually recovered initially more rapidly than anyone had projected. The Germans do -- soldiers come home. You have the demobilization process. It's hugely difficult, but soldiers do come home. They make it home. They get put back to work. It's a few short years of recovery and then comes the hyperinflation of 1923, an inflation that has the scale of which has rarely been seen. There are other countries that have gone through hyperinflations, Brazil, Argentina, a few others, but in this case, at the depths, or the heights, depending on how you do it, one dollar could get you 12 billion German marks, 12 billion German marks. People who have savings accounts find their savings, the worth of their savings, totally obliterated. People who live on pensions can barely find enough to eat. We have stories of farmers in Holland crossing the border and buying up whole herds of cattle for almost nothing, because the Dutch currency was still solid. Anybody who was paid in dollars or in pounds sterling could live like a king or queen in Germany in 1923. School teachers, professors were living on fairly fixed governmental salaries are reduced to near-pauper status, and in hyperinflation, you can't plan. It's impossible to plan how you and your family will live out. It doesn't make sense to start a career or buy a house. You can't make any calculations in this kind of extraordinary financial chaos and financial uncertainty. And here we have, and we have many photos like this, men with all those pieces of luggage are filled with German marks, and they're going down to the bakery to buy a loaf of bread with that. Or they're going to the shoe store to buy a pair of shoes. The prices of goods would change sometimes hourly. If you look at a bakery, there would be one price for a loaf of bread in the morning. In the afternoon, it would be something different. So again, you can't calculate. Buy bread in the morning, you're better off if you do in the morning. It'll be more expensive in the afternoon. And the democracy was such, again, highly democratic constitution, but a constitution that also enabled the fracturing of the political order. In 1919, at the founding of the republic, we had six major political parties in Germany. Not great, but six is manageable. Here we have the Right Wing Veterans Organization, The Stahlhelm, marching. Here we have Communists marching. Here we have the German National Party. It says [German spoken]. "We hold firmly on the word of God. Elect the German National Party, with, of course, a very, very traditional image of a grandmother in her grandchild reading the Bible. An image that resonates with some segment of the population. And here we have a communist political poster, "The flame of revolution may not be extinguished. Therefore, elect the Communist Liste 4." So between here and here, there is essentially an unbridgeable gulf. An unbridgeable gulf. A gulf but no constitution can manage in and of itself. Or here we have the three parties in the middle trying to maintain the middle. This "Through sacrifice and work to freedom. Elect the Center Party." Which is the Catholic Party. In the back, you can see the Rhine River and the Cologne Cathedral. Or here, the Social Democrats. "Women, equal rights, equal responsibilities. Elect the Social Democrats." And here, by the time we get into the late 1920s, posters for Hitler. After the hyperinflation, Germany had four or five good years. I won't take you through the mechanism by which the currency was stabilized. Germans went back to work. The economic situation improved from 1924 to 1928. If we look at electoral statistics, we can see a move back toward the center in 1928, back toward the five or six more or less liberal, again liberal in the European sense, committed to the democracy, committed to the republic, and in 1928, if you looked at those statistics, and on the basis of the most recent agreement to settle the reparations claims, you could think that, okay, maybe this thing is really going to work. Maybe there's enough economic stability now, enough prospects for the future that democracy will become more firmly rooted in Germany. And then, bam, comes the great depression, which moves from the United States so quickly to Germany, and in such a devastating fashion to Germany. Worse impact than even in the United States, worse than anywhere else around the world, and then the political system fragments even more so. In the 1932 elections, we have 24 parties running for office, and nearly 20 of them will get representation in the parliament. Germany had a proportional voting system on the basis of the constitution. Proportional voting is much more democratic in a formal sense than our winner-take-all system, because everybody, as long as you hit the hundred 150,000-vote threshold in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, you are party would have representation in the parliamentary body. So it's more democratic, but it also tends to greater fragmentation. And it was, of course, the Nazis in the end who would take in so many of those splinter parties and become the dominant voice of the radical right, and it was the Nazis who would then destroy the Weimar Republic. In closing, I can only echo President Boren's comments. Constitutions are critically important documents. Again, they establish the framework for the Democratic conditions under which we live, but they cannot resolve everything. And the constitution, which on paper, I mean, there's debate about this after World War II, but on paper, I think it's a fine constitution. It didn't have a starting preamble. That would have been nice. You know, no great, glorious words like the Declaration of Independence, but in the text of it, it was fine. It works. But it could not by itself manage these deep, deep social and political divisions. In the end, constitutions are only as good as the people who live them. Thank you. [ Applause ]



Little Dutch (Deutsch) Church - oldest German church in Canada (1756), Halifax, Nova Scotia
Little Dutch (Deutsch) Church - oldest German church in Canada (1756), Halifax, Nova Scotia

When Governor Edward Cornwallis established Halifax, Nova Scotia (1749), he also settled the first German community in present-day Canada. They were known as Foreign Protestants. These were continental Protestants encouraged to come to Nova Scotia to counterbalance the large number of Catholic Acadians. This influx began in about 1751 and to this day the South Shore of Nova Scotia is filled with German town names including Lunenburg, surnames, and Lutheran churches. The Little Dutch (Deutsch) Church in Halifax, located on land set aside for the German-speaking community in 1756, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1997 as the oldest known surviving church in Canada associated with the German Canadian community.[2][3]

The Waterloo Pioneer Tower honours the Mennonite Germans who helped populate Waterloo County.
The Waterloo Pioneer Tower honours the Mennonite Germans who helped populate Waterloo County.

A smaller number of Germans who had fought for prince-elector king George III during the Revolutionary War stayed in North America and mixed with the French-Canadians.[4] The American Revolution saw a small group of German-American migrants to Canada. German speakers from New York and Pennsylvania (and other areas) made up a significant percentage of United Empire Loyalists. To fight the war, Britain had hired regiments from small German states; these soldiers were known as "Hessians." About 2,200 settled in Canada once their terms of service expired or they were released from American captivity. For example, a group from the Brunswick regiment settled southwest of Montreal and south of Quebec City.[5]

The largest group fleeing the United States were the Mennonites from the U.S., called Pennsylvania Dutch, actually Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch, (German).[6] Many of those families' ancestors had been from Southern Germany or Switzerland. Starting in the early 1800s, they moved to what is today southwest Ontario, settling around the Grand River, especially in Berlin, Ontario (now known as Kitchener) and in the northern part of what later became Waterloo County, Ontario.[7]

This same geographic area also attracted new German migrants from Europe, roughly 50,000 between the 1830 and 1860.[8][9][8] Research indicates that there was no apparent conflict between the Germans from Europe and those who came from Pennsylvania.[10]

1850 to 1900

By 1871, nearly 55 percent of the population of Waterloo County had German origins.[11] Especially in Berlin, German was the dominant language spoken. Research indicates that there was no apparent conflict between the Germans from Europe and those who came from Pennsylvania.[12]

The German Protestants developed the Lutheran Church along Canadian lines. In Waterloo County, Ontario, with large German elements that arrived after 1850, the Lutheran churches played major roles in the religious, cultural and social life of the community. After 1914 English became the preferred language for sermons and publications. Absent a seminary, the churches trained their own ministers, but there was a doctrinal schism in the 1860s. While the Anglophone Protestants promoted the Social Gospel and prohibition, the Lutherans stood apart.[13]

In Montreal, immigrants and Canadians of German-descent founded the German Society of Montreal in April 1835. The secular organization's purpose was to bring together the German community in the city, and act as a unified voice, help sick and needy members of the community and to keep alive customs and traditions.[14] The Society is still active today and celebrated its 180th anniversary in 2015.

20th century

A family of German immigrants to Quebec City in 1911.
A family of German immigrants to Quebec City in 1911.

The population of the Canadian west beginning in 1896 drew further large numbers of German immigrants, mostly from Eastern Europe. Once again German-speaking Mennonites (of Dutch-Prussian ancestry) were especially prominent, being persecuted by the Tsarist regime in Russia. The farmers, used to the harsh conditions of farming in southern Imperial Russia (today's Ukraine), were some of the most successful in adapting to the Canadian prairies. This accelerated when, in the 1920s, the United States imposed quotas on Central and Eastern European immigration. Soon after Canada imposed its own limits, however, and prevented most of those trying to flee the Third Reich from moving to Canada. Many of the Mennonites settled in the Winnipeg and Steinbach, Manitoba, and the area just north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.[15]

By the early 1900s, the northern part of Waterloo County, Ontario exhibited a strong German culture and those of German origin made up a third of the population in 1911. Lutherans were the primary religious group. There were nearly three times as many Lutherans as Mennonites at that time. The latter, who had moved here from Pennsylvania in the first half of the 1800s, primarily resided in the rural areas and small communities.[16]

Before and during World War I, there was some Anti-German sentiment in the Waterloo County area and some cultural sanctions on the community, primarily in Berlin, Ontario (now Kitchener).[6] Mennonites in the area were pacifist so they could not enlist and some who had immigrated from Germany (and were not born in Canada) found it morally difficult to fight against a country that was a significant part of their heritage.[17] It was this anti-German sentiment that precipitated the Berlin to Kitchener name change in 1916. The city was named after Lord Kitchener, famously pictured on the "Lord Kitchener Wants You" recruiting posters.

Several streets in Toronto that had previously been named for Liszt, Humboldt, Schiller, Bismarck, etc., were changed to names with strong British associations, such as Balmoral. There were anti-German riots in Victoria, BC and in Calgary, Alberta in the first years of the war.

News reports from Waterloo County, Ontario indicate that "A Lutheran minister was pulled out of his house ... he was dragged through the streets. German clubs were ransacked through the course of the war. It was just a really nasty time period.".[18] That sentiment was the primary reason for the 1916 Berlin to Kitchener name change in Waterloo County. A document in the Archives of Canada makes the following comment: "Although ludicrous to modern eyes, the whole issue of a name for Berlin highlights the effects that fear, hatred and nationalism can have upon a society in the face of war."[19]

Across Canada, internment camps opened in 1915 and 8,579 "enemy aliens" were held there until the end of the war; many were German speaking immigrants from Austria, Hungary, Germany and the Ukraine. Only 3,138 were classed as prisoners of war; the rest were civilians.[20][21]

There was also anti-German sentiment in Canada during WWII. Under the War Measures Act, some 26 POW camps opened and interred those who had been born in Germany, Italy and particularly in Japan, if they were deemed to be "enemy aliens". For Germans, this applied especially to single males who had some association with the Nazi Party of Canada. No compensation was paid to them after the war.[22] In Ontario, the largest internment centre for German Canadians was at Camp Petawawa, housing 750 who had been born in Germany and Austria.[23]

Between 1945 and 1994, some 400,000 German-speaking immigrants arrived in Canada.[24] The vast majority have been largely assimilated. Culturally and linguistically there is far less to distinguish Germans from the Anglo-French majority compared to the more visible immigrant groups.


People who have self-identified as having German ancestors are the plurality in many parts of the Prairie provinces (areas coloured in yellow).
People who have self-identified as having German ancestors are the plurality in many parts of the Prairie provinces (areas coloured in yellow).

Ethnic-bloc settlements in the Prairies

There are several German ethnic-bloc settlements in the Canadian Prairies in western Canada. Close to half of people in Saskatchewan are German-Canadians. German bloc settlements include the areas around Strasbourg, Bulyea, Leader, Burstall, Fox Valley, Eatonia, St. Walburg, Paradise Hill, Loon Lake, Goodsoil, Pierceland, Meadow Lake, Edenwold, Windthorst, Lemberg, Qu'appelle, Neudorf, Grayson, Langenburg, Kerrobert, Unity, Luseland, Macklin, Humboldt, Watson, Cudworth, Lampman, Midale, Tribune, Consul, Rockglen, Shaunavon and Swift Current.


In Saskatchewan the German settlers came directly from Russia, or, after 1914 from the Dakotas.[25] They came not as large groups but as part of a chain of family members, where the first immigrants would find suitable locations and send for the others. They formed compact German-speaking communities built around their Catholic or Lutheran churches, and continuing old-world customs. They were farmers who grew wheat and sugar beets.[26] Arrivals from Russia, Bukovina, and Romanian Dobruja established their villages in a 40-mile-wide tract east of Regina.[27] The Germans operated parochial schools primarily to maintain their religious faith; often they offered only an hour of German language instruction a week, but they always had extensive coverage of religion. Most German Catholic children by 1910 attended schools taught entirely in English.[28] From 1900 to 1930, German Catholics generally voted for the Liberal ticket (rather than the Provincial Rights and Conservative tickets), seeing Liberals as more willing to protect religious minorities. Occasionally they voted for Conservatives or independent candidates who offered greater support for public funding of parochial schools.[29] Nazi Germany made a systematic effort to proselytize among Saskatchewan's Germans in the 1930s. Fewer than 1% endorsed their message, but some did migrate back to Germany before anti-Nazi sentiment became overwhelming in 1939.[30]

Notable German-Canadians

In sports

In the early 1980s, German ice hockey started a recruitment drive in Canada, aimed at Canadian ice hockey players of German ancestry. The term Deutsch-Kanadier became synonymous in Germany with those players. Their contribution added largely to the improvement of the sport and the national team in Germany. Critics, however, also blame those players for a reduction in the number of German-born players playing at the elite level. Some of them, like Harold Kreis, remain closely associated with the sport in Germany. The most well-known of those were:[32]


There are two German international schools in Canada:

See also

Further reading

  • Heinz Antor (2003) Refractions of Germany in Canadian literature and culture Walter de Gruyter
  • Lehmann, Heinz. German-Canadians 1750–1937 (1986)
  • Magocsi, Paul R., ed. Encyclopedia of Canada's peoples (1999)
  • Jonathan Wagner, A History of Migration from Germany to Canada 1850–1939 (UBC Press, 2006)
  • Gürttler, Karin R. "Geschichte der Deutschen Gesellschaft zu Montreal (1835-1985)". (1985) Montreal, QC: German Society of Montreal. 108 p. ISBN 2-9800421-0-2.

Grams, Grant W.: German Emigration to Canada and the Support of its Deutschtum during the Weimar Republic - the Role of the Deutsches Ausland Institut, Verein für das Deutschtum im Ausland and German-Canadian Organisations, Peter Lang Publishers, Frankfurt am Main, 2001.

Grams, Grant W.: "Der Volksverein deutsch-canadischer Katholiken, the rise and fall of a German-Catholic Cultural and Immigration Society, 1909-1952", in Nelson H. Minnich (ed.) The Catholic Historical Review, 2013.

Grams, Grant W.: "The Deportation of German Nationals from Canada, 1919 to 1939", in Peter S. Li (ed.), Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2010.

Grams, Grant W.: "Immigration and Return Migration of German Nationals, Saskatchewan 1919 to 1939", in Patrick Douand (ed.), Prairie Forum, 2008.

Grams, Grant W.: "Karl Respa and German Espionage in Canada during World War One", in N.P. Mackie (ed.), Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, 2005.

Grams, Grant W.: "Sankt Raphael’s Verein and German-Catholic Emigration to Canada between 1919 and 1939", in Robert Trisco (ed.), The Catholic Historical Review, 2005.


  1. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity Highlight Tables - Ethnic Origin, both sexes, age (total), Canada, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data".
  2. ^ " -". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  3. ^ Little Dutch (Deutsch) Church National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  4. ^ Wilhelmy: Les Mercenaires allemands au Québec, 1776-1783
  5. ^ Lehmann (1986) p 371
  6. ^ a b " -". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Waterloo Township". Waterloo Region Museum Research. Region of Waterloo. 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b "German Canadians". The Canadian Encyclopedia. The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  9. ^ Lehmann (1986) passim
  10. ^ "Religion in Waterloo North (Pre 1911)". Waterloo Region. Waterloo Region. 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Full text of "Waterloo County to 1972 : an annotated bibliography of regional history"". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Religion in Waterloo North (Pre 1911)". Waterloo Region. Waterloo Region. 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  13. ^ Wilfrid H. Heick, "Becoming an Indigenous Church: The Lutheran Church in Waterloo County, Ontario," Ontario History, Dec 1964, Vol. 56 Issue 4, pp 249–260
  14. ^ Gürttler, Karin R. (1985). Geschichte der Deutschen Gesellschaft zu Montreal (1835-1985). Montreal, QC: German Society of Montreal. p. 108. ISBN 2-9800421-0-2.
  15. ^ Lehmann (1986) pp 186–94, 198–204
  16. ^ "Waterloo Region Pre-1914". Waterloo Region WWI. University of Waterloo. 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  17. ^ D'Amato, Louisa (28 June 2014). "First World War ripped away Canada's 'age of innocence'". Kitchener Post, Waterloo Region Record. Kitchener. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Kitchener mayor notes 100th year of name change". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  19. ^ "ARCHIVED - Did You Know That… - ARCHIVED - Canada and the First World War - Library and Archives Canada". 30 June 2016. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  20. ^ "Anti-German Sentiment". Canadian War Museum. Government of Canada. 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  21. ^ Tahirali, Jesse (3 August 2014). "First World War internment camps a dark chapter in Canadian history". CTV News. Bell Media. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  23. ^ MacKinnon, Dianne (16 August 2011). "Canadian Internment Camps". Renfrew County Museums. Renfrew County Museums. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  24. ^ "German Canadians". Canadian Encyclopedia. Canadian Encyclopedia. 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  25. ^ Heinz Lehmann and Gerhard P. Bassler, The German Canadians, 1750–1937: immigration, settlement & culture (1986)
  26. ^ Jessica Clark and Thomas D. Isern, "Germans from Russia in Saskatchewan: An Oral History," American Review of Canadian Studies, Spring 2010, Vol. 40 Issue 1, pp 71–85
  27. ^ Adam Giesinger, "The Germans from Russia Who Pioneered in Saskatchewan," Journal of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Summer 1984, Vol. 7 Issue 2, pp 1–14
  28. ^ Clinton O. White, "Pre-World War I Saskatchewan German Catholic thought concerning the perpetuation of their language and religion," Canadian Ethnic Studies, 1994, Vol. 26 Issue 2, pp 15–30
  29. ^ Clinton O. White, "The Politics of Elementary Schools in a German-American Roman Catholic Settlement in Canada's Province of Saskatchewan, 1903–1925," Great Plains Research, Sept 1997, Vol. 7 Issue 2, pp 251–272
  30. ^ Jonathan F. Wagner, "The Deutscher Bund Canada in Saskatchewan," Saskatchewan History, May 1978, Vol. 31 Issue 2, pp 41–50
  31. ^ "ARCHIVED - William Henry Steeves - People - Canadian Confederation - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  32. ^ Günter Klein: 30 Jahre Eishockey-Bundesliga (in German) Copress Verlag, published: 1988, ISBN 3-7679-0289-3

External links

Further reading

  • (in French) Meune, Manuel. Les Allemands du Québec: Parcours et discours d'une communauté méconnue. Montréal: Méridien, 2003. ISBN 2-89415293-0.
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