Self Attributed Identity of Ethnic-German Spätaussiedler - Repatriates from the Former USSR: Fast Track Assimilation of a Specific Group of Migrants?

Bernhard Koeppen , Universitaet Koblenz-Landau

Ethnic German repatriates - so called Aussiedler and Spätaussiedler - from republics of the former Soviet Union are one of the most important groups of immigrants in the Federal Republic of Germany. They have been granted German citizenship based on ethnicity, thus German policy supposed fast integration and foreseeable assimilation. Albeit Spätaussiedler experienced advantages for structural and social integration into German society compared to immigrants of non-German descent, the initially deemed prospects on fast assimilation were exaggerative, despite rather smooth integration. As questions of integration and assimilation are vividly discussed in contemporary German society, these findings on a specific group of immigrants can contribute to knowledge on integration in Germany, where high expectations in this behalf tend to exist. The empirical findings of this presentation are based on explorative surveys and interviews with SpätAussiedler (including a sample of Mennonites representing a specific sub-group) and non-German Jewish immigrants from former USSR countries living in the Rhineland-Palatinate Federal State (Germany) today. The latter group has been chosen to get a notion on the “integrative-effect” of structural (legal) incorporation (by providing German citizenship) and to better understand some specifics of the SpätAussiedler’s degree of integration. Jewish migrants are an appropriate peer group, as they are not of German ethnicity but faced similar conditions concerning immigration to Germany. Surveys and interviews put emphasis on an overview concerning (ethnic-) self-attribution, identity, cultural habits, linguistic behaviour and self-perceived integration. The findings reveal, that a currently strong hybrid "Russian-German" identity has emerged amongst many re-patriates albeit “being German” represents a very important feature of self-identification.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy