German immigration to Mexico

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German Mexican
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Total population

6,214 German nationals residing in the country (2010)[1]

Unknown number of individuals of German descent
Regions with significant populations
Mexico City, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes, Puebla, Zacatecas, Durango, Nuevo León, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Chiapas, Yucatán, Quintana Roo.
Mexican Spanish,[2] Plautdietsch,[2] Nedderdüütsch,[2] German,[2] Russian,[2] English,[2] Mam,[citation needed] Yiddish [citation needed]
Roman Catholicism and Protestantism
Related ethnic groups
Germans and German diaspora

A German Mexican (German: Deutsch-Mexikaner or Deutsch-Mexikanisch, Spanish: germano-mexicano or aleman-mexicano) is a Mexican citizen of German descent or origin. Most Ethnic Germans arrived in Mexico during the mid-to-late 19th century, spurred by government policies of Porfirio Diaz. Although a good number of them took advantage of the liberal policies then valid in Mexico and went into merchant, industrial and educational ventures, others arrived with none or limited capital, as employees or farmers.[3] Most settled in Mexico City, Veracruz, Yucatán, and Puebla. Significant numbers of German immigrants also arrived during and after the First and Second World Wars. The Plautdietsch language is also spoken by the descendants of German and Dutch Mennonite immigrants in the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes. Other German towns lie in the states of Nuevo León, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Yucatan, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, and other parts of Puebla, where the German culture and language have been preserved to different extents. The German-Mexican community has largely integrated into Mexican society as a whole whilst retaining some cultural traits and in turn exerted cultural and industrial influences on Mexican society. Specially after the First World War, intense processes of transculturation can be observed, especially in Mexico City, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon, Puebla, and notably, with the Maya in Chiapas. These include social, cultural and identity aspects.[4]


A German style neighborhood in Mexico City, a major stronghold of the German-Mexican community.
A German Brewery in Mazatlán, Sinaloa.
See also: German Texan

The German settlement in Mexico goes back to the times they settled Texas when it was under Spanish rule, but the first permanent settlement of Germans was at Industry, in Austin County, established by Friedrich Ernst and Charles Fordtran in the early 1830s, then under Mexican rule. Ernst wrote a letter to a friend in his native Oldenburg which was published in the newspaper there. His description of Texas was so influential in attracting German immigrants to that area that he is remembered as "the Father of German Immigration to Texas."

Many Germans, especially Roman Catholics who sided with Mexico, left Texas for the rest of present-day Mexico after the U.S. defeated Mexico in the Mexican–American War in 1848.

In 1865 and 1866, a total of 543 German-speaking people (men, women, and children) were brought from Hamburg specifically to the villages of Santa Elena and Pustunich, in Yucatán.[5] This was a project of foreign colonization promoted during the Second Mexican Empire, and the reign of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, with the governing body of the state of Yucatán. The majority of these people were farmers and craftsmen: wheelwrights, shoemakers, cabinet makers, etc.[6]

Other colonies were established in El Mirador, Veracruz by the German botanist Carls Sartorius,[7] and in the state of Tamaulipas by Baron Juan Raiknitz (Johan von Raknitz), in 1833.[8]

Sartorius' settlement, known as The Hacienda, attracted more than 200 settlers from Darmstadt, Germany. The Hacienda was visited many times by Maximilian I, and Sartorius was made the Minister of Agriculture under the Empire.

In 1890, Porfirio Diaz and Otto von Bismarck collaborated to take advantage of southern Mexico's agricultural potential by sending 450 German families to Soconusco near Tapachula in the southern state of Chiapas. Extensive coffee cultivation quickly made Soconusco one of the most successful German colonies, and between 1895 and 1900, 11.5 million kg of coffee had been harvested. Fincas (estates) were erected in the Chiapaneco jungle and given German names such as Hamburgo, Bremen, Lübeck, Agrovia, Bismarck, Prussia and Hanover.

About 6,000 Russian Mennonites, who came originally from Northern Germany and the Netherlands, migrated from Canada to northern Mexico in the 1920s.[9] Today, there are about 95,000 descendants of Mennonites in Mexico, who have preserved the Plautdietsch dialect. By their community's rules, German Mexican Mennonite men are allowed to speak Spanish, while women must only speak German. The most prosperous Mennonite colonies in Mexico lie in the states of Chihuahua (Cuauhtémoc, Swift Current, Manitoba), Durango (Patos (Nuevo Ideal), Nuevo Hamburgo), Zacatecas (La Honda) and Campeche.

Cultural legacy[edit]

Homes in the town of Nueva Alemania resemble the architectural style of northern Germany, and many of this area's settlers came from the cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck. In San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa (Mazatlán) and Veracruz, settlers from Bavaria built structures similar to those found in the Black Forest. The German Cultural Center building in San Luis Potosí is a Bavarian mansion that had been owned by the Baron of Baden-Baden.

Oktoberfest is usually held in several large cities with German-Mexican communities throughout the country, mainly in Mexico City, Chihuahua, and Victoria de Durango. German Mexicans were important in the development of the Mexican cheese and brewing industries. Also of note, the Colegio Alemán Alexander von Humboldt in Mexico City is the largest German school outside Germany.

German roots are particularly notable in Mexican music due to the large numbers of German immigrants in Texas and northern Mexico around the 1830s. The distributors of German-made accordions aggressively marketed the loud, sturdy little "boom boxes" as far back as the late 19th century. Today, various overlapping styles of music that descended in part from German music (notably polka) include tejano, conjunto, Tex-Mex, quebradita, banda, ranchera, and norteño. Such musical styles are especially popular in northern Mexico and in places of the United States where there is a large immigrant population of Mexican heritage.[10]

The brewing industry, in Monterrey, Nuevo León, was developed in part by German immigrants.[11] The influx of German immigrants and the brief Austrian reign (mid-19th century) of Emperor Maximilian, who never traveled anywhere without his two German brew-masters, helped cement the art of brewing as an all-Mexican endeavor.[12] German influence has had a lasting impact on Mexican beers, with brands such as Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Ambar, both deriving from a malty subset of dark lagers known as Vienna-style.

The German-Mexican population is especially prevalent in southern Mexico, particularly the state of Chiapas, where German farmers and industrialists where encouraged to immigrate in the late 1890s. Following collaboration between Otto Von Bismarck and Porfirio Diaz to German colonies were established to develop modern coffee plantations and food processing facilities in the state.[13] German-Mexicans make up a large minority of the population of the soconusco region of Chiapas, where the German population has intermixed with the Maya who make up the majority of the region's population. A study by the Autonomous University of Mexico found that in the municipality of Tapachula and the surrounding Soconusco region that the mixed Mestizo population had a larger concentration of German heritage than Spanish heritage. Many of the original German farms and facilities continue to operate as both ejidos and private ventures.

Notable German-Mexicans[edit]

Vicente Fox, the 55th President of Mexico is of partial German-American descent.
Enrique Creel, who was of German, American and Amerindian descent was Minister of Foreign Affairs under Porfirio Diaz and was largely responsible for facilitating the mass influx of German investment, industry, and immigration into Mexico.