Russians in Germany

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There is a significant Russian population in Germany. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 triggered mass immigration to the West, with Germany being the top destination, mostly for economic and ethnic reasons. Russians are the biggest migrant group in Germany, together with Turks.[1]

Ethnic background[edit]

There are about 3,500,000 native Russian speakers in Germany,[2] split largely into three ethnic groups: ethnic Russians, Russians descended from German immigrants, and Russian Jews.

Ethnic Russians[edit]

560,178 people in Germany were categorized as ethnic Russians in 2007. Their number is growing.[3][better source needed]

Aussiedler from Russia[edit]

Earlier in history, particularly during the 17th century, a number of Germans migrated to Russia and modern-day Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Around the collapse of the Soviet Union, a number of their descendants migrated to Germany as "Aussiedler" (transferred settlers). Today their number stands at about 2,300,000.[4][dead link] Germany's right of return law allows them to obtain citizenship in Germany.

Between 1992 and 2007, a total of 1,797,084 ethnic Germans from the former USSR emigrated to Germany. Of this total number 923,902 were from Kazakhstan, 693,348 were from Russia, 73,460 were from Kyrgyzstan, 40,560 from Ukraine, 27,035 from Uzbekistan, and 14,578 from Tajikistan. The number of non-German relatives who emigrated along with them is not known, but many if not most are presumably members of Germany's ethnic Russian community.[5]

Russian Jews[edit]

The number of Russian Jews in Germany is about 228,000.[6][dead link] Many, speaking Yiddish as well as Russian, picked up the German language easily. Sergio DellaPergola (2012) estimates the number of Jews in Germany at 119,000, of which all but about 5,000-6,000 are post-Soviet immigrants, but the community numbers about 250,000 if non-Jewish relatives are included.[7]

Integration into German society[edit]

Most Russian-Germans have assimilated and integrated well into German society.[8] As with most other immigrant groups, there remain some contemporary issues. German authorities have been concerned that the high number of Russian immigrants self-segregating in certain neighborhoods hinders social integration. This has led to restrictions on immigration from Russia and the former Soviet Union. Other issues have included crime, drugs, poverty and unemployment.[9]

The Aussiedler have raised many issues. Although they were expected to assimilate rapidly into German society, Aussiedler and their descendants are struggling with their identity, and most consider themselves Russian.[10] In Russia, due to outside pressure, they had become assimilated into Russian society, in most cases speaking Russian as their first or only language, and this has made their return difficult[11] Native Germans typically consider them Russian, just as they consider German-Americans visiting Germany to be American, despite their German surnames.

A 2006 study by the German Youth Institute revealed that Russian-Germans face high levels of prejudice and intolerance in Germany, ranging from low job opportunities, to problems in the real estate market.[12] The same report also found out that most Russian-Germans still identify as Russian, rather than German.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bondar; Machleidt (March 2007). "Addiction among Russian and Turkish migrants in Germany: developing prevention strategies". European Psychiatry. Elsevier. Retrieved 22 June 2012. "The largest populations of migrants in Germany are Turks and Russians."  (subscription required)
  2. ^ Mikhail Kamynin (28 May 2007). "Russian MFA Spokesman Mikhail Kamynin Interview with RIA Novosti Regarding Upcoming Conference on Status of Russian Language Abroad". Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Greek Republic. Retrieved 22 June 2012. "3.5 million use the Russian language in Germany." 
  3. ^ "Russian Diaspora". Retrieved 22 June 2012. "Although millions of immigrants arrived in Germany from Russia, only about 560,178 of them are Ethnic Russians, according to recent German government estimates." 
  4. ^ "[unavailable]". American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, Johns Hopkins University. "From 1988 to 1996, brought about 2.3 million Aussiedler-Russians." 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "[unavailable]". Augusta State University. "As of January 1, 2006, over 200,000 Russian speaking Jews had resettled in Germany." 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Heiner Schäfer (2 October 2006). "The challenges of immigrant descendants´ integration in Europe". 11th Metropolis Conference, 2006. Center of Geographic Studies, University of Lisbon. Retrieved 22 June 2012. "Russian boys have the reputation of being violent and brutal – although this applies only for a very small group of them. Predominantly they are integrating into the German society." 
  9. ^ Ray Furlong (8 December 2004). "Ghetto woes afflict Russian-Germans". BBC. Retrieved 22 June 2012. "But Germany wants to stop the influx, concerned that the new arrivals are living in self-created ghettoes. The kids here have typical immigration problems, arrival in a new country where everything is strange: the language, the laws, everything. There is a whole generation of kids uprooted from their homes as teenagers, alienated in Germany." 
  10. ^ Schäfer. "During the last 15 years far more than half a million children and youth have come from the countries of former Soviet Union to Germany. Lots of them got immediately German passports by descent but still feel as Russians."
  11. ^ Furlong.
  12. ^ Schäfer. "Although Germany has become an immigration country educational or pedagogical support for young migrants is not very developed. They have low knowledge and information about the background and the needs of young migrants. They are expected to assimilate with the German society and to feel and behave like Germans do."
  13. ^ Schäfer. "During the last 15 years far more than half a million children and youth have come from the countries of former Soviet Union to Germany. Lots of them got immediately German passports by descent but still feel as Russians."