I kind of got sidetracked when I originally went to write this. It was supposed to be about cities all over the planet that had a large population of Germans.
But then, that just didn’t seem like enough. As if 17% of the United States’ population being of German decent wasn’t enough, right?
What I found was that over a million people in Australia speak German, and the language is widely spoken in Namibia and parts of South Africa (but that’s about it on the African continent).
I also learned that 20 million people in South America (16 million in Brazil) alone speak German, which is only eclipsed by the 25 million German speakers in North America.
Did you know the first German settlers to the United States (except it wasn’t the U.S. back then) came in the 1680s, who settled in what became known as Germantown, Pennsylvania? The Germans might be gone, but the name still remains as a neighborhood of Philadelphia.
New York wasn’t to be outdone. They had a neighborhood in Manhattan known as Little Germany (Kleindeutschland). By the 1850’s they had the third largest German population, including Germany itself.
Other cities in the U.S. can also boast a large German population: Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh to name a few. Perhaps this is why all sorts of German-American Clubs have sprung up all over, and German-American parades take place on October 6th for German Heritage Day. New York, however, holds their German-American Parade on the 3rd Saturday of September.
What caused this mass emigration of the German population? Sadly, it was war and famine, mostly. (Learn more at the German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven.)
One of the good things to come from all the Germans that left Germany is they spread their culture around the globe, introducing Kindergarten and the Christmas Tree to millions of children and homes in the process.
Think about that the next time you put that star on your tree or send a little one off for their first day of school. ;-)