The United States is a country built on immigration

on August 24th, 2017 by


-- and the largest group of immigrants actually came from Germany.

Based on the most recent US Census, some 46 million Americans claim German ancestry, according to the New York Times. That’s a higher number than those who claimed English, Italian or Mexican ancestry.

At the turn of the last century, Germans were already the most predominant ethnic group in the US, with eight million people out of a population of 76 million. The world’s third-largest German-speaking population was in New York City, following only Berlin and Vienna. So what changed?

Once the US got involved in World War II, the perception of Germans in the US changed. People began to scrutinize Germans and have suspicions about then. Their loyalty was questioned and they were accused of being spies. As a result of changing perceptions, German-Americans let go of their pride, customs and culture and instead began to assimilate. Being German was no longer considered a good thing.

But as decades passed and people celebrated the fall of the Berlin wall, German reunification and, in 2015, the 25th anniversary of German Unity, things began to change once again. In 2010, a German-American congressional caucus was created. German-style Oktoberfest celebrations take place all throughout the country – and Americans join in. People are celebrating German heritage and culture in all 50 states.

It would be difficult to list all of the Oktoberfest celebrations in the US, simply because of the sheer volume of such events. But some of the largest of these festivals take place in cities where German ancestry is particularly noteworthy, such as Milwaukee (WI), Cincinnati (OH), Fredericksburg (TX) and our very own Austin, Texas of course.

Our Oktoberfest here in Austin will be held on October 14th, 2017 with plenty of German food, beer and live music. If you’ve ever been to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, you won’t want to miss this one. It’s not the same, of course, but it’s as close as you’ll get in this southern state.

If you’re living in the US but miss the German culture, there’s plenty of events that may prompt you to throw on your Dirndl or Lederhosen. Cheers to that!


Nicole Glass

Editor, The Week in Germany