|Regions with significant populations
|Córdoba, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Province, Entre Ríos, La Pampa Province, Río Negro Province, Misiones, Chaco, Santa Fe, Neuquén.
|Rioplatense Spanish · German and German dialects
|Roman Catholicism · Protestantism (Lutheranism · Evangelicalism) · Judaism
German Argentines (German: Deutschargentinier, Spanish: germano-argentinos) are Argentine citizens of German ancestry. The term "German" usually refers to ethnic Germans who immigrated to Argentina from Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, former Yugoslavia and elsewhere in Europe (though only the descendants of Volga and citizens count). Some German Argentines, or their ancestors, originally settled in Brazil, and then later immigrated to Argentina. Germany as a political entity was founded only in 1871, but immigrants from earlier dates are also considered German-Argentine due to their shared ethnic heritage, language and culture. Germans today make up the fourth-largest immigrant group in Argentina with well over two million Volga Germans alone. Thousands of German-Argentines have become professionals and technicians like doctors, bureaucrats, teachers and soldiers. They founded German schools such as the Hölters Schule and German-language newspapers such as the Argentinisches Tageblatt (Argentine Daily). The five provinces with the largest numbers of inhabitants of German descent are, in order of largest German population: Córdoba, Entre Ríos, Buenos Aires, Misiones and La Pampa.
German immigration to Argentina
Between 1885 and the First World War the population of Argentina doubled with the influx of three million European immigrants, 100,000 of whom spoke German. Many surnames of Germanic immigrants of 20th century continue resounding up to date like Altgelt, Born, Braun, Bracht, Bunge, Bullrich, Frers, Holmberg, Klappenbach, Mallmann, Meyer, Seeber, Stegmann, Tornquist, Zimmermann, Zuberbühler and others that comprised traditional families of the country. Strong German communities developed in Argentina, and especially in Buenos Aires;they did it with their own schools, hospitals, shops, theaters, sport clubs and banks. Many of those Germans who immigrated directly from Germany were assimilated with the upper middle class of Buenos Aires, but maintained strong ties to German culture, providing high-quality German instruction so that their children would not be at a disadvantage when they returned to Germany.
German immigration to Argentina occurred during 5 main time periods: pre–1870, 1870–1914, 1918–1933, 1933–1940 and post–1945. During the first period till 1870, immigration to Argentina was in general low. Of note are the colonias alemanas, the first one founded in the province of Buenos Aires in 1827. The colonias are a unique and notable phenomenon in Argentina’s immigration history but were also far from an exclusively German practice.
During the second period, from 1870 until 1914, Argentina experienced a massive boom in immigration due to or causing massive economic expansion in the port of Buenos Aires and in the wheat and beef producing pampas. In this time frame, the German speakers of Argentina established themselves and developed several institutions, which are often examined in academic studies, such as newspapers, schools and social clubs. Despite originating from all over German speaking Europe, once in Argentina, a new, Germanic Argentine identity developed. One example of this can be found in the studies of the newspaper Argentinische Tageblatt; it was founded by Swiss immigrants but, by the 1930s, became the primary forum for exiles from Nazi Germany. In this time period Volga German immigrants also arrived in the country and settled in different provinces.
During the third period, after a pause during World War I, immigration to Argentina again resumed and German speakers came in their largest numbers. This can be attributed to increased immigration restrictions in the United States and Brazil as well as the deteriorating conditions in post-World War I Europe. The two largest years of German immigration to Argentina were 1923 and 1924, approximately 10,000 in each year. This period is of particular interest because while the older groups of German speakers began to feel a sense of cultural crisis due to the assimilation policies of the Argentine state, the new arrivals gave new life to German cultural institutions, such as the aforementioned newspaper, and created new ones. Between 1905 and 1933, the number of German schools rose from 59 to 176. Though found throughout Argentina, over 80% were located in Buenos Aires, Misiones, or Entre Ríos in 1933. Further, attendance at German schools rose from 3,300 in 1905 to 12,900 in 1933. The studies inherently favour Buenos Aires, where half of all Germans lived, over the colonias because fewer institutions, particularly newspapers, developed.
During the fourth period, from 1933 to 1940, Argentina experienced another surge in German immigration. The majority were German Jews although other German opponents of Nazism also came. In total, 45,000 German speakers came at this time and half settled in Buenos Aires. From 1933 to 1945, they comprised 28% of total immigration to Argentina, as mass migration to Argentina was slowing. Two recent German studies have been written on these arrivals’ impact on Das Argentinische Tageblatt and how the newspaper was used by anti-Nazi immigrants within the Argentine German-speaking community’s debate about fascism.
The fifth category of German immigration to Argentina occurred between 1946 and 1950 when President Juan Perón ordered the creation of a ratline to provide an escape from Justice for prominent Nazis and collaborators from Europe. During this period Argentine diplomats and intelligence officers, assisted by Roman Catholic Bishops and Cardinals, had, on Perón's instructions, vigorously encouraged Nazi and Fascist war criminals to make their home in Argentina.
The sixth and final category of German immigration to Argentina involves the period following World War II. The numbers were not as large as in the past and the concepts of acculturation and linguistic and cultural persistence are not dealt with in the same way. The group did not congregate as tightly and participated more in mass culture. Further, because of an era of national identities and the post-World War II problems of promoting German identity, the pre-existing process of assimilation was not met with resistance by the new arrivals. The country received 12,000 immigrants from Germany between 1946 and 1952.
Volga German immigration to Argentina
Upon the invitation of Catherine the Great, 25,000 Germans immigrated to the Volga valley of Russia to establish 104 German villages from 1764 to 1767. A century after the first Germans had settled in the Volga region, Russia passed legislation that revoked many of the privileges promised to them by Catherine the Great. The sentiment in Russia became decidedly anti-German. Russia first made changes to the German local government. In 1874, a new military law decreed that all male Russian subjects, when they reached the age of 20, were eligible to serve in the military for 6 years. For the German colonists, this law represented a breach of faith. In the 1880s the Russian government began a subtle attack on the German schools.
Just when Russia was abridging the privileges granted to the Germans in an earlier era, several nations in the Americas were attempting to attract settlers by offering inducements reminiscent of those of Catherine the Great. Soon after the military service bill became law, both Protestant and Catholic Volga Germans gathered and chose delegations to journey across the Atlantic to examine settlement conditions in countries like the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Canada.
Many Catholic Volga Germans chose South America as their new homeland because the official religion in Brazil and Argentina was Roman Catholic. The ratio of Catholic to Protestant Volga Germans in South America was 7 to 1. The opposite was true in Russia, Protestant Volga Germans outnumbered Catholics by about 2 to 1. So in spite of the numerous stories told of Volga German immigrants being diverted to South America against their will or being sent there because they were denied entry to the US due to health reasons, Brazil and Argentina were the planned destination of many Catholic Volga German immigrants.
Under the guidance of Andreas Basgall, Volga Germans started to relocate to Argentina from Brazil in December 1877 and in January 1878 they founded the first Volga German colony of Hinojo, in the province of Buenos Aires. Some large groups of Volga Germans on ships destined for Brazil were diverted to Argentina. These people settled in Colonia General Alvear in the province of Entre Ríos. Additional Volga Germans, some from Brazil and others directly from Russia, arrived in Argentina over the next few years. Colonia General Alvear was for many years the main settlement of Volga Germans in Argentina. Nearly 90% of the first Volga Germans who arrived in Argentina settled there.
The first census of the Volga Germans in Argentina was performed on March 31, 1881 in "Colonia General Alvear", Entre Rios Province. A complete census index of all the villages within the colony villages can be found here . This colony was composed of 6 villages: Asunción (Spatzenkutter), Concepción (Valle María), San José (Brasilera), Agricultores (Protestante), San Francisco (Pfeiffer) and Salto (Koeller). This census provides: Date of arrival in the Colony (24 groups between 22-01-1878 and 24-04-1880), Name, Nationality, Marital status, age and literacy. Five of six villages were Catholic. The single Lutheran village was Agricultores (Protestante or Protestantendorf).
From both starting points of Colonia General Alvear and of Colonia Hinojo they spread in all directions. There are still fifteen villages in Entre Ríos populated by descendants of the original settlers, twelve of them are of Catholic origin and the remaining three, Protestant. However, most Volga Germans live in small cities like Ramírez, Crespo, Urdinarrain, Galarza and Maciá where they usually are majority. Expansion from Colonia Hinojo went westwards comprising south of Buenos Aires and the province of La Pampa; from there they reached Córdoba and Chaco. Catholic settlers in La Pampa came from south of Buenos Aires and Protestants from Entre Ríos. The former founded Santa María and Santa Teresa, the latter Guatraché, San Martín and Alpachiri. Source: "Los Alemanes del Volga" 1977 Victor Popp - Nicolás Dening.
Upon arriving in Argentina, the Volga German families were very happy even though they had to begin from scratch, because they were finally living in freedom. In contrast to their Volga German countrymen in Russia, they would never be exiled, they did not experience famines like those of 1921 and 1933 in the Volga region nor any mass shootings and deportation as under Stalin's regime. Finally, they were never dispossessed, they kept their land and their animals – something they remain proud of to this day. The immigration of Germans from Russia to Argentina kept a steady pace until the beginning of World War I. Crespo in Entre Ríos Province and Coronel Suárez in Buenos Aires Province became the most outstanding centers of colonization, as in both cities people of Volga German descent make up the majority of the population. At the present time, the descendants of these people live disseminated all over Argentina. The numerous progeny of the original founders and the division and distribution of their properties into smaller lots forced many of them to abandon the original colonization sites and find new occupations.
The fact that Argentina appears among the most important grain producers of the world is, in part, responsibility of its citizens of Volga German origin.
Today the Volga-German population alone in Argentina is well over 2 million.
Historical ties with Argentina and Germany
Argentina and Germany had close ties to each other since the immigration of Germans to Argentina. A flourishing trade developed between Germany and Argentina as early as the German Unification, Germany had a privileged position in the Argentine economy. Later on, Argentina maintained a strong economic relationship with both Germany and Great Britain and supported them with supplies during World War I.
The military connection between Argentina and Prussia has often been emphasized, and sympathy for Germany among the general staff in Buenos Aires contributed to establishing Argentina's policy of neutrality during the two world wars. From the point of view of Argentine strategists at the end of the nineteenth century, it was a clever move to fall in line with the strongest European war machine. Great Britain and North America became aware of the threat that Argentina's German-speakers, which were a quarter million strong, acted as the Reich's agent. There was indeed widespread support for Nazi Germany among the Argentines, not least under the aspect of counterbalancing Anglo-US influence in the region.
After World War II, under Juan Perón's government, Argentina participated in establishing and facilitating secret escape routes out of Germany to South America for ex-SS officials (the ODESSA network) Former Nazi officials emigrated to Argentina in order to prevent prosecution. Some of them lived in Argentina under their real names, but others clandestinely obtained new identities. Some well-known Nazis that emigrated to Argentina are Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele, Aribert Heim, Erich Priebke, Eduard Roschmann and "Bubi" Ludolf von Alvensleben.
German impact on culture in Argentina
The influence of German culture has also impacted Argentine cuisine; this trend is especially apparent in the field of desserts. The pastries known as facturas are Germanic in origin: croissants, known as medialunas ("half-moons", from German "Halbmond"), are the most popular of these, and can be found in two varieties: butter- and lard-based. Also German in origin are the "Berliner" known as bolas de Fraile ("friar's balls"), and the rolls called piononos. The facturas were re-christened with local names given the difficult phonology of German, and usually Argentinized by the addition of a dulce de leche filling. That was also the case of the "Kreppel", which are called torta fritas in Argentina, and were introduced by German immigrants, and similar case with the "Achtzig Schlag" cake, which was translated as Torta Ochenta Golpes in the country. In addition, dishes like chucrut (sauerkraut) and many different kinds of sausage like bratwurst and others have also made it into mainstream Argentine cuisine.
Today, most German Argentines do not speak German at home because of the decline of the language; however, some estimates suggest that 1.8 million Argentines of non-German descent have some knowledge of German. It is a language that can be heard all over the country, and this is partly maintained by the continued existence of German-speaking Argentines and some business connections. It is currently the fifth most spoken language in Argentina.
German colonies in Argentina
This is not an exhaustive list.
Buenos Aires Province
- Colonia Hinojo (5 January 1878) - originally called Colonia Santa María and called "Kamenka" by the Colonists (named after a number of Volga German towns in Russia). It is situated in Olavarría Partido.
- Colonia Monte La Plata (1906)
- Colonia Nievas (1885) - called Holtzel by the colonists.
- Colonia San Miguel (3 October 1881) - called Dehler by settlers.
- Colonia Santa Rosa (1899).
- Colonia San Miguel Arcangel (1903).
- Coronel Suárez (1883).
- San José (1887) - called Dehler by the colonists and situated in Coronel Suárez Partido.
- Santa Trinidad (1887) - called Hildmann by the colonists and situated in Coronel Suárez Partido.
- Santa María (1887) - called Kamenka by the colonists and situated in Coronel Suárez Partido.
- Sierra de La Ventana (1908)
- Tornquist (1883)
- Villa Gesell (1931)
Entre Ríos Province
- Aldea Valle María (Mariental)
- Aldea Spatzenkutter
- Aldea Salto (Kehler) or Santa Cruz
- Aldea San Francisco (Pfeiffer)
- Aldea Protestante
- Aldea Brasilera (1879)
- Aldea María Luisa (1883)
- Aldea San Juan (1889)
- Aldea San Antonio (1889)
- Aldea Santa Celia (1889)
- Aldea San Miguel (1899)
- Aldea Santa Anita (1900)
- Aldea San Isidro (1921)
- Villa Paranacito (1906)
- Colonia Santa María
- Colonia San José
- Colonia Eldorado
- Villa General Belgrano (1930)
- La Cumbrecita
- Villa Berna
- Villa Alpina
- Villa María (with Italian and English immigrants)
- Colonia Bismarck
- Colonia Bremen
- Corral de Bustos
- Silvio Pellico (with Italian immigrants)
La Pampa Province
- Colonia Santa María (1909)
- Alpachiri (1910)
- Colonia San José (1910)
- Colonia Barón (1915)
- Winifreda (1915)
- Colonia Santa Teresa (1921)
- Juan José Castelli
- La Florida
Santa Fe Province
- Colonia Esperanza (Swiss German)
- Colonia San Carlos (Swiss German)
- Colonia San Jerónimo/San Jerónimo Norte (Swiss German)
Río Negro Province
- Eldorado (1919)
- Puerto Rico (founded by Catholic ethnic Germans recorded as Brazilian citizens when came to Argentina)
- Montecarlo (founded by Protestant ethnic Germans recorded as Brazilians when came to Argentina)
- Comandante Andresito
Cervecería y maltería or Quilmes Beer Company is an Argentine Brewery founded in 1888 in Quilmes, Buenos Aires Province, by Otto Bemberg, a German immigrant. His great-granddaughter María Luisa Bemberg took over the company until she died in 1995 and her son, Carlos Miguens Bemberg was the director from 1989 until his resignation on May 17, 2006.
San Carlos de Bariloche
Like many cities settled by Germans, its development was greatly influenced by them and today the city has many examples of Chalet-style architecture brought by German, Swiss and Austrian immigrants. It was named after Carlos Wiederhold, a pioneer who settled the region, and the city has become one of Argentina's top tourist destinations.
Population of German descent by province
1 - Córdoba 500.000
2 - Buenos Aires Province 425.000
3 - Entre Rios 350.000
4 - Misiones 325.000
5 - Buenos Aires 300.000
Other provinces: 1,100,000
See also: List of German Argentines
This is not an exhaustive list.