Integration in two cities: A comparative history of Protestant ethnic German immigrants in Winnipeg, Canada and Bielefeld, Germany, 1947–1989

Werner, Hans Peter.   University of Manitoba (Canada) ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2002. NQ79911.

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation examines the processes of integration for ethnic German immigrants migrating to Winnipeg, Canada in the 1950s and to Bielefeld, Germany in the 1970s. Ethnic Germans in this study are descendants of German speakers who migrated to Imperial Russia and Poland in the five hundred years before the 20th century. There they developed ethnic German enclaves among Slavic peoples, spoke German dialects, and maintained what they believed were German ways. Their migration came as a result of the dislocations of the 1940s and the subsequent political tensions associated with the Cold War.

The concept of integration used here reflects recent scholarly efforts to re-examine the assimilation model attributed to American sociologist Robert E. Park. The Chicago School of the 1920s assumed that immigrants steadily lost their old ways and finally became indistinguishable from others in the host society. In the re-examination of this model in the 1980s and 1990s, integration is understood as a moment or phase in immigrant-host society interaction when the tension between the two is no longer attributable to the immigrant condition but has become part of the host society's ongoing cultural negotiation with all groups of citizens.

This dissertation is a comparative social history. It compares the integrating process of two similar groups in the cities of two countries. Economic activity, spatial integration, family life, religious culture, language reproduction, and participation as citizens are the variables that have been examined as case studies of interaction between the first immigrant generation and its host society in these cities.

These measures of integration suggest a remarkable irony: ethnic German immigrants in Winnipeg progressed more easily towards being integrated than did their counterparts in Bielefeld. The central reason was the different imagined trajectories of life in the two environments. Bielefeld's immigrants imagined themselves going home and relieving the ethnic tensions they had experienced in the Soviet Union or Poland, while Winnipeg's immigrants expected to change in an Anglo-Canadian, North American environment. Ironically, ethnic Germans in Bielefeld encountered greater tensions in their attempts to integrate into German society than did ethnic Germans facing the integrative culture of Winnipeg.

Indexing (details)

Canadian history;
European history
0334: Canadian history
0335: European history
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Bielefeld; Ethnic; Germany; Immigrants; Integration; Manitoba; Protestant; Winnipeg
Integration in two cities: A comparative history of Protestant ethnic German immigrants in Winnipeg, Canada and Bielefeld, Germany, 1947–1989
Werner, Hans Peter
Number of pages
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 64/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Friesen, Gerald A.; Loewen, Royden K.
University of Manitoba (Canada)
University location
Canada -- Manitoba, CA
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL