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Germany and Central Europe, migrations

Migration A–Z


  1. Dirk Hoerder

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm250

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Hoerder, D. 2013. Germany and Central Europe, migrations. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Germany, like all of Europe's nation-states, emerged from multiple in- and outmigrations. Over the centuries, borders expanded or contracted and all borderlands are characterized by ethnoculturally mixed settlements. This may involve a multilingualism, rudimentary or fully developed – in the past, even of illiterate people. “Germany and Central Europe” thus refers to a central European German-language region and its borderlands. The original western part (roughly modern West Germany) was a segment of the so-called Holy Roman Empire. In the early modern period, the region's many ruling houses divided the territory into larger, smaller, and miniscule segments, many without political significance but sending and attracting migrants. A partial unification process, initiated on the orders of Napoleon in 1803/1806, continued through the 19th century, but ended, given the Hohenzollern–Habsburg competition, in a dualism of Germany and Austria as (or in) two different empires. The German-language part of Switzerland had had de facto independence since the 16th century. Since information on potential migration destinations is communicated through language, the region has to be treated as a whole, though dialects were not necessarily mutually intelligible. From 1871, the establishment of the Hohenzollern-ruled German Reich, data collection and patterns became distinct for each of the three states.


  • cultural diversity;
  • transnationalism;
  • citizenship;
  • capitalism