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Thread: Anti-German Sentiment In Switzerland

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    Anti-German Sentiment In Switzerland

    How Many Germans Can Switzerland Take?

    When a Swiss tabloid launched a campaign last week asking the nation how many Germans Switzerland can stomach, it did more to highlight an old inferiority complex than to reveal the dawning of a new anti-German age.

    The mass-circulation Blick paper, which described the recent influx of Germans as "the invasion from the large northern canton," asked its Swiss readers if they too, had had enough of "cheap workers, arrogant expressions and objectionable self-confidence?" The responses, predictably, were mixed.

    But the fact remains that Switzerland is currently the most popular destination for Germans seeking to resettle abroad. In 2006 alone, some 25,000 flocked over the border in search fertile ground for the good life they failed to find at home, and the trend shows no sign of abating. Even so, Germans by no means constitute the largest foreign group living in Switzerland, so what's all the fuss about?

    Oliver Classen, spokesman for the Swiss NGO Berne Declaration, said the current anti-German media frenzy is an inevitable part of the EU-Swiss bilateral relations which relaxed freedom of movement between Switzerland and the European Union.

    "Germany is for Switzerland what Poland is for Berlin," Classen said. "The bilateral agreements have opened the borders and the fears in Switzerland are similar to those that Germany had in the face of EU expansion."

    Job-snatching Germans

    One of the most outspoken concerns is that the German arrivals are stealing jobs from the indigenous population. But a spokesman for the Swiss Employers Association, Hans Reis, said the worries are largely tabloid press hot air. With the economy booming, and industries across the board advertising job vacancies, he said he welcomes German workers.

    "We need qualified people," he said. "The good thing about the Germans is that they are well-qualified, they work hard, and they don't have any problems with the language."

    Jens-Rainer Wiese who writes a blog about being a German in Switzerland agrees that Germans are important for the Swiss economy.

    "They don't have enough well-trained people to advance the economy here," he said. "We are helping them to forge ahead."

    But the other worrying word on the street is that all these highly qualified Germans are also willing to work for a franc or two less than their Swiss counterparts. Reis, who concedes that Germans are sometimes used to lower wages, rejects the claim that they are pushing Swiss wage prices down.

    "That may be the case if you had one job and a lot of applicants, but that is not the situation here," he said. "Companies here are just happy to fill their vacancies."

    Cultural, linguistic divides

    Wiese said he believes the real gripe for many Swiss people is a simple culture clash issue.

    "The main problem is German directness," he said. "The Swiss are reserved and very polite, whereas the Germans are loud in public and just come out and say what they want. The mentality is very different."

    The most common criticisms of the Germans in Swiss circles are that they are "too fast, too loud and too arrogant." Wiese said the linguistic difference between the two countries is often mistaken for the widely perceived arrogance.

    "When Germans come to Switzerland, they only speak High German, not Swiss German, and that automatically leads the Swiss to think they are arrogant," he said.

    Considerable importance is placed on the local language as something which separates Switzerland from its neighbor. Gregory Waldis, an actor who grew up in Switzerland, but who has lived in Germany for several years believes the linguistic difference between the two countries has led the Swiss to respect Germans to the point of fearing them.

    "The official language in Switzerland is High German, but nobody there speaks it other than the authorities," Waldis explained.

    He said the use of the High German for official purposes puts the language -- and by association, the Germans who use it -- on a pedestal.

    "When I first moved to Germany and heard everyone speaking high German, I thought they all sounded so intelligent," Waldis said. "It’s pretty impressive for the Swiss ear."

    Waldis said the language issue is only one cause for the Swiss inferiority complex.

    "The Germans were always the big guys for Switzerland," he said, adding that the tides seem to be turning. "For instance, people like DJ Bobo have shown Switzerland that ordinary folk can make things happen. All it takes is a few confident people."

    Tamsin Walker
    Source

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    Anti-German Sentiment In Switzerland

    BERN, Switzerland — The Swiss government's racism watchdog issued an unusual warning Friday about rising animosity toward German immigrants being stereotyped as boorish, domineering or even Nazis.

    Swiss racism laws forbid spreading hateful ideologies or discrimination against groups because of their race, ethnicity or religion. The rules cover denying the Holocaust or the World War I-era genocide of Armenians in Turkey. But they have never been invoked _ or needed _ to protect Germans.

    Anti-German sentiment has risen, however, as Switzerland has opened its borders and labor market to its European neighbors. Germans have taken the greatest advantage, with over 220,000 now living permanently in the neighboring country.

    German citizens have come to dominate Swiss universities, hospitals and highly trained professional work in recent years. The president of the Federal Commission against Racism, Georg Kreis, said the economic crisis and rising unemployment was making people increasingly see Germans as unwanted competitors. He also referred to recent tension between the Swiss and German governments over tax evasion and banking secrecy.

    The racism commission criticized newspapers headlines such as "The Germans are coming" and "How many Germans can Switzerland stomach?"

    It also cited open letters and Internet platforms for spreading caricatures of the "ugly German," evoking the negative stereotype of an arrogant, loud and culture-less cousin that offends the sensitivities of the discreet Swiss.

    Kreis noted that the German-Swiss banking dispute has caused an "escalation" in hateful language from some politicians and media in Switzerland.

    Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz said last week it was in his country's interest to refrain from unhelpful insults, urging calm on the 7.7 million Swiss, who sometimes see their neighbor to the north, with 82 million people, as domineering.

    But other politicians have been less restrained, such as center-right legislator Thomas Mueller, who recently said German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck reminded him of "that generation of Germans who 60 years ago marched through the streets wearing leather coats, boots and armbands."

    "Nazi!" read the front page of mass circulation daily Blick with a picture of Steinbrueck to lead into its story on the Mueller speech.

    "Germans of today's generation have the right not to be associated with Naziism," said Kreis.

    Such a caricature can carry over into everyday life, affecting relations between Swiss and Germans at the workplace, home and class or in trams, buses and restaurants, the commission warned.

    "Collective exclusion hurts the people who live here and disturbs the peace of the community," Kreis said.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/0..._n_180034.html

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    The whole thing sounds a bit..... gay.

    There has always and will always be a degree of friction between different ethnicities / nationalities. It's no different to being supporters of different football clubs yet football supporters don't get called "racist".

    Today the gods of "racism" are worshipped in almost equal measure to the gods of the "holocaust". Imo this "watchdog" (probably just an organisation created as an excuse to divert public money into certain people's pockets) is unnecessarily fanning hysteria over a non-existent problem.

    Swiss and German nationals are perfectly capable of settling their differences amongst themselves without State Interference.

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    Swiss Paper Stirs Up Anti-German Sentiment

    BERNE, Switzerland, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A German news magazine has accused a Swiss tabloid of stirring up anti-German sentiment by calling German immigrants in Switzerland arrogant and cheap.

    While not all who read the mass-circulation paper Blick responded to the discriminatory campaign in kind, Deutsche Welle said the article offered no doubt as to how Blick viewed the increasing number of German immigrants.

    In reference to the nearly 25,000 German immigrants who entered Switzerland in 2006, Blick asked if others were also sick of "cheap workers, arrogant expressions and objectionable self-confidence?"

    One German immigrant said the current anti-German trend in Switzerland could likely be linked to minor cultural differences and mannerisms.

    "The main problem is German directness," Jens-Rainer Wiese said. "The Swiss are reserved and very polite, whereas the Germans are loud in public and just come out and say what they want. The mentality is very different."

    Deutsche Welle said many business experts credit German workers for the role they play in the booming Swiss economy.
    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2007/02/...4621172715177/

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    If I were from Germany, I honestly wouldn't take this too personally. No matter who you are, if your kind is immigrating in numbers large enough to be noticed, the country you're immigrating to will become agitated. The main reason for this is economical, but also because of culture clashes. People in general do not take kindly to change.

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    Two more articles from swissinfo:

    Germans experience tide of xenophobia

    It has not been easy for Germans in Switzerland of late – right wingers think there are too many of them, and furthermore, Berlin may well buy stolen Swiss bank data.

    Social scientist Marc Helbling says migrants have always faced opposition, but the fact that Germans are often highly qualified means competition over jobs. Their direct manner is also not appreciated.

    There are now 250,000 Germans in Switzerland, double the number eight years ago. In Zurich alone, where there are 30,000 Germans, there has been a renewed round of “German-bashing” by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party - just ahead of local elections. Their particular bugbear; the high number of German professors in the city’s universities.

    Berlin’s willingness to consider buying stolen Swiss bank data to get information about possible German tax evaders is also adding to the resentment mix.

    Helbling, a Swiss who works at the Social Science Research Center in Berlin, has recently completed a study entitled “Why the Swiss Germans dislike Germans”.

    swissinfo.ch: You talk about “Germanophobia” in your study. Why do the Swiss feel so threatened by German immigrants?

    Marc Helbling: In migration research, we often observe that migrants are seen as a threat when they immigrate in large numbers within a short period of time.

    From the mid-1990s there has been a strong influx of Germans. This is because Switzerland needs a highly qualified workforce; the 2002 bilateral accords [between Switzerland and the European Union] have also made immigration easier.

    Since 2005, the Germans have ranked fourth, in terms of numbers, behind Italians, Serbians/Montenegrins and Portuguese.

    swissinfo.ch: The Swiss are afraid of a creeping “Germanisation”.

    M.H.: Up to a certain degree, yes. You can see it in the fact that there have been complaints about the Germans in Zurich in particular. As a migration researcher you could almost speak of a Zurich phenomenon. If you ask a French-speaking Swiss or even somebody from [the Swiss capital] Bern, they would certainly not speak in such extreme terms about the Germans.

    swissinfo.ch: Is the big influx the only reason why emotions are so high when it comes to the Germans?

    M.H.: No, there’s more to it than that. The economic dimension plays an important role. Unlike traditional immigrants of the past, who were not so highly educated, often couldn’t really speak German and took up low-wage jobs, Germans apply for highly qualified jobs.

    The typical German migrant has an academic qualification and is a doctor, university researcher or IT specialist. Swiss and Germans are therefore up against each other in a very narrow, highly-competitive segment of the work market.

    This explains why you find hostility towards the Germans even among well-educated Swiss. This is a phenomenon which migration researchers do not usually observe. The theory is, the more educated the person, the less xenophobic they are.

    swissinfo.ch: According to your study, German are the fourth least popular migrants after those from the former Yugoslavia, and Arab and Turkish migrants. Why don’t the Swiss like the Germans?

    M.H.: I was surprised that Germans were the most unpopular west Europeans. We usually assume that people are mostly hostile to migrants from different cultural groups – which, at first glance, does not apply to the Germans.

    But unlike Italians or the French, Germans are seen as culturally different by the Swiss. And this is because small differences between the cultures are perceived to have great importance.

    The best example is language. Swiss German dialect [spoken on a daily basis in Switzerland] and High German [spoken in Germany and in formal contexts in Switzerland] are close relatives, but Swiss German is considered part of identity development. Those speaking High German are automatically foreigners.

    swissinfo.ch: Many Swiss have an inferiority complex about speaking High German.

    M.H.: Yes, most Swiss can’t express themselves so eloquently in High German and generally tend to speak more slowly than Germans, so this has strengthened their aversion to it.

    But there are also other small things. In certain situations Germans often behave in a more assertive and direct way than the Swiss, which time and again meets with strong resistance.

    Germans are thus quickly considered to be aggressive. The Dutch, on the other hand, although often described as loud, are not regarded in the same light.

    swissinfo.ch: In the 1950s-1960s there were big xenophobic campaigns against Italian migrants. Nowadays Italians are appreciated. Could this also happen to the Germans?

    M.H.: This is likely to happen, - there are numerous examples in migration research. However, simply riding out the xenophobic wave as experienced by the Germans in Switzerland is not a solution. Racism should always be taken seriously and be fought against.

    For Switzerland, this means that the political world should not leave the field open to the People’s Party, which is a past master when it comes to stoking xenophobic tendencies. As was the case with the Minaret Initiative [successfully led by the party to ban minarets in Switzerland], I’m missing strong voices from the other political parties in this current debate.
    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_ne...ml?cid=8292198

    German newcomers struggle with Swiss German

    One might think that Germans would have no language problem when they come to German-speaking Switzerland, but often they are stymied by the local dialect.

    On the other hand, Germans who have been here for a while say dialect opens up the secret places of the Swiss heart.

    Recently, there has been a wave of German immigration to Switzerland, mainly because of the EU-Swiss agreement allowing free movement of people to take up jobs.

    One now meets Germans everywhere in the German part of Switzerland. They present a new cultural and linguistic challenge - mostly because they don’t speak Swiss German.

    There are classes, books and CDs for learning Swiss German dialect, so if you really want to, there is no obstacle to it. However, research, journalistic investigations and everyday observation suggest that the majority of Germans who come here do not learn to speak Swiss German actively.

    They are held back by inhibitions that do not bother other foreigners. They tend to say “when I try it, it sounds ridiculous!” or “it’s not my dialect!”. Meanwhile, Swiss commentators find it’s enough for the newcomers to understand Swiss German and not to speak it.

    Elisabeth Maranta, a German who runs a bookshop in Chur specialising in languages, must be something of a record. She has lived here for 50 years and has never spoken Swiss German, although she certainly understands it by now.

    She explains: “First I was in French-speaking Fribourg, then I married an Italian-speaking Swiss, and we have always spoken high (standard) German at home. Growing up with high German actually gave our children an educational advantage.”

    “German Swiss are often at a disadvantage when they have to speak high German outside Switzerland, say on German TV. Even academics seem tongue-tied.

    Sense of belonging

    Why do they stick to Swiss German when it’s such a barrier?” Maranta wonders. She gives two reasons: “It is important for German Swiss to set themselves off from Germany and affirm their own identity. But also, dialect gives them a deep feeling of belonging.”

    Harald Eichhorn is the rector of Chur Cathedral. A German from the Lake Constance area near the border with Switzerland, he came to this country as a young curate in 1985. He was a parish priest in Schwyz for many years before moving to Chur. Now a Swiss citizen, he is unusual in actually speaking Swiss German with gusto.

    “There is no way you can avoid learning Swiss German as a pastor,” he says. “It is a matter of integration into local society. You need people to be able to communicate with you uninhibitedly.

    “And a Swiss feels inhibited if he can’t talk Swiss German. He just can’t express his feelings or say what is in his heart, if he has to say it in high German. You can establish a relationship of trust with a Swiss if you can talk Swiss German yourself. So for me as a priest it was absolutely necessary.”

    He explains: “it wasn’t all that difficult for me, because I come from a place where we spoke Alemannic dialect, which is like Swiss German. Other Germans who come here don’t learn to speak Swiss German because they can’t get their tongues around it. It’s not really arrogance on their part when they don’t want to speak it.”

    Close to the heart

    That idea of Swiss German as “language of the heart” is echoed by Klaus Scherer, director of the National Centre of Competence in Research in the Affective Sciences, an institute based at Geneva University which concerns itself with all aspects of emotion.

    A German by birth himself, Scherer has had the opportunity to observe the emotional underpinnings of language in a career in Germany, the United States and latterly Switzerland.

    “I think German Swiss always find it an emotional strain when they have to speak high German. As soon as a German joins the conversation, the emotional quality of the interaction changes: it is no longer spontaneous, it is slower and less expressive, the intonation gets flatter, even nonverbal behaviour is more inhibited.”

    Swiss are able to express their emotions in Swiss German, not in high German - that is the key difference, he says.

    “When one has learned a second language but doesn’t feel at ease speaking it, one cannot express one’s real feelings. Emotions are in themselves not verbal, but we do not know what emotions we have until we have words to express them. That channels the emotion. It also helps us to control our feelings. The expression of emotion is therefore an important function of language.”

    So Swiss German survives and thrives because it fulfils important emotional needs. It is the language of the heart for German Swiss. Germans - and even other Swiss - need to learn to appreciate that fact.
    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/fea...l?cid=15509690

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    The Swiss & Germans

    The Swiss, having lived in close proximity to Germans for so long, should have learned by now how to deal with them... "The mentality is very different". And, "their direct manner is also not APPRECIATED"!

    This only goes to prove what we German-Americans have always known, "Never, ever, argue with a German when you're tired".

    LOL!

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