Project seeks the untold stories of German immigration

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Whether they arrived in the 1950s on a ship or a few years ago on a passenger plane, German immigrants to Waterloo Region still hold many untold stories in their families that risk being lost if they are not recorded.

old fashion image of little girl standing by a treeThe Waterloo Centre for German Studies (WCGS) is looking for people of German descent—or their children—who would like to talk about their years in German-speaking Europe, their arrival in Canada during the 1950s, 1960s or later, and their lives in Waterloo Region. Participants can be German immigrants or their family members, such as first-generation Canadians.

“We would like to gain a better understanding of the history of the whole community, people's experiences, and their connections to all things German, both past and present,” said Professor Mat Schulze, director of the WCGS and the project coordinator.

Circa 1920, young German whose family emigrated to Kitchener-Waterloo.

“So far, we’ve spoken with participants who traveled here to escape the aftermath of the war, members of the second generation who told the story of their parents, and also immigrants who arrived here only a few years ago,” said Schulze.

Interviews are conducted by a researcher from the university and take about one hour. Participants can choose to have the interview in their home, at the university, or at another quiet location of their choice.

Marga Weigel, the president of the German-Canadian Education Fund, approached the WCGS with the idea of producing a book that will tell the stories of German immigrants to this area. Helene Schramek and Ernst Friedel, community representatives on the WCGS Advisory Board, are also helping with this ambitious project.

friends and family pose at banquet hall1970s Kitchener-Waterloo Germanic social club celebrate the front-centre couple's anniversary.

The book will be of relevance not only to the local community, but also to a broader audience. It will help tell the story of the German-Canadian community in a historical context by focusing on their personal experiences.

To learn more about this project or to register as a participant, please contact the Waterloo Centre for German Studies at wcgs@uwaterloo.ca or phone Lori Straus at 519-888-4567, ext. 39267.

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