It’s the first day of autumn, the time for pumpkin spice lattes everywhere you look. And Oktoberfest. But aside from that festival, there’s not much German culture celebrated in the U.S., according to the New York Times. Indeed, with approximately 46 million Americans who could claim German ancestry, few actually do.
At the turn of the last century, Germans were the predominant ethnic group in the United States — some eight million people, out of a population of 76 million. New York City had one of the world’s largest German-speaking populations, trailing only Berlin and Vienna, with about a quarter of its 3.4 million people conversing auf Deutsch. Entire communities, spreading from northern Wisconsin to rural Texas, consisted almost exclusively of German immigrants and their children.
Since World War I, the German-American bloc has gone extinct. The author doesn’t explain why. But clearly, it is the end result of generations of assimilation. The thing is, when a cultural identity is lost, it usually doesn’t come back.