My German ethnicity

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American culture has been shaped by the blending of many ethnicities. The immigrants who have settled in the United State all bring a part of their culture with them. Today almost every American has ancestors who came to the U.S. from another part of the world. Like many others, I am a blend of different cultures. Most are from Europe, in places such as the Netherlands, Ireland, England, Poland, and Sweden. One particular place my ancestors are from is Germany. I have German blood from both my mother's and father's side of the family. Most of my German heritage is from my dad's where I am a fifth generation immigrant. My great great grandfather August Bohn Jr. was born in northeastern Germany in 1903. This was a time of great tension in Germany and other European countries. The German government was a big contributor to this tension with its growth of military power and intimidating foreign policy. However, a few years after his birth August, his older brother, his father August Bohn Sr. and mother Augusta Bohn, set off to America. They eventually settled in North Dakota where August grew up and started a family of his own.

Germany is located in northern Europe and borders nine countries. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands make up the nine surrounding countries. On the northern tip of Germany lies the North Sea and the Baltic Sea which are separated Denmark. The north has lowlands mostly around the coastline. Central and eastern Germany they Consists of high plains, hills, and basins. The Bavarian Alps lie in the southern edge of the country where it is mainly a mountainous region (state). The climate is temperate and cool in Germany. It is mainly cloudy and cool with wet winters and summers with an occasional warm mountain wind (CIA).

A variety of subsistence strategies are practiced in Germany. Germany is among the world's largest and most scientifically advanced producers of iron, steel, coal, cement, chemicals, machinery, vehicles, machine tools, food and beverages, shipbuilding, and textiles. They also have Europe's largest automobile industry producing such vehicles as the Volkswagen, the Audi, the BMW, and the Mercedes Benz. Germans also raise pigs, poultry, and various cattle (CIA). The main crops in western Germany include potatoes, wheat, barley, sugar beets, fruit and cabbage. In the east the principal crops are wheat, rye, barley, potatoes, sugar beets and fruit (Culture). Industry employs about 38 percent of the workforce, 59 percent of the workforce is in services, and agriculture only makes up about 3 percent. Germany today is the leading industrial power in Europe. Since World War 2 though, the countries industry workforce has been declining while services have been increasing. Germany is a large contributor to advances in nanotechnologies, telecommunications, optics, linguistics, and medical technologies (lcweb2).

In order to practice these subsistence strategies Germans need some sort of technology to help. For industry they use factories and warehouses to help manufacture and store their products. Also digging and drilling equipment for mining. In agriculture the technology used includes tractors, plows, combines, harvesters, and grain elevators to collect the crops. In order to store crops they use such technologies as silos, barns, and trailers. They also may power irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides to help grow their crops for a health harvest. The Germans who raise animals use fences, barns, rope, and equipment for slaughtering. When it comes to information technology Germans utilize computers, internet, telecommunication equipment, and satellites. Planes, Trains, and automobiles are used for transportation as well as ships, roads, and railroads. Each subsistence strategy relies on these technologies to help produce, collect, and exchange Germany's products and services.

Germany also has a way of dividing the labor in order to help use those technologies for the subsistence strategies. Each subsistence strategy has its own way of dividing the workforce. In information technology, the labor is largely divided using a bureaucratic organization made up of hierarchical authority structure. This ranges from the head CEO to the thousands of telemarketers. Information technology also has a division of people who transport the information usually consisting of drivers and operators. The division of labor in German industry can be a union or bureaucracy. For a union the labor is divided into the workers which are the largest part, the representatives, and the employers who run the company. As with information technology, industrial labor uses a bureaucratic organization using a hierarchical authority structure to divide the labor. Agriculture divides its labor a bit differently since many farms are locally owned by the farmers. The farm owner can hire workers to help do the heavy labor like pick the crops or work the equipment and machinery. On smaller farms that are owned by a single family they usually divide the labor by gender and age. In every subsistence strategy Germany has a way of dividing labor in order to use the technology and find a way of surviving everyday life.

Germany has a decentralized, federal system of government with a constitution known as the Basic Law. Germany's government is divided into three branches, executive, legislative, and judicial. In the executive branch you have a president who is the chief of state and a chancellor (prime minister) who is the executive head of the government. The president is there mainly for ceremonial purposes while the chancellor can exercise executive power. The legislative branch is a bicameral parliament with a lower and upper chamber. The lower chamber is known as the Bundestag and is the principle chamber of the parliamentary. All 598 members in the Bundestag have primary legislative authority and elect the chancellor. The upper chamber is known as the Bundesrat and is the federal council. It consist of 69 member elected by delegates from all of Germany's 16 states. The Bundesrat votes on legislation concerning revenue shared by federal and state governments and those imposing responsibilities on the states. Germany has an independent federal judiciary consisting of a constitutional court, a high court of justice, and courts with jurisdiction in administrative, financial, labor, and social matters. Citizens are allowed to vote in land and local elections. Federal elections are held every four years (state).

Germany is the world's fourth largest economy and the largest in Europe. The Germans often describe their economic system as a "socialist market economy." By definition, Germany has a capitalist market with the government providing an array of social services. The state intervenes in the economy by subsidizing certain sectors and even owning some segments of the economy. The government still promotes competition and free enterprise. The German economy is heavily export-oriented, with exports accounting for more than one-third the national output. The main exports include chemicals, motor vehicles, iron and steel products, manufactured goods, and electrical products. Their major markets are France, U.S., and the United Kingdom. The main imports are food, petroleum products, manufactured goods, electrical products, motor vehicles, and apparel. Their major suppliers are China, France, the Netherlands, and the U.S. For twenty years Germany has made great progress in raising the standard of living in eastern Germany by introducing market exchange and improving infrastructure. Unemployment in the east is still twice as high as the west. Many skilled workers move from the east to the west to seek work. Despite troubles in the labor market and extensive government regulation, the German economy remains strong and internationally competitive (state).

About 38 percent of Germans are Protestants, mainly Lutherans. The Roman Catholic's make up around 34 percent of the population. Only 1.7 percent of Germans are Muslims, leaving 26.3 percent who are unaffiliated or belong to other religions. Church attendance is low in Germany. Still, most Germans observe church rituals such as baptisms, marriages, funerals, and holidays. Many churches maintain a variety of social programs that are available to all regardless of religious belief. These services include schooling, hospital care, nursing homes, and programs for the disabled. Germany is a secular state and the Basic Law provides freedom of religion for all. It also explicitly outlaws extremist groups that give the slightest voice to totalitarian ideas. Many Germans equate Scientology with Nazism and the German government denies the church's claim to be a religion. Instead, the German government considers it a dangerous, fascist cult that threatens democracy and has passed laws excluding Scientology members from public jobs. The 30,000 members of the Church of Scientology run into discrimination and isolation from their neighbors (culture).

Ethnic Germans make up about 91.5 percent of the population of Germany. Immigrants including Turks, Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, and Polish make up only 8.5 percent of the population. In rural areas, particularly in the south, many families have several generations living under the same roof. In the north and urban areas, most families are nuclear. Young adults are usually free to choose who they date and marry. Couples typically wed in their 20's, but it is more import to achieve some financial security before marriage that to be at a certain age. To be legally married in Germany couples must perform a civil marriage ceremony at the city hall. Many couples plan a church wedding the following day. Two-income families are on the rise in Germany, but many women with children stay at home. Germans also attach great importance to raising their children and parents try to instill both responsibility and independence in their youth (Culture).

Germans also have many state and city festivals. One festival that has achieved international recognition and imitation is the Munich Oktoberfest. The festival is known for its beer drinking, singing, and dancing. It originated in the city of Munich in 1810. The yearly event starts in September and lasts 16 days, ending on the first Sunday of October. Germans have abundant leisure time and spend about 20 percent of their income on leisure pursuits. Many activities center around the home and include reading and watching television. Germans also play card games, the most popular being bridge and skat. Many also have hobbies and enjoy spending their time working on them. Watching movies is also a popular part of German culture. Germans rank as Europe's foremost moviegoers (culture). The same types of movies seen in the United States are popular in Germany. There are also German made films including KeinOhrHasen, Maennerherzen and the Bader-Meinhoff-Komplex (Otto).

German writers, artists, composers, conductors and philosophers have given the country a rich cultural heritage. Attendance at musical and theatrical performances is usually high. The state provides subsidies for the arts and has done so throughout history. A German literature tradition did not emerge until the 17th century. Germany's literature did not ender a golden age till early in the 19th century. During this time the two brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm sparked interest in early Germanic traditions with their famed collection of fairly tales. The Communist Manifesto was written by two Germans, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848 (culture).

Germans have great respect for learning and take pride in educational accomplishments. They are well educated with a 99 percent literacy rate of people over the age of 15. Germans typically have a high regard for education and teachers. Germany also provides free education from preschool through the university level. Higher education does have some problems however. The country suffers from a shortage of universities and many of them are overcrowded. Secondary-school books treat in-depth the subjects of Hitler, the National Socialism era, and the Holocaust. History courses take the approach that today's students are not responsible for what happened and shouldn't have an uneasy conscience over it. German society is orderly and regulated. It is a country with highly skilled and educated people. They are serious, reserved and formal people. Germany has a rich history and has been a prosperous country. Germans have a strong work ethic and are hardworking industrious people. They have a love of nature and animals of all kinds. People generally have a strong environmental consciousness. People are inclined to see the common good of all as more valued than personal freedom (culture).

On November 9 thousands of people joined world leaders in Germany's capital to remember the night when the Berlin wall was destroyed. This historical event happened exactly 20 years ago in the city of Berlin. It was the day when the people of Germany swept away the Berlin Wall and with it the cold war. A rock concert performed by Bon Jovi and political leaders from Europe and the U.S. were there to celebrate the event that reunified Germany. A special display of 1,000 giant dominos was aligned where the wall used to be representing the domino effect it had on ending communism across Eastern Europe. They fought for freedom and against oppression to unify the east and west. On that day in Berlin, the people of Germany stood up for what was morally just and in which the affects are still remembered in the country today.


  • Personal Interview with Otto Bohn via Facebook November 19, 2009
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