Slovenian Emigrants and their Descendants in Germany: Twenty Years of Gatherings of the Slovenian Organizations at Conferences
In the article, the emigration of Slovenians to Germany in the 2nd half of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century is presented, and the cooperation of Slovenian organizations in Germany; the main focus is on gatherings. Partial results of the qualitative research are presented, this research is based on the participant observation of the last four gatherings, besides, semi-structured interviews were made with the organisers and the participants of the gatherings. The gatherings of Slovenian organisations in Germany have been organised once a year for twenty years (1996–2015). This special form of cooperation, which surpasses local operations of Slovene organisations, represents for Slovenian emigrants and their descendants an important way of maintaining Slovenian identity, socialising and professional support, at the same time it offers the possibility for connecting Slovenian organisations in Germany with Slovenia.
KEY WORDS: Slovenian emigrants, Germany, gatherings of the Slovenian organizations in Germany, Slovenian associations in Germany, Slovenian classes
SLOVENIAN EMIGRANTS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS IN GERMANY: TWENTY YEARS OF GATHERINGS OF THE SLOVENIAN ORGANIZATIONS AT CONFERENCES
Marijanca Ajša VIŽINTIN
In the 2nd half of the 20th century Germany was one of the most frequent choices for Slovenian emigrants. In the sixties of the 20th century, Yugoslavs were the second most numerous immigrant group after the Turkish workers. Slovenians immigrated in largest numbers to Baden-Württemberg; according to the estimations, 50,000 Slovenians out of 80,000 of all emigrated Slovenians lived in Germany in the sixties of the 20th century. We can speak about four periods of emigration from Yugoslavia; illegally before 1963, legally until 1973 when emigration spread, however, it levelled off between 1974–1979 due to the economic crisis in Germany. In the eighties, some people returned to Yugoslavia, however, the return was slower due to the crisis in Yugoslavia. The Slovenian independence did not influence the migration currents; nevertheless, the emigration of Slovenes is increasing again in the 21st century. Germany besides Austria is again one of the most frequent choices among the selected countries for Slovenian emigrants.
The majority of Slovenians emigrated »only for some years«, yet most of them stayed in Germany: in 2015, 26 associations and six Catholic missionaries operated in Germany, six teachers taught Slovenian language. Gatherings are a special form of cooperation and connecting of Slovenians and their descendants in Germany, which are worthy of research. The Slovenians, who live in Germany, organised in 2015 the 20th gathering of the Slovenian organisations in Wiesbaden. At the gatherings, the following organisations and people meet: Slovenian associations, Catholic missionaries, the teachers of remedial classes of Slovenian, social workers, the members of folklore groups and choirs who perform in Germany, the representatives of diplomacy, and the representatives of the Office for Slovenians Abroad of the Republic of Slovenia and the professionals from various thematic fields. The participants of the gatherings get new and high-quality knowledge during the selected lectures and workshops, which they include in the further activities of their associations. The interviewees themselves think that the gatherings represent the important form of socialising, they enable the exchange of experience in leading associations, and the workshops influence the higher quality of the associations’ activities, they get new information and new contacts during the lectures. The gatherings surpass the local operations of the individual Slovenian community in a certain German town, they offer a three day possibility for speaking Slovenian in the public sphere, and they enable the contacts with the country of origin and its representatives in Germany. The gatherings that develop the cooperation and connecting of the majority of Slovenian migrant organizations in Germany, have become one of the alternative forms of life of the Slovenian culture in emigration and they have a big importance for maintaining the Slovenian identity in the German environment.