Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thoughts of an Italian Writer: (2a)

Dr. Antonio Castaldo, Sociologist and Journalist, Brusciano, Italy

"The Half-Century Italian Emigration in Germany. Recollections of a Gastarbeiter "Working Guest." (2)

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I remember a trip in the Beetle, from Wolfsburg to Bremen and vice versa, for a concert of Genesis. I was with an Apulian friend which from Brindisi had gone up our Peninsula, before reaching north-east Germany, with one five hundred which was finally yielded to an interested dealer receiving in exchange a Käfer.

The German Industrial success therefore is also a child of so many Italian workers. But how is the situation presented today? Very interesting reading data and conditions of the Italian emigration in Germany fifty years since its inception (1955-2005) has been found in the valuable study of Anna Maria Minutilli, PhD in Contemporary History at the University of Aachen. "The Italian Community in Germany: A challenge still open," is present in an excerpt from the website: - www.giornalistiitalianinelmondo.

In this research the emigration distinguished into three generations is introduced. The first, after a lifetime of work and sacrifice in the reconstruction and growth of the German economy is now tempted by a return to Italy but feel a certain instability of the new role in both family and society.

The second generation of Italians feel the precariousness and threat of insecurity in the workplace for the economic crisis that for three years also affects the prosperous Germany.

Arriving at the third generation we encounter the young people who have acquired language skills but pay a limited vocational training and schooling in the case of better serving the scarcity of jobs and not long periods of employment. Here too we find, according to the study of A.M. Minutilli, uncertainties and precariousness.

From 1990 to 2002 approximately 2 million workers emigrated to Germany, of which a numerous portion of them were Polish and Romanians. Italians are now about 600,000, or 8,3% of the population. The Italian unemployment rate is 19.2% almost double the German even at 10.3%. When the Wall fell in 1989, German reunification took place, initiating major works in the Berlin Capital where there was a great migrant influx from the countries of the East, decreasing those that came from the Mediterranean countries. From Italy alone in 1995 there were 48,000 workers, while for the year 2002, at least 25,000 new arrivals were counted. The Italian community "is characterized by a strong male presence (59.3%), Italians living in the host country for over 30 years and a moderate share of young born on site (28.2%). There are about 71,500 Italian schoolchildren: much is the presence in the school of the obligation and in that of the differential, a few in high school." Among the countries of the European Union we are the most represented and to Wolfsburg in Low Saxony in the Volkswagen factory the Italians represent the greatest number of foreign workers. In Berlin, however, we find with the research of Minutilli a more youthful presence with diplomas and degrees in search of cultural experiences, artistic work and of life in general without the pressure of economic needs that have characterized other migratory groups.

In this attractive international metropolis in full development our compatriots have opened several autonomous activities above all in the clothing trade and restaurant industry which alone employs 59% of them. In Berlin there are over 12,600 Italians, around 800 restaurant-pizzerias and there are also many ice cream parlors. A waiter comes to earn about 2,000 Euros per month, including tips, working in a premise of good level.

To be continued: The Half-Century (3)

Translation from Italian to English: Miriam Medina

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