Die Deutschen Vietnamesen
by Stefan Canham / Nguyen Phuong-Dan
Germany and Vietnam share parallel histories and are closely related through many personal stories of migration. Both countries were divided for a long time, and have since been reunited. Since the end of World War II, people have come from Vietnam to Germany in substantial numbers and for various reasons. Already in the fifties, Vietnamese children were trained in the GDR to form a new elite; later on, contract workers were employed by the industry. “Boat People” reached Western Germany in their escape from war and poverty, and Vietnamese students have graduated from German colleges and universities.
But residence permits were often limited and many “German Vietnamese” returned to Vietnam voluntarily or involuntarily – especially after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
In their book, Nguyen and Canham take a long and close look at the present situation and everyday lives of those Viet Kieu – the foreign Vietnamese, as they are called at home. They all brought a piece of Germany to Vietnam and preserve their long-term relationship with Germany on the most various levels. In-depth interviews convey their individual stories. Portraits and views of their living and working environment are complemented by reproductions of historical material – family albums, diaries, and souvenirs from their time in Germany, which are of special importance to the particular person.
A comprehensive essay by Kristin Mundt explains the causes and consequences of the different waves of migration and remigration.