The Invisibles – On Diversity of Vietnamese Migration to Germany

A new anthology sheds light on the variety of Vietnamese migration stories, which are a part of the historic separation of Germany.

The stories of Vietnamese migrants who came to both parts of a then-divided Germany are not widely known. The “boat people” came from southern Vietnam to West Germany in the late 1970s while “contract workers” arrived in East Germany starting in 1980. Even the Pogrom in Rostock-Lichtenhagen that happened 25 years ago has been nearly forgotten. Back then, a racially motivated mob attacked a reception center for asylum applicants and set fire to a dormitory that housed Vietnamese contract workers.

The public perception of Vietnamese immigrants in Germany today has shifted to “hard-working,” “successful” and “integrated.” Because or despite of this positive image, the diversity of how they got to Germany remains unknown.

The book “UnSICHTBAR – Vietnamesisch-Deutsche Wirklichkeiten” (“InVISIBLE – Vietnamese-German Realities”) tells the story of Vietnamese migration. It aims to make their (hi)stories visible. Among other subjects, it looks at the life choices made by the second and third generations. It also portrays experiences of those people who left Germany and returned to Vietnam.

Vietnamese migration is a part of the history of a once-divided Germany. There are similarities in the current discussions surrounding Germany’s “welcome culture” - statements such as “the boat is full” - with the past discourse surrounding Vietnamese migrants.

The anthology is jointly published by the Documentation Center and Museum of Migration in Germany (DOMID) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). The inspiration for the book came from the “UnSICHTBAR” project, which is rooted in the Vietnamese community in Germany.

The project was presented on April 15, 2017 at FES headquarters Berlin.


Book Details:

UnSICHTBAR – Vietnamesisch-Deutsche Wirklichkeiten
Editors: Bengü Kocatürk-Schuster, Arnd Kolb, Thanh Long, Günther Schultze, Sascha Wölck
Edition DOMiD, Migration im Fokus – Volume 3, 370 pages, 2017

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