Ethnic Germans

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Ethnic Germans (German: Deutschstämmige, historically also Volksdeutsche), also collectively referred to as the German diaspora, are those who are considered, by themselves or others, to be of German origin ethnically, not necessarily born or living within the present-day Federal Republic of Germany, holding its citizenship or speaking the German language.

Ethnic Germans are a largely West Germanic ethnic group, with minor West Slavic roots due to assimilated Sorbs, Obotrites and other Slavs, as well as Celtic roots in Southern Germany and Baltic in the formerly Prussian areas.

In English usage, but less often in German, the term may be used for assimilated descendants of German emigrants.[citation needed] The traditional American English language practice has been to refer to the ethnic Germans of a given country by combining the country or region name (or its adjective) with "Germans"; for example, "Brazilian Germans" was at least traditionally used (see below) to refer to ethnic Germans living in Brazil. In the past, this practice broke down when referring to countries that no longer existed ("Kingdom of Hungary" Germans) or regions that transcended national boundaries (thus "Black Sea Germans") and "Baltic Germans".

However, the modern trend is to emphasize the status as citizens of the new country and to invert the order of the compound expression.[citation needed] According to this system, one uses the word "German" as an adjective, not a noun. For example, Americans of German descent are called German Americans but never "U.S. Germans" or "American Germans". For several decades, many ethnic German groups preferred to call themselves in a way that emphasized that they were assimilated members of the society of their new country.

German ethnicity is historically related to the persistence of speaking the German language Sprachraum. Thus, Swiss Germans still held strong ties with and sympathies towards Germany during World War I, although they had separated from the Holy Roman Empire between the 13th and 17th century.

The first attempts to create a consciousness of the "Austrian nation" took place during the Napoleonic Wars (at which time "Austrian" identity included non-German-speaking subjects of the Austrian Empire). This was revived in the 1930s during Dollfuss' Austro-Fascist period, but without much success. Many German-speaking Austrians considered themselves ethnic Germans until after World War II (see German Austria). Since the end of World War II, Austrians have increasingly come to see themselves as a nation distinct from the German nation.[1] In 1987 only 6 percent of the Austrians still identified themselves as "Germans".[2]

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