Beyond EuroSEAS

There’s a lot going on in vibrant Berlin. If you have additional time to spare before or after the conference, we are glad to refer you to some activities and events that might spark your interest. They are only recommendations, however, and we are not affiliated with these events. Please direct any questions and inquiries directly to the organizers.

Meet Berlin’s Vietnamese Communities

Date & Time

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 – 16:00

Meeting Point

Schönhauser Allee train station (in front of the Schönhauser Allee Arkaden shopping center facing the street)

Let us take you to places of the Vietnamese communities in East Berlin and tell you some stories about Vietnamese life before, during and after German reunification that were shaped by hardship, discrimination, and also success.

According to the German administration authority for statistics, the three biggest migrant groups in Berlin in 2017 were the Turkish (231,000), the Polish (80,000) and the Russian communities (52,000). Although the numbers of the Vietnamese population with about 20,000–25,000 (176,000 in all of Germany) might be smaller, the German-Vietnamese communities have had an impact on the shape and face of the city of Berlin. The migration history of long-term residents in this area has been closely connected to the context of the Cold War and therefore with Modern German and Berlin history.

Among the many diverse migration flows from Vietnam to Germany, two have been central in terms of numbers and diaspora organizations. After the fall of Saigon (today, Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975, about 40,000 people from South Vietnam fled the Communist regime of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) to West Germany by boats – they hence refer to themselves as “boat people”. The second central group is the one of contract workers who came to East Germany (GDR) during the 1980s. According to bilateral agreements between the GDR and the SRV, about 60,000 people arrived in the GDR to work in factories. Their integration into the German society was not wanted and not part of the deal between the two countries, as the Vietnamese were merely brought over to work for a limited period of time. However, about 25,000 have stayed on and tried to find a new perspective amongst the turmoils of German reunification. Today, while the “boat people” are mainly scattered throughout the Western districts of Berlin, most of the former contract workers are still in the Eastern districts of the city (e.g. Lichtenberg, Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Prenzlauer Berg) where their former residential accommodations were once located.

Since the new millennium and until today, a third migration “flow” from Vietnam to Germany can be observed. The newcomers are mostly from Central Vietnam and seek a better life looking for employment opportunities. They usually enter Germany via a third, Eastern European state (Czech Republic, Poland, etc).

This “Walk of Vietnamese Berlin” is supposed to give you a short insight into the history of the former contract workers and their families in Berlin, who make up the biggest group of Vietnamese migrants living in Berlin, and then lead you to the latest group of labor migrants. Furthermore, it connects the migrants’ stories with a story of East Berlin and the district of Prenzlauer Berg. This once working-class neighborhood was, and still is – despite its rapid transformation into an area with expensive rents and chic cafés – home to those migrants who settled down with an own, “ethnic”, business. Most of the stops of the tour will be in Prenzlauer Berg; a second part of the tour will take you to the Dong Xuan Center in Lichtenberg for dinner (food and drinks need to be covered individually).

Please register in advance by 08 September by sending an email to info@vlabberlin.de.

Organized by

VLab Berlin and Vietnam Stammtisch @ HU Berlin.