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  • Seymour Gris: The big Ausländer map


Seymour Gris: The big Ausländer map

The latest official stats for Ausländer of all shapes and sizes in Berlin are out. With a few surprises. And where, oh, where do YOU fit in?

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Here’s a nice new map (courtesy of Berliner Zeitung) of where the people of “migrant background” are living in Berlin. The redder, darker patches mean “lots of Ausländer” with ground zero being Kreuzberg with a whopping 60% of the population have “non-German roots”. This includes, of course, all those thousands of German citizens who remain “Ausländer” in the eyes of most of their fellow countrymen due to skin colour, religion, etc. The most striking thing about the map is the continued division between the darker West and the totally yellow (low-Ausländer-density) East, which remains unpopular with immigrants (even 20 years after reunification). The exception is Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte and Friedrichshain, with their high concentration of “G-8 foreigners”, as a German newspaper once described the immigrants from rich countries.

While one senses that central districts are overflowing with foreigners of every type – students and artists, freelancers and freeloaders, investors and illegals – the official number of foreigners registered in Berlin actually declined by 0.5 percent last year. Go figure. The number of registered US citizens (12,733), for example, declined by 4.3 percent in 2010 – despite the impression that right now parts of Kreuzberg seem to be more in American hands now than any time since the height of the Cold War when GIs could be found in every Kneipe in town.

The Euros are, by contrast, flocking here: the Spanish (7,670, up 7 percent over the previous year), the Brits (10,191, 1.9 percent growth), the Swedes (2,877, up 5.4 percent) and Danes (2,523, up 4.7 percent) show a special passion for Berlin. If you want to know how many of your own nations are residing in the city just download the official stats.

One can presume that tens of thousands don’t even register their whereabouts at the Bürgeramt – from the jetsetting American hipster to the impoverished African illegal – not to mention the jetsetting African hipster and the impoverished American illegal. Berlin is attracting all of them right now.