Imagined Homes: Soviet German Immigrants in Two Cities.


312 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-88755-701-9
DDC 305.80097127'43





Reviewed by Dieter K. Buse

Dieter K. Buse is professor emeritus of history at Laurentian


Perceptions are central in this study. The focus of this comparative analysis is on German migrant expectations and the anticipation of receiving countries. Werner compares Germans who immigrated to Winnipeg in the immediate postwar era to Soviet Germans who came to Bielefeld during the early 1990s. Though their social situation and difficulties are noted, the main emphasis is the relative integration of each group. The ethnic Germans coming to Winnipeg generally found it easier to integrate than those coming from the Soviet Union to Bielefeld.


The study carefully delineates the diverse backgrounds of each group of migrants, the nature of the receiving society (city), the perception of the value of immigrants, and then the development of self-reliance within a new setting as well as the services of welfare states. Case studies illustrate family strategies as well as the importance of religious communities. The pressure for linguistic adaption is well illustrated by the ethnic Germans who have more difficulty in Bielefeld than Winnipeg.


By comparing the experiences of two groups of migrants Werner underscores the importance of attitudes and opportunities within receiving societies, though more examples could have been offered as to what each generation thought was their homeland after a decade in a new place.


Werner, Hans., “Imagined Homes: Soviet German Immigrants in Two Cities.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,