German immigration to Mexico

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German Mexican
Total population
(8,773 German nationals residing in Mexico (2012)[1] Unknown number of Mexicans of German descent)
Regions with significant populations
Mexico City, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes, Puebla, Zacatecas, Durango, Nuevo León, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Chiapas, Yucatán, Quintana Roo.
Mexican Spanish,[2] Plautdietsch,[2] Nedderdüütsch,[2] German,[2] Russian,[2] English,[2] Yiddish [citation needed]
Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Germans and German diaspora

A German Mexican (German: Deutsch-Mexikaner or Deutsch-Mexikanisch, Spanish: germano-mexicano or aleman-mexicano) is a Mexican citizen of German descent or origin. Most Ethnic Germans arrived in Mexico during the mid-to-late 19th century, spurred by government policies of Porfirio Diaz. Although a good number of them took advantage of the liberal policies then valid in Mexico and went into merchant, industrial and educational ventures, others arrived with none or limited capital, as employees or farmers.[3] Most settled in Mexico City, Veracruz, Yucatán, and Puebla. Significant numbers of German immigrants also arrived during and after the First and Second World Wars. The Plautdietsch language is also spoken by the descendants of German and Dutch Mennonite immigrants in the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes. Other German towns lie in the states of Nuevo León, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Yucatán, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, and other parts of Puebla, where the German culture and language have been preserved to different extents. The German-Mexican community has largely integrated into Mexican society as a whole whilst retaining some cultural traits and in turn exerted cultural and industrial influences on Mexican society. Especially after the First World War intense processes of transculturation can be observed, particularly in Mexico City, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Puebla and, notably, with the Maya in Chiapas. These include social, cultural and identity aspects.[4]


Entrance to the German section of the Panteón de Dolores in Mexico City.

The German settlement in Mexico goes back to the times they settled Texas when it was under Spanish rule, but the first permanent settlement of Germans was at Industry, in Austin County, established by Friedrich Ernst and Charles Fordtran in the early 1830s, then under Mexican rule. Ernst wrote a letter to a friend in his native Oldenburg which was published in the newspaper there. His description of Texas was so influential in attracting German immigrants to that area that he is remembered as "the Father of German Immigration to Texas."

Many Germans, especially Roman Catholics who sided with Mexico, left Texas for the rest of present-day Mexico after the U.S. defeated Mexico in the Mexican–American War in 1848.

In 1865 and 1866, a total of 543 German-speaking people (men, women, and children) were brought from Hamburg specifically to the villages of Santa Elena and Pustunich, in Yucatán.[5] This was a project of foreign colonization promoted during the Second Mexican Empire, and the reign of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, with the governing body of the state of Yucatán. The majority of these people were farmers and craftsmen: wheelwrights, shoemakers, cabinet makers, etc.[6]

Other colonies were established in El Mirador, Veracruz by the German botanist Carls Sartorius,[7] and in the state of Tamaulipas by Baron Juan Raiknitz (Johan von Raknitz), in 1833.[8]

Sartorius' settlement, known as The Hacienda, attracted more than 200 settlers from Darmstadt, Germany. The Hacienda was visited many times by Maximilian I, and Sartorius was made the Minister of Agriculture under the Empire.

German finca in the Soconusco

In 1890, Porfirio Diaz and Otto von Bismarck collaborated to take advantage of southern Mexico's agricultural potential by sending 450 German families to Soconusco near Tapachula in the southern state of Chiapas. Extensive coffee cultivation quickly made Soconusco one of the most successful German colonies, and between 1895 and 1900, 11.5 million kg of coffee had been harvested. Fincas (estates) were erected in the Chiapaneco jungle and given German names such as Hamburgo, Bremen, Lübeck, Agrovia, Bismarck, Prussia and Hanover.

About 6,000 Russian Mennonites, who came originally from Northern Germany and the Netherlands, migrated from Canada to northern Mexico in the 1920s.[9] Today, there are about 95,000 descendants of Mennonites in Mexico, who have preserved the Plautdietsch dialect. By their community's rules, German Mexican Mennonite men are allowed to speak Spanish, while women must only speak German. The most prosperous Mennonite colonies in Mexico lie in the states of Chihuahua (Cuauhtémoc, Swift Current, Manitoba), Durango (Patos (Nuevo Ideal), Nuevo Hamburgo), Zacatecas (La Honda), Aguascalientes and Campeche.

Cultural legacy

Homes in the town of Nueva Alemania resemble the architectural style of northern Germany, and many of this area's settlers came from the cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck. In San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa (Mazatlán) and Veracruz, settlers from Bavaria built structures similar to those found in the Black Forest. The German Cultural Center building in San Luis Potosí is a Bavarian mansion that had been owned by the Baron of Baden-Baden.

The Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery in Monterrey was cofounded by Germans.

Oktoberfest is usually held in several large cities with German-Mexican communities throughout the country, mainly in Mexico City, Chihuahua, and Victoria de Durango. German Mexicans were important in the development of the Mexican cheese and brewing industries.

German roots are particularly notable in Mexican music due to the large numbers of German immigrants in Texas and northern Mexico around the 1830s. The distributors of German-made accordions aggressively marketed the loud, sturdy little "boom boxes" as far back as the late 19th century. Today, various overlapping styles of music that descended in part from German music (notably polka) include tejano, conjunto, Tex-Mex, quebradita, banda, ranchera, and norteño. Such musical styles are especially popular in northern Mexico and in places of the United States where there is a large immigrant population of Mexican heritage.[10]

The brewing industry, in Monterrey, Nuevo León, was developed in part by German immigrants.[11] The influx of German immigrants and the brief Austrian reign (mid-19th century) of Emperor Maximilian, who never traveled anywhere without his two German brew-masters, helped cement the art of brewing as an all-Mexican endeavor.[12] German influence has had a lasting impact on Mexican beers, with brands such as Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Ambar, both deriving from a malty subset of dark lagers known as Vienna-style.

The German-Mexican population is especially prevalent in southern Mexico, particularly the state of Chiapas, where German farmers and industrialists were encouraged to immigrate in the late 1890s. Following collaboration between Otto Von Bismarck and Porfirio Diaz to German colonies were established to develop modern coffee plantations and food processing facilities in the state.[13] German-Mexicans make up a large minority of the population of the soconusco region of Chiapas, where the German population has intermixed with the Maya who make up the majority of the region's population. A study by the Autonomous University of Mexico found that in the municipality of Tapachula and the surrounding Soconusco region that the mixed Mestizo population had a larger concentration of German heritage than Spanish heritage. Many of the original German farms and facilities continue to operate as both ejidos and private ventures.


The Colegio Alemán Alexander von Humboldt in Mexico City was established in 1894, is the largest German school outside Germany.[14]

The Colegio Humboldt Puebla was first established with 10 primary students and a German teacher in 1911,[15] The school is a German international school in Cuautlancingo, Puebla, in Greater Puebla.[14]

The Colegio Alemán Cuauhtémoc Hank was established in 1993, is a German international school in Colonia Hipódromo, Tijuana.[16]

The Colegio Alemán de Guadalajara, is a German international school in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

A small German school was founded in 1917 in Guadalajara as a branch of the Humboldt school. They included in their best kindergarten and elementary school and counted 120 students who were taught by twelve teachers. Mexico's entry into the war in 1942 marked the end of the first German school in Guadalajara. 1979, the school was re-established in the Mexican education system under fully involved.[17] The German language was only taught as a foreign language in addition to the official Mexican teaching program.[18]

Notable German-Mexicans



  • Kat Von D, tattoo artist, Mexican-born to Argentinian parents of Italian-German descent
  • Guillermo Kahlo, German-Mexican photographer
  • Frida Kahlo, Mexican artist and political activist, daughter of Guillermo Kahlo
  • David Lach, Mexican painter of German descent.
  • Pedro Friedeberg, Italian-born Mexican painter to German-Jewish parents.
  • Juan Guzmán, German-born Mexican photojournalist
  • Mathias Goeritz, German-born Mexican painter and sculptor.
  • Olga Costa, Mexican painter of German and Russian descent.
  • Gunther Gerzso, Mexican painter, designer and director and screenwriter of German descent.
  • Bernadette Felber, Austrian-born Mexican photographer of German descent.
  • Wolfgang Paalen, Austrian-born Mexican painter of German descent.
  • Lila Deneken, Mexican singer, entertainer, painter and entrepreneur of German descent.
  • Max Cetto, German-Mexican architect, historian of architecture, and professor of German-born naturalized Mexican
  • Evelyn Hofer, German-born Mexican portrait and documentary photographer.
  • Brigitte Broch, German-born Mexican art director.
  • Jorge Avendaño Lührs, Mexican pianist, composer, songwriter and music producer of German descent.
  • Franz Mayer, German-born Mexican, financier, photographer and collector, and the founder of the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City.
  • Ruth Deutsch Lechuga, Austrian-born Mexican Anthropologist, Writer, Artist of German descent.
  • Rodolfo Halffter, Spaniard-born Mexican composer.
  • Prince Hubertus of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Mexican Alpine skier, photographer, businessman, and a pop singer of German descent.
  • Enrique Diemecke, Mexican conductor, violinist and composer of German descent.
  • Rodolfo Barragán Schwarz, Mexican architect of German descent.
  • Herbert Hofmann Isenbourg, German-born Mexican sculptor.
  • Noel Schajris, Argentine-born Mexican singer-songwriter and pianist of German, Ukrainian and Spanish descent.
  • Alix Bauer, Mexican singer of Ashkenazi Jewish origin.
  • Fannie Kauffman, Canadian-born Mexican actress and comedian of German, Romanian and Russian descent.
  • Mariana Yampolsky, American-born Mexican photographer to Russian Jewish father and German Jewish mother.
File:Vicente Fox WEF 2003 cropped.jpg
Vicente Fox, the 55th President of Mexico is of partial German-American descent.
Enrique Creel, who was of German, American and Amerindian descent was Minister of Foreign Affairs under Porfirio Diaz and was largely responsible for facilitating the mass influx of German investment, industry, and immigration into Mexico.


  • Mauricio Ochmann, Mexican actor of German descent.
  • Dulce María, Mexican singer and actress, great-granddaughter of Guillermo Kahlo
  • Ozzy Lusth, Mexican-born American actor of German descent.
  • Emily Cranz, Mexican American actress, singer, and dancer of German descent.
  • Ingrid Coronado, Mexican television personality of German descent.
  • Sabine Moussier, German-born Mexican telenovela actress.
  • Christian Bach - Argentine-born Mexican actress and producer of telenovelas of German and Italian descent.
  • Sebastián Zurita - Mexican actor, son of Christian Bach of German and Italian descent.
  • Fernando Wagner, German-born Mexican actor and film director.
  • Linda Christian, Mexican movie actress of German, Spanish, Dutch and French.
  • Fernando Schwartz, Mexican sports reporter of German descent.
  • Kuno Becker, Mexican actor of German, Spanish, Basque descent.
  • Alfredo B. Crevenna, German-born Mexican film director and screenwriter.
  • María Elena Marqués, Mexican actress, maternal of German descent.
  • Susana Alexander, Mexican actress, hostess, director, producer, translator, teacher and dancer of German Jewish descent.
  • Sophie Alexander, Mexican actress, niece of Susana Alexander
  • Ona Grauer, Mexican-born Canadian actress of Norwegian, Hungarian and German descent.
  • Laura Harring, Mexican actress and former Miss USA (1985) of German descent.
  • Laura Elizondo, Mexican beauty pageant titleholder who represented Mexico at Miss Universe 2005 of German descent.
  • Nena von Schlebrügge, Mexican fashion model born to German father.
  • Alberich Bormann, Mexican actor and singer of German descent.
  • Vanessa Huppenkothen, Mexican presenter, actress and model to German father.
  • Olivia Molina, Mexican singer to German mother.
  • César Costa, Mexican singer, and actor.
  • Arap Bethke, Kenyan-born Mexican actor to German father and a Chilean mother.
  • Erika Honstein, Mexican beauty pageant titleholder who represented Mexico at Miss World 2003 of German descent.
  • Henner Hofmann, Mexican cinematographer and screenwriter of German descent.
  • Diego Schoening, Mexican singer, actor and television host of German descent.
  • Christopher von Uckermann, Mexican singer-songwriter and actor of German and Swiss descent.
  • Eugenio Siller, Mexican actor, singer, and model of German descent.