Germans in Switzerland 'suffer prejudice': report

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Malcolm Curtis - [email protected]
Germans in Switzerland 'suffer prejudice': report
Photo: DPA

German expats in Switzerland say they are discriminated against in the workplace, have difficulties finding apartments and suffer prejudice in their everyday lives because of “xenophobia” among Swiss citizens, a new report says.


Drawn by job opportunities, expats from Germany have been crossing the border in large numbers in recent years.

Around 300,000 now live in Switzerland but a study from Vienna University of Economics and Business suggests that many Swiss have a problem with Germans in their country.

The study, conducted with the support of the University of Saint Gallen, shows that many Germans complain of being on the receiving end of insults, discrimination and rejection on a daily basis.

Researchers surveyed 1,000 German expats to find out how they are impacted by Swiss attitudes to people from Germany.

One in five respondents said the rental of an apartment was denied to them because of their nationality, while 15 percent said they were refused jobs on the same basis.

Many of those interviewed said they were unjustly checked by police because of their German origin.

And 85 percent of respondents said they suffered insults or disrespectful behaviour from Swiss, citing the fact they were German as the cause.

One third, meanwhile, said their careers and levels of pay, were adversely affected by their nationality.

“Germans are not always received here with open arms,” Matthias Estermann, president of the Deutsche in der Schweiz association told German media outlet Focus Online.

“I know of a person who was refused a job via email on the grounds that the company explicitly hired no Germans,” Estermann is quoted as saying.

Germans are easily recognized by German-speaking Swiss who use dialect in everyday speech that varies depending on the region they come from but is markedly different from standard German.

The university study said that many German expats adjust their behaviour and even their way of speaking so as not to stand out.

The survey showed that just under half of respondents felt that their "German-ness” was a liability, while 28 percent of respondents said they felt excluded by work colleagues because of their nationality.

Overall, around a third felt unwelcome in Switzerland.

The findings come after Swiss citizens voted in February 2014 to restrict immigration from the European Union.

Germans represent the second largest group of immigrants to Switzerland, following closely behind Italians.


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