We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

How German is Mazatlan?

US
2 posts
How German is Mazatlan?

I’ve read that Mazatlan was founded by Germans, and some people speak German as a second language there. I have a good friend that’s German and she might come with me when I check it out, so we’re kind of intrigued by this.

How many people speak German there? Do the locals look part German? How much of the population has German ancestry? What about German culture?

thanks

Mazatlán, Sin...
Level Contributor
2,514 posts
1. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

I seriously doubt that ANY of the Mexicans here with German heritage actually speak German, since that was nearly 200 years ago and México is famous for totally absorbing an "Mexicanizing" its immigrant population. Even my periodontist, Dr. Karl H. Dolker Frank (both paternal and maternal sides of his family with obvious German heritage) speaks only Spanish and English.

A small hotel up in the mountains east of Mazatán was founded by a German family who came to México to escape the Nazi regime (NOT Jewish folks, but Bavarian I THINK) in the 1930s, and whom I met in the 60s, is now completely integrated, the grandkids don't speak any German, nor do they look any different than any other Mexican. The only German thing left at the family hotel is the menu, and now even that is beginning to include SOME common Mexican dishes.

The only REAL German thing I have seen in Mazatlán in the twelve years I've lived here is that the restrooms in one of the old buildings (now a restaurant/bar) have signs on them saying Herren and Damen and they are obviously very old enameled metal signs.

The only German-Mexicans who DO speak German as a second language are the Mennonite families in Chihuahua and Chiapis, but those are both a long way from here.

Edited: 04 February 2010, 04:00
left coast canada
Level Contributor
493 posts
1 review
2. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

Interesting. I recall an event in my youth, meeting a group of people in central British Columbia, Prince George area. Friends of my mother. It was a lakeside, picnic situation. All the food was Mexican. The explanation was their heritage was mennonite and they had all spent their youth in Mexico avoiding the war. To hear their story they all lived in squalor and near died of starvation. A different time for sure.

Mazatlán, Sin...
Level Contributor
2,514 posts
3. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

Actually, warranpeas, the large majority of the Mennonite population in Chihuahua, Chiapis and Oaxaca are reasonably well-to-do, even those who keep to the "old ways" and live very comfortably in México. They even introduced the cheese now known as Chihuahua cheese, that everyone likes so well.

I knew there were those in Canada who fled to México during the Second World War to avoid conscription, since their religion is truly pacifist and doesn't allow them to fight in ANY army, but I really hadn't read any of that group's history in México. Very interesting, I would think.

México offered asylum to ANYONE fleeing the fascist regimes in Europe (and later in South America) and allowed any and all to come, Jews, Gypsies, Christians, Communists (mostly from Spain), or whomever. A great country, this México of ours!

Edited: 04 February 2010, 04:47
left coast canada
Level Contributor
493 posts
1 review
4. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

Truly interesting, perhaps next time I'm in your store, I'll identify myself and ask you to elucidate a bit more on the topic.

calgary
Level Contributor
1,824 posts
8 reviews
5. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

This is the most interesting thread I have read in a long time. Most of the admittedly short histories I have read about Mazatlan are not very specific about when the wave of German immigration occurred. Sometime in the last half of the nineteenth century it seems. The Germans worked hard to improve the harbor so they could import farm equipment. That was their legacy to the City along with the layout of the Centro area which doesn't follow the typical Spanish plan of streets radiating from a central Cathedral.

Mazatlán, Sin...
Level Contributor
2,514 posts
6. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

The histories vary, cowtown, since Mazatlán was a VERY insignificant place with LOTS of mosquitoes and the harbor wasn't utilized at all and there was NO Spanish presence here except for a tiny, tiny group of soldiers on the top of what is now called Lookout Hill and was then a near island at high tide. They had a cannon and were supposed to keep pirates and English ships from using the harbor, but there is no known record of their ever doing so. The pirates and the English just anchored off what is now called Olas Altas or off the south end of what is now called North beach (where the small fishing boats land now) and filled their water kegs and if lucky bought a few fresh foodstuffs of the tiny settlement of local indigenes and went their merry way.

The tiny garrison of Spanish soldiers who were supposedly garrisoned in Mazatlán, really were, but at that time Mazatán was the name of the town we now call Villa Union, about 25 miles south and well inland from present day Mazatlán.

Since it was so insignificant, few records were ever kept, and I've read supposedly well researched dates for that initial German immigration that vary all the way from 1806 to 1828, but most say it happened in or around 1821 when México finally achieved true independence from Spain after fighting an eleven year war. Either you read something very different or misunderstood, but by the late 19th century, Mazatlán was a thriving place with a nearly fully utilized harbor. We had Germans, French, Americans. Filipinos (Machado, whose name is still on the little Plazuela in el centro historico, was a Filipino that got wealthy here), Chinese and who knows who else here by then and the local indigenes were slowly disappearing as they intermarried with everyone else to found the NEW Mexican majority, the mestizos. The R.C. Church had been pretty well weakened by the 1857 Constitution, but that made little difference to Mazatlán, as the church had hardly had much of a presence here to begin with.(and Sinaloa is still one of the more anti-clerical states in México).

All in all, until after Independence, Mazatlán was a pretty uninteresting place, no matter what the tourism folks would like for you to think, and the reality is that Mazatlán is STILL pretty much of an ignored, provincial, backwater town as far as the rest of México thinks, that's why we love it so much.

Edited: 04 February 2010, 07:49
Quilcene, Washington
Level Contributor
4,693 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

Not very,.

BC Okanagan
Level Contributor
3,045 posts
10 reviews
8. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

gyyl, Welcome to the forum, and thanks so much for introducing this question.

Cowtown, I am with you, this is a VERY interesting subject! I love it! I had been to that German restaurant in the hills 22yrs ago, and loved it. Now I will be looking for other influences around town as I explore.

Mazbook, as always, you are golden! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

BC Okanagan
Level Contributor
3,045 posts
10 reviews
9. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

Just remembered that a friend told me once that that is where the Oompapa in Banda music came from. The German influence.

Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
783 posts
83 reviews
10. Re: How German is Mazatlan?

digginf this topic as well...love the history lesson :)