I was recently surprised to read in Spiegel Online International that Germany just completed its first census since reunification. Even more surprising was the discovery that Germany has a population of only 80.2 million, 1.5 million less than officials had previously estimated. This gives me a good feeling about the timing of our move back to Berlin. Perhaps the five Swarthouts will help reverse Germany’s population decline, especially if any of our kids spawn the next generation of Swarthouts on German soil.
We do have a new German citizen in the family. It’s my sister Andie who received her Certificate of Naturalization at an informal ceremony in Los Angeles last week. She has no plans to take up residency in Germany though. I think she is still just getting used to the idea of being a German citizen and even feels a bit awkward about it. Although I repeatedly asked her to have someone take her picture at the ceremony, she was opposed to capturing the moment on film, a sure sign that she hasn’t quite embraced this new facet of her identity.
German Jews who return to Germany from the diaspora might not boost the country’s population much, but they could help make up for Germany’s low birthrate of 1.4 children per woman. There’s plenty of economic opportunity in Germany and the immigrant population is actually growing. Immigrants comprise almost one-quarter of Berlin’s population, making the city a comfortable melting pot akin to some American cities. A return to the land of such a dreadful past will not appeal to many, but it may be worth considering for those who are as disillusioned with the American political system as we are.