Since its reunification in 1990, Germany has been the destination of a large number of immigrants from Israel. They chose to settle in a country that is associated with the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, the Holocaust. Furthermore, they were raised in a country in which Holocaust memory and commemoration are major component of group identity. Within this context, the present study uses data from a survey carried out in 2014/2015 among Israeli-Jewish immigrants in Germany (N = 510) to assess their linguistic adjustment in the new country. Incorporating factors of Holocaust memory (noneconomic incentives) into the model of destination-language acquisition (MDLA), I ran similar equations for the three uses of language: speaking, reading and writing. Results from the multivariate analysis suggest that Holocaust memory does not inhibit the immigrants' proficiency in the German language. Accordingly, I adapt the indifference hypothesis, centring on maximizing gains and pleasure, and refute the two competing hypotheses, disruption and heightening. Variables of the MDLA—exposure, efficiency and economic incentives, and, especially, duration in the host country and young age at immigration—are significantly associated with proficiency in German; they were able to explain much of the variation in each of the uses of language. In the Discussion, I venture a proposal as to how fluency in German may help to attenuate intergroup tensions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was carried out in the framework of a larger scientific project on Israeli immigrants in Germany. I wish to thank my collaborators in this project Dani Kranz and Heinz Sünker for letting me utilize some of the data for this paper. The project was supported by a grant from the German‐Israel Foundation for Scientific Research & Development (GIF I‐1186‐46.4/2012).
© 2022 The Authors. Population, Space and Place published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- Holocaust memory
- Israeli Jews
- linguistic adaptation