The Germans in Guatemala 1820-1944

Portada del libro: Los Alemanes en Guatemala 1828-1944 by  Rudy Girón

In case you didn’t know, in Guatemala we had a large influx of Germans for over a century. Regina Wagner, a Guatemalan of German ancestry, takes us through a magical and mystery tour through history in her book Los Alemanes en Guatemala 1828-1944 and she explains how the Germans were brought to Guatemala through government-sponsor campaigns, where they lived and tell us about their trials and tribulations in Chapinlandia. In her book, Regina also describes why the sudden stop occurred in 1944. Los Alemanes en Guatemala 1828-1944 is a great book and it should be in the library of anybody interested in understanding the complexity of Guatemala.

See, the Guatemalanness is complex and the mixtures just gets even richer with each new ingredient. Ha, no wonder we don’t even understand ourselves. 🙁

Did you know about this large German immigration to Guatemala?

© 2011 – 2013, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • Rudy, this is very interesting, I had no idea! Perhaps this would explain some of the very unSpanishlike apellidos (like Monroy). Thank you for the history lesson!

  • dg

    My grandmother had a run in with the wife of a german when she was a child in the 1920’s. Something happened and the woman slapped my gradmother thinking she would get away with it, as she had in the past. My grandmother ran home to her mother, who was a formidable woman. She called her sons and she and her sons went on horseback to the German’s hacienda where they proceeded to shoot out his windows. The German’s wife became a lot more humble after that incident.

  • Begonia

    I would love to read that book!

    My suegra’s last name is German in origin, but you wouldn’t guess it by looking at her. She is from a tiny village in San Marcos. As far as I can gather, her grandfather was a German who settled in San Marcos and apparently married a local woman. Things did not go well for his descendents, though…my suegra’s father killed himself by throwing himself off a peña.

  • sheila

    My grandmother told me that there was a German count in our family background. And ofcourse we all know about some of the German foods that influenced our cuisine.

  • Eric

    I knew about a large influx of Germans into Latinamerica en general, but didn’t realize the extent of their presence in Guate. Que interesante !
    Maybe there is a place in Guatemala for a ‘mutt’ like me ? 😀

  • rworange

    I have the book noted to buy as soon as I get near a city with a bookstore (The joy of living in Escuintla).

    As you know, I got interested in the German influence through the German food that appears on menus and in stores … schnitzel is almost as ubiquitous as chow mein, showing up at restaurants that have not one other thing to do with German food, like Gaia or La Escudilla,

    There are the the nearby influences such as Austrian Swiss, etc that show up at such diverse places as La Antigua Vineria which has geschnetzeltes and goulash (another common dish), Chez Christophe has Swiss bread and its Monday night Swiss rachellete (excellent), Todo Baru with its Dutch croquettes, Weiner with its kaiserschmarm (Austrian pancakes).

    I’m guessing the Germans have something to do with zeplins and all those whipped cream cakes.

    Of course, the Germans started up the coffee plantations to wash it all down.

    Then there are lots of German restaurants such as Jardin Bavaria which has its roast suckling pig Saturdays (the next one is Sat Feb 26th).

    Anyway, thanks for the reccomendation on the book. I’m looking forward to buying it.

    • @rworange, I am afraid you might not be able to buy such book. Often these books are rare finds with tiny printings 300 to 500 books. 🙁

  • i was able to purchase this book in the US at http://www.piedrasanta.com/tienda2.asp?step=3&id=1086&catid=850

    the store is located in Guatemala but they ship books to affiliated bookstores in the states so you don’t have to pay really expensive shipping rates.

    my great-grandfather went to Guatemala in the early 1900’s from Munich but my family has been living in the US since the late 1970’s.

  • Jersey Girl

    This is so interesting. I am a German-American and my daughter is Guatemalan. I come to this site to learn more about Guatemala and I do learn a lot here. I have noticed the German influence (especially in the foods) and German names and wondered, now this clears it up.
    I also saw a TV show that traces the roots of famous people here in the States where in the 1700s Germans from one area of Germany were given land in the US to settle in areas west of the colonies. So this sounds like the same thing. A very large population of Germans came over to the US during that time.

  • Doris

    Thanks for this. My mom’s side of the family have always claimed that their grandmother or my great grandmother was German. Which I guess explains all the blue, green,and gray eyes in my mom’s side of the family. My mom says she hardly knew this German Grandmother of hers but everyone always said she was German and I always thought Lol really. I guess this book could explain some things! lol

  • Tom L.

    Si pues. The first Guatemalan I ever met (it was here in the U.S.) was named Otto. That struck me as rather curious, and he explained that he was named after a grandfather from Deutschland. Interestingly enough, the second Guatemalan I met (again in the U.S.) had an Italian first name, and a Chinese surname! Being a New Yorker of dual immigrant ancestry, this of course is normal to me.

  • A. Roman

    I wonder if there’s a place in Guatemala where you can trace your family and your ancestors like in the U.S. but I doubt that they keep records.
    (This is very interesting though, I’ve always been fascinated by this)

  • C Linares

    I am currently working on my German-Guatemalan ancestry on my father’s mother’s side the Gunthers. Who also owned a coffee plantation. And it has not been easy finding any kind of information on them. I was told about the author and her book by my cousin who happens to live in Guate. And knows her personally. On one of his trips to San Francisco he brought with him one of her books as a gift for me. It has been a very interesting read.

  • Egon Westerhausen

    Regina your book is really a good one . My grand father was a German living in Guatemala until Jan 05 1942 . In your book I could find valuable
    information , and I could understand many things.
    Thanks,
    Egon Westerhausen – El Salvador

  • Douglas Butz

    I was told my Great Grandfather owned a coffee plantation in Guatemala, this information helps confirm how he would have been involved in such an enterprise.  I’ve looked up the book on Amazon but it is not available. If anybody knows where I may be able to obtain it, please let me know. Thx.

    Douglas Butz
    Salt Lake City, Utah USA
    dougbutz@gmail.com

  • Aaroncarrillo84

    i love this book because im from guatemala but my ancesters
    are from germany..

  • Jose

    Growing up in Guatemala we all had friends or would see blond or white Guatemalans all the time -spaniards, italians, etc- and we mistakenly called them gringuitos -US people- Now in retrospect I can remember some last names from classmates to business names such as Stahl, Bayer, Boechman, Schoenfeldt, Altenbach, Mayer, Erlich, etc. It all makes a lot of sense now. Plus the Mixtas, a Guatemalan dish consisting of Salchichas -Sausages and guacamole on tortillas- and of course, Gallo Lager Ale. Enough said. Felicidades a los Chapines Alemanes!!

  • Rob

    I am trying to find my German relatives who migrated to Guatemala. My great great grandmothers name is Sofia, or Sophia.

  • Sandy

    This is interesting. My great grandfather was German. All of my grandparents from my mother’s side are often confused with a Caucasian of some type. From my father’s side people often confuse them as Koreans, because my great-great grandfather was Chinese and my grandfather from my father’s side is of Spanish descent. All in all, I’m often confused with Hawaiian. I burn super easily, tan a day after, but I’m normally pale, this confused me so much because I am Guatemalan, but a huge huge mix. No one can tell where I’m from.

  • Jose Byron Gonzalez

    I did. As a matter of fact, until WW2, Germany was Guatemala’s largest and most influential trading partner. The first intelligence to come to the allies from Germany after the start of hostilities was from a Guatemalan married to a German lady, his name lost to history. To this day, it cracks me up to hear my friends (whose maternal surname is Klee) claim to be “German” though they don’t speak a lick of the language, much less know much about Germany itself. My girlfriend claims her great-grandmother’s last name was Weiss and therefore, that makes her “German” as well. It’s cute. At least she speaks some German. It also points to the dark side of Guatemala and its racism.

    • This is great additional information for this post, José Byron, thanks for enhancing the entry with interesting feedback.

  • Oscar

    Yes, I actually did since my family is part German and other euro mixtures living in Guatemala.