Find German restaurants, stores and events in Washington.
Germans in Washington
In the latter part of the 19th century, Germans immigrated in large numbers to Washington state and would make up the second-largest immigrant group in the region. However, unlike most German immigrants in America, the majority actually didn’t come directly from Germany. The German immigrants in Washington state are unique in that many had been living in Russia for the previous century prior to immigrating to America. Although they had been living in Russia for generations, many never lost their language or German cultural identity. The Empress of Russia, Catherine the Great needed these Germans to cultivate acquired Russian land in the late 18th century and therefore gave them many incentives to immigrate to Russia. One of the incentives was that they had the freedom to keep their culture and way of life. However, following 1871, the cultural and religious freedoms and autonomy began to end, which prompted a mass immigration to the Pacific Northwest.
Although many German immigrants in Washington had already lived outside their home country for decades, they were still very much culturally German and would heavily influence the state. One of the most notable places with visible German heritage is Leavenworth, a quaint city that lays directly in the center of Washington. Leavenworth boasts an array of annual traditional Bavarian events, such as Maifest, Oktoberfest and a Christkindlmarkt. However, Leavenworth isn’t the only city in Washington with remaining symbols of German heritage. For over half a century, Odessa has been hosting a Deutschesfest that attracts thousands of visitors annually. From attending a German festival, or joining one of the Vereins (German clubs) that are still in existence today, it is easy to see how German heritage has left its mark on Washington state.