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Land of opportunity for Southern Europeans? Germany.

German businesses are turning to Spaniards, Greeks, Italians, and others from high-unemployment eurozone countries. But immigrants may find themselves in remote areas – and struggling with the language.


Originally from Salou in Spain, Bruno Fraysse (l.) moved to Berlin six years ago, a time when hearing Spanish in the German capital was rare, he says. Today, he is the owner of Gastón, a Spanish pub in the neighborhood of Neukölln that is thriving in large part because Spaniards are increasingly settling in Berlin in hopes of finding a job.

Tim Loh

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After two days of sightseeing and night clubs around Berlin, Iker Martinez arrives at his German-language school Monday morning to find the steepest cover charge yet.

"For September," he says, forking over 222 euros – about $280.

Moments later in class, he jots down the vocabulary his teacher scribbled on the whiteboard – the German words for "first," "then," "later," and "last." Then, studying a jumble of photos of a factory in his textbook, he racks his brain over how to describe the production best.

"So," the teacher says, regarding Mr. Martinez and his seven classmates, three of whom have also just arrived from southern Europe. "How do you put a car together?"

Martinez can go into depth about that. In July, the 28-year-old mechanical engineer left San Sebastian, Spain, to join the growing wave of young workers fleeing the eurozone’s crisis countries for better prospects in Europe’s largest economy.

In theory, the match-up is a cinch: In Spain and Greece, the unemployment rate is nearly 25 percent, and more than double that for people under 25. The job outlook has also darkened in Portugal, Ireland, and parts of Italy. Meanwhile, large swaths of Germany have companies that are scrambling to fill open engineering and technical positions.


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