Mr. Kapoglou and his wife, Katerina, an environmental engineer, are among the few who might dare to return. Although they have little faith in the Greek government, they are betting that they can parlay their engineering experience and international business exposure in Germany into a profitable business.
To capitalize on the interest in tourism around their hometown, Ioannina, which lies in a verdant region in northern Greece, they plan to create a consultancy to draw Russian and Chinese investors for building projects. “We’d like to be part of a brain gain,” Mr. Kapoglou said.
Yet it may take years, or even another generation, before a groundswell follows them.
In their tidy brick apartment complex outside Düsseldorf, Mr. Kakoyiannis and Ms. Rapti settled down after the engineering club meeting and made a Sunday lunch of traditional Greek souvlakia, pita and garlicky tzatziki.
Mr. Kakoyiannis let drop that his mother had been pressing him on when they would return to Greece.
“Go back to what?” he recalled replying. “To no job and no future?”
Sweethearts since they met in university, the couple had put off having children during the Greek crisis. Now, they are planning on having a baby — though not, as their parents wished, back in Greece.
“In Germany, we have hope for the future,” Ms. Rapti said. “And so will our child.”