Wednesday, May 19, 1993

Germany Needs a Working Multiculturalism: Guest Workers and Anti-Foreigner Violence

In recent years, several world developments have renewed the debate within united Germany over the need for social policies designed to recognize and cope with the multicultural nature of 1990's German society. The fall of the Iron Curtain and German re-unification have spurred new waves of refugee migrations from Eastern Europe to all parts of united Germany. Germany's political asylum law has long been the most liberal in the industrialized world, and in the last ten years has dealt with an ever accelerating influx of asylum seekers, mostly from war-torn and Third World nations.

However, Germany's post-war transformation from a relatively homogeneous society to a multicultural one is primarily the result of a third factor, namely, West Germany's post-war recruitment of foreign workers. This recruitment dates back nearly forty years, to the mid-1950s. It is similar to the importation of foreign laborers that has characterized other Western European nations in post-war years, which has in turn made the need to deal with multiculturalism a pan-European policy dilemma. As the largest nation in Europe, however, Germany has always needed the largest numbers of foreign workers. Knowledge of the dimensions of this gasterbeiter, or "guestworker" recruitment is central to an objective understanding of the obstacles to achieving true multiculturalism in 1990s Germany.

After World War II, West Germany's economy was in shambles. War destruction had caused vast social and economic upheaval, resulting in mass unemployment. The 8.5 million refugees from Germany's lost eastern territories in Poland and the Soviet Union added to the labor surplus. Economic recovery speeded up after the 1948 currency reform, however, and most refugees and unemployed Germans were rapidly absorbed into the labor force. For most of the fifties, an additional labor supply was provided by the 3.5 million refugees fleeing communism in the German Democratic Republic. This migrant flow from East to West Germany effectively dried up after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

The war years had created a scarcity of those German citizens most suited to assist in rebuilding, men aged 20-50. Even twelve million refugees from the East did not provide enough labor to meet the needs of West Germany's rapidly expanding economy. As it began the period of explosive rebirth popularly known as the "economic miracle," in the late 1950's, severe labor shortages were being felt in West Germany.

To these ends, the German government concluded its first agreement on the recruitment of foreign workers with Italy, on December 20, 1955.1 These first such workers were envisioned as a seasonal labor force which could be employed in agriculture and building. But "the recruitment system proved equally suitable for the provision of permanent workers for industry."2 Additional agreements were signed with Spain and Greece (1960), Turkey (1961), Morocco (1963), Portugal (1964), Tunisia (1965), and Yugoslavia (1968).3

The twelve million refugees who came to West Germany in the forties and fifties had been ethnic Germans, for the most part, along with some Poles and Slavs coming from East Germany and Poland, "where Germanic and Slavic traditions tended to intermingle."4 These new foreign workers were from the Mediterranean countries of Southern Europe and Northern Africa, regions sharing entirely different languages and cultures.

Germany had a history dating from the late nineteenth century of importing labor from Southern and Eastern Europe; in 1914, it was estimated that there were 1.2 million such foreign workers in Germany.5 Yet it had been a land of homogeneous cultural traditions for centuries, indeed, one where policies promoting ethnic purity were carried to hideous extremes by the Third Reich. Earlier migrations of foreign labor were reversed by the upheaval of both World Wars. West Germany thus opened its postwar doors to a previously unknown influx of diversity.

The number of foreign workers in the FRG stood at approximately 10,000 in 1954.6 By 1956, this number had increased to 95,000; it had reached 507,000 by June 1961.7 In the early sixties the foreign labor force soon reached the million mark, and by 1966 there were 1.3 million foreign workers.8 Some 400,000 workers returned home during the 1966-67 recession, leaving 904,000 employed as of January, 1968.9 Then economic recovery brought a new wave of immigration, more rapid than ever. By 1972 there were over 2.3 million foreign workers in West Germany.10

In November, 1973, the Federal Government suddenly issued the Auslanderstopp, an administrative order banning all further immigration of workers from non-EEC countries. This ban on foreign worker recruitment was supposedly imposed in anticipation of the falling demand for labor due to the oil crisis unfolding at that time.

"The real underlying reasons were the growing trend to export labor-intensive production processes to low-wage countries in the Third World, and the changes in production processes beginning to result from the introduction of microcomputers. Other factors involved were the costs and tensions caused by the growing social infrastructure requirements for foreign workers' families, and fears of political conflicts resulting from the leading part played by foreign workers in the strike wave of the summer of 1973."11

The number of foreign workers in Germany peaked in 1973 at 2.6 million.12 During the 1973-75 recession, over 500,000 again returned home.13 Throughout the late seventies, as the Auslanderstopp remained in effect, the foreign worker population stabilized somewhat, bottoming out at 1.9 million in mid-1978.14 It rose to just over 2 million in 1980, and declined to less than 1.7 million in 1983.15

These figures, however, only reflect the number of employed foreign migrants in Germany. The total foreign population, including families and dependents of foreign workers, has always been much higher. It was estimated at 3.5 million in 1972,16 leveled off at 4 million in the late seventies, and increased steadily to 4.7 million by 1988 due to higher birth rates among migrants than ethnic Germans.17

Nearly all foreign workers were recruited through the West German Federal Labor Office, under strict government control. This meant the "foreign labor force in Germany was always the most tightly controlled, organized, and supervised of all the European countries."18 Thus, the national policies regulating their existence in the FRG were at first uniform and clear in purpose. They regarded the entry of foreign workers, almost all of them males, as only a temporary phenomenon.

These policies were organized under two main assumptions. First, that the total foreign workforce would fluctuate in accordance with expanding or contracting West German economic cycles (a concept popularly referred to as Konjunkturpuffer), and secondly, that individual workers would work for a few years, save money, then return to their countries of origin (ostensibly to go into business using their savings accumulated while working in the FRG). Towards these ends, barracks-like accommodations were provided for workers by the industries employing them, labor contracts were limited to one or two years (although renewable), "entry of (workers') wives and dependent children was prohibited, and workers' rights were severely limited."19

Thus, the government's overall stated policy when labor recruitment first began in the 1950's was that West Germany was not to become a country of permanent immigration. In one form or another, this declaration has guided German social policies dealing with foreign workers ever since. Even the German term for its foreign workers, gasterbeiter, or "guestworkers," implies this. Yet over time, it has become clear that although meant to be temporary, permanent immigration by foreign workers to Germany has in fact occurred.

A trend towards family re-unification for foreign workers living in West Germany began after the recession of 1966-67.

"By the mid-1960's labor demand was soaring throughout Western Europe. Regulations were relaxed to attract foreign workers and increase their flexibility and mobility. It became easier for a worker to bring dependents to West Germany after a certain period. At the same time, many families found their own way of re-uniting by getting the second partner recruited as a worker and bringing in children as 'tourists'."20

Some of these policy changes included an abandonment of the government's earlier foreign worker rotation policy, which initially served as strong encouragement for workers to return home after only a few years labor in the FRG. This was done in the face of pressure from German industries to allow trained foreign labor to continue working in their factories, and thus cut down on costs associated with rapid labor turnover and retraining.

The 1973 ban on further foreign worker recruitment and the 1973-75 recession helped to stabilize the total foreign population of West Germany, not reduce it. More than 500,000 workers returned home during this period, but they were largely replaced by the wives and children of the workers who remained. "Many workers who would previously have remained only a few years and then returned to their country of origin decided to remain, for the chance of a second migration in case of business failure at home was now blocked."21

Another piece of ill-conceived legislation reinforced this trend towards family re-unification in the mid-1970's.

"The SPD-FDP Government's tax reform, which came into force on 1 January 1975, granted considerable increases in child benefits. However, these were not to be paid to foreign workers whose children remained in the country of origin. This group was to receive only the scale of benefits they would be entitled to in those countries, which meant little or nothing. Despite protests from trade unions and foreign workers' organizations, the Government remained firm, hoping to save about DM 1000m per year. The predictable result was that many children who had previously been looked after by grandparents in Turkey, Yugoslavia, etc., were now brought to West Germany. Sometimes the grandparents came too."22

The overall West German population in 1984 was approximately 61.4 million; the foreign population in that year was 4.4 million, or 7.2 percent of the total.23 Due to the discrepancies in birth rates between migrant and native West Germans, in 1982 the children of foreign workers accounted for 12% of all births in the FRG.24 The largest single group of foreign residents in Germany are Turks, who in 1986 made up 30% (1.4 million) of the 4.5 million total foreign population. Of the remainder, there were 600,000 Yugoslavs, 530,000 Italians, 280,000 Greeks, 160,000 Spaniards, and 1.4 million additional foreign citizens of other countries.25

In light of its historical traditions of cultural homogeneity, how has Germany as a society reacted to this large scale influx of foreigners? "Although the relatively high (German) standard of living and protective labor and social welfare systems have kept foreigners from becoming a true underclass, few have become citizens and most are effectively isolated from the mainstream of German social and political life."26 A number of factors have prevented the harmonious integration of guestworkers and their families into all aspects of German culture. Some of these factors are ones unique to the social and political realities of life in Germany, others are more universal and correspond to the problems experienced by immigrants trying to adjust to new lives elsewhere around the world. All of them, however, represent obstacles to the development of a truly multicultural German society.

The term "multiculturalism" itself is one that has developed over the past few decades as formerly homogeneous societies throughout the industrialized world have experienced foreign immigration similar to what has occurred in Germany. As a country of classical immigration, one whose national policies have in fact encouraged immigration for two centuries, the United States has long been a multicultural society. Yet the notion of cultural pluralism that exists in the United States is fundamentally assimilationist. The notion of American society as a "melting pot" means that ethnic and national groups are expected to live together under one political union, maintaining a respect for the diversity of others, but sharing a common American culture that over time, immigrants tend to adopt to the exclusion of some formerly held cultural traditions.

While interpretation varies as to what constitutes an ideal multiculturalism, it is generally accepted that it is a vision of multi-ethnic and multi-racial society organized along less assimilationist lines than the melting pot model. Under multiculturalism, more emphasis is placed on maintaining the cultural diversity which exists between different ethnic groups, indeed celebrating these differences, although not losing sight of the need for some form of common national culture.

The fact that Germany as a society was an ethnic, cultural, and linguistic union long before coming together in political union thus becomes an important reality to keep in mind. For most of history, parts of Western Europe where identifiable "German" culture exists have been politically fragmented. In modern times, they were unified only from 1871 to 1945.

"In the 18th and early 19th century, political fragmentation led Germans to think of their nation not as a political unit but as one sharing cultural and linguistic ties. This traditional ethno-cultural conception of nationhood remains alive today, reinforced by the postwar division of Germany."27

Clearly, such a conception of nationhood poses problems for the existence of minority groups within German society who share non-German cultural traditions.

There has been a long running debate as to whether there are structural flaws in Germany's national character that make German society particularly inhospitable for the development of a harmonious multiculturalism. This debate is largely a result of the long historical shadow cast by the Nazi regime and its policies of enforced ethnic purity.

The question often posed by outside observers is one dealing with perceived flaws in the German psyche that may have facilitated Hitler's rise to power. In face of the explosion of anti-foreigner violence in Germany since re-unification, this question has taken on new currency around the world.

But a more salient question is whether there are such structural flaws in the nature of German society itself, in the socio-political culture of Germany, which may themselves be the root causes of broader social intolerance. One such set of structural flaws was suggested by Ralf Dahrendorf, a West German political scientist and the author of Society and_Democracy in Germany, published in 1967. His theories concerned the nature of German political culture, and have been very influential with regard to subsequent analysis of German political developments. His work attracted much public attention and debate in the mid-1960's. This notoriety even propelled Dahrendorf into a short political career.

Part of Dahrendorf's analysis of German society revealed an already evident German lack of concern for the basic rights of foreign workers ("The country that while it calls them 'guests', only tolerates them from six o'clock in the morning to four in the afternoon."28). His central question in Society and Democracy in Germany was why German society and political culture seemed so resistant to the "normal" principles of Western democracy - why such aberrant political forms as national socialism were ever even tolerated, and why, even in 1965, "so few in Germany embraced the principle of liberal democracy."29 Dahrendorf proposed three theses as partial explanations for this phenomenon, all of which suggest obstacles to the development of a working multiculturalism in Germany.

His first thesis was that "there has never been a consensual and moderate definition of democracy in Germany and that some versions have been decidedly immoderate."30 In Dahrendorf's eyes, the effect has been to legitimize a German popular view of democracy in its original sense, with emphasis on direct rule by the people, not on the safeguarding of individual liberties against arbitrary rule. Such a view "actually sanctions arbitrary rule and relentless force if they are coupled with popular rule,"31 or popular sentiment.

With regard to German attitudes towards the rights of non-citizen residents, this view could easily justify support for policies that discriminate against foreign residents, discourage their permanent settlement in Germany, or encourage their repatriation, as long as a majority of German citizens are uncomfortable with their presence. This conception of democracy also could provide justification for individual or mob actions (i.e., anti-foreigner violence) taken to achieve popularly supported social objectives when the government is unwilling to take the lead. As non-citizens, of course, foreign residents lack voting rights, and thus have no say in defining what such popularly supported social objectives will be.

Dahrendorf's second thesis was actually a collary of the first, in that "the actual institutions charged with enforcing democratic principles could only be as effective as the commitment that originally created them."32 If social institutions are motivated by a commitment to mob rule as expressed through public sentiment, as opposed to the individual safeguarding of liberties, they will not protect the interests of individuals and minorities as social institutions in a truly pluralistic society should.

His final thesis was that "Germans lack a commitment to public virtues or to being political at all, and on top of that, they lack important private virtues as well."33 One of the most salient virtues Dahrendorf was referring to, relevant to both public and private spheres, was tolerance of others and respect for differing opinions. Lack of such a popular commitment to acceptance of diversity would clearly impede the integration of minorities into German society.

Dahrendorf's assessment of the apolitical nature of West German society was perhaps more accurate in the 1950s and 1960s than in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The rise of the citizen initiative movement, increasingly competitive local and national elections, even German willingness to display public indicators of their political support such as buttons and bumper stickers - all are indicators of change. German public opinion polls conducted by the Allensbach Institute over the past forty years support the conclusion that levels of such "public virtues" as political interest and participation have been steadily increasing. The number of West Germans who identified themselves as "interested in politics" increased from only 27% in 1952 to 46% in 1972, and reached 57% by 1983.34

Simultaneously, increases have been noted in the willingness of West Germans to recognize tolerance of others as an important virtue. The number of West German parents who said it was important for children to learn "respect for differing opinions/tolerance" at home increased from 59% in 1967 to 72% in 1983.35 However, public opinion data over the past several decades has also consistently revealed that "when direct questions about the rights and privileges of guestworkers are asked, Germans seem quite unwilling to stretch their imaginations or tolerance much to accommodate ethnic and racial differences."36 Polling conducted in 1966 by the Institute for Applied Social Science revealed that approximately two-thirds of West Germans would like employment of foreign workers to cease. In the same study:

"Foreign workers were attributed with a number of negative characteristics which served as rationalizations for hostile attitudes towards them. 66% of skilled and 64% of semi- and unskilled workers thought that foreign workers chased German women and girls. The figure for the middle class was 47%. 50% of skilled and 41% of other workers were of the opinion that foreign workers were always starting fights, as did 34% of middle-class respondents."37

In 1986, polls similarly estimated that 70% of West Germans felt the number of foreign workers in the FRG should be reduced.38

Another of the possible structural flaws in German society which would tend to encourage social intolerance may be its relatively authoritarian nature. A society need not be ruled by a political dictatorship to be considered authoritarian in nature, although during Germany's political development before 1945, liberal democracy was the exception, not the rule. A continuing authoritarian tradition has been ascribed to the form of "chancellor democracy" which developed under Adenauer and has continued to characterize German national political life during relatively long periods of party rule overseen by Schmidt and Kohl.

The generally accepted thesis is that authoritarian societies are breeding grounds for prejudice. "In The_Authoritarian Personality study, Adorno et al. found a direct correlation between the degree to which a person was authoritarian and the extent to which he was prejudiced against minority groups."39 In a society where conformity is encouraged, if not demanded, i.e., one which is authoritarian in nature, those who are different from the majority will be viewed negatively.

"On this very general level, one reason why there is prejudice against immigrants is simply that they are different. They appear to be thumbing their noses at the rest of society because they have not accepted the norms and values to which the majority of the receiving population have had to submit. The fact that the newcomer has gone through a different - but probably equally painful socialization process in a different society is either unknown or regarded as irrelevant, for the conformist is concerned only with acceptance of his own group's beliefs and patterns of behavior."40

However, conformity as a social value in Germany may have decreased in importance over the past four decades. The number of West German parents who said it was important for children to learn the value of conformity at home ("to fit in/adjust") decreased from 61% in 1967 to 46% in 1983.41

Obstacles to integration also may be traced to the role of foreign workers in Germany's economic system. The gulf between ethnic Germans and foreign workers was widened and economically institutionalized to some extent by the continued development of West Germany's economy in the late 1960's and 1970's. This development resulted in a primary shift from manufacturing to service-based employment, which opened up a vast number of white collar or service oriented jobs for skilled, educated German citizens, while simultaneously "creating a permanent need for workers in the lower occupational strata."42

From a left-wing or socialist perspective, foreign workers can be seen as having served two main functions over nearly four decades of employment in West Germany's developed capitalist economy. First, they have formed an economic underclass, a labor reserve army occupying the lowest occupational strata whose very existence has greatly increased the labor supply and kept wages down, helping to keep employer profits up. Secondly, they have helped to divide the labor movement by making it possible for racist and nationalist sentiments to come between workers who would otherwise find it easier to unite on class-based grounds.43

The recruitment of foreign workers was commenced to alleviate post-1955 labor shortages in West Germany which were somewhat unavoidable, due to the large numbers of working age males killed in World War II. Once in Germany, however, they became "competitors with ethnic Germans for jobs, housing, and scarce social facilities."44 This trend intensified after family re-unifications accelerated in the late 1960's, and workers began moving out of the company barracks formerly used exclusively to house them. Fear and resentment of economic competition became an important factor in ethnic German working class hostility towards foreign residents.

Such hostility was also fueled by the tendency of German industries in the early years of foreign worker recruitment to lay off older German workers rather than younger foreign workers when tough times hit, particularly in the recessions of 1966-67 and 1973-75. Due to their lack of industrial experience, youthful strength, and willingness to work hard for the short duration of their labor contracts, foreign workers contributed more towards employer profits. Foreign workers' high productivities also helped drive piece-work rates down in most factories, to the detriment of all workers and the continuing resentment of ethnic Germans.

There is much evidence of splits in the German labor movement caused by racial and nationalist divisions between workers. Primarily, it can be found in the main German unions' continual failures over several decades to lead fights towards the securing of foreign workers' rights.

Structural flaws in the nature of Germany's political culture and economic structure may exist, but they are difficult to quantify and for the most part perhaps so ingrained and systemic as to be almost impossible to alter. Many more tangible obstacles to the eventual integration of foreign residents into German society exist, some more intractable than others, but overall, ones which enlightened public policies could help to remedy.

One of the most important such obstacles is the number of flaws inherent in German immigration law. Official German policy towards immigration of non-ethnic Germans has remained unchanged for decades - it has been that Germany is "not a country of immigrants." The reality is that permanent immigration to Germany by non-ethnic Germans has in fact occurred. Some foreign workers and their families have by now been resident in Germany for three generations. By the early 1980's, it was estimated that 75% of all guestworkers had been in Germany for more than ten years.45

In light of this, Germany's citizenship laws are far too strict. Granting German citizenship to foreign workers, even those who have been in the country for thirty years or more, is done as a matter of extreme exception, not rule.

"From 1973 to 1984, the number of annual naturalizations rose from about 19,000 to 38,000. Most of these naturalizations, however, were accorded to specific categories of ethnic Germans holding a legal right to be naturalized."46

Ethnic Germans from Eastern European countries have a right to German naturalization. The majority of such reside in Romania, Poland, and the Soviet Union. They are legally considered as "ethnic German refugees" or "expelled persons," standards based on ethnic heritage or residence in territories east of the Oder-Neisse line which were part of the German Reich as it existed on December 31, 1937.

Save for a "few other categories that account for a mere heandful of naturalizations"47, all other foreign residents have no legal right to naturalization. They can be granted citizenship only through discretionary grants. Of the 38,000 total German naturalizations in 1984, only 14,695 such grants were given to foreign workers - the remaining 23,351 naturalizations involved ethnic Germans.48 In 1985, only 13,894 foreign workers were granted citizenship, including 4,813 who were married to a German spouse and thus face a less restrictive application process.49

Guidelines established in 1977 list several conditions for successful German naturalization. These include a permanent residence within Germany and means of existence (besides state welfare payments), mastery of the German language both written and spoken, knowledge of the German political system and loyalty to the principles of democracy, and "irreprochable conduct in Germany for at least ten years, defined more widely than just the absence of offences against the criminal law."50 Ten years' residence in Germany has long the minimum rule of thumb for naturalization applications. Other factors worth mentioning are that:

"naturalization bureaucratic procedures are inhibiting...the applicant has to bring about 20 documents and pay a fee of between DM100 and DM5,000 depending on income. The general rule for the fee is three-quarters of one month's salary."51

Between fifteen and twenty percent of all naturalization applications are withdrawn or denied, according to 1984 figures from Berlin and Hamburg, the only German Lander to have published such data.52

The figures for 1985 represent only five-tenths of one percent of the estimated 2.6 million foreigners residing in Germany for more than ten years at that time.

"Considering only persons having lived ten or more years in the FRG, one out of every 200 Yugoslavs was naturalizeed by discretionary grant in 1985, one out of every 500 Greeks, and only one out of every 600 Turks."53

Germany's rates of foreign worker naturalization over the past two decades have remained the lowest of any country in Europe. In 1980, the acquisition of citizenship rate for foreign workers in France was 3.4% (120,000), in the Netherlands, 5.0% (20,800), and in Switzerland, 2.0% (18,100). The rate for Sweden in 1984 was 5.59% (21,844), and for Great Britain in 1986, 2.64% (45,872).54

Citizenship is not even automatically provided to the children of foreign workers who are born in Germany (or even to their grandchildren), as it is to the children of immigrant parents who are born in Great Britain and the United States. This principle is known as jus soli, and it is also dominant in France and the Netherlands. The higher rates of citizenship acquisition in these countries reflect this, but Germany's rate is still low even in comparison to rates in Sweden and Switzerland, where there is also no right to jus soli citizenship.

The results are twofold. One, foreign-born migrants are currently denied the basic rights of German citizenship such as freedom from discrimination in employment and housing, and voting rights. Citizenship would guarantee the rights of foreign residents who have a legitimate claim to permanent German citizenship by putting the power of the German state behind them. Particularly with regard to the extension of voting rights, citizenship would very tangibly integrate them into the life of the nation by giving them political power.

Over the past four decades, only gradual, very limited steps have been taken towards the extension of voting and other political rights to foreign workers. In 1953, foreign residents were granted the right to take part in assemblies and demonstrations. In 1964, they were also given the right to establish their own associations, but it was not until 1967 that membership of political parties was allowed. However, all parties were free to decide whether they wanted to admit foreign citizens. Furthermore, this step can be seen largely as an empty one, since foreign residents continued to be prohibited from taking part in nominating candidates for public elections, even within political parties. The majority of any political party's members are required to be citizens; separate foreigners' parties are not allowed.55

Only in recent years have foreign residents been granted the right to vote in scattered local council elections.

"In 1989 in Hamburg, EC citizens residing in the country for more than eight years were allowed to participate in the relatively unimportant neighborhood council elections. In the same year in Schleswig-Holstein, immigrants from Denmark, Eire, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland were allowed to take part in local elections."56

Extension of the franchise to long-settled foreign workers is one of the most important benefits that expansion of citizenship rights could have. The foreign resident vote could surely help to offset the votes of the more xenophobic, racist elements of German society who could be expected to back anti-immigrant political movements.

Secondly, the very fact that so many foreign-born migrants still lack German citizenship and are thus somewhat unintegrated into German society means that their ultimate fate remains in limbo. It holds out the possibility of an eventual mass repatriation decreed by government policy, and thus the possibility of neo-nazi political success by the far right-wing German political parties who would advocate such policies. As long as the question of the foreign workers' ultimate fate is unresolved, this scenario remains an all too plausible and dangerous one.

To be sure, changes in immigration law alone will not solve the problem of foreign worker integration. Other, more intractable obstacles to a workable multiculturalism in Germany include the failure of successive German governments over thirty years to establish effective social policies which would have facilitated a greater assimilation of guestworkers.

"By 1966 there were 1.3 million immigrant workers in West Germany, not counting their dependents. But the government continued to emphasize that immigration was not a permanent factor for Germany, in order to avoid making the social expenditure - on housing, schools, health facilities - which was already necessary."57

It was not until 1975 that the federal government began to establish integration programs for foreign workers, including language and vocational training).58

A major commission on the status of foreign residents in Germany issued its report to the government in 1979.59 This report included measures for recognizing and dealing with the permanent nature of foreign worker settlement such as a program of speeded up naturalizations. The weakened SPD coalition in power at the time delayed action on such recommendations. In 1983, the newly elected conservative government of Chancellor Kohl took a markedly different tack:

"An 'assisted return' program was initiated, under which foreigners who chose to participate were paid DM 10,000 plus their accrued social security contributions, with an additional DM 1,500 for each child, to return to their homelands. During the year long period of this program, the number of foreigners who left Germany was 216,000 more than the number who entered, lowering the percentage of foreigners from 7.5% to 7.1% of the population."60

This policy, choosing repatriation of foreign workers over integration, typifies the contradictory nature of three decades of German social policy dealing with migration.

An almost identical policy was instituted in 1991 in order to speed the repatriation of over 60,000 Vietnamese citizens who were recruited by East Germany as foreign workers. In September, 1992, a similar policy was announced by the German government with regard to the repatriation of ethnic Romanian Gypsies, who have come to Germany as asylum seekers.61

For years, there was a corresponding lack of uniform procedures for integrating the children of guestworkers into the German educational system. As a result, it was all but assured that each successive wave of guestworker children arriving in Germany in the 1960's and 1970's would not receive the education needed to properly function in German society. "In the mid-1960's, when foreign children began to arrrive in Germany, the educational system was not prepared to handle this influx."62

Most German states devised only limited educational policies to deal with foreign children, assuming that only their temporary integration was needed. This lack of an initial commitment to education of foreign children encouraged the illegal employment of such children. "After the death of two ten year-old children in the mines in 1970, West German authorities found 97,800 children working illegally."63

It was not until 1971 that the Standing Conference of State Ministers of Education issued comprehensive national recommendations, calling for the integration of foreign children into the age-appropriate grades in German schools. Throughout the 1970s, however, three separate approaches to the education of foreign children were in fact adopted by different states: integration of foreign children into regular German classes (Berlin), motivation of return migration, i.e., placement of foreign children in national language/cultural schools (Baden-Wuttemberg), and simultaneous preparation for integration into German society and re-integration into countries of origin (Northrhine-Westphalia).64

Such contradictory approaches often endured policy trials, discontinuations, and re-adoptions within individual states, to the ultimate detriment of the foreign children within the educational system during these years. It is little wonder that by the early eighties, 54% of all foreign children failed to graduate from the upper levels of German elementary school (Hauptschule), the U.S. equivalent of the ninth grade. In 1982, only 14.4% of all foreign children in school attended some type of secondary school (Realschule, Gymnasium, or Gesamtschule), compared with 42.8% of ethnic German children.65

The effects of this mis-education of a generation are being felt today. "Despite hastily developed vocational training programs, a 1981 report claimed that 80 percent of guestworker children were unprepared for German employment."66 The children of foreign workers who were the victims of non-existent or contradictory education policies during the late 1960s and 1970s for the most part have been resigned to lifetimes of low education levels and unemployment or employment in unskilled, menial work, with no hope of career advancement. School attendance rates for foreign children have risen in the 1980s, but the damage to children of previous decades remains done.

A surge of anti-foreigner violence has occurred since German re-unification. As of December, 1992, the number of violent attacks on foreigners for the year had reached 2,003. This compares with 1500 in 1991 and only 130 in all of 1990.67 Some of this can be attributed to the social uncertainties and upheaval which have followed in the wake of reunification, uncertainties that Federal Republic politicians did little to prepare German citizens for. Blame for this falls particularly on Helmut Kohl's ruling CDU/CSU-FDP coalition, who repeatedly promised voters that re-unification could occur without the need for higher taxes or other undue sacrifice.

The fall of the Iron Curtain and German re-unification have resulted in vast influxes of refugees and asylum seekers into Germany, most from other parts of Eastern Europe. War in the former Yugoslavia has also sent additional torrents of refugees streaming into Germany. Asylum applications have increased almost exponentially: 121,318 in 1989; 193,063 in 1990; 256,112 in 1991, and approximately 500,000 during all of 1992.68 This already substantial social dislocation has been further complicated by the flow of former East Germans who have migrated to Western Lander since 1989, estimated at over one million.69

Although much of the recent anti-foreigner violence has been in response to these new influxes of refugees and outsiders, long-settled foreign workers have also been targeted. The November 23, 1992 firebombing of a multi-family Turkish dwelling and subsequent deaths of three Turkish residents in Molln, a town of 17,500 in Schleswig-Holstein, has been the most well publicized such attack to date.70

Incidents of violence against foreign workers are not new. They have been a component of scattered, right wing, neo-nazi activities in the FRG for over thirty years. The extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD) has attempted since the late 1960's to stir hysteria against foreigners through its electoral appeals. "In 1980, the party organized a referendum in North Rhine Westphalia to obtain public support for the repatriation of all foreign workers."71 Neo-nazi criminal acts of violence entered the headlines in the early eighties.

"In 1980, two people were killed when a bomb exploded in a Hamburg hostel for Vietnamese refugees. In Bremen (during the same year), Turkish business premises and community instituions were damaged. The fear and tension created by the anti-foreigner campaign among West Germany's foreign inhabitants hit the headlines prior to the elections in Hamburg in the summer of 1982 when a young Turkish woman set fire to herself to protest against the hostilities she and her compatriots had to suffer. The neo-nazis who competed in these elections made hatred against foreigners a keynote of their campaign."72

More recently, right-wing parties running on explicitly anti-foreigner platforms have begun winning electoral races. This trend started in the early spring of 1989, when a new party, the Republikaner, or Republican Party, won 90,000 votes in local Berlin elections, or 7.5% of the total vote, which translated into eleven seats in the city parliament.73 The Republican party is headed by Franz Schonhuber, a former Nazi Waffen SS sargeant.74 A few weeks later, a revitalized NPD gained 6.6% of the vote and seven seats in the city parliament.75 In European parliament elections that June, the right wing vote totalled almost 9 percent, including 7.1% for Republikaner candidates. In Bavaria, the Republican Party became the third largest with 14.6% of the vote.76 The Republican Party has continued making electoral inroads by appealing to anti-foreigner sentiment. On September 20, 1992, the party doubled its previous local vote totals in the Bavarian city of Passau, winning 11% of the vote and five city council seats.77

In the two years since re-unification, a number of smaller right-wing, nationalist, and neonazi political parties have appeared in united Germany. The banning of four such parties by the German government in late 1992 and early 1993 (including the Nationalist Front and German Alternative)78 seems likely to force the activities of more violent extremists underground, making public scrutiny and state surveillance more difficult. It also appears likely to increase the electoral strength of the Republican Party, which the government classifies as nationalist but not neo-nazi. As of November, 1992, party membership was estimated at 23,000.79 Government intelligence figures for October, 1992 put the total number of right-wing extremists in united Germany at 40,000, including 6,500 neo-nazis.80

Public policy failures relating to German immigration laws, social integration policies, and contradictory education policies for foreign children have stemmed mostly from government refusals to accept the realities of permanent foreign worker settlement. They have been compounded by the existence of neo-nazi German political movements which seek to encourage anti-foreigner sentiment, and the recent wave of anti-foreigner violence in Germany. Together with the historical, sociopolitical and ethnocultural factors which have shaped the nature of German society, they represent the major obstacles towards the development of a truly multicultural society in unified, 1990's Germany, one where foreign residents and their children are extended the full rights of citizenship and integrated into the social and political fabric of the German nation.


1 Guests Come To Stay: The Effects of European Labor Migration on Sending and Receiving Countries, Rosemarie Rogers, ed., 1985. Ursala Mehrlander, "Second Generation Migrants in the Federal Republic of Germany," p 159.

2 Immigrant Workers and Class Structure In Western Europe, Stephen Castles and Godula Kosack, 1973, p 40.

3 Migrant Workers in Western Europe and the United States, Jonathan Power, 1979, p 11.

4 Social and Political Structures in West Germany: From Authoritarianism to Postindustrial Democracy, Ursula Hoffmann-Lange, ed., 1991. Marilyn Hoskin, "Germany and Foreign Workers: Testing Dahrendorfian Conceptions of Liberal Democracy in Germany," p 206.

5 Power, p 10.

6 Power, p 11.

7 Castles and Kosack, p 40.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Power, p 11.

11 Migrant Workers and the Transformation of Western Societies, Stephen Castles, 1989, p 45.

12 Rogers, ed., Friedrich Heckmann, "Temporary Labor Migration or Immigration? Guest Workers in the Federal Republic of Germany," p 72.

13 Castles, p 45.

14 Ibid.

15 Rogers, ed., Ursala Mehrlander, "Second Generation Migrants in the Federal Republic of Germany," p 162.

16 Ibid, p 33.

17 New Immigrants and Democratic Society, Marilyn Hoskin, 1991, p 3.

18 Power, p 81.

19 Castles, p 44.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid, p 45.

22 Ibid, p 45-46.

23 The Political Rights of Migrant Workers in Western Europe, Zig Layton-Henry, ed., 1990. Zig Layton-Henry, "The Challenge of Political Rights," p 3.

24 Rogers, ed., Ursala Mehrlander, "Second Generation Migrants in the Federal Republic of Germany," p 163.

25 Immigration and the Politics of Citizenship in Europe and North America, William Rogers Brubaker, ed. Kay Hailbronner, "Citizenship and Nationhood in Germany," p 71.

26 Hoskin, p 14.

27 Brubaker, ed. Kay Hailbronner, "Citizenship and Nationhood in Germany," p 74.

28 Society and Democracy in Germany, Ralf Dahrendorf, 1967, p 80.

29 Ibid, p 14.

30 Hoffmann-Lange, ed., Marilyn Hoskin, "Germany and Foreign Workers: Testing Dahrendorfian Conceptions of Liberal Democracy in Germany," p 204.

31 Ibid, p 205.

32 Ibid.

33 Ibid, p 206.

34 Ibid, p 133.

35 Ibid, p 132.

36 Ibid, p 213.

37 Castles and Kosack, p 433-434.

38 Hoskin, p 72.

39 Castles and Kosack, p 450.

40 Ibid.

41 Hoffmann-Lange, ed., David P. Conradt, "From Output Orientation to Regime Support: Changing German Political Culture," p 132.

42 Ibid, p 207.

43 Castles, p 30.

44 Castles and Kosack, p 452.

45 Hoskin, p 14.

46 Brubaker, ed. Kay Hailbronner, "Citizenship and Nationhood in Germany," p 67.

47 Ibid, p 68.

48 Ibid.

49 Ibid, p 70.

50 Zig Layton-Henry, ed., Garard de Rham, "Naturalization: The Politics of Citizenship Acquisition," p 162.

51 Ibid.

52 Brubaker, ed. William rogers Brubaker, "Citizenship and Naturalization: Policies and Politics," p 112.

53 Ibid, Kay Hailbronner, "Citizenship and Nationhood in Germany," p 70.

54 Zig Layton-Henry, ed., Garard de Rham, "Naturalization: The Politics of Citizenship Acquisition," p 178.

55 Ibid, Tomas Hammer, "The Civil Rights of Aliens," p 79.

56 Ibid, Jan Rath, "Voting Rights," p 132.

57 Castles, p 31.

58 Education for Democratic Citizenship, Roberta S. Sigel and Marilyn Hoskin, eds., 1991. Marilyn Hoskin, "Socialization to Citizenship: The Successes, Failures, and Challenges to Government," p 206.

59 Hoskin, p 9.

60 Hoffmann-Lange, ed., Marilyn Hoskin, "Germany and Foreign Workers: Testing Dahrendorfian Conceptions of Liberal Democracy in Germany," p 208.

61 Stephen Kinzer, "Vietnamese, Easy Target, Fear Ouster By Germany." New York Times, Sunday, December 6, 1992, Sec. 1., p 3.

62 Rogers, ed., Ursala Mehrlander, "Second Generation Migrants in the Federal Republic of Germany," p 167.

63 Power, p 86.

64 Rogers, ed., Ursala Mehrlander, "Second Generation Migrants in the Federal Republic of Germany," p 168.

65 Ibid, p 169.

66 Hoffmann-Lange, ed., Marilyn Hoskin, "Germany and Foreign Workers: Testing Dahrendorfian Conceptions of Liberal Democracy in Germany," p 208.

67 Carolyn Lesjak and Christopher Pavsek, "Germany's Skinheads in Neckties." The Prism, February, 1993, p 8.

68 Craig Whitney, "How Hatred Grows on Petty Politics; The Germans' New Preoccupation: Disorder." New York Times, Sunday, November 22, 1992, Sec. 4, p 1.

69 Ibid.

70 Stephen Kinzer, "Molln Journal: Years of Harmony, Strength in Grief." New York Times, Wednesday, November 25, 1992, p A4.

71 Eva Kolinsky, Parties, Opposition and Society in West Germany, 1984, p 270.

72 Ibid, p 280.

73 Hans-Georg Betz, Postmodern Politics In Germany, 1991, p 89.

74 Stephen Kinzer, "German Attacks Rise as Foreigners Are Blamed for Economic Problems." New York Times, Monday, November 2, 1992, p A4.

75 Betz, p 89.

76 Ibid.

77 Associated Press, "Decision for Europe: German Right." New York Times, Tuesday, September 22, 1992, p A16.

78 Ferdinand Protzman, "Germany Moves To Ban a Second Neo-Nazi Party." New York Times, Friday, December 11, 1992, p A15.

79 Stephen Kinzer, "Neo-Nazi Front Will Fight Its German Banning in Court." New York Times, Monday, November 30, 1992, p A6.

80 Stephen Kinzer, "German Attacks Rise as Foreigners Are Blamed for Economic Problems." New York Times, Monday, November 2, 1992, p A4.

Research Bibliography

Germany at the Polls: The Bundestag Elections of the 1980's, Karl H. Cerny, ed., 1990, p 11-13, 200-202.

West Germany: Politics and Society, David Childs and Jeffrey Johnson, 1981, p 93-94.

Exporting Workers: The Turkish Case, 1974, p 13, Suzanne Paine, 25-27, 53-70, 151, 177.

Employer Sanctions in Western Europe, Mark J. Miller, 1987.

Guests Come To Stay: The Effects of European Labor Migration on Sending and Receiving Countries, Rosemarie Rogers, ed., 1985, p 29-48, 69-84, 159-183, 293 (Asylum stats, 1966-1981).

Immigrant Workers and Class Structure In Western Europe, Stephen Castles and Godula Kosack, 1973, p 39, 50, 59, 71, 83, 93, 99, 101, 107, 127, 129-132 (Union Policies), 159 (Strikes), 162, 164, 167-170, 185 (Adult Literacy/Voc Training), 190-91, 208-209 (Education), 214, 224, 229, 244 (Housing), 246, 260, 268, 312, 336 (Adjustment Problems), 341-349 (Crime Rates/Violence), 366, 433-436 (Public Opinion), 441 (Neo-nazi NPD), 443-446 (Prejudice), 446-453 (Causes of Prejudice), 453-460 (Functions of Prejudice), 461-482 (Class Structure).

Migrant Workers in Western Europe and the United States, Jonathan Power, 1979.

Social and Political Structures in West Germany: From Authoritarianism to Postindustrial Democracy, Ursula Hoffmann-Lange, ed., 1991, p 130-133, 193, 203-216.

Migrant Workers and the Transformation of Western Societies, Stephen Castles, 1989, p 8-24, 28-42, 43-58, 66-68.

New Immigrants and Democratic Society, Marilyn Hoskin, 1991, p 3, 4, 6, 8, 16, 28, 30, 34, 36, 38 (social policies), 42, 44, 56, 70, 72 (Public Opinion 1986), 88, 92, 98, 100, 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, 120, 124, 126, 130, 132.

Education for Democratic Citizenship: A Challenge for Multi-ethnic Societies, Roberta S. Sigel and Marilyn Hoskin, eds., 10-11, 45-69, 198, 204, 206, 208.

The Political Rights of Migrant Workers in Western Europe, Zig Layton-Henry, ed., 1990, p 3, 18 (asylum), 28, 30, 40, 56 (Unions), 60, 64, 68, 78, 80, 84, 88, 98, 104, 116, 124, 174, 180, 182, 192.

Immigration and the Politics of Citizenship in Europe and North America, William Rogers Brubaker, ed., 1989, p 110, 120, 122, 126, 136, 138, 150, 152, 156.

Parties, Opposition and Society in West Germany, Eva Kolinsky, 1984, 270, 279-280.

Postmodern Politics In Germany, Hans-Georg Betz, 1991, p 94, 122, 150, 152 (Public Opinion 1989).

Turkish Workers in Europe, 1960-1975: A Socioeconomic Reappraisal, Nermin Abadan-Unat, 1976, p 242, 331-345, 346-362.

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