What caused the mass immigration of 1951

German conditions. A social studies

Wolfgang Seifert

Wolfgang Seifert, born in 1959, is head of the department for social and economic statistical analyzes at IT.NRW, statistics division, North Rhine-Westphalia. Education: 1979 to 1985 study of sociology at the Free University of Berlin, 1994 doctorate at the Free University, 1999 habilitation at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Professional activities i.a. 1991-1995 at the Social Science Research Center in Berlin, 1995-2000 Humboldt University Berlin. Since 2000 at the State Office for Data Processing and Statistics (now IT.NRW). The main focus of work is the integration of immigrants, especially in the areas of education and the labor market.

Due to the rapid economic growth, there was a labor shortage in the mid-1950s. The Federal Republic began to recruit workers abroad. The boom years in recruitment ended in 1973. Immigration fell sharply after reunification.

Mass migration did not only occur in modern industrial societies. Between 1821 and 1924 around 55 million people migrated from Europe overseas. Colonization, as well as decolonization, triggered greater migratory movements. After the two world wars, there were mass exodus and displacement in Europe.

The recruitment of "guest workers"

At the end of the 1940s, the influx of refugees and displaced persons caused by the Second World War ebbed. In the mid-1950s, when rapid economic growth led to a labor shortage, the Federal Republic also began to recruit workers from abroad. In 1955 the first recruitment contract was signed with Italy. Agreements with Spain and Greece followed in 1960. Further agreements were concluded with Turkey (1961), Morocco (1963), Portugal (1964), Tunisia (1965) and Yugoslavia (1967). However, the influx of foreign workers was initially of little quantitative significance, as the need for workers until the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 was largely covered by people who had resettled from the GDR. Only then were foreign workers recruited in large numbers and as early as 1964 the one millionth guest worker was welcomed in Germany and given a motorcycle. In 1973, when recruitment was stopped as a result of the oil crisis, almost 4 million foreigners were living in Germany.

During the recruitment boom from the 1960s to the 1973 recruitment ban, foreign workers were recruited to meet the needs of large-scale manufacturing, heavy industry and mining. These were predominantly activities that only had low qualification requirements. Accordingly, the qualification level of these workers was comparatively low and they were classified at the lower end of the labor market hierarchy. However, recruitment should not result in permanent settlement of foreign workers. Only the need for low-skilled workers should be bridged during the boom. Since the employment contracts were initially limited in time, many workers came without families. It was only with the increasingly longer length of stay that families were brought in.

The development after the recruitment ban in 1973

The 1973 recruitment ban put foreign workers who did not come from a country that was part of the then EEC before the decision to either return or settle for a longer stay and bring their families to join them. The family reunification after the recruitment ban was able to almost compensate for the return migration, so that the number of the foreign population only declined slightly. On the other hand, the number of foreign employees subject to social security contributions fell significantly from 2.5 million in 1973 to 1.6 million in 1985. At the same time, the employment rate of the foreign population fell significantly. Immigration was low in the early and mid-1980s, and in the early 1980s the migration balance was even slightly negative. At the beginning of the 1990s immigration had risen again and was even higher than in 1970, the year with the highest influx of "guest workers". The fall of the Iron Curtain, wars and "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia as well as the worsening situation in the Kurdish part of Turkey caused this development (Münz et al. 1999: 51). During this phase, the influx of repatriates and asylum seekers also reached its peak to date.

These were not welcomed by large parts of the population in Germany. With German reunification, a basic xenophobic mood spread in Germany, which resulted in numerous riots against asylum seekers and the foreign population. In 1991, asylum seekers in Hoyerswerda were expelled from their accommodation and pelted with stones. In the same year, two refugee children were seriously injured in an arson attack in Hünxe. In 1992 the accommodations of asylum seekers in Rostock were besieged for several days to public applause and finally set on fire. In Mölln (1992) and Solingen (1993) arson attacks were carried out on Turkish families who had been living in Germany for a long time and who died in the flames or survived seriously injured.

The decline in immigration after reunification

From the mid-1990s onwards, immigration figures fell sharply again, and with this the violent actions against the foreign population came to an end for the time being. In 1997 and 1998 the migration balance was even negative.
Foreign population license: cc by-nc-nd / 3.0 / de / (bpb)
During these years, migration lost its overall dynamism, because both the number of immigrants and those who left the country declined. From 1996 to 2008, the number of foreigners living in Germany fell from 7.5 million to 7.2 million. Naturalizations and the nationality law that was changed in 2000, which gives the children of foreigners living in Germany German nationality in addition to the nationality of their parents if fewer requirements are met, have resulted in the foreign population not growing any further. However, the foreign population does not adequately reflect the actual number of immigrants and their children because, on the one hand, resettlers have German citizenship and, on the other hand, a not inconsiderable part of the immigrant population has acquired German citizenship through naturalization.

People with a migration background

In 2005, the microcensus created the possibility of differentiating the migration background for the first time.
Foreign population by nationality License: cc by-nc-nd / 3.0 / de / (bpb)
According to the definition of the Federal Statistical Office, all foreigners, all persons who immigrated across the borders of Germany (with the exception of refugees and displaced persons during and after the Second World War) as well as all persons with at least one foreign, immigrant or naturalized parent are counted as persons Migration background. [1] In 2008, 19% of the population in Germany, that is 15.6 million people, had a migration background. Half of them - 8.3 million - are German citizens. In 2008, a quarter of the foreign population came from Turkey, 7.8% from Italy and 5.9% from Poland.