German Migration Policies

  • Barbara Marshall


Roughly 25 per cent of the 80 million inhabitants of the new Germany are ‘immigrants’ of different kinds. About 12 million Germans came into the territory of the former FRG as a result of World War II because they had been expelled from their home areas in the east. Their integration and their contribution to West Germany’s economic recovery is considered one of the outstanding achievements of German post-war history. The fast growing German economy also made it possible to absorb the steady influx of citizens of the former GDR. Once their numbers declined after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, further labour was attracted into the Federal Republic by a series of treaties concluded between the Germans and the governments of southern Europe and of Turkey. However, a ban on further recruitment of these Gastarbeiter (guestwork-ers) was imposed in 1973 because of the oil crisis of the early 1970s and the ensuing economic downturn, but also because of the growing awareness of the difficulties involved in integrating a sizeable foreign minority. But the ban, far from reducing the numbers of foreign workers in the country, actually increased them. Those foreign workers already inside Germany remained for fear of not being able to return and increasingly brought their families to Germany. There are thus at present nearly 5 million foreigners in the country (about 4.8 million in West and 100,000 in East Germany).


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© Barbara Marshall 1992

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  • Barbara Marshall

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