What is the hardest integration problem

Social change in Germany

Rainer Geissler

Prof. em. Dr. Rainer Geißler is a sociologist at Faculty I - Seminar for Social Sciences at the University of Siegen. His research and teaching focuses on social structure analysis and social inequality; Educational sociology and socialization research; Migration and integration; the society of Canada; Sociology of Mass Communication and Sociology of Deviant Behavior.
His address is: University of Siegen / Faculty I / Adolf-Reichwein-Straße 2/57068 Siegen / email: [email protected]

Since the recruitment treaty with Italy in 1955, Germany has been on the way to becoming a modern country of immigration. Migrants and their descendants have become an important part of the German social structure. Their number will continue to grow, and Germany is faced with the task of enabling them to participate in social life.

The development towards a multiethnic society (& copy own graphic based on data from Lederer 1997 (1961-1989); Federal Statistical Office (1990-2010); 2011 census)

Over the past 50 years, migrants have become an important part of the German social structure. In 1960 there were only just under 700,000 foreigners living in the Federal Republic, as the people with foreign citizenship are referred to below. In addition, there were almost 400,000 ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union and other countries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Both groups together made up only about 2 percent of the German population.

According to the last census, the 2011 census, there are almost 6 million foreigners and a further 9 million "Germans with a migration background", as they are called in the official statistics. These include (late) repatriates, naturalized former foreigners and Germans born in Germany with at least one parent who immigrated or was born in Germany as a foreigner. Today, migrants, as the 15 million people with a migration background are called here for the sake of simplicity, make up 19 percent of Germany's population. The multiethnic segment of the German social structure has increased almost tenfold since 1960, and it is foreseeable that it will continue to grow in the next two decades.

The migrants are not evenly distributed across Germany, but concentrate on the old federal states and there, in turn, on large cities and industrial conurbations. In 2011, just under 500,000 of the 15 million people with a migration background (just under 4 percent of the resident population) lived in the new federal states (excluding Berlin) compared to 13.7 million (21.4 percent of the resident population) in western Germany (excluding Berlin). East Germany has remained a largely mono-ethnic society. In 2007, Frankfurt am Main (42 percent), Augsburg (40 percent), Nuremberg (38 percent) and Stuttgart (37 percent) had a high proportion of migrants. Of the children under six in these four cities, a clear majority of 57 to 68 percent already had at least one parent with a migration background.

The growing proportion of migrants is not a special feature of the German social structure. In many other European societies - even in the former emigration countries Portugal, Spain and Italy - the number of immigrants has increased in recent decades.

historical development

The German post-war history of migration and integration can be clearly divided into four phases: the guest worker phase (1955-1973), the phase of the first attempts at integration (1973-1981), the defense phase (1981-1998) and the acceptance phase (from 1998) .

Guest worker phase (1955-1973)

The years 1955 to 1973 mark the period of the guest worker phase, which can also be called the "recruitment phase". In order to meet its labor needs, the flourishing West German economy recruited people from the Mediterranean countries and concluded corresponding agreements with Italy (1955), Spain and Greece (1960), Turkey (1961), Morocco (1963), Portugal (1964) and Tunisia (1965) and Yugoslavia (1968). The recruitment measures also took place against the background of the cordoning off of the German-German border in 1961, which largely brought the influx of emigrants from the GDR to a standstill and exacerbated the labor shortage.

The following event shows how coveted and welcomed foreign workers were in Germany at the time: The two millionth "guest worker", a Yugoslav woman, was greeted in 1972 in Munich by the President of the Federal Labor Office and the Bavarian Minister of Labor with champagne and flowers and with a portable television set gifted.

The responsible German authorities, the sending countries and, last but not least, the people concerned themselves initially assumed the so-called rotation principle: the recruited workers were to return to their countries of origin after a few years and - if the German economy needed them - to be replaced by new "guest workers". Between 1955 and 1973 around 14 million foreigners came to the Federal Republic of Germany, and around 11 million returned to their homeland.

First attempts at integration (1973-1981)

The oil crisis, economic recession and the threat of unemployment prompted the federal government in 1973 to impose a recruitment ban that was valid until 2000. This initiated a phase of consolidation and initial attempts at integration. Although the number of foreign workers fell below the two million mark from 2.6 million in 1973 within three years and only exceeded it again in the 1990s, the foreign resident population continued to increase due to family reunification and high birth rates ( Family migration).

At the same time, a phenomenon that Switzerland had already experienced two decades earlier was repeated in Germany; The Swiss writer Max Frisch summed it up with the catchy formula: "Workers have been called in and people come." It became clear that the purely economic rotation principle had disregarded the human aspects of labor migration. The recruited migrants were more and more often from short-term "guest workers" to long-term employees or immigrants willing to stay. The German society was faced with the challenge of integrating the part of the migrant workers who were willing to stay. The social-liberal government took this task into account by establishing the office of the integration commissioner in 1978 - the exact name was "Commissioner of the Federal Government for the Integration of Foreign Workers and Their Family Members" - and with Heinz Kühn, the prominent former Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, occupied.

Kühn - he is now usually mistakenly referred to as the first "foreigners commissioner" - wrote an impressive memorandum on the integration of foreign workers and their families one year after taking office. If you read it today, you might think that it was not written almost 35 years ago, but yesterday. It says there, for example: "The (presumably in large numbers) immigrants willing to stay, namely the second and third generation, must be offered the option of unconditional and permanent integration [...]. Serious educational and training disadvantages already have a large part of foreign young people is pushed into an outsider role, which not only creates the most serious personal problems for the individual, but is also evident in the crime statistics. " More money must be spent on education and training for young foreigners, otherwise "maybe [...] two law enforcement officers would be necessary instead of a teacher." However, Kühn remained an unheard shouter in the desert.

Defense phase (1981-1998)

At the beginning of the 1980s, a new migration phenomenon that continues to this day became apparent: Germany's attraction for asylum seekers from the crisis areas of the European and non-European world, where war, misery and oppression reign. In 1980 the number of asylum seekers doubled compared to the previous year and exceeded the 100,000 mark for the first time at 108,000. The politicians reacted with a turn in foreigner policy: The tentative integration efforts at the end of the 1970s turned into a "race for a policy of limitation", as Karl-Heinz Meier-Braun put it in 1995. The consolidation phase with the first attempts at integration was followed by a "defense phase" that lasted almost two decades.

The integration of migrant workers was increasingly forgotten, even though the change from "guest workers" to immigrants was progressing steadily. Survey data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), a representative survey of German households carried out since 1984, showed that more and more immigrants from the former recruiting countries had found their center of life in Germany and were preparing for it, for a longer period of time or permanently in the Federal Republic to live. In 1984 only 30 percent wanted to stay in Germany permanently, in 2000 it was already half, and of the second generation more than two thirds. Only 15 percent expressed specific intentions to return (report of the Independent Commission "Immigration" 2001).

This change of orientation led to more and more foreigners staying longer and longer in Germany. At the beginning of 2003, 72 percent of all Turks living here, 76 percent of the Greeks and Italians and 78 percent of the Spaniards had been in the Federal Republic for at least ten years. Of the foreign children and adolescents under 18 years of age, 68 percent were born here in 2002.
The transformation of the "guest workers" into immigrants took place rather quietly; instead, public attention focused on asylum seekers and refugees. With the crisis and the collapse of the socialist systems in Eastern Europe, the immigration pressure took on a new quality: Many people came to the asylum seekers from the poverty and conflict regions of the so-called Third World, who used the open borders in the east, the crises and the war to escape in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.

The number of asylum seekers rose sharply at the beginning of the 1990s and peaked in 1992 with 438,000 applicants. Germany was one of the preferred destinations of people aspiring to Western Europe, even if the number of asylum seekers per head of the population was even higher in many European societies. For example, in the peak year 1992 in Sweden there were ten asylum applications for every 1000 residents, in Germany only five.

With the amendment of the asylum law by the "third country regulation" in 1993, the number of asylum seekers fell suddenly. It fell almost continuously to 71,000 in 2002 and 19,000 in 2007, but has been rising again since then. In 2013, 127,000 asylum applications were made, and from January to October 2014 the number had risen to 158,000.

With regard to the total number of foreigners, however, it can be said that the renewed strong growth from 4.5 million in 1988 to 7.3 million in 1996 is less due to refugees, but mainly to the increased use of foreign workers. The number of employed foreigners increased between 1987 and 1993 by almost two thirds from 1.8 million to three million. Employers needed additional migrant workers and took advantage of the loopholes that the recruitment ban had left them. Behind the facade of the unrealistic dogma "Germany is not a country of immigration", the employment of foreigners was booming.

In summary, the development of the multiethnic part of society can be characterized as follows: Germany has de facto become a country of immigration for economic, demographic and humanitarian reasons since the 1960s - but for more than two decades it has been a "reluctant immigration country". Politicians were too concerned with limitation and defense and have failed to develop a well thought-out concept for integrating migrants and to help the German population cope with integration problems. The migration researcher Klaus J. Bade describes the consequences of these failures: "The long-lasting lack of conception and perspective in the overall area of ​​migration, integration and minorities had undoubtedly contributed to the escalation [...] [of] xenophobia and ultimately xenophobia."

In the 1990s, the ignoring of the integration problem at the state and federal level is likely to have had something to do with the fact that Germany had and still has to cope with an integration task of completely different dimensions due to reunification that broke out overnight. At the local level - so to speak "on site" - there have been great efforts in many cities such as Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main or Berlin to adequately involve the many migrants in urban life.

Acceptance phase (since 1998)

The change of government from Helmut Kohl to Gerhard Schröder in autumn 1998 ushered in a new period, which is to be referred to here as the "acceptance phase". "There is agreement that the Federal Republic of Germany is not and should not become an immigration country." Manfred Kanther, the last Minister of the Interior in the Kohl government, summarized the dogma of the defense phase in these clear words in 1998. Shortly afterwards, Gerhard Schröder promised in his government statement "a resolute policy of integration [...]. Reality teaches us that irreversible immigration has taken place in Germany over the past few decades." And under the two Merkel governments, this path was continued with even more consistency and ingenuity. "Integration is a key task of this time" - Angela Merkel condensed the task to this formula in the government declaration when she took office in November 2005.
The acceptance phase is based on two basic insights:
  • Germany needed immigrants for demographic and economic reasons, needs them today and will also need them in the foreseeable future.
  • Those who need immigrants have to integrate them into the core society. Failure to do so creates problems and conflict.
These basic insights had been available to many migration and integration researchers for many years. They were expressed, for example, in the "Manifesto of the 60s - Germany and Immigration" (Bade 1993), a plea for a new migration and integration policy signed by 60 professors.

Since the turn of the millennium, the two basic insights have been accepted by large parts of the political elite with quite different nuances and implemented in political measures. The reform of citizenship law has been making naturalization easier since 2000 and, thanks to the "option model", enables young foreigners to acquire dual citizenship up to the age of 23 at the latest. The currently ruling grand coalition has abolished the option requirement for the majority of young migrants. Anyone who has lived in Germany for at least 8 years or attended school for 6 years or who has graduated from school or completed vocational training in Germany can remain citizens of two countries up to their 21st birthday.

In 2005 the first immigration law in German history came into force. In the same year, the first integration ministry of a federal state was created in North Rhine-Westphalia and occupied by Armin Laschet (CDU), who presented an "Integration Action Plan" a year later. In the meantime, there are ministries or senatorial offices in a further six West German states whose official designation includes the addition "Integration".

In 2006, two series of so far eight Islamic conferences and six integration summits began in order to discuss integration problems with representatives of migrants and their organizations, which is by no means undisputed. At the initiative of the integration commissioner Maria Böhmer (CDU), numerous working groups with representatives from politics and civil society (including migrants) developed a "National Integration Plan" in 2006/2007, which was followed in 2011 by a "National Action Plan" - both of which were also premieres in Germany History.

The paradigm shift in the public discourse on migration and integration is also worth mentioning. A discourse about "undesirable foreigners", in which the unrealistic dogma "Germany is not a country of immigration" dominated and the term "integration" was not mentioned, has turned into a discourse about how migration and integration are recognized as necessary (Geißler 2010).

Source text

"Unity of the Different"

Not as many people have moved to Germany for 20 years as in 2013. […] Most immigrants come from neighboring European countries, more and more from the euro crisis countries Italy and Spain, but also from Croatia and Romania.Greeks, Hungarians and Bulgarians, on the other hand, decided less often than in 2012 to look for a new home in Germany.
How it is then, this new home, and how Germany is changing with the new ones, the numbers do not reveal. Such questions are dealt with by [...] Federal President Joachim Gauck, who invited people to a naturalization ceremony at Bellevue Palace on the day before the 65th birthday of the Basic Law.
23 new citizens with their families are sitting there, some were born in Germany, some have ancestors in Bolivia, Poland, Ghana. Gauck will hand you a certificate and the Basic Law. But first he gives a speech, the message of which is: Say goodbye. "Let's stop talking about" we "and" them ", says Gauck. "There is a new German, Wir‘, the unity of the different. "
Anyone who wants to know how Gauck understands this new we must follow him on a journey of thought that begins with praise for the prosperous constitutional state that attracts people from all over the world. "One in five of us now has family roots abroad," says Gauck, before addressing the question of what that means: being German. A look into the country shows "how bizarre it is when some people cling to the idea that there could be such a thing as a homogeneous, self-contained, in a way monochrome Germany".
[...]. He [...] tells of encounters with people who have been happy "because here they can love and believe as they want". That changed Gauck's view, and he wished the country this change of perspective. Anyone who has Vietnamese parents does not want to be asked where they "actually" come from. That signals: "You don't really belong to us." Instead of turning people who are at home here into "others", "old Germans" have to be ready for change in their heads. Everyone is asked to rethink: "We need ours, we need a spiritual opening."
A Gauck speech about immigration would not be, however, if conflicts were not also discussed: "Ghetto formation wherever it exists, juvenile delinquency, patriarchal worldviews and homophobia, careers in social welfare and truancy". Cultural and social causes should not be "lumped together". But those who disregard the Basic Law can expect "zero tolerance". "There can be no extenuating circumstances for cultural idiosyncrasies that run counter to our laws."
When Gauck comes to the end, you can see satisfied faces. "That was a paradigm shift, a rejection of the integration debate of the last 20 years," says migration researcher Naika Foroutan. "In place of" multiculturalism has failed ", Gauck has replaced" unity of the different ". That is a new leitmotif." The one so praised does not hear He's with the new citizens, he's busy. With getting to know each other.

Constanze von Bullion, "We colorful Germans", in: Süddeutsche Zeitung from May 23, 2014