When were there immigrants?

Which migration movements have shaped Germany?

There were different phases and reasons for migration in the history of German migration. Germany was seldom the only country of immigration or emigration. In the 19th century, emigration to America dominated, but at the beginning of the 20th century, many workers immigrated. The two world wars were marked by displacement, deportation and forced labor. Most of the immigrants came after the end of World War II

  • by means of recruitment agreements as so-called "guest workers" (1955 to 1973),
  • through family reunification of foreigners already living in Germany (especially between 1973 and 1985, but also to this day),
  • as an asylum seeker (late 80s and early 90s),
  • as repatriates and ethnic repatriates (especially between 1987 and 1999),
  • as a citizen of the European Union in the course of freedom of movement,
  • and for a few years again as an asylum seeker.

Emigration to America
The great wave of emigration from German-speaking countries across the Atlantic began as early as 1700. Most of the emigrants went to what is now the United States, followed by Canada, Brazil and Argentina. The heyday of the "transatlantic mass emigration" (Klaus J. Bade) was the 19th century: From 1816 to 1914 5.5 million Germans emigrated to the USA. At the end of the century, German immigrants made up the largest foreign population in the United States. The main reason for emigration was rapid population growth, which created poverty and unemployment. Only around 20 percent of the emigrants withdrew. QuelleBade, Klaus J. et al (Eds.): Enzyklopädie Migration in Europa. From the 17th century to the present. 3. Edition. 2010. p.146 f.

1890s TO 1918
Workers for industry and the war economy
The high phase of industrialization did not begin in the German Empire until the end of the 19th century. As a result, more workers were needed: within a few years, the German Reich went from being a country of emigration to being the second most important country of immigration in the world, just after the USA. The so-called "Ruhr Poles" immigrated from the then Prussian part of Poland to the West German industrial area. They were Polish-speaking Prussian citizens, so it was an internal migration. But East Prussia also became a destination for migrant workers from the Russian part of Poland as well as from Italy and Austria-Hungary. Above all, the foreign Poles encountered a nationalist "defense policy". In 1914 there were 1.2 million foreign migrant workers in the German Reich. Foreign workers continued to be recruited during the First World War. In addition, there were 1.5 million prisoners of war who were forced to work in Germany. QuelleBade, Klaus J. et al (Hrsg.): Enzyklopädie Migration in Europa. From the 17th century to the present. 3. Edition. 2010. pp. 149-152.

Russian and Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe
The communist revolution and the civil war in the former Russian Empire drove around 1.5 million people to flee, including many aristocrats and entrepreneurs. In 1922/23, 600,000 Russian refugees sought protection in the Weimar Republic, more than half of them in Berlin. Most of them went on to Paris or New York. The main reason was a restrictive integration policy, which offered the refugees from Russia neither legal nor economic support for integration. The situation was even more difficult for Jews who had fled violent riots in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Nevertheless, around 70,000 of them sought asylum in the Weimar Republic by 1921, until the anti-Semitic pogroms here too became more and more open and excessive. QuelleBade, Klaus J. et al (Ed.): Enzyklopädie Migration in Europa. From the 17th century to the present. 3. Edition. 2010. p.154 ff.

1933 TO 1945
Persecution of Jews and the Holocaust in the Nazi regime
With the election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, the rule of law of the Weimar Republic effectively ended. The National Socialist government passed many anti-Semitic laws in the years that followed. Assaults on Jews and their exclusion from society were tolerated and encouraged. By 1939, 247,000 of the approximately 500,000 Jews had left their German homeland. But more and more states were no longer willing to allow Jewish refugees to enter the country. At a conference in Évian, France, in 1938, the then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to regulate admission globally. However, the representatives of the 32 states present did not want to grant refugees any protection - the only exception: the Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, another 31,500 Jews managed to flee between 1940 and 1945, most of them to Palestine and the USA. Between 1940 and 1945 130,000 Jews from the German Reich were deported to concentration and extermination camps. Only 34,000 survived the Nazi regime in Germany. QuelleBade, Klaus J. et al (Hrsg.): Enzyklopädie Migration in Europa. From the 17th century to the present. 3. Edition. 2010. p.155 and Federal Agency for Civic Education, Dossier: Expulsion and extermination of Jews from the German Reich

Foreign forced laborers and displaced persons
The Nazi regime was only able to wage war for so long because it had recourse to foreign workers: in 1944 around eight million forced laborers and prisoners of war were working in the Third Reich. After the end of the war, the Allies took care of ten to twelve million "Displaced Persons" (DP), mainly survivors of the labor, concentration and extermination camps. In the first few months, five million were sent back to their home countries. The return of citizens of the Soviet Union was problematic, as they, as supposed collaborators, had to reckon with persecution. In 1950 around 150,000 DPs were still living in reception camps in Germany. However, they were not legally equated with German refugees and displaced persons and mostly received no compensation. QuelleBade, Klaus J. et al (Ed.): Enzyklopädie Migration in Europa. From the 17th century to the present. 3. Edition. 2010. pp. 155-157

Displaced persons and (late) repatriates
The history of the repatriates begins in the 18th century: between 1680 and 1800 around 740,000 Germans moved to the Danube region, to Transylvania, to Russia and as far as the Black Sea. During the First and Second World Wars, too, conquered or occupied areas were settled with Germans. The local population was deported or driven out. At the end of the Second World War, 14 million people of German origin fled westwards. Hundreds of thousands did not survive flight, displacement and deportation. In 1950 there were 12.5 million displaced persons in the Federal Republic and the GDR. From 1953 the Federal Expellees Act regulated their acceptance as repatriates who were entitled to German citizenship. With the beginning policy of opening up and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, the number of emigrants rose. A total of around 4.5 million (late) repatriates have come to Germany since 1950, of which 3.1 millionSee article in the MEDIA SERVICE "How are the repatriates in Germany?" from 08/21/2014 continue to live here. QuelleBade, Klaus J. et al (Ed.): Enzyklopädie Migration in Europa. From the 17th century to the present. 3. Edition. 2010. S.147, 153, 158. Also: Federal Statistical Office, Results of the 2014 Microcensus, Fachserie 1 Reihe 2.2, S.7

1949 TO 1989
German-German migration and "Escape to the West"
Between 1949 and 1961, 2.7 million people crossed the German-German border to the west. In order to stop this internal migration, the GDR government had a wall built around the "island" of West Berlin in 1961 and shielded the borders with West Germany. Up until the fall of the Berlin Wall, around 700,000 people managed to leave the GDR, for example by not returning after visits, when political prisoners were ransomed by the FRG or were able to successfully apply to leave the country. In addition, 5,000 GDR citizens managed to overcome the wall, often with the help of escape helpers. At least 138 people were killed on the German-German border. QuelleBade, Klaus J. et al (Hrsg.): Enzyklopädie Migration in Europa. From the 17th century to the present. 3. Edition. 2010. p.159 and Chronicle of the Wall, a project of the Center for Contemporary Research Potsdam e.V., the Federal Agency for Civic Education and Deutschlandradio.

"Guest workers" in the Federal Republic and the GDR
With the massive expansion of foreign trade, the Federal Republic needed more workers than was available. The construction of the wall stopped migration from the GDR. From 1955 the FRG concluded recruitment agreements with Italy, Spain, Turkey and other countries Recruitment agreements were made with Italy (1955), Spain (1960), Greece (1960), Turkey (1961), Morocco (1963), Portugal (1964) and Tunisia (1965) and Yugoslavia (1968) completed from. Of the 14 million so-called guest workers, 11 million returned to their homeland after the recruitment ban in 1973. However, Turks, Italians and Yugoslavs in particular stayed and brought family members to join them. The GDR has also been recruiting foreign workers since the mid-1960s. In 1989, 93,600 contract workers lived in the GDR. They came mainly from Vietnam (59,000) and Mozambique (15,000). QuelleBade, Klaus J. et al (Ed.): Encyclopedia Migration in Europe. From the 17th century to the present. 3. Edition. 2010. p.159 ff. And "Stay or leave?", Publication by the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic, p. 20, research project of the Humboldt University in Berlin, "Migration to the GDR (and FRG) "

Asylum seekers in reunified Germany
The number of asylum seekers in the Federal Republic had risen since the late 1980s. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, they reached a peak: in 1992, 438,191 people applied for asylum, almost three quarters of them came from Eastern and Southeastern Europe. These included mainly civil war refugees from Yugoslavia as well as Roma from Romania and Bulgaria. A highly polarized asylum debate ensued. It was accompanied by violent attacks.Cutations of news programs on ARD can be found here, such as the arson attacks in Rostock Lichtenhagen (1992), Mölln (1992) and Solingen (1993) on asylum seekers' accommodation and homes of immigrants. In 1993 the so-called asylum compromise was passed by parliament. The number of asylum seekers fell sharply, dropping to a low of 28,000 by 2008. Only a few of the refugees from Yugoslavia stayed in Germany permanently: The reasons for this were an active return and strict deportation policy and the possibility of migrating to other host countries. The number of Bosnians in Germany fell from 350,000 (1996) to around 20,000 (2001). SourceDossier of the Federal Agency for Civic Education "Flight and Asylum since 1990" and BAMF, The Federal Office in Numbers 2014, p. 11

EU free movement and increasing numbers of refugees
The number of immigrants to Germany has been increasing again since 2006, most of them coming from member states of the European Union. The freedom of movement enables them to enter Germany and work here without a visa. According to the latest migration report, around 1.2 million people came to Germany in 2013, 708,000 of them came from EU countries. Poland, Italy and Romania were the main countries of origin. However, the migration balance, i.e. the number of people who emigrated minus the number of emigrants, was only 429,000 immigrants, because emigration from the Federal Republic is also increasing. Among the immigrants from third countries were mainly people who for training and work 11.6 percent study, 1.6 percent language course, school attendance, 1.1 percent other training and 9.3 percent employment according to the migration report 2013, p. 30 (24 Percent), as part of family reunification (15 percent) or for humanitarian reasons, 4.1 percent humanitarian reasons, 19 percent residence permit and 5.5 percent tolerance according to the Migration Report 2013, p. 30 (29 percent) came to Germany. After the number of asylum seekers in 2014 was 220,000, the Ministry of the Interior expects around 800,000 asylum seekers for 2015. Much higher forecasts are also circulating, from one million to 1.5 million. The figures have not yet been officially confirmed. Source Migration Report 2013, BAMF and BAMF, The Federal Office in Figures 2014, p. 11

By Teresa Garschagen and Jenny Lindner