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Good-bye, Germany!

  • Author(s): Sollors, Werner
  • et al.
Abstract

In recent years the question whether Germany was or was not a country of immigration became the bone of party contention, as the governing Gerhard Schröder/Joschka Fischer coalition of Social Democrats and Greens demanded a recognition of the changing face of Germany, and Chancellor Schröder made a thorough reform of migration to and citizenship in Germany a centerpiece of his political efforts. By contrast, the Christian Democratic and Christian Socialist position papers and official party platforms stated again and again that Germany was not and could never become a classic country of immigration, because of the country’s history, geography, and social reality. This debate draws on a German historical memory that typically goes back only to the early years of the Federal Republic. Both proponents and opponents of the notion of Germany as Einwanderungsland have focused only on the past 50 years within the context of the democratic framework of the Federal Republic. The 1950s, however, may be a rather untypical period in modern German history, for by 1950 Germany (East and West) had become a fairly mono-ethnic country. A broader historical reconsideration might ultimately strengthen a demand for more reflections on the nature of the process of “integration” and for successful models of “multiculturalism.”

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