BUDAPEST, Hungary (Sept. 7) – Angela Merkel likes to remind the world that modern Germany is a ‘country of immigration‘. On the statistical evidence that is hard to deny. Last week’s release of figures by the German Statistics Office (GSO) show a steep climb in immigration levels in 2014 pushing the number of arrivals over departures to a 20-year high.
That number looks certain to rise again in the next 12-months as the country welcomes close to 800,000 new arrivals the German leader is prepared to accept as part of her ‘no legal limits’ announcement on Middle East immigrants. Hungary on the other hand is standing firm and only allowing passage but not settlement to the same people.
Germany has been down this road of mass immigration before and the outcome wasn’t the completely happy ending that some enthusiastic supporters – Chancellor Merkel included – would allow.
As recently as 2010 she was on the record saying ‘multiculturalism in Germany has utterly failed’. Merkel’s comments, to the youth wing of her own Christian Democrat Union party, came amid growing resentment about immigration in Germany.
In the late 1950s, Turkish workers arrived in West Germany to fill the demand for cheap unskilled labour in a booming post-war economy. That mass trans-migration was only formalised in 1961 when an agreement was signed between Bonn and Ankara paving the way for the first wave of Turkish “Gastarbeiter” (guest workers) to come to Germany. Many of them never left, creating a minority community that changed the demographics of the country forever.
They came because Germany was in need of healthy, unmarried Turkish men to work in the country’s booming post-war economy. Turkey was more than willing to help meet that demand.
In 1964, the recruitment treaty was changed to allow the Turkish workers to stay for longer than two years. It was too expensive and time consuming to constantly hire and train replacements. Later, the workers were even allowed to bring their families with them.
An economic recession triggered by the global oil crisis in the early 1970s followed Germany’s economic miracle, and in 1973 the recruitment of foreign workers came to a stop altogether. Between 1961 and 1973, around 2.7 million Turks applied for a job in Germany, but only around 750,000 were actually accepted. Half of those who came returned to Turkey, according to estimates. The other half remained in Germany.
Today, around 3 million people with a Turkish background live in Germany, meaning either they or their parents were born in Turkey, making them the largest migrant group in the country. Around 700,000 Turkish migrants have German citizenship although we know that many have recorded in the past that they still regard themselves as being ‘guest workers’ or ‘just Turks’ rather than fully-fledged citizens.
In 2011 Der Spiegel published a special report titled ‘At Home in a Foreign Country: German Turks Struggle to Find Their Identity’. It tells the story of large segments of younger generations of German-born Turkish descendants who struggle to find their place in Germany, where they felt hampered by a lack of education and prospects for the future. The report said:
‘According to the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists, children with foreign roots who were born in Germany are more likely to experience behavioral disorders than Germans of the same age. A research report by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees concludes that four out of five Turks in Germany between the ages of 38 and 64 have no more than a junior high school education, while only a little more than a quarter have at least five years of schooling.
‘And even well-educated immigrants have a tough time in the labor market. According to calculations by the State Office of Statistics in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, 9.1 percent of high-school graduates with immigrant parents are unemployed, compared with only 2.6 percent of those with German parents.’
Now Germany will have to begin again with a new generation of immigrants, this time coming from across war-torn parts of the Middle East and Africa. They will be looking for jobs and a future like tens of thousands of Turks did in the boom years of the 1960s and early 70s.
As Breitbart News has reported, nobody knows just how many immigrants are headed Germany’s way or when the flow is likely to stop – if ever.
Whether or not their experience is better or worse than those from Turkey will now be tested.