With the passage of a new citizenship law in 1999 and the so-called
Zuwanderungsgesetz (Migration Law) of 2004, contemporary Germany
has gone a long way toward acknowledging its status as an immigration
country (Einwanderungsland). Yet, Germany is still regarded by
many as a “reluctant” land of immigration, different than traditional
immigration countries such as Canada, the United States, and Australia.
It owes this image to the fact that many of today’s “immigrants”
were in fact “guests,” invited to work in the Federal Republic
in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and expected to leave when they were
no longer needed. Migration was meant to be a temporary measure,
to stoke the engine of the Economic Miracle but not fundamentally
alter German society. The question, then, is how did these “guest
workers” become immigrants? Why did the Federal Republic
become an immigration country?