From Ausländer to Inlander: The Changing Faces of Citizenship in Post-Wall Germany

in German Politics and Society
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From its founding in 1949 through the dramatic events of 1989/90, the Federal Republic relied on a concept of "blood-based" citizenship (jus sanguinis), hoping to sustain ties between the peoples of the divided nation, as well as to protect "co-ethnic" groups scattered throughout historically defined eastern territories. Geographical reconfiguration, generational change and globalization processes have rendered Germany's insistence on an ethno-national citizenship paradigm detrimental to its own political and socio-economic interests. Ostensibly the real "losers" of unification, more than seven million "foreigners" and children of migrant descent are now set to become the long-term winners of Chancellor Merkel's pro-active measures to foster their integration and education. Making very effective use of EU initiatives on migration policy, Merkel has adopted a holistic approach to integration as a means of overcoming the FRG's looming demographic deficit and shortage of high-tech laborers. This study begins with profiles of three "migrant" generations and the changing opportunity structure each has encountered, leading to different degrees of identification with the new homeland. It then summarizes key features of the 2007 National Integration Plan, and examines factors allowing Merkel to blaze a trail through the perilous "immigration" territory all previous Chancellors had feared to tread. Despite internal opposition, Angel Merkel's pro-active efforts to redefine "what it means to be German" has, paradoxically, given the Christian Union a chance to modernize its own identity.