Despite decades of official denial, modern Germany has always been a

country of immigration. From Poles migrating to the Ruhr in the late nineteenth

century, to German refugees and expellees after World War II, to

Italians and Greeks in the 1950s, to ethnic Germans from the former

Soviet Union and refugees from Bosnia in the 1990s, the country has a

long history of attracting newcomers. In fact, according to the recently

released 2011 census data, approximately 19 percent of the Federal Republic’s

population of around 80 million has a “migration background.”1 Of

course, this national average masks substantial variation at the state or city

level—places like Hamburg, Berlin and Baden-Württemberg have shares of

residents with such a background of a quarter or more, whereas the eastern

Länder have proportions under 5 percent. This sizeable population is

also very different than a generation ago—increasingly rooted and diverse:

60 percent of this group has German citizenship and about half of this subgroup

was born in Germany. Regarding countries of origin or ancestry,

17.9 percent have origins in Turkey, 13.1 percent in Poland, and about 8.7

percent in both Russia and Kazakhstan.

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