AGGRESSIVE NATIONALISM, IMMIGRATION PRESSURE, AND ASYLUM POLICY DISPUTES IN CONTEMPORARY GERMANY
with comment by
Jeffrey M. Peck
PrefaceTHIS PUBLICATION presents the results of a symposium held at the German Historical Institute on February 5, 1993. The decision to organize a symposium on the topic of current aggressive nationalism and xenophobic attitudes in Germany was a response to the events of the summer and fall of 1992. During this time, the newly unified country was shaken by an unexpected and extensive wave of violence directed at foreigners—particularly asylum seekers—and minorities, accompanied by an increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents, such as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the use of Nazi symbols in graffiti. The newspapers had to report, on a daily basis, right-wing extremist hate crimes that occurred throughout the country. Even while the international community perceived events at Rostock, Hoyerswerda, and Mölln as indicative of the resurgence of neo-Nazism, neither German politicians nor the police effectively brought an end to these excesses. However, in many German towns and cities, a determined citizenry staged mass grassroots demonstrations against xenophobia, hatred, and violence in an effort to contain the attempts to undermine the democratic and human rights traditions. …..Hartmut Keil Dietmar SchirmerMay 1993Aggressive Nationalism, Immigration Pressure, and Asylum Policy Disputes in Contemporary GermanyJürgen FijalkowskiVIEWED FROM THE OUTSIDE, the recent wave of aggressive hostility against foreigners in Germany, a society of eighty million people in the center of Europe, must be very alarming. It must be of serious concern that the perpetrators, if they tried to justify their atrocities at all, did so with the slogan "Germany for Germans! Foreigners out!" One wonders whether this development is a reenactment of the systematic attacks on Jews by the Nazis that began in 1938.1 As a German, one can only feel ashamed by these outrages and regard the spontaneous candlelight vigils against Ausländerfeindlichkeit und Fremdenhaß (aggression toward and hatred of foreigners) as welcome signs of good will, but no more than that.However, it is true that the German constitutional proviso for asylum seekers, a reaction to the persecution under the Nazis, is unique in international law. Furthermore, not all asylum seekers in Germany are persecuted or have to fear for their lives and freedom in their countries of origin. It is also true that Germany, with 44 percent of the total, took in more asylum seekers than any other European country over the past decade.…......In 1992, there was a backlog of about 400,000 pending cases in addition to 450,000 new applications for asylum. This situation provides the background to the demand by some politicians for a modification of German asylum regulations that would accelerate the decision-making process and exclude applicants arriving from a third country in which they were already safe ….....…..............In 1988, the year before German unification, the balance of in- and out-migration of any kind in West Germany amounted to 550,000 persons.8 In 1989 and 1990, the figures doubled to nearly a million in-migrants due to the fact that the borders were opened and waves of citizens of the German Democratic Republic and ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe were allowed into West Germany. In 1989, 344,000 Germans from the GDR and 377,000 ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe came to West Germany; in 1990, the figures were 197,000 and 397,000, respectively. Since 1991, the year of the official unification of Germany, the migration from the former GDR to West Germany no longer constituted transnational migration but became domestic in character and thus disappeared from the statistics of border-crossing movements. The number of ethnic German resettlers from Eastern Europe was reduced again to about half in both 1991 and 1992 (220,000 people a year). As to the balance of in- and out-migration of officially invited guestworkers and their families and of citizens of the EC, the figure is at a similar level of less than 200,000. The asylum seekers thus constitute only one of several in-migrating categories, and they are but one group that needs housing, jobs, language training, etc. To be sure, local authorities, in particular, are confronted with immense difficulties in providing shelter and instituting measures for the integration of new in-migrants upon their arrival. However, these problems are caused by all kinds of new immigrants, not just by the asylum seekers. Nevertheless, it is a fact that both the absolute figures and the proportion of asylum seekers among the total flow of border-crossing in-migrants are rising rapidly. In the past few years, they have increased from one-fifth to about one half of the total number. In 1988, a total of 103,000 people applied for asylum in Germany. Over the next four years, the figure increased to 121,000, 193,000, 256,000, and 450,000, respectively. …......….......The migration potential of North Africa and the Middle East is similar, and its effects are felt mostly in the countries along the northern coast of the Mediterranean and particularly in France. In the long run, the migration pressure from the South could be even more lasting than that from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Demographic pressures in this part of the world are far greater, since its population grows seventeen times more rapidly than that of the northwest European countries......….......The other side of the story is that, in some European countries, a long-term demand for immigration actually exists. For example, in the medium-range perspective, Germany, its current unemployment problem and housing shortage notwithstanding, needs at least 300,000 to 500,000 immigrants a year to compensate for its low birth rate...........…......As a result of the dominant German tradition and in accordance with the jus sanguinis rule, the basis for the German citizenship law, a person is only considered a German if he or she has at least one German parent.13 Acquisition of German citizenship through naturalization, rather than by birth, is excluded in principle. …..….....Since ethnic Germans are privileged, non-German residents are kept at a distance, and non-persecuted asylum seekers are excluded, a policy of social integration that attempts to eradicate the roots of aggressive nationalism must be based on a new understanding of citizenship. Therefore, with regard to the principal questions, it is crucial for Germany to implement an all-encompassing immigration policy that has to be based on such a new understanding of citizenship......…......Germany presently houses about half of the 775,000 officially recognized refugees living in the European Community; during the last decade, it took in more than half of the two million in-migrants who applied for asylum in Western Europe.18 This means that, in 1991, there were 3.1 asylum seekers per one thousand inhabitants who were permitted to stay at least temporarily. In Great Britain and France, the figures were 0.8 per one thousand; in the Netherlands, 1.4; in Belgium, 1.5; in Sweden, 3.1; in Austria, 3.6; and in Switzerland, 6.1.19 In 1992, there were about 5.7 asylum seekers per one thousand inhabitants in Germany. …......
Jeffrey M. Peck
Fijalkowski's essay is a singularly important contribution to the current discussion on foreigners, refugees, and asylum seekers in Germany and the aggression directed toward them. Fijalkowski presents a well-informed and balanced perspective that is grounded in empirical data and interpretive analysis. His arguments contradict the generalities and clichéd answers used to explain and often excuse the aggressive nationalism of right-wing groups and those who stand by and applaud such violence. This study, published in English by the German Historical Institute, should be of interest not only to Americans but also to Germans, whose spokespersons often resort to facile comparisons drawn between the events of today and those of 1938. The specificity of Fijalkowski's analysis based on scrupulously gathered data historicizes the two epochs. It reminds us that, while some links are obvious, rigorous research shows that injustice perpetrated against one group cannot be crassly compared to that committed against another. In short, the Turks are not necessarily the "new Jews."I do not find it incidental that, as a paper published and presented at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., Fijalkowski's article begins by situating the events in Germany in the perspective of those outside. Journalists in American newspapers reported daily about attacks on foreigners and asylum seekers with a frequency unknown since German unification. Not surprisingly, Fijalkowski associates the "aggressiveness against foreigners and heterogeneous minorities" with nationalist ideologies and, more importantly, with "deficiencies of its understanding of national identity and citizenship." There is no question that German unification contributed to what Fijalkowski refers to as "ethno-nationalism," a concept of national identity based on blood rather than territory, jus sanguinis versus jus soli, which serves as the basis of German citizenship today.Fijalkowski is right to the point when he targets the question of nationality and citizenship as central to the debate. His new definition of "citizenship in a civil society" is what he terms ―post-ethno-national ‗nationality.‘‖ It is ―conceived mainly as a result of a continuous identification with a common res publica, whereby the idea of national citizenship rests on the conscious will of individuals and is directed toward the future, not determined by the past and dependent on ties of blood.‖ This more Western European (and American) understanding of citizenship, as new as it might be for the Germans, is the basis for changing the structure of the traditional German notion of national identity. …....…...Serious transformations in German society will not come from changing the asylum law nor from candlelight demonstrations, no matter how important the latter are for demonstrating that the Germans do indeed have civil courage (Zivilcourage). There is more at stake than just Germany's image abroad. The future of German society regarding "foreigners" will require structural change, a multi-tiered approach that will address long-term rather than only short-term goals, such as instituting immigration laws with quotas, changing the citizenship law from "blood to territory," granting dual citizenship and local voting rights, educating all citizens about difference, intolerance, and discrimination. With time, I would hope that the image (Bild) of the German body politic might be changed from exclusively white and Christian to brown, yellow, and black, Muslim and Jewish. In short, the conception of German identity must be transformed and become more porous, flexible, and inclusive.......
Lesen Sie den ganzen Artikel zum besseren Verständnis. Denken Sie daran, dass er vor fast einem viertel Jahrhundert verfasst wurde. Wie sich die Situation bis heute entwickelt hat, und was uns Europäern zukünftig bevorsteht. Übersehen Sie nicht, dass der Autor des Kommentars einen Wechsel der "German body politic" von "exclusively" weiss und christlich, explizit zu Braun, Gelb und Schwarz, muslemisch und jüdisch erhofft, ohne „weiss“ und „christlich“ zu erwähnen.
Befremdlich ist, das hin und wieder Vergleiche mit Amerika ins Spiel kommen, ohne dabei zu berücksichtigen, dass Europa sich über mehrere tausend Jahre, in vollständigem Gegensatz zu Amerika, zu dem entwickelt hat, was es wurde und daher durchaus berechtigt ist, die Kulturen der einzelnen Völker und Nationen zu erhalten und zu verteidigen.Eine sogenannte Willensnation, die bis auf Ausnahme einer kleinen Minderheit der Indianer, ausschliesslich seit vielleicht 200 Jahren aus Einwanderern besteht, kann dies einfach nicht nachvollziehen.