Violence Against Foreigners in Germany 2

Kurt Bressler is one of Professor Birdsong’s brightest students.  Mr. Bressler who has travelled in Germany and Austria took my Refugee and Asylum Law course in 2008.  He wrote his seminar paper on violence against foreigners in Germany.  Late last year he expanded on his paper to satisfy his upper level requirement for graduation.  He has given me permission his expanded paper on my blog.  He makes some good points about violence against foreigners in Germany that might just apply universally.  Have a read:

Immigration Reform and Violence Against Foreigners in Unified Germany

Kurt Bressler, J.D. Candidate 2010, Barry University School of Law

 I. Introduction           

            Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany has struggled in its quest for an effective and all encompassing solution to the dichotomy between its immigration laws and the omnipresent xenophobic violence associated with them. In reality, this is not a problem which is unique to Germany; all countries struggle with racist violence in one form or another. Historically though, Germany has shown a correlation between the passing or relaxation of its immigration laws and a spike in racist violence, especially in the area formerly known as East Germany.

            An example of the racist violence faced by non-ethnic Germans can be seen in the United States asylum application filed by Zakia Mashiri.[1]Zakia and her husband are natives of Afghanistan who lived in Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall. On numerous separate occasions, the Mashiri’s were subjected to violence based on their non German background. One such incident occurred when Zakia’s husband was severely beaten in his taxi after being subjected to racial slurs and threats.[2]He was also beaten in a similar fashion on several other occasions. The Mashiri’s son was also beaten by neo-nazi’s several times while returning home from school.[3] Each time, the reason for the attack was explicitly stated: Germany is for German’s. 

            Another poignant example of the violence endured by foreigners in Germany occurred in November of 2007. A group of eight Indian asylum seekers were chased through the town of Muegeln while being subjected to racial insults.[4] The mob, which consisted of about 50 German citizens, besieged the Indians inside a restaurant. The violence culminated with the throwing of bottles and rocks in an attempt to cause severe physical harm.[5] The incident required a force of 70 riot police to stop the violence and rescue the group trapped inside the restaurant.[6]

II. The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the New Wave of Immigrants

                       After deconstruction of the communist regime in Eastern Germany, leaders of both Germany and the EU feared the potential for the explosive growth of refugee seekers.[7] This fear did not become an immediate reality. Instead, the slow development of war in areas such as the former Yugoslavia forced the number of asylum applicants to rise steadily.[8]

            The number of asylum seekers in 1989 was 193,000 compared to the 438,000 in 1992.[9] This number constituted approximately sixty percent of all asylum applications filed in the EU.[10] These statistics do not take into account the resettlement of an additional 200,000 ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe.[11] The unification of families torn apart by the division of Germany accounted for another 100,000 applications.[12] Finally, it is difficult to place an exact number on the illegal immigrant population but in 1992, the number was estimated between 100,000 and 200,000 people .[13] In all, the number of people arriving in Germany in 1992 was approximately one million .[14]

            The huge number of applications for asylum in Germany was a direct response to the “open arms” attitude of the German people after the fall of the Berlin Wall.[15] It has been posited that this attitude arose due to the proximity of Western Germany to

the bleak reality which was communist Eastern Europe.[16] This “open arms” attitude was stemmed by an ever deepening recession due to the oppressive costs of reunification.[17]

            German leaders have also found it necessary to remind the people of a post World War II debt owed to the people of Europe and the larger world.[18] Supposedly, this debt was owed to the refugee’s who fled political persecution and the foreign skilled workers who played such a vital role in the reconstruction of Germany after the War.[19] 

            Despite the pleadings of German leaders and in response to the recession and loss of jobs, racist violence committed by skinheads and other right wing groups was a common occurrence.[20] There were 2,285 incidents of racist violence in Germany in 1992 as reported to Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.[21] This number includes explosions, fire bombings, assault and battery cases, and incidents of property damage.[22] These racially motivated attacks correlated to a xenophobic sentiment among the German population, especially strong among the youth, and resulted in 17 deaths.[23]

            In spite of the attacks and xenophobic sentiment, a poll taken among young people in Eastern Germany in 1993 revealed that 74% of those questioned believed that Germany should feel ashamed by the violence against foreigners.[24]Many of those questioned realize the importance of the “Gastarbeiter,” or foreign worker, in the incredible growth of German post war industry.[25]

           III. Reasons for the Increase in Racially Motivated Attacks

                      One of the main reasons for the rise in xenophobic violence in Germany during the early 1990’s was the ballooning unemployment rate.[26] The unemployment rate in Western Germany in 1993 was 2,257,600 and 1,194,400 in Eastern Germany.[27] A large portion of the German population blamed these exorbitant numbers on the presence of foreigners. In reality, the number of foreigners threatening job security in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall was small.[28] This is due in part to the fact that most foreigners in Germany are placed in jobs which few Germans want.[29]

            From 1990 to 1993 and beyond, Germany faced a labor shortage.[30] During this time the economy was in desperate need of young skilled workers. This lack of skilled labor forced Germany to focus on the admittance of foreigners to fill the gap.[31] Ironically, the thousands of asylum seekers who were denied the ability to obtain legal employment were forced to languish in impoverished areas in Eastern Germany.[32] This had a major impact on the xenophobic sentiment in the area. While many Germans were unemployed at the time, the asylum seekers were able to obtain government housing and a stipend.[33] 

            In addition to the unemployment crisis, Germans faced a housing crisis which forced many to resort to living on the street.[34] Many of the foreigners who entered Germany during this time were housed in state run facilities.[35] The government was also faced with a surplus of asylum seekers which forced it to create novel solutions to the lack of suitable housing.[36] The solutions included housing the excess in anchored ships, army barracks, and school gymnasiums.[37] Germany was also forced to house some

of the asylum seekers in tents, a last resort usually seen only in the developing world.[38] The lax asylum regulations during this time allowed many foreigners to stay in Germany for a period of years, thereby adding to the already dire housing situation.[39]

                       IV. Germany’s Solution to the Immigration Problem of the Early 1990’s           

            In light of the rising anti-foreigner sentiment and the explosion of asylum seekers, Germany was forced to reform its asylum and immigration laws. In 1993, the German government decided to restrict its asylum law and amend the Constitution.[40] One of the main attempts at restriction came in the form of an exclusion of asylum seekers who had crossed the borders of “safe” countries in their travels to Germany.[41]

            The Thirty-Ninth Amendment to the Basic Law embodied the German attempt to restrict asylum law. During its redrafting of the Constitutional amendments, Germany repealed the old Article 16(2) which guaranteed that “[p]ersons persecuted on political grounds shall enjoy the right of asylum.[42]

            The new 16a of the Thirty-Ninth Amendment restated the old 16(2) but included 16(a)2 which denied asylum to anyone who: “…enters the country from a member state

of the European Communities or another third country where the application of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is assured.[43]

            The Thirty Ninth Amendment had been hailed as a “neutral policy” addressing the route asylum seekers took when traveling to Germany.[44] In reality, it was a response to the overwhelming number of applications filed in the years following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.[45]One of the most prominent problems with the Amendment was the possibility of refoulement (return to persecution).[46] Those seeking asylum in Germany were subject to the “safe third country” rule which denied their ability to present their claim to German immigration authorities if they met the criteria, regardless of merit and need.[47]

            It is important to note that all of the countries surrounding Germany have been deemed “safe.[48]” Safe countries are those which “guarantee the application of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights and have been designated as safe by Parliament.[49]” Being surrounded by safe nations has a predictable

effect on asylum applicants who arrive by land. These individuals are immediately denied access at the border.[50] In fact, all applicants are presumed to have arrived by land unless they can prove they arrived by air or sea.[51] 

            In addition to the passing of the constitutional amendment, the public demanded the courts take a tougher stance when sentencing perpetrators of racially motivated violence.[52] The result of the increased sentences was the dissipation of much of the racially motivated violence by the end of 1992 and the beginning of 1993.[53]

            The policies and changes to the Constitution were a harsh yet seemingly necessary series of developments in response to both public outcry and xenophobic sentiments. By the year 1994, the number of asylum seekers fell to a “low” 127,000.[54] This number stands in stark contrast to the almost 500,000 legal applicants in


 The German Immigration Act of 2004

                       The new Immigration Act which was introduced in 2004 and put into effect in

2005 has been hailed as the first comprehensive German framework for immigration.[56] This Act was Germany’s attempt to address its existing and future immigration needs and dilemmas.[57] The Act as a whole was an attempt to foster both “openness and inclusiveness.[58] Unfortunately for Germany and it’s newly introduced Act, experts in the field of immigration predict that the Act will require extensive revision in response to changing conditions in both Germany and the EU as a whole.[59]

            Perhaps the most significant change to take effect through the new legislation was the Residence Act. The previous complicated system of “residence titles” has been reduced to just two.[60] These two titles are the “Limited Term Residence Permit” and the “Unlimited Term Settlement Permit.[61].” A notable result of the new act is the ability of foreign students to remain in Germany for one full year in an attempt to gain work experience.[62]

            Arguably the most significant change accompanying the new act is the German attempt to attract and retain skilled workers.[63] This change made it easier for qualified and skilled workers to enter Germany and remain there.[64] The families of skilled workers may also enter and remain in Germany.[65] Self employed persons were allowed to enter Germany if they invested one million Euros and created at least 10 new jobs.[66]

            The act also allowed for the creation of the BAMF (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge). This was a departure from the past in that there was previously no specific governmental agency that “administered migrant related tasks.[67]” The new BAMF was set up in order to “maintain the central registry of aliens and collect data relating to migration patterns, but will also develop and implement the new integration


Unfortunately for German lawmakers, the new Immigration Act did not stem the xenophobic violence. Violence against foreigners took on a renewed seriousness after the “murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in mid-2004 and the outbreak of violence in

France in late 2005 and in Denmark in early 2006.[69]” Incidentally, these acts of violence coincided with the 2004 expansion of the European Union.

 VI. The 2004 Expansion of the EU

                       In an attempt to expand its power base and political influence, the European Union welcomed Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia into its ranks.[70] The expansion was welcomed with open arms by the economically unstable former communist nations.[71] Several of the existing EU nations expressed fear that the inclusion of their newly democratic neighbors would “destabilize the EU and cause the economic growth to stagnate.[72]” 

            In response to the fears expressed by many of the member nations, these countries passed transitional measures.[73] These measures effectively limited the ability of the citizens of the new member states to move freely within the European Union.[74] These measures counteracted one of the most prominent effects of the European Union: the freedom of movement of people and workers.[75] This movement allows citizens of

member nations to enter and remain in other member nations for a reasonable amount of time in order to look for work.[76]

            When faced with a wave of new immigrants originating in countries below the European Union average as it pertains to wealth, it is little wonder that citizens of existing EU nations, including Germans, reacted violently.[77] The German response was especially violent and racially motivated. In a report issued by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the number of xenophobic attacks rose 25% in 2005.[78] It has become apparent that due to fear of reprisal, victims of racially motivated violence often do not report attacks.[79] Accordingly, it can be assumed that the number of violent incidents is actually higher.

VII. The Turkish Dilemma

                        The violence experienced by immigrants and foreigners in Germany often stems from non violent origins. The German school system represents a prime example of discrimination shrouded by a thin veil of tolerance. People of Turkish origin in Germany

are often the target of this so called “tolerance.” While Germany promotes itself as open to all cultures and groups of people, the reality is that the German school system promotes the idea that Turkish Germans are outsiders.

            The German school system is divided into 3 main categories: the Hauptschule, the Realschule and the Gymnasium.[80]The Haptschule and a fourth category, the Gesamtschule, created in the 1970’s, serve mostly underprivileged, immigrant, and second generation immigrant children.[81]As the lowest level of education, the Haptschule is dominated by immigrants, including children of Turkish origin.[82]  It is estimated that between two thirds and three quarters of children of Turkish descent end up in the Haptschule.[83] Comparatively, only one third of German students attend the lowest level of education.[84]

While children in certain categories, such as the Haptschule, have the option of transitioning into one of the higher levels of education, few exercise this right. In addition, a very small percentage of students in this category choose to go to a University

following the completion of their studies.[85] Not surprisingly, children born in Germany of Turkish decent enjoy slightly less unfavorable statistics.[86]

            On the other end of the spectrum is the highest level of education in German schools: the Gymnasium. This level of education is the only route through which a German student can gain admission to a University. A recent survey shows that as of 2006, 44.7% of German born children attend a Gymnasium, compared to 13.2% of children of Turkish origin.[87] Students who attend this highest level of education are much more likely to obtain the much coveted apprenticeships in their field of choice.[88]Statistically, approximately one third of the non German born students who attend the Haptschule do not obtain a certificate upon finishing their studies.[89] A certificate is often required for a graduate from any German school to obtain an apprenticeship. Even if Turkish born students manage to obtain an apprenticeship, it is often in the occupations receiving the lowest pay and the least number of available full time positions.[90]

In addition to the disproportionate statistics produced by the German school system, until legislation was passed in 1999, Germany refused to grant full citizenship to

children of Turkish descent born in Germany.[91] This failure on Germany’s part produced a stigma which has been applied to the Turkish German youth regardless of whether they were born in Germany or not. In response to this, youth of Turkish descent have experienced feelings of “bitterness, insecurity, and disappointment.[92]” On top of that, the presence of neo-Nazi groups spurred the emergence of Turkish street gangs. This was due in part to the lack of German national identity, but also as a way to defend themselves against the rising tide of violence against “foreigners” in Germany.[93]

These factors have combined to produce a generation of Turkish Germans who have decided not to embrace Germany and its culture as their own.[94] Instead, the Turkish Germans have chosen to embrace a traditional lifestyle comprised mostly of “non-western reference points.[95]” These lifestyles often lead the youth involved to join militant religious and extremist groups.[96]

In response to the inability to assimilate much of the youth of Turkish origin into German society, the 1999 legislation enabled children of foreign workers to obtain dual

citizenship.[97] The law requires at least one foreign worker parent of a child to reside in Germany for eight years before the dual citizenship is approved. In addition, the child must choose one nationality by age 23.[98] Turkey has also identified this as an issue and has taken steps to rectify the situation. Specifically, Turkey has lessened the restrictions denying former Turkish citizens the ability to reacquire their status as citizens.[99]

VIII. Xenophobic Sentiments and a Religious Minority 

            While Germany has attempted to welcome many cultures into its society, it seems that Islam is an oft maligned and misunderstood religious minority. Violence against Muslims peaked worldwide after the events of September 11, 2001 due to a lack of education and understanding regarding Muslims and their beliefs. Germany has seemingly progressed to the point where it welcomes people of all faiths. A closer look reveals the continuing presence of discrimination against those who do not chose a traditional German way of life.

             Fereshta Ludin was born in Afghanistan and became a German citizen in 1995.[100] She obtained all of the qualifications required of teachers in Germany, including attending University and passing several exams.[101]Unfortunately for Ludin, she was denied the ability to teach due to her refusal to remove her hijab (religious headscarf worn by Muslims).[102]

After lodging a complaint, Ludin quickly realized her voice was not being heard. She decided to file a lawsuit claiming the school system was violating “her right to religious freedom and equal treatment.[103]” Her case failed in the lower German courts resulting in a number of appeals. Eventually she reached the Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) where they ruled the refusal to hire Ludin was a violation of her constitutional rights.[104]Unfortunately for Ludin, the FCC’s ruling was worded in a very careful manner. It based its decision on the fact that the school system did not have a “sufficient statutory foundation” upon which to base its refusal to employ her.[105]

In response to the FCC’s ruling, Ludin’s Länder (German state) passed a law banning teachers from donning headscarves.[106]The passing of the law justified the schools refusal to hire Ludin, forcing her to decide whether to abandon either her religious practice or her desire to teach in Germany.[107]

The reasons for Germany’s religious intolerance in Fereshta Ludin’s case are complex. In order to understand why Ludin was discriminated against requires a connection to be drawn between Turkey and Germany. The majority of Turkish foreign workers and Turkish Germans practice Islam.[108] Prior to 1999 and the decision by the German government to allow Turks to pursue German citizenship, Turks were the target of much of the discrimination, regardless of their religious beliefs.[109]The xenophobia culminated in the firebombing and death of four Turks in Mölln, Germany in 1992.[110]. The reaction to the radical murders was a public demand for a response

to the violence against foreigners.[111] 

While relations between Turkish foreign workers and the German people began to improve, so too did the German tolerance of the Muslim faith.[112] However, as the German people became more aware of the presence of Islamic extremists, they became increasingly distrustful of their Turkish and Muslim neighbors.[113]Fereshta Ludin’s case is illustrative of the link between world events and the treatment of foreigners not only in Germany, but worldwide.

It is helpful to understand the historic connection between Germany and Islam however the FCC cited several specific reasons for its decision. The court was concerned that the “headscarf would influence the students.[114]” In order to address this concern, a series of experts were brought in to properly advise the court of the influence the headscarf might produce.[115] None of the experts expressed a concern that the students would be influenced to the point of conversion.[116] Regardless of this, the court concentrated on the influence the headscarf may exert on the students.[117]

The courts involved then examined Germany’s long tradition of embracing Christianity. In its decision, the FCC stated that all laws passed in response to their ruling st treat each religion equally[118]However, upon remand, the FAC (Federal Administrative Court) found that even though the law passed by the Länder referred specifically to an exception for Christianity, it did not violate the requirements set forth by the FCC.[119] The FAC reasoned that Christianity and its associated beliefs were “divorced from their religious meaning” and acted to impart basic values embraced by the German people.[120]

            The FCC did not explicitly state their intention to favor Germany’s Christian roots but it became increasingly obvious that it was their objective. The majority of German states passed laws similar to the original law passed by Ludin’s.[121] A single state passed a law banning virtually all religious garments while the remainder passed laws which restricted religious garments without favoring a single religion.[122]

The decision in the Ludin case demonstrates the continuing German xenophobic sentiment in spite of the great strides taken by the German people. While Fereshta Ludin did not experience racially motivated violence directly, the decisions in her case were the result of decades of discrimination. In order to truly understand why the FCC ruled as it did, we must examine German history as a whole, not just the laws enacted as a result of its decision.  

IX. Proposed Solutions to the German Immigration Dilemma

                  It is obvious that Germany has struggled for a solution to the problem of xenophobic violence from the fall of the Berlin Wall until the present day. The passage of anti-discrimination laws has done little to dissuade the perpetrators of these violent acts. Perhaps the most influential reason for the racial violence is the ballooning unemployment rate in Germany.

            According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate

rose steadily from 1990 to an all time high of 11.7% in 2005.[123] These numbers coincide with a rash of xenophobic violence perpetrated after the passage of the new German Immigration Act of 2004. The German unemployment rate has consistently been among the highest of all the world’s developed nations.[124]

It is apparent that Germany is faced with a daunting task. How does a nation deal with an incredibly high rate of jobless workers while satisfying its need for foreign skilled labor? How can Germany attract and maintain the skilled workers its industry so desperately needs without sparking more xenophobic violence? These are difficult questions which have been contemplated by German leaders for almost two decades.

                 German youth have often struggled for a sense of identity in unified Germany. This struggle leads many young Germans to join right wing groups such as the neo-Nazi’s. These groups give the youth a purpose and goal: to expel the foreigners who have stolen their jobs and polluted their nation.

In order to overcome the pull of the extremist groups, Germany must initiate a youth program which will give these individuals a succinct purpose. Perhaps a solution is to expand the existing defense force. According to the Federal Ministry of Defence, each young male is required to serve nine months in the military.[125] An alternative is civil service of 100 hours each year for six years.[126]

            Perhaps by denying the ability to refuse military service, the German government would be able to foster cohesion amongst its youth. On the other hand, forced military service might be construed as oppressive, thereby exacerbating the existing lack of unity. An obvious yet important drawback to the buildup of German armed forces is the historic perspective by which we view Germany. In the last 100 years there have been two major instances of the buildup of military forces in Germany, both of which had major impacts on world history. For this reason, the military in Germany must be kept under close scrutiny and control.

                       The current German immigration policy is aimed at attracting foreign skilled workers. This is due to the aging population in Germany and its inability to fill certain skilled positions. Instead of attracting outside labor, Germany would likely benefit from implementing a youth education program. By offering reduced or free tuition, Germany would be able to educate its youth, thereby creating its own base of skilled workers.

Germany claims to welcome people of all faiths and nationalities. The reality is that the government has promulgated discriminatory practices even in recent years. Such practices can be observed in the extreme disparity in enrollment numbers in the German school system. Germany must take steps to rectify this in order to create a unified front among its youth. Only by abandoning antiquated racial and ethnic prejudices will Germany be able to lessen the divide among its youth. A gradual equalizing of enrollment numbers will serve to improve the outlook for countless immigrants and children of foreign workers. As conditions for these groups improve, relations among the different ethnic groups will continue to improve.

            School integration coupled with the relaxation of immigration laws in Germany and abroad will gradually lessen the influence exercised by militant and extremist groups. As these groups wane in numbers, Germany will claim its new national identity with a renewed sense of belonging for all.

            Discrimination on the part of government is not limited to the German school system. The court system seems to suffer from a shortsightedness which limits its ability to make impartial rulings. Even at the highest level, the Federal Constitutional Court is not immune from the prevailing views and social norms. The German court system and in turn, the German people, will benefit from a newfound desire to aid the diaspora of all those desiring to embrace its economic opportunity.

            Germany claims to be a country that welcomes freedom of religion. Instead, rulings such as the one in the Ludin case demonstrate its inability to abolish the old ways thinking in exchange for a new all inclusive methodology. The decision and result in this case are a blatant refusal to extend the protection enjoyed by Christian Germans to Germans of all ethnicities and religions. Xenophobic attitudes will continue to pose a threat as long as the court system refuses to recognize the legitimacy of other religions right to equal treatment.

            Another possible solution to Germany’s dilemma is to limit the application of “jus soli.” Jus soli is the principal by which those born on German soil are granted German citizenship. Many countries around the world embrace this idea. For Germany, it may be useful to deny jus soli to those who are born on German soil to foreign worker or refugee parents. This is a harsh solution and will likely be a last ditch solution. On the other hand, if it were embraced, it is possible that Germany would experience an improved sense of unity amongst all German citizens. Those who are “outsiders” would remain so regardless of where they are born. If this idea was to gain support among the legislature and populace of Germany, it would likely result in a partial abolition of jus soli as an outright ban would result in major conflicts among the racial groups. 

X. The Future of German Immigration Law

                              In order to predict the future of German immigration law it is necessary to understand the recent trends. It may be true that Germany has expressed a desire to retain its traditions but it has also opened its doors to millions of outsiders. To some it seems that the German decision to allow dual citizenship and the principal of “jus soli (citizenship through birth within the national territory)” are simply an attempt to stem the rising tide of xenophobic sentiment. Instead, the German FCC has used the model set forth by the international community in its effort to balance the interests of all involved .[127]

            Post World War II Germany and the FCC have made great strides in their attempt to avoid German ethnocentrism and its deleterious effect on national policy.[128] Instead, the FCC often utilizes the model provided by other nations within continental Europe. This is due in part to Germany’s desire to “rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the world.[129] In addition, the German government and the FCC remain resolute in their desire to prevent the rise of another “lawless” government.[130]

            Not only has it embraced the international community as a model for its immigration laws and programs, the German government has taken great strides to improve the ability of foreign guest workers and non citizens to obtain citizenship. For those guest workers who do not desire to obtain German citizenship, the German government has offered a seemingly endless string of extensions.[131] This is a far cry from the supposedly self righteous and disinterested governing body some have accused Germany of embracing.

            If Germany continues down its current path it is likely to continue to loosen restrictions on immigration and embrace the cultures crossing its borders. When examined objectively, this may not be the best way for Germany to improve its international standing. As the German government loosens its borders and citizenship restrictions, xenophobic violence continues to threaten its peaceful society. A rise in violence and discrimination against foreigners will eventually require the government to take drastic steps. So it seems that there is no easy way to predict the future of German immigration reform.

XI. Conclusion

             Since the end of World War II, Germany has been the promised land for huge numbers of asylum seekers and immigrants. As a successful industrialized nation, Germany offers economic stability which is wholly unavailable in many countries of origin. As such, Germany had to endure decades of liberal immigration policy which culminated in early 1990 with the opening of the border between Eastern and Western Germany.

            During the early 1990’s Germany attempted to maintain its open borders policy as it pertained to immigration. Faced with extreme numbers of people fleeing economically depressed former communist nations, Germany was compelled to pass a series of radical constitutional amendments limiting the approval of potential asylees. This attempt to limit the number of people admitted was met with mixed success. Even after the implementation of the new policies, Germany remained the most popular nation for asylum applicants in the European Union.

            During this time, the incidents of xenophobic violence continued to rise. German youth joined extremist groups at an alarming rate as the unemployment rate continued to soar. The incidents of violence were reduced after the passing of the amendments in 1993 but were not eliminated. The expansion of the European Union in 2004 saw a resurgence of racially motivated attacks.

            Germany must face its past and present with a renewed sense of steadfast devotion. This devotion must come in the form of a commitment to its own populace. Instead of continuing its pattern of ever more restrictive immigration policies, it must finally approve policies aimed at strictly limiting the number of asylum applicants who are allowed to enter and stay in the country. Perhaps this will finally solve the ever present unemployment crisis and force the German people to fill the vacant positions for skilled workers.

            Limiting the number of approved visas and asylum applications may solve Germany’s unemployment problem. Unfortunately it will not solve the ever lingering sense of isolation felt by immigrants and children of foreign workers. Great strides have been made towards unifying the German people and those desiring to acquire German


citizenship. Recent legislative enactments and court decisions have served to aid in this unification.

            Other court decisions have served to reignite and reinforce old prejudices. The case of Fereshta Ludin represents an egregious example of disproportionate treatment. While the court system in Germany has made its stance on other cultures and religions

seemingly clear, the people continue to cry out for a solution. This solution may come in the form of new programs designed to integrate and assimilate immigrants and children of foreign workers into German society.

            Attempting to assimilate other cultures into their own may work for the German people but it may also backfire. Large numbers of immigrants entering Germany are devout Muslims. Forcing or offering to aid in cultural integration is not likely to be a rousing success as most Muslims are not willing to give up their traditional ways. So the German government is left with a difficult question: how do we create a more cohesive social structure without alienating those seeking refuge and economic prosperity?

            It may be prudent to begin with small steps, including what is best described as “desegregation” of the German schools. Welcoming other cultures into the exclusive levels of German grade school will effectively lay a foundation for understanding and tolerance among the youth. This translates into less xenophobia as the German youth become accustomed to the presence of other religions and social norms.

            Germany is an ever changing nation. Its welcome mat was often pulled out from under those who sought to enter and acquire citizenship while retaining traditional points of view. Fortunately for those seeking admission, the stringent laws and requirements have been relaxed recently in response to public outcry. The system in place in Germany continues to improve, even if the change is



[1]Mashiri v. Ashcroft, 383 F.3d 1112 (9th Cir. 2004).

[2] Id. at 1115.

[3] Id. at 1117.

[4] Mob of 50 Attacks Indians in East German Town, (last visited Nov. 20, 2009).


[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Maryellen Fullerton, Failing the Test: Germany Leads Europe in Dismantling Refugee Protection, 36 Tex. Int’l L. J. 231, 235 (2001).

[8]  Id.

[9] Id. at 236.

[10] Id.

[11]Michael Devine, German Asylum Law Reform and the European Community: Crisis in Europe, 7 Geo. Immigr. L. J. 795, 798 (1993).

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Richard A. C. Cort, Resettlement of Refugees: National or International Duty?, 32 Tex Int’l L. J. 307, 325 (1997).

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18]Devine, supra note 11, at 795.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21]Karen Y. Crabbs, Resurgence of Nazism in Germany – An Attitude Problem, 8 Fla. J. Int. L. 33, 36 (1993).

[22] Id.

[23]Mathew W. Pile, Note, Ten Years of Basic Law Amendments: Developing a Constitutional Model of German Unification, 34 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 633, 657 (2001).

[24]Devine, supra note 11, at 801.

[25] Id.

[26]Crabbs, supra note 21, at 55.

[27] Id.

[28] Id. at 56.

[29] Id. at 57.

[30]Devine, supra note 11, at 812.

[31] Id.

[32] Id.

[33] Id. at 812.

[34]Crabbs, supra note 21, at 56.

[35] Id.

[36] Id. 

[37] Id.

[38] Id.

[39] Id.

[40] Fullerton, supra note 7, at 237.

[41] Id.

[42] Pile, supra note 23, at 656.

[43] Id. at 657.

[44] Fullerton, supra note 7, at 243.

[45] Id.

[46] Id.

[47] Id.

[48] Id. at 244.

[49] Id. at 243.

[50] Id. at 244.

[51] Id.

[52] Pile, supra note 23, at 657.

[53] Id.

[54] Fullerton, supra note 7, at 237.

[55] Id.

[56]Helen Elizabeth Hartnell, Article, Belonging: Citizenship and Migration in the European Union and in Germany, 24 Berkeley J. Int’l L. 330, 386 (2006).

[57] Id.

[58] Id.

[59] Id.

[60] Id. at 387.

[61] Id. at 388.

[62] Id. at 386.

[63] Id.

[64] Id.

[65] Id. at 386.

[66] Id.

[67] Id.

[68] Id. at 386.

[69] Id. at 390.

[70]Natalie Shimmel, Article, Welcome to Europe, but Please Stay Out: Freedom of Movement and the May 2004 Expansion of the European Union, 24 Berkeley J. Int’l L. 760 (2006).

[71] Id.

[72] Id. at 764.

[73] Id.

[74] Id.

[75] Id.

[76] Id. at 765.

[77] Id. at 784.

[78]Eddie Bruce-Jones, Note, Race, Space, and the Nation-State: Racial Recognition and the Prospects for Substantive Equality Under Anti-Discrimination Law in France and Germany, 39 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 423, 429 (2008).

[79] Id. 

[80]Catherine J. Ross, Conference, Turkey: At the Crossroads of Secular West and Traditional East: Perennial Outsiders: The Educational Experience of Turkish Youth in Germany, 24 Am. U. Int’l L. Rev. 685, 692-693 (2009).

[81] Id. 

[82] Id.

[83] Id.

[84] Id. 

[85] Id.

[86] Id.

[87] Id. at 694.

[88] Id. 

[89] Id. at 695.

[90] Id.

[91]Nicole Jacoby, Note, America’s De Facto Guest Workers: Lessons from Germany’s Gastarbeiter for US Immigration Reform, 27 Fordham Int’l L.J. 1569, 1601 (2004).

[92] Id. at 1601, 1602.

[93] Id. at 1602.

[94] Id.

[95] Id.

[96] Id.

[97] Id. at 1606.

[98]Spencer Wolff, Student Note, Uniting the Volk: A Plea for Thick Historicizing in Analyses of Citizenship Laws, 15 Colum. J. Eur. L. 299, 318 (2009).

[99] Id.

[100]Ruben Seth Fogel, Note, Headscarves in German Public Schools: Religious Minorities Are Welcome in Germany, Unless – God Forbid – They Are Religious, 51 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 618, 620 (2007).

[101] Id. at 620.

[102] Id. 

[103] Id. at 621.

[104] Id.

[105] Id.

[106] Id. at 622.

[107] Id.

[108]Robert A. Kahn, The Headscarf as Threat? A Comparison of German and American Legal Discourses 4-10 (bepress Legal Series. Research, Working Paper No. 1504, 2006), available at

[109] Id. at 4.

[110] Id.

[111] Id.

[112] Id. at 5.

[113] Id.

[114] Id. at 9.

[115] Id.

[116] Id. at 10.

[117] Id.

[118]Fogel, supra note 100, at 638.

[119] Id. at 639.

[120] Id.

[121] Id. at 641.

[122] Id.

[123]International Comparisons of Annual Labor Force Statistics, Adjusted to U.S. Concepts, 10 Countries, 1970-20008 (2009),

[124] Id.

[125] (follow “English” hyperlink; then follow “Security Policy” hyperlink; then follow “Bundeswehr” hyperlink; then follow “military service” hyperlink; then follow “History – The Compulsory Military Service” hyperlink). 

[126] Id.

[127] Wolff, supra note 98, at 308.

[128] Id. at 307.

[129] Id. at 308.

[130] Id.

[131] Id. at 313.


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