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This cultural history in documents offers a rich archive for the comparative study of modern Germany against the backdrop of European integration, transnational migration, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Divided into eleven thematic chapters, Germany in Transit includes 200 original texts in English translation, as well as a historical introduction, chronology, glossary, bibliography, and filmography.
WE BEGIN THIS VOLUME with documents tracing the turbulent itinerary of foreign labor recruitment in West Germany from the postwar era to the present. Though Italian seasonal workers had been employed in the southwestern province of Baden-Württemberg since 1952, recruitment on the federal level began in January 1956. Our first text is a 1955 contract between Italy and West Germany "in the spirit of European solidarity" that would place Italian laborers for a maximum term of nine months. Members of the center-left Social Democratic Party objected to the program, claiming that the government should reduce domestic unemployment before hiring foreign labor power. Many questioned whether the postwar German infrastructure was prepared to house, transport, and provide basic services for the 100,000 new recruits expected in 1956.
Despite the plan's detractors, the "guest-worker initiative" evoked a progressive vision of pan-European mobility, foreshadowing many of the transnational features of 1990s labor policy. The contract idealized a flexible, multifunctional laborer who, in contrast to unionized domestic wage earners, could be transplanted to new sites and milieus with ease. This mobile Italian worker would benefit from a symbiotic relationship with the capital-rich, labor-poor West German economy, while continuing to support family members in Italy. The logic of the contract precludes classical immigration by assuming the recruits would neither desire nor need permanent civic membership in the host country. This pro-European, transnational outlook among the contract's negotiators led them to ignore the concrete manifestations of the nation-state: borders, passport controls, xenophobia, and restricted visas.
In the late 1950s, as industry leaders dubbed Italian recruitment a success, the Labor Ministry began to explore similar possibilities beyond the European Economic Community, which then had only six member states. Texts such as "The Verona Bottleneck" (1960) and "The Turks Are Coming" (1961) announce the recruitment of Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish workers. In these articles, government spokespersons and journalists question the prudence of expanding the guest-worker program beyond the European Economic Community. A 1961 press release from the Confederation of German Employers' Associations suggests that West Germany should consider expanding its economic aid to Turkey instead of expropriating that country's labor power.
Like the recruitment contract with Italy, several of the documents in this chapter exemplify the more "performative" artifacts of early labor migration-informational pamphlets, sociological and demographic research studies, and invitations for labor placement. For example, "How the Turkish Worker Should Behave and Defend His Character in a Foreign Country," a Turkish-language pamphlet distributed by the Istanbul-based Turkish Labor Placement Office in 1963, advertises West Germany as an anticommunist, nationalist country that values hard work above all. Recruits, it suggests, should honor and reflect the virtues of the Turkish Republic and its Ottoman predecessors at all costs. Another text, from 1973, "Invitation for Labor Placement," notifies the addressee of his pending placement in Western Europe and instructs him to present himself for transport at a specific date and time.
Other texts document the public image of immigrants in these early years-whether as caricatures, homesick displaced persons, or future citizens. Giacomo Maturi's 1961 lecture at a nationwide meeting of employers advanced a culturalist theory of guest-worker productivity, suggesting that mental and emotional differences between German and Italian workers required two distinctly different managerial approaches in the workplace. Conny Froboess's popular 1962 song, "Two Little Italians," illustrates this exoticized nostalgia, picking up on the romantic image of the homesick Italian worker.
Though the nine-month "rotation principle" was supposed to be one of the structural mainstays of labor migration in West Germany, it had been all but abandoned in practice by the mid-1960s. A 1965 text, distributed by the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Placement Office and entitled "Support for the Foreign Employee," took initial steps to acknowledge the permanent nature of immigrant cultures in West Germany. This text asks politicians and citizens to support "coexistence" initiatives, occupational advancement, and cultural programs for guest workers.
A further group of texts index a corpus of political journalism in West Germany that critiqued the inequities and political foibles arising from the guest-worker program. These texts reveal the persistence of a fundamental ambivalence in the mainstream press about the sustainability of temporary, rotation-based labor. "Big Welcome for Armando sa Rodriguez" (1964) reports on an official reception ceremony for the country's 1 millionth guest worker. Later articles, including "Come, Come, Come!-Go, Go, Go!" (1970) and "Recruitment of Guest Workers Stopped" (1973), speak to the living conditions that had arisen from temporary recruitment, including workplace xenophobia and housing inequity. "The Turks Rehearsed the Uprising" (1973) documents a "wildcat strike" at the Ford factory in Cologne, where Turkish autoworkers led a sustained campaign against unfair labor practices and inadequate union representation. Two other texts from the postrecruitment era-Chancellor Helmut Kohl's "Coalition of the Center" (1984) and Irina Ludat's "A Question of the Greater Fear" (1985)-address the exclusionary after-effects of the 1973 moratorium. Ludat's exposé critiques Chancellor Kohl's "remigrant incentive" program, which sought to pay immigrants a one-time sum to leave Germany for good.
"The Card Trick" (2000) comments on the federal government's sudden announcement of a Green Card initiative to attract high-tech workers and suggests that parliamentarians across the political spectrum have bowed to corporate interests, instead of acknowledging immigrant communities' pleas for equal rights in employment. "The Campus That Never Sleeps" (2000) and "Carte Blanche in Green" (2002) comment on the itineraries of high-tech migrants from India and Eastern Europe and on Germany's struggle to counter its own IT brain drain to the United States. We conclude this chapter with Fotini Mavromati's 2005 article "Odyssey into the Promised Land," which surveys illegal immigration in a Europe that no longer has internal border controls.
The guest-worker program of the 1960s and 1970s brought about the transcontinental shift of millions of families, along with their assets, ideals, institutions, languages, music, and food. No one at the Ministry of Labor in 1955 could have imagined the transnational cultures that would soon emerge from this experiment. A comparative look at the guest-worker program and the Green Card initiative reveals that, in both cases, the federal government relied on similar conceptions for securing flexible, temporary "labor power" to boost German competitiveness in world markets. In surveying Germany's two major international labor-recruitment programs of the past 50 years, we encounter a number of questions. Can temporary labor programs succeed without systematically exploiting those who participate in them? Could Germany have avoided the xenophobic developments of the 1980s if it had afforded migrant laborers permanent resident status or citizenship? What role did the ideal of a mobile, borderless Europe play in the guest-worker program, even in its early years? As the U.S. government considers implementing bilateral "guest-worker" programs with Latin American countries, what lessons can be learned from the German case?
1 A HUNDRED THOUSAND ITALIAN WORKERS ARE COMING
First published as "Hunderttausend italienische Arbeiter kommen" in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (December 21, 1955). Translated by David Gramling. The term zone border in this text refers to the border between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, established in 1949.
Rome: Storch and Martino Have Signed the Contract
With a certain celebratory air, Foreign Minister Martino and Federal Labor Minister Storch signed an agreement on the employment of Italian laborers at the Palazzo Chigi on Tuesday. Martino commented, "A new period of fruitful cooperation between the two countries has begun."
The preamble makes a pledge to the spirit of European solidarity. Italian workers will enjoy the same working conditions as are stipulated for German workers. The agreement was sketched out on July 18, though some details were resolved later by Director Dr. Rudolf Pertz and an advisory panel at the Federal Ministry of Labor. These details were primarily concerned with questions of social services and provisions for workers' family members. The Italian negotiators did not conceal their contentment with one particular aspect: in contrast to Italy's labor agreements with other countries, Germany will pay family allowances even when family members remain in Italy. The Federal Ministry of Labor was concerned that Italian workers in Germany could not be housed in as "homelike" a way as would be necessary in today's times. This problem could, the officials contend, be overcome. But the flow of Italian workers into Germany can only be promoted to the extent that housing is available for them.
In the coming years, a hundred thousand Italian workers are expected, although the German economy could accept many more. Recruitment will begin in January . All economic sectors will be involved, but primarily the agricultural and building trades, as well as the mechanical industries. Later, when Italian workers have acquired the necessary German-language skills for occupational safety standards, mining positions will be added. A joint German-Italian advisory board will assess and regulate all issues that pertain to the agreement.
The Social Democrats' Concerns
BONN-DECEMBER 20. On Tuesday, the Social Democratic faction objected to the plan, claiming that organized recruitment of foreign workers should commence only when the domestic economic market has no more labor power. Such is their position on the German-Italian agreement. Here, the faction is referring to the high level of permanent unemployment in the zone-border regions and is calling on the government of the Federal Republic to undertake all possible efforts to bring these unemployed people to the industrial centers.
Federal Labor Minister Anton Storch responded by pointing out that the Federal Institute for Labor Placement and Unemployment Insurance in Nuremberg will only distribute work permits for foreign workers if the foreigners have the same working conditions and the same employment protections as German workers.
State Secretary Sauerborn from the Federal Ministry of Labor spoke to the concern that recruiting Italians could lead to a destabilization of German salary standards, alleging that the German-Italian agreement mitigates such concerns. The costs of recruitment, he continued, would be covered by the Italian government and by German employers, who would have to pay a uniform flat rate to cover travel costs from the Italian border to the German labor site.
2 DECLARATION OF ACCORD BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC CONCERNING THE RECRUITMENT AND PLACEMENT OF ITALIAN WORKERS IN THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY
Published as "Bekanntmachung vom 11. Januar 1956" in Heimat: Vom Gastarbeiter zum Bürger (Bonn: Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für die Belange der Ausländer and Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1995), 79. Translated by Tes Howell. This document, signed on December 20, 1955, in Rome, represents the first in a series of bilateral agreements on labor recruitment in West Germany. Subsequently, similar agreements were signed with Spain and Greece (1960), Turkey (1961), Portugal (1964), Tunisia and Morocco (1965), and Yugoslavia (1968).
The government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the government of the Italian Republic,
Guided by the desire to promote and deepen relations between their peoples in the spirit of European solidarity, to benefit both countries, and to strengthen the existing ties of friendship between them; in the endeavor to achieve a high employment rate and to utilize productive potential to the fullest; and with the conviction that these efforts serve the common interests of their peoples and promote their economic and social progress, have reached the following Accord concerning the recruitment and placement of Italian workers in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Section I: General Provisions
Article 1: (1) When the government of the Federal Republic of Germany (herewith referred to as Federal Republic) determines a demand for workers, which it wishes to fulfill through an in-sourcing of workers with Italian citizenship, it will notify the Italian government as to which occupations or occupational groups and to what approximate extent there is a need for workers. (2) The Italian government will notify the Federal Republic whether there is a possibility of accommodating this demand. (3) On the basis of these communications, both countries will agree to what extent, in which occupations or occupational groups, and at what point the recruitment and placement of workers of Italian citizenship in the Federal Republic shall be undertaken. [...]
Section II: Recruitment and Placement
Article 6: The Italian applicants must provide the following identifying documents to the German Commission:
a certificate providing the results of an examination of their occupational and health qualifications;
a personal identification card with photo;
a certificate issued by the respective mayor, stating that the holder has no criminal record;
an official certificate of their marital status. [...]
Section IV: Support, Wage Transfer, and Workers' Families
[...] Article 15: In accordance with the relevant German foreign exchange regulations, Italian workers can transfer their entire earned income back to Italy.
Article 16: (1) Italian workers who wish to arrange for their family members to join them can apply for a promissory note for a residence permit for these family members from the Foreigner Police by providing official documentation that there is sufficient living space for the family members. The authorities will prudently consider the applications and render a decision as soon as possible. [...]
Section VII: Final Provisions
[...] Article 22: The terms of this Accord do not countervene more favorable international regulations governing free movement of workers between European countries, but are nonetheless binding for the Federal Republic of Germany and the Italian Republic.
Article 23: This Accord will come into effect on the day of its signing. It is binding for one year and will be automatically extended each year if it is not discontinued by either government at least three months before its expiration date.
Signed in Rome on December 20, 1955, in two copies, German and Italian, whereby the provisions are binding in both languages. [Signatories were Anton Storch, Federal Minister for Labor for Germany; Gaetano Martino, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Italy; and Clemens von Brentano, Ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany in Rome.]
3 THE VERONA BOTTLENECK
First published as "Engpass Verona" in Der Spiegel (April 27, 1960). Translated by David Gramling.
In recent days, that perennially restless search through Europe's economic hinterlands, aiming to drum up fresh reserves for West Germany's rural-flight-stricken labor market, came to a successful conclusion at the Bonn Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Bureau's State Secretary, Dr. Albert Hilger van Scherpenberg, signed a document in Bonn that will open up employment opportunities for Spanish workers in the Federal Republic; the director of his department, Ministerial Director Dr. Friedrich Janz, signed a second agreement that provides for the recruitment of Greece's unemployed for West Germany.
Excerpted from Germany in Transit Copyright © 2007 by The Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission.
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