The German government's open-door Aussiedler policy, 1988-1992
The political reform process that gathered momentum in eastern and south-eastern Europe during 1987 and 1988 was accompanied by a growing exodus of ethnic and cultural Germans (Aussiedler) who sought resettlement in West Germany. The Aussiedler were welcomed enthusiastically by Chancellor Kohl as fellow German compatriots who would be a benefit to the economy. The opposition SPD voiced its concerns over the government's motives for maintaining the open-door Aussiedler immigration policy and over the likely integration difficulties. The government sought to respond to public concerns in 1988 by reassessing its Aussiedler policy. It decided firstly to continue the open-door Aussiedler policy (as a constitutional right), secondly to implement an Aussiedler integration assistance programme and thirdly to seek to persuade potential Aussiedler not to emigrate to West Germany. The thesis adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to analysing the government's open-door Aussiedler policy during the period 1988 to 1992, formulating the political and public concerns over the Aussiedler policy into three main research questions. These questions analyse: 1. Whether the government's declared motives for maintaining the open-door Aussiedler policy were justified. 2. Whether the government's optimism over the ability of Aussiedler to successfully integrate into the employment market was justified. 3. Whether the government's policy of seeking to persuade potential Soviet Aussiedler to remain in their country, by negotiating on the re-creation of an autonomous German Volga republic, was viable. The findings for these three main questions allow for an assessment of government Aussiedler policy for the period 1988 - 1992. The thesis argues that there was evidence during the period of study to support the argument that the Aussiedler group was to a degree instrumentalised by the government to serve its own political, economic and nationalistic purposes. Government confidence concerning Aussiedler employment integration proved to be too optimistic, as Aussiedler had specific causes of unemployment. Furthermore, the attempt to negotiate the re-creation of an autonomous German republic in Russia was unsuccessful. The exodus has continued.