Michael Rasch (JLH, trans.), Gates of Vienna, July 9, 2019
Frankfurt am Main, Offenbach, Heilbronn, Sindelfingen — in these and other cities, Germans with no immigration background are still the largest group, but are no longer an absolute majority. That affects West Germany more than the East, and cities more than non-urban areas.
Frankfurt is the Vanguard
The majority society has already ceased to exist in Frankfurt am Main. This is also true for some smaller cities like Offenbach (only 37% still native German), Heilbronn, Sindelfingen and Pforzheim, explains the immigration expert Jens Schneider, who does research at the University of Osnabrück. The same thing will happen soon in several other German cities. In early 2018, according to the city’s statistical yearbook, 46.9% were native Germans. Germans with immigration background were 23.6% and foreigners — 53.1% together. The proportion of native Germans has declined in recent decades. The 50% threshold was first crossed in 2015 with 48.8%. Schneider rejects putting Germans with immigration background and foreigners in the same pot, and, like many of his colleagues, advocates revising the categories. The concept of immigration background gives a false impression. In fact, ca. two thirds of all children of Germans with immigration background (including children of foreigners) are born in Germany. They are therefore German and would often have the prospect of a much better professional career than their parents.
There Is No More Majority Society
By present reckoning, Frankfurt a.M. is probably the only major city where the majority society has flipped, with Germans with an immigration background and foreigners at 53.1%. According to the “Intercultural Integration Report of 2017” of the city of Munich, Nuremberg (44.6%), Stuttgart (44.1%), Munich (43.2%) and Düsseldorf (40.2%) also show high percentages of foreigners and Germans with immigration background.
Strong Economy Attracts Immigrants
It is almost exclusively West German and some South German cities that are affected. This may be because of the economic power of the South and the related need for labor. At any rate, there are also a number of cities where the proportion of these groups is considerably less. They tend to be in the East and North of Germany. In Hannover and Berlin, for instance, it is only ca. 30%, in Kiel 24%, in Potsdam 12% and in Dresden 11% (figures from end of 2016). Before unification, the East German states had very little immigration, and this is reflected in today’s numbers.
Germans Continue to be the Absolute Majority
The two groups — Germans with immigration background and foreigners — are quite heterogeneous. First after WWII came the expelled ethnic Germans. Then, as early as 1955, the federal Republic concluded the first recruitment agreement with Italy and countries such as Spain and Portugal, as Schneider says.
Immigration was a steady stream. The first European work immigrants were followed by especially Turks, but also Moroccans and South Koreans. After that came the late-returning expellees from the former Soviet Union, returning to the land of their forefathers, as well as refugees from the Balkans during the war there. Because of the freedom of personal movement in the European Union, Germany drew many people from other member states, not least Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. The refugee wave in the middle of this decade provided a further growth of the group of foreigners.