Germany - Migration

From 1946 to 1968, 475,505 Germans emigrated to the United States, 262,807 to Canada, and 99,530 to Australia and Oceania. During the same period, however, millions of people of German origin and/or speech migrated to the FRG from eastern Europe, notably from the former Czechoslovakia and GDR. Migration from the GDR to the FRG reached a climax just before the erection of the frontier wall in Berlin on 13 August 1961. It is estimated that about 4 million people—many of them skilled workers and professionals—crossed from the GDR to the FRG during the 40-year existence of the GDR. Immigration of ethnic Germans from Poland continued to be heavy after 1968, totaling about 800,000 between 1970 and 1989.

According to German law, persons who are not ethnic Germans are foreigners (except for the few granted citizenship) even if they were born and have spent their entire lives in Germany. Conversely, ethnic Germans are not foreigners even if emigrating from birthplaces and homes in eastern Europe.

In May 1996, 560,000 ethnic Germans (out of a total of 1.1 million in 1989) had left Central Asia for Germany since 1992. These returning ethnic Germans were formerly deported by Stalin during World War II as they were living in the Volga region and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

Germany remains the largest asylum country in Europe, receiving 104,353 applications in 1997 and 98,644 in 1998. The main countries of origin were the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Iran. Some 350,000 Bosnians were granted temporary protection in Germany in the early 1990s. Repatriation plans began for the Bosnians in October 1996, when 30,000 Bosnians repatriated voluntarily. During 1998, approximately 83,000 people returned to Bosnia under the Government-Assisted Return Programme (GARP). Another 2,021 were returned forcibly. By 1999, more than 250,000 Bosnians had returned to their homeland.

On 10 October 1996, Germany and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia reached a repatriation agreement for 135,000 Yugoslavs to return over the next three years.

Under the UNHCR/IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme, 14,689 people had been evacuated from Macedonia to Germany as of 1999. The evacuees, as well as Kosovars who had already sought asylum in Germany but whose cases were still pending or already rejected, were granted temporary protection, renewable every three months. As of 20 August 1999, 4,147 evacuees had returned to their homeland.

In 1999, Germany's net migration rate was 2.12 migrants per 1,000 population.

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