Germany's Immigration Policies
Migration and loss of control stood at the origins of the new Germany. The East Germans fled an oppressive regime and brought it down in a dialectical process of exit,voice,and disloyalty. Since the 1950s, migration to West Germany had endangered the very existence of the Communist regime due to the magnetism of the West German state and society (Thränhardt, 1995: 60). To secure their sphere of influence, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) leaders built the Berlin wall in 1961, a symbol of state control and coercion, which for the following decades was largely recognized as unpleasant but definite proof of Communist Germany´s sovereignty and stabilization. West Germans proclaimed free movement as a cornerstone of freedom and democracy and every refugee coming from East Germany was received as a proof of the superiority of the free world. Clearly, the migration regime reflected the general political situation.
In the détente of the early 1970s, East Germany was acknowledged as a state, but with reservations about citizenship. East Germans leaving could claim West German citizenship. Despite protests, East Germany accepted this special relationship. Beginning in 1976, the Communist regime expelled opponents or let them go, to get rid of the nuclei of turmoil. Moreover, West Germany used its economic power to buy out political prisoners from East Germany and ethnic Germans from Poland, Romania and the Soviet Union. This reduced the totalitarian pressure and made it less dangerous to participate in the opposition in the GDR, as the worst consequence would be imprisonment and subsequent transfer to the West.
Courageous refugees were instrumental in the breakdown of the Communist regime. It came about in the summer of 1989, when the Hungarian borders were opened and tens of thousands took the roads to