German Policies Toward Ethnic German Minorities
T he influx to Germany of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) has always been regarded as a special case by German policymakers in comparison to other types of immigration. The conditions for ethnic German immigration are specified in Germany's underlying legal framework, most notably Article 116 of the Federal Republic's postwar constitution. Yet the laws that regulate the applications, allowances, and entry of ethnic German immigrants, as well as measures of social aid and integration aimed at such immigrants, should not be interpreted as forerunners of a general "immigration law," although they may eventually serve as a model for future law. The particularity of ethnic German immigration to Germany is reinforced by relatively positive attitudes on the part of the indigenous population toward an influx of seemingly "similar" people. Only recently, with the fall of the iron curtain, has ethnic German migration come into question because of the fear of the large number of entrants to come.
The following cornerstones form the basis for interpreting the "special case" of ethnic German immigration from Eastern Europe and FSU countries: