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
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.