Chronology

1994

  • Leyla Onur and Cem Özdemir become the first elected Bundestag representatives of Turkish descent. Onur has served in the European Parliament as a German delegate since 1989.
  • In May, a number of German right-wing youths attacks a group of asylum-seeking Africans and chases them down the streets in the downtown area of Magdeburg.

1993

  • On May 29, Saime Genç (4), Hülya Genç (9), Gülüstan Öztürk (12), Hatice Genç (18), Gürsün Gürsün İnce (27) die in an arson attack at Lower Werner Street in Solingen, West Germany. They were all female members of a family that had lived in Germany for 23 years. The attack leads to pro-Turkish, antiracist demonstrations throughout the country and a public discussion about right-wing extremism in Germany. Close to 3 million Germans protest against racism in nightly candlelight vigils (Lichterketten) across Germany.
  • In June, the Berliner artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock cause a controversy with their public art installation. The signs mounted in the Schöneberg district of Berlin placed German anti-jewish laws of the 1930s and 1940s into a contemporary context thus robbing the public space of its historic naivety and pointing to the absence of its once affluent Jewish population (which included Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt). The signs are removed by the police due to public complaints.
  • On June 30, an amendment to the Foreigner Act gives those who were born in Germany or have lived there for at least 15 years legal entitlement to naturalization. Otherwise, the Empire- and State- Citizenship Act of 1913 still governs the naturalization of foreigners.
  • On July 1, changes in the Basic Law, under the “asylum compromise,” go into effect. The annual quota of persons who can receive recognition as ethnic Germans is set at 220,000.
  • Teams of the German Soccer League participate in the project “Peacefully with One Another” by wearing a badge on their uniforms that reads “My friend is a foreigner.”

1992

  • Immigration to Germany reaches a new record with 1,219,348 new admissions. Some 440,000 asylum seekers file applications; 230,000 ethnic Germans enter from Poland, Romania, and the former Soviet Union. Another 350,000 refugees flee the war in Bosnia to find “temporary protection” in Germany.
  • On February 7, the Maastricht Treaty on the European Union is signed. The treaty establishes new forms of cooperation between member-state governments in defense, justice, security, agriculture, the environment, energy, and transportation.
  • In May, ARTE (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne), a bilingual television-programming venture is inaugurated. Funded by the French and German governments, it focuses on cultural programs of transnational interest.
  • In August, hundreds of right-wing youths attack a reception center for asylum seekers and a home for Vietnamese contract workers in Rostock-Lichtenhagen, while bystanders from the neighborhood watch and applaud.
  • On November 22, an arson attack in Mölln kills a Turkish woman, her granddaughter, and her niece.

1991

  • Emine Sevgi Özdamar, a Turkish writer and actress living in Düsseldorf and Berlin, wins the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. Controversy over the quality of “German” literature ensues.
  • On February 15, a resolution of the federal states’ prime ministers allows acceptance of Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union as Kontingentflüchtlinge, or quota refugees. The resolution also allows Jewish immigrants to keep dual citizenship. Some 170,000 Russian Jews immigrate to Germany over the next decade.
  • The Bundestag names Berlin the new capital of unified Germany.
  • On September 30, an arson attack on a home for asylum seekers in the former East German city of Hoyerswerda injures 30 people.

1990

  • Some 5 million foreigners live in West Germany (8 percent of the population), 192,000 in East Germany.
  • In February, Chancellor Kohl receives assurances from Gorbachev that the Soviet Union supports the reunification of Germany.
  • Some 200,000 Russian Jews (“quota refugees”) are granted special asylum status.
  • TRT, Turkey’s state-run television and radio corporation, begins daily broadcasts to Germany via cable.
  • The Bundestag passes a new Foreigner Act, reaffirming the principle of ius sanguinis, by which only those of German “blood” heritage (children born to German parents) receive automatic German citizenship. Naturalization procedures become easier, yet the legislature rejects dual citizenship.
  • On July 1, the monetary union introduces the German mark into East Germany.
  • On September 12, the Zwei-plus-Vier-Vertrag (Two-plus-Four Treaty) is signed in Moscow between the GDR, the FRG, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, affirming the reunification of the two Germanys. Germany receives full sovereignty by accepting the existing borders (that is, by giving up eastern provinces in Poland and Russia). The treaty calls for Russia to withdraw troops from the former GDR by 1994.
  • On October 3, the German Democratic Republic (16.3 million citizens) is dissolved into the Federal Republic of Germany. With a population of 79 million, the reunified Germany becomes the largest country in the European Union.
  • On November 24, neo-Nazis in the former East German city of Eberswalde murder Amadeo Antonio from Angola.
  • Following the overthrow and execution of Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu, more than 100,000 ethnic German Romanians flee the country. The number of ethnic German immigrants from Eastern Europe rises to close to 400,000, with the greatest number coming from Poland.
  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union, 2 million ethnic Germans immigrate to Germany during the next years.