• East Germany signs an accord with Algeria for contract workers.
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film “Angst essen Seele auf” premiers on March 5th. The film depicts the trials and tribulation of the unusual relationship between a Moroccan foreign worker and a German charwoman, 20 years his senior.
  • Brandt resigns after spy revelations surface about one of his aides. The new chancellor, Helmut Schmidt (SPD), continues Brandt’s Ostpolitik.
  • On November 13, the West German government decrees that any family member of a guest worker arriving after November 30, 1974, will not be permitted to work.


  • Some 2.6 million guest workers now reside in West Germany. A total of 14 million guest workers had come between 1955 and 1973; 11 million to 12 million returned home.
  • Both West and East Germany become members of the United Nations, a “global association of governments facilitating cooperation in international law and security, economic development, and social equity.”
  • East Germany signs an accord with North Vietnam for contract laborers who will work in industrial centers, such as Chemnitz and Erfurt, for a maximum of five years.
  • On July 30, Der Spiegel‘s cover headline reads, “The Turks are coming-Save yourself if you can!” Turks now account for 23 percent of all foreigners living in West Germany.
  • From August 24 to 30, a wild strike among Turkish employees at the Cologne Ford factory leads to press debates about the “politicization of foreign workers.”
  • In October, the world oil crisis begins after Arab countries restrict deliveries and increase prices.
  • On November 23, West Germany halts the recruitment of guest workers. By the end of the year, 4 million foreigners live in Germany.


  • The West German radio station WDR holds a contest to come up with alternatives to the label guest worker, which many people have come to see as a euphemism. The station accepts none of the 32,000 entries and decides that foreign employee is the most appropriate term.
  • On September 5, at the Summer Olympics in Munich, Palestinian terrorists take 11 Israeli athletes hostage. All hostages, five of the kidnappers, and one police officer are shot.
  • On December 10th, Heinrich Böll receives the Nobel Prize in Literature for “for his writing which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature.”
  • On December 21, Chancellor Willy Brandt‘s Ostpolitik (politics of raprochment with eastern Europe) culminates in the Grundlagenvertrag, or Basic Treaty, which recognizes the FRG and GDR as two separate states, but not separate nations, thus easing the East-West conflict of the Cold War. Brandt also signs treaties with the Soviet Union and Poland. Ostpolitik goes back to Egon Bahr’s speech of 1963, which argued for “change through rapprochement.”


  • Erich Honecker succeeds Walter Ulbricht as leader of East Germany.
  • On January 31st, telecommunications between East and West Berlin, which had been interrupted since 1952, are reinstated. The Islamic political organization Milli Gorus (National Perspective) forms under the name Turkish Union of Germany. Its leader, Necmettin Erbakan, a professor at Istanbul’s Technical University who holds a doctorate from the Technical University of Aachen, is banned from party politics in the Turkish Republic. Consequently, the Milli Gorus movement begins to gain momentum in West Germany.
  • On December 10th, the German Chancellor Willy Brandt is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his political achievements in East-West relations.


  • About 1 million guest workers come to Germany this year alone. Immigration stays at a peak over the subsequent two years. Most foreign workers find jobs in food-service, construction, mining, automotive, steel, and metalworking industries.
  • The Red Army Fraction (RAF) is formed following a violent and successful action to free Andreas Baader from prison. Thereafter, the founding members Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin, and Horst Mahler among others train in Jordan with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).