• The member states of the European Community agree upon a privileged treatment of citizens of the EC when it comes to border controls. Simplified control points for EC citizens are established and controls between inner borders become less important.


  • West German unemployment reaches a postwar record of 2.3 million, leading to widespread sentiments that “too many foreign workers are stealing our jobs.”
  • On August 30, asylum applicant Cemal Altun commits suicide by jumping out of the window of a West Berlin Administrative Court building to avoid deportation to Turkey.
  • In November 28, a new law for the promotion of voluntary return (Das Gesetz zur Förderung der Rückkehrbereitschaft) offers jobless guest workers 10,500 German marks to return to their countries of origin. About 250,000 labor migrants return home.
  • On December 7th, the Action Front of National Socialists/National Activists, the largest right wing organization in Germany, is officially outlawed and disbanded.


  • On May 26, Semra Ertan sets herself on fire in the Hamburg marketplace to protest growing xenophobia.
  • On June 24th, in Nurnberg, Helmut Oxner, a right wing extremist, kills three foreigners (two African Americans and an Egyptian) and subsequently commits suicide.
  • The Cabinet of Germany (Bundeskabinett) offers monetary compensations to foreigners in order to encourage and ease the return to their homelands.
  • In August 1, the Asylum Procedure Act goes into effect. It contains regulations to speed up asylum applications.
  • Helmut Kohl (CDU) is inaugurated as chancellor. He will become the “unification chancellor” and remain in office until 1998.
  • On December 18, an ordinance amending the Foreigner Act goes into effect, requiring visas for foreigners from non-EC counties for stays of longer than three months.


  • The immigrant population in West Germany is 7.5 percent of the total population.
  • Some 135,000 Poles seek political asylum in West Germany.
  • West Germany restricts immigration from non-EC member states.
  • Spousal immigration is restricted, and child immigration is limited to children 16 years of age and under.


  • East Germany signs further recruitment agreements with North Vietnam and an accord with Mozambique for contract workers.
  • Volker Schlöndorff receives an Oscar for his adaptation of Günter Grass‘s novel The Tin Drum.
  • The number of asylum applications in West Germany doubles in one year, from just over 50,000 in 1979 to 107,000 in 1980. Criticism grows of refugees’ abuse of the right to asylum for economic reasons. On June 18, the government introduces an emergency program to restrict the number of fraudulent asylum seekers entering the country.
  • In September 12, a military putsch in Turkey boosts the number of asylum applications by Turkish and Kurdish political opponents of the Turkish government.