• Close to 4 million ethnic Germans (Aussiedler) have immigrated to Germany since 1950, including 2 million since 1990.
  • In January, the CSU, under the leadership of Edmund Stoiber, begins a petition campaign against dual citizenship, declaring that this step would have “massive potential for violence.” Observers credit this campaign for the party’s win in the elections in the state of Hesse.
  • In February, demonstrations take place in many German cities against Turkish commandos’ arrest of the Kurdish PKK party leader Abdullah Öcalan, fugitive chief of the Kurdistan Workers Party, in Kenya. Some 60,000 Kurds live in Berlin, most of them from Turkey. Many of the 7,000 Iraqis, 2,000 Iranians, and 1,300 Syrians living in Germany have Kurdish ancestry.
  • France and Germany ‘s interior ministers declare that the two countries will formulate a common deportation practice, as well as common goals for immigration politics.
  • On May 1, the Treaty of Amsterdam goes into effect, amending the Maastricht Treaty and transferring responsibility for asylum and migration policy to the EU. The member states agree to make Europe a common “area of freedom, security and justice.”
  • In June, the ministers of education from 29 European countries pledge in the so-called Bologna Declaration to create a common European standard for higher education and academic degrees, including the introduction of undergraduate (bachelor) and postgraduate levels by 2010. The large-scale reform gives students and teachers freedom of mobility in Europe.
  • Günter Grass, “whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history,” receives the Nobel Prize in Literature.


  • According to the Ministry of the Interior, 9.37 million noncitizens live in Germany. Some 2.1 million are Turks, and one out of four foreigners in Germany are from an EU state.
  • The Islamic Federation in Berlin brings successful legal action against the state, obtaining permission to offer Islamic religious education (in the Turkish language) in the city’s public schools. Teachers of Islam are recruited from Turkey.
  • Abused female immigrants in North Rhine-Westphalia are now able to apply for a visa on their own account.
  • Interior Minister Manfred Kanther declares 1998 the Year of Security, introducing higher penalties for illegal immigration.
  • In February, the Conference of German Interior Ministers decides to continue deporting asylum seekers to Algeria, despite widespread violence and persecution in that country. In 1997, only 2 percent of Algerian asylum requests were accepted. The state of North Rhine–Westphalia institutes an option for battered noncitizen women to receive self-standing visas.
  • In March, the coalition government rejects reform of the 1913 Empire- and State-Citizenship Law.
  • In May, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel declares that Germany will withdraw aid from countries that resist Germany’s efforts to deport their citizens. This decision affects approximately 70,000 individuals from Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Gambia, Sudan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and India.
  • In July, the CDU election platform calls for reducing government subsidized housing for foreigners and rejecting the possibility of dual citizenship. The state of Baden-Wurttemberg prohibits Muslim women educators from wearing head scarves in the classroom.
  • A general election victory for Gerhard Schröder (SPD) leads to a coalition with the Green Party.
  • In November, the newly appointed commissioner of foreigner affairs, Marieluise Beck(Green Party), plans to campaign for Germany’s image as a “country of immigration.”


  • On, the Memorial Day for Auschwitz, January 27, the German artist Horst Hoheisel, overlaps two symbols of German history by projecting the slogan “Arbeit macht frei” onto the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. This superimposition is one action in a series of the artists’ public attempts to engage history. In 1995, his submission for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was rejected. His proposal consisted of a plan to blow up the Brandenburg Gate and use its debris to cover the proposed site for the monument. In 2003, the Berlin Jewish Museum displays Hoheisel’s rejected proposal in an exhibit entitled “Berlin Torlos” (Gateless Berlin).
  • In March, nine soldiers of the German Armed Forces in uniform, attack and injure four foreign youths in the downtown area of Detmold/Nordrhein-Westfalen.
  • The Turkish writer Yaşar Kemal receives the peace prize from the German Book Trade Association. At the award ceremony, Günter Grass publicly criticizes Turkey’s policy towards Kurds, as well as the German deportation of foreigners in his laudation.
  • On November 1, the Act to Amend Foreigner and Asylum Provisions goes into effect, facilitating the expulsion and deportation of noncitizens who have committed a crime.
  • Germany implements visas for children from Bosnia, Herzegovina, the Yugoslav Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Tunisia.


  • The German Bundestag passes a law to protect minorities that stipulates that nobody shall be disadvantaged on the basis of gender, sexual preference, heritage, race, language, origin, faith, religious belief, political views, or disability.
  • On May 15–16, the first Carnival of Cultures takes place in Berlin.


  • Some 7 million noncitizens live in Germany.
  • Germany joins other countries in urging Turkey to exercise moderation in its military operations against the Kurds in northern Iraq.
  • The Treaty of Schengen (originally from 1985) goes into effect, abolishing passport and border controls at most of the EU’s internal borders. “Schengen Europe” consists of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta, Portugal, and Spain. The latter three become main entry points for African immigrants.
  • After the Dayton Peace Accords in December, most Bosnian refugees are sent back. About 80,000 remain.
  • The World Trade Organization is created to enable, oversee, and extend free trade among the member states. Germany, along with 75 other member states, is one of the founding members. (All 25 EU member states are WTO members.)