Life under communist dictatorship and the history of migration Recommendations for action in historical-political education and scholarship

History for a changing society

In Germany, public discourse on issues of immigration and integration can often narrow down to Turkey and the Arab nations as regions of origin. But immigration movements into Germany are more diverse. Look toward Eastern and Southeastern Europe – every fourth migrant living in Germany has his roots in an ex-communist Eastern European or Southeastern European country. Already before 1989, people from communist states had emigrated to the German Federal Republic as “resettlers”, political refugees or so called “guest workers”. After 1989, the number of immigrants from formerly communist states increased significantly, particularly through the absorption of returning ethnic Germans, Jews with special immigration status, civil war refugees from the former Yugoslavia, and Eastern European migrant workers. Around 6.7 percent of the current population of Germany comes from areas of the former Soviet Union, former Yugoslavia, Poland and Romania.

Funded by the Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur (a foundation devoted to the examination and reappraisal of the SED dictatorship), Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie developed recommendations for action in historical-political education and scholarship on the subject “Life under communist dictatorship and the history of migration”.

The study addresses the questions of what “invisible baggage” people who had lived or whose families had lived in communist states have brought with them to Germany and how experiences under communist dictatorship can be acknowledged and positively handled. Twenty-nine proposals give recommendations for historical-political education in scholarship, schools and outside school, as well as advice for decision makers in municipalities and other areas of public life.

The 40-page brochure is available through the Berlin offices of Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie e.V. for free. If you are interested please write to or dial +49(0)30/263978-0.