Anwerbeabkommen (Recruitment agreements)
In response to the rapid economic growth experienced in Germany during the 1950s and the resulting acute shortage of labour, the German government began, in 1955, to conclude bilateral agreements on labour recruitment with a number of – mainly Mediterranean – countries: Italy (1955), Spain (1960), Greece (1960), Turkey (1961), Morocco (1963), Portugal (1964), Tunisia (1965) and Yugoslavia (1968), which enabled migrants to enter Germany for the purpose of work. Special provisions were contained in the agreements with Tunisia, Turkey and Morocco. Among other things, these required the immigrants to leave after a maximum of two years, with recruitment being based on the rotation principle and restricted to unmarried persons. Under the terms of the agreements, no subsequent immigration of families was possible. At the same time, a large number of migrants arrived in Germany independently.
The oil crisis in 1973 and the recession which followed halted the recruitment of foreign labour. Of the approximately 14 million labour migrants who had arrived in Germany under the recruitment agreements, around 11 million returned to their home countries; those who remained settled in the Federal Republic and, in some cases, arranged for their families to join them.
In German, the word Gastarbeiter (guest worker) was coined to describe these migrants, implying that their stay in Germany was of short duration and solely for the purpose of work and that they would later return to their countries of origin.
The former German Democratic Republic (GDR) also concluded bilateral intergovernmental agreements on the recruitment of "foreign contract workers" with countries such as Mozambique and Viet Nam. Their living and working conditions were subject to stringent regulations, taboos and segregation, affecting many aspects of their lives.