What is the summary for "The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany" by Rita Chin?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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In The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany, Rita Chin speaks very specifically about Germany after World War II. This eNotes Educator is reminded heavily of the visit I paid to Berlin, Germany not long ago where a former student of mine (a German exchange student) was proud to show me the Turkish Market. She was always proud to welcome “the Turks” as even this progressive German called them. However, it was then that I learned the large debate among the Germans about these guest workers. It was after the Second World War that Germany implemented a system that permanently changed their population.

The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany is about labor migration that happened postwar (referring specifically to after World War II) and specifically about West Germany (as opposed to East Germany). The first thing Rita Chin wants the reader to understand is that there was a an official recruitment program that began in 1955. In layman's terms, Germany was trying to make its population more multicultural due to the extreme policies and ideas implemented by the Nazi party that ultimately failed during World War II under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. The guest worker program was the German penitential act for these atrocities committed during that war.

The main group that became guest workers were the “Muslim Turks.”   Further, it is this group that caused the biggest source of grumbling from the people.  Why? Because these Muslim Turks were recruited as temporary laborers, but decided to stay. Now Germany has a huge population (rivaling the native population) of these people who became permanent residents after the recruitment program was complete. As such, The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany is primarily about the German public who has since divided into two camps: one that is welcoming to the guest workers and one that is most certainly not. The debate that continues today is a large part of current, German national identity.

In conclusion, it’s important to note that this book is the first ever history about this written in the English language. Any American reader will be reminded of our own issues regarding the Hispanic population. Using many sources to support the facts here, Rita Chin is finally introducing Americans to this very interesting cultural issue regarding the identity of the German nation.

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