The Right to Education for Asylum Seekers and Ethnic Germans (1985–1992)

  • Brittany Lehman
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood book series (PSHC)


Through the late 1980s, internal and international conflicts within countries like Turkey and Poland as well as the collapse of the Soviet Bloc triggered the flight of hundreds of thousands, many of whom sought new homes in West and then a united Germany. This chapter examines how the Länder handled the sudden influx of tens of thousands of school-age asylum seekers and ethnic Germans (Spätaussiedler). Attempts to treat ethnic Kurdish refugees as Turkish citizens and Polish-speaking Germans differently from Polish citizens highlighted the absurdity of blood-based citizenship laws and an emphasis on mono-ethnonationalism, particularly when comparing the supposed “Germanness” of long-term residents with foreign citizenship against the arriving Germans. Yet, even as citizenship opened up, access to education became increasingly dependent on citizenship status.


Asylum seekersAsylum Seekers Ethnic German Migrants Bundesarchiv Koblenz Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) Mother Language 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brittany Lehman
    • 1
  1. 1.College of CharlestonCharlestonUSA

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