Mobs recently occurred in France in dozens of poor districts in reaction to the death of two young men. As most of the population of these districts is made up of immigrants or descendants of immigrants, the emphasis has been put by some of the most prominent members of the government such as Nicolas Sarkozy on issues relating to immigration. For instance, it was decided that every foreigner taking part in such uprisings would be expelled from France immediately.
These events raised the question of tolerance towards immigration in France, which has long been presented as a model of integration as opposed to Germany, who is usually accused of refusing the settlement of immigrants on its soil. To what extent is this affirmation to be questioned? How does each country react to the mass immigration with regards to their respective histories? In order to address these questions, it is necessary to understand how these two countries are considered as models even nowadays. This question is to be answered in the analysis of their histories. Nonetheless, these models found themselves challenged after 1945 when immigration took a new turn
[...] In short, the French understanding of the nation-state is political whereas the German one is cultural which is why these two countries have two completely different approaches to immigration issues. During the French Revolution and the early nineteenth century, the inherent difference between the understanding of nationhood in France and Germany took a political and theoretical turn. In France, Ernest Renan stressed the importance of the will in becoming French whereas Friedrich Meinecke emphasised an objectivist view thereof. According to these authors, in order to be French, one only has to be willing to become French; whereas to be German one has to be born German. [...]
[...] There are a few external factors that need to be taken into consideration regarding the recent changes in the politics and attitudes of France and Germany toward immigration. Germany feels guilty since 1945 because of the extermination of millions of innocent people for racial and racist reasons. For this reason, the German state and the German population changed their attitude towards immigration and for instance, some modifications to the naturalisation rules have been made to make it easier to obtain German citizenship. [...]
[...] Nonetheless, in recent decades, there has been a change of attitude in these two countries concerning their immigration policies. First of all, it is important to notice that both of the countries were faced with the same challenges in terms of immigration after the Second World War. Unprecedented waves of immigrants came into Europe and especially into France and Germany. With regards to their populations, France and Germany experienced the same annual immigration rates during the fifties and the sixties and even after the oil crisis. [...]
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