Recruitment Agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy

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Italian guest workers from Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, 1973

The agreement on the recruitment and placement of Italian workers in the Federal Republic of Germany was a recruitment agreement from December 20, 1955 ( Adenauer II cabinet ), which covered the practical implementation of job placement in Italy from the requirement of German companies to the selection of applicants in Italy to travel, wage issues and family reunification. It was the first agreement of its kind between the Federal Republic and another country.

In the fall of 1953, the Italian government campaigned for the first time in the Federal Republic of Germany to accept Italian workers. In this way, Italy's trade deficit vis-à-vis the Federal Republic of Germany should be compensated by surpluses in the transfer balance in order to balance Italy's current account vis-à-vis the Federal Republic of Germany. At first, the federal government reacted cautiously to the offer. On the way to the first recruitment agreement of 1955, the Foreign Ministry succeeded in extending its primacy in negotiations - in addition to foreign trade - to the employment of foreigners, giving it priority over the Federal Ministry of Laborto claim. The unions were able to enforce that the recruited Italians were only allowed to be employed at the standard wage. While West Germany was the last country, after Belgium, France, Switzerland, Great Britain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia as well as South American and Oceanic countries, with which Italy concluded bilateral recruitment agreements from 1945, this was the first for the Federal Republic. The German-Italian recruitment agreement served Germany as a model for further bilateral recruitment agreements with Spain (1960) , Greece (1960) , Turkey (1961) , Morocco (1963) , Portugal (1964) , Tunisia (1965) andYugoslavia (1968) .

First of all, the Italian seasonal workers were to be recruited for agriculture and the hotel and restaurant industry. The employment contracts were limited to six or twelve months. But shortly after the agreement was signed, companies from all sectors, particularly industry and mining, submitted placement contracts for so-called “ guest workers ”. In the 1950s and 1960s, 67% of all Italian migrants in Germany came from structurally weak southern Italy . The economic recession of 1966/67 caused recruitment to decline. The oil crisis 1973 and the associated economic downturn led to the general or total recruitment ban decided by the federal government on November 23, 1973, which affected all recruiting countries.

Approximately four million people with Italian citizenship have immigrated to Germany since 1955. The year of the greatest immigration was 1965 with approx. 270,000, in the 1980s and 1990s immigration fluctuated between 30,000 and 50,000. About 89% of the four million migrants returned to Italy. Recent migration research advocates taking a closer look at this majority of migrant workers, even if the recruitment agreement led to the creation of a permanent community of Italians in Germany .


  • Roberto Sala: From “foreign workers” to “guest workers”. The recruitment of Italian workers for the German economy (1938–1973). In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte . Volume 55, 2007, Issue 1, pp. 93-120, (PDF).
  • Heike Knortz : Diplomatic barter deals. “Guest workers” in West German diplomacy and employment policy 1953–1973. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2008.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Martin Kröger: Initiative of the sending countries. In: from June 23, 2008. FAZ -Archiv (Review of the book "Diplomatic Tauschhandels" by Heike Knortz .)
  2. a b Worker for the economic miracle Anke Asfur, 2005 in cooperation with the State Center for Immigration North Rhine-Westphalia and the Westphalian Industrial Museum, Hannover Colliery
  3. a b 50 years recruitment contract between Germany and Italy. Italian guest workers and entrepreneurs in Bavaria and Munich ( Memento from July 21, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 423 kB) Maximiliane Rieder.
  4. Grazia Prontera: Italian immigration to Germany. Between institutionalized migration processes and local integration. In: Federal Center for Political Education. November 7, 2017. Retrieved December 25, 2018 .
  5. 50 years of the German-Italian recruitment agreement ... Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Italy, 2005.
  6. Hedwig Richter / Ralf Richter: The "guest worker" world. Life between Palermo and Wolfsburg. Paderborn 2012.