The “refugee crisis” of 2015 was a caesura for Germany: it revealed that German society is divided in one part accepting immigration as normality, and another perceiving it as a threat.
Regardless of the extensive research on the “NS-Volksgemeinschaft”, little was reflected upon the question, whether and in which ways racial knowledge about “migrant others” was transferred into postwar Germany. Was it simply kept in radical political circles and reactivated whenever it deemed appropriate? Did the ailing economy at the end of the economic boom in the mid-seventies bring about the allegedly new phenomenon and concept of “Ausländerfeindlichkeit” (hostility to foreigners)? Was racism merely a form of protest during economic or political crises? What about the argument that Muslims are unable to integrate and are therefore a threat for democratic and liberal German society, which supposedly legitimizes their exclusion?
Further questions arise, if politics and discourses relating to difference of origin are viewed from a critical race theory perspective in the long duration: What were the reasons for the firmly held belief, according to which Germany could not be an immigration country? How can one explain the durability of institutions and structures producing out of immigrants the social category “Ausländer” as a status permanently lacking full civil rights? Did concepts such as “Ausländerfeindlichkeit” and xenophobia rationalize economically racist mindsets and practices as plausible and therefore suitable for guiding politics?
The disregard of historiography for racism and racist knowledge since 1945 has contributed to its further ignorance and perpetuation/reproduction, although at the same time, German society started to learn how to deal with difference.