must be noted that being married to a German, or being born within Germany by non-German parents, does not automatically lead to German citizenship.
Although important for their economy, these different ethnic groups, especially the Turks (some 3 million) and some Eastern Europeans, have been the target for neo-Nazi attacks (see Krell 1996; Thompson 2001). Germany has the problem of whether to cater for these groups as permanent residents, or by limiting social services, hope to discourage permanent enclaves. In the past decade Germany has been able to use its massive economic resources to pursue its foreign policy - with the huge demands on government spending in absorbing East Germany and in investing in Eastern Europe, it found this a little more difficult in the mid-1990s. Indeed, by June 1996 Germany was assessing what level of recession it would have to face, largely due to a slump in output in the eastern part of Germany of some 2.5% in late 1995 (Norman 1996a). At the same time, some level of investment in Eastern Europe and Russia has been viewed as essential in stabilizing its eastern borders (see Thompson 2001). Although economic conditions have since improved, there still remains an economic and cultural gap between Germans from the west and east. Likewise, sluggish growth in 2003 (close to 0% in GDP terms, projected at only 1.8% for 2004; DFAT 2004), and some erosion of traditional welfare provisions within Germany, also suggest that these tensions may well increase in the short term.
During his visit to East Berlin in October 1989, Gorbachev had made it clear that Moscow would not directly determine the future of the GDR, and the elderly communist leader Erich Honecker confirmed that he had no interest in reform (Zeman 1991, pp324-5). Gorbachev in fact made a telling aside at one stage in his visit, noting that history punishes those 'who come too late' (Paterson & Smith, in Smith 1992, p13), a clear indication of the outdated nature of the GDR government. Events, however, soon overtook the issue of reform. Major protests followed in Leipzig: -
Demonstrations in Leipzig became a weekly event, with a growing number of participants. Somehow, both the police and the demonstrators avoided violence. Honecker kept silent, in the face of growing protests from the party ranks; the emergent opposition groups, including New Forum, welcomed the willingness on the part of the Communists to consider change. Before the end of the month, Egon Krenz had replaced Honecker, who was briskly removed to prison. Protesters took over East German cities. They demanded free elections, freedom to travel, an end to police brutality and a leading role, not for the Party, but for the people. Scepticism about Egon Krenz, who had been responsible for security, remained widespread. (Zeman 1991, p325)
Gorbachev had in fact hoped for reform from Honecker. When this was rebuffed, and the news came through that Honecker was considering using lethal force rather than riot-police methods against the crowds, Moscow made it clear that a change of leadership was acceptable. Egon Krenz sounded out other potential leaders, and at a meeting of the central committee deposed Honecker. Krenz, in particular, was not willing to use lethal force to repress the popular movement which was now sweeping East Germany. Krenz, however, was indeed not acceptable, and a more popularist leader, Hans Modrow, was brought into power, along with a fresh group in the politburo (Zeman 1991, p325). More importantly, these events indicated that even the police and the security forces were not willing to support the elitist regime of Honecker to the extent of mass shootings on the streets. Once this became clear, several unthought of events occurred. The East German government, in order to