Sociological Time Bomb
As in Britain, racial problems are on the rise on the Continent,
particularly in West Germany and France, which absorbed large num-
bers of foreign workers during the economic boom of the '50s and
'60s. West Germany, with 3.9 million Gastarbeiter and their depen-
05 dents, and France, with 2 million travailleurs immigrés and their off-
spring, fear that the immigrant population is now close to a dangerous
threshold; as a result, both governments have launched repatriation
programs, so far with little success.
The clash of value systems is particularly harsh for the children of the
10 immigrants. Born in a foreign country, they are of neither the land of
their birth nor of the land of their parents.
"They are a lost generation," says a Turkish social worker in
Cologne. "They are not Germans in West Germany and not
Turks in Turkey." Despite official rules against discrimination and
15 some official efforts at integration, the pressures against the kids
are often 'subtle, sometimes vicious. One study showed that only
3% of West Germans, surveyed would accept a Turkish son-
Greeks encounter almost as much discrimination. Complains
20 beat you up if you try to take out a nice German girl, and the girls who
would be willing you don't want anything to do with. They are trash."
Economically and in just about all other ways, the sons and daughters
of immigrants get even shorter shrift than their parents. The un-
employment level among the youngsters, who mostly lack skills, is high:
25 75% in West Germany, 60% in Sweden, an estimated 24% in France.
Some teachers try to encourage the children, but most do not,
Zimiteros, who speaks fluent, unaccented German as well as Greek,
feels that his teachers "make sure I don't get good enough grades to
study medicine." Official attempts to add a little sparkle to the children's
30 lives are greeted with mindless ridicule. Streaming last month into a
city park for festivities organized for them by the West Berlin govern-
ment, the foreigners' youngsters were confronted with signs that bigots
had sprayed on walls and hung from trees the night before:
Out, filthy Turks! Turkish swine! and We'll get you!
35 In West Germany, two-
school before 15 and roam the streets aimlessly. The stresses
are most apparent among the predominantly Muslim Turks be-
cause of sharper ethnic, cultural and religious differences. Says one
official concerned with the problem: "The parents are fearful that
40 their children will not be accepted, that they will get improper, non-
Koranic education." But to one degree or another most Gast-
arbeiter parents -
their children, while living in West Germany, retain their identity.
That is a heavy load for any adolescent.
45 In France, immigrants' children exceed 1 million, all a generation re-
moved from Algeria and other former French colonies. Each year
about 35,000 such youths enter the job market, all too often unsuccess-
fully. One survey indicated that in one Paris suburb up to 40%
dropped out of school at the end of the ninth grade. France
50 clearly does not want the children or their parents, but they are
staying on anyway: only 9.7% of unemployed immigrants, 22,000 in
all, were lured by the government's $2,350 bonus scheme to pay
immigrants to leave the country. West Germany offers a similar
deal, but there are few takers because acceptance precludes
55 any return to the Federal Republic.
In Sweden, tensions broke into violence last spring between native
and immigrant youths. Numerous Swedish teachers have re-
signed rather than face the open aggressiveness of their "foreign"
pupils, who for the most part are isolated from the rest of Swedish
60 society. Says Immigration Specialist David Schwarz: "These children's
educational destiny is decided at the beginning. They have difficulties
with both their mother tongue and Swedish. Few go on along lines lead
ing to higher education."
In most West European countries concerned government officials,
65 businessmen and private citizens have tried to assist the youngsters.
But effective coping is extremely difficult in the surrounding sea of
public indifference and occasional hatred. The children, even more so
than their parents, are often seen as irredeemable consumers of
national resources instead of potential assets. Not many of their hosts
70 recognize that a sociological time bomb is ticking away in their midst.
If not, defused in time, it will explode.
(about 730 words)
from: TIME, August, 20, 1979, p. 8
Explain in your own words.
1.1. offspring, ll. 5 + 6
1.2. to launch repatriation programs, ll. 7 + 8
1.3. they are trash, l. 21
1.4. shrift, l. 23
1.5. bigots, l. 32
1.6. filthy, l. 34
1.7. irredeemable, l. 68
2.1. Which difficulties do the immigrants' children meet with?
2.2. What is said about these children's lot in foreign countries?
2.3.Why are the children of the guest-
3. Analysis and discussion
3.1. Divide the text into parts and give a heading to each part.
3.2. Who is the text addressed to?
3.3. What is the author's intention?
3.4. Find pros and cons concerning immigration and state your own attitude towards it.
3.5. What dangers to society and to democracy might come into existence as to the high rate of mobility in West Germany?
3.6. Comment briefly on the language problems of migrant workers.