Since 1975, the intercultural week has been held every year at the end of September throughout Germany – although at the beginning it had a different name.
More than 450 towns and communities now participate with around 4,500 events. To this day, the intercultural weeks have always aimed to promote better political and legal conditions for Germans and immigrants in their common life.
An initiative that promotes social discussions
When the recruitment of labor migrants ended in 1973, it had become clear that many foreign workers did not return to their countries of origin as previously assumed, but remained in Germany to build up a future for themselves and their families.
In this context the words of the Swiss writer Max Frisch are often quoted: "Workers were called, but people came!" The lack of a political framework and of offers to encourage social integration caused problems not only for the "guest workers" but also for the German host population.
The "Foreign Citizens' Day" or "Foreign Citizens' Week" started social discussions that are still relevant today. As early as 1978, the churches’ common message for the "Day of Foreign Citizens" stated: "For many people [...] Germany has become an immigration country." But for decades the dogma of German policy on foreigners was that "Germany is not a country of immigration."
In 1980 the Ecumenical Preparatory Committee published some statements about the intercultural weeks. The first statement was: "We live in Germany in a multicultural society." This triggered a lively debate that continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s and was later taken up by politicians.