This lack of understanding of the multicultural fact that is German society (and has been since at least the 1970s) has shown up several times in recent decades. Most recently we have seen explosions of anti-immigrant and -refugee anger in the rise of the Alternative für Deutschland party and allied movements. But these recent flare-ups are part of a longterm beneath-the-surface sentiment among many ethnic Germans that people who come from other places are not and cannot become true Germans.
This paper concentrates not on the public discussion about immigrants, nor on government policy, but on the lives of people of immigrant stock. Specifically, it is built on 52 in-depth life histories of young adults who are children of immigrants, conducted between 2009 and 2013. It finds that their actual lives look almost nothing like the public discussion of immigrants that has taken place in recent years. It also finds that some children of immigrants have integrated quite well into mainstream German society, while others have been kept in marginal positions; the main difference between these two groups is race. Nonetheless, the trajectories of their lives suggest quite hopeful possibilities for the future shape of the German people.