First Advisor

Marc S. Rodriguez

Date of Publication

Winter 3-28-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Strikes and lockouts -- Germany (West) -- History -- 20th century, Foreign workers, Turkish -- Germany (West) -- History -- 20th century, Women foreign workers -- Germany (West), Turks -- Germany (West) -- Social conditions



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 70 pages)


In the years following the end of the Second World War, the Federal Republic of Germany experienced a "golden age" of economic upturn. Due to the labor shortage in the aftermath of war and the division of Germany, West Germany initially looked to its eastern counterpart, the German Democratic Republic, to meet its labor needs in the immediate postwar years. Once East Germany tightened its border control, the Federal Republic of Germany extended bilateral agreements to Southern Mediterranean countries to meet the nation's labor needs. Italy was the first official nation to have a bilateral work agreement with West Germany in 1955, yet by the end of the labor program, the greatest population of "guest workers" in West Germany were Turkish nationals. The West German public initially heralded the arrival of guest workers as a boon, but by the program's end in November of 1973, the West German press reviled the Turkish migrant worker as they gradually moved out of isolated company employee barracks into single apartments, often with families or spouses joining them from Turkey. In spite of a lack of rights on West German soil, the year of 1973 was witness to a swell in migrant political activity, in the form of unsanctioned labor strikes.

Utilizing two of these strikes, this thesis will compare the strategies, support, opposition, and success of the Ford Cologne (Ford Köln-Niehl) Factory strike and the Pierburg factory strike in Neuss. In both instances, the degree of support by ethnic German coworkers and factory management influenced the success of the strike. Additionally, this analysis will demonstrate that gender, in concert with nationality, negatively affected the results of the Ford Cologne Strike by way of public reception, while the negotiation of the Pierburg strike through a gendered lens aided woman migrant workers in the cooperation of factory management, the worker's council, union, and the West German public. Regardless of the strikes' outcomes, the significance of the labor strikes of 1973 is emblematic of both the lack of human rights afforded migrant workers in West Germany at the time and the persistent determination of blue-collar migrant workers to claim space for themselves and their families.


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