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Two thirds of Germans believe immigrants are an 'extra burden' which have caused 'serious problems' for the country

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UPDATED:

14:33 GMT, 18 December 2012


Ulrich Kober said that Germany failed to grasp a culture of welcoming foreigners and overplayed its own attractiveness to immigrants

Ulrich Kober said that Germany failed to grasp a culture of welcoming foreigners and overplayed its own attractiveness to immigrants

Two in three Germans believe immigrants have caused 'serious' problems for the country's social services and schools.

The poll – commissioned by the respected Bertelsmann Foundation think tank – shows two thirds of people say immigrants are an 'extra burden' on the country's social services system.

Two thirds of people quizzed in the survey also believe that incomers are a source of conflict with 'native' Germans and cause problems.

There is a widespread belief that in big cities like Berlin and Duesseldorf, where there are high concentrations of Turkish people, the foreign children 'hold back' natives because of their lack of German skills.

The poll comes after official figures showed immigration had leaped to its highest level in 16 years in 2011.

Almost a million people arrived in Germany, many of them from Spain and Greece as well as the new Eastern European states now in the European Union, such as Poland.

Around 163,000 Poles moved to Germany in 2011 and 41,000 Hungarians.

'Germany underestimated the
importance of a culture of welcome and overestimated the attractiveness
as a country of immigration,' said Ulrich Kober of the Bertelsmann
Foundation which commissioned the study released on Monday.

He fears that Germany, which has a falling birthrate and is desperately
in need of skilled workers to drive its export led economy onwards,
will continue to be 'shunned because we are not attractive to the
skilled immigrants we need.'

Less than half of Germans who took part in the survey were in favour of relaxing immigration rules or allowing immigrants to take dual nationality.

Pollsters Emnid said the anti immigration views were less marked in under 29s.

Nearly three quarters – 70 per cent – said immigration could make Germany more attractive to international investors and believed that it facilitated the placing of international companies in the country.

This chart shows the tolerance of people towards immigrants in schools

This chart shows the tolerance of people towards immigrants in schools. The red section is those who say something needs to be done, amber is those who are happy and grey represents those who have no opinion

A study by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that two thirds of Germans are against immigration

A study by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that two thirds of Germans are against immigration

But almost 90 percent of respondents
demanded that immigrants adapt to 'German culture' and seek out a 'good
relationship' with the Germans they are living amongst. Fully 96 percent
thought that learning German should be made mandatory.

The country could pay a heavy price
for its anti-immigration views as its older workforce dies out,
concludes the Foundation. 'Highly qualified people from non-EU countries
actively avoid moving to Germany,' added Herr Kober.

'Without more social openness, we are
not attractive for qualified immigrants, who we badly need to counter
the demographic development.'

The poll comes after a new research
revealed that Germany's population is set to soar by 2.2 million by 2017
as immigrants from failing EU states try to take advantage of the
country's stable economy.

Around 6.93 million people with only
foreign citizenship lived in Germany at the end of 2011 – 177,300 more
than a year earlier. Federal Statistical Office figures showed that the
increase of 2.6 percent was the highest in 15 years.

Currently there are 4.3 million
Muslims in Germany, making up 5.4 percent of the population. Most of
these are of Turkish origin, the descendants of the 'Gastarbeiter' or
guest workers who flooded to the country after WW2 to fill the manpower
vacuum left by the conflict.

The vast majority, some 88 percent, of arrivals moved to Germany from other European Union countries.

Rising neo-Nazism and a long-held
belief among mostly elder-Germans that their's is not a country for
immigrants have contributed to the image abroad of the place being
unwelcoming to newcomers.

Two
thirds of people quizzed in the survey also believe that incomers are a
source of conflict with 'native' Germans and cause problems with
schools and the education of their own children.