Initially, the overwhelming majority of guest workers—approximately two-thirds in 1962—were housed in workers’ accommodations that were often little more than barracks. Such arrangements were based on the assumption that guest workers would only remain for limited periods of time. They also allowed the firms and organizations responsible for providing accommodations to workers to keep their costs as low as possible. But when living conditions proved unacceptable in places, the federal government sought to improve workers’ accommodations by making loans available (over 450 million DM up to 1973). A fundamental change to living conditions, however, only came when guest workers began staying for longer periods of time and brought family members with them. At that point, more and more workers began renting private apartments for themselves. In 1972, only 23% of guest workers lived in workers’ accommodations.

Private Accommodations at the Ford Factory in Cologne (1971)


Source: Accomodations for guest workers and their families at the Ford factory in Cologne. Date: June 1971. German Information Center. 

Courtesy of the German Information Center