This study is concerned with young Poles who had left Poland and had settled in Germany before Poland joined EU. The detailed analysis of the successive stages in the life course of young Poles in Germany displays two biographical processes characteristic of the immigration career and sociobiographical conditions that support their dynamics. These are: the trajectory process – that is disorderly social processes and processes of suffering (Riemann, Schütze, 1991), and the process of heading for successful adjustment and assimilation. Since the process of entering the host society usually entails loss of control over one’s life circumstances, experiences of alienation and exposure to social disorder - primary attention is given to the trajectory development. This may either temporary influence individuals’ life situation or permanently change their life-world as well as change their orientation towards their life biographies and identities. The afflicted individuals are not able to deliberately and intentionally act, but are forced to surrender to overwhelming external circumstances. In order to explore the importance of national identity in the unifying Europe and its common-sense understanding the situation of people who live their mundane life at the edges of two cultures (Polish and German) have been analyzed. Their biographies have shown that their latent national identity becomes of crucial importance when they leave their country of origin – and their former declarations of being cosmopolitans often fail. They frequently encounter situations in which their national (group/ethic) identity is pointed out as an object which has to be defined, negotiated and interpreted and in which they are seen not as Europeans, but as strangers.
autobiography, national identity, immigration, Polish-German shared history, anomic interaction