From the German Federal Office for the Recognition of Foregin Refugees site
This federal German right to asylum, which is vested with constitutionally guaranteed high entitlement, is the result of the painful experiences gained from history as to political persecution during the time of National Socialism. The authors of the Basic Law have granted the individual beneficiary the very personal and absolute entitlement to protection and thus the fundamental right to asylum. By granting an individual entitlement to asylum, the Basic Law goes beyond the Law of Nations, which does not provide such an entitlement, but rather considers the granting of asylum to be a right of one state against other states. Therefore, the asylum legislation of the Federal Republic of Germany is one of the most extensive in Europe. For this reason, too, Germany plays a particular part in harmonising the Europe-wide legislation on asylum.
The fundamental right to asylum is the only right given solely to aliens. Only those who are persecuted on political grounds are entitled to this right, i.e. persons who were exposed to state persecution with characteristics relevant to asylum, or who are in imminent danger of being subjected to state persecution. According to the wording of the Geneva Refugee Convention (GC), characteristics relevant to asylum are: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, and political convictions. General hardship – such as poverty, civil wars, natural disasters or unemployment – is thus excluded from the reasons justifying the granting of asylum.