The German government is unable to say where more than half of the one million asylum seekers allowed into the country have ended up, MailOnline can exclusively reveal.
Government statistics show that Germany registered 1.1million applications by the end of last year under its EASY system, which does not record much more than an applicant's country of origin.
German Interior Ministry spokesman Dr Harald Neymanns admitted that delays in the processing of asylum seeker applications would account for some of those missing.
But he also said that in some cases refugees may not have stayed in Germany but instead gone on to a different country elsewhere in the EU.
A third explanation is that the refugees may not have existed in the first place - because some asylum seekers have been found to apply multiple times in an attempt to get sent to the city of their choice.