• Germany's news in English

'There's no real mood for celebration'

The Local · 26 Oct 2011, 07:44

Published: 26 Oct 2011 07:44 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

What's the mood like ahead of this important anniversary?

We as the TGD are holding three big conferences, in Berlin, in Hamburg and Frankfurt, each with their own focus. The main aim is to take this anniversary as an occasion to critically – and self-critically – analyse the developments over the last 50 years. Not everything went so well. We want to think about what went wrong, why it went wrong, what could have been done better, and what we can do better in the future. It's more a time for analysis. There's no real mood of celebration.


We're seeing a lot of young, third-generation Turkish people look for an anchor in religious, ethnic, and nationalistic feelings, because mainstream society in Germany is not offering them that anchor.

On top of that, a lot of people are emigrating back to Turkey. And what's particularly bad is that qualified people are returning to Turkey, because they don't see a future or any prospects for themselves in Germany. Because they don't feel welcome, because they keep experiencing rejection in their everyday lives.

And they think, 'I have a good profession, and I can get a good job in Turkey and start a family.' But from a lot of them we hear that they're not happy in Turkey, because they were born here, went to school here, and learnt professional life here. They're not happy there and they're not happy here. It's almost a lost generation.

How did that generation come about?

It's a long time, fifty years. And no-one saw back then that the people who came here as guest workers would stay and become the biggest immigrant community in the country. The people who came didn't think that. They thought they'd work here for a few years, save a bit of money, maybe buy a house or a car back home, and that's that. But that's not how it turned out.

In 1973 there was a ban on new applications, and the Turks started to panic, and brought their children and their families over, because they thought if they don't do it now, they never would. They perhaps wouldn't have done that if the applications had not been stopped.

And then their children started to go to school here and the families grew roots. And now they are old people who have always wanted to move back to Turkey, or maybe already do live there some of the time. But they are always drawn back here because an important part of their family is still here.

Why do you say the Turkish community also has to be 'self-critical'?

Both sides made mistakes. The situation is not satisfactory. The first guest workers were highly valued – they were qualified, they were welcome, they weren't seen as a burden. But that changed over the years. Why? We have to ask ourselves many questions. Why is unemployment so high among Turkish people? Why do so many fail to finish school or get vocational qualifications? If we can find out the blocks we have a better chance of removing them.

Germany has finally accepted that it is a country of immigration. That's a chance. If we go at the problems constructively then there's a chance we can contribute to making a better society.

How has the recent debate about integration affected the Turkish community?

Story continues below…

It's understandable that the majority of society wants immigrants to integrate, but we don't like the word 'integration' very much. We prefer 'participation.' The social contract needs to be there.

People search for definitions. At first, we were 'guest workers,' then we were 'foreigners,' at one point we were 'foreign fellow citizens.' Now the current phrase is 'fellow citizens of immigrant background,' or whatever. They're always searching. There is no single, definable 'Turk,' just as there is no single, definable 'German.' What is 'German culture' or 'Turkish culture?'

Immigration is an enrichment, and integration is not a one-way street. There is always a give and take between cultures, religions and traditions. If there had been no immigration this society would have been quite different. But just to push unpleasant things onto the immigrants just says, 'We can't solve the problem but we have a scapegoat.' That's cheap and simplistic.

We want to participate in this society, we want to help form it. We are part of society and society has to accept that.

Interview by Ben Knight

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

08:45 October 26, 2011 by delvek
I understand the Turkish plight in Germany, its no different then any other immigrant across the globe in that it is a tough road.

Not sure where we got to the point of expecting countries to welcome you with open arms and lay our the red carpet, like its a right or something. This thinking remains in tune with the current contemporary distortion of what reality is. My primary advice after listening to my grandparents discuss their immigration to the United States is assimilate assimilate assimilate!
13:14 October 26, 2011 by Englishted
Do the Turkish in Turkey give the same treatment to the Kurds?
13:41 October 26, 2011 by Dizz
@Englishted: Oooh! So clever! Gosh!
14:36 October 26, 2011 by LecteurX
@ The Local Germany - Thanks for these very good articles on the Turks. Not caricatural, very thoughtful pieces. Please keep them coming.
21:20 October 26, 2011 by neunElf
I cannot believe it, but I agree with englishted!
00:30 November 1, 2011 by federale86
The mere existance of an organization called Turkish Community in Germany is proof enough that the Turks are not integrated and not capable of becoming German.
Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd