German-Turkish Culture: Guest Workers, Doner Kebabs And Cultural Identity | Meet The Germans

German-Turkish Culture: Guest Workers, Doner Kebabs And Cultural Identity | Meet The Germans

Turkish culture can be spotted all over Germany – in fact Rachel was introduced to the Lahmacun or “Turkish pizza” on one of her first trips to Cologne. For this episode of Meet the Germans, she finds out more about the legacy of the “Gastarbeiter” or guest worker generation in Germany and what it’s like to be part of the German-Turkish community today.

Rachel moved from the UK to Germany in 2016. As a relative newcomer she casts a fresh eye over German clichés and shares her experiences of settling into German life. Every two weeks she explores a new topic – from language to food to surprising laws. This week: German-Turkish culture.

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  1. I grew up in Germany in the 80s and 90s as blond foreign girl and I remember there being a lot of tension between Germans and Turks. I saw a lot of meanness from people in positions of power (police, teachers, shop owners, etc.) against Turks, but I also experienced being insulted and harassed by Turkish teenagers. They called us potatoes, told me my pale skin was ugly and called me many misogynistic words. Turkish girls were known to get in physical fights and it was basically expected that you move out of the way and avoid eye contact when they walk down the street, or else. Of course, not being Turkish, I don’t know what they were experiencing on their end that maybe caused some of the aggression but I imagine watching their parents struggle socially must have been a big part of it. I also know that there was severe discrimination against foreigners in the school system where one’s fate is decided as early as fourth grade (subject for another time?). Whatever fueled the tensions, I’m glad to see that Germans and Turks, as well as other foreigners are interacting much more naturally and amicably nowadays and that Turks/ German-Turks are establishing themselves in German culture more and more, despite the resistance. Every time I go back to Germany I can’t wait to eat different kinds of Turkish food, enjoy other elements of Turkish culture being woven into German culture, and just seeing beautiful Turkish faces. Couldn’t imagine going back to a time when that wasn’t the case.

  2. Definitely well researched! I live in the USA and been to Germany many times and have heard about the Turkish controversy a few times

  3. (I am Turkish )I had a bad experience studying at Goethe institute in Berlin. I was also using the accommodation the language school provided. I was living with a 60 year old German lady. That lady was incredibly hostile towards me but in my Turkish culture we are taught to not disrespect an elder even at the face of being disrespected. Hence I did not report the lady to the school I did whatever she asked me. but it came to a point when she accused me of stealing the hairdryer which was also there for me to use.. I had forgotten to bring the hair dryer back from my room to the bathroom. She banged my door 5 am in the morning shouting YOU THIEF. Next day I went to the school crying hysterically and explained all the mistreatment. As I was 23 years old young and naive I did not understand why she treated me such but now ı understand it was racism. I wasn't allowed in the living room I wasn't allowed to use the internet at the house and more things like this. I was treated as if I was an infectious disease. I feel bad for her. Goethe institute should do checks on people that works for them.

  4. As a 25 years old Turkish who was born, raised and still lives in Turkey I think that most of the Turks in Germany haven't adapted to Germany and the society. Mostly, they've created a parallel society and they still live in that society. Turkish guest workers who immigrated in 60s and 70s, were the rural people of Turkey. Most of them, nowadays, still have that religious and conservative Turkish culture. They think that, in order to not get assimilated they have to protect and conserve their culture. As a political science student I have to state that, at the last general elections of Turkey which held in 2018, 74% of Turks who live in Germany voted for Erdoğan and his political party. In Turkey, elections are not only elections but also a counting of identities. Turkish people tend to vote according to their social identities. The fact that 74% of Turks who live in Germany voted for Erdoğan demonstrates that, the majority of them are still not adapted to Western/German norms, civilization and mindset. Voting for an Islamist such as Erdoğan is an unacceptable thing for me. As long as they do not adapt to German norms and society, the "Kulturkampf" will be going on.

  5. It is a pity that most Germans of Turkish origin feel Turkish even if they have a German passport. So they are never at home here. Of course, the Germans then regard them as Turks, that is pure politeness.

  6. Usually "meet the Germans" is really good.
    But this episode is in my opinion the best that was ever made. Thank you so much. I have to share it with my turkish (kurdish) friends.
    At least we are all Germans and have to stay together – some have Migrationshintergrund and some don't. But we all together make this country so great.

  7. I have moved to Germany in February 2021 and I have seen so many differences between Turkish people in Germany and in Turkey. I feel like Turkish people in Germany are a bit more conservative in terms of religion and "customs". I think this might be a reflex to the marginalisation by a totally different country, culture and religion. Additionally most majority of them had been sent to Germany from villages, where education levels were probably very low… I can also spot so many differences between New Wave Turks and Turks who have been born and raised in Germany. Really interesting…

  8. Excellent balanced and considered piece. The scandal of the NSU attacks and the apparent complacency or even complicity of the German security forces has never been fully resolved as far as I'm aware.

  9. TLDR. Do not believe cute brochures with 'Herzlich Wilkommen'. You are not welcomed, at least as a Gastarbeiter.

    I arrived in Germany in November 2021 as a Gastarbeiter with a family:
    – uncompensated COVID desease and 14 quarantane days,
    – Taxnummer 6 (the hardest 45-50%) when it schoud be Taxnummer 3 (20-25%),
    – no Kinderarzt (closest Pediatry that takes new patients – 35 kilometers),
    – narrow specialist Doctor (Ginekology) – closest possible visit on 12 September (8 months forward)!
    – no Kindergeld (although i have 1 year Visum),
    – hard physical work 9-10 hrs/day,
    – i pay 780 Euro for a studio 28 sq.m. (it's pretty hard to find an appartment),
    – my wife had emergency with spine on 30th December – in the NotfallKlinik the doctor not even killed the pain.
    It's not a full list …
    Uh! I love Paderborn so so so much!

  10. I would find it fair if it would have been mentioned next to the fact that Germany didn't allow a double passport, it is Turkey who doesn't allow their citizens to give up their Turkish passports. Turkish people can never stop bring Turkish, even of they would really want to. I find that rather strange