The largest community of non-German origin in Germany is the Turks: 3.4 million. Half of them have German nationality. A law a dozen years ago automatically granted that to those born on German soil and who live there for a minimum of eight consecutive years. Before that, parents’ nationality decided the children’s.
Heinz Buschkowsky, the mayor of the heavily-Turkish part of Berlin called Neukölln, said that identity still weighs down on the young: “The further away the country of origin, the more its values are glorified – in a conservative and fanatical way. Our children must not forget what proud Turks they are.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has earnestly encouraged Turkish national pride among the people who have made Germany home for four generations. He encourages them to integrate with German society but not to be totally absorbed by it. There are 1.3 million Turkish citizens living in Germany who can vote in Turkey, under a recent law.
Ties between the two countries have always been tight, but today Turkey no longer receives development aid from Germany, since it advanced so much economically. In 2011, both countries celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their immigration treaty, signed in 1961.
Thousands of Turks went to work in Germany, and their children and grandchildren stayed. They make up most of today’s Turkish community in the country.
Franziska Woellert with the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, in highlighting a point of resentment on both sides, said: “The migrants who arrived in the guest worker or ‘Gastarbeiter’ years of the 1950s and ’60s are less educated, and they passed on to their second and third generation children that distance from education.”
Showing how far integration has come, now 90 percent of Germans of Turkish origin want to take part in elections in Germany, says a survey by the newspaper Deutsch-Türkisches Journal. But they also complain that they are represented very little in the political parties.