Thursday, November 13, 2008

Turkish Delight

Germany has a long and complex relationship with its Turkish population. With more than 16 million (out of a total 82 million) people living in Germany of non-German descent, by far the largest ethnic group is Turkish. Since the 1960s, West, and later reunified Germany, has been attracting migrations, many of which acquired citizenship along the way. The East to west migrations has roots in the 19th century, starting with the Ostflucht or “flight from the East” where residents of former Eastern territories of Germany, such as Prussia began moving to the more industrialized Western German provinces. In Munch, there is a vibrant Turkish community centered around the West End and south of the central station. Although this community lives amongst the long-time Germans, I’m told they struggle to become integrated – the plight of many European countries today. One Turkish-German told me, “I’m German. I was born here. I grew up here. And yet, they see me as different.” As an outsider, it’s fascinating to watch this delicate balance, as it plays out in government policy, the shopping centers, and the neighborhoods of Munich.

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