Turks in Germany
|1,629,480 (Turkish citizens, in 2010)
2,500,000 — 4,000,000 (Residents in Germany with at least one parent from Turkey)
about 5% of Germany's population
|Regions with significant populations|
|North Rhine-Westphalia · Stuttgart · Munich · Berlin · Frankfurt|
Turks in Germany (German: Deutsch-Türken; Turkish: Almanya Türkleri) refers to persons living in Germany originating from Turkey including non-ethnic Turks (but does not include ethnic Turks from outside Turkey). German Turks form the largest ethnic minority. Estimates range between 2.5–2.7 million, 2.7 million, 3.5 million[dead link] and more than 4 million Turks and German citizens with part or full Turkish ancestry in Germany, forming about 4-5% of Germany's total population. Out of this group, Kurds are estimated to number around 500,000 people.
Early settlement 
The German states have been in contact with Turks since the 17th and 18th centuries when the Ottoman Turks attempted to expand their territories beyond the north Balkans. There were two sieges of Vienna in 1529 and 1683. After the relief of Vienna and the retreat of the Ottoman army, the second siege left behind many Muslim Turks, either as stragglers or as prisoners, who became permanent residents in Germany. These included Ottoman soldiers and camp followers.
A new phase commenced with the expansion of Prussia in the mid-18th century. In 1731, the Duke of Kurland presented twenty Turkish guardsmen to King Frederick William I, and about 1,000 Muslim soldiers are said to have served at one time in the Prussian cavalry. The Prussian kings' fascination with the enlightenment was reflected in their consideration for the religious concerns of their Muslim troops.
In 1740 Frederick the Great stated (in the context of affirming the toleration of Catholics) that "All religions are just as good as each other, as long as the people who practice them are honest, and even if Turks and heathens came and wanted to populate this country, then we would build mosques and temples for them".
In reality, the first contingent of Turkish guardsmen had already been given the use of a prayer room on Sundays. It soon became necessary to establish a Turkish/Muslim cemetery in Berlin, in which a mosque was finally built in 1866. Diplomatic relations were established between Berlin and Istanbul in the 18th century, and by the 19th century trading treaties were set up between the two cities. These developments encouraged the crossover of citizens between the Ottoman and German states. As a consequence of these developments, the Turkish community in Germany, and particularly in Berlin, grew significantly in the years before the First World War.
Immigration into Germany 
The large scale of immigration of Turkish workers from the beginning of the 1960s was due both to the high population growth and mass unemployment within Turkey and also to the demand for labour in north-west Europe. West Germany, like other Western European nations, had begun to experience a labour shortage by the mid-1950s. Recruitment of workers from Mediterranean countries was one solution to this problem. In 1961, the construction of the Berlin Wall exacerbated West Germany's labour crisis by restricting the flow of immigrants from East Germany. Turkey at the same time experienced unemployment. The Turkish government asked Germany to recruit Turkish guest workers. Theodor Blank, Secretary of State for Employment, was opposed to such agreements, believing that the cultural gap between Germany and Turkey was too large. He also argued that Germany needed no additional foreign laborers, because there were enough unemployed people living in the poorer regions of Germany who could take these jobs. But the United States put some political pressure on Germany, as it wanted to stabilize Turkey. The German Department of Foreign Affairs carried on negotiations after this and in 1961 an agreement was reached. Pressure from German employers in 1962 and 1963 played a key role in ending the two-year limit on the time for which Turkish workers were permitted to stay in West Germany.
In 1961, a total of 7,116 Turks migrated to Germany as guest workers. The recruitment treaty in 1961 made Germany the prime host country for Turkish guest workers, and by 1973 some 80% of the Turks in Western Europe lived in Germany. Although this share had decreased to 70% by 1990, Germany remained by far the most important country of settlement for Turkish immigrants. Most Turks were convinced that they would only stay in Germany temporarily and would one day return to Turkey to build a new life for themselves with the money they had earned. During the recession of 1966-1967, the number of Turks leaving Germany rapidly increased; and there were more departures during the 1973 oil crisis. The last increase in departures in 1981-1984 was caused by mass unemployment in Germany and the policy of giving remigration bonuses to Turks who were willing to return to their homeland for good. However, the number of migrants who returned to Turkey was relatively small and did not stop the rapid increase of the Turkish population in Germany.
Family reunification 
In the 1970s, some 400,000 Turkish workers returned to Turkey, but others took advantage of the right of family reunification to have their families join them in Germany. As a result, between 1974–1988, the number of Turks in Germany nearly doubled, achieving a normalised sex ratio and a much younger age profile than the German population because of the larger numbers of children per family. In 1987, 21% of ethnic Germans were under the age of 21, compared to 42% of the Turks in Germany. The recession of 1967 temporarily halted the progress of worker recruitment, but when it resumed, the targeted employees had changed as the BfA (Bundesversicherungsanstalt für Angestellte) granted most work visas to women. This was in part because labour shortages continued in low paying, low-status service jobs such as electronics, textiles, and garment work; and in part to further the goal of family reunification. Family reunification was a solution to the perceived social threat from foreign workers, single men living in worker hostels or dormitories, with extra money in their pockets. Many wives did join their husbands in Germany, but women also came hoping to bring their husbands and children to Germany in the future. Moreover, many Turkish workers in Germany could save enough money to return home to marry and bring their brides back to Germany when the 1974 Unification of Families Law made this easier. By 1976, 27% of Turks in West Germany were women.
Fall of the Berlin Wall 
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the reunification of East and West Germany was followed by intense public debate around the articulations of national identity and citizenship, including the place of Germany's Turkish minority in the future of a united Germany. These debates about citizenship were all accompanied by expressions of xenophobia and ethnic violence that targeted the Turkish population. Anti-immigrant sentiment was especially strong in the new federal states in East Germany, which underwent profound social and economic transformations during reunification. Many Turks throughout Germany experienced considerable fear for their safety, with some 1,500 reported cases of right wing violence, and 2,200 cases the year after. The political rhetoric calling for foreigner-free zones (Ausländer-freie Zonen) and the rise of neo-Nazi groups sharpened public awareness of integration issues and generated intensified support among liberal Germans for the competing idea of Germany as a multicultural society. Citizenship laws that established eligibility according to place of birth rather than according to descent have been slow in coming and restrictions on dual citizenship are still onerous. However, increasing numbers of second-generation Turks have opted for German citizenship and are becoming more involved in the political process.
After 2000 
In 2010, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that multiculturalism in Germany had "failed utterly". The German leader said it had been an illusion to think that Germans and foreign workers could "live happily side by side". At a conference of the youth wing of the Christian Democratic Union party, the German leader said (in reference to guest workers) "At the start of the 60s we invited the guest-workers to Germany. We kidded ourselves for a while that they wouldn't stay, that one day they'd go home. That isn't what happened. And of course the tendency was to say: let's be 'multikulti' and live next to each other and enjoy being together, [but] this concept has failed, failed utterly." In the same speech, she stressed that immigrants were welcome in Germany and that Islam was a part of the nation's modern-day culture.
Estimates of the Turkish population in Germany range between 2.5–2.7 million, 2.7 million, 3.5 million [dead link] and 4 million people having at least one parent immigrated from Turkey. Turks account for 63% of the total Muslim population in Germany, by far the largest single group.
In 2008, there were 1,688,370 Turkish citizens (889,003 males and 799,367 females) in Germany which accounted for 25.1% of Germany's foreign population and thus the largest ethnic minority. The official number of Turks with Turkish citizenship in Germany is falling, partly because about 30-70,000 are taking on German citizenship per year (with a downward trend, however), and since the year 2000, children born in Germany are entitled to adopt German citizenship if at least one parent has lived for eight years in Germany and has a perpetual residence permit.
In 2005, there were 840,000 German citizens of Turkish origin. Overall, the number of German residents with origins in Turkey was approximately 2,812,000 or approximately 3.4% of Germany's population. In 2010, the Embassy of Germany said that there are 3.5 million people of Turkish origin living in Germany and that a further 3 million Turks have spent part of their lives in Germany. Other estimates suggest that there are now over 4 million people of Turkish descent living in Germany.
Population distribution 
Turks in Germany are concentrated predominantly in urban centers. Currently, about 60% of Turkish immigrants live in cities whilst at least a quarter of Turks live in smaller towns. The vast majority are found in the former West Germany. The majority live in industrial regions such as the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Baden-Württemberg and the working neighbourhoods of cities like Berlin (especially in Kreuzberg which is known as Little Istanbul and Neukölln), Cologne, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Mainz, Munich, and Stuttgart.
|State||Number of Turks||% of State population||% of Turks in Germany|
|Neue Länder (former East Germany)||
The age structure of the Turkish population in Germany is dramatically different from that of the German population as a whole. A quarter of the mainstream German population is older than 60 years, compared to only 5% of the Turkish population. The year 1973 is a milestone with regard to the historical development and changes which have occurred in the social structure of Turkish migrants. This is mainly due to the reunification of families. Around 53% of migrants came to Germany through family reunification and already around 17% of Turks who live in Germany were born in the country.
The proportion of men and women who reside in Germany has balanced out since the 1960s. 54.2% of Turks in Germany are male and 45.8% are female. Of the population, 50.5% are between 14 and 29 years old, whereas among Germans the comparable proportion is only 25%. In the Turkish population, 33.8% are between 39 and 49 years old, while 32% of Germans are within this age group. Only 15.7% of Turks are age fifty and above, while this is true of 43% of Germans. Overall, Turks in Germany make up a younger population than do Germans.
The German state does not keep statistics on ethnicity but, subsequently, categorizes ethnic groups originating from Turkey as being of Turkish national origin. This has the consequence of ethnic minorities from Turkey living in Germany being referred to as "Turks". However, about one-fourth to one-fifth of Turkish nationals are ethnic Kurds (amounting to some 350,000). Furthermore, the number of ethnic Turks who have immigrated to Germany from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania and other traditional areas of Turkish settlement which were once part of the Ottoman territories in Europe are unknown as these Turkish minorities are categorised by their citizenship rather than their Turkish ethnicity.
Other Turkish communities 
The official estimates of the Turkish immigrant population in Germany does not include the Turks whose origins go back to the Ottoman Empire. In Germany, there are ethnic Turkish people such as Turks from Bulgaria, Turks from Cyprus, Turks from Greece (Crete / Dodecanese / Western Thrace), Turks from Romania and Yugoslavia. These populations, which have different nationalities, share the same ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious origins as Turkish nationals.
From the early 1990s Western Europe began to attract Turks from Bulgaria for the first time in their social history. Migration to Germany, in particular, was initiated by those Bulgarian Turks who, for various reasons, were unable to join the first massive migration wave to Turkey in 1989 or who were part of the subsequent return wave which was dissatisfied with the conditions of life or the social adjustment prospects there. The majority of Turks from Bulgaria migrated to Germany in the 1990s asylum regime, which provided generous social benefits.
Bulgarian Turks are to be found predominantly in the less protected sectors of the German labour market associated with ethnic businesses that require higher flexibility and tougher working conditions. They appear to rely for employment predominantly on co-ethnic networks established by German Turks. The majority of this group of Turks are relatively new in Germany which now consists of regular migrants who legalised their status largely through marriages of convenience to German citizens. Some members of this group have managed to bring their children to Germany whilst there are also a smaller number of people who have given birth in Germany.
There are some members of the Greek Muslim community among the some 300,000 Greeks living in Germany who are Turkish-speaking or who espouse a Turkish identity. The majority of Turks come from Western Thrace. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Thracian tobacco industry was affected by a severe crisis and many tobacco growers lost their income. This resulted in many Turks leaving Greece and immigrating to Germany with estimates suggesting that today there are now between 19,000 and 29,000 residing in Germany.
In 1950, thousands of Turks left the Turkish city of Mardin and headed for Lebanon because of the economic crises and unemployment in Turkey. Though the first Turks who left for Lebanon were originally just going to make money, they started to plan the rest of their lives there (mainly in Beirut). However, most of these Turks then migrated to European countries due to the war between the Arabs and the Israelis. When the Israel Lebanon war took place in 2006, more than 20,000 Turks fled Lebanon, forced to take refuge in Germany and various other European countries.
Republic of Macedonia 
Due to the geographic proximity of Germany and Turkey, cultural transfer and influence from the country of origin has remained considerable among the Turkish minority. Furthermore, the majority of second-generation Turks appear to have developed emotional and cultural ties to their parents' country and also to the country which they live in and intend to remain. Most Turks live in two conflicting cultures with contrasting behaviour codes and patterns of belonging. At work or school, German culture tends to dominate, while during leisure time social networks divide along ethnic lines of the Turkish culture. In the first generation of migrants, social networks were almost exclusively Turkish, and now in the second and third generations this segregation line remains just as effective as ever.
The Turkish language is Germany’s main immigrant language. The second and third generation Turks often speak Turkish with a German accent or even modelled on a German dialect. Some modify their Turkish by adding German grammatical and syntactical structures. The majority learn Turkish in their home, neighbourhood and community. Some attend Turkish classes offered at their local school whilst others study Turkish as a foreign language, a subject now offered in many German schools. In some states of Germany, Turkish has even been approved as a subject to be studied for the Abitur.
Turkish in Germany is often used not only by members of its own community but also by people with a non-Turkish background. Especially in urban areas, it functions as a peer group vernacular for children and adolescents.
Turks are the predominant Muslim ethnic group in Germany. In fact, by the 1960s, the label Turk in Germany was synonymous with Muslim. Today, Turks make up 63.2% of Germany’s Muslim population. Thus, Islam in Germany has a largely Turkish character. Religion has proven to be of particular importance for Turks in Germany for reasons more to do with ethnic reassurance rather than faith. More than any other manifestation of their cultural values, Islam is regarded as the one feature that most strongly differentiates them in terms of identity from the majority of the German population.
Turkish immigrants from the onset were regarded as temporary settlers, hence the name guest workers. Consequently, Germany did not put into place structures that would facilitate the integration of the Turks in the new society, and neither did the Turks themselves work toward becoming integrated into the new society.
For Turks in German society, patterns of discrimination maintain disadvantages of low economic and social status, whilst also restraining social advancement. Despite their long-term residency, Turks continue to face hostility, which has intensified since the mid-1970s. In Germany today, there is an undercurrent of xenophobia in public opinion and an open emphasis on xenophobia in right-wing and neo-Nazi organisations. The wave of xenophobic violence that saw offences treble between 1991 and 1993, claimed several Turkish lives and revealed how excluded and vulnerable non-Germans have remained in German society.
The number of violent acts by right-wing extremists in Germany increased dramatically between 1990 and 1992. On November 25, 1992, three Turkish residents were killed in a firebombing in Mölln (Western Germany). The attack prompted even further perplexity since the victims were neither refugees nor lived in a hostel. The same was true for the incident in a Westphalian town on May 29, 1993; where another arson attack took place in Solingen on a Turkish family that had resided in Germany for twenty-three years, five of whom were burnt to death. Several neighbours heard someone shout Heil Hitler! before dousing the front porch and door with gasoline and setting the fire to the home. However, most Germans condemned these attacks on foreigners and many marched in candlelight processions.
Author Greg Nees, writing in 2000, stated that "Because Turks are both darker-skinned and Muslim, conservative Germans are largely against granting them citizenship."
In recent years, the Turkish minority has shown an increased tendency to segregation and radical views. According to a representative 2012 survey, 72% of the Turks in Germany believe that Islam is the only true religion, 62% prefer social contacts only to fellow Turks, 46% wish that one day more Muslims live in Germany than Christians, 25% think atheists are inferior human beings, 18% believe Jews are inferior human beings, and 51% believe that homosexuality is a sickness.
Under previous German law, children born to foreigners in Germany were not entitled to German citizenship by birth. This was modified in 1991. In 2000, legislation was passed which conferred German citizenship on the German-born children of foreigners (born after 1990), and the naturalisation process was made easier, although dual citizenship is only permitted to citizens of the EU and Switzerland and any other national possessing it (including citizens of Turkey) by virtue of birth must choose between the ages of 18 and 23 which citizenship she or he wishes to retain, and renounce their other passport. If one parent is German, a dual citizen is not required to give up the German citizenship if they keep the other citizenship. These strict limits on dual citizenship are criticised by liberal parties in Germany and institutions which promote German-Turkish relations.
Political behaviour 
Turks have been a somewhat inert force in German politics because the first generation of Turks saw their stay in Germany as temporary. Moreover, few Turks have German citizenship and the attention of many Turks focuses on Turkish rather than German politics. However, in recent years, there has been increasing political participation by Turks in Germany, even those who are not citizens. Because of its supportive stand on immigration and naturalisation, most Turks favour the Social Democratic Party (SPD). A survey following the 2005 Federal election revealed close to 90 percent voted for Gerhard Schröder's SPD/Green alliance. There are now many parliamentarians — both at state and federal level — with family origins in Turkey. In 2008 German-born second generation Turk Cem Özdemir became leader of the German Green Party.
Popular culture 
Turkish-German Cinema developed in the late 1990s and 2000s, dealing prominently with issues of transcultural contact and integration. One of the internationally most acclaimed Turkish-German directors is Fatih Akın, who is known for his movies Head-On (2004, with Sibel Kekilli) and The Edge of Heaven (2007). Especially since the 2000s, Turkish-German contributors and issues also entered German television, e.g. with the critically acclaimed television comedy-drama series Türkisch für Anfänger ('Turkish for Beginners', ARD 2006 – 2009, created by Bora Dağtekin). Its 2012 movie spin-off of the same title became the most successful German movie of the year.
Notable people 
Mesut Özil, footballer
Fatih Akın, film director
Halil Altıntop, footballer
Hamit Altıntop, footballer
Django Asül, comedian
Ekin Deligöz, politician
Atiye Deniz, singer
Nazan Eckes, television presenter
Malik Fathi, footballer
Eko Fresh, rapper
Berkant Göktan, footballer
Bahar Kızıl, singer
Alev Lenz, singer
Cem Özdemir, politician
Gökalp Özekler, boxer
Asiye Özlem Şahin, boxer
Nuri Şahin, footballer
Kool Savas, rapper
Mehmet Scholl, footballer
Serdar Tasci, footballer
Gökhan Töre, footballer
Taner Yalçın, footballer
See also 
- Demographics of Germany
- Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği
- German–Turkish relations
- List of Turkish Germans
- Turks in Berlin
- Turks in Europe
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Further reading 
- Green, Simon (July 2003), "The Legal Status of Turks in Germany", Immigrants and Minorities 22 (2–3): 228–246, doi:10.1080/0261928042000244844.
- Pécoud, Antoine (July 2003), "Self-Employment and Immigrants' Incorporation: The Case of Turks in Germany", Immigrants and Minorities 22 (2–3): 247–261, doi:10.1080/0261928042000244853.
- Şen, Faruk (July 2003), "The Historical Situation of Turkish Migrants in Germany", Immigrants and Minorities 22 (2–3): 208–227, doi:10.1080/0261928042000244835.
- Söhn, Janina; Veysel Özcan (March 2006), "The Educational Attainment of Turkish Migrants in Germany", Turkish Studies 7 (1): 101–124, doi:10.1080/14683840500520626.
- Watzinger-Tharp, Johanna (October 2004), "Turkish-German language: an innovative style of communication and its implications for citizenship and identity", Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 24 (2): 285–294, doi:10.1080/1360200042000296663.
- Yukleyen, Ahmet. Localizing Islam in Europe: Turkish Islamic Communities in Germany and the Netherlands (Syracuse University Press; 2012) 280 pages; explores diversity with a comparative study of five religious communities in the two countries.
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