Turks in Germany
1.55 million (Turkish citizens, in 2013)
|Regions with significant populations|
|North Rhine-Westphalia · Stuttgart · Munich · Berlin · Frankfurt|
|German · Turkish · Kurdish|
|Part of a series of articles on|
Turks in Germany (German: Türken in Deutschland; Turkish: Almanya'daki Türkler, "Almancılar") refers to persons living in Germany originating from Turkey. They form the largest ethnic minority in Germany. According to the census 2011 there are almost 3 million people with Turkish background in Germany forming about 3.7% of Germany's total population. Before, some older sources overestimate and underestimate the number of people with Turkish background. 1.55 million people still hold Turkish citizenship, thus forming the largest group of non-citizens in Germany.
- 1 History
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Culture
- 4 Integration issues
- 5 Political behaviour
- 6 Popular culture
- 7 Timeline
- 8 Notable people
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Bibliography
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
The earliest records of Turks residing in Germany was in the early 1800s but they were a minuscule proportion of the German and other European countries' population. Ottoman Turks have long visited and perhaps scant hundreds of them settled down in the Holy Roman Empire as the invading troops advanced towards Vienna, Prague, Warsaw and Budapest in the 1600s to eventually assimilate into the majority Christian European populations of the host countries.
Large-scale migration of Turkish citizens to West Germany developed during the Wirtschaftswunder ("economic miracle") of the 1960s and 1970s. West Germany suffered an acute labour shortage because of the economic boom, in 1961, the Bundesrepublik and officials at the Turkish Republic negotiated a trade of labour. Turkish workers were invited to move to Germany to fill in this void, particularly to work in the factories to do simple repetitive tasks. Turkish citizens soon became the largest group of Gastarbeiter—literally, guest workers—in West Germany, labouring alongside Italians, Yugoslavs, Spaniards, Greeks and other immigrants. The perception at the time on the part of both the West German Government and the Turkish Republic representatives was that working in Germany would "only" be temporary.
After 3 or 4 years, the migrant workers showed considerable signs of distress and were permitted to re-unite with their existing and abandoned families. Eventually, many became settled permanent residents by default with the birth of offspring, school and other obligations in the new lands.
According to the census 2011 there are almost 3 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 2013, there were 1,550,000 Turkish citizens in Germany which accounted for 22.1% 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 2,998,000 or approximately 3.7% of Germany's population.
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-class neighbourhoods of cities like Berlin (especially in 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 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.
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. Turkish is offered as a foreign language 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 used both by members of its own community and those with a non-Turkish background. Especially in urban areas, it serves as 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.
A study comparing Turkish Muslim youths living in Germany and German youth found that the former were more likely to attend religious services regularly (35% versus 14%). 41% of young Turkish Muslim boys and 52% of the girls said they prayed "sometimes or regularly", 64% of boys and 74% of girls said they wanted to teach their children religion. 25% of the Turkish women from the first generation and 17% from the second generation wear a headscarf.
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. Furthermore, Turks are perceived by some to be the 'most foreign' group in Germany.
For Turks in German society, patterns of discrimination maintain disadvantages of low economic and social status, whilst also restraining social advancement. 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. 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, some in the Turkish minority have shown cultural problems in integrating into German society. A recent non-governmental telephone survey, carried out jointly by Liljeberg and the Berlin-based INFO polling company sampled 1011 Turkish migrants living in Germany. It showed 72% of the Turks surveyed 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 and 18% felt that Jews are inferior people.
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. Former Turkish citizens who have given up their Turkish citizenship can apply for the "Blue Card" (Mavi Kart), which gives them some citizens' rights back, e.g. the right to live and work in Turkey, the right to possess land or the right to inherit, but not, for example, the right to vote.
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.
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.
Fatih Akın, film director
Halil Altıntop, footballer
Hamit Altıntop, footballer
Django Asül, comedian
Ekin Deligöz, politician
Atiye Deniz, singer
Nazan Eckes, television presenter
Mesut Özil, footballer
Eko Fresh, rapper
Malik Fathi, footballer
Sibel Kekilli, actress
Bahar Kızıl, singer
Alev Lenz, singer
Cem Özdemir, politician
Gökalp Özekler, boxer
Berkant Göktan, footballer
Asiye Özlem Şahin, boxer
Nuri Şahin, footballer
Kool Savas, rapper
Mehmet Scholl, footballer
Serdar Tasci, footballer
İlkay Gündoğan, footballer
Gökhan Töre, footballer
- Demographics of Germany
- Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği
- German–Turkish relations
- List of Turkish Germans
- Turks in Berlin
- Turks in Europe
- Turks in the Netherlands
- Turkish American
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