Kurds in Germany

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Kurds in Germany
Kurdên Almanyayê
Total population
Over 1,000,000 (Kurdish institute of Paris)[1]
Kurdish, German, Turkish, Persian and Arabic
Islam (majority), Yazidism (minority)
Related ethnic groups
Kurdish population, Kurdish diaspora

Kurds in Germany are residents or citizens of Germany of full or partial Kurdish origin. There is a large Kurdish community in Germany. The number of Kurds living in Germany is unknown. Many estimates assume that the number is in the million range.[2][3][4] In February 2000, the Federal Government of Germany (Die Bundesregierung) estimated that approximately 500,000 Kurds lived in Germany at that time.[5]

Immigration history of Kurds in Germany[edit]

1919 & 1920s[edit]

The first Kurds migrated to Germany in 1919 and the years following, most came for diplomatic reasons related to the Ottoman Empire and later Turkey.[6]

1961-1973 (First wave)[edit]

The first wave of Kurdish immigrant workers from Turkey arrived after Germany and Turkey signed a treaty which allowed Turkish citizens (mostly men) to immigrate to Germany as "Gastarbeiter" (guest workers) in October 1961. This immigration officially stopped in 1973, by then the amount of immigrants reached 867,000 (1.5 million in 1980 and 2.1 million in 1998). The percentage of Kurds in this immigrant diaspora is unknown but is speculated to be in the high hundreds of thousands.[6]

1980-2003 (Second wave)[edit]

The oppression of Kurds in the 1980s under the then newly formed Islamic republic of Iran and the then following Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) kickstarted the second wave of Kurdish migration to Germany (and other countries). This second wave only increased in scale after the Gulf Wars and later invasion of Iraq by the U.S[6]

2011-2018 (Third wave)[edit]

Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, many of the Syrian refugees who have come to Germany are Kurds. The later War against ISIL also created a wave of immigrants from Iraq and Kurdistan Region.[6]

Impact of Kurdish immigration to Germany[edit]

Integration of Kurdish immigrants to Germany[edit]

According to the "Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF)" (English: "Federal Office for Migration and Refugees") most Germans with ancestry going back to Turkey (thus including Kurds from Turkey) speak fluent german. Notably Gender roles in second generation immigrants resemble that of native Germans (i.e women are seen as equal). Overall the "BAMF" concludes that immigrants with german citizenship are more integrated in german society then those without.[7]

Religion of Kurds in Germany[edit]



Most Kurdish immigrants in Germany follow the Sunni branch of Islam, who are often from Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Around 40 Mosques in Germany are part of the umbrella association "Islamische Gesellschaft Kurdistans" (English: Islamic society of Kurdistan; Kurdish: Civaka Îslamiya Kurdistan (CÎK))


The amount of alevis in Germany is between 450,000 and 800,000 (mostly from Turkey), a high percentage of which are Kurds.


According to "Deutschlandfunk" 190 thousand yazidis lived in Germany in 2018.[8] 7,000 live in Celle and 1,300 in Oldenburg.[9][10]


German Kurds live spread throughout Germany, especially in cities with a large proportion of Turkish people. Examples are Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hannover, Kiel and Essen.[11]

Political representation[edit]

There have been several politicians in German political parties with a Kurdish origin and who also openly demand an embetterment of the situation for the Kurds. Prominent names are the Members of the Bundestag Gökay Akbulut,[12] Evrim Sommer[13] or Sevim Dagdelen,[14] all members of the Die Linke. Muhterem Aras of the Green Party is the president of the State legislature of Baden-Württemberg.[15]

Political activism[edit]

Protest against Turkey's military offensive into north-eastern Syria on 10 October 2019

In 2014, Kurds in Germany marched in protest over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's siege of Kobani.[16][17]

In 2015, thousands of Kurds in Germany marched against Turkish Air Force air strikes on Kurdish civilians.[18]

In October 2019, thousands of German Kurds protested against the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria.[19]

In November 2023, around 4.100 people (mostly Germans of Kurdish origin) protested against the ban of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and against the politics of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[20]


According to the German authorities tin 2013. The Swiss newspapers Blick and Neue Zürcher Zeitung claimed that the Kurdish gang/motorcycle club "Sondame", allegedly "fighting" for a free Kurdistan, was formed in Stuttgart, and in 2015, it had about 1,000 members in Germany and Switzerland.[21][22] The group is not well known and its existence is controversial. Other Kurdish motorcycle club and gangs include Median Empire[23] and Red Legion.[24][25][22][26]

Women's rights[edit]

Memorial plaque for Hatun Sürücü in Berlin, Germany. The Kurdish woman from Turkey was murdered aged 23 by her brothers in an honour killing.

Some cases of honour killing have been reported among the Kurdish diaspora in Germany.[27] In March 2009, a Kurdish immigrant from Turkey, Gülsüm S., was killed for a relationship not in keeping with her family's plan for an arranged marriage.[28] In 2016 a Kurdish woman was shot dead at her wedding in Hannover after refusing to marry her cousin.[29]

Notable people[edit]

See List of German people of Kurdish descent

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Who is the Kurdish Institute ?".
  2. ^ "Geschenk an Erdogan? Kurdisches Kulturfestival verboten". heise.de. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  3. ^ Peters, Freia (11 October 2014). "Islamisten und Kurden: Brutale Gruppen in Deutschland - WELT". DIE WELT. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  4. ^ https://kurdische-gemeinde.de/zahl-der-kurden-in-deutschland-sprunghaft-angestiegen/ This source says that the Kurdish population in Germany increased to 1.15 million in 2015.
  5. ^ "Deutscher Bundestag: ETWA 500.000 KURDEN LEBEN IN DEUTSCHLAND (ANTWORT)". webarchiv.bundestag.de. Retrieved 2023-12-09.
  6. ^ a b c d sagt, Valentin (2020-01-23). "100 Jahre kurdische Einwanderung nach Deutschland" (in German). Retrieved 2024-01-19.
  7. ^ "Studie: Integration von Türkeistämmigen in Deutschland". BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (in German). Retrieved 2024-01-19.
  8. ^ deutschlandfunk.de. "Jesiden in Deutschland - Abschied von Afrin". Deutschlandfunk (in German). Retrieved 2024-01-19.
  9. ^ deutschlandfunk.de. "Jesidin in Deutschland - "Es ist Angst, Angst, Angst"". Deutschlandfunk (in German). Retrieved 2024-01-19.
  10. ^ "Die Yeziden in Deutschland - Religion und Leben". 2010-02-23. Archived from the original on 2010-02-23. Retrieved 2024-01-19.
  11. ^ "Tensions between Germany's Turks and Kurds boil over with Syria offensive". www.hiiraan.com. Retrieved 19 November 2022.
  12. ^ "Stellungnahme von Stadträtin Gökay Akbulut (DIE LINKE) zum Verbot der Demonstration "Weg mit dem Verbot der PKK" in Mannheim". Kommunalinfo Mannheim (in German). 2017-04-07. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  13. ^ Ekinci, Burhan (7 January 2021). "German Kurdish MP says Erdoğan government 'serious threat' to EU, calls for sanctions". Ahval.
  14. ^ "Abgeordnete zeigt verbotene Kurdenflagge im Bundestag". Die Zeit. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  15. ^ Crolly, Hannelore (2017-01-02). "Muslimische Landtagspräsidentin: Frauen am Steuer – das machte Muhterem Aras sprachlos". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  16. ^ "Kurds protested in Germany over 'IS' attacks on the Syrian town of Kobani". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Thousands march in France, Germany, Austria to support Kobane Kurds". Radio France Internationale. 12 October 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Thousands of Kurds in Germany march against Turkish air strikes". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Germany: Thousands protest Turkish operation in Syria | DW | 12.10.2019". Deutsche Welle.
  20. ^ "Rund 4.100 Teilnehmer bei Kurden-Demonstration gegen Erdogan". www.rbb24.de (in German). 2023-11-19. Retrieved 2023-12-10.
  21. ^ Blick (4 May 2015). ""Der Auftritt ist sehr aggressiv": Wie gefährlich sind die Kurden-Rocker Sondame?". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  22. ^ a b Baumgartner, Fabian (17 May 2015). "Rivalisierende Banden in Zürich: Machtkampf zwischen kurdischen "Brüdern" und Rockern". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  23. ^ MEYER, MEHMET ATA und OLIVER. ""Median Empire": Kurden-Rocker drohen den Hells Angels". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  24. ^ Rocker-Info.net (2 April 2015). "Stuttgarter Kurden drohen weiter den United Tribuns". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  25. ^ Germany. "Red Legion - aktuelle Themen, Nachrichten & Bilder". Stuttgarter Zeitung. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  26. ^ "German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight". thelocal.de. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  27. ^ Palash R. Ghosh. "Honor Crimes in Britain Far More Prevalent than Formerly Thought". International Business Times. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  28. ^ "Erschlagen, weil sie schwanger war? – Killed, because she was pregnant?". Der Bild. 3 April 2009.
  29. ^ "Kurdish woman shot dead at wedding for refusing to marry her cousin". The Telegraph. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2017.