The German-Turkish Relationship

History of German-Turkish Relations

Temporary and permanent migration movements to Germany and Turkey did not just begin in 1961. Even in the Ottoman Empire, there were good political, economic and military contacts with the German Empire, which was significantly involved in the construction of the Anatolia and Baghdad railways. Numerous craftsmen, business people and military advisers stayed in the country and founded the “German School” and the “German Hospital” (Alman Hastanesi) in Istanbul. They are buried in the European cemeteries in Feriköy and their descendants are considered “Bosporus Germans”.

On the occasion of his visit to Istanbul in 1898, Kaiser Wilhelm II donated a fountain that was manufactured in Germany and transported to Turkey and is still known as the “German Fountain” on the site of the former hippodrome.

In 1912 there were already 1,350 Turks living in Berlin and in 1917 another 300 Turkish apprentices were sent to Berlin. In the First World War, Turkey fought on the German side. Many Turks are aware that this “brotherhood in arms” is a milestone in German-Turkish relations and is invoked again and again.

A second high point is the admission of German scientists and artists fleeing the Nazi regime. These contributed significantly to the development of the still new state.

Best known is the former CEO of Daimler-Benz AG Edzard Reuter, who spent several years in exile in Ankara with his father Ernst Reuter.

The composer Paul Hindemith and the architects Bruno Taut and Clemens Holzmeister were also among the exiles at this time.

Eren Önsöz’s documentary “Import-Export” – A Journey into the German-Turkish Past “describes the common history from the beginning to the present.

Turkish labor migration to Germany

The signing of the Anwerbe Agreement with Turkey in 2011 anniversary of the fiftieth time.

To counter the pressing labor shortage in industry, Turkish workers were called to Germany. At the beginning, the newcomers by no means planned to stay permanently in the foreign country. Their motivation was to earn enough money in a short time to realize their professional future in their own home. The employers also initially provided for short stays and a rotation of workers. The topic of “integration” was initially not on the agenda.

That should change. The industrial companies suddenly no longer wanted to replace their semi-skilled workers with new “guest workers” and were striving for their employees to stay longer. Many Turks had to realize with pain that the money they had already earned was not enough to secure the future in Turkey over the long term. In addition, the 1973 recruitment ban made it more difficult to enter the country. As a result, the Turkish population rose due to family reunification and high birth rates. At the same time, however, many people always left Germany and returned to Turkey. This trend is current again today. In 2009 there was a negative immigration balance (-22,000), ie significantly more Turks left Germany than immigrated.

According to extrareference, the third and fourth generation of the descendants of Turkish immigrants have now lived in Germany, many of them for more than 20 years. More than 1 million have applied for German citizenship, this was made much easier by the new citizenship law from 2000.

The issue of the forced marriage of mostly young women to Germany remains challenging. To prevent this and to promote integration in Germany, a language test for Turks aspiring to stay was introduced.

Cinematically, the issue of labor migration was implemented in a tragic and comical way by the directors / screenwriters Yasemin and Nesrin Samderelli. For “Almanya” they received the German Film Prize 2011. From the perspective of three generations, they address the issue of homeland and the identity of Turkish guest workers in Germany. They play with clichés and subtly and creatively question the usual perspectives. Definitely worth seeing.

Current overview in various areas of German-Turkish cooperation

Turkey and Germany are bound by an indissoluble bond: On the one hand, almost 3 million people with Turkish roots live in the Federal Republic of Germany, some of whom (1.5 million) are naturalized. Both countries work closely together economically and the cooperation in the field of culture and science goes back to the Ottoman Empire. The highlight in the field of education was the opening of the German-Turkish university in Istanbul.

Politically, the German-Turkish relationship is currently clouded. The signing of the Armenia resolution in June 2016 by the German Bundestag met with harsh criticism in Turkey and among many German-Turks. There were further upheavals in connection with a contribution by the comedian Jan Böhmermann, who denigrated President Erdogan. The assessment of the coup in July 2016 also expresses different points of view. President Erdogan and many Turks are annoyed that European political elites show little solidarity and compassion for the country hit by the coup, but instead show massive criticism of the waves of arrests and warnings in their reaction to the events. Another endurance test was the arrest of German journalists such as Deniz Yücel or Mesale Tolu in the course of their activities, which Turkey viewed as supporting terrorist organizations. Only activities at the highest political levels brought speed to the procedural process, which has not yet been officially concluded.

Erdogan on EPP election poster