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“Clearly, the German Government Never Intended for These Guests to Stay”
Cultural Manifestations of the Intensifying Turkish-German Conflict in Today’s Germany
Talia Kazan (Gordon College, Massachusetts)
This paper analyzes the incredibly troubled relationship between Germans and the Turkish minority in Germany today. The German government invited Turkish citizens during the 1960’s as “Gastarbeiter,” or “guest worker,” to help a stagnant economy. Turks took menial, low-wage service jobs that Germans did not occupy. And the program worked, with the German economy booming during the late 1960’s and on through the 1970’s. As the economy turned around, the German government expected the Turks to head back to their homeland. This did not happen as planned. When the economy started to slow down due to worldwide economic recession during the early 1980’s, the government offered financial incentives from 1983–1984 for Turks to head back to Turkey. The current Turkish population hovers around 1.7 million, not grand in comparison to the 75.2 million native German population. Yet, there is a growing resentment and hostility to this 1.7 million people group, a group who is not leaving Germany and whose families keep coming to Germany in hopes of better lives. Cultural differences, religious differences and language barriers continue to create constant friction between Germans and Turks.
In order to emphasize the impact of this conflict on contemporary German culture, the paper tries to analyze the cultural manifestations in Turkish-German films by Fatih Akin (Gegen die Wand), Lars Becker (Kannak Attack), rap music by Cartel, and others. Among other things, this paper will demonstrate the likelihood that the intense and complicated conflict could escalate in the near future.