In a bar on the top floor of a hotel, Handan Karatas sits holding a martini and gazing down on the Kurfurstendamm boulevard in western Berlin. As the daughter of guest workers, she is among those for whom Turkey was always the true homeland – and always a dream away.

"In Germany I often experienced racism. Maybe that’s partly why my yearning for Istanbul grew," she says. After graduating, she fulfilled one of her dreams and went to live in the Turkish city for a few years. But she also experienced discrimination from other Turks. "There’s this image of what’s termed "Deutschlander": uneducated, nouveau-riche provincials picking up money off the streets."

"Antipathy turned to hatred"

Today, Handan is back in Berlin. In recent years, she says, the antipathy that Turks living in Turkey felt towards Almanci suddenly turned to hatred. The message coming out of Turkey was "you’re voting for the AKP, but you’re far away and don’t feel the impact."

"I observed that the "new wave Turks" are trying to show the world: we’re better than the other Turks," she continues. That the brain-drainers are scornful of the achievements of their parent’s generation is something that angers and saddens her. "Back then, people came under very difficult circumstances. People these days just sit in the nest and despise those who’ve feathered it so nicely for them."

Berlin comedian Safak Salda (photo: Safak Salda)
The mutual resentment and prejudice between "guest worker" and "brain drain" Turks is pointless and over the top: "after all, sooner or later every Turkish-born citizen in Germany will become a 'German'," says Berlin comedian Safak Salda

And the solution to the problem? "We need to sit down at the same table and talk to each other. After all, prejudice springs from ignorance," she says.

Someone else who is upset by the mutual reservations of his compatriots is Turkish-language Berlin comedian Safak Salda. He recently built the issue into one of his routines. The man with the friendly face is only too familiar with the reservations of the "new Turks". "When I came to Germany after finishing my studies, I didn’t think any differently, I must admit," he says. But as the years have passed, he has realised just how wrong he was.

"For decades, people here provided financial support to their relatives in Turkey. In 2018 alone, 800 million Euros were transferred from Germany to Turkey. And besides that, German-Turks on holiday in Turkey spend more than all the other tourists. You can’t profit from these people while despising them at the same time," says Salda.

"Suitcase baby" generation

Statistically speaking, the idea that Turks living in Germany are an AKP vote repository is quite simply wrong, he continues. Of the 3.5 million Turks living in Germany, just 350,000 voted for the AKP, meaning that this could not have influenced the election result in any way.

And then there is a lot of ignorance, he says. "You just have to take a look at the people who came here from Anatolia back then. They include, for example, many Alevis who lost relatives in one of the attacks. And then there’s what’s known as the "suitcase baby generation" children, who were sent back and forth between the two countries because their parents were working so hard and didn’t have time to look after them, children raised by relatives and to this day unable to establish a relationship with their birth parents," Salda continues. And, he adds, we shouldn’t forget one thing: Sooner or later, each and every person with a Turkish background living in Germany becomes a "Deutschlander".

Ceyda Nurtsch

© 2019

Translated from the German by Nina Coon

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