Duisburg / Cologne (dpa) – He only had a suitcase with provisions and linen with him. In October 1964. It took Serafettin Tüzün three days by train from Istanbul to Munich.
Then direction Cologne by bus. “I really wanted to go to Germany. Work ”, explains the 81-year-old man. When he entered the overcrowded compartment, he was 24 years old and could not speak a word of German. Like hundreds of thousands of compatriots at that time, he hoped for “Almanya”, where the economy was booming and workers were desperate for workers. The German-Turkish recruiting agreement had been reached three years earlier – and on October 30, he will be 60 years old.
“It was very hard. Heavy metal working on the abrasive belt, ”Tüzün describes slowly, with a smile. He worked for a year in the Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz engine factory. “I lived in the single-family house. We were four people in one room. “The rent was deducted from the salary. Tüzün earned 110 Deutschmarks a week. Then he hired him in a steelworks in Hattingen, looking in vain for an apartment to bring the family to join them.” But they did. didn’t want foreigners, they always said: I’m sorry, the apartment is already gone. “Tüzün comes from the town of Sinop on the Black Sea, had his military service and a textile factory behind him, lived in poverty before deciding to try his luck in an unknown Germany.
The Federal Republic of Germany had signed recruitment agreements with several countries since 1955, with Ankara on October 30, 1961. Regions like the Ruhr were the engine of the economic miracle and many “guest workers” worked underground or in factories. The working and living conditions were extreme. Undercover journalist Günter Wallraff denounced careless drudgery, humiliation and exploitation in the 1985 bestseller “Entire Down”. To do this, he had worked as a so-called Turkish laborer for Ali for two years.
Selahattin Civelek arrived in 1973. He had an auto paint shop in Izmir. “But I had a lot of friends in Germany who said: you have to come. In Germany, money is in the streets. “At the age of 21, he found himself in Duisburg and became a steel worker at Thyssen.” I worked in the steel dust, on the furnace steel, without a protective mask. We really put the gas in the hall. It was hot, very strong “, reports the 71-year-old man. His right eardrum burst.” My lungs are broken, my ears are broken. “
Nonetheless, Civelek seems content, proud of what he has fought for. “At first I thought I had made a terrible mistake. In Turkey I was the boss, in Germany I was a worker. All the Turks have just done a dirty job here. »His motivation:« I wanted my family to live well. He brought his wife and daughter to Duisburg after a year, and two more children were born. “I worked a lot, also in a painting workshop, I only slept four hours”. At night he learned German vocabulary. He was quick, noticed, became a foreman. “I was making 60 pfennigs more per hour.”
In the meantime, Tüzün had started at Deutsche Bahn, cleaning shiftwork compartments since 1968 – and stayed there until his retirement in 2000. He still remembers how much he missed his wife and daughters, saving every day. penny for almost all his wages to send. The train finally got him an apartment, in 1969 his relatives came. And where is his house now? “Turkey is also my home. But it’s good here, my family is here. “He has seven children, three of whom were born in Germany. They have made their way, many have studied, most have German passports. Tüzün’s German remained bumpy “There were only Turks at work.”
During the first years, the workers had little contact with the Germans, did not want to attract attention, did not perk up, as Haci Halil Uslucan, director of the Center for Turkish Studies and Research on the ‘integration. “The main motive was to make a lot of money in a short time and then come back quickly.” About three quarters were men and a quarter were women. Young people. It was only when they stayed, brought their families, settled down, that they became clearly visible in society – with questions about child care spaces, schools, education.
When the Federal Republic of Germany imposed a recruitment ban in 1973, around four million “guest workers” lived in Germany, of which almost a third were in North Rhine-Westphalia. Right-wing parties like the Republicans and the NDP were agitating. The federal government wanted to force their return from 1980 to 1983 with a financial incentive, Uslucan explains. At the time, the Turks called it the “get it off” bonus: there were several thousand D-Marks and the saved pension contributions were paid after six months. Nevertheless, many remained in “Alamanya”, as they called Germany in their linguistic form.
Today, around 2.8 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany. Half of them have a German passport. There are many success stories – like the founders of Biontech Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci. Or the child worker invited Serap Güler, State Secretary for Integration of NRW, new member of the Bundestag for a week.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently paid tribute to the services rendered by immigrants. Exhibitions like those in the Ruhr Museum in Essen or the Domid Documentary Center in Cologne also focus on their life and performance. Uslucan knows that the descendants of “guest workers” have become more confident. ZfTI studies have shown that 60 to 80 percent of people of Turkish descent have experienced discrimination – in education, in applying, in the job market and in housing. This will no longer be accepted. “Mehmet demands the same opportunities and the same rights as Sebastian.”
Civelek had planned a quick return to Turkey. But he missed the right time – kids in school, studying, starting a family. With a wink he said, “In 2005, I retired. So I said “Goodbye Germany”. I now have a beautiful house in Istanbul. And I’m on vacation in Germany. “