Almanya: Welcome to Germany

An aspect of German culture that I have found to be really fascinating is the integration of Turkish culture in Germany.

You see, back in the 60s/70s, the Turks were invited to come to Germany in order to help fill the workforce (this invitation was also extended to the Italians but today we are focusing on the Turks).  After a time, these workers were also allowed to invite their families and did so.

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We are now in our third generation from that time period and while a lot of these kids are ethnically Turkish, they love their sauerkraut as much as the next German (meaning they are just as German).

Last year, T and I watched the film “Almanya: Welcome to Germany,” which tells the story of a Turkish/German family who take a trip together with the family’s patriarch to the motherland to help him renovate a house on land he had just purchased.

It’s a big family and each member represents a narrative that encompasses an aspect of living with a foot in each of two cultures: The story begins with six-year-old Cenk (son of Ali, of Turkish heritage and his German wife Gabi).  He wasn’t chosen for either the Turkish or the German soccer teams since he was always considered the other nationality and also doesn’t speak Turkish.  He found himself not really sure where he fit in – a feeling I recognized as well growing up (but this was mostly in my attempts to identify being Peruvian only to be thwarted by family members simply because I had an American Father…as if being an American negated any Peruvian ties…you may be able to tell that this topic still annoys me).

Me dressed as a Cholita (I was about 6 or 7 in this photo)
Me dressed as a Cholita (I was about 6 or 7 in this photo)

BUT ANYWAY!!!! As Cenk deals with his mini-sized identity crises – his cousin Canan begins to tell the tale of how their Grandfather came to Germany.  Prepare for the feels!

It is such a delightful tragic comedy that I recommend to anyone.  As I watched the family adjust from life in Turkey to life in Germany – it made me think of my own mother’s journey from Peru to the US (honestly, my journey from US to Germany did not have so many contrasts).

Image from
Image from
Image from
Image from

But if you are looking for something a little different – another more comedic (and somewhat outlandish) look into the German/Turkish dynamic is the comedy “Turkisch für Anfänger” (“Turkish for Beginners) staring the Tunisian/Austrian (yet born in Germany) hunk Elyas M’Barek (also known for his “Fack ju Göhte” fame – also another German movie I HIGHLY recommend!).  This story is not as deep and realistic as “Almanya” but hilarity does ensue:

(from After a plane crash Lena Schneider finds herself on a remote Andaman island with a teenage turk Cem, full of hormones, his religious sister and Greek Costa.

Granted, this is the rebooted movie version of an older television show that both Elyas and his co-star Josefine Preuß played in.  They were the main  kids whose parents got married throwing them into a “Brady Bunch” sort of scenario.  I assure you a lot of hilarity due two cultures trying to find a way of living together.

One might think that German culture is homogenous but it’s not.  Just like the Latin culture has inundated American culture – the Turks have done the same with the Germans.  I do enjoy the mix (as it is so different than what I have experienced in the States) and I enjoy watching the direction both cultures are taking this peaceful blend.


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