METİN CELÂL Metincelal@gmail.com
60 years have passed since the Turkish-German labor agreement. Although the children of guest workers who waited with packed suitcases with the thought of one day returning to Turkey were constantly marginalized and ostracized, they managed to make Germany a new home. Özcan Mutlu tells the success stories of these “suitcase boys” in “How Germany became your homeland?”.
“We called the workforce, but the people came.” This sentence from Max Frisch is a complete confession of what has been happening in Germany for the last 60 years. According to the agreement signed between Germany and Turkey on October 30, 1961, our citizens who got off at Munich Central Station without being able to speak a word of German wanted to work for a while and save money and return to their homeland. Those who called them to help their country’s development agreed, they thought they would return soon, and they called those who came “guest workers.” But for both sides, the account at home did not fit the market. Those who came did not return to their countries in a short time, they stayed in Germany, where they did not know the language and culture, and took their families with them. Those who called failed to understand that they were not temporary but permanent and failed to develop the proper policies to facilitate their adjustment.
60 years and three generations have passed since the Turkish-German labor agreement. Although the children of guest workers, known as “suitcase children”, who are waiting for their suitcases with the thought of returning to Turkey one day, are constantly being marginalized and marginalized, they have managed to make Germany a new home. Özcan Mutlu tells the success stories of these suitcases in “How Germany became your home?”.
Özcan Mutlu is also a suitcase boy. It is also a success story. His grandfather was one of the first to come to Germany as a guest worker. Then he took his family with him. As the grandson of this grandfather, Özcan Mutlu grew up in Germany and determined his future there. His biography is as follows: “Özcan Mutlu was born in 1968 in Kelkit. He became a German citizen in 1990 and was thrown into politics by the Greens. In Berlin he was a member of the Kreuzberg City Council from 1992 to 1999 and a member of the state parliament from 1999 to 2013. From 2013 to 2017 he was in his 18th term as a federal representative. Mutlu, who won the Turkish-German Friendship Association’s Kybele Prize in 2019, was elected a member of the German UNESCO Commission in 2020.”
Özcan Mutlu tells us the success stories of 27 Turks whose parents went to Germany as guest workers 60 years ago. The book begins with a foreword by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “Each of them contributed to the economic development and prosperity of our country after the Second World War. Each of them has enriched our society and continues to enrich it today. Each of them is a piece of Germany! Each of them is ours,” he says in the foreword.
Mutlu started the book with Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, the inventors of the BioNTech vaccine, but instead targeted people who have achieved great success in various professions rather than writers and artists. Minister of state, city mayor, artificial heart specialist, star chef, TV presenter, lawyer, columnist and commentator, professor of psychiatry, radio founder, trade unionist, athlete, karate world champion, MEP, undersecretary of state, vice chancellor, diplomat, senior manager, district manager, talk show host, investor, jazz singer… Mutlu shows that suitcase children in Germany can have a say in almost all professions. Every name has reached the position they are in by working hard. They have always been more disadvantaged than their German peers. Obstacles were put in their way, the way to the university was blocked, they were discriminated against. But the obstacles did not intimidate them, they either ignored the discrimination or resolutely managed to overcome it. There were also German neighbors and teachers who supported them.
Three children are depicted on the book cover. These success stories belong to one of those three children, the one who carries school books. It’s hard not to marvel at how the children represented by the other two wrote their life stories. No doubt their stories are also the subject of other books. “How did Germany become home?” A thoughtful book. I read the success stories with some pride, curiosity and the pleasure of learning new information about these professions.
HOW IS GERMANY
Born book, 2022