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Germany: Steinmeier calls for guest workers' performance in school books

Berlin - Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for German school books to remember the historical role played by Turkish guest workers. “The stories of guest workers deserve an appropriate place in our school books and in our culture of remembrance; a marginal note does not do justice to its contribution to our country.” On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the German-Turkish recruitment agreement, Steinmeier recalled the history of the Turkish community in Germany in a speech in the Berlin House of Cultures.

Guest workers would built Germany after the war and their children would continue to build the country today. You need these people as artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, vaccine developers, judges, public prosecutors, members of parliament, state secretaries or ministers. "They are just not 'people with a migration background'. But Germany has become a country with a migration background."

Migrants should shape Germany
Germany have concluded the recruitment agreement with Turkey at that time out of pure self-interest. The Germans have accepted the guest workers' perspective far too late. This created a lot of problems. At the end of his speech, Steinmeier encouraged young men and women with a migration background to appear more self-confident in Germany. "Take the place that is yours! Take the space in the middle and fill it in! Help shape this society, because it is your society!"

At the ceremony in Berlin's House of Cultures on Tuesday, Steinmeier, member of the Bundestag Serap Güler (CDU), the management of the Mercator Foundation, Michael Schwarz and the Turkish ambassador to Germany, Ahmet Basar Sen, were also present. On October 30, 1962, Germany and Turkey had signed a recruitment agreement for guest workers.

By 1973 around 900,000 Turks had come to Germany in this way. In the years that followed, hundreds of thousands followed through family reunification. The approximately 2.8 million people in the Turkish community in Germany can largely be traced back to this wave of immigration.

The initiative came from the countries of origin
Nowadays, German politicians regularly claim that the Federal Republic called in the guest workers from Turkey in the 1960s. In fact, the initiative came from the countries of origin, as the migration researcher Johannes-Dieter Steinert explained ten years ago on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the recruitment agreement in an interview with Junge Freiheit.

The then politically unstable and economically weak Turkey hoped for a wage transfer from Germany, as it was clear that the restaurant workers would send the money to their families at home. The Turkish government also assumed that its compatriots would return after a few years. The skills they have acquired abroad should then also benefit the Turkish economy.

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