The Last German in Little Istanbul

The first video below features an interview with a pharmacist who is almost the last native German in a heavily Turkish neighborhood in Mannheim. For him, “integration” means hiring Turkish staff to interact with customers in their own language.

Many thanks to MissPiggy for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

The second video (also translated by MissPiggy and subtitled by Vlad) isn’t directly related to the first one, but somehow seems appropriate. It shows a series of man-in-the-street interviews with German citizens, some of whom remain assiduously ignorant about current events — as if they were making sure that sometime in the future, when the political winds shift, they can truthfully say, “I tell you, ve knew nozzink about it!”

Others seem to be very aware that the news and public opinion are being deliberately manipulated by the media:

Video transcript #1:

00:00   Someone told me to come to Mannheim. Even though I am standing here, and always thought
00:04   the Turks and Germans live side by side — that’s not the impression you get here.
00:10   Now I know this quarter is called Little Istanbul.
00:14   There’s not much of anything German here.
00:17   Eye-hild-dess. Kick-kuf-tin.
00:22   Cheekuftin, exactly —It is called Cheekuftin. Ah, that’s how it is said. OK.
00:26   Oh, now there’s something German.
00:30   Kurpfalz Pharmacy. It probably belongs to Turks.
00:34   No, it doesn’t. Rainer Hemberger is German. He’s been operating his pharmacy for 40 years.
00:40   Is this Mannheim, or more like Istanbul? —Well, it is more Istanbul.
00:45   How has the interaction between Germans and Turks changed over the years? Has it changed?
00:51   Yes, it has certainly changed. I made an effort to adapt my pharmacy to the changes
00:56   relatively quickly. I had the best result when I hired Turkish employees. They not only speak the
01:04   language, but also understand the culture. —Without your Turkish employees would you
01:08   have more problems being accepted? With sales? —Sure. Sometimes I go onto the
01:14   sales floor when it is busy, and I see it already by the glances that they prefer a Turkish-speaking
01:22   colleague. —You need to adapt to certain extent to the Turks. —Yes. You have to.
01:29   Rainer Hemberger told us he is that last German who has a business open in this neighborhood.
01:33   If he wanted to, he could sell his pharmacy immediately. There are many Turkish buyers
01:38   who are interested. —Every building, every piece of realty, every business is being bought
01:43   and rented from Turkish fellow citizens. —Without the Turkish, the quarter would be
01:48   a ghost town, right? —Yes. That’s why I have to be happy and grateful about it that we have
01:53   Turkish citizens. Not one single shop is empty, no matter how small. —But still, isn’t it a bit
02:04   strange to live in a quarter that hardly has any Germans? It doesn’t look like integration.
02:10   Gee, I don’t know, it’s Little Istanbul here, and honestly I never even thought about
02:14   the fact that there are no Germans here.

Video transcript #2:

00:01   Protests in France? —Simply the media.
00:05   Revolt in Paris?
00:08   What’s happening in Paris? I don’t know that, I’m from Berlin. No idea.
00:11   No, I didn’t realize, was there something? —He wanted to change something about
00:15   the taxes, right? He wanted to take something back, but I have to admit I don’t remember
00:22   what. There was something, but it escapes me. —Do you watch the news? —Yeah, sure, but
00:27   about the protests. I wasn’t aware of that. —Even though I have you in front of me
00:33   representing the media, I have to say that I believe the media just report in their own
00:38   interests and by their own calculations. It is about opinion-making sometimes.
00:45   Yes, it is being covered up a bit. That’s normal here for us. You get the feeling with
00:49   all the talk about the former times in the East, how everything was forbidden, and the public
00:55   wasn’t informed that nothing has changed. It is exactly the same.
01:00   I read the Spiegel Magazine regularly. Yes, I noticed that there is a tendency to influence
01:05   opinion, but one should be able to form one’s own opinions, right?

2 thoughts on “The Last German in Little Istanbul

  1. So sad how Germans just giving up thier own country, Manheim I remember was a beautiful charming town with all this small shops , everybody speak German , safe , and now , now it’s became a Muslim town , heartbreaking..

    • Some have abandon their country, but mostly what I have noticed is people have been moving from increasingly non-native urban neighborhoods to fancier neighborhoods, to small towns and villages, and out to the countryside – places where life is still comfortably organized and regulated.

      I live in a smallish German “large city”, in a neighborhood that is changing and that folks are starting to leave. I may have to, as well, if I have to learn Turkish or Arabic to understand my neighbors. Probably Arabic, now that the city’s conservative Syrian mosque is across the street, three doors down and just around the corner.

      I only have to go about five kilometers or so, towards the edge of city, to return to something like the Germany of some years ago. I was eight kilometers out, today, seeking an address and getting help from and chatting with a tolerable few strangers. With the exception of people seeming to be older, the small, local shops having shut and the roads looking a bit under maintained, you could be forgiven for thinking nothing significant had changed.

      In brief, I largely see internal migration, abandoning bits of Germany, and think that will work for a while.

      [Lieber Herr Baron, I have not forgotten your email, I am just swamped with distractions at the moment.]

Comments are closed.