It is remarkable that German history is largely left out of the debates on multiculturalism – by Germans and immigrants alike. The German-Turkish affairs of today cannot and should not be a continuation of the German-Jewish history of yesterday. Still, our visions must be confronted by a look to the past.
The German-Turkish encounter, but also other encounters between peoples – ones that result from migration and thus result in the interlacing of peoples, in peoples living alongside and with each other in close quarters – cannot be thought through any further without a clarification of the historical backdrop. Nationalism is based on the glorification of one’s own history.
If nationalism’s grip on the peoples of the 21st century is to be loosened, glorifying [verklären] one’s own history must be replaced by explaining it [erklären]. Hopefully, this will lead to some of the clarifying [klären] that the German language smuggled into the word for explaining [erklären].
Source: Zafer Senocak, “But the Heart Still Beats Turkish” [“Aber das Herz schlägt noch türkisch”], die tageszeitung (taz), August 22/23, 1998.
Translation: Allison Brown