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Germany

From the outside looking in

Memorials, books, exhibitions - the memory of the Holocaust is universally present in Germany. But how important is this tragedy for people with a migrant background? DW asked several to find out.

Abroad, Germany's culture of remembering is a textbook example of how to deal with the past. But witnesses are dying, and some critics polemically note that the country threatens to become a single memorial. Is there only one appropriate way to remember the Holocaust? Or is remembrance a dynamic process that can adapt to a changing society?

Germany has long become a country of immigration. It is currently home to about 16 million people with different cultural backgrounds, from first-generation Turkish guest workers and Russian repatriates to young Europeans who have emigrated to Germany as a result of the financial and economic crisis.

But what role does remembering the Holocaust play in their lives? Is this tragedy a part of their history? Or is there a "break" in this tradition of remembering as other generations integrate into German society? We asked several immigrants.

Cemal, tailor, 60

"I'm originally from Anatolia and have been living in Germany for 27 years. The genocide of the Jews is a dark spot in German history. But the country has learned from mistakes made in the past. Germany has very strict laws against discrimination. But, ultimately, this isn't my history. That has to do with the fact that I don't really feel accepted as a German even though I have a German passport. I'm still viewed as a foreigner and will probably always remain so."

Stella, school student, 12

"My mother is from Germany and my father from Jamaica, but I grew up in Berlin. I'm in 7th grade, but we still haven't had this topic in the classroom. I think it's important to learn about. It's not so long ago when this happened and it could happen again. In any case, we have to bare responsibility. My parents talk about it but my grandparents don't really as much - and not with me."

Frederic, salesman, 44

"I'm French and have been living in Berlin for the past three years. Remembering the Holocaust is very important. And I must confess that Germany keeps this memory alive. But we need to do more in France, where Jews also had a very hard time. Unfortunately, we have forgotten about this a little too fast."

Meltem and Eda, high school graduates, both 18

"Our parents are from Turkey, but we were born in Berlin. It's terrible that so many Jews were killed back then. But you don't have to continuously remember this. What's important today is to show respect and tolerance, no matter where a person is from or what a person believes. We're tired, for example, of the prejudice against Muslims - the people believe we are all anti-Semitic. Tolerance is a very important aspect to our religion."

Dorence, newspaper vendor, 44

"I'm from Cameroon and have been living in Germany for the 11 years. I first learned about the Jews being murdered in Europe when I came here. Something as bas as that should never happen again. But you also need to look to the future."

Inga, employee, 32

"I'm Jewish and was born in Ukraine. I emigrated to Germany with my parents 20 years ago. My grandfather was in the war, and nearly all of his family members were killed for being Jews. In my opinion, there is too little remembering about National Socialism and on the murder of those days. For me personally, it's important, also in terms of my grandparents, that this is not forgotten. It's a kind of warning, not just a memory. But, at the same time, I don't think the Germans' need to go through their entire lives with a guilty conscience. That's nonsense."

Yasser, bar owner, 38

"I was born in Cairo and have been living in Germany since 1987. I came to study in Stralsund, in the former East Germany. Of course, I'm glad that I didn't have to live through the period of National Socialism in Germany. When you live here today, though, you're always confronted with this history in some way. But it isn't my history. I believe this history is a reason why many Germans have are uncomfortable about being patriotic. Having national pride is completely normal in Egypt. But when someone here wears a T-shirt with some German patriotic symbol, everyone thinks, "Oh God, what's his problem?" That's definitely the legacy of German history."

Indira, banker, 29

"I've been in Germany since 1994 but come originally from Bosnia - from Srebrenica to be precise. The Holocaust was always a topic in school. But today there are other issues that are more important to me, like what's happening in Syria. I hardly talk about the Second World War."

Yuval, specialty food retailer, 53

"I'm an Israeli and have lived in Germany for 24 years. Much has happened in recent years. The Night of Broken Glass, the Second World War, the extermination of the Jews - all of this is very present here. German newspapers are full of articles about this time in history. Books continue to be written about it and exhibitions held, too. But what can I say? As an orthodox Jew, you still need to be careful. Unfortunately, there is still anti-Semitism in Germany. You are insulted as a Jew. People spit on our businesses and pelt them with dirt. That's why I don't want people to recognize me on this photo. The story is far from over, sadly."

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