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Germans and Turks Celebrate Home Team’s Advance

Uwe Hessler (jb)June 29, 2006

The Turkish team may not have qualified for the World Cup, but the soccer frenzy currently gripping Germany has created a new relationship between Germans and Turks.

Neighbors turned friends -- Turks in Germany are rooting for the national squadImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

As Germany progresses through the four-week tournament in style, Turks living in Germany are celebrating the home team‘s victories along with native Germans.

After Germany’s impressive 2-0 win over Sweden in the knockout stage, Kreuzberg -- a district of Berlin that is also known as little Istanbul due to its large Turkish community -- was full of cheering Turkish residents and cruising cars waving German flags and honking.

Turks make up Germany’s largest community of foreigners --around 1.8 million with 50,000 in Kreuzberg alone. Earlier this year, details of Turkish honor killings and fights over head scarves were making headlines in Germany and fuelling a heated debate about Turkish culture and raising doubts about its ability to adapt to a Western lifestyle. The World Cup, however, appears to be bridging the gap between the two cultures.

"Of course, it would be better if the Turkish team would play here," one young Turkish man said. "But since they aren’t here, I’m now supporting the German team because I live here."

Everyone needs to have fun

WM Bilder des Tages Fußball, WM 2006, Deutschland, Schweden, 24.06.2006
Germans -- and Turks -- were elated after Germany beat Sweden in the final 16 roundImage: AP

He added that it’s nothing unusual to cheer for Germany because this country is his second home.

"After all, Germany is playing very well in the tournament," he said.

And attitudes are also changing among native Germans. Surprised by their own soccer-fuelled, newly-found national identity, many Germans are now also taken aback to find their compatriots of Turkish descent happily waving German flags right next to them.

"It’s great because everybody needs to have fun in Germany," said one German. "It’s great being together with them, being multicultural like one world and one city."

Sunshine helps

Following Germany's recent victory over Sweden, the streets in Kreuzberg were jammed with cars as the rowdy celebrations neared their peak. Some Turks say that Germans, who are often described as humorless and disciplined, now have the chance to learn how to celebrate.

WM 2006 - Deutschland - Türken - Fan
Turks in Kreuzberg and other Berlin districts are following the German team's performanceImage: AP

"I’ve experienced such huge celebrations only in Turkey," said one fan adding that the whole country is usually up and dancing after a football victory. "It seems we can contribute something to this country now."

He said he believed the mentality in countries where the weather is always good is definitely more relaxed than in Germany and also partly attributed the current mood of elation to the splendid sunshine over the last few days.

Many Turks hope that once the World Cup is over, Germans might keep some of their new found enthusiasm and friendliness towards their own country and the ethnic minorities living here.