Three decades since the Berlin Wall fell, Germans remain deeply divided over the question of what it means to be German. We asked Germans and immigrants to Germany how they think about their identity — and how they navigate the simmering tensions in their country. Nearly people responded, including many whose lives straddle two national identities: Germans married to immigrants, and vice versa, and the children of intermarried couples. They told us about the subtle and overt racism that they or their family members have experienced, their struggles to integrate fully and their fears for the future. Here is a selection of their responses, which have been condensed and edited. My dad is Turkish and came to Germany as a child with his parents, who were guest workers in the s. My mother is a white German. This in a way becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — if people tell you that you do not fully belong often enough, you start to wonder whether you do actually belong to the place where you were born and have lived your whole life. Your alleged non-Germanness is also emphasized. Before the age of 16, I probably would not have identified as Turkish, but over time I have started doing so because others have continually associated me with Turkey.
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