Early Turkish Immigrants in Germany Told Their Problems Through Songs

Metin Turkgoz whom immigrated to Germany in 1962 released more than 80 albums which sold over 1 million copies in 50 years.

Metin Turkgoz’s journey to Germany from central Turkey started in 1962 right after Turkey and Germany signed a labour agreement. It took him and 500 hundred other Turks 3 days to get to Munich train station from Istanbul. They were gathered at a hall in Munich and given soup to eat. “Someone yelled all of the sudden do not eat, there is pork in this soup,” Turkgoz says. Everyone dropped the spoons, he recalls.

He was initially hired as a technician but when he arrived at the Ford factory in Cologne, Turkgoz was forced to work as a regular laborer. He had to fight for weeks to acquire a technician status at the factory.

Turkgoz had been playing Baglama – a popular stringed musical instrument- back in Turkey. During a Turkish Republic Day celebration, Turkgoz found himself on the stage entertaining several hundred Ford employees. From there on, Turkgoz decided to tell the problems they faced through the strings of his Baglama. He released more than 80 albums over the years. One of his Albums caled Alamanya Alamanya (Germany Germany) sold more 1 million copies. His fame reached back in Turkey and met with prime ministers of Turkey.

Turkish Baglama

Turkgoz recalls trying to buy eggs at a market in Germany. Having no German language skills, he says Turkish immigrants had to display chicken-like sounds to explain what they needed.

Turkish immigrants in Germany have been facing many problems ever since they moved there. However, problems were not limited to Germany. “We were labeled as ‘dark heads’ in Germany and Germanians in Turkey. Dark head is a racist slur used by Germans to refer to Turkish immigrants.

Offsprings of Turkish immigrants still face discrimination and racism in Germany. Although not as popular as before, Turks still tell their problems in Germany through music. A Turkish German singer nicknamed Erci E recently released a song called Istanbul Berlin. Erci E was a member of a popular group during 90s. The group was dispersed after releasing successful albums in Turkey.

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