"Türkenproblematik" 2011: Views of German Youth Towards the Turkish Minority

By Colin Benz
Clocks and Clouds
2012, Vol. 2 No. 1 | pg. 1/1

Historical Context

In the 1960s because of a stagnant economy, the Federal Republic of Germany (hereinafter as West Germany) invited Turks to Germany to work as "guest workers" (Legge 2003, 142). They were to work there for two years and then return to their homeland, but many of the "guest workers" stayed and brought their families. In 1960, there were less than 2,000 Turks in Germany (Die Zeit, March 24, 2004). The increase of immigrants into Germany has been accompanied by an increase in tensions between the German majority and the Turkish minority (Suddeutsche Zeitung, March 26, 2010). Today, there are an estimated three million Turks living in Germany and integration, assimilation or deportation of the Turks are major topics of discussion (Kaya 2009, 42).

Before the reunification in 1990, there were relatively few Turks in East Germany. There was a small percentage of foreigners from other Eastern Bloc countries, including Poland and Czechoslovakia, as well as other communist countries, like Mozambique (Legge 2003, 142; Smith 1998, 78). Once the borders were removed, Turks and other foreigners began to move to the bigger cities in Eastern Germany such as Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig. But because there had already been many attacks on foreigners by skinheads and neo-Nazis, those of Turkish origin were not saved from discrimination by migrating to the East. And indeed, in 1991, right-wing violence broke out in Hoyerswerda, Saxony, in the former GDR towards guest workers. Throughout the year, there were more than 1,000 reported acts of violence towards foreigners in former East Germany (Braunthal 2009, 101). A year later, three women and two children were murdered in Solingen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the most infamous xenophobic attack to date. But xenophobia has not only become apparent through these attacks, but also through the biennial ALLBUS study.

The ALLBUS study "Die Allgemeine Bevolkerungsumfrage der Sozialwissenschaften" or "German General Social Survey" is conducted every two years to discover the population's thoughts on a wide range of topics. In 1996 and 2006, the ALLBUS showed that East Germans felt predominantly more negative towards foreigners and Turks than West Germans. In 1996, 42.6% of East Germans believed that it would be to some degree unpleasant to have a Turk as a neighbor. Ten years later, that percentage rose to 48.8%. In the 2006 ALLBUS study alone, 27.8% of East Germans completely believed that there were "Too many foreigners in Germany" and an additional 44.2% somewhat agreed that there were too many.

In the wake of September 11th, the attacks in Madrid and London, and the failed package bomb assassination of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, relations between Germans and non-Germans have become more tense. Although Turkey considers itself to be European and is participating in EU membership negotiations, many Germans still perceive Turkey to be a Middle Eastern nation. In light of these attitudes, German scholarship recognizes and documents that the discussion of integration, assimilation, or deportation of the Turks has become even more important. (Suddeutsche Zeitung, February 13, 2008). According to German scholars, there is an increasing dislike of Turkish immigrants (Dick, Wagner and Zick 2000, 16). This is apparent in the increase of anti-foreigner violence and murder in the last decade. In 2010, the newspaper "Der Tagesspiegel" reported that there were 147 murders in the last two decades.

The so-called "Turkenproblematik" (Problem of the Turks) has become a hot topic of discussion in both German and Turkish politics. With the Turkey's growth over the last decade to become the seventeenth largest economy in the world, Turkey has become a formidable contender on the international stage. In 2008, Turkey's ultra-conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to a crowd in Cologne declaring that the "assimilation of the Turks in Germany is a crime against humanity" (Suddeutsche Zeitung, February 13, 2008). Two years later in Dusseldorf, encouraged by the outstanding response by Turks to his first speech, Erdogan demanded that the German government create and pay for schools specifically for Turkish immigrants. He went further, demanding that the schools not only be taught in Turkish, but that the teachers of those schools be brought in from Turkey (Suddeutsche Zeitung, February 13, 2008). Erdogan does not intend to help Germany and Turkey come to better terms with one another, as evidenced in his statement that "[he and those present] will not allow his words [from his speech] to be allowed into German media" (Die Welt, February 28, 2011). And because of the results from the June elections earlier this year, the world will have at least four more years of strongman statements.

The increasing amount of discussion about the Turks has not been confined to verbal interaction; journalists and researchers have increased their efforts to understand this major issue. They have used many different lenses with which to understand German "xenophobia," "islamophobia" and the Turkish problem overall. From interviews and individual case studies, there have been many papers written on this topic (Boehnke, Hagan and Hefler 1998, 585; Fertig and Schmidt 2008, 110; Ludemann 2005, 5). However among all of the sources that I have found, none of the reports or surveys specifically target the German youth as a whole. One of the questions included in the Pew Research Center's "Pew Global Attitudes Project" survey did examine the views of Germans towards the Turkish minority. It stated that between 1991 and 2009 there was a decrease from 46% to 30% in unfavorable views (2009, 52). However, this one very general question does not provide any particular insight into why these changes occurred. Additionally, this survey was directed at the German population as a whole, not at the youth in particular. I do admit that the Pew Research Center's decision to do a random sampling of interviewees is the best way to discover this kind of information because it is the closest option there is to surveying every German citizen. Nevertheless, the study by Pew consisted of only one question, which could not paint a very detailed picture of the situation. Likewise, Pew's survey and the ALLBUS surveys focus on the German population as a whole, not solely on the youth. It is under this context that this paper began.

In this research project, I aimed to discover how the contemporary youth of Germany view the Turkish minority and specifically whether German youth have xenophobic tendencies. If it is true, I will then be able to determine what the causes are and compare them to previous research findings. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there has been a reported increase in right extremism in Germany specifically towards minorities. Studies and polls on sentiments towards Turks from as late as 2006 have all found that a plurality of Germans view Turks in a negative light (ALLBUS 2006). I want to know if this is the same in the final months of 2011 and what factors may or may not play any part in influencing xenophobic tendencies.

Negative Attitudes towards Foreigners: Four Justifications

Since the reunification of German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, few scholars have disagreed that Ausländerfeindlichkeit (xenophobia) towards those of Turkish origin by the German youth has risen and that East Germans are more prejudiced towards foreigners than West Germans. But for the past twenty-one years, scholars have drawn many diverging conclusions on the origins of xenophobia. These determinants of youth prejudice range from socio-psychological reasons to the type of school attended.

Literature discussing the source of xenophobia in German adolescents from the past two decades can be divided (sometimes loosely) into four schools of thought. This literature will be explained in more depth following this summary. To some researchers, it is the educational track (i.e. vocational or college-bound) that a German chooses to follow that will establish the student's feelings towards foreigners. Scholars who belong to the Socio-Demographic/Contact School hold that socio-demographics like age, gender and regional location are the determinants of whether a person will have xenophobic tendencies. Proponents of Socio-Economic/Hierarchic Self-Esteem Theory contest that how economically well-off a person is shapes their self-esteem, which subsequently influences anti-foreigner sentiment. They advocate increased contact between ethnicities because they believe a higher amount of contact leads to a decrease in anti-foreigner sentiment. Finally, some scholars posit that there is not one specific reason that German youths develop anti-Turkish sentiment, but a conglomeration of the aforementioned reasons. All of these schools are based on the assumption that there is indeed a trend of rising xenophobic views in contemporary German youth and all schools view German youth negatively.

For those of the Education Track School, the type of school a person attends (vocational, middle ground or university bound) determines how strongly their xenophobic sentiments will be (Fertig and Schmidt 2009, 99). Unlike the American school system where all students receive relatively the same education from Kindergarten through high school, German students are required to choose a career path at a very early age (between 10-14). The type of school a student attends after elementary school is directly dependent on the type of profession a student wants to enter into later. Students attend either a Hauptschule for a vocation, a Realschule for an extended general education, or a Gymnasium, a school that offers an intensive education. Only students with a diploma from a Gymnasium are guaranteed entry into a German university (Realschule students are occasionally given partial access and students from a Hauptschule are barred). Students not only take different classes, but they also attend different schools, which isolates them from other students.

Those who are destined for a no-collar or blue-collar career (Hauptschule, Realschule) expect significant competition between peers over their future social status (Rippl 2002, 135-146). In order to defend against their perceived lower social status, youths treat foreigners the way they foresee they will be treated later on. Concurrently, those on a university track (Gymnasium) expect little competition from other types of educational tracks and experience a feeling of superiority over the rest. Consequently, there is no reason for Gymnasium students to treat foreigners as though they are from a lower class. Those who know they will receive more respect in society because of their education have no need to demean others.

Scholars who are proponents of the Contact/Socio-Demographic Theory hold that it is actually how much a person interacts with Turks and foreigners that will mold sentiment towards non-Germans. Scholars van Dick, Wagner, and Zick state that there is an indirect correlation between the amount of time spent with a foreigner and the level of xenophobic tendencies a person develops (2000, 16). This means that the more inter-ethnic contact there is, the less likely that the German will develop a xenophobic mentality. This phenomenon demonstrates the contact/socio-demographic field, which argues additionally that it is age, gender and especially contact with foreigners that influence a person's view of Turks (Dick, Wagner and Zick 2000, 16). Therefore, it is logical that East Germans, who have will have less contact with Turks simply because there are fewer Turkish people living there (1.9% less according to Dick, Wagner and Zick), will have more negative feelings towards them.

The third theoretical camp is the Hierarchal Self-Interest Theory. Proposed by scholars Boehnke, Hefler and Hagan, this theory contends that the society of united Germany has created a competitive mentality of its people, making them focus only on their own self-interests (Boehnke, Hagan and Hefler 1998, 585-602). Supporters of this theory reject the idea that the type of school a person attends changes their mentality towards foreigners; socio-economic theorists posit that it is the student's location in the socio-economic hierarchy that determines xenophobic sentiment. The combination of competition and self-interest inherent in German society creates a dynamic where each person is strongly tied to socio-economics and the hierarchy of society. The further down in the socio-economic hierarchy a person is, the less highly they will see themselves. Boehnke, Hagan and Hefler's research in "On the Development of Xenophobia in Germany" concludes that self-esteem is positively correlated with prejudice towards foreigners: the lower the self-esteem and higher the levels of hierarchic self-interest, the lower the amounts of xenophobic sentiment (1998, 598).

The final group of scholars believes that there are many influences on levels of xenophobia in youth. These scholars connect the similarities between different theories and how they influence one another. Birgit Becker notes the importance of age and education: different ages mean different experiences in life, which determines what forms of contact a person may have had. Household mentality towards foreigners can influence the way a child thinks and education potentially determines the economic situation of a person (Becker 2005, 49). She also points out that a person's mentality towards foreigners depends on different factors and whether they are from the East or the West. One must note, however, that while authors in this school agree on most things, occasionally there is some disagreement. Becker states that contact has a minimal effect on anti-foreigner sentiments while others, like Jurgen Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, argue the opposite (2000, 5). Johann Bacher posits that socio-demographics (such as age and gender), education track, family and circle of friends all play a part in influencing a student (Bacher 2001, 334-339). But this is not all: location can determine economic status and contact with foreigners as well (compare a family that lives in an area with a high concentration of foreign residents to one that is surrounded by mostly ethnic Germans) (Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik 2000, 5). Because of these disagreements, this final group is less unified in its way of thinking than others: a proposed set of variables overlaps slightly with another set of variables and so on. Nevertheless, points made by authors in this group are no less logically supported than those from other schools of thought.

It is difficult to believe that only one or two variables can influence a person's mentality towards another person. Just as it is impossible to generalize people's personalities solely on their location (or on gender, education, etc.), so too is it impossible to believe German youth's attitudes about the Turks depend on one variable. In response to the Education Track School, students within a single school each have different opinions on different topics. Additionally, there must be certain reasons why a student chose to go to a particular school (parental influence, location of the school, etc.). What school a person chooses depends on outside factors and, if youth mentality depends on education, it must therefore depend on the factors that brought the student to the school in the first place.

The second school, "Contact/Socio-Demographic Theory," is on a better track, for it acknowledges that there are multiple layers to cause a person's perception of something. However, authors from this school do not delve deep enough, failing to consider other factors like religion, income and political affiliation. The third school contradicts itself: authors Boehnke, Hagan and Helfer explicitly state that self-esteem is positively correlated with xenophobia, but later on say that those lower in the hierarchy compete more with foreigners, increasing xenophobia. In this research, I have built upon the final school of thought that age, location, education track and friend circles influence sentiment towards Turks, and added income, religion, contact and political affiliation to the list.

At the time of their publication, the arguments contained in each scholar's paper might have been valid. However, this might not be true today in 2012: the youth are constantly getting older and the youth of the 1990s and 2000s are not (for the most part) the youth of the 2010s. All of the authors' research builds off of the assumption that xenophobia among German youth exists and that it is increasing. The subsequent paper will start from a tabula rasa or a blank slate. In other words, the research will be conducted with no assumption and the end result can be any combination of the schools of thought described in this paper. The theories are only looked at as a whole and are deemed neither "right" nor "wrong." This is because their results are from the years 1993 to 2008 and they might no longer be applicable in the year 2012.

Other studies have shown that over time, opinions of populations change. Whether it is feelings toward same-sex marriage in the United States or feelings towards Ukrainians in Russia, a population's opinions change. This does not necessarily mean that the opinions become more positive. In the Global Attitudes Project's section on the opinions of citizens in former Soviet nations, unfavorable views of the Russians toward the Lithuanians increased from 7% to 32% from 1991 to 2009. Likewise, Lithuanian disapproval towards Jews grew 27% from 10% to 37%. That is not to say, however, that there has only been rising disapproval in all countries towards others. It solely points out that opinions have changed.

In the eighteen years between the first and second surveys, an entire generation grew up and another died. Eighteen years worth of people who could not be surveyed before (either because they were too young or they were not born yet) replaced the older population who died. And as population surveys go, there are almost always more young people than there are older people. Therefore the proportion of people's opinions with ages in the teens and twenties is greater than that of the people in their 60s and 70s. People born in the late 80s were too young to remember what life was like with two Germanys. The oldest people who were surveyed were born in 1985 and the youngest were born in 1996. Sixty-five percent or 87 of those surveyed were born after the reunification and grew up in a place completely unrecognizable to someone born twenty years earlier. Those who were surveyed for this research were a completely new sample. We have yet to see what the youth of Germany think about Turks in their country and what influences their sentiments. Are prejudices against foreigners, and specifically the Turks, in Germany increasing as proven in previous articles or are they decreasing? Are there xenophobic tendencies among the German youth at all? My research will explore those questions.


I posit that there is a high prevalence of anti-Turkish sentiment overall among the youth in Germany. More specifically, I believe that older males from former East Germany (I define this as the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and former Soviet-controlled Berlin) who are attending or who have attended a vocational school are more likely to have a negative attitude towards Turks. In contrast, younger females from Western Germany (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Saarland, Rhineland Palatinate, North Rhine-Westfalia, Lower Saxony, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, Hesse and Hamburg) who attend a college-track school or who are in university are more likely to have a positive attitude towards the Turks.

Although so far there has been no research to prove whether or not religion affects sentiment towards the Turks, I foresee that religion will be an intervening variable. I intend to control it through more statistical testing. The survey will contain demographic questions regarding religion and the results will be compared against the critical questions. Just like religion, political affiliation has also not been studied in the past and a question regarding which political party the responder identifies with the most will also be asked. Likewise, I will see if the results from this question have a correlation with pro-or anti-Turkish sentiment.

From the studies that have been found, none of them have focused specifically on the views of the German youth population towards the Turkish minority. They have studied the sources of xenophobia, both for adults and youth, and one included comparing the education level of students and their xenophobic views, while other studies have questioned the German population as a whole regarding different minorities (Turks, Jews, Arabs, Russians etc), but not one of them matched the specific goal that this research does.

Overall, regarding the German population's view towards the Turks, different studies have produced different results. Some say that there is an increase in animosity towards the biggest ethnic minority in Germany, while others say the opposite. For example, the Pew Research Institute, in their Pew Global Attitudes Project, surveyed Germans in 1991 (a year after the reunification) and in 2009. In West Germany, unfavorable views decreased from 45% to 28% over those 18 years and in East Germany, it dropped from 51% to 36%. Although this study does state that views moved in a positive direction over those eighteen years, contradicting other studies, it also agrees with many studies like the ALLBUS that there is still a higher degree of xenophobia in former East Germany than in Western Germany as previously discussed.


The intent of this research was to discover contemporary opinions of German teens and twenty-year-olds towards those of Turkish descent living in Germany. Because there were no studies answering that question specifically, the only option was to conduct a survey myself. Even if there had been many works about the views of the German youth towards the Turkish minority, they still would not have been the most up-to-date seeing as they would have been done in the past. The more recent the survey, the more representative it is. I could have compared works from different authors but it would not tell anything about what the youth's opinions were. It would not have been permissible for me to survey direct friends of mine in Germany because they might alter their answers. Therefore, I asked almost everyone I knew in Germany, Austria and other countries to forward the survey to their friends who lived in Germany, requesting that they fill it out.

In middle school I was an exchange student at a Gesamtschule in Potsdam outside of Berlin. In high school I attended the Palucca Hochschule for dance in Dresden for a month, took a course at the Goethe-Institut in Berlin and a year later went to school for a year at a Gymnasium in Vienna, Austria. Additionally, I have close ties with the German-American Society of Portland, Oregon and I have German friends who were exchange students to the US and American students who went on exchange to Germany in high school and college. These six access points connect me to a wide spectrum of youths from all over the Federal Republic.

Of the seventy people I asked, 56 of those people agreed to forward their survey. Informants of German citizenship lived in five of the sixteen German Federal States (hereinafter Bundesland or Bundeslander), but they forwarded them to people in other Bundeslander. It was my hope to cover as many Bundeslander as possible, as well as to incorporate a range of individuals from the largest cities to small villages. The more places I received set responses from, the higher the likelihood of getting a representative sample.

There were, of course, problems with creating and conducting a survey instead of analyzing previous studies. The largest and most significant problem was that the survey could not reach enough people to make a representative sample of all of Germany: 136 people is simply not large enough to be considered representative. In addition, I was not able to access people from every social, economic and educational background from my chosen age range from all of the sixteen Bundeslander. But the survey did cover twelve of the sixteen Bundeslander and did include students from many of the different types of schools. But responses originated predominantly from Baden-Württemberg in the South, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz in the West, and Berlin in the East. This made the survey even less representative for each of the Bundeslander and the East-West variable.


For the purposes of this survey, "German" is defined as someone who has citizenship with the Federal Republic and who has lived within its borders for the majority of their life. Most importantly, a "German" in this survey is someone who has spent the majority of their secondary education in a school found within the borders of the Bundesrepublik. Unlike in the United States, where anyone born within the borders is given automatic citizenship, in order to obtain German citizenship, a person must have blood relations with someone of German citizenship. In other words, a person born in Germany whose parents who have lived all their lives in Germany but do not have German citizenship is not eligible for citizenship (Schmid 1995, 231). Due to jus sanguinis, it is easier to weed out those of Turkish origin who fill out this survey, as this survey aims to find out the opinions of those of German blood.

"Youth" must also be conceptualized. For this survey, "youth" is anyone from the age of 12 to 26, which are the ages when most people are in secondary and tertiary school. This particular age range was chosen because, according to David Dobbs from the National Geographic Society, it is within this timeframe that independent thinking begins, which is due to the development of the prefrontal cortex in the brain (Dobbs 2011). The limit extends to the age 26 because some youth will still be in school or will have just started their career and will not necessarily be living on their own.

Finally, "Turk" and "Turkish" must also be defined. For the purposes of this study, a "Turk" or "Turkish person" is anyone who currently lives in Germany who is either from Turkey, or whose parents, grandparents or other nuclear relatives emigrated from Turkey.

Data Results: Frequencies

In total, there were 149 responses to the survey, which was above my 100 response minimum. However, thirteen of the results had to be discarded because those particular respondents were not from Germany. This left me with 136 individual answers to examine. All of the questions and their answers were put into IBM SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) software to be analyzed. The complete original survey in German and the translated survey in English are reported in Appendix I and II.

There were exactly 68 male and 68 female respondents spanning the ages of 15 to 26. This is almost perfectly representative of the German sex ratio, considering that males make up about 49.0% of the German population (CIA World Factbook, 2010). 110 out of the 138 responses (79.7%) originated from former West Germany. As of 2010, the former West makes up about 80% of the population, so in total this was a relatively accurate representation of the East versus West population distribution, albeit without accurate representation for each Bundesland (Proportionen der Weltbevolkerung, 2010). For the purposes of this survey, the entire Bundesland of Berlin was categorized as East Germany, despite the fact that half of it was located in West Germany during the Cold War. This was to simplify survey questions. According to a 2008 census conducted by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, 30% of the German population are Catholics, 29.9% Protestants, 34.1% Atheists and 6% other (Forschungsgruppe, 2009). This is similar, albeit not exact, to 32.4% Catholics, 29.4% Protestants, 27.2% Atheists and 11% other in the survey. The one Muslim, two Jews and believers of other religions were categorized together due to their low numbers.

As for political party affiliation, there are 622 seats in the Bundestag, the German Parliament. In the 2009 election, the Bundestag was divided up as follows: 239 seats for the CDU/CSU (38.42%), 146 seats for the SPD (23.47%), 93 for the FDP (14.95%), 76 for Die Linke (12.22%) and 63 for Bundnis 90/Die Grunen (10.93%). In the general election in 2009, 33.8% voted for the CDU/CSU, 23.0% for the SPD, 11.9% for Die Linke, 14.6% for the FDP, 10.7% for die Grunen and 1.5% for the Pirate Party. The latter set of statistics is more representative of the German opinion because only the parties with 5% of the vote or over are allowed to send delegates to the Bundestag. For example, although 1.5% of the population voted for the Pirate Party, there is no representation whatsoever in the Bundestag (Bundestag.de, 2009).

Forty of those surveyed identified with the CDU/CSU (29.41%), 28 with the SPD (20.59%), 5 with Die Linke (3.68%), 10 with the FDP (7.36%), 41 with Die Grunen (30.15%) and 5 with the Pirate Party (3.68%), a party which does not as of yet have representation in the Bundestag but does have representation in state parliaments (Bundeswahlleiter.de, 2009). Although there are significant differences between the percentages of votes for parties and party identification, it must be noted that these are being compared to what the entire German population as a whole voted, not what the German youth voted.

Due to the low number of respondents (thereby not making the results representative of the entire German youth population), it was very difficult to find much significance in the relationships between demographics and the views towards the Turks. Fortunately, there were still a few relations of significance that must be noted.

More than half of the respondents did not believe that there were too many Turks in Germany. In addition, almost 80% of all the respondents did not feel mistrustful of Turks that they met (see Appendix III and IV). Although there were still negative answers (ca. 15% were mistrustful and 30% believed there were too many Turks), this was much smaller than what was in the ALLBUS survey (68.2% believed there were too many foreigners in 2006). Perhaps this is because most of the respondents attended gymnasium or university; perhaps it was because most of the respondents were from West Germany or perhaps it was because most of the respondents had internet access. As will soon be discussed, the numbers from vocational school and from East Germany are too small to make any significant conclusions and this is especially true for those who do not have internet access, seeing as this was an internet-based survey. But nevertheless, the overall sentiment towards Turks in particular is not terrible.

Results for other variables are also surprising: out of the 136 respondents, exactly half of them believed that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union, while 27.2% were uncertain about the topic leaving the remaining 22.8% in support for Turkish membership. However, 72.8% believed that all headscarves should not be banned and 51.1% of all respondents believed that illegal immigrants should not be deported from Germany. The German youth, overall, seems open to the Turks residing in Germany. However, although social ideals seem to be progressive, the youth still do not approve of including Turkey as part of Europe. Further research is needed to glean more information on the different layers of Turkish residency.

Location: East vs. West Germany

Over 35% of West Germans said they believed there were too many Turks in Germany, in contrast to the less than 20% of East Germans. This includes the fact that Berlin is categorized in "East Germany," where the largest minority of Turks is located. Although in both cases more people do not believe that there are too many Turks, a larger percentage of East Germans said "No." This is contrary to previous scholarship like the ALLBUS and Birgit Becker's work that East Germans are more likely to dislike Turks than West Germans. Location may indeed affect a person's mentality, but not necessarily in the way that was originally thought. This is also surprising because there are fewer Turks in East Germany, so one would think that the lack of contact would cause a rise in anti-Turkish sentiment. Unfortunately for this research, there is only a 15% significance level of location of respondent and their response to this question. So while initially intriguing, too much stock cannot be put into these statistics.

Graph 1.

Graph 1.


So although there is lower significance for the crosstab of location and the opinion on the number of Turks in Germany, it is still possible to analyze other, more sound, comparisons. When seeing if there is any relation between professed religion and responses to the same question, surprisingly the biggest percentage of "No" respondents were Catholic, who tend to lean conservative. Atheists, on the other hand, who are usually more liberal, voted around 35% "Yes." But this percentage is still less than the atheists who voted "No." With this it might be possible to conclude that although the results are not overwhelmingly different, it is still worth noting.

Graph 2.

Graph 2.

Graph 3.

Graph 3.

Because religion was not considered a factor in previous studies, it was my goal to see if there was perhaps a correlation. And in the case of professed religions versus the banning of headscarves, there seemed to be a relationship, as seen in figure 3. When youths were asked whether or not headscarves should be banned, the majority in each category said "No." However, 60% of those who answered "Yes" were Catholic while only about 20% of the whole were Protestant. In this particular case, Catholics tend to be more xenophobic than Protestants who tend to side more with the atheists. It might not be a surprise that most of the atheists do not believe that headscarves should be banned, seeing as non-religious people are more likely to side with more liberal political parties (FDP, Die Linke, Die Grunen), which have a more multi-cultural politik. However, it might surprise some that Protestants are more open-minded.

A person can identify themselves as a follower of a particular religion and hardly ever attend a religious service or pray. When importance of religion was tested against questions 13-19, there was no chi-square that was predominantly in the 70th and 80th percentile, meaning that the results are appearing around 70-80% out of chance. This means that how important religion is to a person has no effect on how a person responds to those questions. Because of this, it wasn't worth doing further research and I concluded in this survey there was little to no correlation between religiosity and opinions towards the Turks.


Many aforementioned authors labeled education as the determinant of how someone feels about Turkish people. In question eight of the surveys, respondents were asked to identify what kind of school they were currently attending, or, if they were finished with school, what kind of school they had graduated from. The majority of respondents were not from universities but rather from Gymnasien (52.9%). Universities followed with 27.2% and vocational schools (Berufsschule, Fachhochschule etc) with the remaining 19.9%. To make things simpler, I grouped the schools into two categories, namely a "University Track" (Gymnasium and University) and a "Vocational Track" (Berufsschule, Berufsakademie, Fachhochschule etc).

When students were asked the seven questions about the Turks, none of them had a low enough chi-square to be statistically significant. No matter whether each school was listed individually (Berufsschule, Gymnasium, University etc.) or grouped together into "Vocational Track" and "University Track," there was no significance less than 16%. Most of the time the chi-square hovered in the range of 70 to 90% and it is not worth trusting such a high probability that the answers were by chance. This is most likely because more than 90% of those surveyed were in a Gymnasium or University and in some cases, 100% of one group answered the same, it was because there was only one person in that particular group. Due to this major lack of accurate representation, I must concede that it is hardly possible to make any trustworthy conclusions on the topic.


Both the Social Demographic/Contact School and the Multi-Variable School believe that gender affects how a German will perceive Turkish migrants (Bacher 2001, 334-343). For this reason I included gender as another control variable. Out of all of the other variables with statistical significance, the gender variable had the most significant results.

When asked whether Turkey should become a member of the EU, there was more than a 20% difference between men and women who said "No." More than 60% of men did not support Turkish membership and only around 35% of women did not, fewer than 20% of men supported Turkish integration into the EU community and 30% of women did. In addition, around 30% of women were uncertain about the topic, in contrast to the 20% of men. With a probability of only 2.3% that these results occurred by chance, we can be pretty certain that when it comes to Turkey joining the European Union, men are more likely to be unsupportive of it and women more welcoming, if not more uncertain.

When it comes to the discussion on whether all illegal immigrants in Germany should be deported, there is no lower significance than in the discussion between the responses of men versus women on this particular topic. Responses to this question were similar to the questions about EU membership in that more people in both parties chose "No" rather than "Yes." However, the margin between women's "No" and "Yes" responses was about 40%, whereas the margin for men was less than 10%. Moreover, only around 10% of men were uncertain whereas almost 30% of women were.

Graph 4.

Graph 4.

From this we can gather that women are more likely to be kind-hearted and lenient towards foreigners than are men. It must be pointed out that seeing as deportation is a much more serious topic than others, there is the potentiality that a person would be hesitant to choose the less politically-correct option.

Failed Variables

There was not a single chi-square low enough to be statistically significant for the age, income, friends, religiosity and prayer variables for any of the questions. Because of this, no further analysis was conducted. As for the contact variable, the only relationship found was with whether or not the State should require immigrants to learn German. However, this was most likely because all of the "I don't know" answers were located in the "once a week" group (see Appendix VII). If we are assuming that this survey is representative of the entirety of Germany, then the original hypothesis that those variables influence how a youth views a Turk is false.


The results from this study are especially important considering the fact that it is the teens and 20-year-olds that are the first post-reunification generation who will be joining the job market soon. For those who run for political office, the sentiments of this generation will be especially important for the future of the status of Turkish immigrants and relations between the Turkish Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. It is these opinions that will impact the outcome of elections and shape the future decisions of politicians. Equally as important, establishing the source of xenophobia in this generation in particular, the German government might be able to implement policies that will lead the country down a path that is more (or less) open to the Turkish minority in Germany and Turkey. It must be admitted, however, that results from the ALLBUS are more representative of Germany (although not necessarily the youth) and that the results from this survey are not nearly enough to base any concrete hypotheses on. Nevertheless, the goal of the survey to discover what the German youth think is definitely one to be researched in more depth.

If the results of this survey are to be true, we can expect a warming of relations between Germans and Turkish Germans in the coming years. This might allow a change in citizenship law, allowing for more Turks to become citizens. Islamic religious education might become an option in schools for those who opt for it, the Turkish language might be taught as one of the foreign languages and more people of Turkish decent could run for political office. On top of this, the ban on headscarves worn by professionals might be lifted and there might be more inter-marriages between Germans and Turks. Names like Yagmur Herrmann and Helmut Y1lmaz will become more common. However, this is on the condition that there are no other outside influences to change this. If there were to be a terrorist attack on a European country by Turks or Muslims, sentiment could very well take a turn for the worse.


This analysis focuses on which factors determine how German youth view the Turkish minority. Overall, the survey did not show that there was significant distrust among German youth and that they did not believe there are too many Turks in Germany. This result contradicts previous studies concluding that anti-Turkish sentiment is rising, but does agree with the Pew Research Institute's survey from 2009. This particular finding, regardless of age, income, friends, religiosity, prayer frequency and contact variables with attitudes towards the Turks conclude that most of the hypothesis is false. Nevertheless, this study can be built upon in the future to see if, with a larger, more representative sample there actually are relationships between the chosen variables. But currently, as this was a student survey, we can only hypothesize further.


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Hagan, John, Susanne Rippl, and Klaus Boehnke. (1999) "The Interest in Evil: Hierarchic Self-Interest and Right-Wing Extremism among East and West German youth," Social Science Research 28, no. 2: 585-602. http://search.proquest.com/docview/61570954?accountid=8285.

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