Just The Facts

Germany’s Kurds

How Kurdish people became a significant minority in Germany.

Credit: Vaclav Kostal Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Kurds were the largest ethnicity among refugees to Germany prior to the recent wave of Middle Eastern refugees.
  • By 2005, more than 60% of Europe’s one million Kurds resided in Germany.
  • Kurdish political leaders from Turkey have urged Germany to mediate conflict with Turkey’s government.

1. Nearly 1% of the population of Germany – more than 600,000 people – is ethnically Kurdish.

2. Kurds were the largest ethnicity among refugees to Germany prior to the recent wave of Middle Eastern refugees, and more broadly they were one of the largest immigrant ethnicities.

3. Much of Germany’s Kurdish population did not officially arrive as refugees, however.

4. In the 1960s and in the 1980s, Turkey sent many guest workers to work in Western Europe.

5. Of these, about one in five were Kurdish, although Turkey’s government did not disclose that they were recruiting heavily from Kurdish areas, especially as ethnic conflict mounted in those places.

6. While guest workers were supposed to return home to Turkey eventually, those who were Kurdish often faced too much risk to go back.

7. With this initial Kurdish worker population established in European countries such as Germany, each subsequent instance of political unrest or violence prompted many thousands of Kurdish refugees in Turkey or Iraq to join their extended families already in Germany.

8. By 2005, more than 60% of Europe’s one million Kurds resided in Germany.

9. Germany supplied much of the new weaponry to Iraq’s Kurdish paramilitaries after the fall of Mosul in 2014 to the so-called Islamic state.

10. Kurdish political leaders from Turkey have urged Germany to take a more active role in both supporting Kurdish resistance to ISIS and mediating renewed conflict with Turkey’s government.

Source: Encyclopedia of Diasporas, BBC, Rudaw

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