Compilation revive profile of Germany’s forgotten folk music

- Belated recognition for first guest-workers’ songs
- Project marks change in attitudes to immigration

The Guardian – London 26.10.2013

The song Deutsche Freunde (German Friends) by Ozan Ata Canani starts with a furious riff on the electric saz, a traditional Turkish string instrument. Its refrain, sung in German, is a quote by the Swiss writer Max Frisch, summing up the ambivalence with which German-speaking countries met Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, from southern Europe: “We asked for workers. We got human beings instead.”

In the 1970s and 80s, the song was a hit among Turkish expat workers in Germany – now it is practically unknown. Canani, who arrived in North-Rhine Westphalia from Turkey as 12-year old in 1975, is part of a generation of migrants whose hard work – as steel workers, bin men or musicians – got little recognition.

 

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