The American story still resonates

On the 30th anniversary of German reunification, it’s still hard to be German if you aren’t native West German:

For a long time, that discrimination was not merely subconscious, but structural. 

Even as Germany became a major immigration country, no real path to citizenship was extended even to the children of immigrants born in the country.

After the fall of communism, the intrinsic racism of German citizenship law became impossible to ignore. Russian citizens with German ancestry who spoke no German were suddenly allowed passports, while second-generation Turks born and raised in Germany were not. 

The change to the immigration law in 2000 opened parallel tracks to citizenship for those who were born in Germany or who had lived in the country for at least eight years.

As a child, Idil Baydar says she felt German. But that has changed. The 44-year-old daughter of a Turkish guest worker who arrived in the 1970s now describes herself as a “passport German foreigner.” 

“The Germans have turned me into a migrant,” said Ms. Baydar, a comedian who has grown popular on YouTube by mocking Germany’s uneasy relationship with its largest immigrant group.

Germany Has Been Unified for 30 Years. Its Identity Still Is Not.

In contrast, the American story is told in Ronald Reagan’s last speech as President of the United States: