I was out with friends the other night when I was asked by a German, who newly arrived in Kosovo, whether I was a real German or a Kosovo-German. I found that question quite amusing. I don’t have Kosovo roots, but my I’m pretty sure I had some Hungarians in my family, and I doubt they were the only non-Germans in the past few hundred years, whose genes I inherited. Am I a real German?
When I was back in Germany on vacation this summer, my boyfriend and I got a ride to Berlin through “Mitfahrgelegenheit.” This is a German website, which connects people who travel with their car, to people who are looking for a ride, I’m sure you know it. The costs are much lower but it also means sharing the car with a total stranger for a few hours.
Our match was a guy in his forties with funny looking glasses in a BMW. I forgot his name so let’s call him Detlef. He asked me right in the beginning where we were going with “all this luggage”. I told him that we would spend a couple of days in Berlin before heading back to Kosovo. The answer was a “aha” and a strange look in the rear mirror. Detlef asked if we were going on vacation, I told him that we live in Kosovo. He apparently assumed we were Kosovars, and I didn’t correct him. Detlef didn’t address us again for the whole ride of three hours. When I handed him the 28 EUR that we owed him for the ride, he just looked at me in surprise and said “Oh, so you do have enough money to pay me?”
Is he a real German? I wonder what it takes to be a real German. Is it your name, your appearance, your place of birth, your citizenship, your family background? Does your religion play a role?
I wonder if it is easier to become a real German if you are Italian than if you are Eastern European. I wonder how many German distinguish between real Germans and fakes. And I wonder how many Germans change their behavior towards people they don’t consider real Germans.
I am proud of being from a country, which people of different color, ethnicity, and belief call their home. Aren’t you?
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
The article was originally written in English.
Photo credit: Shadafarin Ghadirian.