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Dear Germany, I Think We Need Some Time Apart

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 15/03/2016 Emre Yavuz
TRAIN PLATFORM © Spencer Platt via Getty Images TRAIN PLATFORM

Dear Germany,
You have been with me since childhood, but these days I often feel extremely alienated from you. What happened to us?
Do you remember how I always stood by you? I had just learned to speak when I was asked, while on vacation in Turkey, if I loved you or Turkey more. "Germany of course!" I said, without hesitation. "My home is there, my friends are there, my father is there!" Yes, my father stayed with you, that time I went on vacation with my mother, because he had to study. You gave him a good education. Only with your help was my father able to secure the future of our family.
And my mother? She was a young girl when she also made the decision to plan a future with you -- and she made that decision for her children. Yes, for me. She left behind everything that she'd ever known, because she knew deep inside that only you could offer the best for me.
And you were always a good homeland and a wonderful companion in my youth. In your schools, I learned things that I couldn't have learned anywhere else. I became very aware of that fact when, at the age of 16, I said goodbye to you and spent a school year in the U.S.
In Germany, I was a slightly above-average student, but in the U.S. I was allowed to skip a grade. And besides my skills at math, history, and politics, my American teachers were especially enthusiastic about my English. Who would have thought? I have only you to thank for all this, I hope you realize that.

If all Germans are Nazis, how did my family have a life in Germany that was so much better than the one we could have ever had in Turkey?

And even in the States, I always belong to you and you always belonged to me. I always cherished that. "Germany," most of my fellow students called you. They found the pronunciation of your actual name too difficult. Suddenly, I was your ambassador to the world!
When asked where my parents lived I always pulled out my map, pointed proudly at Bochum and said: "They live here! In a place where having a heart still counts." And sometimes I played them songs by Herbert Grönemeyer -- those songs often gave me comfort during bitter spells of homesickness.
I always stood up for you when someone set out to criticize you. All Germans are Nazis, people said -- but I was the best evidence that that wasn't true. I would say: "If all Germans are Nazis, why did they educate me, a Turk, so well that I'm the best student in all of our classes and I help all of you with your homework, even though I'm a year younger than you are?"
If all Germans are Nazis, how did my family have a life in Germany that was so much better than the one we could have ever had in Turkey? When I defended you in that way, people were shocked, and quickly became convinced that they didn't know you as well as they'd thought.
I always answer the question of whether I'm German or Turkish with a complicated explanation: I was born in Germany, but my parents came from Turkey. My first language is German, but I actually learned to speak Turkish first. I'm German, but actually...Why I would not just describe myself as "German" wasn't clear to my American friends. It wasn't clear to me, either. But that's just how it was.
My decision to come back to you was a conscious one. I completed high school in the U.S., and I could have gone straight to college. But I didn't want that, and you wouldn't have let me, anyway. Because if we're being honest, we missed each other too much. You were calling me to come back almost every day.
My American friends couldn't understand why I had to attend two more years of school in Germany. Hadn't we just graduated from high school together? "But that diploma doesn't count there," I explained to them, almost proudly. "I'm going to do the German Abitur, which is one of the best secondary school degrees in the world. With that, I could even study in the U.S.! Maybe I'll come back some day!" But that never happened. I was much too happy to have found my way back to you.
"My child, never leave this country!" my grandfather told me a few weeks before he died. Shortly before then, two strangers had lifted him from his sick bed, put him in a wheelchair, and placed him in the car for the trip to the clinic. "Never leave this country! You see, how they take care of things? They don't even know us!"
If you had warmly greeted your neighbors, or had a friendly chat with the checkout clerk at the supermarket, you would have quickly seen that all these rumors about people like me couldn't possibly be true.

"Grandpa, that's their job!" I told him, almost rudely. As if he hadn't been living here for decades. As if he didn't know how the Germans operated. But he'd also lived in Turkey and knew that this wasn't the way things were done everywhere. "Never leave this country!" he told me insistently -- and I was proud that he was talking about you that way.
But then something happened. Since then, something has been pushing us further and further apart.
You have been with me since childhood, but these days, I often feel so alienated from you. What happened to us?
Since I was younger, I always told everyone how great you were and how seamlessly you took my family in. But then, you started talking about me to other people. People who had only bad things to say about me. People who were only up to no good. People who had made it their mission to tear us apart.
Why did you keep listening to them, instead of just talking to me? Why did you blindly believe them, instead of just looking around for yourself?
Because if you had just looked around for yourself, if you had warmly greeted your neighbors, or had a friendly chat with the checkout clerk at the supermarket, you would have quickly seen that all these rumors about people like me couldn't possibly be true.
But you chose the easiest way out, and put your trust in hate.
Do you remember how I always stood by you? But when I needed you the most, you weren't there anymore.
You were busy setting houses on fire. The people who lived in these houses had, just like my mother, my father, and my grandfather, come to you with bags full of dreams -- dreams they thought only you could fulfill.
What is this? I just don't recognize you anymore.
Dear Germany, I think we both need some time apart, and a little distance. Maybe then you'd realize how much you miss me and how boring life would be without me.
Or maybe you won't.
But I hope you will.
Because if you don't, then there's no hope.
See you soon!
With love,
Your Emre
This post first appeared on HuffPost Germany. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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