Tuesday, May 04, 2010

TheTurk and the Bishop

Berlin has the second highest concentration of Turkish people after Istanbul. And for the few days that I was there, they seemed to get along pretty well. To be honest, I did not know how well they got along until I heard this story.

So, lets go back in time a little bit, even before 1989. The wall is still up there, and between the east and the west walls, there is a no mans land.

That was when a turkish youngster came to Berlin. He wanted a home to bring his young bride from Turkey to; he was too poor to find one, so he decided to squat - on a tree by the no man's land. He built a little shack, brought his wife over and they stayed their with their growing family.

Once the wall fell, the government wanted him to leave his home and evacuate. They first tried asking him nicely. Once he said yes, they threatened to throw him out.

He retaliated by cementing his outdoor furniture to the ground. The government had it's supporters, but the Turkish man had his supporters too. They did a bit of searching around and found that the property did not belong to the government. Instead, it belonged to these guys.

The German Catholic Church. That is easy, the government thought, and they went to the church to buy the piece of land from them so that they can evict the turkish, muslim man in peace.

However, the arch bishop's residence, by a twist of fate, was situated just next to the no-man's land where the turk settled down. The bishop had watched that family grow and try to survive year after year from his bedroom windows.

Also, this situation had some theological implications. By staying within the church grounds, the turk was technically seeking asylum.

And you don't kick out someone seeking asylum in the 1980s, especially when you have the dark history of world war two on your conscience. No siree. You try your best to be humane.

So, due to a near miracle, the turk got to keep his home. He and his wife still lives here, just across the road from the Archbishop, and their children and grandchildren visit them during the holidays.

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