[i] Today is March 11, 2019. I’m just sitting at [name] ‘s home and want to do an interview with him. [name] , thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview.

[r] Thank you also, anytime. If you need anything, I am at your disposal.

[i] You have a prayer chain in your hand, does it mean something to you? How did you get there, and since when do you have it?

[r] I have had this chain since my time in Midyat [town in the province of Mardin 13 BC] . That was 26 years ago. When I was in Midyat for the first time, my cousin noticed that I liked her and bought her for me. That’s how I got there. I only use it at home. I take her in my hand. When I think of time, I take it in my hand. I leave them at home.

[i] If you give it out of your hand, it’s gone.

[r] That’s the way it is. If you give it out of your hand, it’s gone. I make sure it doesn’t get away. I’ve lost so many chains, but I pay special attention to them. I pay a lot of attention to them, don’t give them away. It is my first prayer chain ever, when I pick it up, the memories come back to the village and my homeland. When the longing and sadness become too great, I get it out. I feel like I am in the village when I hold it in my hand. It connects me with my homeland, otherwise it has no meaning. Believe me, whenever I hold her in my hand, at night I dream of the village. That is the way it is. Either from the village or the field. Either I am on the vineyard slope or I keep the animals. As soon as I hold them in my hand, I am in my dreamland. It is from Allah.

[i] If you had clothes with you, can you show them to us?

[r] I have the clothes here, too. When I was in Istanbul.

[i] When?

[r] It was 1995. 1995. When I was there, I bought them and I’ve had them with me ever since. When I came here, we got married. We had children. When I had my first child, I was just 26 years old. She is still with me.

[i] Isn’t she broken?

[r] No, it doesn’t break. I don’t know, clothes usually rot, they get moldy or smell. But nothing happens with the clothes. I wash them regularly, but nothing happens. Like new.

[i] Do you wear them?

[r] Yes, I do. What do I do if I don’t wear them? It’s still a memory and a beautiful thing. Not breakable. Look, like new. The fabric and the color are exactly the same as then.

The colors are green, red and yellow.

The Kurdish colors are.

[i] Do you only wear them at home?

[r] No, I only wear it at home. Yes, only at home when I’m sitting with the kids. As a sports suit, so to speak, very comfortable, and the lower part [is] just as new, nothing is torn, nothing is patched up, nothing at all. No, nothing at all.

[i] Very nice part.

[r] Yes, yes, it’s so simple, I have other suits. I wear the others too, but this is a memento like the prayer chain. It reminds me of home. When I wear it, I am at home, memorabilia. Because I have not visited my homeland for 25 years. [Cough. Show photos.] [The tram goes by.] These are my photos, I have many photos. I rarely look at the photos because I get very sad when I look at them.

[i] Do you really get sad?

[r] Yes, I get sad!

[i] Can you hold the pictures towards the Kamara, please?

[r] Here I had just arrived in Istanbul. I worked in a restaurant. These are all Russian businessmen. I cooked for them.

[i] What were you doing in Istanbul?

[r] I worked in a restaurant. The restaurant belonged to a Kurd from Amed. I worked for him. Shortly afterwards I came here. Here I played billiards. Life there was nice, but I was wanted for military service. That’s why I had to leave the country. The truth is: I didn’t want to come here, I would have liked to stay in my home country. Life there was very nice. Living in the country was beautiful, in Midyat. After I went back to Midyat and got married, the military looked for me. I was in a difficult situation back then. It was a big deal and I was scared. At first I wanted […] .

[i] In what year did you get married?

[r] In 1995.

[i] 1995?

[r] Yes. 25 February.

[i] February 25th. [R?] February 25th, I’ll never forget that.

[i] On February 25, I wanted to interview you, you said no.

[r] That’s why I said no.

[i] That’s why you said no?

[r] Yes, because of that. I went out with my wife. [Coughs] Now there was a problem, so I came here. For me, our country is more beautiful. They say the nightingale has a golden cage, but he said […] [_?] . It’s the same for us. Well, we adapt to life and values here, are used to everything, just like Germans and Europeans. Sometimes, when I look at Germans, I think we are more adapted than they are. Nevertheless, our own homeland is better.

[i] Do you have wedding photos? (He coughs strongly) The photo is in front before the marriage. Here we are already married. (He shows a picture)

[i] How old were you when you got married?

[r] Twenty.

[i] Twenty?

[r] Yes. I was twenty years old. This is my wife. (he shows her photo) The children are not with us. This is my brother, my brother, and my uncle. My uncle lived in Izmir. I also went to Izmir. He died of cancer, he smoked a lot. He died. He was a good man. Here I am with my wife to see. 24 years ago. Look at how time passes. [The tram passes by.]

[i] Right.

[r] Yes.

[i] You said you came here 25 years ago?

[r] Yes, 23 years ago, I came here in 1996.

[i] What city did you come to?

[r] I came to Bochum. For three months I stayed in Dortmund in a camp, in the camp in Dortmund. After applying for asylum, I stayed in Dortmund for three months. Then I was assigned to the city of Essen. In Essen Werden, where I lived in a container. About a year. My wife had come here before me. She came a year before me. [He coughs.] Um […] . It was like that. Until our marriage we had great difficulties, she was underage, she was younger than eighteen.

[i] Didn’t you get married before?

[r] No, we didn’t have a civil marriage, only a religious one. We already had the religious marriage, but not the civil marriage. Because I hadn’t done any military service, I wasn’t officially allowed to get married in Turkey. I couldn’t get married, so I came here.

[i] Where was your wife when you came to Germany?

[r] My wife was in Bochum. Because we were not officially married, I was assigned to the city of Essen and lived in the home in Essen. My wife was with her father in Bochum.

[i] How was life in the camp?

[r] Yes, how was life in camp […] ? The camp in Dortmund was good, so war´s. On the one hand we could do our prayers there, there was a prayer room. I couldn’t stand the food, I asked for other food because I was sick and needed other food. The doctor prescribed special food for me. In the mornings and evenings I got another meal because I did not tolerate the other meal. It was good there, I can’t complain. Financially it was nothing, but with the food one could continue the life. There were many different nationalities. Then I came to Essen. I was one year in the camp, there it was not beautiful. The bathrooms were outside and it was mixed. Women and men were separated, but open to each other. There were some from Africa, from China, it was mixed. This side of the camp was not beautiful. The four of us lived in one room, in bunk beds. We made it.

[i] Were you four Kurds?

[r] Yes, we were Kurds. We were Kurds, but two were not “real” Kurds. To be honest, they were Turks. They pretended to be Kurds in order to apply for asylum. Some were Alevis or Muslims and I forgot, I don’t remember. They were rarely there. I was busy with the marriage for a year. It did not work. Every day I had to go back and forth. To get to Bochum I had to pay 20 German marks. For one year I paid 20 German marks, then I paid 20 German marks for the permit. The cities of Essen and Bochum are different districts, I think.

[i] Did you pay the 20 Deutsche Mark to the camp management?

[r] For the permission I paid it to the foreigners authority. I told [them] that I wanted to go to Bochum for two days or a week. Every time. I stayed there more often, until our marriage. I was not allowed to leave Essen. They said I could go to Düsseldorf, but not to Bochum. Food and here are different districts or something, I’m not sure. After the marriage I came here and lived in the home until [the year before 2000, 1999. Until I got my passport.

[i] What home were you in?

[r] Here?

[i] Yes.

[r] In Langendreer, in Langendreer, in the skyscrapers of Opel. We lived there. Then we came to Laer. We lived in containers for a while. Then they dissolved the containers and we were assigned to Herzogstraße. Herzogstraße in Bochum Riemke. We stayed there. After the recognition I got my passport and we moved to the university center, left the home. In the Herzogstraße it was nice. [He coughs] . Our place was nice and we were good to each other there. The others came from Mizizex, Eziden and some from Yugoslavia. Those from Yugoslavia were very good, there were some Kurds from Turkey, we were neighbours. Some Yezidis from Syria lived there, we had good contact with each other. Then everyone went somewhere.

[i] After one year you came to Bochum, how did you find Bochum? Your first impression, not now.

[r] Back then it was nice, it was good, not bad. Of course I wasn’t allowed to work back then. I wanted to work, but depending on the place and bureaucratic procedures. If there had been no bureaucratic procedures, it would have been good, otherwise [it] is not good. I didn’t want to stay here for the first three years. I would have preferred to run away. I wasn’t allowed to work or do anything, I almost went crazy. I was just at home. And back and forth to the social welfare office.

[i] Did they give you a six-month or one-year residence permit?

[r] Six months.

[i] Only six months?

[r] Yes, six months, like a dead life. It was like a prison. We compared here with Turkey and came to the conclusion that life here is no life.

[i] Were you not allowed to attend a German course either?

[r] You weren’t allowed to do anything, you didn’t have a life as long as you didn’t have a residence permit. Until you were allowed to stay either for humanitarian or political reasons, there was no life here. In my opinion, you are dead. Because you couldn’t even do anything for five euros. You beg the social welfare office for 5 euros, it’s not even enough for cigarettes. At that time I smoked. But I quit. The money that I received was not even enough for smoking. What did you do without work? Besides, nothing to do, 300, 400 or 1000 euros.

[i] In your opinion, what is the German bureaucracy like?

[r] In my opinion: Germany is unique in the world, socially and bureaucratically. In this respect it is better than many countries. I’ve been to Holland, Belgium, France and Switzerland. I was also in Poland. So as far as the system and the discipline are concerned, I think Germany is better than all the others. Germany is better than all the others, but on the other hand in other federal states there are for example before my asylum was recognized, in the social welfare office it is different from person to person. They don’t have a good image of people, they see you as a stranger, but in general most of them are good. You have a good life here. [He coughs.]

[i] What problems have you encountered? What problems?

[r] What do you mean [that] ?

[r] For example, when you were new in Germany. You didn’t have a stay. You couldn’t speak the language. How was your life? R?] Challenges like, we felt comfortable in our country. One is free. I was free. What I wanted, I did. Relationship between friends, there was no such thing here, we went to the club, there you could have good conversations, in the Kurdish club. There was a nice life there, without this association the life of Kurds from Turkey would be dead. I thought most of them would commit suicide or leave the country. Regardless of how well [one] felt here, there was no life. The first difficulty was the language, the language comes first. If you don’t speak the language, you can’t speak to anyone. You can’t do anything, you can’t shop. The authorities had communication problems. Maybe the clerk was good, but because we couldn’t answer, um, it became difficult for them too. And in our eyes these people were not nice. We complained about the officials. Maybe it was good, but because we couldn’t understand each other, I considered it bad because I couldn’t communicate. For example, when our daughter was born, we didn’t get any money for her for six months. The social welfare office did not pay the money because we could not file the objection in time. I was with the lawyer. He told me that after three months the appeal period expired and that it would be on the notice, under the letter. But we could not read it. You’re right, but because you can’t speak the language, you can’t do anything. What is its value? These are big challenges. You get a letter, but you can’t understand the content. I come to you once or twice, but you also have things to do, work, you also have children and you also get letters, you also have worries. They want money, I can’t give it to [them] either. What should I do? That’s why we can’t seek help, stay alone until we don’t get any more benefits. That was a big problem. Until today we have this problem. [He coughs.]

[i] You’ve been living in Bochum for about twenty years.

[r] Twenty-one years.

[i] What does Bochum mean to you?

[r] Yes, what does Bochum mean to me? We have got used to Bochum. Bochum is like our village to us. It has become a second home for us, our children were born here. When we go out we say, “Our child was at this school”, when we pass a square we say, “Our child played ball here”. We say that we were here earlier, and so on. Just like that chain, it reminds me where it was given to me, or where I bought those clothes. Here is our home. If I go somewhere else now, I don’t want to stay there. I say that I want to go home, to Bochum.

[i] So, is it your second home?

[r] It became our second home. This is my second home. No matter where I go, I want to go to my village. I didn’t live there long. I was seven years old when I left my village, but the village remained in my head. Bochum comes second.

[i] Where in Bochum do you like it best?

[r] In the green, in the green, I go where it is green and to the garden, I like Ümminger See and I go to a park in Wattenscheid, and near Josef Hospital there is a park, I go there too. I like gardens and trees, I like the green, quiet places.

[i] Do you like parks more?

[r] More parks, green spaces and forests, rose gardens.

[i] Which part of Bochum do you not like? [He coughs.]

[i] Where you think this place shouldn’t be in Bochum.

[r] It’s not a nice question, [he laughs loudly] , I don’t know, but every place in Bochum is nice. Certainly there are corners that aren’t beautiful, because for example the municipality doesn’t work well, the municipality of Bochum, I’d say that.

[i] Are you in favour of the city council leaving?

[r] Believe me, it’s better if the city council goes. […] If someone else rules and not the congregation goes […] […] If someone else rules, [it] is better. They’ve been digging next to us for two years or a year. The road is closed, they neither work nor do anything else. For example, they dig in a place and leave it like this for [[r] few years. They do nothing. Why do we give taxes to the state? To serve us. We pay taxes and the municipalities also get money from the government. They get money from the parliament so they can serve the citizens, but [they] do nothing.

[i] After you got a residence permit, did you get an apartment? How was your life in your own home?

[r] Living in the house was good, it was great, you are free. We were happy even though the apartment was small. The office wanted, it didn’t want to approve the apartment, because the square meter was too small for a family our size, but we accepted it, because I really wanted to leave the home. I had to sign that the apartment size was okay for us. I signed it. The apartment was on the 13th floor, top floor. The balcony was six square meters. The length was one and a half meters, why shouldn’t we like it? It was great.

[i] How did you get along with your neighbours?

[r] In the home or in the house?

[i] In the house.

[r] So far my neighbours and we are happy together. To this day, none of my neighbors has complained about me. Germans, Turks or Kurds are all satisfied with us. Also with our children. We are also satisfied with our neighbours. [?] If you are not good to your neighbours, they will not be good to you either. If you are good, why shouldn’t your neighbours be good to you? A few times we tried to move out. um Our caretaker tried to keep us from moving out. He told the landlord that we couldn’t move out. Twice. The one who takes care of the flats. If we weren’t good, why would he tell the landlord that? He pressed the landlord so we wouldn’t move out. We are good to others and they are good to us. If we weren’t good to them, if we had been loud, insulted and insulted them, they would have collected signatures to get rid of us. We got one as neighbours. He beat his wife every day. Maybe the police were with them twenty times.

[i] Where were they from?

[r] They were out, no idea, Albania or Bulgaria, I don’t know exactly and I didn’t ask them either. We collected signatures and talked to the landlord to get him fired. For example, he beat his children and his wife every day. That was not nice at all. Of course we were not friendly to him either. Once I insulted and insulted him and he was not friendly to us either. Now we are good neighbours with each other. My neighbours are nice to us and we are also friendly to them. We have no problems with each other.

[i] You mentioned the Kurdish association in Bochum, that you got a lot of help, that you would not have been able to do many things without the support of the association. What did the association and the Kurdish community do for you?

[r] The Kurdish community used to be very active. That was quite pleasant. No matter in which context you needed help, they could help. Psychologically, socially and so on. They helped you. When we got a letter, they helped us. Even if we only had a headache, we went to the club. When we were bored, we went there. For example, if our women annoyed us, we would go there. No matter what happened, we went there. The association was like a hospital to us. If we had problems, we found a solution there. In the past, now no longer. Now we only have one office in Bochum. There is nothing else in Bochum. Back then you could play billiards, take a Baglama course, go to the theatre, um […] . There were folklore courses. What wasn’t there […] ? There was information when something happened or someone was sick, there were notices: Person X is sick. When someone died money was collected. If someone had an accident we visited him and helped. If I got sick and you visited me, of course I would be happy. When I die, you don’t come […] [?]

[i] Why is that?

[r] Yes, why did it come to this? It’s beautiful everywhere, but not in Bochum. In terms of Kurds, social life in Bochum has declined. [He coughs] Even the help, the solidarity of the Kurds in Bochum has decreased. I was in Aachen, they bought a building. They bought the building to meet there as Kurdish people and to fight against theft and other crimes. In order to prevent divorces of the families, [so] children would not come to the home. There’s no such thing here. In Dortmund, Bielefeld, Mannheim. No matter where I go, there is such a place. But there’s no such thing anymore here. Why is there nothing here? That’s a big problem. Why is there no such thing in Bochum? Many Kurdish organizations were founded in Bochum. For example, the first association was founded in Bochum. The association was, if I am not mistaken, the first Kurdish association in Europe. It was founded in Bochum. Everyone said Bochum, Bochum and Bochum. They told how Kurds in Bochum helped others. For example, if there was an earthquake or people needed help or there was another problem, whatever it was regarding Kurds. In the city of Bochum all the solidarity and social cohesion took place. Nice meetings took place in Bochum, but now.

[i] Now how is the contact to other Kurds in Bochum, how are things between you? You said it used to be good, how is it now?

[r] It’s too little, much too little. Our contacts? They’ve become very weak. With the Kurds in Bochum between Bochum Kurds. Only when it’s about a bereavement, but even then you don’t learn about it until after a month. There are no mutual visits. There are no other associations where we can meet or ask questions. Um […] Only if there is a funeral service or a wedding. But unfortunately this has also become more businesslike, otherwise [was it?] something else! There is no cohesion among the Kurds in Bochum. No, it’s not anymore, I can say. No contact, no mutual visits. Well, you can be a very good person, I can say that I am a good person. But you should tell me that I am a good person. Or someone else should say that I am good. We should visit each other so that we can see each other. Many friends that I have known for over twenty years since we lived in Bochum do not live far away from us. Unfortunately we haven’t seen each other for two to three years. We live in Bochum, three kilometres away from each other and we don’t see each other. Why don’t we see each other? I don’t know where he lives. He doesn’t know where I live either. Since four years I run a restaurant, many of them don’t know that I run a restaurant. I was recently in the café [a meeting place for men

[r] . He asked me what I was doing. I told him that I had been running a restaurant for four years, for example.

[i] You have had this restaurant for four years, what have you done before?

[r] I worked in a kebab bite before. In a kebab production. I prepared kebab in a kebab factory. I worked for a while in Unna, in Gelsenkirchen, in Krefeld, in Bochum-Langendreer I worked. In 2001 I opened a kebab stand in Langendreer. Um […] – I ran it for one year, ten months, and then I started in the kebab production, so far I have worked in such jobs, otherwise nothing else has worked.

[i] For four years.

[r] Four years ago I opened this shop. We work as a family, we earn our living. As I said before, I didn’t want to live from the social welfare office. It doesn’t matter what we earn. The main thing is that I don’t need anything from the social welfare office. We will work as a family and it will work. I now have a second shop. Since August last year. In August 2018 we opened in Bochum. We also offer pizza. A restaurant near the Bochum train station. It’s not very busy there, but it will go well.

[i] What’s your leisure time like when you work in the catering trade? I know today is your rest day and I’ll steal two hours from you. What do you do afterwards?

[r] What should I do? I have no free time, I’m always on the move, how can I say I never stop, I always work. Even when I’m at home, I work, I wash the dishes, clean, iron, I do everything at home. At work I never tell my employees or children what to do, I do it myself. When I am free, I like to go for walks with my family. We go out with my wife, I am bound to the family. I say, (coughs) our origin is Seyid, that’s why we are bound to family and religion. I feel bound to our traditions and customs. I take care of the children a little. Of course, there are things that we are not so good at. You don’t want to do things that aren’t good. You want to do something good so that others talk about it well. I don’t think I have bad habits. When I am free, I spend time with my children. I go for a walk with them. To be honest, my bad habit is that I go to the Turkish café. Actually, it’s not really a bad habit, but to get news, I go. News about friends, deaths or weddings. We visit our friends and relatives.

[i] We Kurds have [one] wedding every Saturday and two to three deaths a week.

[r] It is a duty. We must visit them. We mainly have weddings and condolences. If we don’t fulfill them as a duty, we can’t say that we are Kurds. For example, if [the] parents die in Germans, they only do the mourning ceremony for one or two days. The majority of Europeans mourn like that. Of course they also mourn for a long time, the pain remains. For us it takes longer. If we don’t keep to this custom […] .

[i] Let us come to your childhood, where were you born? How was your childhood?

[r] Um […] . My childhood, [he coughs] I was born in Nebile, we were originally from Becirman, Batman Becirman. Of course my father and my uncle came to Midyat, tram goes! [?] [(tram passes by) ?] my father came to Nebile. An uncle of mine went to Ziwinge, one to Difne, one to… [?] Bamide, Ziwinge, My father and an uncle went to Nebile. He got married and stayed there. People liked him very much, so he didn’t want to go. He got shelter there. He got married, we were also born there. You just asked about our childhood. It was very beautiful, the country, the people were very beautiful. There was good and bad. We went out, played freely in nature, we played with stones, we fought each other. There were many games. We were shepherds. [?] I was still little and I went to school there for a year. After that I didn’t stay in the village. I went to another village, where I attended a Koran course. I was a Faqe (Quran disciple). I was working as a Faqe.

[i] In which village?

[r] That was in Bizgure, I went to Tinate, I went to Fafe, to Cibilgrawe, and I went to Mazidag. I stayed in a village two weeks to a month. Otherwise I was in the area Fafe, Mikre. I was in Bizgure, Cibilgirawe, Tinate. There I was an apprentice. From time to time I returned to my village, did not see the family much, but when I came to my family, I experienced much love. Because I learned, I did not live my childhood. Let me put it this way: I did not have much from my childhood, I had a very sad life. Because we say that man somehow […] [?] Our childhood was in poverty.

[i] The fate of most Kurds is that you are not alone.

[r] About 60%, maybe even 80%. It is so. We spent our childhood in poverty. Poverty not in the sense of eating and drinking. Many things were unattainable for us, a dream is said to be, uh, uh […] This is also a kind of hunger, a sadness. If I see a child now, I won’t let my children work until now. I am in favour of learning being more important. At the opening they helped me, I tell them not to work, I do all the work. Because I have experienced many difficulties in my life. Of course I have also experienced good things, but most of the experiences were not so beautiful. Although you could have done a lot of beautiful things. Namely, somehow, there was such a pain in life that you can’t express it through language. Some things cannot be conveyed through language. You can’t say it because it stays in your heart forever. Namely, [he coughs] you [have] a great longing for something, something like starving. You don’t eat in time, but when you see the food, you want to eat everything. That’s why children are everything to parents. For example, so far I didn’t want my children to work. My son is already twenty-three years old, but I don’t want him to work, he should have a good life. He should teach, read, read, read. I want him to study. So that they have a beautiful future. Of course they should not forget our culture and our life. We did not experience much in our childhood. We did not live our childhood. What should I talk about? I had no childhood

[i] How many brothers and sisters are you?

[r] Twelve.

[i] Twelve. Of a mother and a father?

[r] [He laughs.] Twelve, yes. We are eight brothers and four sisters, four girls, twelve [in total] . With the parents [that] makes fourteen.

[i] Where do your brothers and sisters live?

[r] All live in the home, one has lived here for two years. I haven’t seen one for twenty years. I wanted him to stay here. He came here and he stayed here. He works with me and we are together, that’s how it is.

[i] How do you keep in touch with the others?

[r] I have good contact with all people. I have little contact because I haven’t seen them. I don’t know, I’ve already said that I have great longing. That’s my life. A life, how should I tell you, I have great longing. I think nobody can imagine my longing. [He laughs] Believe me, you can’t imagine it either, because you grew up with your parents. I haven’t seen my parents since I was seven. That’s the way it is. When I talk to them, it’s like talking to you. How I talk to you on the phone is exactly how I react. “How are you? How is it going? and so on. Of course, the feeling towards my mother is very different, but [coughs] it’s not the same with the others. The conversations are superficial: greeting, saying hello, asking how it is, how the children are doing, and so on. I don’t need anything from them and they don’t need anything from me. Now we can see each other live via mobile phone. Otherwise, if I ever see any of them anywhere, I don’t recognize them, I didn’t even recognize my mother. When I got married in 1995, I stayed at home for about two or three months. Otherwise I didn’t see my parents anymore. As I said before, I didn’t see my siblings either.

[i] Are your parents still alive?

[r] My father died in 2009 and my mother is still alive. Now everyone lives in Istanbul. My brothers are in Istanbul, two sisters live in Midyat, one in Aydin Söke. One in Nusaybin, Bamide (a village in Nusaybin). (coughs) My sisters are at home and my brothers are all in Istanbul. The oldest is in Izmit, he works on a ship, the others are in Istanbul. I haven’t seen them but they should be fine. I haven’t been in my homeland since 1996. I only remember the village, nothing else. I don’t remember them much. They are not in my dreams, I see the village and Nusaybin in my dreams. I was always gone. My childhood and my life was like this. When I was little, I was a few years in the village.

[i] What about love? Were you ever in love?

[r] Love […] . I was in the village before I got married. There was another one I wanted to marry.

[i] How old were you?

[r] Eighteen to nineteen years old. [He coughs] . I think I was eighteen or nineteen. In the village there was one I loved. We loved each other. Her father didn’t allow it, he was very religious. I also did my prayers.

[i] You were in the Koranic school.

[r] Yes, I was, but he didn’t know me. I think that’s why he was against it. I didn’t stay in the village, and he didn’t know my life. Although I prayed when I went to the village, I went to the mosque in front of him in the morning. (he laughs louder) He didn’t want to. My uncle talked to her father, he asked for permission, he was my cousin. Her father didn’t allow us to visit him at home. I wanted to kidnap her, but she didn’t agree. So nothing came of it. Fortunately it didn’t work out. I had such a short love, yes, that was my first love. It stayed in my heart and stayed with me until now. Of course you don’t just forget something like that, but she is the mother of my children and we are satisfied. [?] Her family is also doing well My parents-in-law […] . Their villagers are happy with me. I am also satisfied with them. As I said before, if you are good, the person will be good to you. If you are not good, the others will not be good to you either. You will not be good to others. […] Thank God, we are all happy together, my parents-in-law […] . Your villagers and your uncle are happy.

[i] Are your in-laws there too? Is that so?

[r] My parents-in-law […] . My mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my brother, my father-in-law [my father-in-law] [?] , everyone is here. Many of them are here.

[i] Is your relationship good, too?

[r] Very much, we have a very good relationship. To be honest, many from their village, my in-laws are here. Two complete villages are here. They probably have 200 families here. Nobody from my village is here. Two brothers and a cousin are here. Nobody else is here from our village. There are only three people from Nebile, three families from Nebile.

[i] How many children do you have?

[r] Five, two sons and three daughters.

How old are they?

[r] The oldest was born in December 1995. I?] He should be twenty-three, shouldn’t he? [R?] Twenty-three and the youngest girl is seven years old, [?]

[i] What do your children do?

[r] The oldest goes to university, he studies mechanical engineering. The second is graduating from high school, um […] he’ll be finished now, he’s playing football. The second son, he plays American football.

[i] American football?

[r] Yes.

[i] Where does he play?

[r] He plays in Cologne.

[i] In Cologne?

[r] Yes. He goes to Cologne. And my eldest daughter, she turns eighteen. This week she will be eighteen, on the 16th of this month she will be eighteen. She is training with a diabetologist and … the other [?] goes to school, the second daughter. And the youngest one started school last year. She started school last year.

[i] You said one of your sons plays American football in Cologne. Isn’t it hard for him to drive back and forth? How many times a week does he drive?

[r] I don’t know if it’s hard for him, but for me, it’s no problem for us. Because I didn’t have a childhood and couldn’t get an education, I wish my children what they want. He was very good at football, he was very diligent, so I wanted him to play football. He didn’t do it. Then he tried American football. His friends also wanted playing football. He also wanted it. Now he has decided for it. He goes to Cologne. Sometimes his friends take him with them, they like him, his friends are nice too. Occasionally his trainer takes him with him, their trainer, the teacher takes them with him. Sometimes we give him our car.

[i] How often does he drive a week?

[r] He drives three times a week. Sometimes, rarely four times, he usually goes three times a week.

[i] What does your wife do?

[r] My wife is with me. What I do, she does. Most of the time, she deals with the children. But now the girls have grown up, they usually do the housework. We run the business together. If she’s not there, I have no life. We are connected.

[i] You said that there were no possibilities before. Here there are opportunities for education, training, education. Why didn’t you do any training?

[r] In Europe? Here in Bochum?

[i] Yes.

[r] To be honest, as I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, when I came here I was like a blind man, deaf, without speech. I couldn’t do anything. In the beginning I couldn’t do anything because I wasn’t recognised yet, we didn’t have a residence permit and I didn’t have a work permit after we were recognised, in the year nineteen hundred[…] I came here in 1996, I think I got a residence permit in 1999. Our lives have passed. You can learn for up to twenty-five years, after that it’s too hard. I was not allowed to do anything. I could have done an education, but I thought that I was experienced in gastronomy and I also enjoyed working in gastronomy. I worked in gastronomy and didn’t do any training.

[i] You mentioned that you worked in gastronomy before you came here.

[r] Yes, I worked in Istanbul for a while. When I went to the Koranic school, I cooked, too. At that time I was still a child, I did most of my work myself. That’s why I got used to it so quickly. After I came here, I worked in restaurants and in the butcher’s shop. I like it, I love to serve. I want to serve, so [it] pleases me. I don’t think I would do another job. I can work twenty-four hours in gastronomy. I can work without money if I have fun at work. Sometimes there are Kurdish events. (he coughs strongly) At a festival [i] did all the work there. Gladly and voluntarily. That’s why I like to serve, I like to serve.

[i] What kind of dreams did you have earlier? What did you want to do? What did you want to be when you were a child?

([r] (he coughs) My dreams I wanted to be an imam (prayer leader) as a child. Because the possibilities were not there, I changed my wish. I wanted to work and have money so that I could lead a good life.

[i] Did you go to Medras [Koranic School] ?

[r] I said I had trouble because we had no money. There was no money, we had a bad life in the village. We really didn’t have that much. We just had enough for the daily meal. We went, we collected Zekat [Almosensteue] . Zekat time. We gathered to Ramadan Fitre, like wheat and so on. Then we sold it on so we could buy the books and clothes, it wasn’t enough. [?] Each of us went to a house in the evening and asked for something to eat. You know, we had such a life. Every night I came to you and wanted [_?] [he knocks on the table several times] You, your wife, or your children open the door. The children call the father, the mother, Fakah has come what Allah gave, they filled our plates, we were very grateful for their help. We came home and ate the collected food wherever we had it. If the money was enough, [he coughs] [?] then we wouldn’t have needed anyone or if the state had helped. [?] This budget is for this student, for food and clothing, then I would have liked to go on. But there was no such thing, we had to do everything ourselves like beggars. It’s a kind of begging. If a German comes to eat every day, I’ll get rid of him. It’s the same thing. Once I give him food, but [that] second time I don’t. But we went every day. Every day, morning and evening, we ate the rest of the food at noon, every day. I couldn’t sleep in the mornings and evenings, you had to walk in the mornings and evenings. That was our life, you know? The family we went to might have had an argument, sometimes it was. In fact, sometimes they had a quarrel. When we went to them, they yelled at us. Look, that was our life. How can we forget that? For a piece of food, sometimes [we/she] threw our plates. That also happened. (he laughs louder) That was our life. As they say, “You can’t say that, you have to experience it. You have to live it, don’t you? Unspeakable, unspeakable, you want to say many things, but it [is] really unspeakable. You [can/will] really not tell some things, even if you remember it, it becomes difficult in the heart of every person.

[i] When you realized that you couldn’t do the fakeh, did you leave?

[r] That’s why I left it, there was no future.

[i] Then you got married?

[r] Then I married my present wife. My wife came to Germany, so I also came here. That was our life.

[i] Did she come to Germany immediately after the marriage? (he coughs)

[r] Shortly after our wedding my father-in-law said that he [I?] should go to Germany. [?] It was like a dream, I don’t know how it happened. They came here [?] and they brought her here, she was still a minor. She was less than eighteen years old. I didn’t want to come here, I was like my wife [laughs] [?] She came here and then I had to come here. Of course there were also problems with the government and the military. I had problems, that was the reason. I came here too.

[i] You’ve already come to Istanbul to come here?

[r] I came to Istanbul to come here. Otherwise I wouldn’t have come to Istanbul and stayed there. I wanted to come here.

[i] Yes, were you in Istanbul until you found a way here? Did you work there?

[r] Yes, but black. I stayed there for a while, how can I say, uh Istanbul was beautiful too, [?] but I was afraid. Every day the police arrested strangers. That was something, so I couldn’t get used to it, I couldn’t [stay] there. I wanted to go home but I couldn’t go there.

[i] How long did you spend in Istanbul?

[r] I stayed a year. We got married on February 2, 1995. After three months in the village I came to Istanbul. I came at the end of 1996, I was there for more than a year,

[i] How was your arrival here? Are you feeling well?

[r] It was difficult, we came here in a truck.

[i] Did you give money to the tugboat?

[r] I had a friend there. My brother talked to him and they gave money to someone. My brother told him, “You’ll get [the] money after I get here.”

[i] How many days were you on the road? [?] We were here in ten days.

[i] Ten days

[r] Yes. [?] [“Ten days”? Or …] One week, ten days.

[i] Were you alone or were others there?

[r] (he coughs) No, there were many.

[i] Were they all young or were families with them?

[r] There were young, old, and children. Can you stop [?] [?

[i] Did it take a week from Istanbul to here?

[r] Yes, you can say yes. It wasn’t easy, we were many people. They were children and women, they were Kurds, Turks, I don’t know, some were black. [?]

[i] How was each other? Nobody knew anyone and you were travelling together?

[r] No. One was from Diyarbakir (a Kurdish town), there were two women in our refugee home, we helped them. They did a lot.

[i] When you arrived, did you come straight to Bochum?

[r] Yes, we came to Bochum.

[i] When you came to Bochum, what was it like? The policemen and the employees there? [?]

[r] Not many foreigners came back then because it was dangerous. It was New Year’s Eve. Somehow [i] had an appointment with the lawyer. Me and my father-in-law went to a family together, it was his uncle on New Year’s Eve. [?] There was no bus in the evening. The buses stopped running after 20 or 22 o’clock. There was nothing. [?] The police came, we stood [?] then they came to us. [?] [They] said to us, “Good day, good day.” Me and my father-in-law didn’t understand a word of German. They showed their IDs and asked for them. The police, I thought, what should I do? [He laughs] She says, “Where’s your ID?” I didn’t have any ID. We hadn’t applied for asylum yet. [?] I showed the lawyer’s business card. He said, “No, that’s not identification.” [?] My father-in-law showed him his identity card. [?] [?] The police said, “All right, you can go.” They handcuffed me and put me in the car. I said, “Why are they doing this?” […] I came to Germany for the first time and I was arrested. [?] It became like a memory.

[i] Did they send for an interpreter?

[r] No, not until the next day, they would get an interpreter on New Year’s Eve?

[i] Did you stay there that night?

[r] I stayed there until the next morning. They brought a Kurdish interpreter. They asked me: “What did you do? I said, “I’m new here and I have a lawyer’s appointment and I don’t know what I was supposed to have done. And I’m here with my father-in-law.” They asked again, “What are you doing here? I replied, “I was visiting and I want to go home. They believed me and said: “You can go home now. […] I [am] grateful for the interpreter. He accompanied me to the station. He said, “You can get in here.” I had no money with me, he also paid for my ticket, the bus ticket. I got on. When I got there, I recognized the bus. I drove to my father-in-law. He was not at home. That was funny. Nothing else happened, everything was good. But it wasn’t good for me because I didn’t feel ready. We weren’t ready yet, I didn’t feel ready for the new life. First, I didn’t speak the language. If you can’t speak the language, everything is foreign. I didn’t know the place because I didn’t want to go out. I took the train to my father-in-law. From there I went to the asylum. In Essen there was another dormitory, I didn’t go there.

[i] You mentioned that your contact with your family had broken off after Istanbul, a brother of yours had been there before. [?] How was it? Was it easier for you? [?] [?] [?]

[r] I was always in my village. For everyone his village is his country. Before our journey, when I left my village, when I entered a foreign country [?] […] I knew that if I went to Europe, I could not return. […] I didn’t see my family anymore, so it was especially sad for me. Because man is important to me. […] When you emigrate, you leave all the people behind. These people were very important to me. I left them there. I didn’t give up, I just left my country. That’s why it was hard for me. I am a person and they are also people, you live in a country and you have to flee [from] there.

[i] Were you twenty-one years old when you came here?

[r] Yes.

[i] When you came here, what were you thinking? And I mean, it’s been twenty-three years now. If you had thought then and now, would you have done it differently? […]

[r] If I had had the ideas of now twenty years ago, […] then I would have directly done an education. And I would have done business, I would have done business. And in gastronomy [could I have done something?] . […] I would say that on the one hand it was good, […] on the other hand you have a nice life. But business is better than anything else.

[i] What is your life here like?

[r] I don’t think it’s like the beginning. It’s without fear Life is beautiful here in Europe. I’ve already mentioned in Europe, the countries I’ve seen Germany, […] Germany is first. So I see it. I was in Switzerland, in Poland, Belgium, Holland. Many say Holland or elsewhere it is beautiful, no. I particularly like the discipline in Germany. I went to Holland several times, but there the discipline and the life are not like here. It’s much nicer here than in Turkey [laughs] . Turkey is [hanging] fifty years back.

[i] Everyone loves their country.

[r] That’s different, love is different, I don’t mean in that sense. Love and belonging are different, as I said I left the village very early. As long as I have been in Bochum, I have not lived there. But the memory of it is more intense. That’s why my life there is more in my thoughts. I?] Why? Because I was born there.

[i] How do you cope with culture? […]

[r] I don’t feel far away from my culture. I like my culture. I always say to my children, “If I stay here 100 years, I won’t forget my Kurdish identity”. When I talk to my fellow countrymen on the phone, many of them don’t speak Kurdish anymore, even though they live there. When my children talk to them, they are surprised that my children can speak Kurdish. If my children cannot speak Kurdish, should they first learn Turkish, Arabic, Italian or French? Of course, they have to learn Kurdish first, then German. […] As long as I live! That’s why we fled, how can we free ourselves? We Kurds have had no country for thousands of years. So far we are not free, so we have to concentrate on it. My Kurdish identity and culture are very important to me, as is my mentality. I have a lot of Kurdish clothes, four pieces, even five or six pieces. When I go to an event, I put on my Kurdish clothes or go to a Kurdish festival, I put on my Kurdish clothes. […] […] […]

[i] What does [(d)an] “own country” mean to you?

[r] For me, your own country means life, the life of man. One can say that the land and humanity belong together, are equal. If you don’t have a country, you’re not human either. Normally: you are without land, you have no life and you are not human. The homeland is mankind, if there is no Germany, there are no Germans. Without Turkey there are also no Turks. On the one hand there are no Kurds because there was no Kurdish country, we have no homeland that is a country [Kurdistan] . If we had a country of our own we could live a normal life like everyone else. At the moment nobody counts for us. When we say, “We are Kurds,” they say, “What is that? There was, but at the moment it doesn’t exist, there was and there wasn’t [?] , we have no country, Kurdistan, they say, there wasn’t. The name does not have to be Kurdistan, it can also have [anothe[r] name. The country means mentality. What do you say? Culture is everything?

[i] What is identity for you? […]

[r] Identity?

[i] For example, identity is […] identity is […] any connection with one’s own identity.

[i] How do you feel? Do you feel like a Kurd? [?]

[r] I […]

[i] As a Muslim, as a German or [name] ? 400 to 500 years ago, our grandparents told us, 500 years ago we were Arabs, 500 years ago we were originally Arabs. So our family, because we are [name] . We are descended from Imam Alis, we are Shiites, 500 years ago we came from Baghdad to Turkey. That’s why we grew up as Kurds, but lived in Turkey. In Mesopotamia, we don’t call it Turkey, in Mesopotamia we lived as Kurds. My father was Kurdish, my grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were also Kurds until 500 years ago, after that we [became] Kurds? We became Kurds. That is why we say we are Kurds. First we are Kurds, then Muslims. Among the Kurds there are Yezidis, also Asurs. These are all Kurds. With the Germans there are also Catholic and other directions, they are different. Are all Arabs Muslims? But we are first Kurds and later adopted the Islamic religion. Now, thank God, we are Muslims, but Kurds. Our ethnicity is Kurdish, but that was a long time ago. 500 years ago it was a little different.

[i] If you look at your life now, I’m proud of that, what would that be?

[r] The point I’m proud of in my life is that I’m Kurdish. (he laughs)

[i] Or, “I did something wrong at this point in my life that I regret”?

[r] My only mistake in my life was to leave my village. I should have stayed there. Every person is happy in his place, it was a mistake. Everyone should stay where they were born, then we would achieve something. If everyone leaves, they cannot achieve anything. You can protect everything on the spot, you can’t protect [it] from the outside.

[i] It’s true.

[r] This place has been mine for four years. I can’t run this place from the outside, I have to be inside to run it. It is so. I have left my village Nebile, how often can I say it, it is my village. It is pointless. The house there is no longer my house, it has been sold, what can I do? I was born there and I often dream of it. I have this dream in which I take this chain in my hand. Believe me, when I am sad, I take this chain in my hand. So Nebile can be, what will they do? It is my village. I say my village, just orally, not my village. The village belongs to others who live there, their land, it no longer belongs to me. I like our tradition. We say that we have experienced something, we work so that our children don’t experience the same thing. Even if it is bureaucratically difficult, we will help them so that they don’t experience the same thing. They should have a country. We did not have a home, they should have their own country. (he laughs) They should have their own. I told you we could not live our childhood, let our children live. We did nothing to get our country, our children should have their own country. We are all people, but those who come after us should get their countries. Germans have [[r] state of their own, Turks have their own, Arabs […] There are several Arab states, Holland, Belgium, France, some states don’t even have 500,000 inhabitants, but […] . How many million inhabitants do the Netherlands have? Eight million, how many? Look at Brussels, they also have a state. If we look at a map, we see some states that don’t even have 500,000 inhabitants. 500,000, I researched the Internet today. There are, um […] thirty [?] inhabitants, but they have their own country. In Australia, as I happened to see recently, there are some countries on the Internet [?] with 100 or 500 inhabitants. They became a state. Forty to fifty million Kurds have no state. [He laughs.] It’s very unfortunate.

[i] Thank you [name] for the interview, that you answered all questions openly.

[r] […]

[i] It was a nice interview, thank you very much.

[r] You’re welcome.