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Burdensome national identity

by Hans Dembowski
Canan Topçu: EinBÜRGERung [Naturalisation] A reader on becoming German. Profiles, Interviews, Facts. Brandes und Apsel, Frankfurt 2007, 168 p., €14.90, ISBN 978-3-86099-726-0

Canan Topçu, a local-pages editor of the German daily newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau was born in Turkey and grew up in Hannover. Her book is devoted to naturalisation, a topic which she examines from a variety of perspectives. She describes every-day life at the relevant offices, interviews politicians, analyses the legal situation and sociological trends and comes up with a number of migrant profiles. It is particularly relevant, however, that Topçu also looks closely at German sensitivities regarding the issue. In doing so, she manages to determine why immigration is such a contentious issue in this country. After the disaster of the Nazi regime, Germans did not succeed in developing an untroubled idea of their own national identity – and any culture that feels its own identity as a burden is likely to be insecure about integrating new members. (dem)