Sunday, Aug. 10, 2003

Gelsenkirchen, Germany: 2003

In the 1950s, several northern European countries signed “guest-worker” agreements with southern countries to lure manual laborers, who were supposed to stay for a couple of years and then go home. Germany and Turkey signed one in 1961, and over the next 12 years hundreds of thousands of Turks answered the call — but not all returned home. By 1973, when the program was canceled, nearly 1 million Turks were living in Germany. Today, approximately 2.5 million Turks live there. Unal Nas, a Turkish engineer who arrived in Germany as a guest worker in 1966, opened his first shop selling pita bread in 1975, after cashing in his savings to buy a German bakery. Under a 1927 agreement, Turks in Germany were not permitted to own bakeries. The agreement was abandoned in 1983, and Nas became the legal owner. Today, he has a fleet of 35 trucks delivering more than 40 kinds of baked goods. With an unemployment rate of 10.6%, Germany does not lack workers; it lacks modern skills — and is once again looking outside its borders to fill that need.