Sadullah Güleç from Giessen carries home in his heart

  • fromChristoph Hoffmann

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Sadullah Güleç is a defining face of the Giessen administration. The 61-year-old looked after the local tourism for years, now he mainly looks after the town houses in the city area. All of this is even more remarkable when you consider Güleç’s roots. In his Turkish home village there was neither water nor electricity.

The excavators are rolling next to the congress hall. Bit by bit, the shovels dig into the ground, creating space for a new delivery zone and a barrier-free bus stop. The tourist information office, which was housed in an extension, has also been torn down in the past few days. “My old job,” says Sadullah Güleç. He doesn’t seem too sad about the demolition, after all, as managing director of Stadthallen GmbH, he has found a new office in the congress hall. It’s a little hidden and functional rather than ostentatious. That’s okay for Güleç. Someone who grew up like him doesn’t need a mahogany table to polish up the ego.

To call the small Anatolian village on the southern foothills of the Pontic Mountains archaic would be an understatement. There was no electricity, the residents took the water from the well. People and animals lived under one roof and in the evenings the families sat together and told each other stories. “We were self-sufficient. The people lived on what the fields and gardens yielded and on their livestock. There were hardly any connections to the outside world; people only rarely bought tea, sugar and balls of cloth in the distant district town, ”remembers Güleç. This is how he spent the first years of his life. But then the family made a decision that catapulted the boy into a whole new world.

Güleç’s father had already been recruited for coal mining in the Ruhr area in 1964. Two years later he brought his wife, son and little daughter to join him. For the six-year-old Sadullah, the relocation to the heart of industry was a culture shock that kept him busy for years.

“That was a massive family experience. You could write books about it, ”says Güleç. Everything looked different, smelled differently, tasted differently; for years he was only able to eat what his mother prepared in the barrack in the shadow of the winding tower in Gelsenkirchen. When he first saw a television in a neighborhood, he was stunned.

Today Güleç is an educated man who expresses himself eloquently and self-reflective. You neither see nor hear his Turkish roots. The start in the German language was a huge challenge for him. »After my arrival in Germany I was literally speechless. I just kept silent and watched the world around me. «After a year of silence, he learned the German language only by listening – and thus became an essential contact person for his family. “My parents were illiterate. I had to translate everything for them, explain the new world to them. ”Visits to the doctor, visits to the authorities or shopping were not possible without Sadullah. The other Turks in the barracks district also relied on the boy’s knowledge. “Basically,” says Güleç, “my childhood was over when I arrived in Germany.”

After primary school, Güleç started secondary school. An automatism for Turkish guest worker children, because nobody understood the German school system. It was thanks to an interested teacher that he was later to pursue an educational career. “The secondary school was very problematic, there were fights every day, gangs ruled the schoolyard,” remembers Güleç. A young teacher noticed, however, that Güleç did not fit in there and was able to do more. So one day she accompanied the boy home and convinced the parents to send the son to secondary school. “My parents took the advice to heart, we even moved because of it.” This key experience changed a lot. At the new school, he began to open his mouth and integrate. And he had received recognition for the first time. “For school performance, for example, but above all through sport.” Güleç can still smile today when he thinks of the victory against his class A rivals. “That had never happened before, and I played a good game.” What kind of sport is Güleç talking about? “Football, of course. We’re talking about the Ruhr area here. “

After secondary school, Güleç added his high school diploma and was now faced with the question of which course he should choose. “I was in a privileged situation,” he says, explaining that as a foreign candidate with a German Abitur I had almost a free choice. “For example, I had promises to do medicine, archeology, dentistry and political science.” But since he did not have a favorite, Güleç went on a short trip to Germany. Düsseldorf and Bonn liked him less, but Göttingen even more. And so Güleç ended up in Lower Saxony and studied agricultural sciences.

The choice of subject did not only result from the attractiveness of the city. It was clear to him at the time that he would return home at some point. And Turkey, at least then, was still strongly characterized by agriculture.

Home: a word that occupied Güleç for a lifetime. “As a guest worker child, I basically went through pretty much all states of existence. There were moments when I was repelled by the German environment and times when I was ashamed of my own origins and our poverty. Still, I felt like a Turk for a long time. After all, I received this message every day, both from my Turkish and my German environment. “

Güleç moved to Giessen because of love. The relationship didn’t last, he stayed anyway. “I quickly got involved in a variety of integration politics here. First in the foreign student council, then in the AStA. «The agricultural engineer graduated, but he never worked in the field. Instead, he first became the managing director of the Foreigners’ Advisory Board, which he played a key role in establishing, and later became head of the Stadthallen GmbH and city marketing. He gave up the latter a few years ago because the double burden became too much.

If someone asks Güleç today which country he feels he belongs to, the answer is clear. “For a long time now, I have no longer viewed Germany through the eyes of an immigrant, but rather with those of a conscientious citizen who is interested in politics, climate protection and social justice.” says the father of two daughters.

And yet the question of which country he belongs to is too short-sighted for him. “Of course I feel totally German now. But basically this category no longer counts for me. ”Today he could answer the question differently:“ My home is inside me, I always carry it with me. ”This includes the Lahn as well as the small Anatolian village at the foot of the Pontic Mountains.