Albanians in Germany - A long history of poverty and success

July 1990! The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification and “Wind of Change” was no more just a song of “Scorpions” but the sound of democratic revolution in Eastern (Communist) Europe, inspired from the fall of Berlin Wall.
In Romania the presidential couple Chauchesku was killed by insurgents, but in Albania the communism was still surviving.
Albania was still resisting.
July 2, 1990…!
That time reports tells that the temperatures were so hot as the events that people expected to happened.
In afternoon, a ‘crazy driver’ with his family inside, slamed a old truck ‘Skoda’ with the wall of German Embassy in Tirana.
The news shocked the communist government and it was spread in ‘ether’ all over the country even in absence of the free media.
The televe barbed fence surrounding the entire border of the Socialist Republic of Albania was torn in heart of the city, on the road that is known as the Street of Embassies.
The Wall of Albania fell.

Hundreds of people flocked to go inside of German Embassy, and than in Embassy of Italy, France, Spain, Greek etc.
Nobody knows what was going on, even those that cross the walls of the Embassy’s, which then opened the doors.
Desperate people and without hope, people who had never traveled outside the boundaries of their country, the poorest people of the continent, persecuted, were dare to overcome history. In fact they were making the story.

More than 1,500 people, mostly young, filled every inch of territory the headquarters of the German Embassy. For a lot of days they were ‘roasted’ under the sun of July and the embassy staff took care of them, there was food and medicines for those Albanians that passed that wall. All Europe eyes was in Tirana. That was the last act of the communist tragedy in our continent.

And than, get in buses who was traveling through the only highway of the country, sings the first ‘journey’ of refugees of communist Albania, which is also removed the last stone of  a ruined building.
Here began the history of the Albanian migration to Germany. Six months after communism fell and the Albanians officially begin the ‘long journey’ of economic migration all over the world.

Is their life like in the movie ‘Der Albaner’ of Johannes Nabber?

Is the real life of an Albanian illegal immigrant in Germany like in the movie of the german director Johannes Naber, ‘Der albaner’?!
The film tells the story of  young Albanian who emigrates illegally, involves in the crime world because he needs e lot money to protect his love. Early traditions of Northern Albania, in some cases imported nowadays requires to pay the family of the girl ones loves before they get married.
Arben, the young albanian in Berlin desperately needs money but he can work only as illegal. He can’t be a normal citizen, he can’t have a work and a normal live is like a dream for him. This is the story in few words…!
After the albanian premiere in Tirana, the director of ‘Der albaner’ Johannes Nabber said: “I wanted to show to the people the life of an illegal immigrant in Germany. I wanted to show details, how he faces with the ‘promissed land’. I wanted to show to german people how he see the perspective of his life in Germany.

In his confession, Nabber highlights: “I went to Albania in 2001 to find out if was there the story for my movie. I understand that Albania is a country in the middle of Europe and other countrys know just a few things about Albania and in most cases we jugde wrong them. I can comfess to you that I fell in love with Albania and this story is writen year after year. I try first to understand the albanian mentality. I try to discover why they leave Albania, but for the main reason, to show to germans how they treat immigrats”.
Even it was a successful movie, the atmosphere in Tirana was not very quiet. Some people notice this as a realistic movie and others described degrading for Albanians. At the end, it’s a movie that tells the story of a young albanian in Berlin.
It shows the reasons of illegal immigration and the behavior of German society.

More than one time, the reports of european tv stations and newspapers talk about Albanians who are part of the international drug traffick, crime world and s'o on. But that’s not the only reality…!

History of success

There are a lot of Albanians serving their sentence in prisons and others lives as illegal immigrants. But that’s not the only reality. There are a lot of successful Albanians here in Germany and one of them is Miriam Cani.
“Popstar” competition 2003. Between 35,000 competitors, in the top ten were 5 young girls that later formed the group “Preluders”. It was a mixed nationality group, a german, an italian, a vietnamise, an affrican and an Albanian young girl, Miriam Cani.
She wanted to be successful and she did.
“As I come in Germany since I was 5-said Miriam, I feel this country as my second homeland. I become a singer and a TV presenter here and I’m really happy for what I achieved. 
But is Miriam prejudiced for being an Albanian?!
“For us is normal nowdays that a lot of people that don’t really know nothing about Albania, can say a lot of bad things about our country. I don’t blame them because is all they heard about Albania. And the only thing I can do in this case is to tell them the other Albania, whom they don’t know but that is our Albania where lives honest people too.

Miriam Cani is one of the successful Albanians that lives in Germany.
Miriam is a young artist that will be protagonist of the musical ‘Hair’ witch will have the premiere at September 11, 2011 at Bonn Opera, and the public will enjoy it until June 2012.
“This is my biggest achievement in my career”-says Miriam.
She is only 26 year old and through a documentary that speaks for her life between Germany and Albania will show in September at “Pro 7” television that part of Albania that the others don’t know.
“I am really happy that through this documentary I will present somehow my country the best part of Albania”-ends Miriam her confession as a successful young albanian in her second homeland, Germany.

Kosovo immigrants reality

In Kosovo it used to say: A family needs one child for the family, who stays at home, one for migration who works abroad and one for the mother country’. Although motivation and socio-economic features change over time, there is still some truth in this saying.
Statistics shows that Germany alone hosts around 400,000 Albanians, of which about 350,000 are from Kosovo and 20 126 are mainly from Albania and about 30,000 albanians from Macedonia.
Labor migration is one of the most important livelihood strategies that rural households go for. In Kosovo its importance is extremely high and has a long history. Although reliable data is scarce, three main migration waves can be distinguished. First, so-called guest workers (‘Gastarbeiter’) left the country in the 1960-1970s. They were mostly little educated people from rural origins. Starting in the 1980s, a second, more politically motivated migration wave started. Ethnic Albanians suffered from increasing reprisals: about 125,000 employees lost their jobs and many of them choose to migrate because they feared more suppression, economic still stand, and the threat of an upcoming military conflict as a result of the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Between 1998 and 1999, war refugees added to this wave of emigrants. The third phase started in 2000 and is still ongoing.

Germany proved to be one of the most preferable countries for migration in Europe; however it’s integration into the German culture and society used to be an uneasy process. Firstly, the so-called intellectual migration did not occur and in my opinion – the main aims of these families were to survive economically and build a more sustainable future in terms of human security, without having other aims. Secondly, the huge gap of cultures and the lack of human capital from the majority of migrants from Kosovo proved to be an obstacle for their integration process. However, since 1990’s until 2011 this gap is gradually decreasing with new generations born in Germany, which simultaneously are similar to German culture and its values.
It is worth stressing that Kosovars are also contributing to different fields of life, such as sports (Luan Krasniqi – Boxer; Fatmire Bajramaj –footballer; Valdet Rama -  footballer, Ardian Bujupi – singer.

Fatmire Bajramaj-Ambassador for Integration and Multilingualism

The former Kosovar refugee is now a star of German women's football
Fatmire "Lira" Bajramaj (born 1 April 1988 in Kosovo) is a German footballer. She plays as an midfielder for  FFC Frankfurt and the German National Team.
The 23-year-old Muslim was born in Kosovo but when she was 5 she and her family fled the conflict there for Germany. Now playing for FFC Frankfurt, Bajramaj has already written a book about her experience called “My Goal in Life – from Refugee to World Champion”.

“I want the public to find out how hard it is for refugee children to integrate in Germany. Only sport helped me find friends. I hope my book will encourage young women from ethnic minorities to take the same path”- says Bajramaj on her book.

But how difficult was for her to be successful in Germany as a football player?

“At beginning it was really difficult but since I started to play football and as I was talented, they learn to excepted me. Germany gave the chance to my family to stay in the country, to work and to live here. I made my way in football. Thanks to all the coaches who passed my way, now I´m grateful to the DFB who has chosen me to be a Ambassador of Immigration for such a important Football Federation.

Few days ago she have been the winner in a vote sports journalist in Germany organised by the german magazine '”Kicker” as the best German footballer for the 2010-11 edition. And it means a lot to an Albanian from Kosovo.
“I love my homeland-says Lira and my success is to important for Kosovars too, even  
I´m a German citizen.
And she have a big message for all Albanians in Germany: We all should give our best to come in the German Culture and German society.

But what thinks german young people about Albanian immigrants?!
Sebastian Horndasch, german citizen, is a consultant in the higher education field and a book author. His opinion about Albanians and Kosovans does not differ from the opinion of any other immigrant group.

“I generally welcome people who want to come to Germany and work here-says Sebastian. We particularly need people with university degrees and I would hope that future governments will make it easier for well-educated people to come to Germany. At the same time, I know that the situation for illegal workers in Germany is tough. I would like to see improvements here. We have to find a way of treating illegals note decently. But we cannot just open the borders to everybody. It is very challenging”.

Posted in | 28.08.2011

By: Anisa Ymeri (Albania), Labinot Hajdari (Kosvo)

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