German culture does not exist and the nation’s history has been shaped by “immigration and diversity”, according to Federal Integration Commissioner Aydan Özoğuz, who has argued migrants should not be expected to assimilate.
Writing in Tagesspiegel, the Commissioner denounced the debate over Leitkultur (meaning ‘dominant’ or ‘guiding culture’) — in which conservative politicians have suggested migrants should assimilate to a shared set of cultural values — as “ridiculous and absurd”.
“And no wonder, because it’s simply not possible to identify any sort of culture that’s specific to Germany beyond the language.
“Even historically, it is regional cultures, immigration and diversity that have had a bigger role in shaping our history.”
Globalisation, and the ongoing transformation of Germany into a society of ever increasing numbers of different peoples and lifestyles, “leads to diversity being amplified and multiplied further”, Özoğuz added.
She conceded that “cultural diversity is perhaps tiresome”, but argued that it is “the strength of our open society”.
“Promoting the idea that there is a dominant culture doesn’t create common grounds but instead erects borders to exclude.
“Germany is diverse — a fact which seems too complicated for some”, she added.