Aunt Ummu

Between 1961 and 1973, almost a million workers from Turkey came to Germany under the so-called Recruitment Agreement. The two-page agreement was very pragmatic for both countries: Germany needed cheap labour, and Turkey needed foreign currency. On the 60th anniversary of the agreement, director Oral Çalışır has been working on a series of film portraits of these workers and their families. Ümmü Yerlikaya is one of them. Yerlikaya’s husband had for many years been living and working in Bremen, a centre of Germany’s aerospace and automotive industries, when she and her four children joined him there in 1990. The couple were divorced a few years later, and Yerlikaya had to provide for her family by working as a cleaning lady. Now retired, she supplements her meagre pension by selling the fruit and vegetables she grows in her allotment garden at a flea market every Sunday. Aunty Ümmü’s story, as presented by Çalışır, is a curious example of how one Anatolian village woman manages to survive in a high-tech northern German metropolis without adapting to its ways.