Immigrants must accept German values, says ex-President Gauck

Former German President Joachim Gauck has called on migrants living in Germany not to form parallel societies. He also warned against a misuse of the term “Heimat”.

Migrants living in Germany should be ready to accept the country as it is, along with its values, Joachim Gauck, a former president of Germany, said in comments published last Thursday.

“I find it unacceptable that people who have been living in Germany for decades cannot hold a conversation in German, do not attend parent-teacher conferences or keep their children from going to classes or sports,” Gauck told the Bild newspaper.

He said people should not shy away from standing up for German values out of fear of being seen as a racist or xenophobe and that there should be “something like binding rules for living together and not several societies alongside one another.”

Gauck called on politicians to ensure that the country’s prevailing rules were accepted as the standard by all living in Germany.

Discussing ‘Heimat’

The former president also talked about “Heimat,” a German word often translated as “homeland,” which was the subject of the newspaper’s special edition on Thursday.

Gauck said he welcomed the fact that the word, which many Germans feel has been tainted through its frequent use in the Nazi era and former communist East Germany, had made a comeback in public discussion.

“It was and is overdue that this word be rid of its former political misuse,” he said. “Germany needed to recover from these misused terms. That recovery has now come a good way.”

Not feeling at home

He said the resurgence of the word “Heimat” was largely due to the large numbers of refugees who have come to the country in the past few years. The German government also added the word “Heimat” to the Interior Ministry’s official German name.

Some Germans no longer felt at home in Germany because of the wave of migrants coming from different countries, Gauck said.

But he warned against sentimentalizing the term until it looked “like a garden gnome.”

“For me, ‘Heimat’ is the feeling of being sure of and having confidence in oneself,” he said.

Gauck was German president from 2012 to 2017.

tj/sms (KNA, AFP, dpa) / DW

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