Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


TRANSIT bannerUC Berkeley

"A Wall Victim from the West": Migration, German Division, and Multidirectional Memory in Kreuzberg


Focusing on the 1975 drowning death of Çetin Mert, the five-year-old son of a Turkish guest worker family, this essay explores the varied ways that non-German migrants and other minority groups have figured in public memories of the Berlin Wall. On the one hand, Mert’s shadowy presence in local and national recollection is closely related to the marginal place that migrants occupy in dominant narratives of the German nation and its postwar history. On the other hand, my account of recent commemorative practices points to a modest uptick in Mert’s public visibility, one that attests to an increasing (if at times still reluctant) engagement with the contemporary realities of pluralism. Throughout my analysis, I employ the concept of multidirectional memory to illuminate how prevailing representations of the Cold War German past have both intersected with and displaced the remembrance of migration and imperialism at the site of Mert’s death.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View