Euro 2008: Turkey’s flags competing with Germany’s in Berlin

It’s that time when Germans dust off their national colors and fly them proudly.

It’s because of the 2008 European soccer championships, which you could argue is the biggest soccer tournament in the world next to the World Cup.

The last time you would have seen so many German flags flying was back in 2006, when the country hosted the World Cup. My friend Marc Heydenreich reminded me the other day how important soccer is to Germans, in light of the schuld, or guilt, the country still confronts over WWII. “It’s really the only time when it’s OK for us to be proud of our country,” he said.

However, if you’ve been in Berlin recently, you’ve noticed that there is another flag almost as ubiquitous as Germany’s black, red and yellow. Turkey’s dominates many of the buildings in some of the city’s best known neighborhoods.

Turkish immigrants here also seem to be using Euro 2008 to demonstrate national pride, and with good reason. The Turkish team is having a hell of a tournament run, having snatched two huge wins, one against the Czech Republic and the other against Croatia, when it looked like they were heading home.

These days there seem to be two home teams in Berlin. The evenings when Turkey has won have become just as rowdy as those following German victories, with cars filling the streets draped in the country’s red flag, honking through the morning’s small hours.

It’s a useful sight for those traveling here, a reminder that Turks are Germany’s largest ethnic minority group, with more than 1.5 million living nationwide. In Berlin, they’re particularly concentrated in the neighborhoods of Neukoelln and Kreuzberg.

I live in Kreuzberg, not really in the Turkish part but it’s still been crazy here the last two times Turkey has won.

Tomorrow? It’s the start of the semifinal round and Turkey is set to play…Germany.

So, Berlin stands to see a celebration no matter who wins. I can’t say the police will be looking forward to it, though, as some here think there could be trouble between the two groups either way. Let’s hope not.