Don’t Mention Me

Ali Alzaeem

Idlib, Syria

Don’t write
That I am a refugee
I came to you with a life jacket
Without a suitcase
Don’t mention me on the streets of Anatolia
Or in the Greek houses
Don’t record with my registration
That I am the best letter of your alphabet
Don’t speak to me in the language of princes
Because I am a shepherd, who knows the valleys
And the wolves fear me
Don’t give me a passport
That embarrasses the airport
Or geography lessons
To teach us that oil streams from the ground in our land
Don’t write my name in newspapers
Or on the doors at the events:
What showing-off would that be
Don’t regard my homeland with the eyes of a compassionate journalist
Or in the sympathetic embrace of a woman passing by
Don’t read my poem, read my story
Don’t comment
Move on to your drinks
For I have a long night ahead
Thinking of the olive days


Ali Alzaeem (19)

comes from a village in Idlib. He had a pleasant childhood as a shepherd, schoolboy and footballer. In summer 2015 he came to Germany. He likes to act and write poetry. He is extremely interested in politics and economics, which make him both annoyed and addicted. He attends the Elinor Ostrom School.


Hussein Kasha

Aleppo, Syria


When I was little,
life was easy.
To get up in the morning
and have a nice day
with the family was simple.

When I grew older,
it was no longer easy.
The first time I saw my father crying,
I realised that life is not easy.

It was not easy
when I said goodbye to my little brother
and he said to me:
»Bring me some sweets
when you come back.«

It was not easy
to say goodbye to my second soul,
my twin sister.

It was not easy
to lose a member of the family,
without being able to do anything,
because you are more than 3000 kilometres away.

It is not easy
that it is easy.


Hussein Kasha (*2000)

arrived in Germany in September 2015 – after a month-long journey via Turkey, the Balkans and Austria with his uncle and aunt. He is now attending a specialist high school and would like to take his school-leaving certificate in the subject of Health. He shows his social commitment not only in promoting religious co-existence, but also works for the integration of other refugees in the context of the Sports for Refugees programme.

Sound of the Piano

Ahmad Al Rifai

Daraa, Syria


The smoke flees from my lung
like my soul.
The clock no longer ticks,
I have fallen into a dream.
I can see her at last.
The angel has died.
I can no longer distinguish
between illusion and reality.
She is missing from both.
There is no proof that she still exists.
I can see her face in the smoke.
And feel her kisses in my lung.
It hurts so much when she dances.
I wanted to keep her next to my heart,
in my lung.
This was Mephisto’s advice.
She is destroying me, she is trying to kill me.
She has taken shape in me as lung cancer.
This is the last gift.
A date with death.


Ahmad Al Rifai (21)

is a school pupil. He loves theatre and singing. He has taken the stage at various cultural venues as both an actor and a singer. He also likes to cook and read.

I Remember

Anonymous author



I was ten years old. I remember the burning tears of my father. The sadness and fear. That dreadful night. I remember so much that I would like to spew my brain out, so that every memory disappears.

I was twelve years old. I remember my strength. How I could carry on living, even though there were no reasons for that. I remember as well as if I were a fifty-year-old woman in the body of a twelve-year-old.

I was fourteen years old. I remember feeling my heart for the first time. The shine of her wonderful eyes. Her fascinating laughter. I remember her words, which lit up my darkness.

I was fifteen years old. I remember my depression. My loneliness. The people who were closest to me, and enjoyed my burning wounds. I remember so well the circle in which I was imprisoned. Every path led me back to its gloomy centre, every path led me back to the point of zero.

I was sixteen years old. I remember her look in the crowd. I remember the warmth that I felt when I embraced her. I remember how she was my way out, my safety, my soul.

I was seventeen years old. I remember our secret meetings. I remember her laughter. The touch of her gentle hands. Every detail. I remember so well how I felt. My heart and my soul, which drowned with joy in that feeling without calling to be rescued.

I was eighteen years old. I remember my recurring depression. I remember her farewell after our last meeting. All of the feelings that lay in her kiss. I remember her sad eyes. The pain that bored through my body until part of my soul split off and flew to her. The moment when I boarded the plane and the song that played in my head in an endless loop. How I cried. How I was without hope. How my dreams disappeared. I remember how I saw the city from above and left a piece of my soul behind.

I am nineteen years old. My feelings are frozen without you. Now I have given up, have no more dreams, no hopes. I live without a goal, without feelings, from one minute to the next. It is hell.


Anonymous (18)

is from Syria, but lived in Saudi Arabia from her third year onwards. Since 2019 she has been in Leipzig, and is now taking a German course at level B1. Writing is her great passion and all that she can hold on to.


Jin Hamo

Afrin, Syria


I feel the fresh air
And breathe it in.
I look at the mountains
And nature
And breathe out.
My hair flies
And tears flow.
The day that I feared
Has arrived.
To leave everything,
To describe the feelings.
No words.
The beautiful moments
Stay in mind for ever.
We will meet,
I promise.
It will not be the same,
Perhaps even better.
But I am hopeful,
And I hope you are too.


Jinav Hamo (15)

fled to Germany with her family in 2017 and lives in Halle Neustadt. At present she is in year nine at school, and for the future wishes to carry on with artistic activities. Jin loves everything connected with creative expression: learning new languages, drawing, taking photographs, singing, dancing and meeting new people from other cultures.

Poet out of Homesickness

Naseh Qutaish

Idlib, Syria


I have never in my life
written poems, but in my foreignness
my feeling is that I need it now.
Out of my homesickness I became a poet,
and separation from the people I love
has made me very sad.
Mother, father, brothers and sisters, I miss you.
I share memories and love only with you.
Oh God, the loneliness is unbearable
after such wonderful days with you.
Sometimes contentment prevails,
but usually it gives way to sadness
and to suffering, and I have to overcome myself anew
again and again.


Naseh Qutaish (27)

works as a lawyer. She loves bodybuilding and football, and is always pleased to make new acquaintances. If she had to decide for one style of music, it would probably be Arab music, because she is most familiar with this. Naseh’s favourite colour is white, because she associates this colour with peace and freedom.

To My Beloved

Ahmad Al Mohamad

Aleppo, Syria


In the city of dreams
Where people never sleep
One night that no days followed
I met a remarkable woman
Asked her
Who are you?
She answered
I am a woman without an address

I drank the wine and the sugar
Melted in our devotion
I asked
Shall we meet again after this feeling?
She looked at me and answered with shining eyes

She came to the meeting
In the climbing club
I said to her
I love you and I want you to be
My lady in the palace of rayon
She said
I am your angel from heaven
But not a woman for the public sphere
She smiled
I have a lover, but I am as free as a gazelle
My mind was absent for a moment
And everything melted away behind the walls

She said
It does not matter, life is as it is
I left with my head held high
Because she did not yet know the riders


Ahmad Al Mohamad (29)

came to Germany in 2015. He likes dancing and cooking, and alongside his work as an assistant dentist manages to go to a gym almost every day. At present he is improving his German and fighting for recognition of his degree in dentistry. Prejudices are what Ahmad annoys most. Apart from that, in Germany he values the freedom.

Looking Back

Hassan Zir

Idlib, Syria


I stood at a stair,
two or three steps.
A small stair,
next to a small street.


A snail,
with no head
and no neck
It only had a back,
and lay on the asphalt.

One last look back
a fruit,
It was blue.

Behind it

An empty gate,
a space,
a football pitch.
I had no ball.


Hassan Zir (13)

was born in Idlib in Syria and now attends the Hector Peterson School in Kreuzberg, Berlin. He loves swimming and likes to try out every new smartphone game.

We Kill Our Dreams

Hani Shebel

Idlib, Syria


At that time he sat
in the dark, lonely cell of a prison.
The warder used to ask him:
Do you think that our power will end one day?
That your dreams will come true?
That you can shape your own future one day?

Then he laughed:
A mere dream, a mere dream!
We will burn down your lands,
kill your dreams!

Don’t you know
we are the gods of time.
If you want to live in peace,
look for a new home!


Hani Shebel (21)

comes from Idlib in Syria and is a member of the editorial board of the magazine Was Geht?!, where he is responsible for short films. His last short, War of Colours, attacks the racism that is currently prevalent in society. In the future, Hani would like to work in design.

Foreign Soil

Diana Hamido

Aleppo, Syria


Yearning follows me like a shadow
a chain of memory that pulls me into the past.
I would like to cry.

When I think of my grandfather…

I hear his voice.
I see him sitting in his field,
proudly contemplating the infinite number of leaves.
He was like that.

Now he lies in foreign soil, in a foreign country.
I can hardly believe that he took leave of life.
I hear his dry voice.

I have seen countless fields,
but my grandfather’s field was the most beautiful.

I know that you put much love into this soil,
much work.
Oh, you did not know
that you would have to give it up,
the plants, the river.


Diana Hamido (20)

comes from Aleppo in Syria and is now attending class 12 in Berlin in for her high school graduation. She likes drawing and intends to study architecture after leaving school.

Disappointed Hope

Safe Hajjar

Aleppo, Syria


Why are we disappointed,
when we entrust our secrets to those we love most?
We are humans,
we have emotions and feelings.
When we love someone,
we are attached to that person.

Our feelings are hurt
and we are depressed.
In spite of everything, we keep on trying
to find other people.

Is it not true that each of us
would like to live in peace and contentment?
Why do we hold so many hopes
that cannot be fulfilled?


Safe Hajjar (23)

comes from Aleppo in Syria. When he came of age and would have had to fight in the war, he fled his homeland and came to Germany in 2015, looking for a better future. In Berlin he is studying for high school graduation, and alongside this would like to perform as a professional singer. For Safe, home means his family in Syria, whom he misses greatly. He still feels he does not belong in Berlin, and being alone is hard for him. Apart from vocational training, above all he would like to find good friends.


Safe Hajjar

Aleppo, Syria


You came to support me.
I was relieved, I felt your kindness when you helped me.
You were by my side when I felt bad
And I still feel bad.
You called me, I was there.
You wanted something, I gave it to you.
You were honest to me and I believed you.
You asked me, I answered.
We trusted each other.

Today we are opposed, but you are never my enemy.
You treated me badly, and I said:
God forgive you!


Safe Hajjar (23)

comes from Aleppo in Syria. When he came of age and would have had to fight in the war, he fled his homeland and came to Germany in 2015, looking for a better future. In Berlin he is studying for high school graduation, and alongside this would like to perform as a professional singer. For Safe, home means his family in Syria, whom he misses greatly. He still feels he does not belong in Berlin, and being alone is hard for him. Apart from vocational training, above all he would like to find good friends.

Story of a Dream

Adham Al-Jwabra



Dreams don’t enter your mind of their own accord
Every dream has a story
The dream arises out of this story
Dreams don’t simply disappear
And if they do disappear,
Then they were only small wishes

It took my father seven years
To build his house
That was in 2009
After eight years he had to leave the house again
Against his will
Because of the war
He possessed nothing
Apart from his house

He never said
I miss my house
My trees, my flowers, my old life
But I knew that he misses it all
He always says
I am happy when you are happy, dear children
And gives us everything that we need

My dream arose from this story
To build my own house
Here in Germany
Like my father in Syria
And that we will all spend our lives together
In this house


Adham Aljwabra (18)

came to Germany in 2017. He describes himself as a person with many dreams – he would like to study dentistry and travel a lot. Adham likes drawing and taking photographs. He loves films and football. In Berlin he lacks a friend who is like a brother to him.


Mahmoud Jamou

Aleppo, Syria


Look at nature.
Then you understand everything.

Only writers understand it!
Now we are making war on nature.
Even if we defeat it,
we lose.


Mahmoud Jamou (17)

Mahmoud lived in Istanbul from 2013 to 2016 and worked there as a tailor. He likes sports, especially swimming. He does not yet know what he wants to do later. At present he is attending the preparatory class for vocational education at the OSZ Handel 1 school.

Place of Refuge

Janat Alo

Afrin, Syria


Oh sea:
am I part of you?
At a loss, I come to you, my place of refuge,
and lament my alienation from the world.

Oh sea:
fate’s blows fall on me!
When I lie down on its white sand,
I see no stars!

Oh love:
love is like an elastic band,
that we hold at both ends and pull.
When one lets go,
it hurts the other.


Janat (17)

comes from Syria. In her free time she likes swimming and playing the guitar. She would like to become a nurse.


Ghaith Al Kazzaz

Damascus, Syria


In my name and the name of everybody,
we thank the German state
and its citizens.
We are in Germany as citizens,
war refugees,
because our country is broken.
But Germany has helped us
and provided good opportunities.
And we promise
we will try to do the best
that we can.


Ghaith Al Kazzaz (18)

came to Germany half a year ago. He has a passion for cars. They are his hobby and his career aim, as he would like to become a car mechanic.


Barakat Alahmad

Hasaka, Syria


Some of us are like the sea,
and others like a white sheet of paper.
If some of us were not black,
the white colour would be without speech.
And if some of us were not white,
we would be black-blind.


Barakat Alahmad (19)

has been in Germany for almost two years. He enjoys watching films and reading books. He would like to become a car mechanic.


Aya Alahmad

Damascus, Syria


Time passes.
Damascus remains like a bridge for me
between my soul and my body.
God preserve you,
You have a special place in my heart
and in my memory,
despite distance and absence.


Aya Alahmad (18)

came to Germany two years ago. In her free time she enjoys listening to music, and would like to work in fashion one day. Her preferred subject for writing is Damascus, and she likes to take photographs of cities.

The Reason for Her Silence

Batol Almawed

Damascus, Syria


A girl flew with the wind like a flying leaf.
Those who saw her thought she was flying because she wanted to.
The smile never left her face.
So that her secret could not become visible.

Inside, she was dead.
Darkness in every place inside her.
I could not see it.
I looked at her as she flew.

Her silence surprised me.
The reason for her silence was her birds.
Because she did not want them to become sad.
»Why does she not speak? I hope she will speak.«
Then all will honour her.


Batol Almawed (16)

Batol was born in the Syrian capital but grew up Palestine. She has been in Germany for three and a half years and attends class 10 at the Georg Herwegh School.


Youmna Hamdan

Damascus, Syria


When I arrived in Germany, I had many positive emotions.
First of all I was very pleased to meet my sister.
Soon negative feelings crept in: boredom, loneliness
Influenced my accustomed life.
I encountered many difficulties because I wore a headscarf.
When my language school began, everything was new for me.

I felt yearning and homesickness.
The war had destroyed my home.
I remember every small thing that happened after the war.
Of all events from the past,
The death of all six of my uncles was the most crushing.
Sadness flows from my heart.

In Germany I have no friends except my family.
But that is rather boring.
I would like to have a conversation with friends.
And I would like to share my sadness and joy with friends.

I would be a happy person if I could fulfil my dream.
I wish the war in Syria would end.
Then I would like to go back and live there forever.


Youmna Hamdan (19)

comes from Damascus, Syria, and arrived in Germany in 2017 through family reunification. After completing school at OSZ Palmnicken, she would like to start training as a dental technician.

Tears of Darkness

Simon Darwish

Damaskus, Syrien


I hear music.
And when I hear music, I remember you.
And I look into your face, your hands, and weep.
And when I weep, I weep darkness.
I would like to be alone.
Feel like a child, need only my mother.
I would like to call her and see her and weep.
And on those days I find nobody who wants to be with me.


Simon Darwish (15)

came to Germany from Syria a year ago. His father has been living here for four years, and the rest of the family has stayed in Damascus. Simon loves to write poems. In this way he also wishes to improve his German. He wants to get his school-leaving certificate and dreams of becoming an actor.

Autumn at Home

Simon Darwish

Damascus, Syria


Autumn in my homeland is the loveliest time of the whole year
When autumn comes, my heart blooms like a flower
I walk among the trees and enjoy the tenderness of nature
Its beautiful colours are balm for my wounds


Simon Darwish (15)

came to Germany from Syria a year ago. His father has been living here for four years, and the rest of the family has stayed in Damascus. Simon loves to write poems. In this way he also wishes to improve his German. He wants to get his school-leaving certificate and dreams of becoming an actor.

My Home is My Paradise

Simon Darwish

Damascus, Syria


My home is my paradise.
My home is the home of beauty.
My home, where I went to school, where I felt loved and felt good.
My home, where I had pleasure in studying with my friends.
My home in Damascus, where I enjoyed warm, good food in the cosy restaurants close to the historic walls of the Old Town.
My home is the end of the street, where I ate delicious ice cream at Bagdash.
My home is the good books at the annual book fair in Damascus.
My home is my beloved mother, who still waits for me in Damascus.
My mother, whose scent and tenderness I miss so much.
I have lost my homeland and all the things that I loved.
I have gone away from my mother.
Only because of the war.


Simon Darwish (15)

came to Germany from Syria a year ago. His father has been living here for four years, and the rest of the family has stayed in Damascus. Simon loves to write poems. In this way he also wishes to improve his German. He wants to get his school-leaving certificate and dreams of becoming an actor.


Zanav Subiman

Damascus, Syria


Some people place them in the pigeonhole of
Religion, ethnic group or nation.
For two years they have constantly asked me
about my nationality,
my ethnic group
and my religion.
The answers are always the same,
and the looks that I receive are also the same.
Some show curiosity
and want to hear more details.
Details that change nothing.
I am weary of these repetitions.
Some prefer to be silent,
but their eyes betray them.

The matter is much simpler.
I believe that I belong to myself.
Why don’t we ask each other
at the first meeting what we love,
what we want to do, what we want to become?
No one asks me at a first encounter:
What were your experiences, how do you see the world,
how does the world see you?

I am what I love.
I am what I experience.
I am what I do not experience.
I am what I expect of the future.
I am my dreams and my disappointments.
I consist of all joys and pains that belong to me.
I feel in a way that belongs only to me.
I am an independent being.
And it is enough for me to believe in myself alone.
In my identity.


Zanav Suliman (20)

Zanav, who comes from Syria, goes her own way and resists categorisation of all kinds. Her texts are testimony to the search of the »I« for a balance between the inner and the outer world – a difficult undertaking.


Bahaa Ghazalah Al Haar

Hama, Syria


Yes, right, it was Monday yesterday. And what day is it today?
Today is Monday, too.

Scientists claim that time is the measure of change.
If there is no change, that means that there is no time.
And that also means that yesterday was Monday, and today is Monday and tomorrow will be Monday.

What?! And when will it be Tuesday?
Yes, an important question.

Tuesday will come
when repression in this life diminishes.
Tuesday will come
when justice in this world increases,
when people love one another,
when people respect one another,
when millions of children do not have to flee from the horrors of war,
when people do not die of hunger,
when humanity takes a step forward,
when people do not have to flee from their country,
when a man does not set himself alight because he cannot buy food for his children.

Then Tuesday will come.


Bahaa Ghazalah Al Shaar (30)

who gained his first experience in the theatre in his homeland, had the opportunity, shortly after arriving in Germany in 2015, to act at the Theater Willy Praml, and engaged intensely with this completely new experience of theatre. This definitely marked his linguistic and personal development. Bahaa lives in Frankfurt am Main.

The Question of Origins

Amar Alhaw

Damascus, Syria


Once I was at the river Main with friends.
We were in a good mood, because we were together.
As we sat there, we spontaneously
got to know some Germans.
Each spoke about where he came from,
and of course I was asked too
(when they looked at me it was clear
that I am not German).
I told them that I come from Syria.

Then they started to ask a lot of questions
about the situation in Syria,
and the groups involved in the war
(they had talked in their school lessons
about the Syrian war).
At that moment, however,
I did not want to talk about
such a sensitive subject.
I only wanted to have a good time
with my friends.

But the young people asked more questions
and showed their interest.
I tried to tell them indirectly
that I did not want at that moment
to talk about the war, because I did not want
to spoil my mood.

At the same time I did not want
them to see me
as an impolite person.


Amar Alhaw (20)

arrived in Germany from Greece in 2015 at the age of 16. At first his mother and two sisters were not allowed to go with him. He suffered greatly from this. After half a year they were unexpectedly permitted to join him in Frankfurt. After a year, Amar spoke accent-free Germany, as if he had been born here. The half year alone in Frankfurt had laid the foundations for his independence. In summer 2019 he is taking his school-leaving certificate.

Please Don’t Come Closer

Alaa Al Najjar

Damascus, Syria


A white piece of paper
And a pen in my hand
And time moves on.

I don’t know how I should
Open the high-voltage box inside me,
On which long ago I put a note:
Please don’t come closer.

If I open the box,
I will lose my hold,
My prestige and my strength
And collapse out of weakness.

A white piece of paper
And a pen in my hand
And time moves on.

The noise in my head pulls me apart,
Leaves me split and lost.
I live in two worlds at once.
I think, read, write, understand, drink,
Eat, love, hate, am angry, in both worlds.
I have two personalities.
I am a single way to a single goal.

A white piece of paper
And a pen in my hand
And time moves on.

Perhaps I am afraid of encountering my weakness.
But I have long believed, and still believe
That the time is not yet ripe for my collapse.
Perhaps my collapse will be violent
And dazzling and destructive.
And I am afraid of destroying people around me.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps …


Alaa Al Najjar (26)

was born and grew up in Damascus, and was known in her family as Lulu (the pearl). At the start of the workshop she was sceptical about her talent for writing. But then beautiful »pearls« were found, hidden in her texts. At the moment she is on a training course at the broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk, where she will surely cause a few surprises.

What Am I?

Abdo Ali

Aleppo, Syria


What am I really?
A Kurd? Arab? Turk, Afghan, Pakistani?
What am I then?

I have no idea.
It depends on the situation.
Whether I am with an Arab at that moment,
or a Kurd or a Turk.
With the Arabs I am an Arab:
»Like you, I come from Syria.
That means that we are brothers.«
One says: »I thought you were a Kurd or something.«
I tell him: »No, brother, I am an Arab.«
Because he should feel at ease with me.

My first day at school. Introductions.
»My name is Abdo Ali. I am a Kurd from Syria.«
Here I learn that my class is multicultural.
We have people from every country here.
Hurray! I’m not the only foreigner here.


Abdo Ali (20)

As a Kurd, and thus a member of a minority, some of his experiences in Syria were unpleasant. But his texts show how playfully he handles the subject of ethnic differences. His humour speaks volumes.

Dear Night

Sameh Dib

Galil, Syria


Nature is changing now.
Autumn followed by winter.
The quietness kills itself.
Everything is transitory.

The earthquake screams at the birds in Galil.
Dear Galil: you live on in my heart,
whether or not they want this.
Dear night: I feel your pain,
I am with you.
Dear night: your sad songs bore me.

Stars of the night: don’t be sad.
Birds of paradise sing dark songs for you.
Oh, if only I could sing like you.


Sameh Dib (17)

is a Syrian Palestinian. His passport records that he is stateless. For Sameh, home is the smell of Syrian basil. In 2016 he had to flee. In Leipzig he was reunited with his sister, and today they live together in Berlin, where Sameh Dib attends the Emil Fischer School in Wittenau.

Carrier Pigeon

Mohamad Narbi

Damascus, Syria


Now my poems fly to you,
like a carrier pigeon,
that brings the love, yearning and heart’s desires
of the loved one.

Do you know how many continents and seas
it has crossed
to see you?

Do you still, far away, ask about my well-being,
or not?
Do you know how my heart and my ribs are sunken,
in your absence?
Bird, fly on,
take to her the words of my love and yearning,
the words that fill my heart.


Mohamad Narbi (25)

would be a carrier pigeon if he could be an animal. From Damascus he came to Berlin, where he now attends the Emil Fischer School. In his free time he enjoys writing. He would like to become an actor.