Monday, September 14, 2015

Willkommenskultur

The import of German words into the English language has a long tradition. It probably started with Werther's or better Goethe's Weltschmerz, continued with Blitzkrieg and Waldsterben, and will certainly not end with Willkommenskultur.

The way Germans have greeted Syrian refugees following their miserable trip through the Balkans even made it on to the front page of the New York Times. What a change in public opinion!

Mostly young people (©NYT)
Happy people and smokers: A journalist who had accompanied refugees on the train
from Budapest to Vienna reported that during the trip the smoke detectors
in the toilets triggered at least twenty fire alarms (©NYT)

Merkel über alles (©NYT)
The Greeks hate stubborn Germany. It definitely became Europe's bogeyman when it, assisted only by some smaller north European countries, insisted on coupling another, a third European loan of 86 billion euros to profound social and financial reforms in Greece. Even American Democrats would get headaches if more than 20% of the population were employed by the government thus living on taxpayers' or even worse on borrowed money. The Greeks favor early retirement and their military expenses are high. No wonder that Greece's debt-to-GDP ratio is 171% compared to the US with 106% and Germany's 71%.


With all the Willkommenskultur extended to those mostly Syrian war refugees asking for political asylum in Germany, we are making some of our European neighbors rethink their refugee policy. Mind you, not all that glitters is gold. Right-wingers in my country are becoming more and more virulent throwing Molotov cocktails into asylum-seekers' hostels. While a right-wing scene is regarded as normal in other countries, the vast majority of Germans does not accept such a movement in view of our past. At present, proceedings are pending before our Constitutional Court for a ban of the right-wing party NPD. Red Baron is against such a ban for it will only force the right-wingers into the underground. An established democracy should know how to fight right-wing excesses politically.

Presently Sweden and Germany are welcoming most of the refugees. Stefan Löfven, Sweden's prime minister said, while visiting Angela Merkel, that the burden is acceptable: When on a market square 500 Germans are gathered and one foreigner joins them they do not feel the additional person. Still, like our chancellor, he is asking that other European countries share the burden.

Germany's Willkommenskultur was heavily critized by Marine LePen, leader of the Front National, France's right. She who asked for a closure of France's borders - le bateau est plain - accuses Germany of giving political asylum to people that it will subsequently force into slave labor. Compared with the French Germans do not make enough babies. So they are attracting young foreigners to fill the gap.

Marine possibly does not read Charlie Hebdo. Nevertheless, she may have liked the following "joke" published by the French satirical paper: What is the difference between a refugee and an immigrant? A refugee is a guy who was badly treated in his home country. An immigrant is a guy who likes to be badly treated as slave labor in a foreign country.

Indeed, many Germans regard the refugees as an antidote for their country's shortage of skilled workers and their anemic birthrate leading to a rapidly aging society. As a first measure Germany will set aside six billion euros to integrate the mostly well-educated refugees, with the lion's share of the money flowing back into the country's economy:

Refugees, Welcome! Two refugee are passing by and one of them asks his colleague:
 Is the guy a trafficker of refugees? No, he owns a factory making tents.
Enter Victor Orbàn, the Hungarian prime minister: While our country is trying hard to fulfill the Schengen Treaty protecting the outer boundaries of the European Union against the influx of refugees Chancellor Merkel is suspending the Treaty and accepts the refugees. Therefore those refugees are no longer a European but a German problem. Chancellor Merkel's policy will attract even more people to flee their country.

On the other hand columnist Matthew Karnitschnig writes in politico titling: Merkel's migrant morality play: Willkommenskultur marks a startling shift for a country more often associated with Schadenfreude than benevolence. Germany has struggled for decades to escape the shadow of the Nazi period, but some observers say the response to the refugee crisis represents a seminal shift in Germans' view of their role in the world.

Is Germany turning into an Einwanderungsland, a country of immigration, accepting people of different colors, faiths, and origins? Here is a flattering cartoon:


Here is a very angry cartoon giving the reason for the flood of refugees:

Secure Germany's Future: Without our arms exports no wars!
Without wars no refugees! Without refugees no skilled labor!!

Note added in proof: Although the Willkommenskultur of the German people is still unabated: on September 13, our government suspended the Schengen Treaty a second time by introducing border checks between Austria and Bavaria. This should control the stream of war refugees entering Germany at such a rapid rate that necessary housing could not be provided. At the same time economic migrants from the Balkans will be filtered out and sent back home.

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