Welcome Culture: Easy living in Germany for foreigners?

The right wing gained sympathies all over Europe and any day we can read about crimes directed towards foreigners. The people seem to hate them. Fire is laid in refugee homes, southern-looking young men are threatened and beaten up on open street, German politicians request that illegal immigrants are shot at the border should they try to enter Germany, in talk shows you hear voices fearing an islamization of public life.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor seems to fight a lonely case with her proclaimed confirmation of “no limits for asylum seekers”. Her ministers and leading politicians from basically all major parties (despite the “Greens”) attack her famous words from back in summer 2015: “We will make it!”. Whilst at first she was admired for her courage the doubt trickled continuously and was savored by the big media. Whenever there was and is an unfortunate event, a crime committed by a refugee, increasing hate from the nationalist corner, the voices rise high calling out “I told you so!”,”This couldn’t have possibly worked out!”.

No good prerequisites to consider moving to Germany as a foreigner.

Is it?

The Bertelsmann foundation just conducted a huge study questioning 11.410 people from diverse European countries. The outcome was a big positive surprise! The people of Europe, and especially of Germany, have a quite different opinion than the media landscape or a noisy group of politicians claim to be the public fears.

52% believe that migration issues should be handled on European level and not following individual countries unilateral ideas. Only 22 percent are in favor of migration policy simply being left to their own country. 79% don’t want the borders to be closed – something that is all the time heavily discussed in the media and parliament. Since months also fought against by most of the European states and requested by Angela Merkel is the distribution of asylum seekers by fair quota to all European countries. As German citizen one may currently believe that neither member state wants to lessen the weight currently shouldered predominantly by Germany. Not so surprising is thus the wish of the German people that refugees should be assigned on a fair base to all European countries. However, 91% of the Italians, 89% of the Spains, 79% of the French and even 77% of the British (where it is currently discussed to quit the EU altogether) and thus a very dominant majority share that wish. A majority of around 70% also supports the demand that those states, which refuse to accept their share of refugees, should receive less money from the EU. Even the people of Eastern Europe, amongst others Poland, whose government is rejecting to take any refugee, strongly voted for the quota: 54%!

What they expect to see is fairness: 54 percent of EU citizens think that the criteria for asylum seekers should not be interpreted too generously. And 58 percent are afraid of negative consequences for social welfare systems.

One can truly say that the will of the people is contradicting to what politicians try to achieve. It is not the people who are fearful – it’s the elites who assume to know the mind of the people from reading in the social media. But it is the social media where nationalists find a forum to exclaim there racist and stupid opinions! It is utterly incomprehensive why the thousands of volunteers helping every day and absorb the failures of bureaucratic procedures are so very much ignored. It feels like whenever a newspaper reports about the “Gutmenschen” (a title that has started getting a negative touch) it has to defend its statements by at least mentioning some doubts as how long can volunteers actually do the work the government is responsible for. It’s sad.

For you as a foreigner this situation is both, frightening because one can never know how influencing media can be and finally turn the good will and motivation of the majority into mistrust and fear. And encouraging, as it proves how very welcoming the people of Germany and Europe in general are even under such constraints.

When you move to Germany, you will always find helping hands, sometimes even if you don’t even reach out. You will be requested to honor the German constitution, sure, but as long as you do that, your specific habits will be eyed at with curiosity – not with suspect. The positive German attitude has been in the media during the Football Worldcup in 2006 and many people try to talking that away nowadays. But in fact, the Germans are just as tolerant and welcoming as ever before.

Posted in Understanding Germans.