Refugee crisis: exemplary Germany

The German Vice Chancellor has announced this morning, 8th September, that because of its strong economy, Germany can accept up to half a million refugees a year for several years – but that other European nations must play their part in the effort.

Everything that Germany has done since the second World War cold not demonstrate ore powerfully that this is a nation that fully absorbed the essential meaning of serious lessons learned in that experience.

The country was effectively taken over by a totalitarian regime unable to tolerate difference, literally – physically – expunging difference and proposing a nationalist and socialist philosophy that was a relentless monoculture. This imposed its authority across a country that had no idea where it would lead – by fear, threat, cult, pressure to conform and unstoppable momentum.

The damage that this regime did to its own country as well as to the Jewish race and to other nations worldwide is almost impossible to grasp.

But out of the utter collapse of the post-war German economy and the long payment of reparations, Germany has built a country with a powerful and well managed economy – and a nation that invariably, selflessly, does the right thing – and makes it work.

There was the European Community – that became the European Economic Community and morphed into the European Union. Led essentially by the stabilising duet of France and Germany this adventure has been and remains dedicated to ensuring peaceful co-existence, social, economic and political collaboration across the continent.

Through this collective, the European voice is one to which attention must be paid on the world stage. Through this collective, we are all less strange to our continental peers than we would otherwise have been, although still, in the case of the United Kingdom, less than we might be. And Germany, singly and without complaint, shoulders the economic weight of keeping the show on the road.

Then there was the fall of the Berlin wall and the opening up, by default, of the German Democratic Republic.

The Federal Republic of Germany – or ‘West Germany’ – did not hesitate. It offered union, it accepted responsibility for east Germany, it took the economic hit – and it rebuilt its economy  once more.

Then there was the collapse within the EU of the Greek economy and, while Germany held Greece to account as best it could, in order to reinforce the need for national fiscal responsibility – and responsibility to its peers in the EU – Germany nevertheless paid to keep Greece afloat and to keep the European dream alive – a dream which we have to remember is at heart a dream of peace and shared prosperity.

Now there is the refugee crisis – the result of conflicts in other countries in which, unlike the UK, Germany has played no part.

The UK is prepared – under severe internal as well as external humanitarian duress, to take 4,000 had picked refugees a year for five years, from specific camps on the Syrian border – and therefore racially restricted.

Germany is saying it can take half a million refugees a year for several years.

Of course the physical size of the two counties and the size of their respective economies are not comparable – but proportionately, no one can say that Germany is anything less than inspirationally – sensationally – willing to be an engaged part of humanity.

It could be said that Germany has continued to make reparations for its part in a peri0d of history that is now just that and from which the country immediately and perpetually distanced itself and committed to a very different and exemplary set of values.

And the UK?

Our culture might be summed up in matters to which we all – by default, subscribed and are subscribing.

The Mediterranean island of Malta was devastated by attacks inflicted upon it in the second World War because of its relationship with Britain and the strategically vital base it offered to our navy and air force. After the war, the Maltese asked for British citizenship. Instead of that we gave the entire island a medal – the George Cross and to our shame, continue to celebrate our munificence in so doing.

The Gurkhas gave their strength, their redoubtability as fighters and their lives for Britain. They too wanted citizenship. After decades of hardship inflicted upon them by our refusal to recognise with gratitude a debt of honour,  we gave them far too little far too late – and congratulated ourselves.

Today, those who acted as translators for our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are left unprotected from murderous revenge in the aftermath of our withdrawal. These few vital supporters of our military effort have asked for British citizenship in the clearest possible case of need for asylum. We have not offered it and some – and members of their families – have died, with others already at risk.

The spirit and the example of Germany are well worth absorbing and taking to ourselves.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Germany has an aging and declining population, it welcomes “hand picked” migrants, and will benefit because it needs too boost its population. The UK as a whole, has a rapidly increasing population which needs to be carefully managed.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

    RabC September 8, 2015 1:58 pm Reply
    • Handpicking half a million refugees a year for several years would be one mighty exercise.
      We have seen no suggestion that Germany plans to do any handpicking on this scale.
      It is certainly not doing it with the numbers of refugees coming into the country on a daily basis.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

      newsroom September 8, 2015 3:27 pm Reply
      • There seems to be an emerging consensus that there will need to be a good deal of ‘handpicking’ because the exodus of refugees from Syria has gained substantial numbers of ‘fellow travellers’ from various parts of Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan & etc. Some of those from the latter two countries have appeared on news items – and they seem to be economic migrants taking advantage of the current situation, unless they’re fleeing the murderous anti Christian and anti free-speech intolerance in Pakistan & Bangladesh, or they’re ex-MOD translators that have been left to face death in Afghanistan.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

        Robert Wakeham September 8, 2015 6:14 pm Reply
      • You obviously haven’t looked hard enough then which, is pretty damming for someone who purports to journalism!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

        RabC September 8, 2015 7:46 pm Reply
        • The value of the comment facility here is that it enables those with additional- or better – information to share it and add to the pool of knowledge.
          Please do.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

          newsroom September 8, 2015 8:05 pm Reply
  • Badly researched, badly written, utterly blinkered and bias clap trap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

    Karl Hughes September 8, 2015 3:02 pm Reply
  • If we want resolution we have to help Syria and Iraq get its homeland back…until this is done no amount of assisting refugees will be enough….

    This is journalism, this is worth reading…
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/an-alliance-of-western-leaders-muslim-nations-and-vladimir-putin-is-the-only-way-to-defeat-isis-10490940.html

    Anybody who does not support a full coalition force for action in Syria on a scale that is proportional to the threat…is living in la’la land…the middle eastern refugee crisis will not go away until we have boots on the ground and ISIS is totally destroyed…there is no other option open to the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    Karl Hughes September 8, 2015 4:37 pm Reply
  • I wonder if when the next large number of migrants are drowned trying to cross to Greece or Italy, will it quite rightly blamed on Merkel encouraging them to use the criminal people traffickers rather then wait in the camps?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    Lundavra September 9, 2015 12:16 am Reply
  • newsroom – have you been out to Germany or digesting the German press recently? I’m going to assume you have done neither as your article is…how do I put it politely – completely biased and uninformed nonsense.

    I have family and friends who spend a lot of time in Germany, as well as having visited many times myself. Let’s just say that the Germany you paint a picture of is rather different from the Germany migrants or refugees will experience.

    You might want to find out why the ‘800k’ figure Germany quotes as the number of migrants/refugees it expects is false – and the German media have exposed it as such. You might want to find out how many migrants will be deported and after how long. You might want to find out what happens with an authority decides to open a disused public building to home migrants. You might want to find out a bit more about how migrants are treated by the authorities and some of the ‘camps that they are kept in.

    Let’s be clear on one thing – Germany is not tolerant of immigrants, and never has been. THe UK media should be ashamed about how it is portraying Germany as some sort of saviour of migrants – there are many many good people in Germany, but there is a far larger number who do not want migrants, just like they didn’t like the Gaeste arbeiter who arrived from Turkey and other countries after the war – the same large number could be said to be sympathetic to right wing propaganda. Not a weekend goes by without majopr anti-immigrant/neo-Nazis/anti-Islam protests in most large cities. You just don’t hear about it in UK media.

    It sounds like you’ve read the rest of UK media and deduced that is how Germany actually is…shame.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    JB September 9, 2015 4:04 pm Reply
    • While much of what you say is correct, it is so in the context of a complex situation where – as also in the UK – a country and its government are not necessarily philosophically aligned, even though one is elected to represent the other.
      In Germany there is a proportion of the people who do not share their government’s sense of a larger responsibility to humanity.
      There have been plenty of Germans who did see the world that way and who have come out in their thousands to welcome the refugees and to engage in the process of helping them constructively into a managed transition to another life.
      Yes, there is a hefty proportion of Germans who do not feel that way, who resent the arrivals and who will be hostile to them. NAd yes, the experience of the Turkish immigrants in Germany has been poor.
      It would be naive to imagine that the situation anywhere – and here in Britain – would be any different. Life is made up of the open hearted – not always wisely so; and the innately defensive, not always foolishly so.
      The point is that the German Government accepted responsibility and is dealing responsibly, humanly and in a well organised fashion with an influx of a scale we here in Scotland and in the UK cannot imagine.
      In contrast, our government tried to do as little as possible until it was compelled by the vocal weight of the humane element of our society [which may not be a majority] to do a very little more.
      The refugee situation is not straightforward, There is clearly a substantial proportion of economic migrants amongst the genuine refugees. When the dust settle – and the travellers settle to some semblance of an ordered life, these economic migrants will have to be identified and considered under each country’s normal immigration criteria – as they would always have been.
      There will be deportations from Germany – as there will be from the UK. But even if Germany takes fewer than they claim they will and even if they were then to deport a high proportion of those, they will still have willingly taken proportionately far more than we will have taken reluctantly.
      Some of the refugees currently seeking shelter in mainland Europe have been exiled or have gone into exile because of military action which our county has taken and to which it has been party. We are responsible for very many more of the dispossessed than 4,000 a year for 5 years.
      Britain cannot forget that it knowingly elected Tony Blair for a third term. He was not imposed on the country but was there still by majority vote. By then we knew the truth but most of us still put him back in office.
      The refugee issue today is defined by the fact that it is present not predicted. Uncountable numbers of people are loose in the world with nothing and with nowhere to go – and we are in the foothills of winter.
      Somehow, these people must be given humane respite over the winter while rational measures are agreed and put in place to help them to determine their futures.
      People who have walked hundreds of miles, pushing and carrying the unable and hefting infants, and who have done that after God knows what experiences at sea, are not only desperate but redoubtable and dauntless. These are not people looking for handouts. These are people looking for a chance – in safety and without hostility – to work to make a life for themselves and their families.
      Few of us know what it is to be dispossessed in any way and personally, while I accept that all governments are inherently dishonourable, I see more value in the German Government’s response than in ours.
      With our historical legacy, Germany is a bit of a hard one to advocate for – but if one looks dispassionately at what it has done in many arenas, it is utterly remarkable in scale and in philosophy. It is spiritually ungenerous to be unable to acknowledge that.
      I guess, editorially, in this we are in the same position as we are in our pleas for a more rational understanding of the reality of Russia, of the challenges it faces and of our own part in the EU of making this situation much worse.
      This is where Germany, as the lynchpin of the EU, may be culpable. Its own history with Russia may have left it with an inability to see beyond that and then to have fostered within the EU the needlessly anti-Russian defensiveness which has made serious mischief – preeminently in the Ukraine.
      Lynda

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

      newsroom September 9, 2015 5:57 pm Reply
      • The difference, and the crucial difference, is that David Cameron is looking at this problem strategically, which means that the so-called caring ones will never agree with him – they think providing a temporary home is the real answer – if the UK takes 20,000 refugees, really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a token gesture, nothing more. If you’re into token gestures, then back the SNP and Labour for 40k refugees – you’re still not even scratching the surface.

        If we can even get half way to bringing about some sort of peace and stability to Syria such that MILLIONS can return home – that’s something to be proud of.

        So, if you want short term fixes and the continuation of the problem – then decry Cameron. If you want to see some sort of long term and sustainable solution, then the nation should be backing Cameron and hoping we’re not too late after the SNP and Labour et al blew the chance to nip the Syria in the bud.

        The people of Syria are paying for the pacifism of the west. And don’t think the situation in Ukraine is resolved either.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

        JB September 9, 2015 6:57 pm Reply
        • My bet is that within 18 months there will be some sort of full military coalition for intervention in Syria… I say my bet, I actually mean I hope…

          http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/rubble-palmyra-syria-isis/403921/

          Until then I hope the drone attacks continue to prove effective against the vermin that are causing this horror… and that the factions that say there is a more peaceful option…wake up, and catch up.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

          Karl Hughes September 9, 2015 7:56 pm Reply
          • Problem is that ‘full military coalition’ will probably (as usual) be mainly the UK and USA. I can’t see many Arab countries getting involved despite their huge spending on their military. The Turks might cooperate but will concentrate on attacking Kurds. The French also might cooperate but there is unlikely to be any significant contribution from the rest of Europe.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

            Lundavra September 10, 2015 8:06 am
          • Lundavra… its looking more likely that the Russians will go and defend their “rented” port…the only base they have in the Med.. and no doubt prop up Assad… whatever coalition goes in…airstrikes will never be as effective as boots on the ground… given the burach of the 2nd Gulf war..does the world (usual suspects) have the palate for another middle east war, doubtfull…do the gulf states… nope…

            Two choices on the table really… let IS set up a mutated medevil islamic state and kiss goodbye to Syria as a country.. or let the Russians ( Iranians ?) turn the place into a killing field…..?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

            Karl Hughes September 10, 2015 3:17 pm
          • What is really needed is for the Russians to take on ISIS, they do not have many constraints as Western forces. There is the famous case where Corbyn’s friends Hezbollah made the mistake of kidnapping some people from the Russian embassy in Beirut. They never did it again.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

            Lundavra September 10, 2015 4:47 pm
        • Any town, region etc who grandstand by saying how many refugees they will take should be told that they must pay for them out of their own funds and no running to the UK government wanting them to pay.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          Lundavra September 10, 2015 4:50 pm Reply
  • And let’s not forget that the reasons the Greeks are so f***ed was largely thanks to the Gerries who were keen to flog as much of their hardware as possible without thinking through the consequences for thei partner EU nation. Oh Germany knew what they were doing – lending like their is no tomorrow to which ever soft goverments and economies would take the goods. The Balkans are next – you’d not believe the number of German vehicles travelling through Serbia and Kosovo – but when you realise what German do, it all makes sense. German don’t ‘help’ without getting a return.

    Germany is screwing the EU and will help hasten it’s demise…Merkel would dictate the Eu we all want, but we’re fast finding out that her vision of the EU is not that of the UK, Czech, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia or GReece.

    Sit back and watch it unravel…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    JB September 9, 2015 4:08 pm Reply
  • Pity that ‘exemplary’ Germany is only giving half as much as the UK to the World Food Programme for Syria. France is even worse, they are only giving about 6% of what the UK gives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    Lundavra September 9, 2015 5:51 pm Reply
  • Exemplary Germany ?

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/09/10/uk-germany-asylum-chaos-idUKKCN0RA0EQ20150910

    “Asked if this open door for refugees exposed Germany to any security risks, the Bavarian official simply replied: “Go ask the interior minister.”

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/09/10/uk-europe-migrants-austria-idUKKCN0RA0N620150910

    “Austria’s transfer of migrants to Germany appeared to break down on Thursday as a rush of people crossing from Hungary forced it to suspend train services across that border.”

    And even more telling :

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/09/10/uk-europe-migrants-juncker-idUKKCN0R90JN20150910

    “Juncker also called for a beefing up of the EU’s Frontex border agency and a possible future EU border guard force.”

    “Exemplary Germany” ?????? “‘French police searching for ISIS terrorist hiding among Calais refugees”… well done Merkel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Karl Hughes September 10, 2015 4:23 pm Reply

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