Letter from Germany – Part 4- Unity

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FAS 4.10.2015, P.Carstens 0001Christl Stephanblome - croppedby Christl Stephanblome3.October 2015. The day of unity was celebrated, a day, to remember the way we went with this goal:Unity. It has been a good way, not without difficulties, but in its essence successful, although we still have to work on it. It differed from the new task.Two parts of the same country united: The same culture, the same ethnic group, the same religion, nearly the same history, the same language, although the languages had to be united too.

But now, after 25 years, those, who come or will come in the future, when the families of the contemporary refugees will have joined them, are from different countries of origin, different religions, ethnic groups, skin colours, different cultures, different habits, especially towards women, last not least different languages. Only this year, the saying is, that probably 1 million respectively 1.5 million refugees will come. Nobody is able to give an exact number. This task will take more than 25 years.

The president of the Federal Republic, Gauck, said in essence: We want to help, but our possibilities are limited. The task cannot be fulfilled without the European Union and the countries of the world. It is an international problem, not only ours. Concerning the countries of the EU, it seems that they all act out of different experiences of the past, and it seems to be difficult for them, to find a common strategy to coop with this stream of refugees.

Concerning the countries of the world and the EU, it means to support governments to keep those, who want to leave, in their own country, by telling them, what chance they will have to be accepted in our country, and by improving the living conditions, by developing a functioning infra structure, and by strengthening the economic situation.

For our country it means to find a standpoint: Who do we want to be? There is only one bond to create a new face of our country, that is unity, justice, and freedom. As our president appropriately said: In an open society, it is not important, whether it is homogeneous, but whether it has a common foundation of values, it is not important, from where somebody comes, but with what kind of political order he identifies himself.

Because Germany is a country of various cultures, religions, and life styles it needs a reconnection of all of us to axiomatic values, to a codex, which is
universally valid. Our values are not debatable. In the meantime the tension is growing – in all quarters. In comparison to Canada or Jordan we are a small country. We can’t build emergency accommodations for 80 000 refugees in the desert of Jordan, we have to use what we can find.

30.09.2015: There were 10 000 refugees per day to take care of. But the emergency accommodations are flooded. They have to house more refugees than they are planned for., where they have to stay for at least six weeks. Men and women are not separated. There is no privacy. The effect is deadly dullness. The refugees are not allowed to work, don’t have anything to do. They have no responsibilities. There are no courses to learn the German language, no integration courses, to get to know our Basic Law, our democratic system etc.. They are not able to form their own representation,
probably because they don’t know how to establish it, as they come from autocratic political systems. They only have to wait, until their application for asylum is decided. And that takes time, sometimes months, because the Federal Office of Migration and Refugees is the only approving authority, overwhelmed by the task. The government made decisions to make it work faster. The result of this situation is aggression, fights over nothing, so that the police have to interfere. They, especially the very young ones, who are missing their families, looking for emotional security, are targets of radicals, of Salafists etc., who destroy emergency accommodations, or try to recruit them for the Holy War. These are psychologically skilled. They are prevented from entering  the emergency accommodations. The government is observing them closely, although it thinks, that they will not have a great effect,because the refugees have too bad experiences with this system.

To decide, who has to go back, means, they have to be registered, and to send them back to their home countries works too slowly. Therefore there are too many from “safe countries”, who just stay and wait, resist leaving, which makes the whole process grind slowly, too slowly, although abbreviated procedures for granting the right of asylum are established. In recent days decisions were made to put pressure on these refugees and the governments of their home countries to allow them to return.

On the other hand citizens of our country are frightened: So many refugees and migrants. Who are they? How to coop with them? What will change? What will become of our identity? What will become of our state? There so many open questions. But – there is always a but -, although we are slow in finding the proper way to handle problems and having a lot of discussions, eventually we find a solution. That’s for sure.

Christl  Stephanblome is a retired German Gymnasium teacher living in Leverkusen, Germany, near Cologne. She taught in Germany for 35 years and  has traveled the world including several visits to regions of Canada.