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Monday 27 March 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# open arms
One country is going out of its way to welcome refugees heading for Europe
Even football fans have been showing their support.

IN MANY WAYS, the welcoming message from German media and public figures to the migrant crisis is in stark contrast to other parts of Europe, Britain perhaps especially.

The country may have witnessed violent anti-refugee protests this week — but the message from the country’s media and celebrities is a loud and determined welcome for people fleeing the horrors of war.

As part of its “We’re helping” campaign, Germany’s Bild  tabloid devoted seven pages to celebrities from football stars like Lukas Podolski to business leaders like Daimler’s boss Dieter Zetsche, all mobilising “against refugee hate”.

The tabloid, which has launched a high-profile charity campaign to assist refugees, also ran an editorial by Nobel-winning writer Herta Mueller titled: “I was also a refugee.”

The editorial recalled how hundreds of thousands of Germans fled their country during Nazi rule.

“Everyone who fled into exile from the Nazis was saved…Germany must do what other countries had done earlier for the Germans,” wrote Mueller.

“We have the responsibility given the past. But beyond that, sympathy is an act of humanity. Those who no longer know that have a brutal concept of homeland that once drove Germans out of Germany,” she wrote.

Germany is expecting an unprecedented 800,000 asylum-seekers this year as Europe grapples with its biggest migration crisis since World War II.

A slew of celebrities, too, have come out in support.

“Dear refugees, it’s good that you’re here,” German Real Madrid player Toni Kroos said in comments reported by the press, “because it allows us to test our values and show respect to others.”

Germany Migrants Jens Meyer Supporters make their feelings known in the German city of Dresden. Jens Meyer

News magazine Der Spiegel ran two different covers this week: the first, titled “Dark Germany”, showed a refugee centre in flames; the second, titled “Bright Germany” bore a message of hope, with migrant children releasing balloons into the sky.

“It’s up to us to decide how we’re going to live. We have the choice,” the magazine said.

In Munich, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper offered its readers a practical guide for how to donate clothes and food to the new arrivals.

While many believe that Germany has a unique responsibility to provide safe haven to the persecuted, a spate of arson attacks have also hit refugee centres springing up across the country.

Hostility is strongest in the former communist east, which still lags behind the west in terms of jobs and opportunities a quarter-century after reunification.

When Chancellor Angela Merkel visited a refugee centre in the eastern town of Heidenau   this week to show her support, she was booed by a crowd who called her a traitor.

After this though, a rally was held in the Eastern city of Dresden to show support for immigration.

In another editorial entitled “Who we are” in the Die Welt newspaper, the paper claimed that in spite of some xenophobic attacks, the positive response from ordinary Germans is “changing the face of Germany”.

The nation, the paper said, is “in the process of rediscovering itself” by welcoming large numbers of people in need.

A major Berlin concert against anti-migrant hate, slated for October 4

Greece Migrants AP / Press Association Images Migrants and refugees wait to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

© AFP- 2015 with reporting from Rónán Duffy

Read: ‘We want to help them but we can’t’: Tourist hub Greek island is at breaking point >

Read: Glastonbury’s left-behind wellies are being donated to the migrants in Calais >

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