my name is Daniel Bröckerhoff, I am a freelance journalist and one of the hosts of the daily night news show „heute+“ at german public broadcaster ZDF.
We have been reporting on the ongoing refugee crisis since we started our show in May. Since then the number of refugees like you have risen in an unexpected manner.
The past weeks and days have been extraordinary. We had violent protests against refugee asylums. But also lots of people that have been welcoming you at the train stations everywhere in the country.
I also would like to welcome you.
Willkommen in Deutschland!
Congratulations! You made it here finally. You are safe now. You can rest from all the troubles you have been experiencing in the past weeks, months, maybe years.
The german officials are doing everything they can to find a place for everybody. This is a big challenge, even for a country like Germany. We have not been prepared for this. I guess you haven’t been prepared either.
But now that you are here, let’s be honest: Your voyage to a better, safer life is still not at its end. Most of you are living in asylums, cramped together with lots of other people from all over the world. This is not what you came for I guess.
It will take months, years, if not decades for you and your family to really arrive here, to make a living on your own, to call this country your home. It will be hard work and lots of sweat and tears. But don’t give up, even if all the obstacles may seem too many to bear.
You may face these problems:
There will be lots of bureaucratical barriers blocking your way. We germans love bureaucracy if we are in charge (and hate it if we have to deliver it). Have your papers ready. It will be easier for you.
There is a foreign language blocking your integration into your society. German is hard to learn. Do it anyway and do it as soon as you can.
There are foreign customs and habits you have to get used to. Germany has a lot of them like „Kehrwoche“ (cleaning the street in a rotating manner with neighbours), „Karneval“ (people getting drunk and wearing silly costumes publicly in February) or „Oktoberfest“ (6 million people getting drunk in tents wearing traditional costumes in Munich in Oktober). Go there and try it out. It can be fun. 🙂
There are other opinions that some of you will find shocking or repulsive. Germany has become very liberal and open-minded.
Maybe you will see scenes that may disturb some of you. Unmarried men and women touching each other in public, some of them even kissing intimately. Homosexual couples living their love freely and openly. Men and women, girls and boys wearing revealing clothes. Women breastfeeding their babies. Men doing work some of you may consider to be women’s work. Gay and BDSM-parades.
If you allow it to happen all these things will change you.
Germany will change you. Like you will change Germany.
Any single one of you is going to change our country. With your presence you are making this country more colorful, more diverse, more open, more global. You bring new food, habits, customs, festivals, music and new products. I am looking forward to it.
But some people don’t like change. They want the things to stay as they are. They want a silent life without any disturbances.
The cliché german likes order and cleanliness and not be harrassed after 20pm (except on Karneval and Oktoberfest). The typical german does not like to be touched by strangers and does not like noise on the streets (except on Karneval and Oktoberfest). The „normal“ german needs lots of time to make friends with people he does not know since kindergarten (except on Karneval and Oktoberfest).
To me some of these things are as strange as they may appear to you. My father is from Paraguay, so I grew up with a latino influence. I like music on the streets and people dancing. I like heat and strangers hugging each other. I like heated disussions with everybody hugging each other afterwards. I am not alone with this. There are lots of people who are not „typical german“.
But if you want to call this country your new home somewhere in the future, you will have to get used to „typical german things“. You will have to accept things that may be strange to you and even adopt some of them.
Don’t get me wrong: You don’t have to deny your culture and your heritage. Bring it with you and let’s see how it fits into our culture.
Some people may call me naiv. I am not. Different cultures living together can be hard sometimes. We may have different views and customs that are contradictory. We need to find compromises for this. This will be hard for all of us.
There are people in Germany that are afraid of this. They think that especially people from muslim countries are uncivilised, uneducated, backward, anti-women, rude and aggressive. They believe that muslims cannot fit into a christian dominated country. In their eyes most refugees are not „real refugees“, but exploiters of our social system who want to run over our country, drive out german culture and force all the women to wear a niqab.
In their eyes Germany is about to die because of this, which is why some of them are very angry and hateful. At refugees. At our politicians. And at people they call „Gutmenschen“ (good people), who welcome refugees because they think doing this is naiv and stupid.
There may be people who are not really in need of a shelter because their home town has been bombed out. There may be people who are are not really willing or capable of melting into german culture and make a living on their own. Maybe there are even people who just want to exploit the german social system.
But I refuse to judge people I don’t know and I refuse to let prejudices take over my country.
I also have prejudices. Everyboy has. But I am surpressing them by being aware of them. I am also concerned how this development is going to work out. I believe that most of you feel the same. And I also know that there are limits of how many refugees a country can take. But I don’t know what that limit is in germany’s case.
I would like to invite you to prove all the people wrong who are so afraid of losing germany’s culture. I would like to invite you to make Germany a more colourful place and change it as well as we might change you. I would like to invite you to become part of Germany, by making Germany a part of you and by making your culture a part of Germany, too. I would like to invite you to act responsibly and thoughtful in stressful situations. And there will be stressful situations, no doubt.
Prove the haters wrong. Together we can make this crisis into a positive development. For all of us.
And now: relax. You are safe. Welcome to Germany.
// EDIT 21:14h //
I added some sentences as readers told me the text would make the impression of being too harsh and to try to force people to adopt to german culture. That was not my intention. I hope my message is clearer now. 🙂