From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr
In 2015, Germany mastered the refugee crisis with flying colors – it is remarkable how a million people were integrated into what was already Europe’s most populous country. But now I am anything but optimistic. Special trains from Warsaw carrying Ukrainian refugees reach the German capital Berlin almost at hourly intervals. 10,000 people arrive here alone every day.
The solidarity of the local population still holds.
At Berlin’s main train station, numerous signs in Russian and Ukrainian warn young women in particular not to accept overnight offers from private individuals. Most refugees are women and children. If they do not register upon arrival, every trace is lost. The police patrol everywhere.
On the tarmac of Berlin-Tegel Airport, which was shut down in November 2020 and where my wife and I had landed just three years ago, an arrival center was opened where refugees are registered, cared for and then transported on to other federal states in Germany. The City of Leipzig has already signaled that it has reached its intake capacity.
The German government now assumes that one million refugees from Ukraine will end up in Germany, almost 300,000 of whom are already in the country. But this figure is vague, because no one knows how long the war will last. And it can hardly be assumed that most of the refugees want to return to their destroyed country.
By comparison, the U.S. is about 27 times larger than Germany, but it has barely four times as many inhabitants.
This is the largest movement of refugees in Europe since 1944/45, when 14 million people from the former German eastern territories were fleeing the approaching Soviet army at the end of World War II. One of them was my father from East Prussia.