German youth widely xenophobic

Xenophobia is widespread among German youth, according to a confidential government study on juvenile violence.

German youth widely xenophobic
Will xenophobia lead to violence? Photo: DPA

Almost a third of all German schoolchildren agreed “completely” with the statement that there are too many foreigners in Germany. Another third of those asked “mostly” agreed.

The report by a nationwide committee working to combat youth violence was prepared for Thursday’s conference of German state interior ministers and was leaked by the regional daily paper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Almost a fifth of the 9th grade kids asked also had open prejudices against Islam and one out of every 13 admitted to committing a hate crime like spraying a swastika on a wall or damaging the property of foreigners.

The study included 50,000 children with both German and non-German background in 61 different cities. The survey of youth opinion was conducted in schools across the country under the auspices of the federal Interior Ministry and the Institute for Criminology Research in Lower Saxony.

The new study confirms the findings of other research into racism among young people, said Gabi Elverich at the Centre for the Prevention of Right-Wing Extremism and Xenophobia at the German Youth Institute.

“Studies prove there is a problem of xenophobia among young people in Germany,” Elverich told The Local.

While many studies point to particular problems in the east, problems exist in all age groups and across the country, with various studies pointing to problems in different areas, Elverich said:

“In the west, one study shows there is a particular problem with people aged over 65, so it’s not just young people. Something else that has been noted is that the problem is actually worse in areas without immigrants.”

While many schools in Germany are working hard to combat racism and xenophobia, overworked teachers often find it hard to get to grips with the root causes of the problems.

“This kind of work [combating xenophobia] is not as easy as doing maths and geography. To teach the issues, teachers have to confront their own attitudes too. And at a time when we have lots of educational reforms, teachers are finding it a strain,” Elverich said.

Civic education is part of the German curriculum, but little time is devoted to the subject, Elverich said. Much of the anti-racism education in schools takes the form of troubleshooting, with little regular attention given to the issue, according to Elverich.

“Often when something happens they have a workshop, but the problem is that one day won’t change the world.”


Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.