• Germany's news in English

German media and celebs rally for refugees

AFP · 30 Aug 2015, 17:53

Published: 30 Aug 2015 17:53 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

As part of its "We're helping" campaign, Germany's Bild am Sonntag tabloid devoted seven pages to celebrities from football stars like Lukas Podolski to business leaders like Daimler's boss Dieter Zetsche to musicians like Scorpions lead singer Klaus Meine, 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.


While many believe that Germany's wealth -- combined with the dark legacy of its Nazi past -- mean it has a unique responsibility to provide safe haven to the persecuted, not everyone has been happy to see refugee centres springing up across the country.


A spate of arson attacks have hit these shelters, and far-right protesters have organised noisy and sometimes violent demonstrations against refugees.


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.


In that context, the eastern town of Heidenau has become a symbol of Germany's struggle to absorb the massive arrivals, with dozens injured in clashes last weekend between police and extreme-right activists opposing the opening of a new refugee centre there.


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


Many media outlets have added their voices to Bild's.


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.


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."


The actor Til Schweiger is among the most prominent pro-migrant voices in German showbiz, while rock singer Udo Lindenberg is hoping to organise a major Berlin concert against anti-migrant hate, slated for October 4.


This is not the first time Germany has seen a jump in racist crimes -- nor the first time it has witnessed an outpouring of calls for tolerance in response.


In 2000, then chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for an "uprising of decent people" after a synagogue was burned down in the western city of Duesseldorf.


Germany is "a tolerant and open country", Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere insisted in a weekend interview with the newspaper Die Welt, blasting those who "believe they represent the silent majority when they prey on foreigners".


In an editorial entitled "Who we are", the paper said that in spite of the xenophobic attacks, the positive response from ordinary Germans is “changing the face of Germany", a nation that is "in the process of rediscovering itself" by welcoming large numbers of people in need.


In January, a survey by the non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation found the German public largely sympathetic to the refugees; 60 percent said they were ready to welcome the newcomers, up from 49 percent three years ago.


But the study noted that the country remains divided on whether immigration is an opportunity for Europe's economic powerhouse, or a burden.


In Dresden -- capital of the eastern Saxony state that has borne the brunt of the anti-migrant violence -- thousands took to the streets on Saturday to take a stand against the xenophobic attacks.


"Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here," they chanted.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Supermarket Edeka warns of exploding apple juice bottles
Photo: DPA

"Risk of injury" from "Gut und Günstig" sparkling apple juice bottles has forced Germany's largest supermarket to recall the product.

By wheelchair from Syria to Germany: teen's story of hope
Nujeen Mustafa. Photo: HarperCollins-William Collins Publicity/Private

She tackled the gruelling 2,000-kilometre migrant trail in a wheelchair, translating along the way for other refugees using English she learned from a US soap opera. Now this teen is living in Germany and hoping to inspire others with a newly published memoir.

Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer
A recently born panda pair at Vienna Zoo. Photo: DPA

The giant bamboo-eating bears will move into a brand new 5,000 square-metre enclosure in the capital's Zoologischer Garten.

Two new spider species discovered in Munich
Zoropsis spinimana. Photo: rankingranqueen / Wikimedia Commons

It's news every arachnophobe in Munich is no doubt thrilled to hear: two types of spider new to the region have been discovered in the Bavarian capital - and one of them bites!

After woman's body found in barrel, husband may walk free
Franziska S., who went missing 24 years ago. Photo: Hanover police.

A woman disappeared in Hanover 24 years ago, but no one reported her missing. Although her husband has now confessed to her murder, he still may not step foot in jail.

Two injured after army tank falls 50 metres in Alps
A Bundeswehr Puma tank. File photo: DPA

A Bundeswehr (German army) soldier has been severely injured after the tank he was riding in crashed 50 metres down an embankment after going off course in bad weather.

Teen girl stands trial for 'Isis' police stabbing in Hanover
Police guard the courthouse in Celle. Photo: DPA

A teenage girl stands trial from Thursday in Germany for stabbing a police officer, an assault allegedly "ordered" by Isis but which was not claimed by the jihadist group.

Merkel threatens Putin with more sanctions on Berlin visit
Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel created a united front with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin on Thursday to denounce Russia’s “war crimes” in Syria.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd