The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
Part 14: 'We Will Undergo a Multicultural Transformation'
Jürgen Friedrichs, 77, is an urban sociologist in Cologne.
Mr. Friedrichs, what will the German city of tomorrow look like?
Immigrants will transform our cities. "They will become larger, more densely populated and they will undergo a multicultural transformation -- we will have to prepare ourselves for that," says Jürgen Friedrichs, a retired professor for urban sociology at the University of Cologne. "There will be more mosques and more specialty restaurants, which enrich cities and make them more cosmopolitan. Ethnic neighborhoods will emerge in major cities. The idea that 95 percent of the people living in our cities are ethnic German will become a thing of the past. It may also be that, in the future, there will in fact be a problem with rough, no-go areas. Much depends on the way we house the refugees now."
In the past, Friedrichs conducted research into gentrification, social inequality and poor urban districts and on the exclusion and integration of immigrants. He says the pressure on municipalities right now to house newcomers is leading many cities to choose solutions that "we know are wrong."
He's referring to the large container complexes and modular structures placed at the edge of cities and housing 700, 1,500 or even 3,000 refugees each.
These large settlements are a form of discrimination, even if normal Germans are also living there. Be it in Cologne's Chorweiler district, Munich's Hasenbergl or Hamburg's Mümmelmannsberg, "you can immediately detect that the lower class is living there," he says. Migrants who are put up in these kinds of quarters, in "refugee enclaves" as Friedrichs describes them, have too little contact with Germans and they have little reason to learn the language or to fit in. "Integration doesn't work in such circumstances."
Friedrichs would like to see refugees distributed in small units across entire cities. He says there should never be more than 200 in one residential area. Exceptions should only be made in rare instances and, even then, only in middle-class areas because they are the most tolerant.
At the time of German reunification, Friedrichs served as a member of the Commission for Economic and Social Transformation. At the time, he studied the transformation that took place in the eastern cities of Leipzig, Erfurt and Chemnitz after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Six months ago, Friedrichs got in touch with German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and proposed conducting systematic research into how the type of housing offered to refugees influences their integration. "We would have been able to see in black and white just what works and what doesn't." De Maizière rejected the proposal.
- Part 1: What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
- Part 2: Integration 101
- Part 3: Are Refugees More Violent?
- Part 4: Frustration and a Lack of Resources
- Part 5: Teaching Refugees to Swim
- Part 6: 'A Challenge Like No Other'
- Part 7: The Doctor's Advice: Learn German and Be Patient
- Part 8: A 1.5 Billion Burden for the Healthcare System?
- Part 9: Dancing Away Stereotypes and Prejudice
- Part 10: The Midwife's Migraine
- Part 11: Germany Will Need 20,000 New Teachers for Refugees
- Part 12: 'We Need Time'
- Part 13: 'We Will Only Manage This If We Have the Infrastructure'
- Part 14: 'We Will Undergo a Multicultural Transformation'
- Part 15: Refugees at Our Doorsteps
- Part 16: 1.09 Million Refugees Registered in 2015
- Part 17: Policing the Refugee Camps
- Part 18: The Refugee Bill
- Part 19: Integration Will Be a Task for Decades to Come
- Part 20: 'An Open Economy Would Be Unimaginable without Immigration'
- Part 21: BMW Courts Refugees
- Part 22: A Michelin Star and Refugees
- Part 23: 'What Is a Petroleum Technician?'