The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life

The New Germany: Within only 12 months, over 1 million people moved to Germany. How will they integrate?

The New Germany: Within only 12 months, over 1 million people moved to Germany. How will they integrate?


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.

Discuss this issue with other readers!
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spiegelerin 02/21/2016
1. HOW do you integrate them?
I just saw a photo of Africans squatting on a boat waiting to come over and another load of them waiting in Libya. (Kaddafi said, watch what happens when they just hop over to Europe.) They are going to take an integration course and live well in hyper independent Germany? I don't think so. They are adults with different norms. When it comes to women, when it comes to how to cure AIDS (sleeping with virgins) when it comes to noise in the streets...the cultures will not harmoniously merge and European culture will have to deal with becoming less woman friendly, louder and so on...I don't see this happening at all well, but apparently "mixed" societies like in France and Belgium work 'well enough." But more are coming and I don't see harmony, at least not for people with European norms. Will this one get published? It's MY opinion, not that of SPON.
artvent 02/21/2016
2. Muslim Refugees
I'm sorry for these people, but you must realize they will live in their own ghettos and because of their religion will never assimilate - they will not contribute to your society because they are mostly uneducated and they will not respect their host nation. Just look at France if you want to see the problem. Most of all I feel sorry for the German people and what will happen to Germany in the years to come after this invasion. You will lose your identity.
bartelbe 02/21/2016
3. it won't work
You want to know what integration looks like? Integration is mixed families, it is muslim girls dating, sleeping with, marrying and having families with German men. That isn't going to happen, because if a muslim girl amoung these "refugees" decided to date a German man she would be dishonouring her family and would be punish. Let that sink in, your new arrivals reguard you with such contempt that if one of their female relatives dated one of your young men, it would be seen as a form of dishonour. If it was the other way round you would condemn that attitude as racist, but no doubt it will be swept under the carpet just like the events in Cologne. Sex and relationships reveals the truth about how people feel. Your new arrivals are not interested in integration, and they do not respect your culture. That is the truth and no amount of PC censorship will change that.
nsmith 02/22/2016
4. Integration Doesn't Happen Overnight...
Germany is going to find out that Integration is not as easy as "Wir Schaffen Das!" The United States of America was built on that same principle over 300 years ago, and we're still having problems with it.
spiegelerin 02/24/2016
5. The next task is to integrate them...
Yes, one integration course and they will learn European values of not grabbing women, of not thinking that women alone have no honor...One integration course and they won't be the desperate people who don't respect barriers, who don't jump trains. No, if You don't give them money and take care of their needs, they are going to get angry. Just take care of them, at any cost.
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