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 15: Refugees at Our Doorsteps

Günther Hildebrand, 66, is the leading official of Pinnau, a Hamburg suburb.

How will we succeed in putting a roof over the head of every refugee in Germany, Mr. Hildebrand?

Germany has a population of 80 million people and 1 million refugees, meaning there is one refugee for every 80 people. That's exactly the proportion that is to be found right now in the municipality of Pinnau. Here, there are 160 refugees compared to 13,000 residents. In the beginning, the situation was pure chaos. We found them suddenly standing at our doorsteps. We had to rent boarding houses for them just to prevent people from having to sleep on the street. So far, we have succeeded in placing all the refugees in privately rented spaces. Still, the vacancy rate in areas like this located near Hamburg is very low and we are competing on the local housing market in the same way that everyone else is. We are constantly scanning the listings. It's difficult, too, because nobody is legally required to rent to us.

Next week, 17 more people will arrive, and we have also found accommodations for them in the buildings of a former nursery that we are currently remodeling using drywall. You've got to improvise these days.

The county commissioner has recommended using sports gymnasiums, but I'm not doing that because it would run the risk of alienating local residents. We must avoid angering them by using sporting facilities to house the refugees. At the same time, I also don't want a tent city in the parking lot. There has to be another solution.

What I have a problem with is that we have no idea how long this is going to continue for. If I build a road, then I usually know that it will be completed in two years. I know absolutely nothing with the refugees -- it has an open end and it's not possible to do long-term planning.

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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