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 3: Are Refugees More Violent?

Christian Pfeifer, 71, is a criminologist.

Is crime in Germany on the rise, Mr. Pfeiffer?

For months, fear has been spreading that the crime rate in Germany may soon rise. People feel like their security is under threat due to the many foreigners arriving en masse. What the far-right regards as an absolute truth, Christian Pfeiffer, former director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony, calls "propaganda." He cites data from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) gathered between January and September last year. It shows that while the absolute number of crimes has risen, the crime rate grew much slower in relation to the high number of immigrants.

Back in the 1990s, when civil war in Yugoslavia drove hundreds of thousands of refugees to Germany, Pfeiffer examined the effect that an influx of mostly Muslim immigrants had on the crime rate. What he discovered was that immigrants tend to commit fewer crimes than the rest of the population. "Those who had a chance of being granted asylum did everything to avoid putting their status in jeopardy. This, in turn, led to greater obedience to our laws," Pfeiffer says.

The criminologist expects similar restraint from today's Syrian refugees, who unlike the North African suspects in Cologne on New Year's Eve, have a legitimate chance of remaining in Germany for the long term. The biggest difference between the Syrians and the Yugoslav refugees, he says, is that back in the 1990s, people took their whole family with them when they fled. The refugees from Syria include at least 400,000 young, single men -- a demographic with the highest propensity for crime in any country or society.

"Whether we will continue to live safely in the future depends on how we teach our rules to these often angry and frustrated youths, who come from very macho cultures. They need to learn that women are not to be preyed upon, you don't hit children and you don't respond to being disrespected with violence," Pfeiffer says.

Hiring more police officers or tightening laws won't help and making it easier to deport immigrants who commit crimes is also just a diversionary tactic, he argues. The only solution, Pfeiffer says, is exert as much effort on these men as one does on children, women and families.

Pfeiffer believes this challenge can be overcome despite the dauntingly high number of immigrants. Talk of Germany's police forces being overwhelmed is unfounded, he says. However, if Germany accepts as many refugees this year as it did in 2015, "then we won't manage it."

Criminologist Christian Pfeiffer:"Those who had a chance of being granted asylum did everything to avoid putting their status in jeopardy."

Criminologist Christian Pfeiffer:"Those who had a chance of being granted asylum did everything to avoid putting their status in jeopardy."

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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