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 4: Frustration and a Lack of Resources

Ms. S., 37, is an integration teacher in a populous German city.

What do immigrants learn in your integration course, Ms. S.?

S. speaks angrily and passionately and wants to remain anonymous. She has been teaching integration courses to immigrants for many years. The courses consist of around 600 hours of language training plus 60 hours of "orientation," which includes a week of politics and a week of culture and everyday life. She asks: "What could anyone possibly learn?"

The integration courses were introduced in 2005 and have until now been aimed primarily at family dependents joining other family members already in Germany or at migrant workers. Since October, the courses have also been available to asylum applicants. Immigration law provides them with access to such courses, but only if eventual "legal and permanent residence status can be expected." At the moment, Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis and Eritreans in Germany all qualify under the law. It does not, however, include Afghans. Such is the logic of the government in Berlin. (The German government has recently drawn criticism for plans to deport Afghan asylum-seekers coming from areas of the country deemed to be safe by Berlin.)

Recently, the conservative Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, has called for making the courses mandatory for all refugees as an essential part of integration measures. That would also mean making them available to all new arrivals. And therein lies the problem: S. says: "We don't have enough of anything, neither courses, teachers, space nor money."

Teachers are required to model their lessons on a curriculum provided by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Ms. S., showing one of the books, says: "Look inside, does this look to you like it is enough to do the job?"

The book, in its sixth edition, is called "For Orientation -- Basic Knowledge of Germany." It has chapters on democracy, political parties, civil liberties and civic duties, flags, coats of arms, anthems, National Socialism and Germany's Zero Hour, which marked the Nazis' formal capitulation and the end of World War II, East Germany and the European Union. There's also a section called "People and Society," which delves into everything from German gingerbread and the Harz mountain range to relationships of all kinds. It also mentions that women are equal to men, but it's just a brief sentence.

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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