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 6: 'A Challenge Like No Other'

Steffen Jäger, 37, is a senior official with the Association of Municipalities of Baden-Württemberg.

Do we need better public servants, Mr. Jäger?

In the lecture hall of the Ludwigsburg University of Education, Steffen Jäger paints a vivid picture of what 300 budding administrators for the German state of Baden-Württemberg should expect: asylum applications that must be fast-tracked, costs that nobody knows who will pay and concerned or angry citizens demanding answers about slots at government-sponsored daycare facilities, housing availability and social welfare benefits now that more people are in need of such benefits.

"It's a challenge like no other we have seen since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany," says Jäger. "And you, ladies and gentlemen, are to be entrusted with this task." The crowd of prospective bureaucrats is subdued. The primary mesage conveyed to them is that they have their work cut out for them. Lots of it.

Jäger's event is titled, "The current refugee situation and the challenges it poses for local politics." He was invited to speak in his capacity as a senior official with the Association of Municipalities of Baden-Württemburg, which represents the interests of more than 1,000 communities in Germany's third most-populous state. Jäger believes that the question of whether or not Germany is up to the task of absorbing so many refugees will be determined at the local level.

"Local governments are the first point of contact for those granted asylum, for volunteers and for companies that want to hire refugees," Jäger says. The administrative apparatus has a pivotal function. "But right now, it's highly dysfunctional." His people are at the breaking point. They want to fulfill their mission, "but we are urgently awaiting answers from the state and federal governments as to how all this is supposed to be financed."

Jäger's fantasy would be for every city hall in the country to hire "refugee managers," who would act as a go-between for authorities, schools, daycare centers, volunteers and other associations. Task forces would be formed, made up of the directors of various offices, to come up with master plans for the communities. For now, though, that's all wishful thinking. Even without such new positions, Jäger estimates Baden-Württemberg will have to come up with €4.7 billion ($5.2 billion) for the refugees it takes in.

Will Germany manage it? Jäger stays silent for a long time before answering: "If everyone shifts into crisis mode, yes."

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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