The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life

More than a million refugees are now living in Germany. The next task is to integrate them. SPIEGEL spoke with dozens of experts and people working in the field about the everyday challenges the influx means for the country.

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?


As Germany attempts to integrate hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa, SPIEGEL met with people around the country and posed some simple questions about its new residents, their integration and general challenges for German society.

What's working? What isn't? How much will it cost? Why go to all this trouble? And how do we expect things will turn out in the end? We spoke to 22 men and women who face these questions every day and asked them about their experiences, perspectives and the challenges they face.

Michael Schürks, 54, teaches self-defense classes in Berlin.

Why do you teach women how to hit, Mr. Schürks?

SPIEGEL: How's business?

Schürks: I've been doing this for eight years, but the demand for my courses has never been higher due to the New Year's attacks in Cologne. That really changed the world.

SPIEGEL: What are the women who come to you afraid of?

Schürks: They're afraid of being raped and injured. There was a lot of that in Cologne, as there often is when you have a large number of men and a small number of women and the alcohol is flowing. It doesn't matter where the men are from.

SPIEGEL: What do you teach women?

Schürks: Highly effective physical self-defense. I show them how to hit an attacker where he is most vulnerable, regardless of how strong he is.

SPIEGEL: Pepper spray sales are up too.

Schürks: I would advise against that. With weapons, you're constantly moving them back and forth in your bag, so you're always reminded of violence. That's toxic for your quality of life.

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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