The Syrian exodus “Germany! Germany!” Ordinary Germans, not their politicians, have taken the lead in welcoming Syria’s refugees, The Economist
For 70 years the Germans have atoned for their dark past and yearned to be seen as good. Hearing their name cried out neither in fear nor in a football stadium but in gratitude and hope touched the public enough to turn them, at least for now, in favour of a Willkommenskultur(“welcome culture”). Catching the mood, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, declared an “exception” to EU asylum rules, allowing the refugees bottled up in Hungary out through Austria into Germany. More than 20,000 arrived in the first weekend of September alone—about as many as Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, has just pledged to take in over the next five years. Thousands of Germans turned out to welcome the newcomers in Munich, Dortmund and other cities with sweets and toys and smiles.
Germany was already doing more than its fair share. It takes 40% of the EU’s refugees. 413,000 applied for asylum in Germany in the first eight months of 2015 and 800,000 are expected to do so over the full year. No matter; for now, the people want to do more. A recent opinion poll shows that the share of Germans who want to accept as many or more refugees as have come so far has increased from 57% to 59% since August; 96% feel that all those fleeing war or violence are entitled to asylum.
Celebrities are volunteering to help. Corporate bosses are demanding that rules be loosened so that they can hire refugees as apprentices or workers. Even sport has got in on the act. Bayern Munich, the country’s richest football club, will donate €1m ($1.12m) to the cause. When its players walk out on to the pitch to play FC Augsburg on September 12th each will be holding hands with both a refugee child and a German one.