Is the welcome culture in Germany crumbling?? At least this is what a recent study wants to convey. The coordinator of the "New Neighbors" campaign in the Archdiocese of Cologne
counters: "Most Germans welcome refugees".
Interviewer: Do the results of the new Bertelsmann study reflect your experience?? Is the welcome culture toward refugees actually crumbling??
Klaus Hagedorn (coordinator of the "New Neighbors" campaign in the Archdiocese of Cologne): From my point of view not to the same extent. It should also be noted that the Bertelsmann study also found that the population's attitude toward accepting refugees and migrants has improved significantly. In 2015, there was still the situation that due to the large wave of immigration to Germany, there was a great willingness to help and the willingness to accept refugees was quite pronounced. An incredible number of people have tried to make their contribution in the process. From my point of view, this level of commitment has already declined a bit. But we are incredibly proud of the fact that we have been able to maintain both volunteer and full-time commitment at a high level, especially in the "New Neighbors" campaign.
Interviewer: You might also have to consider that this initial enthusiasm had not yet overcome the practical check, and people only realized what it actually meant when they were actually working with the refugees, or?
Hagedorn: Of course. Now it's about a long-term perspective. We had a great commitment at the beginning, which was about quick help. Housing, the provision of beds, clothing or furniture played a role here. For some time now, we have been entering a phase where the focus is on sustainable integration. Now the focus is more on language acquisition. These are lengthy processes that volunteers are clearly helping to shape. It's all about professional integration. These are not things that can be done in a few hours, but need a lot of patience. Not everyone is able to do this either. That has to be said clearly. Some people were very happy to help spontaneously. Others are more able to play to their strengths when it comes to long-term work.
Interviewer: If you look at the Bertelsmann study, it is worth taking a second, more intensive look. Many media sharpen the result to cracks in the welcome culture. One finding, however, is that most Germans do welcome refugees.
Hagedorn: Yes, that is so. In this context, you have to take a look at the statistics from a few years ago, because the situation looked very different then. I think that if you ask around as a German, even abroad, you get a bit of admiration for what Germany has done since 2015.
Interviewer: Nevertheless, more than 50 percent of all respondents say that the limit has been reached. What do you say to these people? Is that so? Has our breaking point been reached in terms of taking in refugees?
Hagedorn: The gap is very wide. If you look at the current figures regarding the need to fill apprenticeship positions, for example, we see that there are far more apprenticeship positions available than there are people willing to take on training. Here the gap widens. The demand on the labor market is much greater than the number of young people we have available. Immigration and immigration play a major role there. On the other hand, a lot of attention is paid to what Germany and the other EU countries have achieved. In one place or another – not in all countries, but in some countries – you can see that people would rather like to see a fair distribution of refugees. In my view, this would then also lead to a greater willingness on the part of the EU to create new refugee entry programs, perhaps in order to put a definitive end to the deaths on the Mediterranean and on the entire routes.
The interview was conducted by Hilde Regeniter.