My article will talk about different points of view on immigrants in Germany and is again rather subjective based on what I have experienced, what my friends, teachers and fellow students have expressed to me and therefore cannot be generalized. In Germany there has been an ongoing discussion about immigrants and who we should let in our country and who shouldn’t be allowed to stay. Especially after Thilo Sarrazin’s book ‘Deutschland schafft sich ab’ (= Germany is abolishing itself) had been published in 2010, the discussion was fired up again. Although the book is not only about foreigners in Germany, the chapter that deals with this topic got the most attention.
What he criticizes is that many immigrants do not try to integrate themselves, meaning that they do not adapt to German habits, cultural features and most importantly language. He furthermore argues that so called parallel societies are created in towns or parts of towns with many immigrants, which leads to their own jurisdiction and shutting themselves off from society. Many Germans agree
with this argument, but a lot of them also don’t. This matter really splits our country. Even among my friends there are some people who also think that people should integrate themselves more, others, however, do not see it as a problem. The former feel like they are being robbed of their traditions and some cultural aspects in their lives. An example for that would be that the Catholic St. Martin’s Zug (a parade through the city/village in which kids carry lanterns and sing songs to commemorate St. Martin) had to be renamed into Sonne-, Mond- und Sternetag (= sun, moon and stars day; most St. Martin songs include something about sun, moon and stars) in a community, because people of other religions felt offended by it. This upset many people who agree that integration is essential for a healthy living together between Germans and immigrants.
However, a lot of other people do not think it is a problem and say that everybody has the right to live the way they want. This topic is especially sensitive in Germany due to our past. Many people feel like we still have to make up for our gruesome past and are afraid to say that they are proud of Germany and proud to be German because it might be seen as racist or as NAZI behavior.
Another ongoing discussion concerning immigrants in Germany is about the Asylbewerber (= refugees) who seek shelter in Germany because they fear danger in their home country. In the city I study in there have been a lot of demonstrations for these refugees. Usually, when they come to Germany, they are put in special apartment complexes until it is decided if they are granted the right to stay or if they have to go back to their country, meaning they are deported. In German we use the word abschieben (= literally: to shift off, to push off) for this process which sounds really negative and a lot of people are upset that we just ‘push off’ people back to their home country. Especially the apartment complexes are criticized a lot, because the circumstances they live under are a lot of times very bad (sometimes 10 people share one small room) which led to a hunger strike in the apartment complex in my city. However, others again argue that those refugees just want to benefit from our welfare system and do not
integrate which leads us back to the other discussion again.
Summarizing, I can just say that this discussion is ongoing and that – in my opinion – both sides have valid points. We have to do something about the circumstances the Asylbewerber live in, but also have to be careful not to lose our own identity and cultural features in the whole debate. You should also keep in mind that what I talked to you about is only a very tiny part of our immigration system and that we are a country that is open-minded and diverse. The topic I chose is just a very sensitive one and even in Germany it is treated with care. There are a lot of other aspects of immigration, e.g. student visas, being married to a German, Germany trying to get skilled academics to work in Germany etc. If you are for example interested in how you can study in Germany for a semester, year or even longer, I can tell you about the steps of how to do so and I can also recommend some articles for further reading.