Germany and refugees – why so different?
Katja from the French association Playing for Change Occitanie (PFCO) explains what her organisation is trying to do to help Syrian refugees in a rural corner of Southwest France.
PFCO has helped two new arrivals from Syria, recently arrived in France, to make the most of their talent for pottery. They hooked them up with local potters and other people motivated to help their fellow humans, sparking off a dynamic sequence of events.
Their goal is to change the negative image that the media has proffered concerning refugees and show they have a lot to offer.
Katja, a native of Germany, contrasts the tiny number of refugees accepted in France and the UK versus the million plus already taken in by her compatriots.
“I think for Germans it’s more realistic. There are more families that have lost somebody in the war or have been refugees themselves. Even the reunification in the 1990s… It was a kind of refugee situation… you still feel it in Germany.
“All these people that have grown up in East Germany, they have been living with the Communist international solidarity as the main frame of all the education they have lived through. All this reflects the awareness of never fascism again.”
“In Germany, we treat that topic a lot whereas in France, that’s never reflected,” she said.
Katja’s own family became refugees at the end of the Second World War, fleeing ahead of the advancing Russian army from what is today part of Poland.
“If people hadn’t helped them, I wouldn’t been here today.