German Language Blog

Refugees Welcome? Germany Reacts (Pt3) Posted by on Feb 9, 2016 in Culture

As I write this, it’s exactly 4 months since my last post on the refugee crisis in Germany. Last time I wrote about it, it seemed Germans, with the exclusion of some far-right groups, were largely supportive of the influx of refugees that had arrived in their country. However, since the sexual assaults and muggings that took place in Köln on New Year’s Eve, public opinion in Germany seems to have changed a lot.

As always, I’ve been keeping up with the news on this topic and have collected another selection of articles on it to share with you. As I said before, it can sometimes be a challenge to take in your own country’s politics, let alone another’s, so I hope that this selection of articles will give you an easy means of finding out what’s going on in Germany at the moment.

There is lots of vocabulary to learn along the way and at the bottom of the post, and I’ve included equivalent German language articles for each English article I’ve posted, so you can read the news in German, too. 🙂

"FOCUS" / "DER SPIEGEL" am 25.Juli 2015 mit gleichem Thema als Aufmacher: "Die Wahrheit über FALSCHE Flüchtlinge" / "Habgierig? Hungrig. Fremdenhaß vegiftet Deutschland"

German magazines with headlines about refugees. The headline on the left says ‘The truth about fake refugees’, while the one on the right says ‘Greedy? Hungry. Xenophobia is poisoning Germany.’ Photo by hinkelstone on under a CC license 2.0

Pubs and clubs in German town of Freiburg forbid refugees

A group of nightlife spots in Freiburg have banned refugees from entering their venues. This was a direct reaction to the attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, plus a string of other reported crimes in the area as of late. Here’s a German article on this, called Freiburger Clubs sperren Asylbewerber aus – Clubs in Freiburg lock asylum seekers out. The terms die Flüchtlinge (refugees) and die Asylbewerber (asylum seekers) are often used interchangeably in the news.


Austrian government to fine refugees that refuse to learn German and integrate

Over in Austria, the government have announced plans to fine refugees who aren’t willing to learn German, contribute to society, and integrate. They hope this measure will ensure all refugees integrate successfully into Austrian society. Here’s a German article on the subject with the headline Wer sich nicht integrieren will, wird Österreich verlassen – He who does not want to integrate will leave Austria.

Österreich have also introduced what they call die Obergrenze –  die Grenze is a border or limit, so die Obergrenze is like an upper border or, in this case, an upper limit. Basically, Austria have put a cap on how many more refugees they can take. Once that Obergrenze has been reached, the Austrian Grenze will be closed.


Legal learning: German and Syrian immigrants

In this interesting article, comparisons are drawn between the Syrian refugees in Germany today and the German immigrants in America during WW1. This was called die Überseewanderung – overseas migration, with German-Americans being known as die Deutschamerikaner. Who knows? Syrian immigrants might be called die Syrienbriten – ‘Syrian Britons’ – in years to come!

Flüchtlinge / Immigranten beim Grenzübergang Wegscheid

Refugees in Germany. Photo: 95213174@N08 on under a CC license (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Polls show most Germans fear refugee burden too great

The public broadcaster ZDF has released new polls regarding public opinion on the refugee crisis in Germany. Amongst other things, it reveals that more Germans now fear refugees following the sexuelle Übergriffe und Überfälle (sexual assaults and muggings) in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Here’s a German article on the subject, titled Mehrheit der Deutschen hat Angst vor Masseneinwanderung –Most Germans fear mass immigration’. It also states that Germans are not, however, ‘Eine Nation von Fremdenfeinden’ – a nation of xenophobes.


‘Refugees’ chosen as Word of the Year 2015 in Germany

The Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (Society for German Language) chose Flüchtlingerefugees – as the Wort des Jahres (Word of the Year) for 2015. Sixth on the list was Durchwinken, meaning to wave through, which referred to how other European countries ‘waved through’ migrants on their way to Germany. Here’s a short German article about it from the newspaper Die Zeit, should you want to read some German today.


Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel. Photo by 95213174@N08 on under a CC license (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Could Europe’s refugee crisis be the undoing of Angela Merkel?

This article looks at how both public and political opinion has turned against German Kanzlerin (Chancellor) Angela Merkel in recent months, and how she herself is beginning to back-track on some of her previous statements about refugees. This German article, Bleibt Merkel beim ‘Wir Schaffen Das’? is on a similar topic. The headline translates to ‘Is Merkel standing by her statement, ‘We will manage it’?


To see my previous posts on this topic, click here, here and here.

Related vocabulary

Right-wing (ideologies/activities) – der Rechtsextremismus

Left-wing (ideologies/activities) – der Linksextremismus

Xenophobe – der Fremdenfeind (literally ‘enemy of foreigners’) / der Fremdenhasser (literally ‘hater of foreigners’)

Fine (penalty) – die Strafe

Mass immigration – die Masseneinwanderung

Sexual assault – die sexuelle Übergriffe

to integrate – integrieren



Related words and slogans used in German:

Wir Schaffen Das – We will manage it – Angela Merkel’s now-famous ethos about the refugee crisis

die Flüchtlingspolitik – refugee politics

die Flüchtlingsfrage – literally ‘the refugee question’, meaning the topic or issue of the refugee situation

die Obergrenze – Austria’s ‘upper limit’ on refugees entering the country.

Durchwinken – ‘to wave through’, referring to how other countries ‘wave refugees through’ on their way to Germany.


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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Ming:

    Hello Constanze!

    I like your works very much – not only help me in learning German, but the articles you have chosen are able to provide the Germany insight on the pulse.

    Thank you very much Constanze!

    Have a nice Valentine’s Day!! 🙂


    • Constanze:

      @Ming Thank you, Ming! Glad you enjoy them! 🙂