Arson Attack

Fear and Loathing in Tröglitz

asylum seeker home fire troeglitz dpa
A planned center for asylum seekers in Troeglitz burning after an arson attack.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    As applications for asylum have surged in Germany, so, too, have xenophobic attacks.

  • Facts


    • The arson attack occurred over Easter weekend in the village of Tröglitz in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
    • A local neo-Nazi functionary had organized protest marches against the planned refugee home.
    • Municipal officials say they can no longer guarantee the personal safety of asylum-seekers.
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“Be sure to take your mobile phone with you when you go out at night, otherwise you might get stabbed.”

“Learn martial arts so you can defend yourself.”

“If someone attacks you, throw them to the ground. It’s best to hit them right in the face.”

The advice comes from five young people explaining how those afraid of foreigners should defend themselves.

Their fear represents one side of the asylum-seeker issue that has polarized attitudes among the residents of Tröglitz, a town of 2,700 people, near Leipzig, in eastern Germany.

Last week there was an arson attack on a planned center for refugees that many fear was a politically motivated crime.

Tröglitz was already in the headlines one month ago after the town’s volunteer mayor, Markus Nierth, resigned after threats from members of the extremist right wing NPD party. Mr. Nierth had been campaigning for greater tolerance of refugees and asylum seekers.

Mr. Nierth launched his campaign as the town prepared to take on refugees as the number of people applying for asylum has increased due to conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

People coming to Germany seeking asylum struggle to attain legal status and in the meantime are housed by the government in centers. There is not enough accommodation for the number of refugees and many stay in temporary shelter in churches, empty schools and unused buildings.

The arson attack in Tröglitz has led to fears of a resurgence of right wing attacks on asylum seekers after a series of attacks on people from abroad in the region during the 1990s.

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