Gentle Germany

Merkel Wins Plaudits for Refugee Response

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) folgt am Freitag (18.11.2011) dem Kongress "Zeitschriftentag 2011 des Verbands Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger (VDZ) in Berlin. Unter dem Motto "Zeitschriftenverleger - Gestalter der neuen Medienwelt" treffen sich Vertreter der Medienbranche zu einer zweitägigen Veranstaltung. Foto: Hannibal dpa/lbn [ Rechtehinweis: usage Germany only, Verwendung nur in Deutschland ]
"Mutti" is garnering global praise for her refugee response.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany is welcoming thousands of refugees, boosting its reputation and potentially easing its labor shortage in one move.

  • Facts

    Facts

    The United States has only accepted 1,000 Syrian refugees to date.

    Some warn that Germany could be biting off more than it can chew.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel is using the positive press to exert pressure on other countries to accept more refugees.

  • Audio

    Audio

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This week, Israeli daily Haaretz published an article with the headline: “Germany, Light Unto the Nations of the World.” The tenor of the article is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is proving that it is possible to learn from history. According to Haaretz, Ms. Merkel has opened the gates of Berlin to refugees fleeing certain death. “Good for you, Germany,” the article continues.

The world is being inundated with images of a Germany where cheering people welcome refugees with open arms. The notion of a German chancellor who is opening the borders instead of merely preaching austerity to other countries has shaken stereotypes.

The Italian media have been discussing this strange new Germany for days. During the Greek crisis, Ms. Merkel was often depicted wearing a Prussian military helmet. Now the media are trying to explain her transformation. The Italian daily Corriere della Sera devoted an entire page to the phenomenon, in a story titled “The German Spirit.” La Repubblica, another Italian newspaper, wrote: “Merkel’s Transformation: Berlin Chooses the Good Face.”

For her part Ms. Merkel, who had initially been chided at home for her timid handling of the influx of refugees, is using the positive response to her about-face to exert pressure on other countries. “We simply have to pitch in and overcome all obstacles,” she said yesterday in the German parliament. “If we are courageous and sometimes lead the way, we are more likely to find a European solution.”

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