Manfred Herrmann could be listening to the shanty singers in Jever’s old town center, a popular holiday resort not far from Germany’s Baltic coast. He probably would have regularly traveled to the sea or to Wilhelmshaven, a place he has learned to love and where he last served as a civil servant in charge of the defense ministry’s data center. But on January 7, the 70-year-old decided against being idle in tranquil Frisia. He left the northwest of Germany and made his way to the other end of the country – to the municipality of Passau.
The city in the southeast of Germany advertises itself with a slogan that could be roughly translated as “infinitely livable.” Passau is also the end point of the Balkan route for refugees from the south who want to enter Germany. Along with the Brenner route to the municipalities of Rosenheim or Freilassing, most of the refugees flood into Germany via these locales. Last year the influx was up to 7,000 people a day. Now, in winter, it’s only 500 to 1,000.
While the German government is trying to stem the flow of migrants internationally, the country’s federal police are trying to control the borders and register the new arrivals. And Mr. Herrmann, the retiree, is now with the authorities as well.