East German town changes stance on welcoming refugees

Global Business

East German town changes stance on welcoming refugees

A few years ago, Wandlitz was a focal point of far right-wing anti-refugee protests. However, now new arrivals said they feel warmly welcomed.

CCTV’s Guy Henderson reports.
Follow Guy Henderson on Twitter @guyhendersonde

East German town changes stance on welcoming refugees

East German town changes stance on welcoming refugees

A few years ago, Wandlitz was a focal point of far right-wing anti-refugee protests. However, now new arrivals said they feel warmly welcomed. CCTV's Guy Henderson reports.

For the far right protesters, each time they turned up at the refugee center, the locals outnumbered them.

That turnaround has made Wandlitz somewhat of a poster-child for integration.

“How can they change that they are afraid. They changed from being afraid when they came in – when they have festivals – when they wash dishes. The connection, meeting as much as possible: the Germans with the refugees. I think that was the wonder of Wandlitz,” Mathis Oberhof, the Wandlitz community leader said.

But even here, challenges remain. The many in favor of welcoming refugees had a vision for towns like Wandlitz that the influx of new arrivals could somehow breathe new life into poorer, aging communities particularly in east Germany.

“Many people went to the west in the 1990s, industry in east Germany was destroyed during that time. It hasn’t re-emerged. There is no industry, east and west Germany still aren’t even because there is no industry here,” Jana Radant, mayor of Wandlitz said.