The “refugee crisis” is the definitive topic of 2015. Click here for a detailed chronology.
In early January, amidst a debate surrounding Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), the Council for Migration calls for a “policy committee for this country of immigrants which would develop a concept applicable for the whole society.” The Council calls for a new definition for the concept “We Germans” and for a stronger emphasis on the German history of immigration in lesson plans. According to the Council, this is absolutely necessary, insofar as Pegida demonstrates to what degree German society is divided on this topic: “A rift runs through society: one in two people supports the growing diversity, but one in three calls for a more robust national identity and thereby exclude immigrants.”
On the 7th and 8th of January, seventeen people die in Islamic attacks on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. Angela Merkel travels to Paris for the funeral march. As a reaction to the attacks, many caricatures arise, with some newspapers (e.g. Tagesspiegel, FAZ, taz) even publishing Charlie Hebdos caricatures of Mohammed. An arson attack on the Hamburger Morgenpost appears to be related to the publishing of caricatures, yet, months later, no concrete motive can be confirmed. The attack renews the debate on the boundaries of humor, critiques of religion and racism.
According to the Religion-Monitor published by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the majority of Muslims living in Germany agree with societal values such as democracy and plurality. This same study finds that over half of the non-Muslim respondents consider Islam a threat. Islamophobia, which has steadily increased in preceding years and permeates all socio-economic classes, represents a roadblock for integration efforts. Another Bertelsmann Foundation survey on German Willkommenskultur (“welcoming culture”) mirrors these results in other respects as well. In comparison to 2012, German society has become more accepting of immigrants and the call for a “Welcoming culture” is renewed. According to the results of this survey, East Germans are more skeptical of immigrants than West Germans. In total, 97% of the respondents expect that immigrants will integrate into society.
During a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Chancellor Angela Merkel repeats former Federal President Christian Wulff’s sentiment, expressed four years prior: “Islam belongs in Germany—and that is true, I’m of this opinion as well.” At the same time, Merkel emphasizes that she nonetheless does not advocate for Turkey’s full EU-Membership. At the end of June, the Chancellor strengthens her own statement on Islam’s place in Germany, as she, for the first time, officially participates in Ramadan’s breaking of the fast.
In Dresden, both Pegida’s planned demonstration and the consequent counter protests January 19th are cancelled due to threats of Islamic terrorism. The day before, police on site issue a prohibition of all protests for security reasons. The targeting of the Pegida meeting points concretely to further warnings of potential terrorist attacks on German train stations, to which the authorities react with an increase in the number of patrolling police units. Just over a month later, the Braunschweiger carnival procession also does not take place due to risk of terrorist attacks.
The Council of German Foundations for Integration and Immigration (SVR) analyzes the migration patterns of German emigrants and returnees in the study “Mobile Internationally. Motives, Parameters and Consequences of the Emigrations and Returns of German Citizens” (“International Mobil. Motive, Rahmenbedinungen und Folgen der Aus- und Rückwanderung deutscher Staatsbürger”). More Germans are found to emigrate than to return. Even still, the study comes to the conclusion that the recent trends in mobility indicate a “Brain Circulation” and not a “Brain Drain,” since most emigrants do not plan to stay abroad for long. As a motive, discontentment plays a decisive role for both emigrants and returnees.
In the middle of March, the Cabinet of Germany (Bundesregierung) presents the study “Schoolbook Study. Migration and Integration” (“Schulbuchstudie. Migration und Integration”). The authors complain that German textbooks display mostly stereotypical representations of immigrants (the refugee, the criminal, etc.) and hardly mention immigrants’ quotidian life in Germany.
At the beginning of April, published data of the Cabinet of Germany (Bundesregierung) shows that the number of foreigners that are deported from Germany has steadily decreased in recent years.
The literary project “Belief, Love, Hope. Messages from the Christian West” (“Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung. Nachrichten aus dem christlichen Abendland”) by Gregor Weichbrodt and Hannes Bajohr collects recent comments off of the Pegida Facebook page. “As the supposed defenders of the Christian West are confronted with Pauline virtues stemming from praises of love, we let them articulate alone, what they believe, love and hope,” the two authors explain. “The fact that Germany is loved above all else is less surprising than the comments’ wishes, marked by fantasies of revolution and violence.”
At the end of April, the SVR publishes the annual report for 2015 Countries of Immigration: Germany in International Comparison (Unter Einwanderungsländern: Deutschland im internationalen Vergleich). The survey, conducted annually since 2009, praises Germany, as the country keeps up with traditional immigrant destinations like Canada, or the USA. The main reason for this is immigration for employment reasons, since Germany has become a role model in this respect. Nonetheless, Germany still has work to do in developing a comprehensive immigration plan. Coming to similar conclusions, the Migration Policy Group publishes MIPEX 2015 (Migrant Integration Policy Index) in June: the index compares politics of integration among 38 countries, Germany reaching tenth place. The MIPEX shows that Germany has substantially improved the situation for immigrants in recent years. Integration becomes more successful in the employment sector, accompanying a concurrent improvement in public disposition toward immigration. And yet, immigrants have adequate legal resources with regards to discrimination nor sufficient access to healthcare services.
The study “Faith in European Project Reviving. But Most Say Rise of Eurosceptic Parties Is a Good Thing,” published in early June by the American Pew Research Center, comes to the conclusion that trust in the European Union is to have risen again. The over 6000 respondents, coming from six different participating nations, regard the economic situation for their respective country as positive. The majority of the survey participants saw the increase in so-called “euro-sceptic” parties as positive as well, since they addressed topics that traditional parties normally ignored.
On the 4th of July, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) voted in Frauke Petry (~60%) as the first party representative. Petry thereby engages in a months-long power struggle with Bernde Lucke, who only receives 38 percent of the vote. Lucke’s departure moves the AfD further toward the far right of the political spectrum.
In the middle of July, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with the Palestinian refugee Reem Sahwil causes tempers to flare. During a town hall (Bürgerdialog), a discussion arises between Reem and Merkel: the Chancellor points to the German right to asylum and reacts to the tears of the twelve year old, who would like to stay in Germany, by awkwardly laying a hand on the latter’s shoulder. Merkel’s reaction causes strong reactions under the hashtag #merkelpets (#merkelstreichelt). Further controversy arises over the fact that the government retrospectively changes the report of the incident.
In July, it is revealed that two brothers of the murdered Hatan Sürücü are sued for abiding and abetting. The “Honor-murder” (“Ehrenmord”) of Hatan Sürücü on February 7th, 2005, was committed by her youngest brother, who was deported to Turkey in 2014 after a prison sentence of multiple years. The revelations trigger an intense discussion on integration in Germany.
The first half of the year is dominated by the persisting debt-crisis in Greece. On July 15th, Greek Parliament votes for the EU’s third aid package, while the German Federal Parliament (Bundestag) approves the aid package on August 19th. After a months-long struggle, bankruptcy of Greece and a would-be Grexit is prevented at the last second. During the negotiations over additional financial aid and the demands of debt-holders, the tone between Greece and Germany intensified.
At the beginning of August, the Federal Bureau of Statistics (Statistische Bundesamt) publishes its findings on the number of immigrants in Germany. One in five has a migrant background and 10.9 million people immigrated of their own accord. The OECD and EU-commision’s study “Indicators of Immigration in 2015,” published a month earlier, shows that Germany performs badly in many branches of integration politics in comparison to other countries.
On August 21st, the exhibition “From Kuzorra to Özil. The History of Soccer and Immigration in Ruhrt” opens in Bochum.
On October 3rd, Germany celebrates 25 years of unity. In his address, which centered heavily around the refugee crisis, Federal President Gauck emphasizes that the new, difficult task approaching Germany is the integration of refugees and recent immigrants.
On October 5th, the ARD broadcasts the film adaptation of Lake Akgün’s Aunt Semra in Meatloafland—Stories from my Turkish-German Family (Tante Semra in Leberkäseland—Geschichten aus meiner türkish-deutschen Familie). The film depicts the story of the communist Kemalist Latife, who moves to Germany with her Turkish family and confronts German provincial life with her emancipated lifestyle. The film questions typical narrative patterns concerning German-Turkish immigration history.
On October 17th, a 44-year-old man attacks Henriette Reker, who is running independently for high official posts in Köln, and four other people with a knife at a CDU information stand. Reker, who lies in an artificial coma, wins the vote a day later. The culprit, coming from the political right and naming refugee politics as his motive, is sentenced a year later to 14 years in prison.
On November 10th, Helmut Schmidt, the chancellor from 1974-1982 dies. Schmidt is thanked above all for his service and dedication to Europe.
On November 13th, Paris is shaken by multiple terrorist attacks. The target is the Stade de France, in which a friendly soccer match between Germany and France is taking place. Above all, the news coverage by ARD and ZDF is discussed. Only four days later, a similar match between Germany and the Netherlands in Hannover is cancelled due to a bomb threat. The suspicion that perpetrators are registered in Germany as refugees is proved as false, but worries concerning the supposed existence of falsified passports persist.
A court in Göttinger rules for the deportation of two Romani families that have lived in Germany for 17 years and whose children have been born in Germany. The court grounds its decision in the lack of infrastructure for integration and in the fact that Kosovo has in the meantime become a safe home country.
In early December, the extreme-right Front National shocks Europe with a victory in the preliminaries of the French regional elections. Nonetheless, Marine Le Pen’s party loses considerably in the second round. The elections generate anxiety concerning the stability of Europe.
The Green Party’s inquiry to the Cabinet of Germany (Bundesregierung) confirms that Burka-wearers do not pose an increased security risk, according to government authorities. The inquiry serves a response to the increasingly louder demands of CDU and CSU members for a ban on facial veils—even for tourists—in Germany.
At the end of December, the Institute for Labour Market and Employment Research (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung) publishes a brief report on wage adjustment for immigrants. Immigrants receive on average considerably lower wages as German employees. The study also demonstrates that female immigrants profit from ethnic networks, while the same networks affect male immigrants negatively.
The Christmas address by Federal President Gauck and the New Year’s address by Chancellor Angela Merkel are, for the first time, available with both English and Arabic subtitles.
At the beginning of the year, German public television broadcaster ARD publishes a survey that suggests attitudes toward immigration are changing among Germans: 68 percent of interviewees are in favour of promoting the immigration of skilled workers. Another survey, conducted by Ipsos Mori, a British market research company, further affirms this trend, and suggests that this favorable appraisal is linked to a positive evaluation of one’s own economic situation.
On February 20, German Jewish author Maxim Biller poses the question “Why is contemporary German literature so unbelievably boring?” in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. According to Biller, contemporary German literature is lackluster because writers growing up in immigrant communities only strive to assimilate. Biller believes that this “assimilation fury” (“Anpassungswut”) has caused a total absence of “spirited” (“lebendiger”) migrant voices. Biller’s remarks result in a heated literary debate across German feature pages.
At the end of February, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) calls out Germany for its lax handling of cases dealing with racism and discrimination. Although the report’s authors acknowledge that Germany made progress compared to the organization’s last report from 2008, they criticize, for instance, that German courts fail to recognize hate as a motivating factor for many crimes. The report also suggests that Germany increases awareness about LGBT rights and people.
In March, the Bertelsmann Foundation (Bertelsmann Stiftung) publishes the “Globalization Report 2014.” The report examines which country has profited the most from globalization. While industrial countries such as Germany have further increased their prosperity, threshold and developing countries have profited only marginally from the effects of globalization.
In the same month, the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (Sachverständigenrat deutscher Stiftungen für Integration und Migration) publishes the study “Discrimination on the Training Market,” which concludes that “Germany has a serious discrimination problem.” The study shows that fictional applicants with a foreign sounding name had to apply more often than fellow applicants with a stereotypical German name and the same qualifications. Applicants from the first group were also more often ignored and addressed by their first name. Another study draws similar conclusions in its analysis of law exams.
At the end of March, the Grand Coalition agrees upon a new dual citizenship law, which abolishes the currently effective requirement to choose between two nationalities (Optionspflicht). If children born in non-European countries have resided more than eight years in Germany, attended German school for six years or graduated from a school in Germany, they can now apply for German citizenship at the age of 21 without giving up their other citizenship. The Federal Statistical Office reports in July that the number of applications for naturalization has remained relatively consistent during the past two years.
The original G7 nations suspend Russia from their midst (G8) to protest Russia’s stance on Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea. German-Jewish author Wladimir Kaminer, born in Russia, garners attention in Germany with a Facebook post condemning Russia’s recent actions.
In March and April, Akif Pirinçci‘s non-fiction book Deutschland von Sinnen. Der irre Kult um Frauen, Homosexuelle und Zuwanderer (Germany Gone Crazy. The Mad Craze surrounding Women, Homosexuals, and Immigrants) causes a fierce debate about German social politics, which echoes the intense discussions about Thilo Sarrazin. While the book turns into a bestseller and readers increasingly support Pirinçci’s book, critics call it a “hate-book” and denounce it for its derogatory language.
The plight of refugees, who come to Europe in steadily increasing numbers, and debates about Germany’s and the EU’s policies for asylum seekers dominate the news for the entire year. In March, combined statistics of refugees registered missing or dead are published for the first time. The Migrant Files, a project to which journalists from across Europe have been contributing, indicates that approximately 23,000 people on their way to Europe died or went missing since 2000. Amnesty International’s 88-page report on the same topic denounces Europe’s refugee policies and condemns it for its responsibility in the drowning of thousands in the Mediterranean Sea. In April, Der Spiegel refers to an unpublished report by the German Federal Police that the number of refugees who cross into Germany illegally has further increased. Overall, the number of applications for asylum increases by 70 percent; only a few of these, as the Ministry of the Interior declared a month earlier, are actually approved. However, the number of overall approved applications increases. Many of the rejected applications are from applicants coming from the Balkan states. The statuses of these Balkan countries are re-evaluated in the middle of the year and are assessed as safe countries. Debates about other measures that will allow for faster deportation of asylum seekers abound. Afghans who supported Germany’s armed forces (Bundeswehr) during their mission in Afghanistan rarely receive permanent resident status in Germany. A makeshift refugee camp at Berlin’s Oranienplatz is being cleared after a year and half and weeks of negotiations: its inhabitants protested against asylum policies and their immigration status. At the same time, refugees hold out at Berlin’s Gerhart-Hauptmann-School, where the situation increasingly escalates. A study about global migration, published approximately at the same time, shows that the ways people are migrating worldwide have remained relatively stable over the last twenty years. The arrival of asylum seekers in Germany coincides with an increase in right-wing extremism, which the Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution 2013, published in June, also demonstrates that attacks on homes for asylum seekers have drastically increased during the first months of the year. In September, news breaks that employees of private security firms safeguarding the homes for asylum seekers had abused inhabitants: the incidents are being compared to the torture happening in Abu Ghraib, and the police investigate a few instances of assault causing bodily harm. At the end of the year, three houses in the town of Vorra, intended for refugees, are set on fire. The public debate centers increasingly on the ballooning costs and the question of who is responsible for covering these as well as the horrendous living conditions under which refugees have to live in Germany. At the beginning of November, the Bundestag decides to change the building legislation so that refugees can also be housed in industrial areas.
At the end of April, the first data about the number of Romanians and Bulgarians who enjoy full freedom of movement within the European Union since the beginning of the year and are now migrating to Germany becomes available. The debate about the influx of Romanians and Bulgarians and surrounding fears about poverty-driven migration already began last year but regains new momentum during the election campaign for the European parliament. An internal analysis of the Institute for Employment Research shows that 80 percent more Romanians and Bulgarians came to Germany in January compared to the previous year. In February, this statistic applies to only 24 percent. The authors of the study emphasize that the majority of these immigrants finds work quickly and do therefore not fall under the category of “migrants moving out of poverty.”
The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) publishes the study “Migration Policy Debates: Is Migration Really Increasing?”. The report shows that Germany now ranks second among the OECD countries with regard to immigrant intake, right after the USA. In 2009, it still ranked No. 8. The country’s demographic development for the year 2013 demonstrates that Germany’s population increased primarily because of immigration.
On May 23, German Iranian author Navid Kermani holds a speech in honor of Germany’s Basic Law at the Bundestag. In his speech, Kermani praises the country’s Basic Law and appreciates Germany for the “great efforts it has made regarding immigration.” However, he criticizes the government for changing paragraph 16 of the Basic Law, which, as he points out, essentially abolished the right to asylum. He calls out Germany for its failure in creating sensible refugee policies and investigating the murders committed by the National Socialist Underground (NSU). A day earlier, President Joachim Gauck also mentioned the topic of migration when celebrating the Basic Law and naturalizing 23 migrants: “There is a new German ‘We,’ that is the unity of diverse people.”
At the end of May, the visit of Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Germany causes controversy. Supporters and opponents from across Europe meet in Cologne where Erdoğan asks Turks living in Germany to integrate but not to assimilate. Tensions between Germany and Turkey also rise, because Erdoğan personally attacks the leader of the Green Party, Cem Özdemir. Only a month later, Erdoğan travels to Vienna. His visit earns a rather negative reception and is compared to the Turkish sieges of the 16th and 17th century.
On May 25, Germany elects, together with the rest of Europe, the European Parliament. The conservative European People’s Party (EPP) and its main candidate Jean-Claude Juncker win the election. Observers are particularly concerned by the support that Eurosceptic parties are receiving; they gathered 19 percent of the vote. In Germany, the CDU/CSU loses votes but wins the election before the SPD. For the first time, the Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD; Alternative for Germany) of so-called “Euro-sceptics” wins over 7 percent of the votes. Among other issues, the German election campaign was largely influenced by the CSU’s suggestion that migrants are mainly a burden for the social welfare system. Slogans such as “Those who cheat get kicked out” have been causing controversy and tension within the coalition since the end of last year.
At the beginning of June, the study “The Stabilized Center. Right-wing Extremist Attitudes in Germany in 2014” (“Die stabilisierte Mitte. Rechtsextreme Einstellungen in Deutschland 2014”) is published. The authors conclude that right-wing extremist beliefs are less prevalent in Germany in recent years. However, the study shows that right-wing extremist attitudes that focus on specific groups – “group-specific xenophobia” – are increasing dramatically. This kind of xenophobia primarily targets Sinti and Roma, Muslims, and refugees. Moreover, these attitudes are still more prevalent in East Germany than in West Germany. Another study, “New Potentials. The State of Integration in Germany” (“Neue Potentiale. Zur Lage der Integration in Deutschland”), conducted by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development at the same time, shows that migrants increasingly assimilate into the native population. To facilitate integration and convince migrants to stay in Germany in the long term, “the country must increase its efforts to internationally position itself as a modern country of immigration and a ‘culture of welcome’ must be a given.” The “Annual Report with Integration Barometer,” published by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration in April, also shows German society’s rather ambiguous attitude toward immigration: people remain biased against certain groups while, at the same time, more and more people support immigration. This ambiguity is also part of German politics, the Expert Council argues.
At the beginning of July, the European Court of Justice decides in favor of a Turkish plaintiff whose subsequent immigration to Germany had been rejected based on unsatisfactory German language skills. The judges apply the European Union Association Agreement with Turkey signed in the 1970s to their ruling. Thus, language proficiency tests continue to be a requirement for immigrants from other nations.
A study published in July, conducted by the Media Service Integration, shows that teenagers with an immigrant background are generally not more delinquent than teenagers from non-immigrant families. The study thus undermines the common and popular notion of the “criminal foreigner.”
In July, the public debate in Germany primarily centers on the question if the country, as a result of the newly erupted Gaza conflict, is experiencing a new wave of anti-Semitism. Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” against the Hamas-rule in Gaza also causes fierce controversy and protests in Germany. Anti-Semitic slogans soon dominate protests against Israel’s actions. Criticism of protesters’ anti-Semitic attitudes largely targets immigrants and their assumed prejudices against Jews.
At the end of July, the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (Sachverständigenrat deutscher Stiftungen für Integration und Migration) evaluates the EU’s Blue Card Program, which hopes to attract highly skilled workers from non-European countries: “The Blue Card stood the test in Germany. The over 16 000 Blue Cards handed out so far have proved to be a successful beginning to a more proactive immigration policy. However, this number must greatly increase. The potential of the Blue Card to establish Europe as a magnet for immigrants is far from exhausted.”
At the beginning of August, Mithat Gedik, after becoming champion marksman of Sönnern-Pröbsting, is informed that he has to return his title because he is Muslim – and not Christian, as the statutes of his shooting club require. Ultimately, he is allowed to keep the title but he is not eligible to perform his role on a regional level.
In September, the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD) wins seats in three state parliaments (Saxony, Thuringia, and Brandenburg). Also known as “Anti-Euro-Party”, the party’s success causes fierce debate and criticism. A study about right-wing extremist attitudes published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in November shows that “voters of the Alternative for Germany tend to agree with chauvinistic and xenophobic statements, as well as with statements trivializing National Socialism, above average.”
In October, the Center for Turkish Studies and Integration Research (Zentrum für Türkeistudien und Integrationsforschung (ZfTI)) publishes the results of its annual survey on migrants of Turkish descent. The study’s authors conclude that the majority of these migrants living in Germany feel at home and have German friends.
At the end of October, a march organized by the “Hooligans against Salafists” movement, which is based in Cologne, escalates when almost 3000 people meet up and riot. The group has been active in different cities for the past few months. Experts caution about future riots and violent outbreaks between Hooligans, who belong to the soccer scene being prone to violence, and Salafists.
At the beginning of November, the relationship between Great Britain and Germany is turning sour: Prime Minister David Cameron suggests limiting EU-citizens’ freedom of movement. Germany responds by stating that such a decision would essentially result in Great Britain leaving the European Union.
In the middle of November, a planned meeting between LGBTI-groups and Muslims at a Berlin mosque causes controversy. Criticism comes primarily from older community members and from Turkey. As a result of the negative press and overall controversy, the meeting takes eventually place at the Protestant Jerusalem Church.
During November, the public debate centers once again on young Muslims who leave Europe to join ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham). Parents who are concerned about their children increasingly contact the helpline “Radicalization,” offered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, and the information center of the non-profit organisation “Hayat.”
At the end of November, the Berlin Institute for Integration- and Migration Research publishes a study that shows that the German language has become the main criteria for defining national identity. Many believe that ethnic origin is no longer the main characteristic of German identity. However, the study also shows that bias primarily prevail against Muslims.
On December 1, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) publishes the International Migration Outlook 2014. The report states that Germany is currently the second most popular immigration country, ranked after the USA only. Most immigrants come from other countries belonging to the European Union. The Outlook points out that these migrants integrate relatively smoothly into the German job market.
At the end of the year, Hans-Werner Sinn, President of the Ifo-Institute for Economic Research, causes controversy by arguing that migration is currently a “losing bargain” for Germany. Sinn calculates that migrants cost Germany more than they contribute economically.
Public debates during the month of December and the first couple weeks of January center on the sudden rise of the non-profit organization PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West). Since the end of October, PEGIDA organizes protests every Monday in Dresden. The group warns against the alleged Islamization of Germany, and demands stricter asylum and immigration policies. Shortly before Christmas, over 17 000 supporters join organizers, who are delighted by the increasing interest, in front of the Semperoper, which responds by turning off its lights to reject PEGIDA and its political message. PEGIDA gradually branches out into other German cities: MÜGIDA is founded in Munich, LEGIDA in Leipzig. While Dresden is dominated by PEGIDA supporters, other German cities draw more opponents to the streets. Social media plays a crucial role in gaining supporters for both crowds: PEGIDA is primarily active on Facebook, while opponents, for instance, sign a petition. To show resentment of German media, PEGIDA’s supporters spread the term “lying press” (“Lügenpresse”). The phrase ultimately becomes this year’s “Faux-Pas” Word, also because the term was widely used during World War I. as well as by National Socialists to slander the press. German media outlets, as well as the international press, commonly discuss the question: how should one react socially and politically to the PEGIDA phenomenon? Chancellor Angela Merkel – like President Joachim Gauck in his Christmas speech – chooses an uncommonly direct approach in her annual New Year’s speech: “Today, some people are again shouting on Mondays, ‘We are the people!’ But what they really mean is, ‘You don’t belong because of the color of your skin, or your religion.’ That’s why I say to all who go to such demonstrations: Don’t follow those who call for this! Too often, there is prejudice, coldness, or even hatred in their hearts.”