In March of 2015 when I was in Berlin speaking to a broad range of journalists and leaders, there was no indication whatsoever that there could be an immigration crisis looming on the horizon. When it became obvious that spring and summer that the crisis was beginning I made arrangements with my university to teach my classes by video conference and spent one month in late October/November 2015 experiencing the height of the immigration crisis personally.
I walked all five east German states visiting 93 villages and towns and speaking with over 1,000 German families.
My questions were very simple: "Do you know what is happening?" and "Are your questions being answered?"
The government, the German press, the police and security forces chose to answer these questions with a purposefully distorted 'happy' story. On three occasions I observed these pre-written scenarios being carried out.
I was with the immigrants as they came in, watched as they filled out the little white sheets, sometimes with the help of coaches, and was able to observe -- first-hand -- how this national deception was being played out on the ground. I cautioned officials, and the press, in a dozen different cities, that by not treating the German public with trust, truth and transparency this would lead to a danger for German families, and especially German women.
I watched as police turned away from incidents involving young immigrant men, and was told 'off the record' that police officials were instructed not to attribute incidents to the immigrants. or to ignore them altogether: Their careers were on the line. The national and local press were in 'lock-step', receiving and disseminating their information from Berlin and not from what they were actually observing in the immigrant streams. I was personally told that editors would not consider information that was contrary to the national story that was meant to calm people's fears.
Tragically, the incidents in Köln and many other German cities on January 1 have been followed by thousands of equally tragic incidents throughout the country; some reported and some not.
There is still a concerted effort aimed at the political end of getting Chancellor Merkel re-elected by justifying her policies. For example: claiming the crime rate is actually down since the immigrants arrived is incorrect: The actual outcome of sometimes written policy to police commissioners has most likely left immigrant crime significantly under-reported. The idea of recently reducing the number of total immigrants to make people feel better is also deceptive since I witnessed numerous cases of groups of young Muslim men leaving their collection centers without ever being identified or counted. The press is finally, and reluctantly, now acknowledging that the little white sheets of paper that the immigrants self reported on had very little accurate information: Education level, background, and country of origin; were filled in to gain asylum and not to provide information.
At 70 years old, often in excruciating pain, I walked over 300 miles to make sure I understood the mood of German families as well as the reality of what was happening. (And I still had to teach classes at 9:00 pm after all day walks often in the rain.)
The answer to all of this remains for the German government to treat it's own people with respect and dignity. Providing truth, transparency and trust for all German families.
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