Germany’s open-door policy in migrant crisis casts nation in a new light – Los Angeles Times

Just two months ago, Germany was suffering from yet another image problem, deplored as a harsh and heartless overlord in its effort to impose financial discipline on its European neighbors.

Its hard-nosed bailout negotiations with debt-ridden Greece and apparent willingness to throw Athens under the bankruptcy bus triggered protests around the world and caricatures of Chancellor Angela Merkel as Adolf Hitler.

Now Merkel is being hailed as an angel of mercy and her country as a paragon of virtue for flinging open the doors to a massive influx of refugees. The sight of Germans whooping in welcome and thrusting gifts at bedraggled asylum seekers arriving on chartered trains has stood in sharp contrast to the indifference or outright hostility directed at them in other European nations.

Some Germans hope that such positive images might help remove some of the stains on their reputation, including older, darker associations with trains full of unwanted people — those who were systematically sent to their deaths by the Nazis. Merkel said she was moved by the sight of hundreds of migrants stuck at a railway station in Hungary last week, chanting their desire to come to Germany.

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“This wasn’t always the case,” she said with characteristic understatement.

More recently, Berlin has been cast in the familiar role of villain for taking a tough line on Greece and on debt in the Eurozone.

“Some started saying that we are financially overtaking Europe … and that we are only thinking of our own interests,” said Jonas Walther, a 25-year-old choreographer. “Now everybody is praising Germany for its intake of refugees.


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