Where Does the Hate Come From?

Hatred of refugees is widespread in Germany, but it seems particularly prominent in the eastern half of the country. There are several reasons for that, and many of them stem from life under communism — and unfulfilled expectations afterwards.

the government warned that Eastern Germany’s xenophobia represents a danger to social harmony. No matter where it takes place, xenophobia can be dangerous for its victims, whether in East or West. But the government in Berlin has identified a greater danger in Eastern Germany — one that threatens society as a whole.

.. According to my personal diagnosis, such types of behavior cannot be blamed on the current material situation in which these people find themselves. They are more indicative of a surfeit of emotional tension.

In the East, there is an exhaustion syndrome: Lots of people were forced to dramatically change their lives following 1989. They only briefly experienced reunification as liberation and many now behave less like free citizens and more like released prisoners whose learned demeanor does not correspond to present-day requirements.

.. they are still carrying the baggage of political expectations that today cannot be fulfilled. This includes the demand to be noticed and recognized by those in power — just as they were before.

.. East Germany awarded myriad commendations, from the “badge for best knowledge” to the “order of merit.” Almost everybody had an opportunity to be honored for something at least once a year.

 .. The hate is probably also the result of jealousy for the chancellor’s personal devotion to the refugees
.. But Merkel? She is considered cold and calculating, yet she showed emotion by embracing refugees. Has she ever done the same to anyone in the East?
.. One of East Germany’s legacies is the model of a closed society in which uniformity is more important than diversity. People learned little about interacting with people of different faiths and origins.
.. The communists systematically gave preferential treatment to atheists over Christians and new cities were forced to make do without church towers. As such, it’s hardly surprising that people now feel threatened by the arrival of those who define themselves outwardly by their religion.
..The AfD has adopted the 1989 slogan “We Are the People” and redirected it against a democratically elected government (one led by a chancellor from East Germany). The slogan “We Are One People” is used as a weapon against those from elsewhere. AfD followers were ecstatic when Merkel, frustrated by rising xenophobia, said “this is no longer my country.” It provided fodder to those who wanted a different Germany — a German Germany.