Monday, January 18, 2016

Germany’s open door by Mark Falcoff. On the sudden influx of migrants to Germany.

Munich, the capital of the German state of Bavaria, is the wealthiest city in the wealthiest country in Europe. It is often referred to as the country’s “secret capital,” and not without reason. Not only is it surrounded by a powerhouse of agro-industry and food processing, it is also a major center for automobile, insurance, banking, health, tech, media, and film industries. Although devastated like most German cities by Allied bombing raids during the Second World War, thanks to a conscious decision in the late 1940s to rebuild along traditional lines, its city-scape (unlike Frankfurt or Berlin) comes close to resembling its pre-war self. Its present population of slightly under 1.4 million is expected to grow by about 15 percent over the next decade.
Not all residents of Munich are Bavarian. Given its economic dynamism, the city is not surprisingly a magnet for émigrés from other German-speaking regions. On the streets and in cafes, one can hear the accents of Saxony, Brandenburg, or the Rhineland, not to mention Austria or German Switzerland. Moreover, one out of every four residents is foreign born. Munich is also the home of the Goethe Institut, Germany’s global linguistic outreach, with a cultural presence in ninety-eight countries, including nine branches in the United States and Canada. At last count there were 25,000 Americans living in the city, along with numbers (proportionate to population) from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Although Bavaria is regarded as one of the more conservative of the German Länder (the home of the Christian Social Union, a coalition partner of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union), its capital city is actually a bulwark of the Social Democratic party. The prevailing atmosphere is sophisticated and open, far from the Elves-in-the-Black-Forest/Oktoberfest image of Germany that many Anglo-Americans still carry in their heads.
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