German bus driver uses intercom to welcome migrants to Germany with moving speech

Speech reduces passengers to tears before going viral in Germany, which is taking the most asylum seekers of any country in Europe

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The Independent Online

Astonished bus passengers in Germany have recounted the moment their driver used the intercom to welcome a group of young migrants into the country.

Around 15 recently-arrived asylum seekers were on the number 286 in the Bavarian city of Erlangen when Sven Latteyer picked up the mic.

A witness recounted his message to local newspaper the Nürnberger Nachrichten, which called the migrants “foreign guests”.

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The bus (not pictured) was travelling through the city of Erlangen, near Nuremberg

“Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, from all over the world in this bus – I want to say something,” the driver announced in English.

“I want to say welcome. Welcome to Germany, welcome to my country. Have a nice day.”

The anonymous passenger said stunned travellers – German and foreign alike - burst into spontaneous applause, adding: “One of the young African guys wiped a tear from his eye.”

The heat-warming gesture has struck a chord in Germany, which took in almost 40 per cent of all the first-time asylum seekers arriving in Europe last year – 10 times the UK’s total.

A newscaster reporting on the story was almost reduced to tears and it has gone viral on social media.

As the story of his speech spread, Mr Latteyer told the Nürnberger Nachrichten he wanted to show his support for the hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving in Germany.

The 42-year-old said he was inspired by his brother-in-law, who found safety in the country after fleeing the conflict in Kosovo, and his grandfather who lost an arm in the Second World War and spoke out against Nazism.

Mr Latteyer has been stunned by the international response to his gesture but told the Süddeutsche Zeitung the reaction made him "very proud".

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Migrants at a German lesson in an emergency shelter in Berlin on 13 August

The German Government expects at least 400,000 asylum seekers to arrive this year but Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the eventual total could be “considerably higher”.

Record numbers of Germans have been volunteering at shelters and sending food, clothes and money to the newcomers but some areas have seen tensions between locals and people arriving from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

There were 150 arson or other attacks that damaged or destroyed refugee shelters in the first six months of 2015, including in Bavarian towns near Erlangen, and accommodation has also been daubed with swastikas and neo-Nazi graffiti.

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