Postcard from... Germany


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The Independent Online

The mayor of Wolgast, close to the border with Poland, decided to set up a “model” hostel for asylum seekers on a tower block estate. The aim was to integrate the 180 newcomers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Ghana into the existing community. But then a TV documentary exposed the project's nastier side. The estate's German residents gave interviews saying they didn't want any foreigners in their neighbourhood. A neo-Nazi rock tune blasted out of the windows of one of the flats overlooking the hostel. Some of the asylum seekers' children were shown dancing to the music blissfully unaware of its racist lyrics. A youth told the reporter: “They want to burn down the asylum block.”

Wolgast's mayor wrote a furious letter to NDR, the publicly funded channel which made the programme, arguing that the documentary did not fairly represent Wolgast. Last week 220 neo-Nazis protested against the hostel, but 1000 anti-Nazis held a counter-demonstration.

A study conducted by the respected Friedrich Ebert foundation concluded that the percentage of east Germans holding extreme right wing views had almost doubled over the past six years and now amounted to 15.8 per cent of the region's population.