Germans open hearts and homes for refugees


KERPEN-MANHEIM: Arson attacks and unruly protests against the 450,000 refugees crowding into Germany this year have dominated the headlines as the country struggles to cope with a record-breaking influx of asylum-seekers fleeing war, violence and famine.

But there is another story in Germany that is getting far less attention:

The millions of Germans who are opening their hearts and homes to help the tired, poor and huddled masses from the Middle East, Asia and Africa find shelter and perhaps a new life in a country that won’t stop trying to atone for its Nazi past.

The tensions between opponents and helpers of refugees in Germany, which is taking in more than any other European Union nation, is a microcosm of the struggles over the issue dividing Europe and especially at the flashpoint of violence in Calais.

This veritable German ghost town of Kerpen-Manheim – all but abandoned after utility RWE bought it to tear it down for a future 400-meter deep open-pit mine – has become a temporary home for 80 refugees from Somalia, Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia.