Hillebrand makes a conciliatory gesture as a lifeguard, palms down. There were years when Maier and Hillebrand had to wait for ten hours until a smuggler or dealer was netted. This morning it took nine minutes. While they drive their catch to the police station, they see the next car by the roadside. People jump off the hold. Maier and Hillebrand continue. Their car is already full.
Dialling the number that Amir Shamo has left us, a man with fluent German picks up. He asks if we can put the Shamos in a taxi to Munich. But Amir Shamo and his family are already sitting in Passau on plastic chairs in front of the former classroom building of the police, which serves as a reception point these days, with camp beds to rest, with high tables, where officials fill out lists and type names in old computers.
A policeman sticks yellow bracelets around the wrists of the Shamos and writes numbers with black ink, numbers new lives like a midwife in a maternity hospital. Thus, their first tour of German bureaucracy starts. An official photographs the Shamos. Another takes their fingerprints. A third shows them forms on which they can choose between ten languages.
The forms ask a lot of questions. What has to happen to a person to be willing to leave his family, his friends, his work, his language, his whole identity? How many bombs have to fall, how many buildings destroyed, how many people beheaded? For a year, Amir Shamo endured the terror of IS. A year in which the fighters blew up the monuments of his native city of Mosul, stole young girls, wiped out families. The Shamos are Yazidis, they belong to a religious minority in Northern Iraq who do not believe in either Allah or Jesus Christ, rather in a God who created the world out of a pearl.
Amir Shamo had never planned to leave the land of his fathers. He owned a bar, he lived with his family in a stone house, they did not have much, but it was more than enough. When the fighters of IS took their city a year ago, three options remained: Amir Shamo is a devout man, he would never betray his religion. So he decided to flee, as five of his eight brothers did before him. For years, wars and conflicts have raged in the Middle East, shattering certainties and alliances. Currently, the Turks are bombing the Kurds, the enemy of their enemy, Islamic State.
Like the Shamos, many citizens tried to persevere, hoping that peace would return to their homeland. But it did not return, and their distress grew until it became unbearable. This explains why now, in the summer of , so many refugees are reaching Germany. Outside in the parking lot of the Passau guardpost, engines hum, the police bring in more and more people, confiscated cars line up in ranks. Vehicles that have become symbols, a rescue capsule and prison cell at the same time.
They stand in long rows in the courtyards of police stations or are left to rot in the woods. Square, old transporters from Volkswagen, Fiat, Mercedes. The owners have changed repeatedly, the tachometer veered umpteen times, pockmarked rust spreads on the steel sheets. Hungarian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Italian license plates.
In the glove compartments legacies of smuggling, candy wrappers with a Turkish inscription, croissant bags from Greece, empty plastic bottles with Hungarian labels, crumpled Marlboro boxes, notepads full of phone numbers. If there are benches, they smell of sweat, and cigarettes sticks out of the cushions. Outside, traces of past years in the paint, often names of Bavarian, Swabian, Lower Saxony craft enterprises. Even the cars tell a story of this summer of upheavals and the movements that arise from them.
Refugee Crisis: Stranded in Passau
Many of the cars, say the police, were originally owned by a German and were sold at the time of the scrappage scheme. A white minibus must have belonged to the German Sports Aid, as the lettering has withstood time and weather. At the police station, hours pass in waiting, answering questions, filling in lists, waiting, stamping documents, waiting. Aiham, the five-year-old, looks in wonder at the screens of officials on which photographs and fingerprints of the refugees appear.
When a police officer raises a high five in the air, Aiham slaps it. The Germans pat him on his head and give him sweets. Every day dozens of families land in front of the Passau officials, thousands of refugees every week. The work of the police is suffering on an assembly line.
If you watch them for a few days, you realise that they are very tired, but they do everything possible to give the stranger as much space as possible. To leave each individual in the crowd their dignity. And in places like a police station. Sometimes a small Renault Twingo stops in front of the building, and a bald man with a leather bag gets out.
Ingo Martin is a specialist in general medicine. This summer he has the feeling he is moving back in time, reaching well into the last century.
During these weeks, he sees bodies that remind him of historical images of In addition, lacerations often on the head, because the smugglers always pack their cars full and ruthlessly slam the doors. The doctor is a good storyteller, a pleasant conversationalist, he precisely examines individuals among the many and that prevents generalisations. Martin does not speak as a concerned German, he often laughs at the comedy of some encounters. In this country, the sick go to the hospital — and the healthy ones take care of the kids.
So tired and famished, but the doctor can see what a human body can endure, how quickly it recovers, especially the children. Mostly an aspirin, vitamin C and some gel against insect bites are sufficient. It is a sociological diagnosis that the physician makes: If something moves him this summer, then it is not so much the injuries he sees.
Rather it is the appearance of the refugees. The women, so tough. The children, so uncomplaining. It stinks in the police stations. Martin has been thinking: Where does this discipline come from? This dignity — even in the groups of refugees who move across the fields? As families silently wait for hours on a cot until they are called.
Cleary, the more destroyed a country, the stronger the bonds become. When Caroline Spreitzer took care of the refugees in her garden, brought them water and made sandwiches with Nutella, and her neighbours found out about it, they began to grumble. Otherwise more will come! This dichotomy runs through the whole country and in every village in the district of Passau. Some neighbours install alarm systems.
The Unknown Works
Others prepare food as for birds in the winter. Some fret over empty bottles in their hedges. Others offer their services as a tutor. In every place empathy confronts fear. In the Lower Bavarian solitude, there are people who are afraid of introduced diseases. Why do so many of these foreigners wear clean clothes, even Nike sneakers? That is the momentary impression. The losses remain invisible. Scenes remain invisible like those in the highway rest stop, where the Shamos entered German soil. One morning a father pulled the last clean clothes out for his five daughters, jeans with sequins, sweaters with a butterfly pattern.
He washes their faces, combs their hair, so that they appear proper in front of the German authorities, with some self-esteem. But something was missing: Caroline Spreitzer debates this even with herself. Irrespective of the ideology: The reality in Passau provides some points of concern.
Die Türken im Gelobten Land (German Edition)
Those who experienced dirty sympathy would rather like to be clean. And those who flee are not always poor. An escape is Darwinism in its purest form. The most likely to come through are the boys, though aged. The strong, albeit weakened. And the wealthy, even if they have left a lot behind. Unlike her neighbour, Caroline Spreitzer knows that they cannot stop the new migration of peoples, not with avarice, not by having an alarm system. And she guesses that her good fortune to live in one peaceful patch of earth is also an obligation. And during the summer holidays you can open the school gyms.
What will happen then, in September? Then the big questions begin: How long does the helpfulness last? Does it go beyond the concession of any gifts that can be found in the basement: The events outside her home have forced Caroline Spreitzer to adopt another attitude.
These weeks may seem chaotic: The world is arranging itself anew. More and more borders in the atlases of their children lose their validity; people move from war to peace, from unjust states to constitutional ones. Just as water flows downhill. Now that the world is rearranging itself, many lives take a different course, in Passau as well. Interpreters are urgently sought in the city. People who speak Dari or Pashto and previously cleaned offices or sold kebab suddenly become intermediaries, word-explainers, everyday diplomats.
In the Promised Land – De Groene Amsterdammer
For example, Hossi Meknatgoo, small and wiry, born in Iran in , who as a member of the national judo team defected from the Khomeini regime in a foreign competition in Until a few weeks ago, in his first German life, Meknatgoo was a man with a thousand part-time jobs. Barman, for example, masseur, judo teacher.
Now he translates statements from underage refugees in two homes, who are crossing through Europe without their parents. Again and again jang for war, farar for escape, shenasnahme for document and tashakor, tashakor, tashakor: Hossi Meknatgoo now meets children who have a very special, selective knowledge of the Western world: Most, says Meknatgoo, are educated and eager to learn, they want to study, be a doctor or engineer.
One boy had financed his flight by playing chess at way stations. Many are traumatised, but did not learn to talk about feelings at home. Some wince when a pen falls from the table. Hossi Meknatgoo translates the reports of boys who say that they fled because the IS wanted to recruit them as suicide bombers.
Then statements that they moved with two boats across the Black Sea, but only one arrived. The report that ten of them tried hanging under a railway wagon in Greece, but only nine could hold on until Bulgaria. And who say they have been sexually abused in Hungarian prisons by fellow prisoners. Where are they exaggerating?
And where do they remain silent — out of shame? Hossi Meknatgoo met young people who can only fall asleep with the light on, like toddlers. He feels that his words, recorded in files, suddenly gain weight:. When he awakes, his jaw hurts. Learn more about Amazon Prime. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web.
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