Move is intended to allow them to extinguish fires themselves if their centres are attacked
The images of Germans welcoming refugees from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere at a Munich train station last month are still omnipresent. Increasingly, however, Germans who are opposed to more immigration are becoming more vocal.
Pegida, an eastern German anti-Islam movement that was believed to have disappeared, is now now attracting more than 10,000 weekly protesters. Meanwhile, refugee reception centres are being targeted by right-wing extremists and locals in arson attacks.
Now, one German town has decided to train refugees as firefighters, partly so that they can extinguish the fires themselves if their own accommodation centres are attacked.
The story was first reported by German radio station Deutschlandfunk. It quoted instructors explaining firefighting techniques to trainees, such as using fire extinguishers, rather than water, to put out a blaze started by a Molotov cocktail.
The firefighter training appears to be confined to the eastern German city of Wittstock for now. Participation in the courses is voluntary, and, according to the Deutschlandfunk report, refugees themselves had asked to be trained as firefighters.
So far this year, there have been more attacks on refugees in the less-populated eastern part of Germany than in the west, though there are fewer refugees in the east.
As WorldViews explained in a previous post, the significant differences between eastern and western German attitudes toward refugees are not accidental.
Sixty percent of Germany’s unemployed do not fall below the poverty threshold, whereas about 3 million employed do. The number of people who are poor despite having a job has increased by 25 per cent from 2008 until 2013. In other words: For some, it is financially more beneficial to be unemployed in Germany than to have a job.
Most reported attacks and other acts of violence have originated in the east, despite the fact that only about one-fifth of the country’s total population lives there.