Destinations Magazine

The End of Heile Welt

By Stizzard
The end of Heile Welt

MORE than 1m refugees arrived in Germany last year, mainly young Muslim men. They entered a society that, relative to other Western countries, has embraced multiculturalism only recently. Suddenly these foreigners are in co-ed schools, discos, swimming pools, hospitals and parks. Some of their interactions with their hosts go easily. Others do not—as epitomised by New Year’s Eve in Cologne, where gangs of North African men sexually assaulted scores of German women who had come to watch the fireworks.

Germans who only a year ago oozed confidence about their economy and their country are now losing faith that they “can manage”, as Angela Merkel, the chancellor, likes to put it. Many fear the crisis will render Germany unrecognisable. A sense of loss pervades many conversations.

To grasp this trauma it helps to understand the German zeitgeist that developed (mainly in the former West Germany) in the post-war years, and lingered in the reunited country. Germans call it Heile Welt. The term means something like “wholesome world”, and describes an orderly, idyllic state. It may connote the nurturing environment…

The Economist: Europe

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