Crowds in Munich greeting refugees who made the trek from Budapest

In pouring rain, they crossed the last few metres into Austria in the early hours of Saturday morning. The waiting Austrian police in their heavy waterproofs were taken aback by the refusal of the Hungarian bus drivers to take their passengers the last two kilometres, over the border and on to the Nickelsdorf train station where they were expected, and where a Vienna-bound train was waiting.

Instead, the officers had to guide the way with torches, helpless to offer shelter to the tired clusters of men, women and children coming through the puddles at the side of the motorway in the darkness…

A Red Cross tent offered a respite from the rain, with medics and volunteers working shifts while people waiting their turn to board special half-hourly bus and train services, laid on by the Austrian Federal Railway, to Vienna and Salzburg, and from there to Munich…

German volunteers feeding refugees as they arrive in Munich

By midday on Saturday, said Colin Turner, volunteers’ spokesman at Munich railway station, a total of 3,000 people had arrived. German officials expected up to 7,000 to arrive through the city by the end of the day.

This, said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, was a “defining moment” for the 28-nation European Union. Already the heroes and villains of the piece were being laid out – with condemnation of the response of the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and praise for Germany’s Angela Merkel and the Austrian chancellor, Werner Faymann, who announced they were opening their doors to refugees in the early hours of Saturday.

Around the same time, Hungary unexpectedly decided to provide buses for those who had simply walked out of Budapest on foot, heading for the Austrian border, after being prevented for several days from catching trains out of the capital. Some had been taken to a refugee camp.

In what the Hungarian media called a “day of uprisings”, 350 people had broken through a police cordon on Friday and begun heading to Austria, 137km away, on tracks leading away from the railway station. By late afternoon on Friday, a day after Orbán had warned of a “Muslim threat” to a Christian culture, up to 2,000 people – most from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – were walking towards the border in chaotic scenes.

The sudden appearance of blue public buses was a staggering about-turn – and an unexpected rejection of the Dublin convention, which says refugees should be kept in the first EU country they enter, and which Hungary had insisted on upholding. The country is already under fire for its plans to close and wire-fence its borders, saying it will effectively seal the frontier to migrants as of next week, in the face of EU Schengen rules…

The buses triggered alarm. Many refugees distrusted the Hungarian authorities after some of those camped at Budapest railway station had earlier boarded buses that they were told were heading for the Austrian border, only to end up in a refugee camp in Hungary. Many feared a similar ploy this time. “Who’s organising it, the Hungarians?” asked Ali, a Syrian on the march, after seeing the buses were coming. “Forget it, I’m walking.”…

In Austria, the mood was one of pride – for the way the government responded to the crisis and for the overwhelming response from people ferrying donations of food, water and clothes to train stations in Vienna and Salzburg…

By Saturday afternoon, officials in Vienna had to ask people to stay away from the station, which was heavily overcrowded with well-wishers bearing donations…

On Saturday night at Munich’s main station, dozens of Germans lined up behind police barriers to clap, cheer and distribute sweets to welcome refugees to their new home. A sophisticated official operation provided food and transport to temporary lodging.

RTFA for many more details.

To me it is clear the response from each nation’s government – guided the public response. Conservatives and rightwing politicians provoked all the worst in anti-human attitudes. In other lands – like Germany and Austria, more traditional Conservatives along with their Left-wing peers focused on providing aid and assistance to refugees from war.

Same as it ever was.

4 thoughts on “Crowds in Munich greeting refugees who made the trek from Budapest

  1. keaneo says:

    You can’t hold back the tears…watching a young German girl bringing a box of her toys to the Munich station to give to refugee children. Dozens of images like this counterposed to politicians spouting bullshit excuses for their refusal to aid.

    Of course, very little on US network TV. Been watching mostly on AlJazeera and CCTV.

    • Émigré says:

      Meanwhile, “We’re missing the point about Syrian refugees: The solution is not opening up Europe’s borders; it’s defeating ISIL and removing Assad from power.” Meanwhile, since the war began in 2011 more than 300,000 people have been killed and 12 million displaced, with four million fleeing the country as part of what the UN now describes as “the greatest humanitarian crisis of our era.”

      • Warbucks says:

        Russian forces have begun participating in military operations in Syria in support of government troops, three Lebanese sources familiar with the political and military situation there said on Wednesday.
        The sources, speaking to Reuters on condition they not be identified, gave the most forthright account yet from the region of what the United States fears is a deepening Russian military role in Syria’s civil war, though one of the Lebanese sources said the number of Russians involved so far was small.
        U.S. officials said Russia sent two tank landing ships and additional cargo aircraft to Syria in the past day or so and deployed a small number of naval infantry forces.
        The U.S. officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the intent of Russia’s military moves in Syria was unclear. One suggested the focus may be on preparing an airfield near the port city of Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
        U.S. officials have not ruled out the possibility that Russia may want to use the airfield for air combat missions.
        U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Russian counterpart for the second time in four days to express concern over reports of Russian military activities in Syria, warning that it could fan more violence.

  2. Luke6/31 says:

    “Europe’s refugee crisis is darkened by the shadows of WWII” “Where once thousands of people tried frantically to get out of Germany, fearing the rise of Hitler and his diabolical policies, thousands now are trying – in some cases, literally dying – to get in. And the government in Berlin is welcoming them: It has pledged to take in an astonishing 800,000 asylum seekers, which far exceeds the total that the other 27 European Union countries, combined, have committed to accepting.”
    The number of European civilians who were, for whatever reason, displaced from their homes as a result of WWII has been estimated at 60 million. Food shortages after the end of the war were severe, especially in the harsh winter of 1946–1947. From July 1945 through June 1946, the United States shipped 16.5 million tons of food, primarily wheat, to Europe and Japan. It amounted to 1/6 of the American food supply, and provided 35 trillion calories, enough to provide 400 calories a day for one year to 300 million people.
    “…Aside from the demoralizing effect on the world at large and the possibilities of disturbances arising as a result of the desperation of the people concerned, the consequences to the economy of the United States should be apparent to all. It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist. Such assistance, I am convinced, must not be on a piecemeal basis as various crises develop. Any assistance that this Government may render in the future should provide a cure rather than a mere palliative. Any government that is willing to assist in the task of recovery will find full co-operation I am sure, on the part of the United States Government. Any government which maneuvers to block the recovery of other countries cannot expect help from us. Furthermore, governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States.” U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, speech at Harvard University, June 5th, 1947.

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