Letters: Past refugees weren’t readily accepted in Germany

SHARE Letters: Past refugees weren’t readily accepted in Germany
SHARE Letters: Past refugees weren’t readily accepted in Germany

The political scene in Europe has changed so dramatically in the last few months that it is hard to keep up with all the events and developments.

For weeks now, news programs have focused on the subject of refugees. All the Europeans I know who have been living in the United States and Canada for many years are concerned about how what is happening in Europe, but most especially in Germany, will play out. We all share the concern that the German government has taken on a formidable burden, especially in light of the fact that the other European Union member states have been unwilling or unable to assist in any meaningful way with the placement of the refugees.

Friends who, like me, were themselves refugees from the former German provinces of East Prussia, Silesia and Pomerania and who now live in the United States and Canada find it disconcerting, as do I, that the German press compares what happened to us after World War II to the situation Germany now faces with the refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Today’s refugees have a different culture, language and religion. By contrast, those of us who arrived after World War II, as half-starved, shabbily dressed women, children and a few old men carrying a few tattered pieces of clothing in shabby rucksacks, were Germans by birth, spoke the language, and had the same religion as our fellow countrymen.

And yet, despite the fact that we had so much in common with the local population, it still took a few years before we were somewhat accepted by them, if at all. For example, in 1998, while I was writing my bookWeeds Like Us, I went back to Bodenteich in Lower Saxony where my mother and I had spent the years 1949 and 1950 in a 230 square-foot room in a former barracks that was being used to house refugees. Near the Bodenteich railroad station an old women confided in me, “You can take it from me, we locals still know, after all this time, who belongs to us and who was ‘one of them.’ ”

If, after half a century, some German locals still regarded the refugees from the former German provinces as “outsiders,” I have to wonder how long it will take for refugees from the Middle East and North Africa to be accepted by the native German population.

Gunter Nitsch, Near North Side

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.


Tuesday’s editorial regarding the need for the next president to combat global warming was irrefutable. It’s a moral, societal, ecological and planetary imperative to reduce global warming.

A victory will ultimately save the lives of millions of people and billions of animals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. It would dramatically safeguard countries, cities, islands, forests, biodiversity, nature habitats, oceans, rivers and lakes. Political leaders who dismiss global warming are ignoring the floods, wildfires, starvation, poverty and famine that are ravaging the earth and its inhabitants into disrepair and despair.

Brien Comerford Glenview

Where is the proof?

Every year our climate changes from spring to summer to fall and then towWinter but now the Sun-Times Editorial Board thinks this is a huge issue for our planet, or so they say in their Dec. 15 editorial. In their infinite wisdom and ability to see the future they declare, “If nothing is done, we will have more droughts and heat waves, rising sea levels will flood islands and coastal cities and human activity will be disrupted.”

Where is the proof? An “overwhelming scientific consensus” is not proof of anything, and saying climate change is real doesn’t take brains. Where are the science books that tell us how man caused previous ice ages and warming cycles?

Donald Nauyokas, Brighton Park

Raise interest rates

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve under its chief, Janet Yellen, slightly raised interest rates, which were set at near zero for seven years. I don’t know the “deep in the weeds” issues about a rise in interest rates and the ensuing affect on our nation’s economy. I do know that negligible interest rates have had a great impact on Americans’ decisions about where to invest their extra funds.

My husband and I no longer care about savings accounts. Instead, we look to the stock market for opportunities to grow our money. We are thus losing the protection of the FDIC for our important funds.

I see nonexistent savings interest earnings as a force to feed the greedy maw of the stock market. It’s hard to believe that we once earned 14 percent interest on our savings. No wonder there is a sense of panic in financial circles. Interest rates that once were viewed as normal are now seen as reasons for financial markets to worry.

A rise in interest rates will divert significant funds to the safe haven of FDIC-insured instruments. Retirees on fixed incomes will benefit from their interest-grown savings. Their money won’t be forced into the much riskier stock market that is also vulnerable to manipulation by those with much more knowledge and capabilities to increase their investments than the average investor.

Give us a break! Unwealthy investors deserve opportunities to grow their money without the pitfalls of a Wall Street stacked against them. Raise interest rates on savings accounts and other secure devices available to those with modest incomes.

Karen Wagner, Rolling Meadows

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