Rosenthal near Hirschfelde near Zittau near Görlitz in eastern Saxony, deep in the country of the Sorbs, directly on the border with Poland, is probably not known to many. The last train reached the tranquil town in November 1943. Today there is a butcher’s shop, a bicycle rental shop with a snack bar and a funeral home.
And maybe soon a home for asylum seekers for 150 people. No Ukrainians have been announced, but Afghans, Syrians, Iranians and Iraqis. Especially young men. 150 residents and 150 asylum seekers in one place. Can this go well? Many residents don’t see it that way. When the head of social affairs for the district of Görlitz, Thomas Gampe, presented the plans for the renovation of a former apprentices’ home in early April, there was a hail of whistles, boos and the wish that District Administrator Stephan Meyer (CDU) might drop by himself.
In any case, he can’t get past the topic. On Tuesday, the Görlitz district council will meet at the request of the AfD for a special session to talk about what is currently being discussed in almost all municipalities. What to do with the never-ending stream of asylum seekers?
Conservative majority in the district council
The AfD application, which the JUNGE FREIHEIT has received, stipulates that no more asylum homes will be built or made available in the Görlitz district. The district itself cannot decide that, which is why the application contains the passage that the district should come to an agreement with the federal government and the state government of Saxony.
Such an application would probably stand no chance in almost every district council – because it comes from the AfD. But in Saxony, as is well known, the clocks tick a little differently than in the rest of the republic. Will the CDU, which is in second place in the district council with 23 seats behind the AfD (27 seats), really vote against the application? In any case, the pressure of the citizens on the Christian Democrats is high.
In addition, in addition to the Union and AfD, the Free Voters, who are much more conservative in Saxony than in most western German states, have eleven district councilors in the local parliament. Together, the three parties have a clear majority.
AfD party leader comes personally
This is also not a normal date for the AfD, which traditionally does well in Saxony and is neck-and-neck in polls with the Union. “The topic is only discussed in the district council after our application,” says AfD federal spokesman Tino Chrupalla of JUNGE FREIHEIT. Because: Chrupalla is also a member of the Görlitz district council and a directly elected member of the Bundestag.
Chrupalla appeals to all district councils to approve the application. The district had a deficit of 50 million euros in the last financial year alone. “We have completely different problems here: for example, we lack doctors, teachers and craftsmen; Money for school meals or the school bus”, Chrupalla criticizes and points out that there is no public infrastructure in Hirschfelde. Local residents would also see it that way and feel it every day.
However, the AfD boss not only wants to vote, but will also bring in and justify the application, since “this also supports the concerns of the mayors,” affirms Chrupalla. The AfD parliamentary group leader in the district council, Hajo Exner, says the JF: “The application is “non-partisan” and in the interest of the citizens. And we do politics for them in the district of Görlitz. As district councilors, we have taken responsibility for this.”
Much is reminiscent of Upahl
Hirschfelde is only the tip of the iceberg. Even in the district of Görlitz. Asylum seekers should not only be accommodated in Hirschfelde, but also in Boxberg, north of the district town. The municipality is one of the largest in Saxony, but has only around 4,000 inhabitants on 217 square kilometers.
As early as March, a local daily newspaper ran the headline “’We don’t want them here’ – many Boxbergers reject new asylum seekers”. Left-of-centre parties don’t have much to gain. Much is reminiscent of the “Upahl case”. In the small village of 500 souls in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s deepest province, 400 asylum seekers should be accommodated. Angry protests followed. In the end, a court stopped the construction work, which had started without any permission. The municipality finally withdrew the building permit for the area.
Asylum numbers are rising and rising
Görlitz will not be the last district council to approve homes for asylum seekers, if necessary even against the express will of the citizens. According to the asylum business statistics of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, 80,000 new asylum seekers came to Germany in March alone. This does not include Ukrainians. Extrapolated for the whole year, there are almost a million asylum seekers. For comparison: in 2016, the year of the asylum crisis, around 750,000 asylum applications were received.
The district council in Görlitz will not be dealing with the topic for the last time.
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