In August, when Chancellor Angela Merkel controversially welcomed all Syrians, promising them asylum, benefits and housing as war refugees, the country’s mood was buoyant. Helping out was the right thing to do, said most Germans.
But other faraway nations, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, took note of Mrs Merkel’s message. Within weeks, thousands of migrants, only 20 per cent of whom are believed to be Syrians, had grabbed the chance of a new life in the West.
In what has become the biggest European movement of people since World War II, countries from Sweden to Hungary have hurriedly introduced border checks to try to assess who are genuine refugees.
Yet each day 7,000 migrants still arrive in Germany. They are predominantly young Muslim men from the Middle East, Africa and even the Balkans, and their numbers have topped 180,000 since the beginning of this month — equivalent to the population of Luton.
By the end of 2015, a million new migrants will have reached Germany — a nation of around 80 million — in a year, most after paying huge sums to people smugglers for dangerous crossings from Turkey to Greece en route to Mrs Merkel’s land of milk and honey.
The surge of new arrivals is likely to reach the same tally in 2016. Frontex, the European border agency, and Western intelligence services have sounded a second alarm. They warn that Islamic State jihadists are exploiting the refugee influx to slip into Europe.
Former interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, a member of a sister political party to Merkel’s CDU, said recently:
‘We can only unreliably estimate how many of them are Islamic State fighters or Islamist “sleepers” . . . no other country in the world would be so naive and starry-eyed as to expose itself to such a risk.’ Yet Mrs Merkel sticks to her plan. ‘
I have my vision and will fight for it. All is under control,’ she said of the migration crisis on TV recently. In a 40-minute speech this week, she urged Germans to carry on as normal despite the Paris attacks by Islamic State fanatics.
‘We Europeans will show our free life is stronger than terror,’ she said.
But even though ‘Refugees Welcome’ signs dot every German town and city, many are growing nervous about what’s coming next. A respected TV station, N24, has reported that many new arrivals have already vanished under the radar since entering the country.
On three occasions in September, groups of young male migrants, thought to be non-Syrians trying to escape the attention of immigration or security services, have pulled the emergency brakes to stop trains taking them to camps for registration, then jumped out and vanished.
Meanwhile, German police say they are investigating 60 cases in which Islamic extremists, some posing as charity workers, have infiltrated migrant camps to recruit migrants to jihad. But terror is far from the only worry on German minds.
It is bitterly ironic that postwar Germany, still battling with national guilt over the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews in the Holocaust, is importing so many people who are avowedly anti-Semitic.
A leaked document by German intelligence chiefs warned that fully integrating hundreds of thousands of what it termed ‘illegal migrants’ will be ‘impossible’. It added: ‘We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples, as well as a different understanding of society and law.’