Migrant crisis playing into the hands of Germany’s extremists

When anti-immigrant chants echo off the splendid, ornate buildings of this bustling city on the River Elbe, Dresden’s residents are, for the most part, mortified.


Many here insist that flamboyant outbursts of fury directed at the wave of migrants and refugees reaching Europe’s shores this year are not the true face of Dresden, or the former East Germany — or of Germany as a whole.


“There’s a fear of the unknown, and it sometimes finds an ugly expression,” said office worker Heike Ullrich, enjoying a sunny morning with her husband and two flaxen-haired toddlers in a market square in the city center. “On the whole, people here are welcoming of outsiders.”


Perhaps best known for the Allied firebombings of 1945 that killed tens of thousands of people and laid waste to the jewel-box Baroque architecture of its Old Town, since painstakingly reconstructed, Dresden has long carried an unwelcome taint as a center of Germany’s small but virulent neo-Nazi movement.


Some analysts worry that the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees on Europe’s shores — the largest share of them Muslims fleeing war and violence in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq — could breathe new life into far-right movements, not only in the former East Germany but also elsewhere in Europe, particularly on its less prosperous eastern fringes.


Read More: Migrant crisis playing into the hands of Germany’s extremists – LA Times