MUNICH — (MunichNOW News) — The Bavarian capital showed its best side on Monday and Tuesday as nearly 2200 asylum-seekers arrived at Munich’s central train station in search of a better life in a new country. Charlotte Knoblach, leader of the Israeli religious community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, commented on the great commitment shown by the many refugee helpers at the Hauptbahnhof: “I am overwhelmed by the outstanding commitment of the Munich’s citizens – especially the Munich police at it copes with great compassion, kindness, and help this difficult situation. The world can now see what a cosmopolitan city with a heart means”.
Munich police had said that anyone wanting to help with gifts of food,water, baby food, nappies or other supplies was welcome and should drop them at the station’s north entrance, the Münchener Merkur reported.
A spokesman for the Munich main station said that the atmosphere was somewhere between “calm” and “euphoric”, with many of the refugees calling “Thank you, Germany”, or “We love you, Germany,” as they arrived. Local people came into the station to donate food and water to the new arrivals as they stepped onto the platforms.
Charity Migration Aid estimated that up to 2,000 people had been stuck in the Hungarian capital, prevented from leaving for want of a visa to travel freely around the European Union’s Schengen passport-free zone.
The majority of them were refugees from Syria, northern Iraq and dictatorships such as Eritrea.
While some of them travelled straight to Munich after police at the Hungarian capital’s main station abandoned their barricades, others were stopped in Austria, where authorities planned to deport them back to Hungary.
Under the existing ‘Dublin rules’, the EU member state where refugees are first registered by the authorities is responsible for their care and for processing their asylum applications.
But it appears that the Hungarian authorities decided to allow people to board trains after hearing last week that Germany had suspended the rules in the case of Syrian refugees.
Many are trying to reach Germany, where the government last week eased asylum rules for Syrians to relieve pressure on southern European nations.
“I want to go to Hamburg. My brother arrived there 12 days (ago),” a 34-year-old Syrian told AFP at Vienna’s central station, where he and his family had arrived from Budapest on Monday.
The scene at the train station on Wednesday morning was one of full preparedness in wait of the next wave. According to serverl of the refugee helpers at the scene, additional refugees are expected from Budapest and some that have already made it to Germany may be coming to Munich from other cities such as Rosenheim.
The Tennis Center in Keferloh has been turned into a refugee camp almost overnight with the help of many locals.