Europe News

Migrants given an A-Z guide to Germany

Jessica Hartogs, special to CNBC

Thirty-eight tips for understanding Germany and the Germans, a video podcast on how to open a bank account and cartoon guides instructing foreigners not to grope women or harass homosexuals are just part of the guidelines authorities are introducing in an effort to teach migrants and refugees how to integrate into German society.

With migrants arriving at European Union borders reaching a million last year– in the first 10 months of last year, 995,000 first-time asylum applications were submitted to EU countries, more than twice the number over the same period in 2014 - according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, integration is a hot topic in Europe.

And it seems that Germany, one of the European countries to have taken in the most refugees thus far, is making effort to advise migrants on how to adapt to the country's culture and practices.

This picture taken on January 13, 2015 during a press conference in Berlin shows a tablet displaying an app called 'Arrival' (Ankommen in German) specially designed for asylum seekers in Germany. This application is a project conducted by German Office for Migration and Refugees.

Refugees can read up on topics including how to enroll their children to local schools, how to read basic traffic signs, and how to ask for medical help.

They are also taught how not to behave in German society, including, 'Urinating in public can be an offense,' and that homosexuality is legal, 'It is common for couples of the same or different sex to show affection in public. This is accepted and acceptable behavior. This should just be ignored,' as well as, 'Having bare arms or legs is common and normal, for example when wearing a t-shirt or shorts or a short skirt. Staring at other people is considered impolite.'

The various guides include a book aimed at the small number of refugees who already speak German; a pamphlet available in 13 languages for those who don't; a phone app with versions in Arabic, Persian and French; a video podcast series featuring helpful hints and, perhaps least successfully, as notes the New York Times, an attempt to instruct newcomers in proper behavior in the form of a 14-panel cartoon similar to an airplane safety information card.

The latter has led to a variety of spoofs online, with the Lebanese-British satirist Karl Sharro, apparently inspired by the "absurdity" of the cartoons, to produce his own guide for Western behavior to be avoided in the Middle East.


This includes not conducting airstrikes, invading Iraq, furnishing repressive regimes with tear gas and deadly weapons, overlooking the jailing of dissidents and cozying up to autocrats.

George Soros
Europe on the verge of collapse: Soros
Exhausted migrants light camp fires and sleep in a field after crossing the border from Serbia into Hungary along the railway tracks close to the village of Roszke on September 6, 2015 in Szeged, Hungary.
'If this is your idea of Europe, you can keep it'

The IMF this week reported that the influx of refugees into Europe is likely to raise economic growth slightly in the short term and could deliver a bigger long-term economic boost to the EU, if refugees are well integrated into the job market.

Austria, Germany and Sweden, which have taken in the most of the refugees and have low unemployment rates, will see the biggest economic impact, added the IMF.

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