Merkel Questions Germany’s Multicultural Experiment

The issue of immigration now forcing it’s way on to the Europe wide agenda.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stirred up a storm of controversy by describing Germany’s attempt to build a multicultural society an utter failure.

In a speech to the youth wing of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on Saturday, she said:

“At the beginning of the 60s our country called the foreign workers to come to Germany and now they live in our country.”

She added: “We kidded ourselves a while, we said: ‘They won’t stay, sometime they will be gone’, but this isn’t reality.”

“And of course, the approach to build a multicultural society and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other… has failed, utterly failed.”

Whilst at pains to point out that immigrants are welcome in Germany, Merkel went on to say that the concept of multiculturism, one where people would “live side-by-side” happily, did not work, and immigrants needed to do more to integrate, including learning German.

Her comments were thought to be aimed at Germany’s 4.3million Muslims. There are around 3000 mosques in the country.

She spoke about her fear that German-ness’ may eventually be lost and her concerns about headscarves in classrooms and Turkish ghettos in cities like Berlin.

“We feel bound to the Christian image of humanity ““ that is what defines us. Those who do not accept this are in the wrong place here.”

A recent poll suggested that 30% of the population of Germany had concerns that their country is being overrun with immigrants.

I am concerned that Germany is following the likes of Belgium and France whose political direction is heading for an uncomfortable rush to the far right following recent debates about banning the Burkha.

I’m all for a sensible discussion about Immigration but all this talk of mutlicultural experiments failing is all wrong.

Germany, just like the United Kingdom, invited immigrants into their country 40-50 years ago when there was a shortage of labour to undertake certain undesirable jobs.

Those immigrants have gone on to have families, 2nd and third generations now play an active part in society.

Here is Stoke-on-Trent I do share the frustration regarding the lack of racial integration in parts of our city.

I have spent a lot of time in cities like Birmingham, Leicester, London and parts of Lancashire, on business. I have witnessed first hand, different cultures living and working side by side. I have seen the respect and tolerance of the different cultures that exist in these progressive societies.

It is fair to say that certain cultural differences may prevent the closest of friendships in some cases but never the less there can be a mutual respect.

A few years ago i was the Chair of an award winning multicultural group set up with the aim of breaking down some of the prejudices that existed predominately in the south of the city.

Parents from both the Muslim community mixed with white parents to encourage their children to adopt a tolerant approach to life in our city.

This group did some great work, barriers were broken down, but i would be lying to suggest it was without difficulties.

There was a real reluctance for some people in the Asian community to get involved.

Until we all promote a society where there is a sensible, commonsense approach to immigration and a real desire for cross cultural integration, progress will be very slow indeed.

There are simply too many quangos and one sided community groups that promote the needs of one culture over another.

There needs to be a simple society charter that agrees to let the different cultures exist and celebrate the diversity whilst promoting a one society ethos which can come together for the greater good of our city/country.

If we fail to do this, at some point in the future, the extremes of the communities will spill their bile out onto the rest of our tolerant society.

People like the Chell Heath racist must never be allowed to influence the young people of today who will become the multi- cultural adults of tomorrow.

The same must be said about the extremists in the Asian Community.

I am completely sold on the notion of a multicultural society. Yes it’s going to take some work, yes there needs to be some give and take, but I think we could make it work… Don’t you?

Or do we take the fall back, vote capturing view of the German Chancellor? Which in my view is a complete cop out!

Sir Barnett Stross & Lidice Must Be Recognised In Stoke-on-Trent

Today’s society places a huge emphasis on education. The last Labour Government coined the famous phrase, education, education, education. They say you are never too old too learn and those words are so, so true in light of a recent story told to me by Alan & Cheryl Gerrard of Fenton’s The Art Bay Gallery.

The story told of the heroic, unselfish and compassionate actions of a Stoke-on-Trent GP during World War 2.

Sir Barnett Stross was born in Poland on Christmas Day 1899 to Jewish parents. He and his family moved to England in 1905 and settled in Leeds.

Barnett Stross was educated and attended University in the City and he qualified as a Doctor in 1926.

He moved south to set up practice in the Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent and treated mainly pottery workers and their families. He became a fierce campaigner for compensation payments for workers blighted by the industrial diseases pneumoconiosis and silicosis.

It was while he was working as a GP in Shelton that Stross was alerted to and outraged by the plight of a village in the Czech Republic just north-west of Prague called Lidice.

Heinrich Himmler, commander of the SS, head of the Gestapo, ordered the complete destruction of Lidice in revenge for the killing of an high ranking German officer.

192 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered on the spot by the Germans, the rest of the population were sent to Nazi concentration camps where many women and nearly all the children were killed.

The atrocity caused widespread outrage among the mining communities of North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Barnett Stross was instrumental in this and he coined the phrase “ËœLidice Shall Live” in direct contradiction to Hitler’s orders that “Lidice Would Die Forever’.

The campaign to rebuild Lidice was born and at a mass meeting in the Victoria Hall, Hanley, three months later the Lidice Shall Live Movement was formally.

The people of Lidice have never forgot the role played by Sir Barnett Stross, the miners of North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. In the Lidice Memorial Museum, his work is commemorated and attracts visitors from around the world.

Barnett Stross went on to serve the Potteries for many years. He was elected MP for Stoke-on-Trent’s Hanley Division in 1945. He served in parliament for 21 years and was often called on to speak on medical issues. He was very anti smoking and still campaigned on Industrial disease. He was Knighted in 1964 and he died in 1967.

Sir Barnett Stross was never considered for the Citizen of the Century to mark the 100 year Federation of the 6 Towns.

All may not be lost however, we do have an opportunity to recognise this truly inspirational Stoke-on-Trent character.

As Alan & Cheryl point out on their Facebook Group Page [link below],

From the Sir. Barnett Stross, Twinning Lidice & Stoke-on-Trent Group

The people of Lidice always remember the role played by Sir. Barnett Stross and the miners of North Staffordshire. In Lidice Stross’s name is well known, place names being named after him. A Lidice Memorial Museum attracts visitors from across the globe.

The creators of this group believe a twinning of Lidice with Stoke-on-Trent would be highly advantageous for Stoke-on-Trent, economically, socially and culturally as it would open many profile raising and regenerative opportunities for the city. Here are some:

It would give the young people of Stoke-on-Trent a sense of pride in their ancestry. What finer example could there be of the kind-hearted spirit of the people of Stoke-on-Trent in action.

The significance of the role of ordinary, working class people in rebuilding Lidice after that terrible event would attract UK interest (and possibly global interest come 2012) – therefore doing much to improve the perceptions of Stoke-on-Trent viz-a-viz other cities in the UK and help attract hitherto unwilling investors and visitors to Stoke-on-Trent.

Organised properly with correct consultation with the communities of Stoke-on-Trent and its private sector, it could help reduce parochialism and disaffection, give the people of Stoke-on-Trent a sense of “place” and empathy with a community thousands of miles away. Especially as it was largely due to the workers of this city that the “Lidice Shall Live” campaign grew.

The Lidice Memorial Museum contains a wealth of artworks produced by world renowned artists. Already the museum have indicated their willingness to lend
artifacts related to the event towards a commemorative exhibition in 2012. They have indicated a desire to come to Stoke-on-Trent to find out more about Sir. Barnett Stross and the people of Stoke-on-Trent in readiness for their exhibition next year to celebrate the 111th anniversary of the birth of Barnett Stross.

No other city in The UK holds such an emotional tie to the events perpetrated by The SS. Although a National Holocaust Museum exists in Newark, Sherwood Forest, it is very possible that a properly fitted, permanent exhibition to commemorate the destruction of, and celebrate the rebuilding of, Lidice would attract many, many visitors to Stoke-on-Trent each year. This is even more likely if close ties are formed with The National Holocaust Museum and The National Arboretum in Cannock.

The Lidice Memorial Museum holds a Children’s Art Competition which attracts entries from all over the world. This year they’ve received over 25,000 entrants. I believe the museum would support and market an annual Children’s Art Competition which mirrored that of Lidice’s. Stoke-on-Trent could conceivably, therefore, receive work from children across the globe and prizes could include trips to Stoke-on-Trent to visit its attractions.

Sir. Barnett Stross. presented/opened the world’s largest rose garden at Lidice as a symbol of commemoration and rebirth. Stoke-on-Trent could find somewhere to site the largest rose garden in the UK to commemorate the life of Barnett Stross, Hugh Leese and the other Stoke-on-Trent people that started the campaign. Again this could be a massive a media event and the rose garden, if promoted properly, could become an attraction for many visitors to Stoke-on-Trent

There are, of course, many, many more potential benefits that could accrue into the long term.

If you agree that a twinning, whether that be formal or informal, of Stoke-on-Trent with Lidice would do much to raise the profile of Stoke-on-Trent and help in its regeneration and help improve non-domicile perceptions of Stoke-on-Trent, please invite people to join this group, or write to your councillor, or write to The Sentinel. Like others on Regenerate Stoke, we firmly believe that Stoke-on-Trent should start aiming higher. Part of that can be making the very most of any significant role it has previously made in world affairs.[/quote]

So, the gauntlet has been laid down to our City Council and the Cabinet Member with responsibility Hazel Lyth. This could be a massive good news story for Stoke-on-Trent. In these times of the “Ëœcut, cut, cut’ culture this story could be a flashing beacon amidst all the doom.

Pits n Pots completely support the effort of Alan & Cheryl Gerrard of The Art Bay Gallery, Fenton in their efforts to commemorate the act of humanity of Sir Barnett Stross. We also support the call for a formal twinning agreement with the town of Lidice.

We ask all Pits n Pots readers to join Alan & Cheryl’s Facebook Group and we ask that all readers leave a message of support on the comments section of this article.

We urge Council Leader Pervez, his Cabinet, all other City Councillors and CEO John van de Laarschot to action this request as a matter of urgency.

We firmly believe the City Council are doing their best in these most difficult times, but request that Alan & Cheryl’s efforts be recognised with positive action.

Please do not mistake their frustration for anger. This City needs progressive citizens like Alan & Cheryl to combat the negativity of the extreme views held in this City.

Sir Barnett Stross was a Jew. This year Stoke-on-Trent voted to formally adopt a Holocaust Memorial Day, what better way would there be of sending a clear message to those who use politics to deny and denounce the Holocaust, that Stoke-on-Trent will never forget those atrocities.

Stoke-on-Trent should be proud of Citizens like Sir Barnett Stross and for those, like me, who did not know about this fantastic individual, let’s get the message out eh?

A Bonfire of the Vanities

I was watching an old clip of film of Alan Hudson playing in the 1975 friendly against West Germany which England comfortably beat the then world champions. Hudson’s ease on the ball, even down to nutmegging one of the German players was a joy to behold. But after that dominant performance how many times did Hudson or any others of that “golden generation” play for England.

I guess it has always been the case that England have always not really trusted the supremely gifted player. My late father always said that the best player he ever saw down at the Victoria Ground was Len Shackleton and I think he only got a handful of caps.. But then to draw an analogy from the 1990s England has always preferred a Calton Palmer to a Le Tissier.

I never expected England to progress far in the World Cup anyone who saw the laboured performance in the pre World Cup friendlies would have reached that conclusion, but I guess the impact on English Football on the disastrous World Cup campaign are potentially immense.

I saw in the paper the indebtedness of the Premiership now reckoned to be over 50% of the total debt of European Football standing at over £3 billion must be a cause of concern. How many people will want to be associated with connoisseurs of failure that is the national team? How will the recession impact on a game where disposable incomes will be hit by unemployment or cutbacks? I can quite see a number of clubs folding where Portsmouth has gone so will others next season.

The game yesterday was played between two different cultures of the Premiership model and the Bundesliga. The English League full of football plutocrats out of touch with the fan base. A team of talented individuals who lack cohesiveness and it seems football intelligence and guile. Clubs owned by fantastically wealthy owners who use them as playthings or milch cows.

And on the other side the Bundesliga with a properly funded national academy where home talent is nurtured and allowed to develop. How many of the German team yesterday came from Bayern Munich? The ownership structure must be a more democratic model with greater involvement from the fans.

We used to parody the German character as one of overbearing arrogance, but that label can be applied to the English players, the media- The Sun after the December initial groups head lined EASY- and the public. I work in a supermarket and the number of people going past the tills who made the easy assumption that it would be a semi final place at the very least was staggering. For these the players, media and dupes I think I can use a German word to describe my feelings- schadenfreud to describe this fall from haughtiness.

But I hope one thing that I the debacle of the World Cup will prove that there is something intrinsically wrong with the structure of Britain which when compared with Germany appears as creaking as England’s defence was on Sunday. The media and fans constantly rake up the events of the 1930s and 40s to caricature the Germans, but perhaps for a lesson from history we should look at how Germany was rebuilt in the aftermath of the war, ironically by the British. Political reform, a fairer voting system, proper power devolved to regions, changes to the education system, social mobility and a chance to re build its manufacturing base which since 1945 has seen the country overhaul the U.K.

At least they have a country that works on the principle of merit and application rather than who you know and the power of money.

There is the real humiliation