In March and April a blue and yellow veil of helpfulness lay over the whole of Germany. Everywhere people talked about who from the Circle of Friends had taken in refugees, what children’s clothes had been brought where and that the Ukrainian national anthem had been played in the concert hall before the actual performance. A friend said at the time: “We make care out of worry.”
In August 2022, care seems to be slowly wearing off. We still have concerns. For many, however, the most urgent issue no longer seems to be whether Putin will stretch his claws further, even further west. But how expensive everything is. And whether the energy crisis will grow into a veritable economic crisis. Is our solidarity crumbling?
Julia Kross says: “I see that the willingness to help is declining.” The Hamburg resident was committed to helping the refugees right from the start of the war and therefore closely followed the development of the situation. In the early days, when she placed an appeal on Ebay classifieds, less than half an hour later bicycles and blankets were brought to her from the neighborhood. Now she sees more and more comments on Facebook like: Why do Ukrainians get everything for free?
“The willingness to tackle has declined”
“Especially on social media, there are always the three full posts who write comments that are not needed,” says Marina Lessig from the “Munich Volunteers” association, which supports spontaneous volunteer work in the Bavarian state capital. However, there can be no talk of envy of the Ukrainians. But what Lessig also notes: “The willingness to tackle has decreased.” After completely exceptional situations like in spring, this is quite normal.
Julia Kroß talks about the past five months on the phone. For a few weeks now, the self-employed interim manager and her husband have been living alone again in their 150 square meter house in Hamburg. Instead of nine people, as on many evenings, there are only two of them at the dining table. For months, they have made a guest room with a private bathroom and an attic with steep slopes available to refugees. “I didn’t think about it, I just did it,” says Kroß about the early days.
Many people in Germany acted similarly. As of August 9, 934,863 Ukrainians were registered in the German Central Register of Foreigners. Because no visa is required for the EU, the actual number of people seeking protection could be higher. But no one counts how many left the country either. In any case, the majority of people initially seem to have found private accommodation: According to a survey by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, around a quarter of the refugees lived with friends at the end of March, 22 percent in another private apartment and 19 percent with relatives.
“People are tackling it because the state is not in a position to take it on immediately. With the hope that the state will eventually be able to,” says Marina Lessig from the “Munich Volunteers”. While trains from Poland were arriving at Berlin Central Station, many Ukrainian families who had chosen to travel via Slovakia and Austria arrived in the Bavarian state capital. There were up to 20,000 people from the Ukraine in mid-March, and now there are still 7,100. The “Munich Volunteers” have temporarily accommodated 10,000 – and that in the greater Munich area, where living space is even scarcer than elsewhere.