Last night I was reading until nearly 3 a.m. regarding the unfolding events in Europe. Today I received the following, after sending the post below to a colleague in the Netherlands. His words are worthy of reflection.
The events of the past 48 hours unfolded at such a pace that one had a hard time following them coherently, let alone subjecting them to any analysis. I wanted to pen down my thoughts only after I had made some sense of them. Here are my immediate observations.
1. European politicians are in a state of utter disarray, resulting in a paralysis of action or haphazard policy announcements.
2. The majority of the refugees/migrants seem to be single men of 20/45 without women and children. Does that suggest that the latter category left behind is “safe” (?). If so, then why the panic. The general demeanor of the travelers – at times smiling – with coloured rucksacks on their backs, conveys an impression of a holiday excursion in Europe. They certainly do not look like destitute, helpless refugees. I do no know what interpretation to assign to their V signs? However, the march of such a large mass of humanity towards a specific destination cannot escape arousing the vision of an invasion.
3. The newly formed Visegrad Group (Poland, Czech, Slovakia and Hungary – total population about 70 million and all member of the EU) has declared that its members will not accept any quota system of refugees for their countries. The group also expressed its concern for the future of Christian Europe.
The Polish history remembers the Victory of Good King Jan Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna (1683) after which the Turks ceased to be a menace to Christian Europe. The Hungarians have a historical experience of the Turkish Rule in their country. I had many occasions to visit Hungary professionally and was shown around the country by my colleagues – which taught me something of their history.
4. The scenes of welcome at the stations in Austria and Germany are heart-warming. The photo-shoots could serve as a scenario for a joyous Christmas happening. Yet I am gnawed by the following thought. The Germans – and that includes the Austrians – are still not free from the deep guilt complex of their recent history. That can either lead to an aggressive denial of guilt “a la Dresden” or to a policy, so as chosen by Merkel. In welcoming masses of strangers at railway stations, I wonder about fulfilling the need to bring the memories of those arriving at the stations of Auschiwtz-Birkenau, Soribor and other similar locations, to a peaceful end. Similarly, the offer of shelter, work and freedom to the new comers could help to erase the ugly significance acquired by the slogan of the three perfectly neutral words “ARBEIT MACHT FREI”.
We are still in the midst of the chaos and no sign of tranquility is yet on the horizon. I am not sure of the validity of my analysis and could be proven wrong anytime. However, my professional training has taught me to accept criticism and alter my viewpoint and interpretation without concerns of prestige. (Every time one submits a chemical paper, it undergoes a peer review – with comments that can on occasions block its publication).
We are passing through tumultuous times just now.