On August 28, a three-story building was set on fire in a small town near the western German city of Hamelin. A family from Zimbabwe had just moved there. Firefighters soon found the cause of the blaze under the eleven-year-old son Alvin's bed: a Molotov cocktail. It had been tossed into the ground floor of the building. Hundreds of cases of such homicidal violence have occurred in Germany this year. To give a comparison: in 2011, 18 attacks on refugee accommodation were recorded and now, four years later, the number has gone up to more than 600.
But Germany also showed its positive side in 2015. Thousands of volunteers, from school-age children to pensioners, took care of Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis arriving in Germany. Children were given teddy bears and chocolates, and parents got help with bureaucracy. Active support was dubbed a "culture of welcome." Outside of Germany, people were astonished at the "crazy Germans," and even the Germans themselves were a little moved by their own big-heartedness. Germany and the refugees was the predominant topic of the year. Even the practically unassailable Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to be foundering a bit after opening borders to those seeking protection.