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Yearbook 2015

2015 GermanyGermany. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris in January, the newly formed German Islamic host organization Pegida held major demonstrations, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to warn of intolerance and racism. Pegida's leader Lutz Bachman resigned shortly after he posed as Hitler and made a gross disdain for refugees.

Increased migrant flows were noted at the beginning of the year and the forecast for how many asylum seekers Germany would receive was gradually revised upwards. Towards the end of the year it was about one million, compared to 200,000 the year before, which in itself was a substantial increase. It paved the way for domestic political turmoil with several trips, plays and course changes in a short time.

2015 Germany

According to COUNTRYAAH, the crisis gave Merkel hero status in many camps but eventually also caused sharp criticism. She was described by many as the world's most powerful woman and had played a prominent role during the year, often with France's President François Hollande, in dealing with the EU's relationship with the Russian Federation in connection with the Ukraine crisis and the eurozone turbulence caused by Greece's debt crisis.

When the scope of the refugee stream was completed at the end of the summer, Merkel clearly made a stand for a generous reception. In a famous statement, the Chancellor said that Germany was strong: "If we could manage the banks we could handle the refugees", her message was aimed at government efforts to rescue crisis banks during the financial crisis a few years earlier. Regulations were adopted for housing construction, and municipalities and states were promised money to handle newly incurred costs. But initiatives also soon came to stop the flow, among other things by increasing the rate of rejections of those who lacked asylum reasons. During most of the year, around 40% of asylum seekers came from countries in the Balkan Peninsula - the second most Syrians were Albanians.

In October, Merkel traveled to Turkey to ask for help in stopping migrants on their way to Europe. Many accused her of sending out wrong signals and attracting migrants to apply to Germany. At the same time, she had failed to get the other EU to set up and share the responsibility for the refugee crisis. Merkel was named "Person of the Year" by Time magazine but was increasingly contentious in his own party. The leader of the Christian Democratic sister party CSU in Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, was one of her sharpest critics.

A passenger plane on its way from Barcelona to Düsseldorf crashed in March in the French Alps. Of the 150 people on board, all of whom perished, 72 were Germans. The accident was found to have been caused by the second pilot who locked himself in the cab and steered the plane straight into a rock wall. According to a medical opinion, the man was mentally ill. Afterwards, Lufthansa, which owned the Germanwings accident, paid EUR 50,000 per passenger to relatives, but additional claims were made against the airline.

The birth rate in Germany was reported to have dropped to the lowest in the world in May, bringing to life a debate about the coming shortage of labor as a threat to the economy.

A lawsuit against Oskar Gröning, "Auschwitz bookkeeper," who was charged with contributing to the murder of 300,000 people in gas chambers, ended with a sentence in July of four years in prison. Unlike many others who were brought to justice for crimes during World War II, the now 94-year-old Gröning recognized himself as morally guilty.

Two state elections were held during the year. In Hamburg, the Social Democratic SPD maintained its strong dominance but lost its own majority. The Christian Democratic CDU lost a lot and made a record-breaking choice, while the EU-skeptical and increasingly immigration-critical Alternative for Germany (AfD) took place in a state parliament in western Germany for the first time. In Bremen, both the Social Democrats and the environmentalist Party backed the Greens sharply but still retained power.

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