Race, film about athlete Jesse Owens

This october 2015 video from the USA is called Race Official Trailer #1 (2016) Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis Biographical Drama Movie HD.

By Alan Gilman and David Walsh in the USA:

Race: Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics

10 March 2016

Directed by Stephen Hopkins; written by Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse

Race chronicles the storied athletic career of Jesse Owens, which culminated in his four gold medal performance at the 1936 Nazi-sponsored Berlin Olympics.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins, the film begins in 1933 with a young Owens (Stephan James) arriving at Ohio State University to run track. Owens is immediately confronted with racial bigotry, particularly from members of the all-white football team.

His track coach, Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), recognizes Owens as an extraordinary talent. Snyder impresses on the youthful athlete that if he demonstrates single-minded, fanatical focus he will be unstoppable, not only on the college level, but also at the 1936 Olympic Games to be held in Berlin.

Owens follows Snyder’s advice, despite the pressures of fatherhood (he has a baby daughter with his girlfriend, Ruth Solomon (Shanice Branton). He quickly becomes a top collegiate track athlete, and in 1935 at a meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan performs the astonishing feat of breaking three world records (long jump, 220-yard dash and 220 low hurdles) and tying a fourth (100-yard dash) in 45 minutes. This is widely considered one of the greatest single-day performances in athletic history.

Meanwhile, a campaign is underway within the American Olympic Committee, led by Judge Jeremiah Mahoney (William Hurt), to boycott the Berlin Games because of Nazi racism and anti-Semitism.

Avery Brundage (Jeremy Irons), a builder and real estate developer, and future International Olympic Committee president, leads the anti-boycott forces. Brundage shrugs off Germany’s anti-Semitic and racial issues, “It’s not our place to tell a sovereign nation what to do, and besides, when was the last time any of you nay-voters socialized with a Jew or a Negro?”

To help resolve this dispute Brundage agrees to embark on a fact-finding mission to Germany and meets with Joseph Goebbels (Barnaby Metschurat), the Nazi propaganda minister, who “promises” the Germans will not discriminate against any athlete, including Jews. With this agreement in hand, Brundage is able to defeat the boycott forces by a vote of 58 to 56.

Later, during the Olympics, when the Germans break their promise not to discriminate, Goebbels quickly puts an end to Brundage’s feeble protests by threatening to expose a commercial agreement—essentially a bribe—the two parties have entered into.

Other groups, including the NAACP, continue to support boycotting the Olympics, and place pressure on Owens. Ultimately, with the support of his family, he decides to go to the 1936 Games.

In Berlin, Owens is surprised to find that within the Olympic Village the American athletes are housed in integrated housing, something that never occurred in the US. Outside the Olympic venue, however, we see scenes of Jews being beaten and rounded up by the Nazis.

Owens proceeds to win four gold medals, in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter race, long jump and 400-meter relay. He is the most successful, and wildly popular, athlete at the Games and is credited with having delivered a devastating blow to the Nazi myth of “Aryan supremacy.”

In one of the more poignant scenes in the film, German long jumper Carl “Luz” Long (David Kross), the European champion, befriends Owens. After Owens fouls on the first two of his three attempts to qualify for the long jump, Long marks a spot several inches in front of the takeoff board, pointing out to Owens that if he takes off from there he will still jump far enough to qualify. Owens does just that and then goes on to defeat Long, who wins the silver medal.

Long is the first to congratulate Owens after the event, shaking his hand. The pair pose for photos and run a victory lap together.

That evening Long explains to Owens that he detests the Nazis for what they are doing and that many other Germans feel the same. At the end of Race there is an acknowledgement that Owens and Long continued their friendship for several more years and that the German athlete was killed in Sicily during World War II.

Owens’ last race is the 4 x 100 relay, an event that he has not trained for and is not scheduled to run. He participates because the team’s only two Jewish athletes, Marty Glickman (Jeremy Ferdman) and Sam Stoller (Giacomo Gianniotti), are benched at the last minute, on the demand of the German authorities. (Glickman went on to become one of the most prominent and talented American sportscasters in the postwar period, the voice of several New York sports teams, only retiring in 1992.)

As the film ends, a title notes that Owens was never invited to the White House or congratulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

There are some valuable elements and moving moments in Race. The story of Owens’ accomplishments, in the face of considerable odds, inevitably touches on some significant historical questions.

Jesse Owens was the youngest of 10 children born to Mary Emma Fitzgerald and Henry Cleveland Owens, a sharecropper, in Oakville, Alabama. His impoverished family took part in the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and West, moving to Cleveland’s east side in the early 1920s. Owens’ father and older brother worked in steel mills, the former only irregularly.

As the result of his athletic prowess, Owens stumbled onto the stage of world politics in the 1930s. The opposition of Avery Brundage, head of the Olympic movement in the US, to a boycott of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, held under the aegis of the Nazi regime, had a significant ideological and political content.

Historian Carolyn Marvin explains that the foundation of Brundage’s world outlook “was the proposition that Communism was an evil before which all other evils were insignificant.” His other views or beliefs included “admiration for Hitler’s apparent restoration of prosperity and order to Germany,” the conception “that those who did not work for a living in the United States were an anarchic human tide, and a suspicious anti-Semitism which feared the dissolution of Anglo-Protestant culture in a sea of ethnic aspirations.” Brundage described opposition to American participation in Berlin as a “Jewish-Communist conspiracy.”

The vile machinations of the Hitler regime in regard to the Olympics are also part of the historical record. The leading Nazi newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, editorialized in the strongest terms that no Jews or blacks from any country should be permitted to compete. Faced with the possibility of an international boycott, however, the Nazi government relented, even adding one token participant, a female fencer with a Jewish father, to the German team.

The fascist regime also temporarily took down signs denouncing Jews from areas of Berlin where visitors were likely to see them. The German Ministry of the Interior instructed the city’s police to round up all Romani as part of a “clean up” and place them in a concentration camp. Pro-Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl was in charge of filming the Olympics (she is portrayed ambiguously in Race by Carice van Houten), and produced her grandiose two-part documentary, Olympia (1938).

Racism and the Depression in the US, fascism and anti-communism, the run-up to the Second World War … big issues all of them.

Hopkins’ Race refers directly to a few of these questions, hints at others and merely side-steps another category.

The film suffers from a generally formulaic approach. James and Branton as Jesse Owens and Ruth Solomon are given little dramatic room to breathe. Their conventional, roller-coaster relationship does not shed much light on their personalities or the nature of the times. Nor does Owens’ affair with a woman he meets on the road as a now-famous athlete or his relations with his coach help out much. There is something hagiographic about the presentation of Owens in particular, although certain of his failings come in for treatment.

The general dramatic arc of Race is predictable—initial difficulties, first successes, crisis and failure, final triumph. Even if the viewer did not know ahead of time how Owens would ultimately fare in Berlin, he or she would have little difficulty in seeing what was coming.

Sudeikis is more impressive as Snyder. The actor-comic has performed amusingly in a number of works, but smugness (for example, in the Horrible Bosses films) has threatened to sabotage his efforts. Here he is relatively convincing as Owens’ hard-driven, but fair-minded coach. Irons is always on the mark, although the portrayal of Brundage is not as devastating as it might have been. Kross (The Reader) is memorable as Luz Long, as is Metschurat as the menacing, monstrous Goebbels and Andrew Moodie, in a small part, as Owens’ long-suffering father.

To its credit, the film is not laced with identity politics, but a more “old fashioned” liberal humanism. Race, despite its title, preaches a sort of solidarity of Jews, blacks and anti-Nazi Germans against Hitler and pro-fascist Americans.

There are distinct limitations to this approach. Hopkins’ presentation of various racist and anti-Semitic incidents, although moving, is largely devoid of any historical content or deeper understanding of the social forces involved.

The weakest aspect of Race is its attitude to the various questions of political or moral principle that arise: the first involves US participation or boycott of the Berlin Olympics; the second, Owens’ decision to go or stay home; and, finally, the exclusion of the Jewish athletes from the relay race and the response of the rest of the American Olympic team.

In each case, Hopkins and screenwriters Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse create justifications for the various, often self-serving decisions taken by the characters, thus allowing the narrative to move forward toward its inexorable conclusion.

Artist Ai Weiwei’s pro-refugee action in Berlin, Germany

Berlin concert hall, with refugees' live jackets put there by Ai Weiwei

From Quartz.com:

Photos: Artist Ai Weiwei has draped Berlin’s concert hall with 14,000 refugee life jackets

Ai Weiwei has been a harsh critic of Europe’s response to its refugee crisis.

He recently set up a studio on the Greek island of Lesbos, the main entry point for tens of thousands of refugees who make the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey. He is working on several projects that highlight the refugees’ plight, recently reenacting the harrowing photo of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi.

In Lesbos, the artist has been collecting thousands of life jackets discarded by refugees when they reach the coast, for an installation that opened today (Feb. 13) in Berlin. Some 14,000 of the orange life vests were wrapped around the pillars of the city’s concert hall.

More than 3,700 migrants died crossing the Mediterranean last year, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many would-be refugees are trying to reach Germany, which registered more than 1 million migrants last year.

See also here.

Family who fled Syria tells IBTimes UK about life under brutal IS [ISIS] rule: here.

The solidarity of broad social layers with the refugees in Berlin remains considerable but the policy of the Berlin Senate of SPD and CDU is diametrically opposed to this sentiment. Refugees are being crammed into inhumane camps, bullied and brutally deported: here.

Refugees confront inhumane conditions at mass accommodation centres in Berlin: here.

Last summer, the department responsible for dealing with the influx of refugees became a symbol of the inhuman asylum policy of the Berlin state administration. Images of the queues of exhausted and desperate people, including the sick, pregnant women and small children, were seen around the world and unleashed indignation everywhere: here.

German police neglected search for murdered refugee child

This video from Germany says about itself:

6 November 2015

Mourners attend the funeral of four-year-old murdered Bosnian refugee boy named Mohamed in the Muslim part of the cemetery in Berlin’s Gatow district.

By Sven Heymanns in Germany:

Report: Berlin police delayed search for murdered refugee boy

12 February 2016

The abduction and murder of a four-year-old refugee boy, Mohamed, gained nationwide attention in Germany last fall. The boy disappeared from the premises of the Berlin State Office of Health and Social Affairs (Lageso), while his mother waited eight hours for an appointment.

An account in the news magazine Der Spiegel has now revealed that the Berlin police failed to carry out a thorough search for the child for several days. Instead, they focused their attention on the boy’s family which was suspected of having faked the kidnapping in order to escape the threat of deportation from Germany.

Mohamed, whose mother came from Bosnia Herzegovina, was kidnapped by Silvio S., abused and then killed. The man had already kidnapped, abused and killed another child at the beginning of July, a six-year-old boy named Elias from Potsdam. Silvio S. finally came to the attention of the investigators, after they published a still image from a video captured by a surveillance camera near the Lageso.

Der Spiegel published a thorough report of the actions of the police in both cases. It demonstrated that police behaved entirely differently in the two instances despite their similarities. Both Elias and Mohamed both came from poor families, and their mothers both reacted coolly to the disappearance of their children and made partially contradictory reports. In the case of Elias, a thorough search was initiated immediately, and the police investigated in all directions. In the case of Mohamed, however, they focused attention for days almost exclusively on the family of the missing boy after discontinuing initial search efforts.

Two Searches

Elias disappeared in the late afternoon of July 8, 2015, on the property of the building in which his mother lives. On the same day, a mobile squad, search dogs and a helicopter with a thermal imaging camera were sent out to look for him. The six-year-old was officially reported as missing and a nationwide search initiated. The media was informed the same evening.

In the following days, the search was intensified. The police questioned relatives, friends, neighbours and school officials. Posters with the picture of the boy were hung up, and search dogs trained to locate corpses were deployed. The sandbox at his parents’ residence, in which he had been playing, was dug up. Wildlife cameras were examined in the surrounding woods and drainage pipes searched. Water levels were lowered in the Nuthe River, and the mud was dredged. Federal troops were even deployed.

Although the mother of the child was noticeably cool, and staff at the boy’s former kindergarten described her as callous, the police continued to search everywhere for clues. Altogether,1,800 officials took part in the investigation. Only after 11 days of unsuccessful searching did the investigation begin to focus on the mother and her partner.

Nothing of the sort took place in the case of Mohamed. When his mother came back in the late afternoon after waiting for eight hours for her appointment at Lageso, there was no trace of her four-year-old son. She searched for the boy with the help of an acquaintance and then spoke with police who searched the Lageso property together with the security service. Then a search squad scoured the neighbouring area.

However, at 11 p.m. on the same evening, the search was abandoned, although the boy was still missing. The next day, the Lageso premises were searched one more time. This was the last search carried out for four days. The media was not informed, and not even the missing person’s department of the state Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) received notification of the case.

Der Spiegel reported the further actions of the police as documented in the investigation. Mohamed’s mother—who is virtually illiterate—made contradictory and provably false claims. As a consequence, it was “not possible to determine beyond a doubt whether it was actually a missing persons case or, rather, a family dispute,” the documents stated. “No further measures” would now be taken.

This was a blatant violation of police investigation procedures by the responsible authorities. In cases of missing persons reports, police are required to take every necessary measure to find the individual. Der Spiegel points out that, in the case of minors, one can always assume that there is a danger to life and limb, and a search is required without delay.

However, nothing of the sort took place in this case. Instead, Mohamed’s mother was questioned repeatedly in the days after his disappearance, especially after the residence status of the family became clear to the police (in two and a half months they are supposed to be deported). The authorities even went so far as to tap the mobile telephone of the mother and her friends on the grounds they suspected them of faking a kidnapping in order to raise their chances of staying in Germany.

The search was only resumed on the fourth day after Mohamed’s disappearance, after police obtained new information. It took another two days until the videos from the surveillance cameras at Lageso were viewed. Almost a week after his kidnapping, the authorities first viewed video evidence that showed Mohamed leaving the premises in the hands of an unknown man.

Only at this point did they begin a murder investigation. Another video of a nearby restaurant showed Silvio S., whose photo was later published. Three weeks passed between the day of the kidnapping and the day this video was found. It took another five days for an official to view it. After the picture was published, Silvio’s mother went to the police and identified her son. He was then taken into custody and confessed to the kidnapping, abuse and killing of Elias and Mohamed and led police to the bodies.

Failure or systematic discrimination?

In a comment published on Spiegel Online, one of the editors who participated in the research for the report referred to the “failure” of the police and a “second class search for migrants.” In fact, the methods of the Berlin police illustrate the bitter reality of everyday life for countless migrants: systematic harassment and discrimination at the hands of state authorities.

The very circumstances of Mohamed’s disappearance illustrate the inhumane attitude that the German authorities routinely display toward refugees. Why did Mohamed’s mother have to wait for eight hours for an appointment at Lageso? Following the comment in Der Spiegel, one could say: “It’s not a failure, it’s intentional.”

The political establishment and the media continue to exploit the murky events on New Year’s Eve in Cologne to call for and carry out an intensification of the attacks on refugees. At the same time, right wing extremists who regularly attack refugees go unpunished. According to research carried out by Die Zeit, there were 222 attacks on refugee lodgings in 2015 until the beginning of December, and 93 of these attacks were arson. In only three cases were the perpetrators sentenced for their actions, and charges were brought in only eight additional cases.

Since then, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has published figures showing that there were many more attacks. The BKA registered 1,005 attacks on refugee lodgings in 2015, including 901 of a clearly far right character.

The investigations in the Mohamed case also recall the behaviour of the authorities in the series of murders carried out by the right wing extremist “National Socialist Underground” (NSU), which had numerous connections with the intelligence agencies. The neo-Nazi group murdered nine small traders with a migrant background. Countless indications of the right wing extremist background of the perpetrators were systematically ignored and pushed aside by the prosecuting authorities. Over and over again, witnesses who brought such indications to light were subjected to intimidation. The families of the victims were placed under general suspicion and their supposed connections with the Mafia and the drug scene were cited. For many years, the series of murders of primarily Turkish citizens were dismissed as so called “Doner killings.”

Mohamed’s case shows that, despite the statements by politicians, police and intelligence agencies, nothing has changed as regards the inhumane treatment of migrants. The public prosecutor’s office in Potsdam, which is in charge of Mohamed’s case, declined to respond to the accusations when it was contacted by Der Spiegel. “We will not comment on that,” it said. “If there were failures, we will investigate them internally.”

German pro-refugee activists attacked

This video says about itself:

One woman’s strength is helping refugees in Macedonia

“I’m doing this because I have never seen so many people on the street. No one is helping them.”

The smiling face that greets refugees when they get to the Greece-Macedonia border is that of Gabriela Andreevska. She welcomes them, feeds them, and sends them on their way to the EU feeling like human beings.

Filmed by Matthew Cassel.

By Verena Nees in Germany:

Pro-refugee organisation comes under political attack in Germany

6 February 2016

The Berlin-based refugee support organisation Moabit Hilft (Moabit Helps) has recently come under strong media criticism. In the course of the past 10 days the organisation has received threats of murder in hate mail and by telephone.

An online group calling itself “Moabit Lies” has become active,” backed by the well-known Berlin neo-Nazi Gregor Stein. It has accused Moabit Helps of dishonestly using donations. On Monday, the door of its office on the grounds of the Berlin state office for health and social care (Lageso) was kicked down. The media has also joined in the attacks on Moabit Helps.

The immediate pretext was an incident last week. A volunteer assisting refugees who was part of the circle around Moabit Helps claimed on Facebook that he had assisted a young Syrian who had been forced to wait in line at Lageso for days. The volunteer alleged the Syrian had caught a high fever and frostbite, and died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

But later that day, the author of the message, Dirk V., admitted to police he had made the story up. Diana Henniges, a Moabit Helps spokeswoman, said they had made a mistake in not reviewing the Facebook message more closely. However, “every volunteer, every politician and every press representative” had been able to imagine the death of a refugee. “This is the real tragedy”, she said. “It could have been possible.”

Dirk V. stated he had been pushed to the breaking point by the back-breaking work of providing assistance and wanted to use the story to “shake things up and change something.” In fact, Dirk V. had just been released from a long stay in hospital due to burnout, according to Reyna B., another volunteer who chatted with him during the night.

Reyna B. also did not initially doubt the veracity of the report of a fatality.

“For six months, we residents have watched what has happened”, she wrote in shock after Dirk’s final message. “For six months we have assisted, rushed around cared, fed, provided, healed … and we have repeatedly said, there will be deaths if this continues. And it is downplayed, sugar coated and dismissed. It is being presented as if this is normal, just a minor administrative crisis … ”

She referred to miscarriages, the case of the young refugee boy who was kidnapped in the chaos at Lageso last summer and murdered, several resuscitations on the Lageso grounds following heart attacks, diabetes shocks, all-night ambulance deployments to assist collapsed individuals, and the hunger endured by refugees when Lageso refused to pay out pocket money. She wrote, “Last Friday, I cried on the way home for the first time. Until then, the hope that this city, this country, would hear the humanitarian call had not been broken.”

Politicians and the media have used the incident to launch a cynical propaganda campaign against Moabit Helps. It is aimed not only at intimidating this organisation, but all volunteers assisting refugees. It also opens the door for right-wing hate mail, as Henniges told the WSWS. “Cologne was the starting gun. But the report of a dead refugee has released the genie from the bottle.”

Media representatives, who went to Lageso in the morning after the report with large camera teams to sensationalise the death of a refugee, are now targeting Moabit Helps. They are accusing an organisation of volunteers, most of whom work for free and without whose efforts the provision of care to refugees would have long since collapsed, of being “unprofessional”, “haughty” and “starry-eyed.”

A report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from January 29 was especially repugnant. Under the headline “The haughtiness of the helpers”, it stated, “Many still feel the exhilaration of the summer days, when anyone who brought a case of mineral water to the Lageso felt they were better than the Berlin administration, leading to haughtiness. Several helpers have been cultivating an exaggerated image of themselves ever since, which they would never concede to a professional politician.”

The FAZ based itself on the statement of a Berlin Green Party politician, Bettina Jarasch, who described the work of the volunteers as basically “self-fulfillment”.

In a piece headlined “How to make propaganda with a lie”, N-TV wrote that the problem was not the author of the false report, but rather “an association like ‘Moabit Helps’, which did not even check the story before using it as a pretext to score points.”

The Berlin Senate exploited the incident for its own ends. On the following day, it quickly signed off on a plan to create a refugee ghetto on the grounds of the former Tempelhof airport.

Interior Senator Frank Henkl (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) called for legal consequences for Dirk V., fully aware that simply posting a false message online is not a criminal offence. He threatened the spokespeople at Moabit Helps, stating, “Whoever triggers and spreads such rumours without checking them is deliberately trying to poison the atmosphere in our city.”

Responding to the call for “professionalisation”, Diana Henniges said, “Only because we neglected a trifle and did not check the message? We were forced out of bed in the early hours of the morning and press representatives demanded statements by telephone. Where were these parties and media representatives six months ago, when the people at Lageso were starving, having to stand in line day and night and sleep on the ground? Nobody was talking about professionalism then. Without us, without the many people who assisted without pay in their free time, we would have a worse situation today, the probability of deaths would be much higher.”

Moabit Helps was formed by residents in the longstanding Berlin working class district of Moabit at the beginning of the refugee crisis and became a role model for many other volunteer initiatives across the city. It plays a leading part in the strong solidarity towards refugees in the Berlin population, which has not diminished in the wake of the New Year’s Eve events in Cologne. They have repeatedly criticised the terrible conditions at Lageso and in the mass accommodation centres, and organised protests against them. Based on their information, 40 lawyers filed charges against those responsible in the Senate for violations of law at Lageso.

The Berlin Senate had recently come under criticism from the establishment. The pictures of people lined up at Lageso and overcrowded accommodation centres are inopportune for the capital city. If the report of the fatality of the Syrian refugee had been true, some journalists speculate, the Senate and Social Affairs Senator Mario Czaja could well have been brought down.

It is no wonder that Moabit Helps has long been a thorn in the side of the city’s political elite. For workers and young people in the city and beyond, the attack on the organisation is a warning sign. The stepped-up attacks on refugees are increasingly also directed against the general population that has spontaneously come to the aid of refugees and who, like them, oppose war and poverty.

Thousands of people attended demonstrations across Australia on Thursday, opposing Wednesday’s High Court ruling sanctioning the bipartisan government-Labor Party regime of indefinitely detaining refugees in virtual concentration camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island: here.

4-year-old refugee Mohamed murdered in Germany

This video says about itself:

Germany: Vigil for murdered 4 year old refugee held in Berlin

29 October 2015

Dozens of people attended a vigil in Berlin, Thursday, held in the memory of the 4 year old refugee Mohamed Januzi who was found dead in the trunk of a car after he had been kidnapped from Lageso’s registration centre.

By Ludwig Weller and Ute Reissner in Germany:

Berlin: Bureaucratic treatment of refugees leads to death of 4-year-old

31 October 2015

Four weeks ago, at around noon on October 1, 4-year-old Mohamed disappeared in the crowd in front of the State Office for Health and Social Affairs (LAGeSo), the central reception centre for refugees in Berlin-Moabit. On Wednesday the boy was found murdered in the trunk of a car. The alleged perpetrator was arrested after police released surveillance video from the scene. He was apparently identified by members of his own family, who informed the police.

The child was abused before being strangled. While the exact circumstances of the crime remain unclear, it is clear that the conditions leading to this terrible tragedy were the result of a chain of bureaucratic arbitrariness and harassment. This applies not only to the chaotic crowd of hundreds of refugees in front of the LAGeSo office, which made it relatively easy for the offender to kidnap the child. It also applies to the indifference and coldness of the authorities, which forced the mother to enter the centre in the first place and endure its hellish conditions together with her three small children.

On Thursday evening, many mourners gathered outside the central reception centre in Berlin-Moabit to express their condolences. “We just had to come here”, declared Denis M. and G. Dzevan, whose names have been changed to protect their identities. Their parents had fled to Germany in 1992 to escape the war in Bosnia, when the two were both small children.

“His mother just wanted a better future for her children, like our parents formerly”, Denis said. “We fled from the war; this woman came because of grinding poverty. And then this happens. It’s incredible. I have three children myself. It is hard to bear.” The young mother had come to Germany from Sarajevo.

Dzevan was angry because he had heard rumours in the last few weeks blaming the mother for the child’s disappearance. It was implied that the mother had given the child away or hidden him in order to improve their chances of getting a residence permit. “This is sheer madness”, he said. “No mother would ever do such a thing. That was purely to whip up hatred against refugees.”

Denis M. accused the police of not investigating vigorously enough. A surveillance video at LAGeSo shows a man escorting Mohamed away from the premises, but it was only accepted as evidence on October 7. “After one week had gone by!” he declared angrily. “If a German child had disappeared, then they would have mobilized dogs and helicopters.”

This version of events was confirmed at a press conference October 29 by the public prosecutor, who declared: “We learned at a very late stage that there were photos from LAGeSo.”

From early evening people come to bring candles, or just stay on the spot, visibly shaken. Right Rusmira D. and her mother

On the fringe of the sea of candles erected for Mohamed on the street outside the LAGeSo we met Rusmira D., a young woman from Berlin who is originally from Bosnia. She came with her mother, who lives in the refugee camp on the grounds of the former Karl Bonhoeffer Nerve Clinic in Berlin-Reinickendorf. The camp houses a total of about 900 refugees, including the mother of the murdered child, Aldiana J., and her two other children, Melina, 9, and Kevin, 5 months.

Rusmira reported that her mother lives on the same floor and had often taken care of little Mohamed. She translated what her mother related to her about the family’s background.

She reported that on October 1, 28-year-old Aldiana had an appointment with the State Office for Health and Social Services to pick up her money for the next two months. It was planned that a social worker from the Youth Welfare Office would take care of the children that day, but the social worker was ill and did not turn up. No replacement was available.

Aldiana then asked the mother of her partner to look after the children. The warden, however, who had already clashed repeatedly with Aldiana, had forbidden this and instructed security guards not to permit visitors. Bans on visits are quite normal in the home.

As a result, Aldiana set off with her three children at 3:00 in the morning in order to gain admission to the LAGeSo offices on the same day. At noon they were called in, but in the confusion in front of the offices she briefly lost sight of Mohamed.

“On the surveillance video you can see that the man gave Mohamed biscuits”, said Rusmira. “And the little one probably had not eaten anything all day.”

“He was such a dear, trustingly blessed child”, her mother added. “He was a very unsuspecting little boy.”

Rusmira reported that there had been repeated fierce conflicts between the camp management and Aldiana because Mohamed played outdoors. “But there is no playground and no play area for the children. ‘What does he want me to do? You cannot lock three children all day in a room’.”

On two occasions the 28-year-old mother had been threatened with expulsion from the camp. There had been constant trouble. Aldiana had repeatedly packed her bags and was only persuaded to stay by other residents.

The family, who had come from Sarajevo, lived in constant fear of deportation back to their supposedly “safe country of origin”, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Shortly before Mohamed’s disappearance, their stay in Germany was again extended by six months.

“No one took care of the mother”, Rusmira explained. “As a result, the little one is now dead and all are to blame—the authorities, the youth welfare office, the camp management. They are responsible.”

“She was in Germany alone with the three children. Had they at least allowed the mother-in-law to take care of the little ones, then this would not have happened. If someone had helped her, the child would still be alive.”

It's 21:00 at LaGeSo: refugees sit less than ten meters from the place where candles have been lit. They have wrapped themselves in blankets to survive the night in freezing temperatures

If Turkey chooses Erdogan at the polls this weekend, Isis will gain strength and the refugee crisis will worsen. The West should make it clear to Erdogan that his destructive policies are starting to overshadow geopolitical and strategic benefits that Turkey has historically brought to the table: here.

Pro-refugee demonstration in Germany

This German video shows a pro-refugee demonnstration in Berlin, on 17 October 2015.

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Demonstrators condemn brutal treatment of refugees in Berlin, Germany

By our correspondents

21 October 2015

Around a thousand people took part in a rally last Saturday, organised by the refugee aid group “Moabit helps,” to protest the abysmal treatment of refugees arriving in the city of Berlin.

Displaying placards with slogans such as “Registration instead of freezing” and “Winter is coming, against lethal freezing in queues,” demonstrators expressed their anger at the indifference and bureaucratic arrogance with which the Berlin government is treating refugees.

In a number of speeches volunteers described the catastrophic and shocking conditions at the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs (LaGeSo), a refugee processing centre in Berlin’s Moabit neighbourhood. One of the first speakers said it was only due to the tireless work of volunteers that no one had died during the past three months.

She described the situation: “Since mid-July between 500 and 1500 refugees have been waiting to get numbers and begin initial reception procedures. The period between drawing a number and receiving an interview with the authority is around 57 days.”

Pro-refugee demonstrators in Berlin

This reality is the result of years of neglect on the part of politicians, declared the spokeswoman for the Berlin Refugee Council, Marina Mauer. She stressed: “Recent decisions aimed at tightening up asylum law give the impression that the main concern of the federal government as well as the government of Berlin is not to enable genuine integration but merely to harass and deter refugees.”

Yousef Alkhatib, a refugee from Syria, spoke about the horrors of war in his home city of Aleppo. He then described the bureaucratic jungle in Berlin and thanked the volunteers who helped him and others to deal with harassment by the authorities and exploitation by hostels and private companies.

At the conclusion of the rally, Dr. Günther Jonitz, the President of the Berlin Medical Association, gave a moving speech. Every day six doctors, four nurses and four midwives volunteer to provide health care for unregistered refugees at LaGeSo. Every day they take care of up to 200 refugees, some of them working 40 hours a week. There are no full-time doctors at the centre.

Jonitz harshly criticised the Berlin Senate administration and accused it of sabotage. The prevailing bureaucratic harassment and failure to provide medical care at LaGeSo was potentially life-threatening. He said it was hard to “keep the lid on” his anger and bewilderment.

He thanked the many volunteer doctors and nurses who work tirelessly for the refugees, and emphasised: “We are talking about something that is more important than medical care and assistance to refugees. It is about the very foundations of our society. It’s about humanism and human rights.”

Amid cheers and applause, Jonitz declared: “The foundation of our society is humanism, not capitalism!”

Figen, Beria and Eslem

A WSWS reporting team spoke with many participants about the outrageous situation in Berlin, as well as the relationship between the behaviour of the authorities and the growth of militarism in Germany.

The phrase “Enough is enough” was hand painted on the placard of social worker Figen (42), and her two children Beria (12) and Eslem (10). She said they came to the rally because it is important to help people fleeing war. Beria added, “And because no one should be treated in such a way.” Her school, the Friedrich Engels Gymnasium, had established its own welcome class for refugee children.

Figen currently carries out a great deal of work accommodating refugees. She stressed: “Formerly, when many refugees arrived in Turkey, Germany wagged its finger at Turkey and accused it of infringing on human rights. But the way in which refugees are treated here and the fact that they can wait up to two months until they make an initial application is inhumane. This cannot and must not be the case in Europe.”

Sandra Meisel (45), a Berlin photographer and artist, has already made donations to LaGeSo in Moabit, where she lives. She angrily denounced the conditions there: “Berlin holds its parties, the Love Parade, celebrations for footballers and other events, which are always very efficient and well organized. But now apparently the city is unable to set up 50 heated tents?

Sandra Meisel, left, and another demonstrator

Sandra said she was delighted that so many young people were taking part in the rally. “The average age here is 25. I think it is great that so many young people are participating in such a conscious manner.”

The media, she complained, tended to ignore such demonstrations. “What I find so bad is that only the right-wing Pegida demonstrations have such large coverage in the media. If the protesters are leftist, then the media disappears.” When asked about German foreign policy, she said, “The refugees all come from countries where Germany delivers weapons.”

A number of refugees took part in the rally. Ahmad (22), Karam (18) from Syria, and Nabih (18) and Roneg (18) have been through an ordeal. They came to Germany a year ago. Their journey involving a perilous boat trip across the Mediterranean to Italy or Greece, from there, via the Balkans to Munich and Berlin. “It took me 25 days,” said the Palestinian youth Nabih. They were forced to leave their families because of the intensification of war and the lack of any prospects for the future.

Karam, Nabih and Ahmad

Tina (31) attended the rally with her boyfriend, who came to Germany from Morocco about five years ago. Tina regarded the manner in which migrants were treated in LaGeSo as a “disgrace to the capital.” There were so many projects for which money is spent pointlessly, but nothing is made available for the “poorest.” Her friend nodded and complained that so much money was devoted to “the military and the armed forces.”

Franziska (55) said she has always thought a country like Germany was “relatively open.” Now she is “shocked” about the conditions at LaGeSo. The politicians responsible for the terrible treatment in Berlin should resign, she said. She was especially shocked by racist incitement against refugees by politicians such as CSU leader Horst Seehofer. She expressed her sympathy for asylum seekers: “The refugees face all the rigours of their flight in order to provide a better life for their families.”

Harald Riese

Harald Riese (75) is an organist and came to the demonstration by chance. He saw the rally from the bus he was travelling on to visit his aunt. He is involved in a refugee aid initiative he co-founded in his hometown of Heilsbronn. Among other assistance, he gives the young refugees guitar lessons.

Even in the small town of Heilsbronn the refugees could count on great support from the public, he said. For their part, the authorities only make things more difficult. “The 3,000 inhabitants of our village wanted to accommodate refugees in 63 apartments, but the district administration was opposed and instead advocated a container village for 200 refugees they want to build outside the city. Why? Because they want to keep them under control, they want to demonstrate their power!”