Refugees keep pouring into Germany and Bavaria at the border with Austria by thousands a day. The population of smaller Bavarian towns close to the border have a hard time coping, as does the rest of the country, with that fact. Rumours about the behaviour and of the dangers that so many different looking people and backgrounds emerge by the hour and cause distress.
Bild reporter Katharina Windmaisser has been reporting about the refugee issue for years. She herself comes from the Southern Bavaria region and has had to deal with the rumours about stealing, shooting and raping refugees and migrants in her own neighbourhood recently. She investigated the rumours, and has also talked, and tried to talk to people that post horrific stories on their personal Facebook profiles. Those posts sometimes get shared by thousands of people, and serve right-wing extremists as examples of the behaviour of “those people".
One of the stories she investigated was the rumour about shooting taking place in the border area. It turned out that there really had been some shooting going on, but by duck hunters she spoke to. In another case, rumours have been spread about refugees stealing expensive leather jackets from local stores. After the thieves have been caught by salespersons of the stores, the government is said to have intervened and paid for the jackets, and everything has been swept under the rug in order to control public opinion. Windmaisser called the stores and was told that none of that happened.
After confronting people that have posted the “news” about refugees stealing on Facebook, she got the answer: “Now you can see for yourself, everything is being swept under the rug!”. The reporter wrote that she was surprised by who had posted such posts. She says, that they are mostly normal “worried people”, like the one in the “jacket example”, a 51-year-old father of three children.
Towards the end of her article Windmaisser writes: “Fear of strangers is innate. Some seem to accept the rumours gratefully to confirm their fear. How would I react, if I did not live in a multicultural district of Berlin? Would I believe the fairy tales and share them? I dont know.”