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Exhaustian And Elation Among The Migrants In Munich


Thousands of migrants are still trying to make their way into Western Europe. On Saturday, Germany reversed its policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her country would observe no legal limit on the number of asylum-seekers it would take. Germany is the destination of many of the migrants. By Saturday night, police estimated that 6,000 had made it, thousands more expected in the coming days. Dave Blanchard of Oregon Public Broadcasting is in Munich and has been reporting on the migrants' arrival there. Thank you so much for doing this.

DAVE BLANCHARD, BYLINE: It's my pleasure.

WERTHEIMER: Now, you have been at the Munich central station for the past two days as the migrants are coming in. What is it like there?

BLANCHARD: Well, it's actually quite different than it was earlier this week when they experienced an enormous wave of migrants. They had about 2,000 migrants arrive on Tuesday, and it was kind of a chaotic scene there. There was volunteers running around. There were a police presence. There were migrants. And there's a lot of people just waiting around.

They've had things much more streamlined now. So the migrants arrive on trains, and they're shuffled pretty quickly through the station. And it's in a sort of back corner of the station where they're not going to be in the heavy traffic of just travelers going about their regular business. And then they go through a medical check. They get some food and some water. And they're loaded onto buses to go either someplace in Munich or elsewhere in Bavaria or Germany.

WERTHEIMER: What kind of reception did they receive from ordinary Germans?

BLANCHARD: There were crowds throughout the day from early on in the morning to the night that would cheer for all of the migrants as they arrived, particularly for any of the migrants that maybe threw a peace sign or gave a big smile or wave. Then the crowd would just erupt in woos and clapping. There also happened to be a neo-Nazi rally that took place that afternoon in a different part of the station. They weren't too visible to the migrants who were arriving, but they were there. They had loudspeaker, and they were shouting out some neo-Nazi rhetoric. But there was a very strong counter-protest that was there that really drowned them out.

WERTHEIMER: You got a chance to speak to some of these folks coming in. Let's listen to a clip of a young Syrian woman, Engy Homs.


ENGY HOMS: There's no hope with Syria, really, no hope. When I came here, I feel so happy, finally.

WERTHEIMER: She does sound happy. Is that the frame of mind you've found in most of the people you spoke to?

BLANCHARD: Yeah, it's surprising. In addition to a very clear and palpable exhaustion, there is elation. They are excited to be in what they really perceive as kind of a promised land that has a reputation for being the most welcoming and supportive country in the EU, particularly given the week's recent events in Hungary where they were very anxious and nervous that they might not be a little make it out of that country which, of course, is perceived as being much more anti-migrant.

WERTHEIMER: Dave Blanchard of Oregon Public Broadcasting, speaking to us from Munich. Thank you so much.

BLANCHARD: Thank you, Linda. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.