German Refugee Crisis Hits Close To Home For Some Tulsans
TULSA, Oklahoma - The refugee crisis happening overseas has more in common with Tulsa than you might think, and Tulsa’s German population is growing concerned about their homeland.
One of Tulsa's sister-cities happens to be Celle, Germany, and there's a very involved group of Tulsan Germans worried about the situation abroad. For the German-Americans now living in Tulsa, the European refugee crisis is top of mind for people like Gertrude Schmidt, who visits her home country every year.
"Oh, definitely,” Schmidt said. “It impacts everybody in Germany."
Members of the German-American Society of Tulsa listened intently to a presentation on the crisis. They brought in Pastor Wilfried Manneke from Celle - Tulsa's sister-city - to give them a first-hand account of his time on the issue.
Manneke and his church help refugees from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan.
"We have a group of 100 who cares for 180 refugees," Manneke said.
Germany took in more refugees than any other country in Europe - a move seen as both generous and irresponsible, depending on who you ask.
Manneke said most Germans are proud their country has been so accepting.
"Of course, yeah,” he said. “You know, we have got a word, which we call – ‘Willkommenskultur,’ which means 'welcome-culture.'"
A string of attacks carried out by refugees earlier this year put many Germans on edge, including those here in Green Country, worried about their relatives back home.
But Schmidt believes things in her home country are looking up.
"This year was a year of change in Germany, and adjustments, and I think tolerance is building," she said.
Tulsa's other sister cities include Beihai, China, and Tiberias in Israel.