Germany’s Dutch neighbors are following its refugee debate closely and with a mixture of admiration, astonishment and confusion. Before “Cologne” we had great respect for the German “welcoming culture” and Angela Merkel’s courageous “We can do it”. One felt the painful contrast between a Germany that wanted euphorically to show off its good side and the Netherlands that reacted much more cautiously and tensely to the wave of refugees. The reason? The small, once so open-to-the-world neighbor now seems – more than we like to admit to ourselves – to feel tortured by traumas about migration and integration, to be exploited and whipped up by far right populism a la Geert Wilders.
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