More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, fleeing war, poverty, and ecological disaster. The influx has sparked a crisis, as European counties struggle to cope with the human flood. It's also creating division in the European Union over how best to deal with resettling people.
On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with historian Michael Luick-Thrams, who spends part of the year in the German city of Dresden. Last spring and summer, Luick-Thrams was living in Europe, and he watched as more and more refugees arrived. He also watched to see how his German neighbors, students, friends, and relative reacted to the newcomers.
"What has happened is people said, 'You know, not only is this a certainly big task,' but also there's the talk of this as an opportunity," says Luick-Thrams.
"[Angela Merkel] knows the fact that Germany's population is declining...and in the next five, 10, certainly 20 years, they will have too few people to occupy the jobs. So Angela Merkel keeps talking about this as 'das ist unsere Chance' which means 'that's our chance, that's our opportunity,' and she's right."
He recently returned to Iowa to accompany a mobile Iowa history exhibit through Humanities Iowa, where he gives presentations on many different topics including his observations of the refugee challenge in Europe.
Also on this edition of River to River, a discussion with Lee Rood, investigative reporter for the Des Moines Register, IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell, and Curt Dial, attorney for the plaintiffs, about the scandal at Midwest Academy.