THURINGIA, Germany -- My name is Maximilian. I am 20 years old, and I live in a small town in Thuringia, Germany, a very peaceful place where everybody knows each other. Of course, there are the occasional thefts and some violent offenses, but these things happen everywhere. However, for the past few months, this peaceful population appears to have slowly awoken into an aggressive rage. Refugees are heading here. A total of 150 refugees from Eritrea are supposed to be moving into a former residential home.
Rather quickly, an opposition to this planned asylum has formed. They argue that they are against economic refugees and social parasites. However, in reality, this is not the case. They argue that the refugees should go back to where they came from because they would just take everything away from us. In addition, they argue that all refugees are criminals and would rape our women. However, what they fail to say is that none of this is the truth and stories have been made up in order to create controversy around the refugee movement.
I'd like to refer to this movement as a small-scale PEGIDA. The sentiments of this group are very similar to the original and publicly proclaimed beliefs of PEGIDA supporters.
They claim to be peaceful. They claim not to be against foreigners. They claim to only care about German culture. I myself have taken a closer look at the situation because I wanted to see with my own eyes how these refugees have impacted German culture.
When I walk through the downtown area of my hometown, I can see a kebab diner, a Greek restaurant, a small Asian diner. I can see home-style restaurants and bars that have been around for what feels like centuries. A few weeks ago, we also had a Christmas market in this area. I cannot help but wonder why we do not have a "winter" -- instead of Christmas -- market already? I would've thought that had already happened due to the foreign infiltration so many are talking about. But that's not the case.
Every once in a while, I see some of the refugees walking through the streets. They look like regular young men, and if it were not for their different skin color, I would not be able to tell the difference between them and the other adolescents living here. The only exception is that they are the only ones still greeting the cashiers in the supermarkets -- even if it's in broken German.
Can we really call this foreign infiltration? Is German culture going down the drain? No! Hospitality and diversity have always been part of German culture.
I look at Dresden, where thousands of people march in the streets against Islamization, using slogans such as "Down with the lying press," "We are the people," and most recently "Traitors of the people." These slogans may sound really familiar if you just think back 80 years.
They publicly propagandize racism even if the demonstrators refuse to acknowledge it. We all know that not only racists join PEGIDA marches. However, the organizers indeed are racists. Actually, many of the groups marching along with PEGIDA are racist and some are even ready to use violence. We experienced a similar wave of hatred and violence in Germany in the 90s. Back then, refugee homes were set on fire -- as in Rostock-Lichtenhagen -- with the applause of the "non-racist" population. Rather than being afraid of foreign infiltration or Islamization, I am afraid that something like that will happen again!
Should we all approach the supporters of PEGIDA with pure revulsion and rejection? No, we shouldn't! What we should do is talk to these people about their fears and concerns. However, if they do not wish to talk about their fears and concerns, if they are unwilling to communicate, only then must we meet them with rejection.
As the past has shown us, it is easy to pretend that nothing has happened if we do not deal with these issues and once again allow for people of different origins to be hunted through the streets of German cities. And this is a legitimate fear.
This post originally appeared on HuffPost Germany and was translated into English.