TROEGLITZ, Germany — Seventy years before neo-Nazis chased the mayor from office and torched a renovated shelter for foreign war refugees in Troeglitz, Germany, Allied bombers reduced much of the 1,000-year-old village to rubble.
Local historians and refugee advocates find “a great irony” in this, because the people who crawled from the rubble needed and received an enormous amount of help to put their lives back together. That help came from the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the very people who’d every right to see the population of Nazi Germany as representing the worst humanity had to offer.
But the aid came, and it helped locals rebuild their lives.
Now, Troeglitz has become a symbol of another stark European reality: As thousands of would-be refugees, fleeing wars and privation in the Middle East and Africa, are boarding boats in desperate efforts to reach Europe, Europeans aren’t embracing their arrival even as hundreds perish in the effort to get here.