Migrants who were forced off a train by German border police officers arrive at the train station of the southern German border town of Passau on Monday.
By ALISON SMALE and MELISSA EDDY
September 14, 2015
BERLIN — After a full week of record arrivals, Munich appeared dangerously close on Saturday to missing its pledge to provide a bed for every migrant heading its way. The police appealed to the public for donations of blankets and camping mattresses. Cookies and water would be welcome, too.
On Saturday alone, 13,000 people pulled into Munich’s main train station, a new peak. Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, had for days been urging Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and Germany’s 15 other states to shoulder their share of the burden — a mirror of the problem that Berlin faced at the European level, as it asked for a plan to distribute the arrivals fairly among the European Union member states.
For most of the newcomers, their arrival at the station was the long-anticipated end of a journey that began under harrowing conditions in the Middle East. But for the authorities in Munich — and for Ms. Merkel, as well — it was a tipping point.
The chancellor, who last week posed for photos with grateful migrants in Berlin, now faced anger from within her conservative bloc and from the leaders of most of Germany’s 16 states.
Interactive Feature | European Refugee and Migrant Crisis
At the same time, in Europe, she was making no headway with arguments for a fair distribution of migrants ahead of a crucial meeting in Brussels on the issue Monday.
And one more problem was looming: In a week Oktoberfest would open its beer tents in Bavaria, drawing six million revelers, many whom would pass through the Munich train station. Officials feared the situation could spiral out of control.
As frustration mounted in Berlin, Munich, Budapest and Brussels, the chancellor did an about-face: After throwing open its borders a week earlier, Germany would reimpose controls on its open borders. Although not unprecedented, the step dealt a blow to European pride in freedom of movement — and signaled that Germany’s patience was spent.
Some of the pressure on Ms. Merkel had come from the governor of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, who complained that she had opened the borders with very little advance notice and …Read More