The German mayor who welcomed the refugees is stabbed by an angry resident



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Under the direction of Mr. Hollstein in 2015, Altena served 102 more people than legally required by the German system to distribute asylum seekers uniformly throughout the country. It also established a network that matched refugee families with sponsors to help newcomers, now number about 450, to integrate.

The program earned the town of Hollstein almost 18,000 the first National Integration Award in the country, awarded by Mrs. Merkel in May. The chancellor said on Tuesday she was "horrified" by the stabbing.

Local politicians in German cities and towns bear the hardest part of helping refugees settle in, including meeting their basic needs, organizing language clbades and finding slot machines in schools for children. Often, mayors and councilors also respond to residents' concerns and prejudices about newcomers.

Mr. Hollstein is not the first mayor to be targeted by Germans who harbor anti-immigrant sentiments. Markus Nierth, 46, mayor of Tröglitz in eastern Germany, resigned in March 2015, saying local authorities had failed to block a demonstration of neo-Nazis outside his home.

Several months later, Henriette Reker, an officer in the western city of Cologne, who was responsible for immigration issues at that time, was stabbed by a man who said he wanted to send a signal that there were too many refugees. Last year, his attacker was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Ms. Reker recovered from her injuries and was elected mayor of Cologne.

Mr. Hollstein said that an avalanche of hate messages and social media messages, as well as threats directed at him and his family, had become part of everyday life as a local politician.

"Everyone who works for people, regardless of whether they are refugees or other people, is experiencing hatred spread through social networks and threats, I've had several in recent years," Hollstein said. "Interaction at the municipal level, not only in dealing with refugees, has become increasingly harsh and ruthless."

But he promised to continue his work, rejecting the idea of ​​hiring a security guard.

"I will continue to work for people For refugees and for the weakest members of society," said Mr. Hollstein, a member of Mrs. Merkel's conservative Christian Democracy. "That's the job of a good mayor."

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