When I was in Hamburg during my stopover before moving east to Poland, I had my first encounter with the world-renowned “migrant horde”. I had just been to the Hamburg Central Station a few weeks earlier and had not noticed anything odd. This time there were many large groups of migrant refugees hovered in many places. Volunteers had set up makeshift first-aid and food stations with cardboard signs and aid workers passed out blankets and clothing.
People were setting up camp in and around the huge train station. On the way to my hotel, I got turned around so walked to a Hilton hotel to ask for directions. At the counter the receptionists all had buttons on – I asked what the buttons said and was told they said, “Germany welcomes the families of all refugees”. I doubted that any of the refugees saw the buttons worn by the Hilton staff members in the posh hotel, but it was a thoughtful gesture.
The pictures below were a few I was able to take. There were volunteers and security disallowing any photography, so my images had to be taken somewhat secretly.
After my trip to Poland and Budapest, I tried to go to Sarajevo but was told “Croatia closed – no trains!” It was a bit unsettling to be stuck in a country with no certain way out. It was obvious that masses of people had been there as could be surmised from the debris, security, and hand-written signage informing people to not enter certain areas. Instead of travelling south, I was able to get a train in the opposite direction to Austria.
As I entered Austria (initially the first country to close their borders due to the migrant crisis), I noticed the remarkable difference in response tactics. There were dozens of soldiers and policeman, no one without a ticket was allowed in the train station and huge areas were cordoned off with fences or barricades. Every person (including me) was photographed by police with a camera attached to a gigantic lens mounted on a pole. I was unable to take any pictures of the rounded-up migrants who were made to sit in a sectioned-off area in the middle of the station. The migrants were eventually marched on to buses and driven off. Here are a few photos I snuck…
During my travels I have seen immigration officers conduct passport checks on trains. As I entered the country of Monaco, many officers swarmed the train. They pointed to anyone who looked like they might be a refugee and asked for passports. I started to reach for mine, and they shook their heads no and quickly moved to others around me. I witnessed three migrants pulled from the train and placed into disposable flexi-cuffs and made to sit on the ground as the train moved away from the station. The captives would be dealt with, and the officials would no doubt repeat their tactics once the next train rolled in.
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