German bus driver reduces refugees to tears with welcome message

© Stefanie Loos
Human decency can take on many forms. In Bavaria, it took the form of a bus driver who gave arriving asylum seekers a reason to think they weren’t just leaving their homes out of necessity, but were also welcome in their new one, reducing passengers to tears.

The incident took place on Bus No. 286, as it passed through the city of Erlangen. Some 15 asylum seekers who had only recently arrived were pulled out of their zones by Sven Latteyer, who addressed everyone out of the blue, in English:

“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, from all over the world in this bus – I want to say something. I want to say welcome. Welcome to Germany, welcome to my country. Have a nice day.”

Erlangen is home to some 150 different nationalities, its administration says, according to the Nürnberger Nachrichten, the local paper that reported on the story. So, immigrants are a common sight there. Not only that, but the city’s history is actually shaped by immigration, so one might say it’s “open by tradition,” as one eyewitness told the paper.

They recounted how, when Latteyer took to the microphone, people were wiping tears off their faces.

What some may find even more curious about the heart-warming gesture is the outward pride with which liberal Germans extend a helping hand: the country last year took in 40 percent of all immigrants arriving to Europe.

The UK, by contrast, only took in 4 percent, according to The Independent.

READ MORE: Russia helps Serbia cope with migrant crisis by aiding refugee camps

All of this is also taking place amid a sharp rise in far-right sentiments across the continent, with right-leaning political parties on the rise in France, Denmark, Greece and others, to name a few.

But Latteyer’s attitude may come as no surprise – the man’s brother-in-law fled the conflict in Kosovo to find a better life in Germany. His story inspired the 42-year-old bus driver. What’s more, his grandfather, while living in Nazi Germany, was fervently opposed to the ideology – an incredibly brave thing to do at the time.

Latteyer says he was deeply touched by the coverage his gesture had received in the media across the country and beyond. He told the Suddeutsche Zeitung it made him feel “very proud.”

Germany, meanwhile, could receive up to 400,000 refugees this year, as figures continue to grow across the EU. Some politicians estimate the final number to be even higher. But, remarkably, unlike some of the frightening awakenings of right-wing sentiments in an increasingly economically impoverished Europe, many Germans continue to display a different spirit. For instance, an increasing number wants to get involved in some form of charity work and help out in other ways.

That is not to say that attacks on immigrant shelters have not been happening. These often include defacing of property with Nazi symbolism and other types of vandalism. The far-right now appears to be a European mainstay.