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28 Aug, 2018 08:34

'We feel like foreigners': Mother in Germany on son's daycare where '2 out of 25 speak German'

'We feel like foreigners': Mother in Germany on son's daycare where '2 out of 25 speak German'

In a polarizing viral video with almost 2 million views, the mother of a 3-year-old boy complains that her son cannot socialize with other kids in a public nursery, as only two out of 25 can speak German.

In a Facebook video post filmed on August 15, the mother, Leen Kroetsch, takes aim at German politicians for what she claims is a botched immigration policy which is forcing her 3-year-old, who has no immigrant background, to adjust to an alien environment in the daycare center.

Kroetsch claims that out of 25 children, her son's group consists of only two without an immigrant background and who can speak German fluently, while the other 23 are unable to understand German at all. At the same time, these other children, according to Kroetsch, can easily communicate with each other while speaking in their mother tongues, which her son obviously does not speak.

"My son must adapt to other children. This isn't integration, dear politicians, integration is a bit different," Kroetsch says.

The woman also expressed outrage at the fact she had to win the right to send her boy to the daycare center in court, saying she almost lost her "existence" job as a result.

She claims that her son's case is not an exception and is rather commonplace in Essen, the fourth largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, noting that her friend's child is also one of only two in his class who do not have an immigrant background.

Kroetsch says she is concerned not only about the present situation and the well-being of her 3-year-old, but also about the future – in which she fears her son might feel like a foreigner in his own country.

"I'm scared, I'm scared for my son's future and I do not know what to expect next. My son and I feel here like foreigners. Was that intended?" she said, adding that she might be "forced to immigrate someday" herself.

The woman said that although her child was granted a place in a daycare center, she had to fight the center in court, while parents "of Muhammad, of Ali, and as they are all called" don't have to.

The video has polarized people on social media. While many echoed her concerns, saying "there is no big difference to Berlin" and praising the "courageous woman," others said, "nowadays, it's apparently so bad to be Muslim."

While the video has been making the rounds on social media, as well as grabbing headlines in the German media, the official in charge of the institution, Petra Struck, contradicted the account of the disgruntled mother, saying that although it is true that only two out of 25 children were German citizens, the "only common language" they had was German. Struck told Westdeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung (WAZ) that around half of the students in the group can speak German, while some need more time to learn the language, as they have only been in the kindergarten for "several weeks." She noted that the group was a kind of emergency measure in order to give the children the opportunity to attend daycare.

READ MORE: Is Merkel saving face? Controversial Germany-Spain deal on migrants comes into force

Kroetsch argued that Struck was unaware of the situation "on the ground," saying that she was personally told by the administration that only seven children in her son's group have at least a basic knowledge of German.

"Mrs. Struck has never attempted to speak with me," the mother told HuffPost. 

In her video, she stressed that she is not blaming the children in the daycare or their parents. Kroetsch herself also deals with children with immigrant backgrounds in a boxing club.

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