I've spent a lot of time in Germany in recent years I've visited Ulm, Munich, Hamburg, Trier, Memmingen and many smaller places on the Kiel Canal and River Elbe. I've made German friends through dancing and another set of German friends through sailing.
Germany has rebuilt itself since World War Two, its industry, its towns and cities and its society. It has coped brilliantly with reunification and created a liberal, peaceful, environmentally caring society. German towns are clean and virtually litter and graffiti free, everything works and by far the majority of the people are welcoming, educated, charming and hospitable. Policing is also polite and low key.
Largely thanks to its liberal society Germany has adopted a virtually open door policy towards refugees. This has been encouraged by heart rending depictions in the media which often chooses to film women and children in particular.
The thing is, that if you wish to live an a liberal society, as I do, then welcoming millions of immigrants (Germany received over one million in 2015 alone) who may not wish to live in a liberal society will probably cause conflict.
On New Year's Eve organised gangs robbed, physically and sexually assaulted women in a number of towns in Germany, but especially in Cologne. Victims have reported that the men were of Arabic appearance and spoke neither German nor English.
It may be circumstantial evidence but it is a fact that most of the new immigrants are men who have actually left their women behind. Many of these men come from countries where women's rights are restricted and at worst where women are treated as chattels.
If you come from a society where women have to be covered from head to foot without choice on their part, a place where women are under the control of a father until they are put under the control of a husband chosen for them, if you are used to women walking behind you and not going outdoors at all without a man, possibly a place where women don't have the right to drive a car or own a passport, then Europe requires some adjusting.
Clearly the events of New Year's Eve came as a great shock to the ordinary people of Germany and to the police who were totally unprepared for events. Which brings me back to the point that if you wish to live in a liberal society then you cannot afford to simply import millions of people who want to live in a different way. Sharia Law for example is anathema not just to Christians but also to secularists, humanists, etc. ie to the majority of European citizens.
I'm not for a moment suggesting we should not help refugees, but at the hub of it is the idea of multiculturalism and political correctness. In Britain we live in a multicultural society, but it's not without problems. I believe strongly in freedom of belief and of religion, I also believe in freedom of speech, but what happens in a democracy if a situation is reached where the majority do not see things that way? Just as communism disallowed other parties so do dictatorships and religious states.
If I spend time abroad I obey not just the laws of the country, but I also respect its culture and traditions, personally I do not want to go to a British enclave in some other country. My conclusion is that Angela Merkel got it wrong, probably for the best of reasons. Now the lady mayor of Cologne has suggested that German women now need to behave differently. NO.
What is needed are checks and balances, you cannot just allow millions of people in without knowing who they are, or where they come from (whether indeed they are actually refugees), or their likely intentions. Young men who have left their women behind and who regard them as second class citizens still don't expect to be celibate and they may regard western women in an unfortunately biased and negative way too.
Here in the UK thousands, of young British girls, often underage even, have been abused by organised gangs of men from a different ethnic background. The police turned a blind eye because of political correctness and even now that the truth has emerged there has been only a handful of prosecutions.
Help refugees yes, but checks and balances to ensure our civilised and liberal way of life which we and our forebears have worked hard to achieve is not lost. We have a culture too and multiculturalism and political correctness threaten it, here and in the rest of Europe, but especially political correctness. The debate needs to happen and people coming in have to be detained and checked. Not in an unkind way, but to prevent conflict later. Now the freedom to cross borders within Europe is under threat, which is sad, but the loss of our way of life would be sadder still.