German refugee home firm fired over jokes about ‘child guillotine’: Report

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 15, 2016 17:19 IST
Refugees walk past containers as smoke billows in background in the refugee camp near Kassel, Germany. (AP)

Contracts of a German refugee housing management firm were cancelled after its senior managers were found discussing setting up a “child guillotine” and talking about hiring “maximally pigmented” for certain jobs, a report said on Monday.

The Local, an English-language news network, reported that an “appalled” minister for social affairs Mario Czaja announced on Sunday that he had cancelled all the contracts of Berlin-based PeWoBe without notice.

The action came after Berlin tabloid newspaper BZ published internal emails of the firm, it said. In a chain of emails, senior officials of the firm talked about ways to utilise a €5,000 donation from BMW.

Peggy M, the director of a refugee home in the eastern Hellersdorf area, suggested setting up a “small child-guillotine” because “a proposed sandbox for children would very quickly become a big ashtray or a local toilet”.

“What about if we instead have a small child-guillotine? Or perhaps a basketball hoop,” Peggy M, who according to BZ was an unsuccessful political candidate for a far-right group in Brandenburg, said.

Others responded by sending pictures of guillotines with beheaded people and a children’s slide with a barbed cheese-grater at the end.

“OHHHHH how nice!!!” Peggy M was quoted as responding to the pictures.

PeWoBe’s managing director Birgit B replied saying, “I personally find the guillotine to be a totally good suggestion - it will, however, bring us back into the press and we don’t want that”.

Peggy M later wrote about the mess the beheadings would create.

“You, of course, are right that no one wants to clean up the mess; I at least would not... In principle that would be a nice job for the maximally pigmented,” Birgit B responded.

The Local said the managers continued the discussion in their emails about ways to dispose of the bodies, including using a “large-volume crematorium”.

It reported that PeWoBe’s lawyer told BZ the managers’ statements were taken out of context and were not serious. He also said that the use of the word guillotine had initially been a mistake due to smartphone autocorrect functions.

It also quoted a report by Tagesspiegel saying that the Berlin government will have to find another firm to operate the total of nine refugee homes and some residents may even have to relocate.

Berlin has seen a wave of refugees, especially from Syria, after Chancellor Angela Merkel announced an “open door” refugee policy last year. Many of the migrants have to wait for months, often living in cramped accommodation, while their applications for asylum are processed.

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