This is the endstation of the ‘Refugee Express’ – the international trains bearing thousands of illegal immigrants weekly into Germany from Italy.
Lined along the steps leading to the long-distance platforms sits the human cargo of these trains; tired, hungry but happy to have made it to a land of their dreams.
For many aboard, it is one step nearer to the ambition of settling on a continent either offering job prospects or buttressed by generous welfare systems: for many more it is one halt nearer to Calais and the prospect of reaching England.
At Rosenheim, the refugees whose journeys began in far-flung lands like Eritrea, Libya, Somalia, Syria and a dozen other places shredded by war and suffering begin their final odyssey: registration into the system they pray will give them sanctuary.
While Britain is focused on Calais and the security debacle at the ferryport and Eurotunnel sidings, this is the transit point for many of those who pitch up on the edge of the English Channel.
Last month saw a record number of 6,400 refugees arriving in Rosenheim, 2,900 in the first ten days of August. Germany is expected to take in 800,000 migrants this year.
In chaotic scenes in Hungary yesterday, hundreds of furious migrants protested at a railway station in Budapest – demanding to be allowed on trains to the west-European nation and neighbouring Austria.
Authorities shut the city’s Eastern Railway station after migrants began brawling to force their way on to trains.
Road to Germany: Ibrahim Njai (left) with his friend Idris Ndiaye (right) boarded the ‘Refugee Express’ to Germany from Bolzano, northern Italy
Long journey: This family, who presumably fled war and persecution in their home country, are among the thousands travelling to Germany and Austria after crossing the Mediterranean to Europe
New life: These refugees are travelling to Rosenheim, Germany, which took in a record 6,400 refugees last month
Migrant life: Mustapha from Sudan is one of thousands of migrants who made the perilous journey to Europe and now wants to reach Rosenheim to be registered as an asylum seeker
Making do: Some have managed to secure comfortable carriages on the hundreds-of-miles-long journey from Italy to Germany, but others are content with an aisle seat
On the tracks: Ibrahim and other migrants got on the train at Bolzano, northern Italy, while others are making the even longer trip from Budapest, Hungary. The migrants who land in Greece often travel north through countries like Macedonia and Serbia to catch the train to Germany from Budapest
Keeping watch: Ibrahim and many other refugees boarded the train at Balzano (pictured), northern Italy, where police have been patrolling (pictured)
Boiling over: Hundreds of furious migrants protested in Budapest – and demanded to be allowed to board trains to Germany – after Hungarian authorities closed the Eastern Railway station yesterday
Closed off: A migrant and his toddler wake up after sleeping rough on the streets of Budapest, Hungary, after police stopped them getting on a train to Germany
Influx: This young migrant waiting to be registered in Berlin, Germany, is one of 800,000 migrants the west-European country will take in this year
Refugee homes, those that have not been firebombed or stoned, are bursting at the seams as Germany struggles to cope with a colossal 800,000 asylum seekers who are expected to arrive this year.
Rosenheim, just 40 miles south of the Bavarian capital Munich, is now the scene of one of the biggest policing operations in postwar Germany.
Awaiting every train that crosses over from the border with Austria, particularly those which started out from Italy, are squads of police.
Immigrants are pulled from toilets, from underneath luggage racks and from first and second class compartments. They are, for the most part, polite, timid, afraid… and in their hearts overjoyed to have made it to a place they view as the source of milk and honey from now on.
‘Are we in Germany yet?’ asks one refugee of a police officer as he is politely led away for processing into the great bureaucratic machine that is the German state.
‘How difficult is it to get to England? How are refugees treated there?’ shouts another as he is walked to the buses waiting to take him and his fellow travellers to a refugee centre. ‘That’ where I want to be man!’
Some are well dressed, with styled hair and fashionable luggage, some have just the clothes on their back.
They have crossed deserts and oceans, survived the violence and avarice of people smugglers, slept rough and eaten intermittently. But no hardship puts them off because, as they will all tell you, they have suffered infinitely worse things in the blighted lands where their exodus began.
As Ibrahim (left) and Njai (right) travel north to Germany on board the ‘Refugee Express’, the most pressing question on his lips is: ‘How expensive is it to watch Chelsea?’
New beginning: For migrants like Mustapha (pictured) from Sudan, Germany offers the chance of of job prospects and welfare benefits
Mixing with the locals: Ibrahim Njai (pictured in Brenner, northern Italy), 17, from Gambia sat among the holiday-makers and regular travellers and holidaymakers
Travelling light: The only legal document that Ibrahim (left) had to hand on his journey through Italy was his train ticket to Munich, Germany
Multiple entries: The ‘Refugee Express’, which travels through Bolzano (pictured), is not the only immigrant path to Rosenheim
Anger: Migrants also travel to Germany from Budapest, Hungary, where hundreds have been protesting after a major train route was shut down
Waiting game: Migrants sit in a hall at the main station and wait for the registration in Munich, Germany, which has been inundated with migrants from Syria, Eritrea and Libya
Innocence lost: A young migrant girl from Iraq is seen to by a Red Cross nurse in Munich after she and her family made the treacherous journey from the Middle East to seek refuge in Germany
The Refugee Express trains pull into Rosenheim four times a day. On one train alone this week police found more than 140 refugees – men, women, children and babies.
At one point the Rosenheim processing centre had be closed because it was overwhelmed and the refugees were sent on to Munich city centre instead.
They joined the trains as they snaked their way through Italy. Most of them have no passports because they surrendered them to the human predators who brought them to Europe in the first place. All they know is the mantra that ‘Germany, Sweden and the UK have got the best welfare systems’.
Under EU rules, Italian police should register the migrants because it is the first European country in which they set foot. But the police there often turn a blind eye with one Italian police union spokesman saying: ‘We want them to disappear.’
As a result, the asylum seekers dodge the rules and speed north to the Nirvana they think awaits them.
On board the 4.30pm from Bolzano in northern Italy on Tuesday last week sat 17-year-old Ibrahim Njai from Gambia, nervous among the holiday-makers and regular travellers, returning from, or going on, holiday.
The only legal document he has is his train ticket to Munich. In Gambia, he sold clothes in a market. He says he was persecuted by police, so made his way across Africa to Libya and paid traffickers £700 to take him to Italy.
What he really wants to know is: ‘How expensive is it to watch Chelsea? They’re my London team, my favourite in the Premiership. I may have to stay in Germany, but is it difficult to get to England? I want to go there one day to work so I can send money back to my mother and young sister.’
Travelling with him was Idris Ndiaye from Senegal – another potential England-bound immigrant. ‘I have no passport. My mother sold her jewellery so I could travel to Italy. I can’t give up now.’
To be fair, while many speak of the benefits they think they can accrue, most of them just want a crack at the possibility of a better life through work, in a land safe from warlords, rape, extortion, random murder and degrading poverty.
Semhar, 17, from Eritrea, is one of them. She had to be rescued from a leaking boat as she crossed to Italy. None of the immigrants knows where they will end up, but they all ask about England, keeping every option open. ‘I just want to be happy and safe,’ she said.
Dangerous route: Ibrahim (pictured) sold clothes at a market in Gambia but he faced such persecution by police that he travelled to Libya and paid £700 for traffickers to take him to Italy
Desperate measures: Ibrahim’s friend Idris Ndiaye (right) from Senegal – another potential England-bound immigrant – told MailOnline: ‘I have no passport. My mother sold her jewellery so I could travel to Italy. I can’t give up now’
Better life: Most of the migrants who spoke to MailOnline travelled to EUrope for the possibility of a better life through work – in a land safe from warlords, rape, extortion and murder
Here at last: The so-called ‘Refugee Express’ travels from Italy to Rosenheim (pictured) in Germany with up 300 refugees every day
Start again: Once in Rosenheim (pictured), German police remove refugees from the train then process them on the platform
Freedom: Once they are processed, the migrants are taken to a barracks where they start the process of claiming asylum
Exhausted: Refugees who arrived by train from Budapest via Austria, wait for transportation to one of the refugee reception centres, at Munich’s central train station (pictured)
Tired of waiting: Migrants sit outside the main station as they wait for the registration in Munich, where hundreds more migrants arrive every day
Cold and alone: Covered with a blanket to protect themselves against the rain a woman with a little girl arrive at the reception center for refugees and asylum seekers in Berlin, Germany
For the moment they are stuck in Rosenheim, and it is causing tensions. Regional politician Birgit Wellmann-Pichler said: ‘We all agreed to help the refugees as much as we could. The police are being as low-key as possible, but housing is an issue.
‘Some villages have taken refugees and others have not. Some people are resentful of the financial help that the immigrants can receive. How many more refugees can we take?’
And the railway is not the only immigrant path into Rosenheim. Major trafficking routes intersect near the town – the Balkan Route from Afghanistan and the Brenner Route – through the pass – from Africa, via the Mediterranean, Italy and Austria.
The number of immigrants and their families walking along motorways outside Rosenheim has forced the police to cut the speed limit for fear someone will be killed.
The squads of police officers at Rosenheim Railway Station have to strike a balance between administering the law and behaving with decency and humanity to the refugees. Those who have passed through their hands in recent weeks have unanimously praised their behaviour, with no echoes of the running brawls that have erupted in France.
INFLUX OF MIGRANTS COULD THREATEN FREE BORDER MOVEMENT IN EUROPE
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Europe’s passport-free travel zone could be in danger unless European countries agreed to share refugees.
She has called for action against the migrant crisis, which she says is testing the core ideals of the European Union.
Germany expects to take in more than 800,000 asylum seekers this year – four times more than last year and far more than any other EU country.
Ms Merkel said: ‘If Europe fails on the question of refugees, if this close link with universal civil rights is broken, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for.’
‘Europe as a whole needs to move. Member states must share responsibility for asylum-seeking refugees.’
Act now: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) has called for action against the migrant crisis, which she says is testing the core ideals of the European Union
Referring to the passport free-travel zone which cover most of the EU and some neighbouring countries, she said: ’If we don’t arrive at a fair distribution then the issue of Schengen will arise – we do not want that.’
Ms Merkel rejected an idea proposed by Austria’s Interior Minister, who said EU funding should be cut for states who do not take in their fair share of asylum seekers.
The Schengen Agreement, which came into effect in 1995, created the Schengen Zone – an area which comprises 26 European countries that have abolished passport and border control at their common borders.
One officer said; ‘The hardest part of our job is often encouraging the refugees to leave the train. Reluctant to do so, the men appear at first to not understand.
‘But once they know they are in Germany a sense of relief fills the train compartments. Unaware of where their lives may lead in the future, they that they have at least reached their geographical goal, where the chance of seeking asylum is one step closer.’
On the trains the refugees garner an extraordinary amount of sympathy from German passengers.
One German mother aged around 30, who was crying at the plight of those she shared her compartment with from Verona, was reassured by a policeman: ‘We’re helping them. We’ll give them food and drink, and after they’ve registered, they’ll be able to move on to Munich and apply for asylum.’
Once off the trains, every refugee must provide authorities with a photo and finger prints. Later they will be medically examined for communicable diseases such as TB or the HIV virus.
They wait patiently to receive a numbered armband. Mobile phones, money, belts, cigarettes and all other personal belongings are packed into see-through bags, bearing the same number as the fluorescent strip around the wrist of each person.
Documentation: Once off the train in Rosenheim (pictured), every refugee must provide authorities with a photo and finger prints
Examination: Once they have been checked over by police, migrants (pictured) are medically examined for diseases like TB or HIV
Another number: Items such as mobile phones, money, belts, cigarettes and all other personal belongings are packed into see-through bags which have the same number as the armbands they are given
By the book: Migrants are eventually taken to a converted sports hall where they are questioned, given food and water, and have their names entered into an official system
Persecuted everywhere: Attacks on asylum seekers in Germany have soared threefold in the first six months of this year
Later, in a converted sports hall, they will be quizzed, given food and drink and their names will enter the system. In 30 degree heat the smell of unwashed bodies is ripe, but no-one complains.
The process can take many hours, sometimes overnight, before the refugees can be shipped on to a variety of holding centres across Germany. ‘It can sometimes to take hours to find an interpreter who speaks a specific dialect,’ says Rosenheim Police spokesman Rainer Scharf. ‘Imagine how many there are.
‘The police officers are sympathetic to their plight. They bring in many toys for the children. We work very closely with the Malteser charity and our officers have also made donations.’
‘There is emotional stress. Officers are confronted with the destinies of these people,’ Scharf added.
Once in the system, some will be content to sit it out and see what happens. Others will vanish and live underground, protected by a network of friends and families in big cities.
Others will hit the highways and train stations to travel through the passport-less Schengen Zone to try their luck in reaching England.
But the clock is ticking, in more ways than one. Attacks on asylum seekers in Germany have soared threefold in the first six months of this year over 2014.
The situation is now so tense that a recent headline in news magazine Der Spiegel read; ‘Is the Ugly German Back? Flames of Hate Haunt a Nation.’ The German interior ministry has chronicled 173 instances of ‘criminal right-wing offences against accommodations for asylum-seekers’ between January and June this year.
The parallels about what is happening to refugees now and what happened to Jews in the 1930’s are now being drawn daily in the nation’s media.
Unfortunately, the end is not in sight. ‘We have to assume that further crimes will be committed against accommodations for asylum-seekers,’ said Holger Münch, the president of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office.
For the passengers riding the Refugee Express the hatred of right-wingers is just one more hurdle to overcome.
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