Germany has been a key destination for refugees during the so-called refugee crisis and has taken on larger numbers of refugees during that period. Civic mobilizations in this context feature the emergence of so-called welcome initiatives. A primary focus of these initiatives has been to provide stop-gap help to incoming refugees, that is chiefly attending to migrants’ basic needs for food, clothing, accomodation, transportation, legal advice, language etc. These are new entries into the field of pro-immigrant civic initiatives, adding to pre-existing interest associations, church-related, leftist and refugees’ self organized organizations and mobilizations. This chapter charts these novel, welcome mobilizations in order to analyze their emotional bases in a comparative perspective. Fundamental to this is the distinction of pity, compassion, and (political) solidarity as emotions of apprehending others’ suffering. With Arendt it can be argued that compassion and pity tend to depoliticize civic action, while solidarity may politicize activists. Applying this analytical lens brings into relief to what extend welcome initiatives are politicized or depoliticized, operating more as political activism or humanitarianism. This comes into particular relief when comparing welcome initiatives with other, pre-existing mobilizations, especially of the radical left and by migrants themselves.
Keywords: Emotion, refugee crisis, solidarity, compassion, pity, Germany.