Wir schaffen das

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"Wir schaffen das" ("we can manage this; we can do it; we can do this") is an assertion made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the 2015 European migrant crisis that Germany could manage to absorb very large numbers of immigrants. It subsequently came into wide use by politicians and activists opposed to mass immigration, intending criticism of Merkel's immigration policy.

Merkel's use of phrase[edit]

Merkel first used the phrase on 31 August 2015, at a press conference following a visit to a refugee camp near Dresden where local opponents of her refugee policy booed and heckled her.[1] The full sentence she used was "Wir haben so vieles geschafft – wir schaffen das.” This can be translated as "We have managed so many things — we will also manage this situation."[1]

Merkel used the phrase against a background of violence and crime by and against immigrants in Germany.,[2] including the 2016 Munich shooting, the 2016 Ansbach bombing, and the Würzburg train attack.[3]

In September 2016, Merkel stated that she would no longer be using the phrase. In an interview with the German paper, Wirtschaftswoche, she said "I sometimes think this phrase was a little overstated, that too much store was set by it — to the extent that I’d prefer not to repeat it".[4]

Use of phrase by other politicians[edit]

Two weeks after the press conference where Merkel first used the phrase, opponents began to use it to criticize her pro-immigration policy.[1] In August 2018, one of the vice presidents of the German Bundestag, Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP), stated that the dictum was at the "root of the violence" in Chemnitz. SPD-chairwoman and SPD group leader in the Bundestag, Andrea Nahles, called this an "unbelievable statement for an experienced politician".[5]

Writing in The Atlantic, Graeme Wood describes "the anti-immigrant right" as having "hung 'Wir schaffen das' around (Merkel's) neck like a lead weight."[6]

On 29 November 2018, CDU Secretary General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as CDU party chairwoman, used the phrase several times during a party conference, referring, not to asylum seekers but to family policies.[7]

On 21 August 2019, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, used the phrase “Wir schaffen Das” in a joint press conference with Chancellor Merkel, in a reference to the Anglo-German discussions around Brexit.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Delcker, Janosch (23 August 2016). "The phrase that haunts Angela Merkel". Politico. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Ermittlungen zum Münchner Amoklauf abgeschlossen". Landescriminalamt Bayern. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  3. ^ "After rampages, Merkel says again: Wir schaffen das". The Local. AFP. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  4. ^ Emmet Livingstone (17 September 2016). "Angela Merkel drops the 'we can do it' slogan". Politico. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  5. ^ Wolfgang Kubicki wegen Aussagen zu Chemnitz in der Kritik, Zeit.de, 29 August 2018
  6. ^ Wood, Graeme (April 2018). "The Refugee Detectives". The Atlantic. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  7. ^ Kramp-Karrenbauer wiederholt Merkels umstrittensten Satz, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 30 November 2018
  8. ^ "Boris Johnson: "Wir schaffen das"". Süddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved 21 August 2019.