“She’s going to solely eat German meals!” mentioned Ms. Maai of little Angela, now 5.

The autumn of 2015 was a unprecedented second of compassion and redemption for the nation that dedicated the Holocaust. Many Germans name it their “fall fairy story.” But it surely additionally set off years of populist blowback, emboldening intolerant leaders like Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary and catapulting a far-right party into Germany’s own Parliament for the primary time since World Battle II.

In the present day, European border guards are utilizing drive towards migrants. Refugee camps linger in squalor. And European leaders pay Turkey and Libya to cease these in want from trying the journey in any respect. In the course of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, a refrain of Europeans was fast to say that refugees wouldn’t be welcome on the continent.

“There are two tales right here: One is a hit story, and one is a narrative of horrible failure,” mentioned Gerald Knaus, the founding chairman of the European Stability Initiative, who informally suggested Ms. Merkel on migration for over a decade. “Merkel did the fitting factor in Germany. However she misplaced the difficulty in Europe.”

Having fled conflict, torture and chaos in Syria, Mhmad and Widad now stay on Sunshine Road within the western German metropolis of Gelsenkirchen. Of their third-floor front room, a close-up of Ms. Merkel’s smiling face is the display screen saver on the big flat-screen tv, a relentless presence.

“She is our guardian angel,” mentioned Widad, a 35-year-old mom of six, who requested that she and her relations be recognized solely by their first names to guard kin in Syria. “Angela Merkel did one thing large, one thing stunning, one thing Arabic leaders didn’t do for us.”

“We’ve nothing to pay her again,” she added. “So we named our daughter after her.”

Angela, or Angie as her mother and father name her, is now 5. An animated lady with massive hazel eyes and cascading curls, Angie loves to inform tales, in German, along with her 5 siblings. Her sister Haddia, 13, desires to be a dentist. Fatima, 11, loves math.

“There is no such thing as a distinction between girls and boys at school right here and that’s good,” Widad mentioned. “I hope Angie will develop as much as be like Ms. Merkel: a powerful girl with a giant coronary heart.”