A Syrian family's escape to Germany


Happy in Aleppo

The Kotos in 2006: Khalil, his wife Hamida and the children Mannan, Dolovan, Ayaz and Nervana. Back then, there was no civil war, no destruction, no hardship - and the family never thought they would one day have to flee Syria.


Determined to leave

At the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011, Khalil Koto headed a branch of the country's Energy Ministry in his hometown Afrin in northwestern Syria. The electrical engineer soon lost his job, there was a shortage of water and food, and in April 2014, the situation was so dire that the family decided to flee to Turkey, where Khalil's mother lived.


Step by step

Khalil couldn't find work in Turkey, so in July 2014, the family agreed to move on to Germany. The fact that Khalil's brother already lived in Europe helped the family make the decision. The spoon, above, is a reminder of the six months the Kotos spent in Bulgarian refugee camps.


Welcome to Germany

Finally in Germany, the family was granted asylum in the northern city of Bremen. A woman there gave Khalil this pair of jeans, the refugee's first piece of clothing in Germany. That same year, the family was eventually housed in the port city of Bremerhaven, about 50 kilometers north of Bremen.


Uncertain future

Today, the children go to a German school, while Khalil and his wife Hamida take German lessons. The electrical engineer hopes he'll find a job soon. The family enjoys remembering life in Syria. Ayaz, the youngest, still has his Syrian pre-school ID from Aleppo.

An exhibition at the German Emigration Center tells the story of a Syrian family's escape to Germany. Photos and mementos give an impression of the Koto family's long trek to Europe.