Refugees, a sad anniversary, fraud and corruption were the topics that mattered in Germany last month.
The one topic that ruled them all was, of course, the refugee crisis, a topic so prevalent that I am sure I overheard more people on the subway discussing their views on refugee camps, fences and secure countries of origin than talking about the weather. Which does say something because it was indeed unusually cold.
The opinions are divided. Many want to help and some are already helping. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a remarkable TV interview in which she said that she was not going to take part in a competition to be the least welcoming European country. Many others are afraid, and some determinedly against accepting any/more refugees.
A few fill any on-line newspaper’s commentary section within minutes every time an article about asylum seekers is published. And some are part of the Pegida movement, an organization of ‘concerned citizens’ who call themselves ‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident’ and who claim to be the unheard voice of the majority. (Statistical evidence suggests that they are not.)
This movement just celebrated its first anniversary in Dresden, a beautiful city in the East of Germany which is well-known for the famous Semperoper and the church Frauenkirche which was destroyed in 1945 and rebuilt after the German unification (which also celebrated an anniversary this October). Nowadays, it is mostly in the news because the Pegida people, sometimes just a few hundred and sometimes a few thousand, meet there every Monday to protest.
An alarming event that happened in October was the knife attack on the politician Henriette Reker one day before she was elected Lord Mayor of Cologne, committed by a man who did not agree with her views on immigration. While she was heavily injured, she still accepted the mandate.
Almost any other topic was overshadowed by the refugee crisis. The Volkswagen scandal did not seem to bother anyone nearly as much. Be it because it is less controversial or because everyone secretly believes that none of their competitors is any better, I don’t know.
The Bundesliga did not offer much of a diversion either, with Bayern München leading the field by five points and my favourite club behind on the 14th place out of 18. Rather than a source of diversion, football was also a source of bad news, with surfacing evidence that the World Cup 2006, our Sommermärchen, was brought to Germany by means of bribery and corruption. But then again, there probably weren’t that many people anyway who still believed it was possible to host such an event without engaging in some sort of corruption.
What happened in your country last month?