Today I am going to write about a topic, that concerns me personally quite a lot. For a while now a swing to the right in society is happening in my home state of Saxony in Germany and in my opinion, media and politics have neglected this swing for too long.
At the same time, the countermovement is increasing constantly. About 10.000 people have peacefully demonstrated for solidarity and against racism yesterday, to stand up tall against the fourth anniversary of the xenophobic Pegida. The Patriotischen Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Western World), abbreviated to Pegida was attracting up to 20.000 people in the beginning of their movement back in 2014. Fortunately, now they only attract around 2.000 people. Their leader is a person with a criminal record and connections to the Neo-Nazi scene. He is open to violence and mistreatment against refugees. The Pegida movement was tolerated for far too long by the Saxon political parties and not many politicians from the ministry in Dresden confronted them publicly.
Saxony has been the scene for many anti-foreign attempts (Heidenau, Freital, Chemnitz), from assaulting and threatening Muslims to burning down refugee accommodations.
Racism is still being belittled but why is that?
In relation to the total number of inhabitants, Saxony has the most xenophobic assaults compared to the other German states. It can be argued that the lack of perspective is, in particular for young people is one reason. The AfD, a right-wing political party has used this anger as their fundamentals in a highly successful marketing strategy, targeted not only to young people without prospects but also towards frustrated middle-aged men and women.
But why do so many Saxons have a problem with their ego? Why are they so overly proud of being born somewhere in this eastern German state?
There is this belief that Saxons suffer chronically under “xenophobia”, that can be seen in history as well. Saxony was always afraid of being enslaved by Prussia, that is why they partnered up with Napoleon, which ended tragically for the Saxons (of course). The German Democratic Republic has been seen as a foreign domination by the Soviets and after the reunification of West- and East-Germany, they think of themselves of losers again, as their economy was weaker than the prosperous West-German one and many did not have a job anymore.
Saxons downright believe they are part of some kind of myth; that they are special due to their history. But that is not the case. And most notably, that is not an excuse for being an asshole and screaming paroles against all kinds of foreigners and assault them increasingly.
Saxons, you are not more special than anybody else. You should accept the fact, that Germany needs immigrants for many reasons, such as the economy and cultural diversity. I am feeling super uncomfortable when I am talking to people and they try to force their xenophobic opinion on me. It enrages and saddens me at the same time. I stopped talking to many people because their attitude severely changed in a direction I do not support.
Please, do us all a favour and read a book about German history, because we are moving towards a direction where we have been already in the past. And we really should have learned from our mistakes.
The silver lining
Saxony’s Minister-President Michael Kretschmer (CDU) was calling for the respectful adherence of the democratic values at the demonstration yesterday and continued that it is on us to give people from all over the world a welcoming feeling. He then added that we all need to act if people are being mistreated (Sueddeutsche, 2018).
In my opinion, the media coverage is really asymmetric and puts too much emphasis on the right move of Saxony. This is happening all over Germany, even all over Europe. But Saxony is a great state. It is still experiencing a great economic growth, it has beautiful old cities, such as Leipzig and Dresden; you can already see and feel the long-lasting history by just entering Dresden. And did you know that many Nobel laureates, poets, scientist and philosophers studied at the University of Leipzig? Both cities are among others definitely worth a visit or two, and the countryside and mountainside are amazing for leaving the busy city.
Yes, Saxony has an image problem, but it is also a great place to be with not only dummies but also cool people.
Nimz, U. (2018) Dresdner widersprechen. 21st October. Sueddeutsche Zeitung [online] [accessed 22nd October] https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/sachsen-dresdner-widersprechen-1.4178878