Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Year of Living Dangerously

It is now almost a year that German Chancellor Angela Merkel unilaterally decided to waive the Dublin and Schengen agreements and thereby triggered off the biggest migration flow in the history of modern Europe.

Much has changed since those fateful days in early September 2015. I will concentrate on the changes in ordinary people's lives rather than the big events (Brexit!!) this decision has brought about.
During the long gloomy autumn months that followed that disastrous September, everybody was feeling absolutely stunned. I remember travelling quite a lot and constantly meeting people who looked perplexed and confused asking each other the ever same question "What is happening here?" There was no help coming from politicians - the official reason of "our humanitarian obligation" was quickly transformed into absurdity as migrants from Pakistan, North Africa and India were flooding Germany in ever increasing numbers.

Evenings were getting darker, and as reports of soaring crime became daily news, going out by yourself after dark seemed a distant memory. Pepper spray became a handbag accessory.  People were constantly looking over their shoulders rather than straight ahead. Whilst Merkel and her allies were calling peaceful demonstrators "scum" and actively encouraged people to sneer at "concerned citizens", Cologne NYE happened. You know the facts by now (against the explicit wish of the government who tried to hide, obfuscate and poo-pah those absolutely mind-blowing occurrences.).

The winter was spent raging against the forces that had made all this possible, trying to find answers, discussing it with friends til the early hours, going over possible scenarios,- and starting to think about leaving the country.

Suddenly it had become clear how vulnerable one really was. Things one had never heard ofbefore actually became frightening reality: Somebody can stand behind you on the escalator and burn your hair off with a lighter (happened in Berlin). Mothers carrying babies could be randomly stabbed (also in Berlin).Young women were admonished to dress decently so as not to "tempt migrants". Houses and flats that once seemed safe were broken into as if a window, a door, a fence were nothing - which  is true, they offer very little actual protection. But in the "old Germany" they used to indicate barriers - this is MY territory do not enter without permission. In the new Merkel-created society such barriers are no longer meaningful. If there's something to get hold of, hey....go for it! And don't expect help or even sympathy from German politicians. Victim-blaming is common currency now

Then the really terrible terror attacks happened, not just in Germany but all over Europe. Train journeys became fraught with danger. Innocence, carelessness, normality, sponaneity have all gone. Instead there is a panoply of crude and rather primitive propaganda slogans urging everybody to do more and get with the programme which is inanely called "Wir schaffen das" (We can do this!). Indeed in her most recent interview Merkel, asked about the increase in sexual attacks on women said "I think we as a country can cope with that".

Life in Germany has become dangerous since Merkel's foolhardy decision last September. And of course this year has seen similarly staggering numbers of immigrants, especially from Central Africa. Thank you Merkel!You have managed to change Germany completely and utterly. Life has become difficult, unpleasant and dangerous, all in one year. Well done!