In the second quarter of 2020, the German economy slumped by 10.1 percent. This even surpasses the peak of the economic and financial crisis of 2009, when there was a decline of 7.9 percentage points. Many entrepreneurs and solo self-employed people are looking with great concern into an uncertain future. 6.7 million people are on short-time work. These are the dramatic consequences of the lockdown, which has also been used to try to contain the pandemic in our country.
If one draws the comparison with other nations, especially with the US of Trump, Putin’s Russia or the Brazil of Bolsonaro, then we have managed the situation so far. Even compared to Italy or the interim situation in Alsace. The measures taken and their acceptance by the population, the unity and solidarity among themselves, have prevented our health system from becoming more able to cope with the number of people suffering from it. We were spared, with all the stresses, conditions in which doctors had to decide who would receive the last ventilator. That people are sent home to die from the clinics. That the military had to transport corpses in columns or bury them in mass graves. This is another reason why many measures have been relaxed: the AHA rule essentially sticks to the Rule: keep distance, observe hygiene, wear everyday masks. And this seems to too many to be an imposition, an overly drastic cut in their freedoms. Negligence is spreading.
The demonstrators chanted “Freedom,” “Resistance,” “Mask away!”, “We are the second wave.” It is a doubly explosive mixture – both in terms of content and quantity: 17,000 people, from all over Germany, largely without mouth-nose cover and without sufficient distance. They threaten to turn Berlin into a demo-ischgl. With unpredictable consequences – for the economy and, above all, for the health of the people in the country. Among them are conspiracy theorists, AfD-lers, right-wing extremists, anti-Semites. Alternatively, Bill Gates, the Jews, or even a comprehensive world conspiracy are blamed. The demo, also promoted from the far right, took place under the title “The End of the Pandemic – Day of Freedom”. “Day of Freedom” was also the title of the Nazi filmmaker Riefenstahl about the Reich Party Congress of the Nazi Party Congress in 1935. The fact that the demonstration had to be stopped for violations of hygiene regulations is probably immediately put forward as new evidence of the “Corona dictatorship” and is regarded as censorship.
While on 1 August the WHO reports a new negative record, according to which 292,000 people worldwide have been infected with the COVID19 virus within one day, the RKI also points to rising numbers in Germany. There were 955 new infections recorded – the highest level since June 17.
Almost simultaneously, according to police figures, 17,000 people demonstrate in Berlin against the remaining protective measures and announce the end of the pandemic. The Stuttgart initiative “Querdenken 711” had been called for. Initially, the organizers had announced up to 500,000 demonstrators on social media, and media reports said it would be because Merkel had access roads and train connections to Berlin blocked if that number was not reached.
The self-proclaimed Corona rebels recall the PEGIDA movement, the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, which brought up to 25,000 people to the streets in Dresden. This, too, was a wild smorgasbord of people unsettled by the rising number of refugees, populists, right-wing extremists, neo-Nazis and disaffected. From people who saw their freedom and prosperity in danger, they accused the government and the media of lying campaigns. Those who called for resistance. Those who felt threatened. There was a state of opinion.
In both cases, the demonstrators inevitably made and make common with the political right by mixing the various actors. And this is also a bit more salon-ready. Both groups, PEGIDA and the Corona rebels, were able and can reach far into the middle of society with their agenda. That makes it dangerous.
And there is another commonality: behind the calls to freedom, in the end, there is nothing but sheer selfishness, an “I first”. Quasi Trump’s “America first” on the micro level. It is a question of not being prepared to restrict one’s mind out of consideration for others. Or taking responsibility for others. This was and still applies to refugees, who would prefer to drown in the Mediterranean or vegetate in camps under unworthy conditions – accompanied by ugly comments – before they can endanger their own prosperity. And it is now and now that it is important to wear a mouth-nose protection or to refrain from major events without a minimum distance. Even if this behavior puts others at risk.
In both cases, people end up dying.