Global Independent Analytics
Lionel Baland
Lionel Baland

Location: Belgium

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

Germany : Toward the Fall of the New Wall ?

Today, after 25 years of common lives, the Berlin Wall is still there, only this time in the brains of the people.

At the time of the Cold War, the Wall cut Berlin. The Iron Curtain separated the two Germanys. In 1989, Communism fell and reunification took place in 1990. After decenniums of separated lives, the Germans learned how to live together. But they saw soon that they didn’t agree. Today, after 25 years of common lives, the Wall is still there, only this time in the brains of the people. The former West and East Germans don’t agree about various topics. The different political choices are one reflection of this.

More than one year ago, PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident),  started off in Dresden. At the beginning there were just a few numbers but the movement grew fast and moved to encompass at least twenty thousand people. This kind of large movement could only start in Dresden or maybe in the far north of the Eastern part of Germany (Rostock), because it needs a strong nationalist environment. Dresden was bombed and destroyed at the end of WWII. A lot of people died and German refugees from the lost territories came to this city to live there. Dresden, and the area in the south of this city (Saxon Switzerland), is a stronghold of nationalism.

The Eastern people took part 26 years ago in the uprising against the Communist system and have a lot of knowledge about how to manage and circumvent the repression of the State (some weeks ago, Lutz Bachmann, the leader of PEGIDA, told me that the big difference between 1989 and now is that in 1989 they were no cellphones. The people told that the meeting was at 5 pm and everybody was there. Now, the people call him and say “I will be five minutes later there”). In the Western part they don’t have this kind of experience. But the trench is larger:  the society in the former Communist area and especially in Dresden and in Saxon Switzerland accept patriotic and nationalist opinions as well as other interpretations. However, in the West, nationalism is not possible. The social pressure is huge and the far-left is very strong, some of whom do not hesitate to physically attack others. They take a lot of pictures of participants in PEGIDA demonstrations and collect data about them. They send mails to the employers of these people trying to obtain their discharge.

To illustrate the cliff between West and East: some weeks ago, a meeting of patriots attracted 3,000 people in Saxon Switzerland and no leftists disturbed the events. At the same time, in a city in the West, 19 patriots demonstrated and 3,500 leftists were there protesting against.

PEGIDA can secure the attendance of 20,000 people on a Monday evening in Dresden, but only a couple of hundred people in Duisburg in the West. However, since several weeks ago, the number of participants is growing there too and it’s not uncommon to see 600 people at a protest.

What will happen with PEGIDA in the future? Nobody knows. Maybe it will lead to a huge protest throughout the whole country or disappear in the mist of history. But at the moment, PEGIDA can attract on the streets people who disagree with the political choices of the government and want to demonstrate. In 1989, they shouted: “We are the people !”. At the moment PEGIDA is representing a part of these people. And we can hope that those in the West will not hesitate any longer to go en mass to the streets and that tomorrow there will be thousands of people demonstrating in Cologne, Munich or Hamburg.

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