There’s got to be a better way to stop the Nazis

Thousands  of counter-protestors successfully halted a neo-Nazi march on the anniversary of Rudolf Hess’s death on the outskirts of Berlin last Saturday. International media is largely hailing this as a victory for the left and praising the efforts of the brave protestors. What they’re not talking about, however, is how the counter-demonstrators accomplished this feat.

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500 right-wing extremists march towards Berlin Spandau. Photo: dpa
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Workers survey the damage to a train signal outside of Berlin after protestors set fire to it in order to stop a train of Nazis from entering Berlin. Photo: DPA

Anti-Nazi counter-protestors set fire to a train signal outside of Berlin last Saturday morning in order to prevent a train full of neo-Nazis who came to participate in the march from reaching its destination. The fire was successful in stopping that train – and all of the trains that were scheduled on that route for the next three days. This included two of the most highly traveled routes in Germany: Berlin-Hamburg and Berlin-Hannover.

Why do I care? Because me and my parents were scheduled to take one of those trains. And because the fire resulted in canceled trains and massive delays, my parents missed their flight home. Overall, this little stunt cost my family about $500. Continue reading “There’s got to be a better way to stop the Nazis”

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#RefugeesWelcome

There is no hotter topic in German media right now than refugees.refugees-welcome

I’ve told several friends about my job teaching German to refugees and gotten a lot of positive feedback. Several have asked if I get paid (I do) and said they’d like to be involved in something like that, even on a volunteer basis. Everyone is talking about the refugee crisis right now, with Germany taking in more refugees per month now than it has in twelve months in the past. (I believe the statistic I heard was, Germany took in more refugees in June of this year than it did in all of 2013). Chancellor Angela Merkel is under close scrutiny for the country’s refugee policy right now, especially after that video of her accidentally making a little girl cry went viral. Continue reading “#RefugeesWelcome”

Hamburg: First Impressions

I moved to Hamburg about a month ago now. I’m no expert and I shy to call myself a true Hamburger, but the city’s made a strong impression on me so far. Here are some of my thoughts.

Hamburg is a city of extremes.

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“Good night, white pride” – anti-Nazi stickers like this are common around the city

The vegans are militant and the feminists are intense. On the far right end of the political spectrum, neo-Nazis beat up people on the streets and spew anti-immigrant rhetoric in the political offices. On the left, self-proclaimed antifascists turn abandoned buildings into refugee camps and community gathering spaces and glue anti-Nazi stickers in the subway stations. Even the weather is extreme – after a cool and drizzly June, this weekend hit 36 C (97 F).
Continue reading “Hamburg: First Impressions”

Punk rock shows, guerilla gardening, and musings on various types of extremism

We ain’t got no place to go
So let’s go to the punk rock show!
Darlin’ take me by the hand
We’re gonna see a punk rock band
There’s no use in TV shows
Radios or rodeos
I wanna get into the crowd
I wanna hear it play real loud!

-MXPX, “Punk Rawk Show”

Of all the artists and all the concert venues in the world, the American punk rock band Against Me! performed at Fonden Voxhall in Aarhus last week. As part of their European tour, this band, which is huge among rockers and punkers in the U.S., stopped by li’l ole Aarhus to play for a crowd of less than 100 people on a weekday night.

Laura Grace of Against Me! Photo by Daphne Henning
Laura Grace of Against Me! at Fonden Voxhall. Yeah, we were close enough to feel her spit. Photo by Daphne Henning

Continue reading “Punk rock shows, guerilla gardening, and musings on various types of extremism”