Saturday, November 7, 2015

In a Different Set of Shoes

Days ago....in the sleepy town of Sumte in Germany....they went through the initial stage of accepting refugees.  The town of roughly 150 residents....was told to prepare for up to 1,000 refugees.  Presently, the number is around 750.

News people kinda followed the story.  It's a rural town in the middle of nowhere....there's no industry, no jobs, and no real urban identification.  You'd have to drive for an hour to get to any place with real jobs or real potential.  The locals noted that weeks ago when this discussion came up about offering up a place for refugees.  It just didn't make any sense to them.

So the only industrial-sized building in town was set-up as a refugee center. It was empty and not being used....logically it was a perfect fit.

Days have passed now.  Oddly, some journalists have stuck around....thinking there's going to be more to the story.

Two or three days after arrivals started....journalists noted this odd phenomenon.  These new refugees having arrived in Sumte....have taken to walking down the streets of the town. There are only five streets in the town.

Some were asked and simply noted that they expected 'more'.  They wanted that urbanized feeling....a real city....honking.....streetcars.....traffic.....etc.  They were in some form of questioning the logic of coming to Sumte.

But after a while, the journalists noted this second odd factor.  The refugees all had cellphones and were holding them in the air as they walked around town.  With hands risen and cellphones within sight of their face.....they walked and walked, and walked.

The journalists finally asked some locals about this habit and what it meant.

The locals mostly just grinned. For the past decade, while most all Germans enjoyed fine reception and a modern lifestyle of Facebook, chat, sharing of stupid cat pictures and such.....the people of Sumte lived in what they referred as a 'telecommunications black hole'.  There is no reception.

They've discussed this at city council meetings and with various providers for months and months.  Vodafone says it's on the list but they haven't reached Sumte yet.

So, this town without a cafe, a grocery, a bank, a pub......is a sort of twilight zone episode for the refugees.

My humble guess is that some will quietly pack bags and start walking to find another refugee center in a more urbanized area.  After a week or two where a hundred people quietly walk out.....the bulk will start talking of a massive walk, and one afternoon the director of the facility will note that he's down to one single family.

I went looking at the history of the town.  It's never really thrived or done anything much.  It was a part of old DDR (East Germany) and it probably looks mostly the same way as it did in the 1960s.  It's a farming community where people don't expect much and the biggest chaos of the week is some cow broke down a fence, or some guy's tractor had a flat tire.

When you've made up your mind and determined that walking 2,000 kilometers....across five or six countries....doing this off a marginal amount of money....to be honest, you just never thought about the layout of the new land that you've chosen.

Oh, you saw the images of people driving BMWs, eating big heaping plates of schnitzel, riding fancy sleek trains that never seem to crash, and everyone seeming happy and overjoyed.

Your research might have included some discussion over Facebook with your cousin who made the trip six months ago and resides in Wiesbaden.  He chats of cafes, beautiful blondes, German language classes, integration going well, and an urban area that you simply dreamed about in Damascus.

So, you stand there on Haupt Strasse in Sumte, gazing at both sides of the street.  There's just not much there.  A bus stop indicates a bus stops a couple of times between 6:00 and 8:00, then goes to a once-an-hour schedule.  You can ride to some nearby train station or to the local hardware stop five kilometers away (Baumarkt).  That's your only escape from the town.

You as the refugee....don't really have much of a say on such matters.  You are the guest in Germany and have to contend with this situation as it is.  But quietly, you just wonder how Germans themselves could stand to live in such a rural environment.

Germany is like an ice cream with forty different flavors.  And one of those flavors is a rather dull vanilla without much taste.

3 comments:

KING SILVER said...

The whole 'dead-spot/twilight zone' aspect is hilarious - it reflects the lack of strategic planning; instead decisions are being made based on 'emotions' (which is very unusual given the 'rigid order' of day-to-day German life). One could almost say that this is Germany's 'Triumph of the Will' part two. Obviously the rhetoric is night-and-day different, but the psychology is exactly the same: that we Germans have no limits; we can, and will, accomplish anything that we set out to do because we are Germans - there is nothing we can not do; our will is our strength and it shall, and it will, carry us forward, no matter what.

I would submit to you the following Citizen (my opinion/my perception), that the history of German is two things: 'going to far' and 'identity crises.' And when both happen at the same time, the end result is always the same: blood.

I'm not being melodramatic or attempting to embellish or 'treating the moment as if it's the future' but in all honesty - I am very concerned about where all this is going. You see Citizen, human beings are human beings... what I mean by that is this: History NEVER repeats itself; people NEVER change.

Germans are merely human, as are the rest of us. They are not Gods, meaning: they can not master RISK, and yet they are acting as if they can. And fucking with people's identity against their will is the biggest risk that a German chancellor can make. And if Chancellor Merkel & 'the crusaders' get this wrong - there will be blood.

Perhaps you disagree.... what is your opinion/perception of where may be Germany's heading based on Germany's past. I could be falling into the age-old trap of being a 'prisoner of the moment' and thereby over-exaggerating would could down the road based on what's happening today. Let me know what you think... you're a very intelligent U.S. Soldier... Hell, your a very intelligent American for that matter - I'm very impressed.

R Hammond said...

I retired from the Air Force sixteen years ago....did a twelve year run with two companies...and worked briefly for 3.5 years in the Pentagon basement (my one and only DC situation). Just with DC stuff alone, I probably have 300 pages of material worthy of a book. So I retired early in life in 2013, agreeing with the German wife to make Germany the residence. My general orders are to avoid civil conflict or stirring up revolution in Germany, and keep myself out of trouble. Between travel, a library of history books, and reading newspapers...that's about it.

I don't think you can make too many assumptions over Germany because there's always some trump-card that gets thrown down that you weren't expecting. The three state elections in March of 2016 are a much bigger deal than they should be. The cost factor over refugees keeps evolving month by month. The CSU guys are actually playing heavy-handed politics with both the SPD and CDU. The state-run news media have used up all their crusader-points and face roughly thirty-five percent of the nation being against them now. Germans are more skeptical in general now, than over any point of the past seventy years (since the war), and it goes all across the spectrum. The big German comedy movie of the year is "Er Ist Wieder Da", which is a black comedy over Hitler....who would have thought it'd be possible to write a book like this and flip it into a movie?

I think all one can do is simply stand back....enjoy the history (as rich as it gets) and be amazed at what can happen on an average day in Germany (who would have thought some geeky computer wizards would figure out the emissions game and invent a way for VW to pass diesel tests).

KING SILVER said...

My apologies, Air Man.... by the way... funny story about a Marine and an Air Man... after I was transferred from the Marines to 'another agency' I had to do an evaluation at Whiteman AFB (they were transferring working technical equipment from the old Oscar I missile silos to the new Minuteman III silos - it had a lot to do with the escape tunnel that operators would have to use to tunnel out from; from the vaults underneath the ground, back to the surface)... so my driver was a Marine recently transferred from Lejeune in N.C.; well we were at a local 'military hang-out' in Knob Noster, M.O. and next to us was a JAG Air Force officer... now this Marine was '0311' all the way and knew nothing else... and on the JAF officer's uniform was the 'balance scale' logo... so the Marine turns to the JAG officer and asks, "Sir, what's that mean?"... to which the JAG officer (very cleverly; very matter-of-factly) says: "Well, I shouldn't be telling you this, but... I'm in the Anti-Gravity unit; we go 'in' upside down."

I began laughing hysterically (I may have even urinated myself from laughing so hard), but the Marine was so convinced of the JAG officer's bullshit 'funny/fuck you' story that the next day he began telling me (while driving) that there should be more research and investment into the 'future of upside down entry invasions.. to better to fool the enemy.'

My point being: people are DUMB - no, I'm being serious; they really are. Most people stupid and dumb. The purpose of State run-TV is to 'instruct' not inform; via the marketing of images, the German state has created a 'bubble' - for they have managed to 'brainwash' a very reasonably large percentage of the pop. into believing that everything is OK: "there's noting to see here people; move along."

Well, here's the problem about bubbles: "they are a fools paradise; with many fools in them." And when this bubble bursts: WATCH OUT! For, history NEVER repeats itself; people NEVER change. Good Luck & God Speed, citizen - you're going to need it.