Sunday, April 3, 2016

Asternweg: 2016 Documentary

Last night, I watched the German network VOX (a commercial network).  They specialize in game-shows, cooking shows, reality TV, news magazines, and American movies.

Last year, they bought the documentary "Asternweg" (a four-hour piece) which details one single ghetto in Germany....existing in Kaiserslautern.  It's a one-block area with five apartment houses....all in marginal order.....owned by the city of Kaiserslautern.  A fair number of Germans watched the piece.

Most people who've studied ghetto existence in Germany will note that this is probably one of the top five places in the nation that does exist.  For those thinking it's made up of foreigners or immigrants?  These are Germans who grew up in poverty and never escaped.

Last night, the crew that did the 2015 showing of Asternweg....went back and did the update.  Another four-hour documentary over the same characters, the same ghetto, and the same trend.

I had lived around Kaiserslautenr for roughly eight years before accidentally driving through the neighborhood, and almost stopping because it looked like a Germanized section of Memphis or New Orleans.

The city doesn't make too many apologies for the condition of the buildings.  They charge the bare minimum for the neighborhood of 50 to 100 Euro.  You get a sink, a toilet, and roughly 70 square meters per apartment.  Heat doesn't really exist unless you put in a wood-burner deal for your own place.  They have a shower in each building but that's about it.

The city owes one billion in total debt and doesn't have any money to do much with the buildings.  I think if they did have the money.....they'd prefer to tear down the buildings and force everyone to move elsewhere.

The people who make up the neighborhood?  Losers, drunks, people who've never been able to get ahead in life.

The label for people you see in the documentary?  Anti-social?

Asternweg got started shortly after World War was a point near the railway into town where you could get a bare-essential paycheck for work done.  People put shacks up around the railway and they stayed there.  It was a ghetto in the making at that point.  Shortly after WW II.....they tore down the shacks and put up some concrete apartment buildings.  As the decades went by....nothing was upgraded with the buildings.....the jobs rapidly disappeared....and this became the place where you went when your chances of survival were zero.

You can go through Wiesbaden or Mainz and it's hard to find anything related to a ghetto.  There are low income sections of both cities, but nothing like a ghetto.

If you have four hours of time, the Asternweg documentary is worth watching.

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