by Katja Hoyer
Tuesday, 28
December 2021
Dispatch
11:40

The Covid wars ruined Germany’s Christmas

My home country is being pulled into familiar conflicts
by Katja Hoyer
A man waves a German flag reading “We are the People” as he takes part in a demonstration of Germany’s “Querdenker” movement. (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Berlin, Germany.

“It’s like you’ve never been away,” my uncle said as we raised a glass of herb liqueur to toast my arrival at his home in the Thuringian Forest a few days ago. Due to Covid, I hadn’t seen many of my German family members since Christmas 2019, and he was right, at first glance, nothing had changed. We sat on the same sofa, told well-worn family stories and drank too much of the usual local brew.

But things were different. As evening turned into night, the jokes about “Stasi-like” state control turned into serious conspiracy theories. The tension in the room was palpable as vaccinated family members said they had still not fully recovered their sense of taste and smell weeks after a Covid infection my unvaccinated uncle had brought into the house. The situation caused deep and permanent rifts in the family that even comforting Christmas routines could not heal.

Perhaps a day trip to the little mountain town of Lauscha, known for its glass-blowing heritage and beautiful handmade Christmas baubles, might restore some sense of nostalgia. A childish grin spread over my face as I wondered if they still sold the marbles I had loved so much as a child. But it vanished instantly as I was barked at to produce my “FFP2 mask, scannable proof of double vaccination and photo ID” at the entrance of each and every shop. With Christmas markets banned we couldn’t even find the traditional Bratwurst anywhere. The quaint charm of Christmas in Thuringia had dissipated under the social and economic strain of Covid.

When I moved on to visit friends and family in Berlin, this seemed less of an issue. Berliners are used to conspiracy theorists shouting their dramatic warnings in public streets. It took about two minutes from when I set foot on Alexanderplatz, the old social centre of East Berlin, until a woman shouted “Good morning” at me (it was 4pm) and insisted that if “you arseholes ignore me, the chips in your arms will be activated”. In Berlin, nobody bats an eyelid at this kind of thing. Covid just gave a new theme to an old phenomenon. Mad prophets of doom are just a part of the city’s rich social tapestry.

But there is real political tension in the capital. Over 80 percent of Berliners live in rented accommodation, the highest percentage in Germany by far, but rental costs have risen by nearly 21 percent since 2016. Despite the (chaotic) election of a new state government in September, many of my friends and relatives believe nothing will change. The city will soon become unaffordable to them.

Rent is not the only thing on their minds. I watched with detached bemusement as my old friends in Brandenburg argued over the virtue of ‘gendern’ (literally ‘to gender’), which is when both the male and female form of a word is used to avoid the principle of male as norm. The decision to do or not to do this in daily discourse has become an obvious hallmark of one’s political identity —  a fact that annoys many apolitical Germans who chose the most convenient way of expressing themselves rather than making a conscious political decision.

I had looked forward to catching up with the comforting rituals that accompany my annual Christmas holiday in Germany, but despite the beautiful crisp winter weather, feelings of nostalgia were hard to conjure up this year. It seems as if the endless continuum of the Merkel years is broken. Where there used to be mediocrity with half-hearted grumbling, I now find a nation seriously divided and anxious.

The post-Merkel regime will have to find a way to deal with Covid, the lack of trust and the perceived lack of direction. Germany certainly is in desperate need of some tangible New Year’s Resolutions.

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jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
11 months ago

Divergence and distrust are the new normal for the foreseeable future. There’ll be lapel badges soon and your tribe will become a defining feature of social interaction. This is the western world eating itself leaving the global arena open to the growing Asian power base.

James Joyce
James Joyce
11 months ago

There are “lapel badges” now–it’s called the mask. How would you know how virtuous the left is w/o the mask? Of course–they’ll tell you!

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
11 months ago

I wonder how your family knows for sure that it was your uncle who ‘brought’ covid. After all, incubation periods vary and the first one to show symptoms is not necessarily the one who caught it first.

Dawn Osborne
Dawn Osborne
11 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

It would also seem the unvaccinated uncle is fine but the vaccinated relatives are still suffering after effects.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

most likely they know it because orthodoxy says he did.

But just wait till the micro-chips in the family members arms are ‘Activated’, then the uncle will be the only one not enslaved by the nano-bots spreading in their systems.

Last edited 11 months ago by Galeti Tavas
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Dear Galeti Tavas,
There are no microchips in people’s arms.
Noone is being enslaved by nano bots spreading in our systems.
Take heart: We human beings are in charge of our lives if we choose to be.
If you truly believe what you have just said here, and are not just a malicious troll, then you should be aware that what you say has no basis whatever in the reality of this physical world in which we live.
These are deranged fantasies of lower psychic worlds. They are the sort of stuff all of us dream from time to time, but they are not, I repeat, not, facts conveying the reality of our waking sense world.
I suggest you seek a reliable, qualified counsellor and engage in some discussion about these beliefs. Such a person will help you distinguish reality from delusion.
Good luck, and fare well…

stephen archer
stephen archer
10 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Sorry to disappoint you but the future is ahead of you.

https://news.yahoo.com/swedish-company-created-microchip-allows-083024985.html?guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9kdWNrZHVja2dvLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAALkkjKrAySnUGGEijm1P3oNnvwwLEAUWJcj5jtQgHKVGMnCnE2Vvb1w7Zk3MGbaI9C6nIunTtvaAWupKuPsjFEZveuUdDUeUW0McI0sQfdPDZ6quEh-cbApeS7PrQQcvX02JuMmQdxdrjsZ5qXlQAjQLNhdkrEkGydAcuLP0x8SR&_guc_consent_skip=1640771766
I saw a report last week on Swedish TV interviewing this guy and he’s already had it implanted in his arm. He’s quite happy with this, although most people would not be.
Judging by the way a lot of people embrace such things as Alexa and other Internet/AI-driven homes it will not take a lot to convert the sleepwalking masses.

Last edited 10 months ago by stephen archer
Justin Clark
Justin Clark
10 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

incorrect! “Invisible Ink Could Reveal whether Kids Have Been Vaccinated” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/invisible-ink-could-reveal-whether-kids-have-been-vaccinated/

Last edited 10 months ago by Justin Clark
Justin Clark
Justin Clark
10 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

incorrect! “Biocompatible near-infrared quantum dots delivered to the skin by microneedle patches record vaccination” https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aay7162#.YaNpfX7Bkh4.twitter

Last edited 10 months ago by Justin Clark
David Wildgoose
David Wildgoose
10 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

It was an ironic response based on a comment in the article. Didn’t you read the article?

David Bell
David Bell
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Intel inside? More to the point, are the chips made in China or Taiwan? The implications are significant.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
10 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

It doesn’t matter whether or not they know for sure, but what they believe.

James Joyce
James Joyce
11 months ago

Katja seems a bit all over the place in this article: first at home discussing Covid, then to Berlin discussing rent, then on to Angela Merkel and huge division in Germany. And then there is the accompanying photo of the “Wir Sind das Volk” flag with a discussion of the Querdenker movement, which was new to me and I still don’t quite understand it.
I note that it seems imperative that the picture and the headline have little to do with the content of the article, and in many cases represent a false flag–promising the opposite of what the article will actually say. Since this article says little of substance on any topic–Corona? Rent? Berlin? Querdenker?–what’s the point?
I recently returned from a few days in Aachen–a formerly German city now surrendered to the multi-kulti crowd. They did have a Christmas market, though, one of the few things that seemed recognizably German or European, though the Corona pass was required almost everywhere. And Aachen was disgustingly dirty, with litter and graffiti everywhere.
A failing grade to Katja for this terrible article–nothing of substance or even whimsical enjoyment here. Bah, humbug!

Andrea X
Andrea X
11 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Maybe the problem is the title (which is very likely no hers).

James Joyce
James Joyce
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I know, and it’s a problem with UnHerd. Often seems a huge disconnect between picture/title/article. I understand the explanation–not hers–but not the reason why the wording is so poor.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

THE FLAG IS IRONY.

We The People, the flag says, and is obviously an anti-mask protest from one group of people saying ‘People are free’ sort of poking the masking mandaters who would restrict the people..

Katja – I liked your article.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
11 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

It’s only a failing grade because she hasn’t come straight out and said the whole covid thing is complete and utter bow locks. That it’s basically a cold that the left — which, thanks to three generations of utterly appalling standards in teaching, is the default philosophical position from which all politicians of every party operate — have used to impose the restrictions and controls they are atavistically drawn to on the rest of us.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
11 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

The whole article is a bit of a rambling mess

James Joyce
James Joyce
11 months ago

Touche!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago

I liked the article. Touched on all the relevant mini dramas of Covid.

JP Martin
JP Martin
11 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Maybe I’m just sentimental this time of year, but I had a more charitable reading. It did lack focus, I don’t disagree, but it also gives a real snapshot of the time and place. It conveys a recognisable (to me) sense of going home for the holidays and finding that all of our normal social interactions have been ruined by political lunacy.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Fair play! Not my cup of tea, but if you enjoyed it, great! The only writer here whom I continually dislike–and believe is unworthy of the UnHerd platform is Julie Bindel, who seems to have been granted leave to work out her inner demons on UnHerd. I just don’t get it. Also, I dislike that “Anonymous Amy” is allowed to post anonymously, especially on things that are pure opinion and not related directly to her job.

JP Martin
JP Martin
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Bindel bores me too but I’m probably not her target audience!

Elena Lange
Elena Lange
10 months ago

What a pointless piece. Hailing from Germany myself I could see how families have been disintegrating in real time. I’ve had friends of 30 years telling me I was a mass murderer for not being vaccinated – despite the fact that, as someone recovered, I am even less likely to “kill” anyone than the next person. The problem is that language has changed: “murderers”, “terrorists”, “send them to camps”, “sterilise them”, “vermin” is seeing a big revival in mass media, and no one even as much as blinks. Had the piece had anything to say, it would not shy away from Germany’s return to blatant totalitarianism.

Last edited 10 months ago by Elena Lange
William McClure
William McClure
11 months ago

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” was a quip from Mark Twain. May I see you papers is a stark reminder of the German dark past…

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
10 months ago

I appreciate how ridiculous the suggestion is that the vaccine contains a microchip that can be activated. However, while ridiculing such people may give comfort to some, it also obscures some of the novel aspects of our situation today.
Take Merck’s new pill. It works by literally altering the RNA of the coronovirus. Think of the implications of this. A mass produced pill works by successfully rewriting (ie. causing mutations to) the RNA that exists in someone’s body. During experimentation, the drug was also shown to cause low levels of mutation in the DNA. The DNA that’s our very own genetic code which dictates what our own cells do.
I for one can’t accuse people getting nervous about such things. How many people have the time or knowledge to explore the intricacies of such things? Anything sufficiently complicated is magic for most people whether that’s a remotely activated microchip, rewritten DNA, or blood magic – how do you trust the magicians who have time and again been shown to be misleading public, or even be corrupt?

Last edited 10 months ago by Emre Emre
David Bell
David Bell
11 months ago

Welcome back, Katja. Perhaps it is a little less insane in England.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
10 months ago

a. If we had microchips we wouldn’t need a vaccination passport?
b. No bratwurst. Is it unkind to say I had a brattie at a German xmas market, cooked by two BMW mechanics? In England.
c. Merkel. Never wish a boss gone. Inevitably replaced by someone worse.
d. The best and worst times for Germany are when the Russians are closest.
e. My old German friends always marvelled at the chaos of British life and why we’d ‘invaded’ N. Ireland.

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
10 months ago

So well put for many of us in the UK too and I Imagine in the whole of Europe. The only Thing I was glad to miss was the pre-pre- pre-Christmas manic marketing with loudspeaakers in stores everywhere blaring out bastardised versions of traditional Christmas Carols and once beloved, old-timer popular seasonal ‘hits’.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
10 months ago

hi

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
11 months ago

It seems as if the endless continuum of the Merkel years is broken. Where there used to be mediocrity with half-hearted grumbling, I now find a nation seriously divided and anxious.
To find the key to the future for the German nation, which you rightly see as seriously divided and anxious right now, it is necessary to turn your preceding statement describing Dr Merkel’s term in office—”mediocrity with half-hearted grumbling”—on its head.
Dr Merkel has not yet been appreciated, even minimally, for the truly exceptional gift she brought to the Chancellorship, namely, that of the PEACEMAKER.
This is a feminine gift, and women are usually better at it than men, although exceptional men, who have developed their inner feminine, can display it too. Think Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King…
PEACEMAKING actually holds our World Future in its hands, for peace is the prerequisite for talking to each other, living with each other, loving each other, trading with each other… and living in harmony with nature on our Mother Earth.
In a time of human-induced frenetic, manic pressures in our work and private lives, in an age of human-induced unsustainable acceleration of change in politics, society and climate, peacemakers can seem frumpy and boring to our over-stimulated minds.
Yet it is they who hold everything together.
A proper appreciation of Dr Merkel’s achievements needs to proceed from examining
a) how much she achieved in relation to what might reasonably have been possible, and
b) what did she avert which might otherwise have overwhelmed us and ended in chaos?
The question then should be put: HOW did Dr Merkel achieve these things?
Only then, after a proper appraisal of her achievements has been made and an adequate understanding of them reached—only then should her successors, and the anxious public that is looking to them for leadership, put the question:
CAN I DO ANY BETTER? WHY? AND HOW?

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
10 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Goodness, eight downticks against the idea of peace skills. And not a single response.
And it seems I have the honour of my comment being the single most hated on this page so far.
Guess that says it all.
Just in case there’s a positive human being out there who’s reading this, try this link for a true appreciation of Dr Merkel and a balanced insider’s assessment of the EU’s significant new positives:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2021/dec/29/covid-europe-citizens-eu-response-pandemic-european-health?utm_term=61cc9415fcf5f3c3a7c2691247c2e725&utm_campaign=BestOfGuardianOpinionUK&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=opinionuk_email

stephen archer
stephen archer
10 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

I don’t think you’re hated Penelope, it’s just that others don’t agree with you. I had the impression that Merkel was in general better than average in comparison to other European leaders but the catastrophic legacy she’s left for the rest of Europe is the dependency on Russian gas, following in Schroeder’s footsteps, and also in closing nuclear power stations when these will be essential in phasing out fossil fuels and balancing renewables energy flows. It’s absolutely insane!

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
10 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Upanddownticks are so lazy. They encourage polarisation rather than a meeting of minds. They also encourage fixed opinions. But what is the point of an opinion if no one knows why you hold it? Opinionation for its own sake is a curse that clouds the public discussion sphere. I wish Unherd would come up with something better. Several of us have emailed them with carefully thought-out suggestions, but nothing changes. The unavoidable conclusion is that they are after the consumer dollar—the Facebook/Twitter ethic—and don’t care whether their editorial policy is doing harm or could be improved upon.
Re Dr Merkel’s legacy: nuclear power remains a key threat to planetary safety. One can fully acknowledge the vastly increased safety of modern plants, but the point still remains. No human project can ever be without error, and if the cost of just one error is devastation over wide regions of the earth, as in Russian Chernobyl and the Japanese Fukushima disaster, not to mention the deliberate putting of peoples at risk as in the French South Pacific, US Micronesia and UK in Australia, then the policy response has to be a firm “no”. We are sitting on a time bomb with regard to nuclear plants around the world.
It beggars belief that we can put men on the moon, develop sophisticated AI, recover ancient DNA, fast-track new vaccines, and yet are apparently unable to successfully research and implement alternative, safe energy sources to service the public at large.
Clearly it is possible. My reading suggests we are already there in terms of the science and nearly there with its technological applications. The problem remains twofold as I see it: lack of real will to get it done, and deliberate obstruction by the fossil fuel industry’s vested interests.
As for the gas question, you may be right that it will turn out badly given Putin’s intractability. And yet Nordström 2 seems to be nearly halted or cancelled, which leaves the thorny issue of Ukraine’s de facto involvement in the current supply situation. To be fair to Dr Merkel, though, she did face choices between bad and worse. She thought gas preferable to nuclear, and I would agree with her choice on the grounds I explained above. There is perhaps the additional factor that it is sometimes better to have your adversary tied to your financial apron strings in a situation of mutual dependence, than having him roam free.

stephen archer
stephen archer
10 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

I don’t want to get drawn into an argument on global warming and environmental politics but gas is fossil fuel and will just make things worse, apart from the reliance on Putin. Nuclear we have control over but solar radiation and ensuring the planet’s capability of keeping CO2 and CH4 levels under control is a number of orders of magnitude more difficult if not impossible and I believe that it is out of our control. Environmentalists, of which I do not consider myself to be one, have been wearing blinkers for the last 40 or so years, as have the rest of the population. I’ve spent a lot of my time in the last 15 years studying geoscience, glaciology, the planet’s life development and global environmental change. I’m fairly sure we’re sleepwalking into the next extinction period. It’s just a tragedy that we’ll take a lot of other species with us although the cochroaches and rats will be fine.

Last edited 10 months ago by stephen archer
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
10 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

I’m fairly sure we’re sleepwalking into the next extinction period. 
Interesting…
For what it’s worth, the esoteric spiritual teaching (Rudolf Steiner) is that our earth is a living being. She therefore ages, like all living things, She is now now past her middle age and is entering old age. Therefore we can expect the drying-up of her life juices and a general hardening of conditions.
Esoteric teaching also highlights the fact of what the Buddhists call the “interdependent arising” of all things. In other words, everything is connected to everything else in a complex interweaving series of ecosystems within ecosystems.
This includes human beings, who for this reason have a real ability not just to influence, but to mould and shape, planetary conditions. These abilities are for the most part still dormant in most people, but they are there in potential nevertheless. There is a real connection between large-scale human social/ psychic/ spiritual conflict and unrest, and planetary occurrences such as volcanic eruptions, cyclones, floods, etc. We have just seen some beneficial effects on nature resulting from locking up humans physically for a while. The effects would multiply exponentially if it were somehow possible to spiritually lock down the trouble-making human psyches around the world!
Natural science by definition precludes from its sphere of operation everything except this physical-world consciousness. But other modes and spheres of consciousness exist, nevertheless. Spiritual facts are as much fact as are natural-science facts.
Key concerns are not merely to avoid, in your sphere of expertise, bad science and technology, but also, in my sphere of knowledge, bad spirituality (for example, misused charismatic gifts, fundamentalist pentecostal end-of-the-world cultism, male sexist past-its-use-by-date religious authoritarianism, real black magic and voodoo, and so on).
I thought it just possible this complementary angle on our present dilemmas might interest you. Our world is a vast and mysterious place, and “there are more things in heaven and earth…” as the saying goes.
Thanks for the exchange, I have enjoyed it.

Bo Yee Fung
Bo Yee Fung
10 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Applauding the beneficial effect on nature of locking down humans physically and wanting to go further to somehow ‘spiritually lockdown the trouble-making human psyches around the world’. I’m glad you are not in any decision-making role, for I wouldn’t want to be your subject.
Spirituality, like Nature, are best treated on their own terms, not ours. Can you see the irony of you, a human being, devising ways to benefit nature? It seems to me you have an almost proprietary attitude to this earth and a condescending attitude to what you consider bad spirituality. I agree with you that there are more things in Heaven and Earth, I hope you can realize that it doesn’t mean there are more things for you to control, instead, there are more things than our human intelligence can comprehend. Our world is indeed vast and mysterious. It is a mystery bigger than us.