About 20,000 people — many of them maskless — marched in the streets of Berlin, Germany, protesting against government lockdown measures.
It was an eclectic coalition of groups that marched, including anti-vax activists, libertarians, and people who were just sick and tired of government-imposed restrictions. But they all declared “The End of the Pandemic — Day of Freedom” — and demanded a return to a more normal life.
Protesters who came from across the country held up homemade signs with slogans like “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination” and “We are the second wave.”
They chanted, “We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom!”
Police used bullhorns to chide participants to adhere to social distancing rules and to wear masks, apparently with little success. They tweeted that they drew up a criminal complaint against the rally’s organizer for failing to enforce hygiene rules, then said shortly afterward that the organizer had ended the march.
The media was busy trying to turn the rally into a neo-Nazi event.
The interior minister for the city of Berlin, Andreas Geisel, said on Friday that neo-Nazi organizations had also called for people to participate in the march. German media outlets noted that “Day of Freedom” was also the name of a Nazi propaganda film documenting the party’s 1935 party congress in Nuremberg.
One banner at the march called for politicians such as German Health Minister Jens Spahn, Bavaria’s state premier Markus Söder, Chancellor Angela Merkel and leading Christian Drosten to be “locked away.”
There were no doubt neo-Nazis in attendance, just like there were radical libertarians, anti-vaccination believers, “right-wing extremists,” and thousands of ordinary people who’ve had enough.
The government is bemoaning the huge maskless gathering as a poor example for the rest of the world.
Sawsan Chebli, a senior official in the Berlin city government, called the protest “a disaster.”
“I just came from abroad and see these pictures. Many look to Germany, and admire us for how we have dealt with corona. Such pictures are a disaster. They destroy everything. They endanger human lives and destroy livelihoods. They scare me,” she tweeted.
Don’t worry, dear. American politicians swear that large protests aren’t dangerous at all and are, in fact, wonderful. So don’t fret about people demonstrating.
Since anyone to the right of Karl Marx is considered a “neo-Nazi” in Germany, the media has an easy time discrediting protests like this. But what they can’t discredit are government figures that showed the German economy contracting a whopping 10.1 percent.
That’s what should scare Ms. Chebli.
Economic output in Germany — the powerhouse of Europe — shrank during this year’s second quarter by 10.1% compared with the same period last year. That double-digit downturn is the steepest since that country’s Federal Statistical Office began tracking quarterly economic data a half-century ago.
“It’s an astounding figure — minus 10.1%,” writes Henrik Böhme, an economic analyst for German state broadcaster DW. “Never before in Germany’s postwar history has the country’s economy slumped as sharply as in the second quarter of 2020.”
In contrast, the U.S. economy shrank by 9.5 percent. But we’re already slowly coming out of the lockdown. The German economy is still mostly shuttered.
Europe’s mix of socialist and capitalist economies will not fare well in the long run. And their planned trillion-euro bailout is being criticized for not being near enough, or timely.
In this unprecedented situation, no one can say what the world will look like in six months. But governments around the world will have discovered by then that ordinary people will only cooperate so long before rebelling against restrictions on their freedom.