Ask Bernd (59) who is responsible for the energy crisis in his country and the engineer immediately tumbles a political-economic indictment. ‘We ourselves, ” he says, as a piercing autumn wind rages over the north-eastern coastal town of Lubmin. ‘Just think: until recently we had fixed, low energy prices. But Germany is on the side of the Americans, and so we are now without Russian gas. Now our economy is on the verge of collapse.’

Why have there been so many protests against the government here in the East in recent weeks, while it remained virtually silent in the west of Germany? “Simple,” says Bernd, who does not want his last name in the newspaper because he has American colleagues: “people here have experienced this before, this economic misery. And now they are being forced into those conditions again by the government in Berlin.’

Schwerin, Rostock, Leipzig, Gera, Jena, Altenburg, Magdeburg, Weimar: in numerous East German places, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in recent weeks to protest against the government’s energy and Russia policies. In Lubmin, the place where the Nord Stream pipeline comes ashore, 3,500 people gathered at the end of september to protest in favor of opening Nord Stream 2, against sanctions against Russia, for normalization of relations with Moscow. ‘I have a pension of 800 euros a month and my gas bill is increased to 365 euros, ” a protester told regional radio station NDR. ‘Where is this going to end?’

The growing discontent is of great concern to governments in Eastern Federal States. Earlier this month, Germany celebrated the 32nd anniversary of reunification, the unification of East and West Germany in 1990. But while Chancellor Olaf Scholz emphasized in a speech that Germany is doing everything to protect the unity of Ukraine, the leaders of Eastern Federal States expressed their concerns about Germany’s.

“Many East Germans still have the mass unemployment of the nineties very clearly on their retina,” the Prime Minister of the state of Brandenburg, Dietmar Woidke (SPD), echoes the sentiment of engineer Bernd in the newspaper Rijnse Post. ‘These people are afraid of losing everything they have worked hard to build over the past three decades.’

Such as Sonja Bade (49), medical technician, mezzo – soprano in the church choir, and operator of pension Villa Erika-right next to the field where thousands of protesters demanded an end to the sanctions against Russia at the end of september. While her teenage daughter trades Prokofiev’s sarcasm for Chopin’s nocturne at the piano in the living room, Bade pours the coffee in a side room.

She herself was not there in september – the church choir was leading – but she would have liked to be there. She sympathizes with the Ukrainians, she wants to make that very clear. Already in February, Bade, himself partly dependent on a wheelchair, helped a fellow parasporter from Ukraine find shelter in a neighboring locality. But the German Russia policy of arms deliveries and sanctions, she believes, does nothing to end the war there. The only thing it achieves is damage to its own economy and society.

‘I believe that we can restore relations with Russia, ” says Bade. “If Germany sends politicians instead of weapons, so that we can find a solution for Ukraine at the negotiating table. I’m already getting cancellations for November because people don’t know if they can afford it by then. And this region already has so little economic activity: the yards are closing due to globalization, we only have a little Tourism left. We need that Russian gas.

Bade’s economic concerns come on top of the corona crisis. Last April, she was on the verge of bankruptcy, and made it to the local newspaper because she threatened to be crushed between the mills of the state financial bureaucracy. The tears are now in her eyes again. “At first we threatened to starve, and now also to freeze.’Bade still has a fixed gas price until September 2023, but is already awake to the potential fivefold increase that can then follow – despite government promises that they will tackle the gas price. Three years of continuous existential stress does something to a person.


About the author: Louise Roth

Louise Roth is the youngest member of WeeklyNewsReview team. Despite the young age Louise is interested in serious topics. Her main interests and education is all about economics and politics. But in our team she is the most productive do-it-all member, so she has to write on a variety of topics.

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