Germany in decay

Updated: Jun 13

Like a stranger in your own country: A shopping day in Germany...

It's 07:15am and I've been working at my desk way too long. So I decide to go shopping – at LIDL. I jump on my muscle-powered bicycle and cross the bridge to the neighboring town.


The streets are almost deserted, the atmosphere oppressive. I pass the hairdresser with a sign in Arabic script, who only opens for private appointments and after ringing the bell, and then the Polish shop with all kinds of dried sausages.


I cycle past the IT shop with the slimy Iranian who promised to have my PC repaired within two days, but almost threatened me when I allowed myself to ask him, after a week, when the repair finally would be finished.


Then I see the beautiful old building that a German sold to the highest Turkish bidder, who then turned it into a Turkish coffee shop. My long-lasting acquaintance has never forgiven the seller for selling out one's own home out of base motives, i.e. greed, and hasn't spoken to him since. For me, that's also enough reason to never set foot in the coffee bar again.

Then I see the beautiful old building that a German sold to the highest Turkish bidder, who then turned it into a Turkish coffee shop. My long-lasting acquaintance has never forgiven the seller for selling out one's own home out of base motives, i.e. greed, and hasn't spoken to him since. For me, that's also enough reason to never set foot in the coffee bar again.


Decay and sadness

I drive on, past the filthy pizza parlor and the two German butchers who, after decades of running their family butcheries successfully, didn’t manage to find a successor.


The darkened shop windows have been radiating decay and sadness for three years now. Yet the Turkish kebab shop and the adjoining coffee shop are booming.


Well, this is how you breed success, when you stick together and pool the money - instead of not even treating another person to the cheapest German “Bratwurst” or denouncing him as a typical cadaver-disciplined bourgeois, because he’s not wearing his mask properly.


Then I cycle past several women wearing head scarves, accompanied by their macho men in their rolling gait and several Africans. They fill the full width of the sidewalk as if it was their birth right.


Their demeanor is proud and straight, their unspoken message is clear: "Don't mess with us!"


In front of LIDL, for the first time since the start of my journey, I hear two young women speaking German without any accent. I park my bike and enter the supermarket through the glass doors.


It's always the same audience: self-confident Turkish women, Africans and Arabs as well as overworked Eastern European workers.


The few Germans, mostly pensioners from the lower classes, are easily recognizable by their poor clothing, hunched posture, masks and a certain scruffiness - almost as if they had given themselves up. In fact, some seem to make themselves invisible - in their own country.

Supermarket appears neglected

I stroll through the aisles and take stock. The shelves with the cheap goods are completely empty: sunflower oil, vinegar, bread, canned goods, the cheapest toilet paper and even meat are no longer available.


The entire supermarket appears neglected. It seems as if the staff can no longer keep up with the task of stocking the shelves and putting the goods back in order.


At the checkout, I see a few Germans again: overweight mothers with overweight children, their shopping carts full of unhealthy goods.


Like the pensioners, they too give the impression of poverty. How is this possible? After all, we are told every single day that we are so filthy rich. So rich that even if we poured the overflowing cornucopia of our treasures over the whole world there would still be enough left over for us. Or would there not?


A silent pensioner is standing in front of me in the queue. He’s wearing a worn out beak mask. I almost overlooked him because he is already semi-transparent.


I place my goods on the conveyor belt while the African muscle man behind me keeps on waving a can of "Monster Energy" in front of my face.


Finally, I grasp from his gestures that he wants to jump the queue because he has only one item. I shake my head and ignore him.


"For once," I think to myself, "he might as well stay in line behind me, because he, as a person of color and cultural enricher, gets preferential treatment in so many ways in this state!"


A single ray of hope

While I feel his angry, impatient gaze on my back, I pay the teller who is exquisitely friendly and we wish each other a wonderful evening. Who would have thought that in the midst of this dreariness there still would be such a ray of hope?

Outside I heave my nine-liter bottles of mineral water into my bicycle basket with one hand, while an Eastern European worker is watching me


Outside I heave my nine liters of mineral water into my bicycle basket with one hand, while an Eastern European worker is watching me.



I can literally read his thoughts, "Why doesn't a man do that for her?" He can't know that this is one of the many workouts I regularly do to stay fit; to be "fit for defense" so that I can punch an encroaching "new citizen" into his face to have just enough time to escape.


Naturally, the Eastern European is unaware of my true motives, as he continues to eyeball and undress me.


I ignore him and push my bike across the parking lot. My eyes fall on a buxom Ukrainian woman, sharing a giant Coke bottle together with her son, who is maybe eight years old.


"Great," I think to myself, "she's already raising her son as a diabetic at such an early age. And I'll have to pay for his treatment, too." The woman looks at me and seems to seek to want me to validate her being here in Germany.


Ten years ago, I would have given her a friendly smile. But too much has happened in the meantime. Too many people have come to my country without anybody asking for my consent.


Too much deceit has come to my attention, such as the stunningly beautiful Ukrainian women who travel to Germany once a month, collect Hartz-IV (unemployment benefits) from the Job Center, and then return to their territory in Ukraine, which was completely spared from the war.


It’s is too much to handle. All of this is just too much to handle. And so it happens that also this Ukrainian woman and her sheer presence is simply too much for me, even if she were the only just among the 100 unjust.


Therefore, I give her my tried and tested granite look, allow her gaze run off me like water on a duck’s back and drive past her with a motionless face and a stiff back.


Who is ruling the roost here...


Around the corner, the impatient African from the cash register is relaxing on a bench. He is drinking his sugary drink and gives me a look full of hatred as I walk past him.


I ignore him as well. What else can I do in a country where I have become an Indian and where all the other Indians seem to have crawled into their houses or cars.


Meanwhile, the "occupiers", show more and more bluntly who is ruling the roost now on the streets and squares.


All of a sudden I nearly laugh my head off and start swaying on my bike. Actually, I almost fall of my bike because I had imagined the absolutely outrageous and ridiculous situation that a German or even the police would protect me, should the African assault me!


Such a feat would be tantamount to joining the AfD (German far-right party) and would probably cause much more damage to their careers than defending me with my slit throat. I would be dead anyway... but the well-behaved CDU pensioner would possibly no longer get his pension or the working teacher, civil servant, doctor etc. would lose their vested rights as civil servants, if they mustered the courage to sneak out from behind their rose bushes!


No, that is so out of the question. They prefer to draw in their horns and to plunge as quick as possible into their comfy TV chair, or to write nasty comments on social network while dreaming about the good old days.


Well, that's important, too .... isn't it?


Where are the Germans, anyway?


I finally regain my composure, shake my head about my insane ideas about "brave German men" and continue my way home.


Two preppy young Africans with expensive wireless Airpods are strolling relaxed on the sidewalk. They know that no one may approach or reproach them.


A well-dressed African woman accompanied by her two children and a cloaked Turkish woman with a muscle man saunter through the street. Far and wide, no German in sight. My sleeveless pink T-shirt flutters in the wind while the foreigners are staring at me.


At the traffic light an old German hippie is waiting in front of me. He is half bald and his long shaggy hair is held together with a hair clip. His socks are worn out and tucked into shoddy sandals.

At the traffic light an old German hippie is waiting in front of me. He is half bald and his long shaggy hair is held together with a hair clip. His socks are worn out and tucked into shoddy sandals.


Although he is two meters away from me, I can still smell his scruffy body. I feel sick - not only from his smell but also from his apparent refusal to grow up and his pseudo-rebellious impersonation as a scrawny, repulsive, perpetual Peter Pan with a rat's braid.

Again I wonder where all the Germans have gone. But, hold on, I know the answer: In the meantime it is 08:00pm They are all sitting at home in their armchairs, taking their daily orders from the black hypnotic mirror.


Again I wonder where all the Germans have gone. But, hold on, I know the answer: In the meantime it is 08:00 pm. They are all sitting at home in their armchairs, taking their daily orders from the black hypnotic mirror.


The screen tells them how to behave the next day. How the wind blows. What to say. Whom to avoid. Whether one still needs to wear the mask. And whom you are allowed to hate right now - Putin or Xi?

Sometimes I envy the head scarf women


Yes, there are days when I envy the head scarf women. In case of emergency, they have a protector who will defend them. We, on the other hand, have men with buns, slurping vegan lattes, old radical left-wing hippies - and a bourgeoisie that wets its pants as soon as it hears someone so much as whispering "AfD."


I arrive at home and unlock the main door. A Pakistani who works for a blue chip company lives in our condo. His landlords, an old professor couple that lives in the middle of the city in a beautiful, gentrified area with old villas, rented the apartment to him because he is "such a nice person".


They don't mind that he drinks, throws loud parties all night on German holidays like Christmas or threatens to kill anyone who complains about the noise. "It's the home office that gets to him!", says the tolerant professor couple in distant HippieTown.


I see. All's well, then. I go into my apartment, lock my new, burglar-proof door behind me, and say: "Good night."


I see. All's well, then. I go into my apartment, lock my new, burglar-proof door behind me, and say: "Good night."

Author: Maria Schneider

 

Maria Schneider is a freelance author and essayist. In addition to her job, she runs the patriotic, Christian-conservative blog ‘Bei Schneider’. In her blog, Maria Schneider publishes social essays and travelogues as well as articles from a wide variety of authors.

Contact: Maria_Schneider@mailbox.org

Translation revised by Maria Schneider


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