Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

April 20, 2019

How Gay Liberation Came About Behind The Iron Curtain (East Germany-Russia’s Side)




 If you lived while there was an iron curtain or when it was built and then saw it come down brick by brick, you saw history like no other at the beginning of this century






Soldiers, the directive read, should strive to “deconstruct traditional moral prejudices against homosexuality.” These words come from neither some long-suppressed Obama-era executive order nor the fantasies of a gay rights group. They constituted one of five “tenets” that communist East Germany’s military adopted in September 1988, around a year before the Berlin Wall was toppled.
The order made East Germany one of the first countries to allow gay men into its military, an achievement that the United States took twenty-three years to match. And if that were not striking enough, the policy was part of a larger suite of pro-gay reforms that the East German dictatorship promulgated between 1985 and 1989. 

The LGBTQ movement tends to assume that gay rights are a natural extension of democracy and capitalism. But gay liberation is not as dependent on either as we think.
The rhetoric of the modern LGBTQ movement has tended to assume that gay rights are a natural extension of the promise of democracy. Their spread has become an integral part of the narrative of democracy’s progress, of “the shifting downwards and outwards of political power to the people,” to quote a character in Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer-winning play Angels in America (1991). In his second inaugural address, Barack Obama cited the U.S. gay rights movement, alongside women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement, as pivotal moments in our democracy’s story, of its promise “that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still.”
When we imagine what a liberated queer minority looks like, the gulags and breadlines with which we associate twentieth-century communism do not spring to mind. We think rather of our metropolises’ gay neighborhoods—of New York’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Castro, of West Hollywood and Chicago’s Boystown—and their bars, cafés, bookstores, sex shops, and theaters that have defined queer culture in this country for decades. Should we ruminate on it at all, we are likely to believe that gay liberation is not only a natural outgrowth of democracy, but also a fundamentally capitalist enterprise. The great gay historian John D’Emilio even went so far as to argue capitalism made the manifestation of modern gay subcultures possible.
At the same time, we know queer people have been a favored scapegoat of authoritarian regimes for at least a century, from Adolf Hitler’s Germany to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. As recently as early April, the Sultan of Brunei made international news for authorizing the stoning to death of gay people. So how on Earth could a communist dictatorship have issued an order that not only legalized homosexuality in its military, but also enjoined its soldiers to take an active part in ridding the country of homophobic prejudice?
The short answer is that gay liberation is not as dependent upon capitalist democracy as we have tended to assume. The strange case of East Germany illustrates just how incomplete our view of gay liberation really is.
section separator
This story begins with two men in their early twenties, Peter Rausch and Michael Eggert, who met in an East Berlin public bath in the early 1970s. Rausch remembers that Eggert “rose out of the water like an Adonis,” and they soon became friends. It was a serendipitous meeting. Eggert had recently met with West German gay activists who had ventured behind the Berlin Wall. They had shared their aspirations with the young Eggert, who in turn began discussing them with Rausch. Of the significance of the moment, Rausch said, “It had never occurred to me that [homophobia] was wrong, rather that I was wrong.” It was the birth of gay political activism in East Germany.
East Germany, or the German Democratic Republic, was a communist dictatorship ruled by the Socialist Unity Party that hung onto power with an arsenal of carrots and sticks. The regime’s most feared organ was the Ministry for State Security, better known as the Stasi, one of the twentieth century’s most notorious secret police. A sprawling bureaucracy of tens of thousands, the Stasi also employed tens of thousands more as unofficial collaborators, whom they cajoled, coaxed, and intimidated into giving up information. In total, between a tenth and a third of East Germans collaborated with the Stasi at some point. In this respect, East Germany was an archetype of today’s surveillance society.
The East German state was never particularly hostile to homosexuality. German socialists had a grand tradition of fighting against homophobia that stretched back to socialist leader August Bebel’s 1898 address to the Reichstag, “On Homosexuality and the Penal Code,” in which he advocated for the repeal of Germany’s sodomy law, §175 of the penal code. By contrast, the Nazis had strengthened the law in 1935, criminalizing allhomosexual acts, from holding hands to kissing, a change that led to the imprisonment of almost 50,000 men.

Soon after the war, in 1950, only a year into its rule, the East German government shifted to a milder version of the sodomy law, which it repealed entirely in 1968 (the only holdover was a higher age of consent for homosexual sex). It did so not only because of German socialism’s legacy of fighting §175. The regime also hoped that by purging the country of fascist relics, it could draw a favorable contrast between itself and West Germany. Indeed, East Germany’s reform of the sodomy law stood in stark contrast to democratic West Germany, where the new regime, led by conservative chancellor Konrad Adenauer (who won a landslide reelection in 1957 running under the slogan “No Experiments!”) kept the Nazi version of §175 in place.
East Germany quickly repealed its sodomy laws, hoping that by purging the country of fascist relics, it could draw a favorable contrast between itself and West Germany, where homosexuality remained illegal.
That difference meant that while East Germany convicted approximately 4,000 men under the statute between 1949 and 1968, West Germany convicted over 50,000 men between 1949 and 1969—a fivefold per capita difference. This does not mean that East Germany was a gay paradise. Only a handful of bars in its cities catered to gay male clientele. For the most part, gay men had to cruise in parks, train stations, public toilets, or baths such as the one at which Rausch and Eggert met. These could be dangerous locations, where thugs waited to beat and rob unsuspecting men. Lesbians, if anything, had it worse. There were no bars for them, no cruising spots, no opportunities to meet one another.
Rausch, Eggert, and a few of their friends decided to do something. They believed the socialist government would help them carve out a gay-friendly space in society, if only they described for it the tribulations they faced. For the most part they seemed to believe in the socialist experiment. And so they began meeting regularly, planning social events and strategizing about how best to lobby the government.
Eventually they began submitting petitions, requesting first that the state open a gay and lesbian “communication center” that would act as a social hub for queer people and spread information about sexuality to all East Germans. When that effort failed, they requested permission to form a so-called “interest community” (akin to a club for entomology or philately). They argued that such an organization would allow them, as gay individuals, to “accomplish the full development of our socialist personalities.”
All that Rausch, Eggert, and their by now dozens of comrades really wanted was a place to meet regularly with other gay men and lesbians. But the government—and especially the Stasi—went into high alarm at the thought of such a group existing. Not, however, because they believed homosexuality might have deleterious social effects or because they were opposed to homosexuality on moral grounds. Rather, the Stasi was concerned that a gay and lesbian club would be a target for “enemy intelligence services,” and believed that gay men had already been targeted for recruitment by the West German state. In one internal memo, the secret police emphasized that “homosexuals with their labile personalities have long been a target of enemy activity.”
Nonetheless Rausch and Eggert’s group—which came to be known as the Homosexual Interest Group Berlin (HIB)—continued having unauthorized meetings for several years, eventually finding a semipermanent (though still illicit) home in the basement of a furniture museum whose director, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, was a trans woman and, as it turned out, a Stasi informant. When one of the HIB’s members, a pugnacious lesbian activist named Ursula Sillge, tried to organize a countrywide meeting of lesbians in 1978, the police intervened, forcing the group to disband.
But the early 1980s brought significant change for lesbians and gay men in East Germany. Disillusioned with the government’s refusal to acknowledge its gay citizens, groups began organizing themselves under the auspices of the Protestant church. The church was East Germany’s only genuinely (if only incompletely) autonomous institution and home to many East Germans critical of the regime. Other groups, including feminists, environmentalists, and peace activists, also found space to organize within the church in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many church leaders actively opposed giving gay activists space to organize, but the church’s loose structure meant that younger, more progressive clergy had leeway to offer space and resources to whomever they desired.
Organizing under a religious umbrella guaranteed activists a modicum of independence. They could gather, plan activities, and pressure the government without needing to seek permission from the regime or worry that the police might arrest them for participating in an illegal group. Because these groups provided such a convenient setting for queer social life and political activism, they spread rapidly throughout the country. By 1984 there were around a dozen of them, each of them drawing anywhere from dozens to hundreds of attendees to their events.
Ralf Dose, a West Berlin gay activist and historian, recalls: “When we organized something, we had to send around lots of invitations just to get 10 people to show up. [East German activists] were used to hanging up just one small notice and then there were 250 people.” Unlike their West German confreres, of course, they were not competing for attention with an extensive commercial subculture. 

Under pressure to stem the tide of gay liberation, the Stasi arrived at a novel solution: give activists what they wanted. No complaints to be made, they reasoned, meant nothing to organize about.
The Stasi, which had thousands of informants within the church, soon caught wind of these efforts. Nothing had changed in the secret police’s view of gay rights and they set to work undermining the new crop of activists. They recruited informants within the groups, both to gather information and to sow discord. Moles accused gay men of misogyny and encouraged lesbians to form their own groups. They cultivated antagonism between the church and the activists, and even accused other activists of being Stasi agents.
But to little avail. Membership continued to swell and activists began to coordinate strategy at national meetings. They soon agreed on a set of wide-ranging policy goals, including better access to housing, abolition of the higher age of consent for homosexual sex, ability to serve in the military, and better access to sexual health services. As the groups grew, the Stasi became increasingly concerned that they posed an existential threat to the socialist regime.
Under pressure to stem the tide of gay liberation, the secret police began debating new strategies. Departments exchanged flurries of memos debating what course of action the government should pursue. In 1985 the Stasi finally produced a new set of guidelines on how to prevent what it termed “the political misuse of homosexuals.” Some of its recommendations were unsurprising, such as ramping up surveillance of gay activist leaders. But its final recommendation was entirely novel. It insisted that the government find “resolution[s] to homosexuals’ humanitarian problems.” That is, the Stasi decided to actually address activists’ demands.
Their rationale for doing so was actually rather simple. If the government tackled gay men and lesbians’ concerns, then all those church-affiliated activist groups would have no reason to exist. No complaints to be made, Stasi officials reasoned, meant nothing to organize about.
Thus began a series of genuinely radical changes in East German society. The state-censored newspapers, which for decades had hardly ever mentioned homosexuality, suddenly started printing dozens of stories about gay men and lesbians. The government also freed periodicals to accept personal advertisements from gay men and lesbians looking for partners.
The state tasked Berlin psychology professor Reiner Werner with writing a book titled Homosexuality: A Call to Knowledge and Tolerance, which appeared in 1987. Its initial run of 50,000 copies sold out in a matter of weeks. (It would also approve a gay film, Coming Out, that premiered on November 9, 1989, the night the Berlin Wall fell.)
In addition, the state began granting official recognition to gay groups, such as the Sunday Club, a secular activist collective run by Sillge that had been meeting in East Berlin since the early 1980s. And it authorized East Germany’s first gay discos, such as Die Busch, a club that still exists today.
The government even allowed gay chapters within the Free German Youth (FDJ), the state’s official youth scouting organization, and mandated that all FDJ members attend educational sessions dealing with homosexuality. All of a sudden, East German youth were required to attend meetings of gay groups such as the Sunday Club. Remembering this moment, Rausch told me, “The joke was that suddenly everyone was standing in line to get into the Sunday Club,” only a couple years after it had been a target of state repression.
In 1987 the East German Supreme Court struck down the law that set a higher age of consent for gay men and lesbians. The following year, the military allowed gay soldiers, reversing a policy the government had instituted in the 1950s. 

The unexpected gay golden age in East Germany reveals a much more dynamic politics in the former Soviet bloc than we are wont to acknowledge.
West Germans caught wind of these changes and began venturing across the Wall in larger numbers to see East Germany’s gay liberation for themselves. Some even found the subculture there more pleasing than the commercialized one in the West. Martin, an American gay man who lived in West Berlin in the 1980s, recalled, “The gay community in East Berlin was kind of warmer and more friendly than in the West.”
It must be noted that these rapid changes, which Rausch described as a “gay and lesbian Wende” (turning point), were accompanied by continued Stasi surveillance of activists. At least a tenth of the members of gay activist groups passed information to the Stasi. The secret police also resorted to petty torments. One leader, for instance, was forbidden from pursuing graduate study as punishment for their activism. But for many queer people in East Germany, life improved dramatically in those years. Gay men and lesbians in the East still lacked the kind of sprawling, commercial subculture that defined queer life in West Germany. But for all that, West German activists had not succeeded in convincing their national government to act on their concerns. 
By 1989 two very different visions of gay life and politics existed in the two Germanies. It is by no means clear which of the two states was more modern or progressive on the question of homosexuality by our standards today. That very ambivalence is the point: West Germany was not de facto a better place for gay men and lesbians in the Cold War era.
East Germany’s unexpected liberation of its queer minority poses a complex problem for historians of socialism, especially the fact that the greatly feared Stasi stood behind it. The unexpected gay golden age in East Germany reveals a much more dynamic politics in the former Soviet bloc than we are still wont to acknowledge. And East Germany was not alone: while homosexuality remained illegal in the Soviet Union until the early 1990s, other communist countries, including Czechoslovakia and Hungary, pursued more progressive trajectories similar to East Germany.
Socialism is not necessarily the best form of government for queer people. Stalin, after all, recriminalized sodomy in 1934 and sent an untold number of queer people to the Gulag. Nonetheless it is also true that queer people were sometimes better off under socialism. Just as other historians have begun to argue for a more nuanced picture of socialism—Kristen Ghodsee recently contended that “women have better sex under socialism”—this history shows that socialism is not inimical to gay rights. Neither is capitalism necessarily good for gay rights. 

Policies related to sexuality are poor prognosticators of other politics. Gay liberation is not always a result of liberal democracy, nor is its absence isometric with authoritarianism.
The complex relations between a state and its citizens, and the specific ways in which states function, are what determine gay liberation’s path more than raw ideology. Gay activists in East Germany knew their government’s pressure points better than did those in West Germany, and they were better able to leverage that knowledge.
Furthermore, this history reveals that policies related to sexuality are poor prognosticators of other political metrics. Gay liberation is not always a result of liberal democracy, nor is its absence isometric with authoritarianism. Different political systems treat queer people in different ways that are orthogonal to their other values.
In March 1990, East Germany’s Congress of Writers held its final meeting. One of the speakers was a twenty-nine-year-old gay man, Ronald Schernikau, who had been born in East Germany, fled westward with his mother at the age of six, and then returned to East Germany in 1986. A committed communist, he was also one of the few openly gay authors West Germany produced in its forty years. His address eulogized the departed socialist state and offered a searing indictment of capitalism. “Whosoever wishes the West’s colorfulness,” he told the gathered writers, “must reap the West’s despair.”
Schernikau died of AIDS the following year as Germany began the still-painful process of reunification. With him went the gay liberation for which East Germans had for two decades campaigned. Queer Germans would wait years until the new republic adopted similar measures, and the unified country never again saw the kind of vivified queer activism that had coursed across the socialist countryside in the 1980s

April 14, 2019

In Germany, Someone Believes If You are German You Can’t Be Gay and If You Are You Should Die




On April 18, 2016, Max walked down the hall at his high school in Bremen, a midsize city in Northern Germany. He opened the glass door of a small office and saw a white cardboard box on the table addressed to him. The school’s director, a teacher, and a police officer were standing next to the box, Max remembered. Contained within it was a funeral wreath with black and dark red roses, as well as a white angel made of faux marble. Attached was a printed card: “We mourn the loss of Max O.”
The men in the room said things like “evidence” and “death threat,” but by that point, Max had already tuned out. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Max recalled the thoughts that were racing through his mind: What is all this? What does it mean? What’s going on? What am I supposed to do? Back in class, he didn’t tell anyone what had just happened. He was 17 years old. Max — whose last name we are not publishing to avoid jeopardizing the ongoing proceedings and to prevent others from targeting him — is one of at least 10 people the District Attorney’s Office in Bremen presumes to have been stalked and harassed by the same perpetrator. The office is actively investigating at least four of the cases. All the victims are young gay men like Max.
The German Federal Ministry of the Interior registered 313 violent hate crimes against LGBT people in Germany in 2018. This actual figure is exponentially higher, however, because experts say these crimes are vastly underreported. For comparison, in England and Wales alone, more than 11,000 crimes based on sexual orientation were reported in 2017. Hatred toward LGBT people is also a part of everyday life in Germany, but it receives little attention in German politics and media.
This is one of the reasons why Max decided to make his case public. Last December, while at a village disco in the Allgäu, he again faced abuse because of his sexuality; it was one of the reasons he decided to come forward, using his own name and face, about everything that has happened to him. “I don’t want to hide anymore,” he said.







to cope with what Max said he experienced is difficult to determine. A 14-page report obtained by BuzzFeed News documents only a fraction of the attacks. Over a period spanning half a year, while he was still a minor, he received hundreds and hundreds of messages and threats, both online and offline. Dozens of fake profiles sprang up on Facebook featuring stolen pictures of Max, claiming to be him. He endured harassing phone calls, fraudulent sales made in his name, and death threats. Over several months, more and more people were swept up in the hateful ordeal, including Max’s family and friends, confidants, and even strangers.

 
The s









It took Max a while to understand that there was likely a single individual responsible, whose ultimate goal was to destroy his life. For weeks, no one — including the authorities — seemed to understand how dangerous the situation had become.
For months, the alleged perpetrator overwhelmed all of Max’s communication channels to the extent that they became unusable. And what at first seemed like a bad joke ended up poisoning Max’s social life. He became distrustful and suspected his harasser was waiting behind every corner.
Max in front of the police station where he said he did not receive help.
For three years, Max has been waiting for the suspect to appear before a court. By now, he said, he’s positive he knows who it is: a man from his hometown who had intentionally targeted him for a harassment campaign. Even though the alleged perpetrator was always close by, no one was able to stop him. Now, it still isn’t clear when the man will stand trial. Max’s case exemplifies how difficult it is to escape an aggressive stalker, especially on the internet, how powerful anti-gay persecution in Germany still is, and how long it takes for its victims to finally see justice.  
Before all this happened, Max was just another student, someone who didn’t really stand out. He’s a polite and cheerful person, he’s popular, he likes theater. “The biggest difference between me and the majority is that I’m gay,” he said.
Then, in January 2016, an acquaintance sent Max a message about an account on Facebook pretending to be him. Over the course of weeks and months, Max discovered more and more of these profiles — some of them pretending to be him, others pretending to be his friends or acquaintances. The suspect used these profiles to send Max countless messages threatening and insulting Max and his family, contacting teachers, and spreading rumors accusing Max of stealing. Strangers received death threats from Max’s phone number. The harasser also sold phony soccer tickets, cellphones, and festival tickets in Max’s name on eBay. Eventually, strangers would show up at Max’s house and school, demanding the goods Max had allegedly sold them.
At the time, Max wasn’t out to everyone in his life as gay. But the alleged perpetrator was flagrantly outing Max to his friends and family members, including his father and grandfather. He used a photo of Max photoshopped with text saying he was gay and posted it underneath family photos on Facebook.
“I am still angry that he outed me to my dad,” he said. “I never had the chance to tell him about it myself.“
Courtesy Max O., Obtained by BuzzFeed News
The posters of Max that were distributed in Bremen. 
The alleged perpetrator also warned Max that he would print those photos and pin them up on Bremen’s streets. He was true to his word: In March, posters with Max’s photo showed up near his school in the city center with the caption, in all caps, “Ja ich bin schwul, und das ist auch gut so” (“Yes I am gay and that is a good thing”). Max found out about the posters before going to a party and asked a friend for help. Soon afterward, his friends joined forces and walked through the city together to take them down, some of them searching for the alleged perpetrator around the block. Dozens of classmates and friends showed up to help him, Max recalled. “It was an empowering moment.”
But that particular incident also led to a more sinister realization. “When we found the posters, I realized I was in more danger than I'd thought,” he said. “Before, it was just a man behind his computer.” But now the harassment had spilled into the physical world.
“You think you are immune because you have your friends who support you,” he said. “But then you realize that certain thoughts that you have toward strangers or acquaintances have been influenced by insecurity. Because during those months I was told, ‘You are worth nothing. You should die.’” At one point, the local newspaper received a request to print Max’s obituary
A Facebook screenshot of the obituary notice: “But now there is faith, love, hope — these three, but love is the greatest among them (1 Corinthians 13:13). Student Max. In love and gratitude.”
 Many of the experiences have blurred together in Max’s memory. He can’t remember exactly how often he went to the police. BuzzFeed News has therefore compared the information he shared with his family members and friends, looked at dozens of screenshots, and contacted the relevant authorities. Since this is an ongoing case, we didn’t receive any answers to our multiple phones and email requests for comment. Not even Max’s lawyer is willing to answer any questions.
In response to a request we made to the school, a secretary wrote, “Unfortunately, I can only tell you that no one is willing or able to say anything about the case involving Max O.”
Several people involved in the case have told BuzzFeed News that the alleged perpetrator threatened to set off a bomb in a supermarket. He was apparently then caught and identified as Max’s alleged harasser. However, after a few hours in custody, he was reportedly released. But the details of the various statements differ, and no official authority is able or willing to confirm them.
BuzzFeed News has obtained the lengthy list of accusations on the charge sheet of the Bremen Municipal Court against the suspect. The charges include breach of public peace, abuse of emergency calls, defamation/libel, threats, robbery, extortion, and fraud.
“In retrospect, I’m amazed that no one else in our family has suffered any major harm,” said Max’s mother, who asked that her name be withheld. She also became a target of the attacks. The alleged perpetrator used a fake Facebook profile to spread misinformation about her, saying she has breast cancer. According to Max, threats were also made against his sister. Over the phone, a distorted voice told him, “I want to fuck her.”
The calls, messages, and cases of fraud took a toll on the entire family. “I felt like I was always somewhere trying to plug up holes,” his mother told BuzzFeed News. Eventually, she stopped answering the phone at all. Even now she feels exhausted from that time; she has insomnia and avoids crowds. What really worries her is that the suspect is still free. “I want to forgive him. The hate is poisoning my life,” she said. But “we’re still in the middle of it all.”
Max, however, continued to be active on Facebook throughout 2016, in order to document what happened to him and those around him. He wanted to find a solution on his own, and he wanted to protect the people around him from being harassed. But who was protecting Max?
There were weeks during which the alleged perpetrator wasn’t very active. Other days, he sent dozens of messages. During a particularly difficult phase in the spring of 2016, Max had a breakdown at his best friend’s house. It’s one of the few times that Max actually cried. As Max and his best friend recalled, he then shook himself and said something to the effect of, “This won’t do any good either.”
At the end of the day, he said, he felt alone. 
In spring 2016, shortly after the incident with the posters, it all got to be too much for Max. He finally decided to report what was happening to him.
Max took several trips to a police station in downtown Bremen, an imposing building of large, sand-colored stone blocks. On multiple occasions, he tried to explain that his and other people’s cases were related, he told BuzzFeed News. (By this point, he had heard from friends and family members that he wasn’t the only one being harassed — one of his friends had also reported similar behavior to the police.) Max remembered having been to the station about three times. He said he was never contacted afterward. Instead, he remembered that the police told him to try going on Facebook less often or to not take what was happening to him too personally. Around May he received a phone call: The police were going to stop investigating his case — with no explanation why.
“He thought he would go there and get help, and he didn’t get any at all,” said his mother. In April 2016, Max’s father got involved and hired a private investigator.
Max described dealing with Facebook as similarly frustrating. He, his friends, and his family were reporting the fake accounts “nonstop,” he told BuzzFeed News. The company announced that it had deleted 1.3 billion fake profiles throughout 2018. But the alleged perpetrator was undeterred; he just kept creating new profiles over and over again.
According to criminal statistics, there were almost 20,000 stalking victims in Germany in 2017.









“When we found the posters, I realized I was in more danger than I'd thought.”
In Ge






In German, there are four specialized places that stalking victims and offenders can turn to, said Wolf Ortiz-Müller, a psychotherapist and head of the "Stop Stalking" counseling center in Berlin. “We lament this across the board. There are very few counseling centers, but [there are] a lot of people who need them, especially young people.”
 It’s possible that Max’s harasser found his contact info on the queer youth network Du Bist Nicht Allein (“You Are Not Alone”), where he was active. Max said that on multiple occasions, he gave his number to people whom he met there or was in touch with. “It was dumb of me to feel safe there just because I was among other gay people,” Max said.
The local LGBT and counseling experts BuzzFeed News spoke with were already familiar with the case, thanks to earlier media and police reports. Max’s particular experience is unique because he didn’t know the suspect before the attacks, unlike in most stalking cases.
According to five different sources, the alleged perpetrator is in his early thirties and lives near Max’s old school. To avoid jeopardizing the ongoing investigation and putting the victims in distress again, BuzzFeed News did not confront him.
It’s unclear what’s motivating the harasser, but there are multiple theories. “One person in a group is singled out to represent others to show their belief that it’s appalling to live that way,” said Ortiz-Müller, who said Max and the other young men were being targeted because of their sexual orientation. “The alleged perpetrator wants to make an example of him. This boils down to the desire to destroy them all.”
“These attacks — especially in the case of gay people — often take place in spaces that are actually thought of as safe,” Bastian Finke, head of the anti-gay violence project Maneo, wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News. “Perpetrators deliberately invade social spaces believed to be safe, such as dating sites, cruising areas, or bars to flirt with [potential victims] and then blackmail or attack them.” 
Max and his best friend in front of Max’s former school in Bremen.
Wolfram Franke looked out the window for a long time, fiddling with his ring, saying nothing. The police officer works in a small police station in the middle of Max’s school. Max went to see him dozens of times in his office at the end of the hall. The two trust each other. When Max visited the office for the first time in several months earlier this year, Franke hugged him.
After not seeing any progress at the large police station in the city center, where it seemed like no one was working on his case, Franke became Max’s contact. And just like Max, through his own research and reporting, he believes he knows who’s responsible. Sometimes he sees this man walk by the police office window with a smile on his face.
Not even Franke knows when the proceedings will finally begin. “These things can take an eternity and I think that’s extremely sad,” he said. “I admire Max. Others would have been broken by all of this.”
Franke said that no matter how personally affected he is by the case, in the end, his reports on Max will just be another part of a long paper trail. According to information obtained by BuzzFeed News, the alleged perpetrator was arrested by police in July 2016 after making a bomb threat. He was released, but afterward, the harassment campaign against Max mostly stopped.
Today, Max is 20 years old and applying to a university abroad. He still uses Facebook and WhatsApp to talk to his friends and family. But his social media channels also remind him of a past he wants to put behind him. “The places where it all happened are still there,” he said.
“Knowing that someone is out there potentially pushing young gay people to kill themselves and that this is still going on in the 21st century makes you question our society.”
On a winter day earlier this year, when it seemed it was about to snow at any moment, Max was taking a walk through downtown Bremen with his best friend. A message on the entrance of a fancy clothing store read, “If you are racist, sexist, homophobic, or an asshole … don’t come in.” In a café a few buildings down, Max told his story again.
Only now does Max realize how bad his experience actually was. In his conversations with BuzzFeed News, he kept naming the mistakes he feels he had made: He should have gone to the police earlier. He shouldn’t have thought he could handle it all by himself. He shouldn’t have isolated himself.
For a few weeks, he has been going to a stalking counseling center for emotional support and legal advice.
Every once in a while, he still gets messages on Instagram. Max thinks he recognizes the alleged perpetrator based on the way he writes. “You develop a sense for it,” he said. “I want him to stop. Knowing that someone is out there potentially pushing young gay people to kill themselves and that this is still going on in the 21st century makes you question our society.”
The spokesperson for the municipal court of Bremen was unable to comment on when there will be a trial, and if it will be public. Max himself has repeatedly said that not even he knows where things will go from here. So he is waiting. Waiting until he can finally put it all behind him.
Sometimes he imagines how he would behave in the courtroom: vulnerable or strong? “I want to show him what he did,” said Max. “But I also want to show him that he didn’t achieve his goal.” Max is still here — surviving.

December 7, 2018

Do Germans Have Short Memories? Angela Merkel Being Forced Out After Unifying Germany Because of Migrants?




 'Take it or leave it Vladimyr'




I would like to give you this posting from  Katrin Bennhold on The New York Times.  

[Editorial from the blog Publisher]Something so sad is happening in Germany because people are impatient and have short memories not willing to give Merkel anymore time. They gave her time when she was unifying the east to the west and really most experts said at the time that only she could have done such a feat to have all those Germans cultivated by the communism of Stalin in which left them with nothing, still they came and got integrated to the advance Western Germany. The only thing these two classes of Germans had in common was the language and nothing else.  She took them in when everyone was saying it will ruin the economy, it will bring the country down. This can not be done, these are not german anymore. Well, Germany is been the biggest economic force in Europe if not the world since. Germans have been living very well and is not because they are working more or harder but because of their ingenuity. But now there is no more time for Merkel because the migrants are going to being the country down. For Germany to get rid of this Iron Lady who's been the face of economic strengh for 13 years it would be another big mistake by the German population. Adam🦊

CHEMNITZ, Germany — Two weeks after announcing that she would not seek another term, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was standing in an old locomotive factory in the eastern city of Chemnitz, the scene of far-right protests this year.
Outside, 2,500 protesters shouted: “Merkel must go!” Inside, 120 people — more polite but scarcely less hostile — had come to challenge the chancellor on her legacy, which on this November afternoon was mostly reduced to one thing: her 2015 decision to welcome more than a million migrants into Germany.
“You said we would manage,” one man said, quoting Ms. Merkel’s now famous mantra back at her. “But we’re not managing.”
As Ms. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Party gathers this week to choose her successor as party leader — and the likely future chancellor of Germany — the values she embodied through 13 years in power are in danger. Some now ask whether her leadership, in particular on migration and economic austerity, helped plant the seeds of the forces now tearing Europe apart.
Ms. Merkel has pledged to finish out her term, which ends in 2021. But even if she defies the political obituary writers, the time in between is likely to be less than a victory lap for a chancellor who has been the face of stability in Germany and Europe, for better or worse.
“I know my face is polarizing,” Ms. Merkel conceded in Chemnitz. That is true in Athens, Budapest and Rome as well.
Ms. Merkel has been both chancellor of Germany and the leader of Europe. She steered her country and the continent through successive crises as she helped Germany become Europe’s leading power for the first time since two world wars.
No one has shaped the Europe of today more than this vicar’s daughter from the former Communist East who was celebrated as the guardian of the liberal Western order.
Ms. Merkel allowed Germans to be proud again, but on her watch the old demons of nationalism stirred back to life, too. The European Union she fought so hard to preserve is assailed by populist leaders.

                                                     
A protest against Ms. Merkel last month in Chemnitz, a town that has become a symbol of a Germany wrestling with its identity.CreditFilip Singer/EPA, via Shutterstock


Those contradictions rest at the core of the Merkel legacy. As German chancellor, Ms. Merkel oversaw a golden decade for Europe’s largest economy, which expanded by more than a fifth, pushing unemployment to the lowest levels since the early 1980s.
As the United States was distracted by multiple wars, Britain gambled its future on a referendum to leave the European Union and France failed to reform itself, Ms. Merkel’s Germany was mostly a haven of stability.
But her decision to embrace more than a million asylum seekers unsettled that cozy status quo. Outside Germany, the austerity she and her longtime finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble imposed on debtor countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal and, especially, Greece sowed misery and resentment that fester to this day.
Some, like the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, compare Ms. Merkel’s austerity politics to the Treaty of Versailles, which imposed punitive economic measures on Germany after World War I, humiliated the country and fanned the flames of populism.
“This is now what is feeding the political beasts,” Mr. Varoufakis said.
Many of her postwar predecessors had strongly defined legacies. Konrad Adenauer anchored Germany in the West. Willy Brandtreached across the Iron Curtain. Helmut Kohl, her onetime mentor, became synonymous with German unity. Gerhard Schröder paved the way for Germany’s economic success.
Ms. Merkel’s legacy is more fragile.
She gave power a female face, and some say she softened politics and made it easier for her country to resume its historic dominance in Europe. She was careful never to boast about what had been regained. But she also failed to instill in her people a sense of responsibility and solidarity for fellow Europeans.

Her modest and moderate governance style, absent ideology and vanity, is the polar opposite of that of the strongmen now strutting the world stage. Her Germany — that “vulnerable hegemon,” as the intellectual Herfried Münkler calls it — became a beacon of liberalism.

But like her friend and ally President Barack Obama — America’s first black president, who was succeeded by President Trump — Ms. Merkel will be judged by what comes next.

“Angela Merkel personifies the best Germany we’ve ever known,” said Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European Studies at Oxford University. “She managed Germany’s rise to once again become Europe’s leading power. But she failed to prepare Germans sufficiently for what that means.”



Featured Posts

First Openly Gay NYer Who Should Become The First Gay Congressman in DC

                      By   Tim Fitzsimons NBC When Mondaire Jones was growing up in Spring Valley, New York, the way the w...