FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Blood Moon Over Germany

Berlin.

That “blood moon” was quite a sight. Not being superstitious, I see in it no omen. Indeed, for a layman like me, it was amazingly predictable, one of the few predictable things in today’s world.

Who could have predicted the Volkswagen disaster? In April VW boss Martin Winterkorn, whose company already had the highest revenues, profits and assets of any automaker, boasted proudly that by 2018 VW would be “the world’s most profitable, fascinating and sustainable auto manufacturer, with annual sales of 10 million vehicles and a pretax profit margin of 8% or higher” and “the most satisfied customers and employees (550,000 worldwide) in the industry. Only an automaker who can achieve all these goals can really call itself number one with justification.”

If there is any justice left lying around, by 2018 Winterkorn should be in a less joyous, more restricted situation, and not alone. His assertions that he (and other top managers) never knew of the vicious deception which has poisoned enough atmosphere to cost too many lives, calls up many a knew-nothing recollection. (I delved into VW history in Bulletin 89 last May. I’ll mail it to any requesters.)

Secrets involving diesel motors, popular in Europe with gas far more expensive than in the USA, go back exactly 102 years. On the night of September 29 1913 inventor Rudolf Diesel disappeared from a ship crossing to England, after probably jumping overboard for no known reason.

Similar reactions are not expected of anyone today despite the billions VW will most likely have to cough up. It has wonderful connections. Once publicly owned, a key twenty percent is still property of the state of Lower Saxony, and all politicians from that state enjoyed close ties, like former chancellor Gerhard Schröder and current vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. Other heavy weight firms may well get caught up in this giant, world-wide plot against the environment and political ties with the whole auto industry have always been hearty, with Daimler-Benz and BMW joining in to impel Merkel to achieve a delay in European Union emission limits until 2022.

A symbol was offered by Matthias Wissmann, long the Minister of Transportation, who quit his Bundestag seat on May 30 2007 and showed up on June 1st, no doubt with a good new suit and tie, as President of the Automobile Industry Association and soon vice–president of its Pro Mobilität lobby, whose main jobs are to cut railroad traffic and instead build ever wider highways, while preventing changes in Germany’s “No speed limit” rules on many Autobahn stretches, which would discourage high-power vehicle sales. This too causes many hundreds of deaths.

But nothing is fully predictable. Since autos are a key factor in Germany’s economic grip on Europe and elsewhere, a big drop in sales, especially of VWs, might just upset many an apple cart. In former GDR areas, plagued by joblessness since the western take-over just 25 years ago, there have been signs of a recovery in a few centers called “lighthouses”, with 6600 VW workers in Zwickau (home of the GDR’s Trabant cars), 515 in Dresden, 3250 making related Porsches in Leipzig and 4700 BMW workers in Leipzig. How many will still have jobs next year, after 26 years of German reunification?

I also feel sorry for VW workers in Tennessee, whose billion dollar Passat plant, after big quarrels and giant subsidies, might now collapse. Perhaps Chattanooga should have stuck to its choo-choo!

There’s no predicting which big scandal company will unveil the next shaft. Pharma again? More billionaire tax evaders? The plant poisoners and bee killers? Oil drillers? The giant new Berlin airport, named for Willy Brandt and scheduled to open in 2012, has been plagued by one delay after another, causing the political death of once-popular mayor Klaus Wowereit but filling the deep pockets of many an incompetent and/or crooked construction firm and “expert”. Now the butt of a thousand increasingly sour gags, it may just make it and open in 2017. Home owners in the region hope not!

Happily, there’s also movement in opposing directions, by which I do not mean the milling crowds and annual fireworks and colored lights marking the 25 years of German unity, with all the beer, bockwurst, bands and big shots tearfully singing “Deutschland über alles”.

No, I mean the September 19th counter-demonstration to the annual anti-abortion march of the fundamentalists, who want to revoke modest gains in women’s rights won for West Germans after the downfall of the GDR (which had full freedom of choice, with abortions and all birth control expenses fully covered by medical insurance). Our two parades almost matched theirs in size, although they bussed in gimlet-eyed “baby-defenders” from all over Germany and maybe Poland.  We had a jolly crowd, with hard-hitting but often funny, daring posters and banners, and our parades were cheered along by nearly all passers-by.

I also mean the protest march near Ramstein on September 26th. This, HQ of the United States Air Forces in Europe, US Air Forces in Africa and HQ of NATO’s Allied Air Command, is the biggest US military air base outside home territory, with 35,000 in uniform und 6000 civilian employees. It passes on messages from safe rooms in the USA which guide the drones on their death missions!

The demonstrators, organized by the Left party and many peace organizations, carried posters and banners which were less jolly than the ones in Berlin but equally determined: “No to the Killer Drones!”, “This Is Where Murder Is Organized”, “Allies Go Away”, “Out of NATO” or simply “For Tolerance and Peace”. Most of the media was sarcastic about the small number, but getting almost 2000 people, mostly young, to this out-of-the-way site about 25 miles from the French border was an  encouraging success and may help bridge fissures long troubling the peace movement.

One added motivation: a few weeks earlier the US Army Europe, with 1500 parachute jumpers, ran an exercise called Swift Response, training for “a multinational airborne joint forcible entry operation across four European nations… the largest allied airborne training event on the continent since the end of the Cold War.” Its aim: ”…to integrate multiple allied nations’ high-readiness forces to operate as a cohesive team and demonstrate the alliance’s capacity to rapidly deploy and operate in support of maintaining a strong and secure Europe.” Soldiers from NATO nations – Poland, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK and the USA also trained far too close to Russia in Bulgaria and Romania. This might explain one big peace demonstration banner demanding „Peace with Russia – Not Closer to World War III”.

Another big demonstration in Berlin, now in the offing for October 10th, may have lots of balloons but no parachute jumpers. It will protest planned trade agreements between the European Union and Canada (CETA) and between the EU and the USA, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Both, like TPP, grant immense power to giant companies, with inconspicuous arbitrators cutting at labor gains and ecological rulings against poisonous insecticides or dubious genetic changes and whatever else obstructs huge profits. Many unions, environmental groups, the Left and many Greens want a giant turnout to warn the government against signing any such treaties.

It is hard to make predictions about Angela Merkel. Will she and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, fight on for the trade treaties, resisting growing pressure from the people? And will they dance along with the threatening music blared at Putin, or further tread the thin line between floor thumpers in their own ranks, with bellicose pressure from Washington, and their haunting, often haunted hunt for some form of compromise in the Ukraine and Syria, placating business interests hoping to forestall a backward lurch in German economic dominance (with VW the latest and biggest worry.

And, after zigzagging on the question of the huge wave of immigrants from the Near East, Africa and southeastern Europe, will she bow to mounting pressure, first to restrict European refugees, mainly Roma people (Gypsies), viciously discriminated against in or around former Yugoslavia, which was split into today’s weak fragments under pressure – and some heavy air strikes – from Germany? Merkel is feeling the hot breath of far right hate-mongers, in and outside her own party; will she bow to them or keep on that fine line? As in the USA, they can get out of hand and become dangerous!

After twenty-five years of unification, annexation or occupation, or whatever people call it, the only safe predictions in Germany still seem to be the ones about lunar eclipses.

More articles by:

Victor Grossman writes the Berlin Bulletin, which you can subscribe to for free by sending an email to: wechsler_grossman@yahoo.de.

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail