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Revolutionary 1 May

International demonstration for solidarity


Come out for the revolutionary internationalist First of May!

Those in power probably thought they were smart when they attempted to claim the word “solidarity” for themselves at the beginning of the pandemic. We are to keep a distance. To isolate. To think of the old and the sick, to avoid putting further strain on careworkers and nursing staff.

What they didn’t mention is the fact those in power are the ones who created these conditions of inhumanity in the first place! They are the ones placing profit interests over our basic needs!

And then they try to sell their lacking measures as “solidarity”. They preach individual responsibility because they know nothing other than representing the interests of large corporations. We are losing our jobs but are expected to keep paying rent; others should work overtime but give up their pay and health; we are told to wait for months for the little bit of money that we are due after working for seventy years in Almanya, and then be quiet and not complain.

Be it in manufacturing, in care work in hospitals or at home: the wealth and the health of Germany and Western Europe is built on our backs, on the backs of the workers and the exploited here and everywhere in the world. Without us, nothing would function!

The thanks we get? We are thrown out of our neighbourhoods because we can’t afford rent or because our children have the wrong names to get into kindergarten. At the same time, our stores, our spaces for coming together, are shut down – they don’t care whether it’s due to rents or covid measures.

This has been going on for a long time here in Neukölln: Affordable stores are shut down on Karl-Marx-Str. to make space for useless co-working spaces. The Karstadt at Hermannplatz is being torn down so that the right-wing real estate investor René Benko can put up yet another ugly luxury building. These are all examples for projects that mean more profits for companies, a better image for the city, and more displacement for us. Why are profit and capitalist interests deciding what is built in our neighbourhoods, why aren’t we?

On top of that we have racist raids of shisha bars and spätis – pushed by the SPD district mayor, Martin Hikel. And the long running series of right-wing attacks, affecting our shops and houses, another case where the deep connections between Neonazis and the police become visible.

We know what real solidarity means! We invite you to come out with us on the first of May, to continue the tradition of the international, revolutionary fights of those who came before us! We are not letting that which has always been ours be sold.

We are taking back what is ours! Our solidarity, or homes, our jobs, our streets!

How can they stop us once we recognise our situation, our position?

News from Berlin and Germany: 1st May 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany

Compiled by Ana Ferreira



More than 100,000 signatures for expropriation in Berlin

The initiative Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen has now collected more than 100,000 signatures. 175,000 are needed by the end of June for a referendum. Originally the figures were to be published next Monday, but Die LINKE Twitter account published a message early, saying that 55,000 additional signatures have been collected. Internally, the party’s action caused massive unrest. Source: tagesspiegel

Satire demo planned again in Grunewald on 1 May

In addition to demonstrations in Berlin’s city centre and in Neukölln and Kreuzberg, there will be another 1 May protest in the villa district of Grunewald. With a bicycle ride, the demonstrators will travel from Wedding, Lichtenberg and Neukölln westwards to Grunewald at noon and protest there in the afternoon (3 p.m.). Last year, only a small motorcade was allowed because of the Corona pandemic. This year, the MyGruni initiative called on participants to keep their distance, wear masks and take rapid tests. The curfew after 10 p.m., which has been in force since Saturday, does not affect the demonstrations. Source: bz


Death after detention

Qosay Khalaf was 19 when he was stopped by the police on 5 March. He was taken into custody, the next day he was dead. According to the police, Qosay collapsed in the detention cell in Delmenhorst at around 8 pm. This was seen by video surveillance but not recorded – for reasons of data protection, according to the police. The ambulance service took the 19-year-old to the hospital in Oldenburg. However, witnesses from the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf affirm there was external violence, and that lack of oxygen led to Qosay Khalaf’s death. Source: taz

League of Anti-Fascists now charitable again

For months, the Association of the Persecuted of the Nazi Regime – League of Anti-Fascists (VVN-BdA e. V.) has been struggling to get back on its feet. It was waiting for a decision on the status of its non-profit status. “After a thorough examination”, the Tax Office for Corporations I announced on Wednesday that the non-profit status could be granted again for the year 2019. The decision was met with approval, especially on the left. Several politicians also showed solidarity with the association such as Dietmar Bartsch, chairman of the Die LINKE. Source: nd

Querdenker” observed nationwide

There have been countless attacks at Corona demonstrations. Now the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is reacting: it has classified the Corona protests as an object of national observation. Since the Corona protests does no fit into any of the categories used previously by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Federal Office has created a new collective observation object: “Delegitimisation of the state that is hostile to democracy and/or endangers security”. The agency still warns that with this kind of protest the “Querdenkers” make, making use of conspiracy myths, antisemitic resentment, and can have a “significant catalytic effect”. Source: taz

Constitutional Court: Climate Protection Act does not go far enough

The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe has announced that the German climate protection law is partly unconstitutional. It lacks sufficient requirements for the reduction of emissions from 2031 onwards. The judges have therefore obliged the legislator to regulate the reduction targets better by the end of 2022. “Virtually all freedom is potentially affected by these future emission reduction obligations, because almost all areas of human life are still linked to the emission of greenhouse gases and are thus threatened by drastic restrictions after 2030,” they declare. To safeguard fundamental freedoms, the legislature should have taken precautions “to mitigate these heavy burdens”. Source: dw

What’s happening in Berlin on May 1, 2021?

It is the second International Workers’ Day under Coronavirus conditions this Saturday, 1st May 2021. This time last year, Berlin was in a strict lockdown and the day was marked with a scattering of tiny demonstrations across the city. The pandemic has still not been brought under control, but the ban on protests of more […]

It is the second International Workers’ Day under Coronavirus conditions this Saturday, 1st May 2021. This time last year, Berlin was in a strict lockdown and the day was marked with a scattering of tiny demonstrations across the city. The pandemic has still not been brought under control, but the ban on protests of more than 20 people is well behind us. That means we can look forward to a return to the vibrant, militant gatherings of years past – albeit with face masks on and a 1.5-metre gap to the next participant.

The DGB, the coalition made up of the major trade unions in Germany, is once again foregoing its traditional mass march. However, its youth section in Berlin & Brandenburg has organised a bicycle protest starting at Ostkreuz at 11am. The slogan is “for a system in which we are all relevant” – recalling the term systemrelevant used during the pandemic by German politicians to refer to essential workers who, despite the attention drawn to their importance, are yet to receive any meaningful recognition through decent pay or conditions.

That will be one of a number of actions taking place on two wheels this year. The education workers’ union GEW is assembling near Nöllendorfplatz at 10:30am to call attention to the lack of regard for the safety of staff during the pandemic, and the long overdue need for investment.

Taking a much longer bike ride will be those on the MyGruni demonstration – a tongue-in-cheek but nonetheless militant protest that jokingly seeks to highlight the issues faced by residents of what it calls the “problem neighbourhood” of Grunewald, the villa district to the west of the city. With three feeder routes from all corners of Berlin converging at the Siegessäule at 13:00 before heading out to suburbia, this is set to be one of the day’s larger and livelier gatherings.

Positioning itself as a more radical alternative to the mainstream trade union events, the ‘Revolutionary May 1st‘ demonstration will take on a new importance this year. An alliance of migrant, exile, and diaspora groups has taken the lead in organising the event, acknowledging the historic importance of internationalism in the workers’ movement, as well as the intensification of racism and exploitation amid the pandemic. Unlike in previous years, the organisers have attempted to keep the protest above board by registering it with the authorities. Whether this will actually prevent repression by the police is another matter, but with support from groups like Berlin for India, Sudan Uprising and Palestine Speaks, the demonstration could be an important moment for building a truly internationalist solidarity movement in our city.

Die LINKE under new leadership

The election of Susanne Hennig-Wellsow and Janine Wissler is perceived by many members as a breath of fresh air, but Die LINKE still has many contradictions


The new LINKE leadership duo is, as usual, a reflection of party contradictions on strategic issues. Susanne Hennig-Wellsow is leader of the group in East German state of Thuringia, where Die LINKE is not only in government, but even leads it with Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow and governs very pragmatically. Nationwide, she is best known for throwing a bouquet of flowers at the feet of ephemeral Thuringia’s Prime Minister Thomas Kemmerich, who had risen to office with votes from the ultra-right AfD in Thuringia.

Janine Wissler, for her part, comes from Frankfurt-Main in the West, leads effective opposition as a group leader in Hesse and was part of the marx21 revolutionary socialist network until her candidacy.

Fresh wind

For many members of DIE LINKE the choice of the two young women feels like both a breath of fresh air and a continuation of their predecessors Bernd Riexinger and Katja Kipping. Despite Kipping parliamentarism, the old leadership emphasized participation in social movements. At the same time, the election of the new leaders, as well as composition of the new party executive, shows signs of an agreement with the former leader of the parliamentary fraction, Sahra Wagenknecht.

Since 2015, Wagenknecht has moved more and more to the right in the area of migration and asylum. When she couldn’t find a party majority for her positions, she founded the Aufstehen organization, which soon failed. Today, she still claims that anti-fascism and anti-racism, feminism and LGBTQ+ activism, as well as climate protests, would only distract attention from ‘social problems’ and deter ‘workers’.

It’s to be hoped that Die LINKE’s new party executive can do something to overcome the deadlock in which it has ended nationally. The past few years have been dominated not only by the internal struggle over Wagenknecht migration and politics, but also by a general low level of social movements and class struggle only increased by the pandemic. Die LINKE has struggled for a long time to cope with the crisis and still does. As a result, the party continues to have between 7 and 8 percent in the election polls.

Crisis of coronavirus

The party takes the pandemic very seriously and supports the ZeroCovid campaign, which, among other things, asks for long-term closure of schools and the workplace and links it with rights and decent economic compensation for workers. Die LINKE also demands the expropriation of vaccine patents and sometimes even the pharmaceutical industry. But at the same time, Ramelow – as Prime Minister of Thuringia – is following a zigzag policy regarding coronavirus and Wagenknecht now also appears to be flirting with coronavirus skeptics.

In the Bundestag, Die LINKE cannot formulate a clear alternative program to combat pandemics and combat the associated economic and social crisis. In March last year, Bundestag member Dietmar Bartsch set a wrong tone by praising Merkel for her good crisis management and offering Die LINKE’s support for ′′significant measures”. He immediately added that criticism should wait until after the pandemic.

Social movements

Of course, the coronavirus has also complicated things for many social movements. There are no mass tenants’ protests, and the negotiating position of unions has also been greatly affected. Large scale mobilizations like those in 2018 and 2019 are now impossible. That also doesn’t help Die LINKE, either in public debate, or in building an activist party.

But the deadlock is also about the often weak and even destructive performance of leaders like Bartsch and Wagenknecht in the Bundestag faction. They largely ignored those movements that mobilized and were nationally visible, such as Black Lives Matter and Fridays for Future, and preferred to concentrate on parliamentary order.

A few days before the pro-refugee Unteilbar demonstration of 250.000 people in Berlin in 2018, Wagenknecht even clearly distanced herself from the action. This has left deep wounds and has distanced a lot of people from the party in previous years.

However, there are still local positive points and opportunities to take on the fight everywhere. The binding referendum initiative for the expropriation of large housing corporations in Berlin is very promising. The campaign aims to turn a quarter of a million homes into public property and can count on the support not only from Die LINKE, but also from tenant associations, unions and many other social organizations. Walls have been covered in posters, signatures are being collected on the street with enormous energy.

Not only did Die LINKE introduce the expropriation bill in parliament, it is also an essential part of daily actions with hundreds of activists. This means that Berlin’s expropriation campaign created a climate of hope at Die LINKE’s national congress.

This article first appeared in Dutch in the website

Greens, Vaccines, Maneuvers

BERLIN BULLETIN NO. 188 April 27 2021


In recent months the air in Germany has been buzzing. But the fog, thick as in old London, was not humid but political – and medical.

The thickest was Covid fog. Blanketing some two-thirds of the news, the details changed daily, even hourly. How many new cases, how many deaths, who could go out when in what size groups and till what hour, where and when we could buy what or eat out, which state wanted tougher restrictions, which wanted easier ones, whether decisions should be by the federal cabinet, the Bundestag legislature or every state for itself, which vaccine was 100% safe, which might not be and why, when house doctors could vaccinate and how soon they’d get enough vaccine for which age and patient group…

A new law has now been approved, uniform for the whole country: the level of infection past which no-one can leave their home after 10 PM – except dog-owners, single joggers or strollers (also the homeless, I guess). Also at which level schools must again close down (except for 12th grade diploma exam students). All the rules have holes, most states disapprove of some clause, or maybe another. For me, the best reaction is: turn the damned radio off – ban all electronic penetration. Then read a book (now I’m back to Shakespeare). Or go to bed!

Weekend demonstrations keep popping up like whack-a-moles, with (illegally) no masks or distancing, hit by police attacks here or tolerated there. They insist that Covid is a fraud, a plan to permanently limit freedom of speech, writing, or assembly, outdoors or even inside one’s home. A few whistle-blowers, far-leftists of high standing, complain that government agencies and sites like Facebook are censoring them – certainly a worrisome menace. Some protesters and deniers claim it’s all a plot by pharma-bigbiz (steered most likely by Bill and Melinda) to gain more wealth and power. The AfD and other far rightists hook onto such demonstrations along with kooky QAnoners, anti-Semites and anti-vaxxers (even against measles and polio shots). So what is true? Who’s crazy – or lying? Again I’m tempted to crawl back to bed with blankets over my head! (And after all, I’m doubly vaccinated!)

Two politicians, far from covering their heads, fought like elk bulls over which “Christian” candidate should run to succeed Angela Merkel after the September 26 election. Armin Laschet, 60, the top man in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westfalia, and newly-chosen head of the Christian Democratic Union, should have won out by default. But then Markus Söder, 54, jumped in. The top man in Bavaria, Germany’s biggest state in area and with a “Christian”party of its own, the Christian Social Union, a unique local partner that usually agrees and votes with its big sister. But occasionally it acts independently – even further to the right. It’s as if the Lone Star State had its own Tea Party, usually but not always voting with the GOP in the other states. The Bavarian Söder wanted to be the joint candidate of both parties, since the polls showed him far ahead in popularity in all of Germany. It didn’t quite come to a duel but words like “treachery” were mumbled. When the fog finally lifted the sarcastic Söder, who facially recalls Mephistopheles, lost out to the strong Laschet machine.

After a tight-lipped smile and “congratulations!” he backed off into the sulking corner. As for differences on plans or policies, neither man seemed to have any. Or if they did, they didn’t bother to reveal them.

The battle cost the not-so-united “Christian Union” heavily in its sagging popularity standing. When last I looked – one of millions who watch these polls every day – they had dropped from their usual top-of-the-pile mid-30% average, not challenged since 1949, down to a measly 23%.

But this time they will hardly be endangered by their traditional rival, the Social Democrats, or SPD, with whom they still share a wobbly, contradictory coalition. Four years of such weak-kneed non-opposition, required to keep this mismatch alive (and save good cabinet positions) has cost the SPD dearly among their union-based working class voters; the polls give them only 16 % – far from any hopes for first place.

The SPD candidate in the race to become chancellor, facing lukewarm CDU-choice Laschet, is vice-chancellor/finance minister Olaf Scholz. Sadly for him, he was caught napping at his ministerial oversight job when a fly-by-night finance firm with an imposing central building but only cubbyhole offices in South Asia suddenly disappeared, along with nearly 2 billion Euros, hoodwinking a host of hungry investors and supposed monitors, most prominently Olaf Scholz himself. Despite this and a second, possibly worse collusion scandal, he is still in the race.

For the first time in Germany it is not the SPD that is hot on CDU heels but the Greens (officially “Bündnis 90-Die Grünen”), and now they too have chosen a candidate for the coming joust, though not exactly a knight in shiny armor nor the leader many had expected, who was dropped unceremoniously. It is rather his co-chair, a youthful-looking mother of two, whose oratorical style sounds much younger than her 39 years. She was chosen, it was whispered, less for political reasons than because of her freshness, so different from her stodgy Establishment opponents. Yet Annalena Baerbock’s views seem less refreshing than her podium presence.

The Green party was at first an iconoclastic bunch, leftish, even radical. Its deputies, often women, showed up in the Bundestag knitting or even wearing woolen sweaters, shocking the conservatives. While stressing environmental causes, it also spoke up vigorously for women’s rights, gay rights, and disarmament.

But its radicals grew older, and many got rewarding professional jobs. Its fundamentalist wing (“fundis“) lost out to the pragmatic “realos“ (realists). When it joined the SPD in a federal coalition in 1998, with ”realo” Joschka Fischer as vice-chancellor and foreign minister, its high principles nose-dived: it agreed to sharp cuts for the jobless, a later retirement age, lower taxes on the wealthy. And incredibly, devastatingly, it took full part in the NATO bombing of Serbia. Thus Germany, finally united and with no GDR impediments, felt free to make war again.

The Green retreat has continued ever since. In Hesse, their cabinet ministers, in a coalition with CDU Christians, joined in defying all protests against felling part of a beloved forest to make way for an extra stretch of autobahn. In Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, 72, Germany’s one and only Green prime minister (and a Maoist in his wild student years), maintains his coalition with the CDU and his friendship with the Daimler-Benz bosses in Stuttgart, his capital.

Annalena Baerbock could become Germany’s next chancellor. What does she think about the most urgent issue facing the world? Does she want more or less confrontation? And military spending?

Like a majority of Germans, most of the Green party members oppose any steps leading towards war, and Baerbock can’t ignore them. So no, maybe no armed drones, but yes, “steps in the direction… of a future European army.” And when Macron in France calls for “robust” European military measures she favors “an earnest response. And that means talking about foreign deployments. That won’t be simple. But we can’t duck away from it.”

What about ducking away from German participation in the Afghanistan war? In a recent vote to stay till the very end the Greens were split again: 17 in favor, 28 opposed, 12 abstained. And Baerbock?

“In all the years I have always abstained, just exactly because of this ambivalence, and that’s politics, after all. Politics are highly complicated… Life is, after all, not only black or white.”

But she is hardly undecided on one theme. “Germany urgently needs a clear foreign policy position toward the Russian regime.“ That includes tougher sanctions against the “Putin system” and no completion of the German-Russian gas pipeline through the Baltic. Not for any environmental reasons but because it would counteract “the geo-strategical interests of the European Union.“

What are those interests? No, she does not like having A-bombs stored (illegally) in Germany, she says, ready at any moment to be flown eastward on the adjacent German planes. But then, she adds, “We cannot simply say we will send the atomic weapons back to the USA…Most important now is to increase pressure against Russia.”

Despite all old pacifist leanings, the leading Greens have become the loudest German advocates of such bellicose views, sharing them with leaders in other main parties on both sides of the Atlantic, eager co-passengers aboard the mighty Pentagon-Northrup-Raytheon-Rheinmetall bandwagon.

It has become an extremely dangerous vehicle! Defender 21 is the misleading name for a wide range of military maneuvers, lasting until June, and involving 30,000 American soldiers flown across the ocean to join with units from 25 other nations and rehearse war in twelve of them, but especially in Estonia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Germany will act as the central turntable, re-enforcing tracks and bridges to withstand long trainloads of 60 to 80-ton tanks and other utensils for “Defender 21.”

Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, commander of the US Army in Europe, in describing the exercise stressed ”the factor of demonstrating power…of showing partners and allies that we are ready at all times” to “transfer varied troop sectors quickly and safely across long distances.” Of course this is not directed against anyone, he assured possible critics. “It is no accident, however, that the troop movements are from West to East – and the individual maneuvers are in regions close to Russia.”

General Cavoli stressed the “special importance of East Germany and Poland” – thus perhaps providing background on the motivation for those “peaceful revolutions” some decades ago.

In Germany, only one party in the Bundestag has opposed such maneuvers, and all its deputies vote against any military engagement in Afghanistan, Mali or anywhere else, and against more and more ever deadlier weapons, whether for the Bundeswehr or for countries like Saudi Arabia (to name the deadliest). Attempts to water down this basic position in the LINKE have always been voted down and ruled out, once again at its recent national conference.

But the LINKE could face a very controversial choice after the September elections, with hopes for some and fears for others in the party. With the CDU sagging so markedly, and the Greens, who despite all compromises and ambiguities are higher than ever before in the polls (now also at 23%), it could become possible for a Green-Social Democratic-LINKE coalition could attain a majority large enough to form a government, as in Berlin and Thuringia on a state level. The LINKE, whose polls have sagged to 7-8% (from an earlier 10%), would be needed for this, but would be weakest of the trio. And on a federal level both Greens and Social Democrats would insist that it drop its opposition to foreign deployment and NATO.

Some in the LINKE would agree to such a “compromise” for a chance at recognition and two or three comfortable cabinet seats (and good staff jobs that go with them). But for others this would mean that the LINKE would lose its meaning, its raison d’etre as the one known Party of Peace. And experience has also shown that after such a presumed victory it would end up not just meaningless but weaker than before.

The issue is still very hypothetical; the Greens, if they come out strongest, might well turn elsewhere and rightwards for partners. But it continues to divide members and leaders of the LINKE, just like another issue, once again involving the party’s best orator and best-known member, Sahra Wagenknecht. She was just voted in to head the slate for deputies, thus gaining most probable re-election in her present home state, North Rhine-Westfalia. A strong minority opposed her, in part because she has just published a book opposing any stress on “identity politics,” including ethnic, gender and ecological groups, instead of concentrating on winning long-established (and largely white “German”) working-class forces who have trended to the right, like many Trump voters in the USA.

The issue is truly complicated – and truly divisive. Will it draw attention from the fight for peace, and from the militant campaign to confiscate (for a “sensible” price) the biggest real estate corporations now buying up and gentrifying Berlin and other German cities? The quarrels about the Covid measures are also divisive enough. All more than enough material for my next Berlin Bulletin. But for now it’s back to Shakespeare and a safe bed!


For more on me, buy “Crossing the River” (U of Mass Press) or “A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee” (Monthly Review Press)