What Really Happened in Berlin? CHD’s Senta Depuydt Was There
The German media are reporting 38,000 people in attendance on August 29 in Berlin while YouTubers claim one million or more. Not a word is being mentioned about Robert Kennedy’s presence at the event on official networks even as the historic speech of the former U.S. president’s nephew floods social media. Never has the gap between the institutional press and the alternative media been so wide. What really happened on August 29th in Berlin?
Germany experienced one of the biggest demonstrations in its history on August 29, despite repeated attempts by the Berlin authorities to ban the event. The announcement of the participation of attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as a last-minute guest reinforced the public’s mobilization and determination to turn out and defend their freedoms being threatened by the health agendas related to the response to the “pandemic.”
The will to express oneself
Caught between the imperatives of international strategy and the growing discontent within the population, the German government seems to be losing its footing since the demonstration on August 1st, which brought together more than 800,000 people, many chanting “Angela, dein Volk ist da,” which translates, “your people are there.” Indeed, in the face of the “deaf ear” of politics, many members of the movement are now calling for the establishment of a new national assembly to guarantee the rights of the constitution. Inspired in part by yellow vests in France, workshops were born throughout Germany, witnessing the emergence of a popular will in search of sovereignty.
It is not surprising that the government sought to downplay the success of the first demonstration on1 August 1st, stating figures of 17,000 participants, while the images of the large rally in the main aisle “Unter den Linden’ clearly showed hundreds of thousands. It is also not surprising that the media sought to tarnish the reputations of the organizers who were accused of being Nazis.
As expected, the Berlin authorities tried to ban the August 29 demonstration just before the event. However, as Germany has been scarcely affected by the epidemic, it is becoming increasingly difficult to impose a general health emergency. Unable to “ban” any demonstration, they withdrew the specific authorization for that event. The response from the organizers was swift. Always anxious to respect the rule of law, they asked their members to make new requests for demonstrations individually. Within hours, more than 6,000 people filled out and submitted the necessary documents. Police stations were flooded with requests from the legal team, while YouTubers relayed the maneuver live to hundreds of thousands of amused spectators. At the same time, the movement was appealing the decision to a federal court. Excitement was high when an influencer dropped the scoop of Kennedy’s arrival on social media. The next morning, it was announced that the federal court had ruled in favour of the protesters and that the event would move forward.
The magic of circumstances
In reality, Kennedy’s presence at the protest had not been scheduled. Kennedy, the board chair of Children’s Health Defense (CHD), a nonprofit organization in the U.S dedicated to the protection of children’s health, was scheduled to attend the inaugural meeting of the CHD European branch, Children’s Health Defense Europe. It was a bit of a coincidence of the calendar that led to his participation in the event as he was travelling to Europe anyway to meet with the Board of Directors to discuss different strategic directions for the new chapter. The message from the organizers then reached him, with a video showing a public invitation at the August 1st demonstration. The travel of members of an international organization to attend a joint meeting is not subject to COVID travel restrictions, so Kennedy’s visit to Berlin was perfectly legitimate. A speech by the famous lawyer was obviously a perfect opportunity to both announce the launch of the association and to convey a strong message of freedom and democracy to the German public.
Querdenken: a movement to defend democracy
Querdenken or “think differently” is the name of the organization behind the protest. It’s a non-partisan movement that brings together citizens shocked by the deprivations of freedoms imposed on German citizens with the onset of the coronavirus crisis. The movement challenges the legitimacy of containment and the imposition of mask-wearing, as well as the testing or tracking measures associated with the pandemic agenda, believing that these are disproportionate and do not justify the infringement of individual freedoms. It also contests the way in which these regulations are made, their lack of transparency, the lack of respect for the debate, and the absence of a vote.
Created on the initiative of Michael Ballweg, a computer scientist from Stuttgart, the Querdenken initiative quickly spread to many cities, leading to the development of a resistance network across Germany, with demonstrations in several major cities. The association was organized in a partnership between some fifty lawyers, several hundred doctors led by Dr. Heiko Schoning and the network “ACU2020,” which demands independence from the medical and scientific communities and independent media and influencers of social networks. Coming from all social and political backgrounds, their common goal is to provide a strong, reasoned, but also resolutely peaceful and democratic response by using all legitimate means under the law, which they feel is threatened.
An innumerable crowd
As soon as Berlin’s ban on the demonstration was announced, the media attempted to dissuade the public from reaching the capital. Many buses planned from abroad cancelled scheduled trips. But the announcement of Kennedy’s arrival reinforced more than ever the will of the German public to join an event that promised to be historic. Protesters poured in early in the day and more than 3,000 police were deployed in the city. They carried out numerous roadblocks and pushed back several dozen buses arriving in the city to prevent the various processions from making it to the protest. In several streets, protesters were surrounded and “confined” for hours without being allowed to move.
Fortunately, things remained peaceful, and many attendees, including some of Ghandi’s followers, began to sing ‘Liebe polizei macht die strasse frei’ or “dear policemen free the street,” and some began to meditate while patiently accepting the situation.
How many people were actually there? According to the official press, 38,000. But everyone who was in Berlin that day knows that hundreds of thousands of people populated the capital to take part in the event. As the police prevented some of the processions from joining the crowd at the victory column, the participants couldn’t be counted as a single, compact mass. But the journey of the crowd gathered around forty podiums and rebroadcast screens, as well as in dozens of alleys and nearby streets suggests that there were certainly more than a million people in Berlin that day.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. the new ‘Berliner’
Could one find a stronger symbol than the presence of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to defend fundamental freedoms in the face of a new totalitarian agenda? In June 1963, two years after the construction of the Berlin Wall, Kennedy’s uncle, President John F. Kennedy, had come to reaffirm American support in response to the Communist threat. In his very memorable speech, he said, “There are many people in the world who do not understand or claim to not understand what is the great difference between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin!” The President concluded his speech with these words: “All free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin and therefore, as a free man, I am proud to utter these words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.”
Decades later, we could almost have repeated the same discourse. Although Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. did not use the term “communism,” it was an authoritarian, totalitarian and Orwellian society that he condemned. Corruption, censorship, oppression, collusion, deprivation of liberty—he did not mince his words in describing the international agenda that is being put in place in response to the pandemic, evoking mandatory vaccination, the establishment of 5G, and the transition to a digital currency and surveillance society.
The crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative of this historic moment. For those in Berlin and for millions of Internet users around the world, Kennedy raised awareness and uttered the words of courage and hope that millions of people had been waiting to hear.
Dream or reality? None of this has appeared in the German or international mainstream media! One is simply stunned by the fact that the media and the authorities dared to put forward a figure as ridiculous as 38,000 people in attendance, while there are millions sharing images testifying to the gigantic scale of this gathering. It is even more so, when we see that they have tried to make a peaceful crowd of a million people look like “extremists” and “opponents of democracy.” Daily Kos, an American web newspaper, one of the few to mention Kennedy’s presence, even headlined “The anti-vaccine Robert Kennedy, Jr. joined the neo-Nazis in Berlin,” claiming that he had joined an event organized by far-right organizations and anti-Semitic groups.
Kennedy immediately reacted with a letter demanding a retraction of the article and a public apology for the damages incurred. The letter reminds us that you only have to listen to his speech and look at the images of the crowd with portraits of Ghandi, flags for peace, love and democracy to know that the protest was quite the opposite of the publication’s portrayal.
A staged assault
Government officials and mainstream media revelled in an “unacceptable incident” described as a violent assault on the Reichstag (parliament). It shows only a few dozen activists rushing up the steps of the building and waving flags, but the images show no form of violence. And keen observers have detailed the incident which appears to have been set up to obtain “scandalous” images in order to harshly condemn the protesters.
What actually happened? Some witnesses reported seeing teams of journalists coming straight out of police stations, while acolytes placed on nearby rooftops orchestrated the maneuver. A few minutes earlier, several sovereignist activists had excited the crowd and urged the public to occupy the steps of parliament by shouting in megaphones phrases including: “Trump is here!” “He has just signed an end-of-occupation treaty.” “The police took off their helmets, they stopped guarding the parliament.” “Let’s sit on the steps of parliament to celebrate and show Trump that our people are finally free.” This false news then provoked a brief crowd movement on the steps of the Reichstag, which reflected a demonstration of joy (unjustified), not an attack from neo-Nazi groups.
Trump was not in Berlin that day and the incident was pure invention. To understand the context of this scene, which may seem surreal, it is necessary to know that Germany is officially still under the control of the Allies, and especially the Americans, and that many German citizens feel that it is time to get rid of this arrangement. According to them, the German constitution would not be legitimate, since it is not the result of the will of the people, but the result of an external authority, that of the Allies. This reflection, which is not only symbolic, arises in particular in the context of a legal controversy between Germany and Europe over the role of central banks and the independence of nations in the European institutional framework.
Unfortunately, this claim, which seems legitimate to a non-partisan popular citizen movement, is also echoed by far-right parties. Therefore, it is understandable that the organizers of these events start each by clearly distinguishing themselves from any political movement, any form of extremism or any racist ideology. This is why the government and the international alliance that supports it are all the more determined to make citizens’ movements look like those of Nazis.
Unfortunately, images are enough to embroider a scenario that serves the interests of the political class and diverts the public’s attention from the fact that one million people came to protest against the liberticidal measures of the pandemic. The only thing being reported on all the television channels is that “the demonstration ended in violence and the security forces had to intervene to disperse the extremists who stormed the Reichstag.” Who knows, this umpteenth betrayal of the media may end up opening the eyes of many people.
Protection or repression?
While the organizers took the trouble to publicly thank the police services with whom they had painstakingly prepared a security plan, much of the public refused to applaud them. It later became known that numerous police violence incidents took place against peaceful men and women who had shown no aggression or resistance. Filmed by the crowd, more than a dozen videos show similar scenes where three to four GIGN-style robocops pushed people to the ground and some people were beaten as well. These images, which also evoke police violence against yellow vests in France and around the world, were a shock to many German citizens and some of the police. More and more, military and police officers are choosing to publicly express their disagreement with the policies being imposed by authorities.
History has given Berliners the ability to distinguish truth from propaganda and freedom from dictatorship. All the people we met expressed their suffering at growing up with the weight of the shame of Nazism and the fear of Communism. Accepting freedom-killing measures again and the imposition of a totalitarian regime, whatever the reason, are simply not conceivable. Millions of Germans want to defend their rights and freedoms peacefully and in accordance with democratic rules. The Berlin demonstration could be a key moment, a moment of awakening consciences around the world. Berliners put forth a strong message: The time has come to show that it is possible to abandon governance based on fear, control and discrimination, and that we can all move forward together in a free and open world, a world that is above all, human.