Germany: A Government, Failing The Minimum Requirements Of Humanity
BERLIN — It took chancellor Merkel one year to meet the survivors and the families of the victims of the Berlin Christmas Market terror attack at last.
Parts of the German press have found unusually strong words for her conduct and the statement that she made. Watch her statement on video, and read on for the commentaries.
Below are a full translation from Cicero, and a translation from n-tv in excerpts.
1. An original translation from conservative monthly Cicero:
Remembrance at Breitscheidplatz
A Disruption Of Business Operations
by Alexander Kissler
December 19, 2017
One year ago there was an Islamist attack on Berlin Breitscheidplatz that took twelve lives. At the memorial service it became clear: Angela Merkel can’t speak, because she has nothing to say. She offers empathy under reserve.
Would David Allen be happy with Angela Merkel? The American management consultant is considered the inventor of the Getting-Things-Done method. His books are called “Getting Things Done”, “Making It All Work” or “Ready For Anything!”. Coach Allen writes like the German chancellor purportedly thinks. But the difference is palpable: the things that Merkel wants to get done slip out of her hands, because people aren’t things.
It has been noted on several occasions, and justly so, that the chancellor is hostile towards the German language. Talking is not her thing, because, in the end, she has nothing to say — nothing that would be beyond the scope of her operational self-reference, which announces: Here I stand, you are looking at me, so I may as well talk. Merkel’s sentences are sentences that you forgot, even before she has completed them, and you’d await their completion in vain. Politics means — in Merkel’s own words — “make things better”, “make things better that didn’t go well.” The last big thing was the Islamist attack on the Breitscheidplatz Berlin, where one year ago today twelve people were murdered.
“She had met an Imam at whose mosque an explosive device had been thrown, one week after the explosion”
An act of terror, too, is one of the many things that a chancellor has got to deal with. She does so visibly grudgingly, evidenced not least by the year she let pass, before she embarked upon a meeting “that is very important to me”. This is what the chancellor announced upon request, and without visibly blushing, last Monday after the CDU executive committee meeting. And she continued: “I know that some would have preferred for such a meeting to have taken place earlier. But it is important to me that I again make it clear today how much we feel with the families and with the injured.” And she added, formally correct, that by the way the Federal President was the “Head of State”, and he had met the victims already “at the beginning of the year”. Don’t push us, is what this means, we are Germany, we are following a protocol. Exceptions confirm the rule. She had met an imam at whose mosque an explosive device had been thrown one week after the explosion, in which, by the way, no one was harmed.
Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert on Twitter: “Chancellor #Merkel spoke with family of the imam whose mosque in Dresden was attacked last week with a bomb.”
The divergent reaction times are characteristic of the political style of a chancellor who sets crude priorities where humanity is called for. Wherever you look, whether logic or faculty of language, there is an abyss opening up, concealing a vacuous center. The “but” alone, between the expectations of “some” — in fact, nearly everyone, except herself — and her own delay in action, is apocalyptic. Misery nests in this “but”: as if her own, weak-sounding “sympathies” were in contrast to the compassion expected by her critics. No, the true contrast is between empathy and the refusal of empathy, between responsiveness and Merkel. It is a bold-faced joke “that we feel and suffer with the people” (Merkel), if these people have been treated, for a year, or rather, are still being treated, as a disruption of business operations.
“It is a bold-faced joke that [she] feels and suffers with the people”
Onlookers of a Process Machine
Merkel prefers things to people, and what she appreciates about people is their thingness, because people stand in the way of political processes. Where smoothness is the highest aim, people, convictions, principles, are a nuisance. These three, all of them, are just onlookers in Merkel’s process machine. Her pale acknowledgement “how much we want to make things better” culminated in Merkel’s referring the insight of victim commissioner Kurt Beck that “a whole list of things” were “inadequate”, and “here, we will also support this with all our strength.” Is this the same strength with which the federal government will support the deportation of Islamic risks, and send rejected asylum seekers out of the country? The dead of Breitscheidplatz would still be alive if the German authorities had worked professionally. The fact that “with all their strength” no one is taking responsibility for this gives Merkel’s will “to make that better which didn’t go well” a taste as bitter as gall.
“The terror will remain, don’t look at me like that.”
What is going to be streamlined is the dealing with the victims after the crime — not their protection. Merkel lets it be known: The terror will remain, don’t look at me like that. New offices, departments and printed forms will register the victims of the next Islamist attack more quickly, will supervise them better. Surely, someone is working on a new printed form T — T as in “terror victim” — right now: which body parts did you lose completely, which in part (please specify degree)? How close were you to the victim? Would you like to be assisted religiously, or neutrally? Do you have life insurance? Do you own real estate? Is your tax-free savings allowance exhausted?
Empathy under Reserve
Merkel said today, after the short memorial service at the Breitscheidplatz, that she would “work on making things better that didn’t go well, that we will do everything humanly possible, not just to guarantee safety, but to give people whose lives were destroyed […] the possibility to get back into life as good as possible.” So, according to this, these people were trapped in an intermediate realm between life and death, and the chancellor didn’t care until now, when she intends to pull the bark from the Acheron. Does she really think she will still find people there? Is she still hoping for things she can regulate, so that she won’t have to speak about them?
“A government, failing the minimum requirements of humanity”
After the CDU executive committee meeting yesterday, Merkel concluded: “This suffering, this total change of one’s own life, cannot be amended. But we nevertheless show empathy, and will also, where things need to be bettered, better them.” While the wrong “But” in the beginning was an abyss, the wrong “Nevertheless” in the end is a capitulation. A government, in the person of the head of state, failing the minimum requirements of humanity. The “nevertheless” makes the human measure an act of mercy. It implies that the government is lowering itself to an action that is objectively pointless; it makes the reversibility of what has happened a condition of empathy. This may rightfully be called shabby. True empathy is when you know that you can’t change the bitter things that have happened. In Merkel’s statement, empathy is under reserve.
Are the dead of Merkel’s Breitscheidplatz dead? There are divergent opinions on that. We know now, however, that the bereaved of the Breitscheidplatz are her bereaved.
2. An original translation (excerpt) from the news broadcaster n-tv:
December 19, 2017
Merkel’s Lack Of Empathy
A commentary by Thomas Schmoll
The chancellor met the victims of the Berlin terror attack too late. Her behaviour suits the catastrophic performance of several authorities. It is disgraceful. She should look at Helmut Schmidt as an example.
Angela Merkel stays true to herself, also in mourning. On the day when she finally was to meet the victims and the bereaved of the terror attack of Berlin Breitscheidplatz, she declared in a typical wooden manner: “It is important to me that I make it clear once again today how much we feel with the families and with the injured, how much we also want to make things better.”
These “things” that she wants to tweak are the demands that the government’s victim commissioner, Kurt Beck, lists in his final report. He says: “I have repeatedly brought the hints that I received to the attention of the chancellery.” Merkel could have long ago tackled improving “things”. But exactly that is not her thing, especially not in an election year. And yet the CDU chief had said about the dead, shortly after the terror attack on December 19, 2016: “It is they to whom we owe our best work.”
“Merkel did not offer an explanation for her long reluctance to invite these people to the chancellery, or to send them condolences at least.”
Despite this promise, the head of government waited until few days before the anniversary of the attack to have Beck explain to her what Germany lacks. And yet it is her very own duty to set the direction and guidelines. “I know that some would have wished for such a meeting earlier,” Merkel admitted at a press conference few hours before meeting the victims. But she did not offer an explanation for her long reluctance to invite these people, for whom she professed empathy, to the chancellery, or to send them condolences at least. The head of government also refrained from a public apology, for which the survivors and the families of the murdered had been hoping.
“I want to tell Mrs. Merkel that she has got the blood of my son on her hands.”
Beck might be right when he supposes that it surely “was no ill intent” on Merkel’s part that the meeting took place as late as now. But what was it then? There must be a reason which is neither “evil” nor “good”? A busy schedule? The federal election campaign? Shame? Fear of the anger of the victims? Or of accusations like that of the mother of the Polish truck driver [Lukasz Urban], whom the Islamist Anis Amri killed to seize his truck? The grieving mother declared: “ I want to tell Mrs. Merkel that she has got the blood of my son on her hands.”