On the main day of the G7 summit in Elmau, one thing is clear: the widely announced protests are well on the way to turning into nice traveling events. This is particularly evident in the bizarre summit events in Mittenwald.
Monday morning 10.20 a.m., Mittenwald, Upper Bavaria. The sun burns over the Karwendel mountains. Anyone who hasn’t seen the last German train station before the Austrian border for a few years rubs their eyes. Instead of a dim beer hall atmosphere, an American-looking loft-style café surprises. Three Italians are sitting at the tables outside, one sipping his macchiato. His look says: “Mhh, buono…”
The trio works in one of the nine restaurants in Schloss Elmau. The dignified building is the venue for the G7 summit, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is hosting there at this hour. The Italians are constantly looking at four or five dozen police officers who are spread all over the station square. Every few minutes, they and their bikes move one step further in the direction of the station café.
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The police officers are here because the “Stop G7” group, which has set up a protest camp in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, wants to start a bicycle march at 10 a.m. 100 activists are announced. In the end there are only four; and only two go at all.
On the main day of the G7 summit, which has undoubtedly already gone down in summit history because of Putin’s war against Ukraine, what had become apparent in Munich and Garmisch on the previous days seems to be continuing in a bizarre way: that the huge protest, the announced against the meeting of the seven most powerful economies is about to collapse.
“I’m definitely not on the side of the demonstrators,” says Bernd Seidler. Especially not on those of the “Black Block”, adds the 76-year-old, who runs a small pension. But on Sunday, when they came together for a demo in Mittenwald, everything was a little different. “35 demonstrators, ten times as many police officers. I really felt sorry for them.”
3,000 had been expected by the police for the central anti-G7 demo in Garmisch on Sunday afternoon, they finally counted 800. The organizers spoke of 2000. But the demo of the G7 critics at the weekend in Germany’s most luxurious skiing and hiking metropolis set new standards.
It was completely different at the 2008 G8 summit in Heiligendamm: Russia with Vladimir Putin was still there at the time. At the opening event on the Baltic Sea in nearby Rostock, the police had named 25,000 opponents and the organizers 80,000. The real value was probably somewhere in the middle. At that time, 2,000 were solely attributable to the “Black Block”. They fought heavy street battles with 5,000 police officers, and there were numerous injuries.
And at the main demo of the second Elmauer G7 summit in Garmisch? Apart from the ignition of two pyrotechnic smoke guns and a single-digit number of minor violations of the requirements of the demonstration march and a lot of passionate shouting, there were no special incidents.
The oversized police presence, which has dominated life in the Werdenfelser Land around Schloss Elmau since June 19, even in the smallest villages and hamlets, has certainly contributed significantly to the fact that almost nothing has happened in the vicinity of the summit so far. 18,000 police officers from all over Germany are on site to secure the summit. The preparations for this have been going on since December, and the Free State of Bavaria will initially pay 200,000 overnight stays only for the civil servants.
A young red-haired demonstrator, who came all the way from Munich to take part in the central summit protest demonstration through the luxurious inner city of Garmisch, sees it the same way. “And I believe that many citizens will not support us this time because they are unsure about their opinion of the war in Ukraine,” said the Munich resident.
Has Putin’s war against Ukraine, which violates international law, developed into an obstacle to the traditional left-wing resistance to everything capitalistic? Possibly reinforced by the third year of Corona? And “garnished” by unleashed inflation, from which everyone is also suffering?
The May Day demonstrations in Berlin, which traditionally begin with violent attacks against the police and escalate into chaotic battles with the police, were comparatively quiet this year. The Berlin police even spoke of the “most peaceful May demonstrations in years”.
As far as the “Stop G7” campaign and the protest camp on the Loisach in Garmisch are concerned, a look at the program is enough to see that a certain tiredness has spread even among the heads of the organized G7 resistance. Only in the title of the first route of five does the word “demo” appear at all. Points two to four read like hiking recommendations from the municipal tourism offices in Garmisch and Mittenwald for vacationers.
In any case, the rigid security concept for the G7 summit in Elmau seems to be working like it did in 2015. Even criticism of the costs, which are already estimated at almost 170 million euros, has been surprisingly little heard in the past few days and weeks.
Anyone who has never seen a police officer on duty, grinning and taking a selfie of themselves in front of a lush green meadow with haystacks and happy cows, could perhaps catch up on the last few meters of the summit. They are everywhere.
The locals have somehow gotten used to the sirens and the flashing lights, with which the police cars “rush through Mittenwald at excessive speed”, says a hotelier to FOCUS Online. Even if it’s a bit strange that after they braking in the parking lot with squeaky tires, then getting out of the car without any haste to stroll leisurely to an ice cream parlour.