For the 4th day in a row, activists of the “last generation” are keeping the capital Berlin in check with street blockades and other actions. FOCUS Online accompanied two of them – mother and daughter. Here they explain what drives them to the risky blocks.
Until just before 8 a.m., everything at the Frankfurter Tor is running as usual on this warm June day in Berlin. Traffic glides leisurely from four sides in three lanes over the wide Karl-Marx-Allee and the B96. Everything flows smoothly, the thermometer already shows 23 degrees. In the northwest, almost three kilometers away, the “asparagus” shines in the early sunlight, as Berliners verbally caress their TV tower on the Alex.
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At 8 o’clock sharp, however, the Frankfurter Tor suddenly became crowded like an anthill. Dozens of young people, mostly in shorts, T-shirts and light shoes, are suddenly pouring out of the subway shafts everywhere. As they walk, they take their backpacks off their shoulders, pull out orange protective vests and slip them on. And when the traffic lights turned green, one after the other of the around 70 activists sat down directly on the road and stuck one hand to the asphalt with superglue. And thus brings the traffic on one of the most important inner-city intersections in Berlin to a complete standstill within three or four minutes.
“What we are getting into is not without. It costs me a lot of energy and is very tiring. And I keep hesitating,” says student Lina. On Monday morning, she and her mother Solvig were even arrested by the police before the two were able to get stuck at the blockade point on the busy A100 city autobahn in western Berlin.
But Lina has no doubts about the purpose of the unauthorized roadblocks. “We are sitting here because we want Chancellor Olaf Scholz to explain that there are no more oil wells in the North Sea,” said the 20-year-old. “He ran as ‘Climate Chancellor’ in the election campaign. The coalition agreement stipulated that there would be no more oil drilling. And now they could exist after all.”
Lina and her mother Solvig refer to politicians such as Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations. The Portuguese had recently described the new climate report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a “document of shame” in April. He described the strategies of some politicians and entrepreneurs as “moral and economic madness” and warned that this would clearly set the course in the direction of an uninhabitable earth.
Experts like Sir David Attenborough, climate advisor to Queen Elizabeth II, have predicted that any decisions to reduce greenhouse gases that are not implemented in the next three or four years will make global warming unstoppable. “And that means water shortages and, in the end, war for us.” A speed limit, saving oil and free public transport would help the climate a lot. “Why is our climate chancellor Olaf Scholz doing nothing?”
As a result, Mother Solvig adds, she has also dealt more and more with scientific facts. “And they are so urgent that I went to the ‘Last Generation’. Because they are as determined as our government should be. That’s why I’m taking to the streets for myself and my kids and everyone else too.”
And since the action took place in Friedrichshain for the fourth day in a row, it was foreseeable that there would also be a lot of approval for the activists. Again and again, cyclists heading towards the city center raised their hand in victory signs or shouted “Thank you for doing this for us”.
Nevertheless, there were always scenes in which Berliners reacted angrily. “Everyone has the right to demonstrate, guaranteed by our constitution. But these demonstrators here are exploiting democracy,” says a woman in her seventies who has lived at Frankfurter Tor for 60 years. “You should have applied for it like everyone else. It certainly wouldn’t have been approved here on the street, but just where it doesn’t get in the way. People get angry when they don’t come to work or miss important appointments. It’s not OK.”
Lina Schinköthe was released after her personal details were recorded, and mother Solvig remained in custody until 3 p.m. Although the week has exhausted the two women not only because of the many hours in police custody, but also because of the rising temperatures, both do not want to give up. “We’ll be there again for the next campaign. And that is until the chancellor responds to our demands,” says Lina Schinköthe. “There are thousands of suggestions on how to reduce greenhouse gases. But they just don’t get implemented. Why?”