A new ZDF documentary examines whether Germany would be well prepared for various disaster scenarios. The reporters give our civil defense a bad report.

What if it happens? Germany has not had to ask itself this question in the event of a disaster or even war for many years. Then came the corona pandemic and Russia’s war against Ukraine and suddenly all these scenarios are very real again. What can Germany or politics actually do if, for example, there is a war or another catastrophe? An issue of the ZDF documentary series “Die Spur” investigated this question: “Bunkers, sirens, supplies – how does the state protect us in the event of a crisis?” And let’s put it this way: the result is anything but reassuring.

The research begins with the realization that since the beginning of the war, many people have been interested in bunkers that were decommissioned in Germany. Whether for private or public purposes – the government stopped sales to private individuals after the beginning of the war. The ZDF reporter looks at a bunker in Berlin, which is now only a museum to remind you of the Cold War era. Could the facility be reactivated in case of an emergency? The beds are old and dusty and the most important instrument, the air filter system, was last serviced in 2002. If all available bunkers in Germany were reactivated, there would be space for almost half a million people.

Emergency food supplies are also being examined. Filming is not allowed in the camps, but there are official figures on how much is set aside for such an emergency. For example, 700,000 tons of wheat, rye and oats and 125,000 tons of rice, legumes and condensed milk. The responsible Federal Office for Nutrition does not say exactly how long these supplies will last – the documentary says between several days and weeks. That depends on the disaster, calming looks different.

Many of us will still remember Thomas de Maizière’s legendary sentence: “Some of these answers would unsettle the population.” In the documentary he now has his say again to talk about the time back then and how civil protection is currently presented. Current Home Secretary Nancy Faeser is also being interviewed to discuss a federal paper outlining potential disaster scenarios and plans. As Faeser himself explains, this paper is classified because the content could also be scary. The population must therefore not find out what could happen and how it is being taken care of. The documentary also takes a look at the disasters of recent years, which have not necessarily been happy: lack of material and communication breakdowns in the corona pandemic, excessive demands on the warning apps on the national warning day 2020 and the flood in the Ahr Valley. Overall, the reporters from “Die Spur” state that civil defense in Germany has been neglected and much more needs to be done.

“Bunkers, sirens, supplies – how does the state protect us in the event of a crisis?” is available in the ZDF media library.

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The original of this article “Protection catastrophe Germany – We are poorly prepared for an emergency” comes from TV Spielfilm.