Racism in Berlin, Germany?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by bananajoe, Apr 3, 2005.

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  1. bananajoe macrumors newbie

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    #1
    I leave for Berlin in a week but just ran across this article. What do you guys think? Is Berlin a pretty nasty place for a non-white foreigner? This is what I was recently told by a long-time Berlin resident, who recommended a place like Hamburg or Frankfurt as being 10x more tolerant and easier for non-white minorities.

    SOUTH AFRICAN AMBASSADOR COMPLAINS OF "N*gger" SLURS IN BERLIN

    South Africa's ambassador to Germany complained Tuesday of racist
    attacks and what he termed "N*gger" slurs on the eve of a visit to
    Berlin by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

    "What scares me is the aggression aimed at foreigners," said
    Ambassador Sibusiso M. E. Bengu in an interview with the Berliner
    Kurier newspaper.

    "One of our black employees was almost killed in an attack and I am
    insulted in the streets as a 'N*gger'," he said.

    Bengu said he believed racism in Berlin was aimed at all foreigners
    but that black were easy to identify because of their skin colour.

    He called for more police protection in the German capital.

    President Mbeki arrives for a one-day visit to Berlin on Thursday
    for talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the
    country's mainly ceremonial president, Johannes Rau.

    The main issues will be moves to bolster African regional
    cooperation and the battle against HIV/AIDS, said a statement by
    the German government.
     
  2. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #2
    Berlin is less internationally cosmopolitan than other German cities so is also less tolerant.

    From visits there and talking to friends who live there, I know there is some tension in parts of the old East Berlin but I'd thought it was mainly with Turks who'd moved into the area.
     
  3. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #3
    Unfortunately-just like here in the USA, problems like this exist everywhere. I also knew about the Turkish thing, but didn't notice any problems firsthand myself. I'd say you'll be OK over there bananajoe. I believe Germany has some immigration problems, but I also think most people are cool.
     
  4. jamdr macrumors 6502a

    jamdr

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    #4
    Racist and anti-Semitic sentiment in Europe is generally higher than it is in the United States I think. Based on my own experiences and articles I've read on the subject, it is troubling how much it is tolerated. For example, at soccer games in many countries (including England, Spain, and Italy from what I've seen), fans (as in most everyone in a stadium of 50,000) will make monkey noises, shout out racial slurs, and throw bananas on the field when Black players have the ball. I've also been told certain players make Nazi salutes when they score goals. In the UK, a very far-right and openly racist political party, the British National Party, has been getting more and more votes in recent years. For more information on the GNP, see this wikipedia entry.
     
  5. bananajoe thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    I'm not really worried about physical violence (although I suppose I may get jumped by neo-nazis if I wander into the wrong area), but I am moving there for at least one year. So I think little things would start to add up if indeed the experience of this South African ambassador is any indication. In some ways, it's actually kind of outrageous that a foreign dignitary and diplomats would get verbally and physically assaulted in a capital city of Germany because of their race. You would think all Germans would have learned from their mistakes by now.

    Certainly, I don't think this would happen in Paris, London, or Washington D.C.....or would it?
     
  6. groovebuster macrumors 65816

    groovebuster

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    #6
    Interesting how people talk about the city I am living in since I am born... and show that they don't know anything about it except the same old stereotypes...

    groovebuster
     
  7. Hydra macrumors regular

    Hydra

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    #7
    I live currently in Hamburg myself and there seem to be really alot of non native Germans around here.
     
  8. bananajoe thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Are you a black African or Vietnamese storeowner groovebuster? I certainly don't think the South African Ambassador (or the diplomat who was beaten) are *lying* about what they face on a daily basis. And I don't think the Vietnamese store owner who was beaten hit himself with baseball bats.

    This article made me absolutely furious and is making me seriously re-consider my decision to move to Berlin. Perhaps I'll go to Hamburg instead after all.


    "For five years we have been running this snack bar and there's never been any trouble," the 38-year-old Vietnamese immigrant says as she wraps a veal doner kebab in foil and hands it to a customer with what she hopes passes for a smile.

    "But I'm terrified now, after what happened to my husband the other evening."

    It was right here, at the Euro Imbiss snack bar at the corner of Rudower and Glienicker streets in Berlin, that her 40-year-old husband was attacked by neo-Nazi thugs.

    "He was closing up the stand," she recalls tearfully. "And I was closing up the flower stand I run to help make ends meet. And that was when they ..." but she cannot finish the sentence.

    Three young men in hobnail boots, jeans and bomber jackets drunkenly approached the stand, demanding he give them beer - free of charge.


    Neo-Nazi street violence has been on the increase since the start of the year.
    When the vendor politely refused, the trio hauled him out from behind his stand and cracked his skull with a baseball bat. Twice.

    As he lay on the pavement, the three neo-Nazis repeatedly kicked him while his wife wailed and screamed for help.

    The Vietnamese snack vendor is in hospital with numerous fractures and a concussion, lucky to be alive.

    The story was consigned to Page 19 of one of the local newspapers, sharing space with a colour story about an influx of wild rabbits in the city's Tiergarten park.


    German neo-Nazis: impressed by al-Qaeda's success
    Not big news in Berlin.

    "Neo-Nazi street violence has been on the increase since the start of the year," says Kathrin Kalauch, a social worker in the district. "An Asian schoolboy was stabbed in this neighbourhood just two weeks ago."

    And yet the isolated incidents attract little notice because neo-Nazis in Germany appear to be changing their tactics, according to federal investigators.

    Aside from the random attacks, generally by inebriated youths, there is a growing awareness in the radical right-wing element that there are lessons to be learned from the radical left - and from Islamic terrorists.

    "Instead of a rigid top-down leadership hierarchy, they are increasingly adopting the principal of leaderless resistance," says neo-Nazi expert Thomas Grumke.

    It is the sort of "leaderless resistance" that is the hallmark of the al-Qaeda network of loosely connected terrorist cells.

    It is a variation of a tactic propagated a decade ago by American neo-Nazi Louis Beam. For German neo-Nazis, with their traditional fixation on a "Fuehrer" who tells his underlings what to do, it marks a radical departure.


    Instead of a top-down leadership, they are increasingly adopting the principal of leaderless resistance.
    Utilising the leaderless resistance concept, all individuals and cells operate independently of each other, and never report to a central headquarters or single leader for direction or instruction, as would those who belong to a typical pyramid organisation.

    As unlikely as such an organisation might seem, the "success" of al-Qaeda terrorists has prompted German neo-Nazis to review their strategy, says Grumke, who has written books on the neo-Nazi movements in Europe and America and who sees alarming parallels in Germany.

    "In a way, German neo-Nazis are rediscovering a concept they discarded years ago as unviable, the Werewolf Concept right after the war," notes Grumke, who has lectured at the Freie University in the Kennedy Institute in Berlin.

    "But the difference is that the underground Werewolf Cadres were under orders from a Werewolf Command Staff, the leaderless resistance concept envisions autonomous cadres operating independently."

    Federal investigators in Germany are taking this new concept seriously, according to a report in Berliner Zeitung newspaper. It cites BKA Federal Criminal Investigation Office sources as saying it is increasingly difficult to infiltrate neo-Nazi groups.

    "Structurally organised terrorism is simply much easier to combat because one is able to infiltrate the upper echelons," a source was quoted as saying.

    "But it is almost impossible to go up against the activities of fanatic individuals or autonomous cells which may have a completely clean vest until they launch their big attack."

    April 2004
     
  9. groovebuster macrumors 65816

    groovebuster

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    #9
    OK... so before people ask for more detailed information regarding my statement, I'll give it in advance...
    And the background of this person is?

    In every city you have areas with problems of different kinds. Racism is one of them and it is not an exclusive problem in Berlin but in every major city.

    All over the world you have areas in big (and also small) cities where you shouldn't go when you have the wrong skin color. Bananajoe, you are from New York, so especially you should know what I am talking about...

    Berlin is the city in Europe with the most different nationalities living together (far more than a hundred). So it is THE multi-cultural city in Europe.

    Sorry, but that's BS...

    I don't see why it is so different? First it would be interesting when exactly (and in which situation) it happened. Normally you can't really see if somebody is a diplomat or not. So the attack was aimed againts a perosn with a dark skin color, not against him as a diplomat.

    Be careful with statements like that. It is arrogant and narrow-minded. In every country there are stupid people who will never learn. Again you should look at the place where you were living the last few years (the US).

    No, it is not. You have little groups of idiots expressing their misleaded opinion openly. But compared to the subtile always immanent racism I experienced especially in the USA it is close to nothing. I base this statement on my own experiences and on the experiences of many freinds who lived in the US for a while.

    A little example... One of my friends studied music in Berkeley. In the first few days when he was new at the campus, he was sitting on a bench when a black girl came by (she was looking for a place to sit as well). He offered her to sit with him because he wanted to be friendly. The girl looked at him and yelled "**** you!" and then walked away. Afterwards he asked a friend about what happened and he explained to him that she probably was offended by his offer, because normally no white guy would offer a black person a seat like this. She most likely thought he was making fun of her.

    I think open racism is way less a problem, because you know what you are dealing with. But this kind of racism, the not outspoken one is way worse.

    Don't worry about Berlin, it is a cool place. But Berlin has really bad economical problems these days (20% of unemployement in the area). Just don't mistake the really bad mood of many people (they have to fight for theis survival at the moment) with racism. If their is a multicultural city, it is Berlin...

    groovebuster
     
  10. groovebuster macrumors 65816

    groovebuster

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    #10
    No, I am white, but my wife is Canadian (partially native American), my sister-in-law is jewish and many of my friends are of asian, south-american or african decent. None of them was beaten up so far because of their "not arian" looks...

    You are totally exaggerating. I think racism in many parts of the US is way worse than in Germany (and also Berlin).

    If you don't want to move to Berlin... I couldn't care less. Your decision.

    groovebuster
     
  11. bananajoe thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    groovebuster,

    I fail to see how racist attacks in Berlin, namely, a South African ambassador saying he gets called a "******" on the streets, his own employee being beaten by presumably skinheads, and a Vietnamese storeowner getting almost killed with baseball bats...have anything to do with the subtle racism of the U.S.?

    How does attacking the racism in the U.S. make Berlin any less racist?

    And because your "friends" haven't been beaten by skinheads, therefore Berlin has no such problem? That's great logic.

    It's not narrow-minded to say that all Germans should have learned a lesson from their past. Just like all Americans should also learn the lessons of history. IF not, you'll be doomed to repeat them.
     
  12. wrc fan macrumors 65816

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    #12
    I don't think he's exagerating, I think it's more the news exagerating. The news does the same thing here in the US. It's a fact that murder and crime is not on the rise, but it is reported more in the news now. I'd guess it's the same goes with racism. There must've been thousands of black people killed by the kkk back in the day, but how many of those are reported? But there's one black guy beaten by the LAPD because he's on drugs and resisting arrest and it's all over the news. I know now I'm starting to exagerate. Anyway, my point is take what's reported in the news with a grain of salt.
     
  13. mcadam macrumors 6502a

    mcadam

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    Arh, c'mon Bananajoe... last week you were all happy and excited and on your way to Berlin. One week later you have stumbled across one newspaper article and now you wanna change your plan. That sounds like a bit of travel anxiety to me.

    And then you wanna go to Hamburg instead - do you really think there's no problems with racism and violence in Hamburg just because you haven't heard about it in the news.

    I know around 10 people who've been living in Berlin for longer periods (4-12 months) and 5-6 locals there. And NONE of them have ever been harassed by violent neo-nazis. I think that even if you were a black jewish storeowner you could spend a year in Berlin without problems. After all there are hundreds of thousands of people in that city who'll fit that discription more or less.

    Off course there are racists in Berlin, it's a city of 5-6 mill. people. I'm sure even the lonely planet-guide will tell you which (poor) areas (in former east-berlin with high unemployment) not to go to at night, to be sure not run into a bunch neo nazi skins. I'm also sure there are parts of NY you don't go to at night.

    And on a sidenote, if you studied the subject a bit more carefully, I think you'll find that Germany has learned a great deal from history. But, as in all countries, there's still plenty of idiots around.
    A bit of advice: don't insult people you're just about to visit, it's really impolite. And promoting superficial opinions like that while you're there will only make you look like just another American besserwisser.

    Berlin is still a wonderfull city, get over your anxiety and enjoy your trip.


    Now this is just plain stupid:
    So, based on your own experiences (oh you make me laugh) and articles, in many countries in Europe it is tolerated that stadiums filled with 50.000 people will all make monkey noises and throw bananas at black players (tell me - is this based on experience or articles). And that certain players make nazi salutes whenever they score (Yes, this has happened - ONCE, very famous incident performed by di Canio playing for Lazio not so long ago) !!!!!
    You really need to get out of the bay area more often.

    Abesserwisser
     
  14. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #14
    Although the problem has mostly disappeared from England, let's have a brief look at when England played Spain in Madrid recently.
    http://www.google.com/search?as_q=e...l&as_occt=any&as_dt=i&as_sitesearch=&safe=off
     
  15. mcadam macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    It's true it happens and that it's a problem. It's also true that when it happens on this scale, it makes headlines immediately and is not at all "widely tolerated".

    A
     
  16. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #16
    The most multicultural city in Europe is London, which is also 2nd in the world.

    The most multicultural is Toronto, Canada.

    And just to add...... I'm Chinese and during my 4 days in Munich, I felt that people were slightly racist towards me on 2 separate occasions (although I forget how.....it was a few years ago). Having travelled to 30+ countries and many capital cities, I can assure you that this isn't the way I feel in ALL major or capital cities.

    I was fine in London. I have always been great in Toronto. Sydney is okay as well, although people treat you like an idiot sometimes when they see you're asian (which is a bit of stereotyping, I guess, but not enough to make me angry).

    I had a chance to move to Germany for a few years for Uni, but I was a bit turned off from my memory of my trip to Munich. Sorry. :eek:

    But I had no problems in Frankfurt, although it was boring as sin.
     
  17. groovebuster macrumors 65816

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    Me neither, I didn't say that there is a correlation. I just pointed out that the things you were mentioning were single incidents that can happen anywhere in the world and that overall racism in Berlin (and Germany) is way lower than in other parts of the world.

    It was a comparison to show that racism overall is way less of a problem over here. I am surprised that it is so hard to get what I was targeting at... :confused:

    First I don't see why you are writing the word friends in quotation marks. Are you implying something by that? If so it can't be something positive...

    You really don't get it, huh? Things like that happen everywhere in the world. I am a local and I just pointed out that this problem (how you call it) is exaggerated by the media and that incidents like that are not daily routine in how people live together in Berlin. The question was not if these things happen but if a racist motivation is part of daily life in Berlin (and common with the average citizen). And it is not. My wife lives in Berlin since 5 years, she never experienced any racism against her during that time (and she doesn't look typical german). My sister-in-law is jewish and lived for years in Berlin and never had any problems (her father comes from Israel, so she looks more "arabic"). Most of the other people were born here in Berlin (or Germany) and so they are living for 20, 30 or more years here by now. I think that my environment is a good indicator if there is a real problem with racism in this city or not and that I can tell you way more about the situation in this city than any single newspaper report of a journalist looking for a new headline story.

    Mankind definetely is always repeating the bad things in history... What's the news?

    groovebuster
     
  18. Zaty macrumors 65816

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    #18
    I guess most if not all western countries have problems with racism. The only difference is that in certain places the problem is prevalent than in others. I guess it's not fair make a judgement wether a city has lots of racists or not when you just went there for a few days. I believe you can make bad experiences in every major city. Unfortunately, racism is a global problem and not limited to certain cities or countries.
     
  19. groovebuster macrumors 65816

    groovebuster

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    Says who? ;)

    We were talking about Berlin in particular and not Munich, right?

    I also experienced racist sentiment in a few situations because I am German when I was travelling other countries. The interesting part is that (when talking english) my accent doesn't expose me as a german right away. People can't really hear where I am coming from. Only after I told them that I am from Germany they started to act "funny"... or even called me a Nazi right away. Mostly that happened in Canada and the US, but also in France, Poland and Italy and a few other countries...

    It is not that I liked it but I also don't make a big fuzz out of it. I just know that things like that can happen. Intolerance (unfortunately) and ignorance are part of human nature. My overall experience in these countries was still mostly positive.

    groovebuster
     
  20. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    The UN.

    New York is 3rd, in case you want to know.


    And while your wife has had no problems, people who are clear visible minorities are in a different situation than your wife, even if she's partly native American. Europeans who travel to Germany probably have less racial problems than a black guy from Africa. Not to say that a French guy in Germany isn't a minority in Germany, but the racial problems associated with this are different.

    Its like my 2 friends who said they were afraid of the police because they were minority (one is Italian, and the other is Jewish and doesn't look anything but "white"). I just laughed, as I'm the one who clearly stand out like a sore thumb. :rolleyes:

    What race is BananaJoe, anyway?
     
  21. groovebuster macrumors 65816

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    Do you have a link?

    And what about all the other people I know who are not "white" and living here since a long time? (As I mentioned before in another post?)
    I can just repeat what I said before, I don't know of any racist sentiment towards them so far... and be sure that they would tell me right away...

    groovebuster
     
  22. 5300cs macrumors 68000

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    Well that's Boston for you :rolleyes: As my hometown I know that Boston has a lot of racial tension (still.)

    I've had similar situations but instead of being yelled at, the people laughed and said "Please, I ain't sittin' next to no cracker" or something similar.

    If you want to visit a racist country, take a trip to Japan sometime.
     
  23. blue_monkey macrumors member

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    #23
    i didn't even read the whole thread but i just want to add that i can assure you that germany is not racist at all. acutally i think it's a country that treats poeple equal no matter how you look like. with a few people beeing the exception but seriously i bet some of the people in america are racist too. there's racism in every country but racism in germany really is NOT very big.
     
  24. groovebuster macrumors 65816

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  25. takao macrumors 68040

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    #25
    other info about hamburg: you might get controlled more often
    as a black person by the police, simply because the 2 dominating drug-dealing gangs/groups in hamburg are mostly hiring ilegal immigrant from african countries (well that's what i saw on tv..i've never been either city)

    idiots exist everywhere though ... one girl from my class go called a "nazi" in the UK simply because she was speaking german (yeah a small 15 year old girl )... for a lot of people that's perhaps the most hurting insult possible over here..

    other ... nearly comical side: i know somebody from italy personally who nearly got beaten up here in Austria simply because he was wearing a "Lonsdale" pullover and had short hair ;)
    ... he was caught by surprised when started the scream "nazi" at him ... (Londsale is one of the most popular rands by Neo-Nazis in austria and germany... but not in Italy ;) )
     
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