Germany Reacts: International review of President Donald Trump’s first few weeks in office
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Der Spiegel, a well respected news magazine in Germany, recently featured a graphic of President Donald Trump wielding the bloody, severed head of lady liberty as its front page. The statement was obvious, but why was it made? Why is a country across the ocean so vocal against President Donald Trump?
An article by editor-in-chief Klaus Brinkbäumer explaining to the gruesome graphic was titled “Democracy at the Tipping Point” and included a frightening question in its stomach churning lead.
“Ultimately, indifference is deadly. The apathy. The feeling of impotence. And the idle silence that follows,” Brinkbäumer said in the article. “People, including journalists, start thinking they can’t do anything anyway. That proved to be the case in Turkey and Hungary and it has long been the situation in Russia and China as well. Will it also happen in the United States?”
Brinkbäumer later asks “How could America have chosen Donald Trump with a clear conscience?”
Some may return the questions by asking why Germany cares at all, to which German citizens like Lucy Mellersh would readily reply.
Having lived in Germany when I was younger, when I listened to varying opinions on American politics, I found myself wondering what people in Europe thought about our government. I reached out to Mellersh, a family friend, to see what she had to say on the subject.
“Unfortunately, U.S. politics has an effect on the entire world,” Mellersh said.
Mellersh, who lives in Haimhausen, Germany, is not obsessed with politics, even when they concern her own country, but with everyone talking about Trump she finds it difficult not to be vocal.
“There are talk shows on the radio about it, it features on the front page of the highly respected news magazine Der Spiegel,” Mellersh said. “Everyone is talking to each other about it. It seemed like an unlikely clown who no sane person could vote for, but Trump got voted in.”
But it’s not just a topic that is discussed because of it’s popularity. Trump’s presidency is one that chills Mellersh and other German citizens to their core and belittles the values they hold closest to their hearts.
“It seems likely that Trump will undermine the free press, the judicial system, and possibly do something impulsive and crazy like launching nuclear missiles,” Mellersh said. “I am afraid of the empowering of a racist, sexist and bigoted minority. Trump is sexist, I am a feminist.”
In reality, it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that German citizens are vehemently against Trump’s agenda. Trump’s work has been focused as of late on immigrants and refugees, hoping to eradicate America of the forms of help we offer to the rest of the world while Germany is a country empowered by the help they offer to others.
“Our village with a population of under 5000 has taken in around 100 refugees, mostly young men from various countries.” Mellersh said. “We have been pleasantly surprised at how well-behaved they are and the great efforts they are making to learn the language and integrate.”
Mellersh herself has taken in refugees like the ones Trump is so keen on turning away from our borders.
“Aladdin* is 17, very keen to integrate, learn the language and learn a trade,” Mellersh said. “He is very excited because after a year of learning German and three weeks of work-experience where he was able to prove his enthusiasm, attention to detail and punctuality to a skeptical employer, he has been accepted for an apprenticeship at a car repair workshop.”
Not only does Trump’s America criticize the values and practices Germany has come to stand by, it looms threateningly in its similarity to a world that Germany has worked hard to leave behind.
Mellersh feels scared, if not infuriated, by America’s current political situation, and while she speaks out and does what she can to live a life contrary to Trump’s values, she knows there’s only so much she can do.
“The scariest thing is that we just have to sit back and watch and hope that the damage can be limited,” Mellersh said.
*Name has been changed for safety purposes
Follow Amelia @ameliavanyo