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Chancellor visits Chemnitz

For a tolerant society

"Chemnitz is neither grey nor brown" is the motto of an initiative launched by medium-sized businesses. Chancellor Angela Merkel was able to see for herself that this was the case when she visited the city and talked to local people. A lot of people in Chemnitz are working hard to foster respectful and tolerant coexistence.

Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with local people in Chemnitz. Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with local people in Chemnitz Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Since the xenophobic demonstrations in summer 2018, Chemnitz has appeared in the headlines several times. But Chemnitz is not only a city with problems. It can look back on many achievements.

In Chemnitz a great many citizens’ initiatives are working to foster tolerance and peaceful coexistence. They stand up as examples and promote cohesion within society, with activities like the concert "Wir sind mehr" (There are more of us) which attracted an audience of 65,000 and the art biennial "Pochen", which is just beginning. It looks at the contradictions of the city. Medium-sized businesses are working to counter hatred and intolerance with their campaign "Weder grau noch braun" (neither grey nor brown, brown being the colour associated in German with the Nazi ‘brownshirts’).

Listening and discussing

At the readers’ forum organised by the local newspaper, the "Freie Presse" Chancellor Angela Merkel answered the questions of the people of Chemnitz. She listened to what they had to say, entered into discussion with the people who put questions, and took note of their wishes and ideas. She was accompanied by Saxony’s State Premier Michael Kretschmer and the Mayor of Chemnitz Barbara Ludwig.

One focus of the discussion was the refugee policy of the German government. The Chancellor spoke of errors made, but she said the mistake was not to help people fleeing their homes when they needed immediate assistance. The mistake was that we failed to help their countries of origin in good time before that. That is a mistake that must not be repeated, said Angela Merkel.

Tolerance and respect

The basketball club, NINERS Chemnitz, is a good example of the many positive facets of the city. Tolerance, cohesion and mutual respect are second nature to the NINERS.

For them it is normal to deal fairly with everyone, no matter where they come from or what their religion. But what is every bit as important is that everyone has to respect the same rules. Any failure to do so, will have consequences. Angela Merkel spoke to the young players about values and about dealing with one another within the club.

Zero tolerance for crimes

In August 2018 a 35-year-old Chemnitz man was violently killed by two alleged asylum-seekers. The people were outraged. Many took to the streets to express their anger and their sorrow, and in some cases they marched with right-wing radicals. There were xenophobic and anti-Semitic attacks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear that all crimes will be investigated in Germany, irrespective of the nationality of the perpetrator. She called on the people to distance themselves from xenophobic and right-wing-radical attacks during demonstrations.

Nov 16, 2018