Monday, May 27, 2024
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Postcard from Heidelberg Jail


THE city in which I live has created an underclass. It has introduced a comprehensive system of medical apartheid categorising 28 per cent of the population as less than human, unworthy of the most basic human dignity.

Heidelberg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, boasting the leading university in Germany and a rich historic, literary and scientific pedigree. Some of the great literary figures of the last two hundred years, including Wordsworth, Goethe, Hölderlin and Twain, have been enamoured by the place.

Now one would imagine that I’m living in an archaic and off-the-main road Prussian village on the border with Poland, where the local inhabitants’ ancestors endured serfdom into the 19th century, as well as the total domination of Soviet control within their living memory. But no. It’s one of the wealthiest areas in the country.

It’s a fact that the Germans, having initially made a decent start on Covid in 2020, have completely lost their minds. Since I moved here two months after the pandemic began, the restrictions have never been loosened in a meaningful way. The stringent mask mandate was never relaxed, and non-medical masks, such as cloth, have been outlawed for way longer than a year (unless you wish to pay a hefty fine). The police have been very heavy-handed with protesters, and enjoy patrolling the streets asking for people’s vaccine status, or, better still, walking into shops and checking everyone is maintaining the rules. This has made an already hypochondriacal population more anxious, even if they have the requisite paperwork with them. This has, in turn, made people more compliant. There are few dissenting voices around, except a few whispers in the dark, and even fewer outlets providing honest coverage of facts and numbers. Of course, people are not attacked for suggesting mandatory vaccination is inhumane, but they will find their friends don’t answer the phone to them and that the air is a little stuffier.

In August last year, the federal government of Baden-Württemberg introduced the infamous 3G rules, requiring that everyone must prove one of three things to go about their business: recovery from the virus (Genesen), having been vaccinated (Geimpft) or having been tested (Getestet). The first sign of discrimination against the unvaccinated was requiring them to pay for tests, whereas the vaccinated either didn’t need them or got them free.

Everyone complied with these restrictions, and the federal government felt emboldened. Therefore, they introduced 2G rules in November last year under which banned the unvaccinated from going anywhere except supermarkets, pharmacies and appliance shops. The vaccinated could enter only by showing a personalised QR code, which had to be on one’s phone rather than paper, as well as their ID cards to prove that they were not lying about their identity.

When case numbers refused to fall, the intensity of the rhetoric was turned up with major figures such as Jens Spahn, the former Minister of Health, and Markus Söder, the Bavarian Federal President, telling the public that there was a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The country has discussed ever since whether to go ahead with mandatory vaccination (Impfpflicht). It’s clear that the political class wish to force vaccination on everyone over five years old.

Yet despite the vitriol and medical apartheid, cases are still very high. So as of January 15, the unvaccinated, who already may not socialise with more than one household, go anywhere other than supermarkets and hardware shops or use public transport without a test, are now subject to a curfew under which they may not be outside between 9pm and 5am, even to walk their dog or exercise.

There is little point in raising the lack of scientific proof or support for such decisions. It’s simply another demonstration of how vituperative and immoral the people in office currently are. And now the Germans find themselves, to be quite frank, supporting systematic discrimination once again. The country has made living unbearable for 28 per cent of the population.

Protesting against the rules in Heidelberg is banned, too, leaving little room to manoeuvre for anyone who considers these rules, as anyone decent human being should, immoral and evil. The only permitted remonstration is silent walking, so hundreds of people calmly walk up and down the high street in the city, but even then they are harassed and monitored by dozens of police officers wielding guns and restraining dogs.

It’s difficult to know what the next steps are. Although there’s not mandatory vaccination by law, it exists in practice. One can only imagine that politicians will find a way to justify the police breaking into someone’s house, pinning them down and pressing the jab into their arms. It’s, alas, the next logical step for a country with such hatred of the unvaccinated.

Until then, there’s not much more anyone can do, other than continue to highlight and support the brave minority who refuse to be coerced or tyrannised into compliance. 

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Jake Welch
Jake Welch
Jake Welch is a 2020 law graduate living in Frankfurt-am-Main while travelling in Europe this year. He plans to study to become a barrister.

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