It’s Saturday, 8:22 in the morning. Truth be told, it’s just about the right time to roll over and go back to sleep, except I’m standing around on track 3 at the Willibahnhof train station while I wait for the train that will be taking me to the protest “Wir haben Agrarindustrie satt” in Berlin.
Shortly afterwards, I’m on my way together with a large number of activist citizens, farmers, beekeepers, and NGO members, all of whom want to protest against the increasing industrialization of agriculture and demand a fairer European agricultural industry.
Arrival in Berlin
My train is right on time. I get to the Washingtonplatz square in front of Berlin’s central station at eleven thirty and find myself surrounded by an enormous, colorful crowd. Everybody’s spirits are up, despite the fact that the weather is freezing cold. I pull my beanie further down my face and allow myself to indulge in a little mulled wine before I try to find a familiar face among the many cow, pig, and chicken costumes—all to no avail. A marching band is playing lively rhythms to hearten the crowd, and the energy makes me feel a bit less chilly. Then I hear someone calling my name from behind, and I’m soon elated to find out that it’s one of my co-workers from SMA—Thomas, from my English class. He tells me he made the trip with his girlfriend—except he took the 5:30 bus from Kassel! I was sure there would be people other than me at SMA who would go as far as to wake up early on the weekend to join the fight, and my suspicions are now confirmed!
Tractors Lead the Way to the Chancellery
Our train of people slowly takes shape. The tractors that lead the way start up their engines and are soon moving towards the Chancellery one after the other. I’m amazed at the number of people that have gathered for the protest—over 20,000, as we’ll later find out. The freezing cold wind keeps flapping at us mercilessly. After marching for two hours, we reach the front of the Chancellery. With the full-throated support of thousands, politicians and NGO representatives make it clear that our current agricultural policies are to blame for the destruction of our land and the massive extinction of species, and that the use of antibiotics is out of control while industrial corporations make a mint and small farmers can barely make enough to keep their businesses going. 80 secretaries of agriculture from around the world are meeting behind the walls while, at the same time, those profiteering from their agricultural policies get to push their produce, meat, and other products at Green Week.
Warm Soup Thanks to Vegetable-Cutting Party
Cold air makes you hungry. Not far from us, in front of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a mobile soup kitchen is waiting. A number of hard-working helpers cut vegetables for hours on end yesterday at a vegetable-cutting party so that we could enjoy the warm and delicious soup that is now in front of us. Wam Kat, the star of alternative commercial kitchens, is right there, in the flesh, behind the pot, and is seeing to it that fresh supplies keep coming in. I’m amazed at how organized everything is and how quickly the crowd gets to eat. As a small token of our appreciation, we help wash some of the thousands of bowls for a few minutes.
Species Becoming Extinct at an Alarming Rate
We spend the afternoon at a panel discussion organized by the Green Party and I learn how, in certain parts of Germany, there are barely any birds or insects left, bees have simply disappeared, and bodies of water are being polluted while our decision-makers keep going about their jobs while pretending everything’s fine and dandy.
When the discussion is over, it’s already dark outside and the weather has gotten even colder. We quickly run back to the central station, where a bus is waiting for us. A warm bus. On the trip back, we all agree that the day was definitely successful, but that a lot has to be done, and done quickly, before we destroy our own world forever.
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What even my colleagues do not know about me:
As a teenager, I was the passenger for car scavenger hunts and always took the trophy for best female and youngest participant home – which was not that difficult.