“Proletarians of all countries, unite ! “ On the Brückenstrasse, it is an unavoidable reference. All the people of Chemnitz know the “Nischl “. In front of the facade adorned with the famous slogan of communism, engraved in four languages, the bronze bust of Karl Marx, the work of Russian sculptor Lev Kerbel, opened in 1971, is part of the decor.
Thirty years after the reunification, the ex-cited model of the GDR, which had been renamed Karl-Marx Stadt in may 1953, has recovered economically from the shock of the reunification. After the exodus of 25% of the population in the 1990s, the city has sought its future in the industry and subcontracting in automotive, construction machinery and information technology, an effort crowned by the installation of several large companies such as Siemens and Volkswagen. The technical university and the research institutes provide an environment conducive to innovation.
The image of a marker from the nazis
“Chemnitz had gone up the slope when the violence of the summer of 2018 are returned we paste the image of a den of nazis “, regrets Martin Bauch, a professor at the university of applied sciences. “Maybe he needed this shock to wake people up. “ Chemnitz does not forget the overheated atmosphere of the days of riots that followed the violent death of the carpenter Daniel Hillig (read the guides). On the sidewalk, at the bottom of the statue of Karl Marx, a candle and some flowers to adorn a plate sealed into the concrete with this simple inscription “Daniel H. 26.08.2018 “.
“It all started in the 1990’s “, the scientist explains Dominik Intelmann, a specialist in urban geography from the extreme right. “As in other cities of East Germany, a scene-nazi was born in Chemnitz in the Plattenbau “, these large housing complexes in precast concrete, built under the GDR. Neighborhoods immersed in a sharp break by the end of the German democratic Republic, quickly abandoned by all those who wanted to try their luck in the West.
In January 1998, Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos and Beate Zschäpe, the trio of the NSU (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund), a terrorist group of extreme right-wing, found refuge in an apartment of the district, Fritz-Heckert, the last major housing construction programme of the late 1970s. The former youth club Piccolo served as the meeting point of the movement neo-nazi.
The “children after the turning point,” faced with the silence of their parents
“The lack of opportunities and violence have shaped the “Nachwendekind”, “children after the turning point, faced with the silence of their parents, put in the requirement of solder from one day to the next day all their past “, explains the writer Lukas Rietzschel, 26 years. “Some have merged in the new company. Others are left unemployed. Move from the status of citizen to that attended has been difficult to live with. I’ve seen what it did to my friends to see a world die, the widespread feeling of being on the losing side. “
After the fall of the wall, the inhabitants of these cities-dormitories were left to fend for themselves. The housing companies decided that the buildings to be demolished as part of urban redevelopment. Separation, depression, loss of landmarks. “Born to be a victim, it takes time to understand that where we live, people like us can only cash out’, sings Felix Kummer, 30 years old, born in Chemnitz, a few months before the fall of the wall, in the last album of Kratfklub. This group of rap rock local, established at the end of 2009 by five schoolmates, was performed in front of 65,000 people, in a concert against the violence of the extreme right, in September 2018.
A new creative class
Chemnitz has rapidly modernized under the leadership of the municipality. In the city centre, a new population is found in the gardens neighbourhood, the space of co-working, bio supermarkets and vegetarian restaurants. At the same time, the number of foreigners has more than doubled between 2013 and 2018, rising from 9 500 to 20 000, including 6,000 refugees. A “revolution” from the top down, which arouses mixed feelings in some part of the population.
Pro Chemnitz, the right-wing movement, created in 2009 by Martin Kohlmann, 42 years old, a lawyer and former member of the united nationalist Republikaner (Republicans), and obtained 7.7% of the votes in the municipal elections of may 2019, compared to 17.9% in the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD). “The people of Chemnitz did not want to share with foreigners who come to receive aid without providing their services “, loose Nico Köhler, 44 years, head of the AfD group in the municipal assembly.
The issue of foreigners in the background
“The old parties do not defend Chemnitz “, adds this former member of the CDU, the boss of a marketing agency. After claiming a confinement more strict, the extreme-right party, is paralyzed by its internal conflicts and the supervision of its radical wing by the federal Office for protection of the Constitution (BfV), attempted, without great success, to recover those criticizing the slowness of the déconfinement. “The issue of foreigners is passed to the second plan “, comments on Martin Bauch. “This is the revival of the economy and jobs that concern people at this time. “
On the Stefan Heym-Platz, the State Museum of archaeology of the Land of Saxony, installed in may 2014 in the building of a former department store, built in the 1920s, has reopened its doors on Tuesday 5 may. Three millennia, exposed in accelerated on three floors, from the time of the early hunters and gatherers there are almost 300, 000 years, until the beginning of industrialization. “People often speak badly of the city where they live, stigmatized as a nest of right-wing or a city of old, but Chemnitz has a scene with a very active group of entrepreneurs, artists, teachers and professionals of the culture, with people very engaged as the family Kummer or Lars Fassmann “, says Attila Bihari, project manager at the museum.
Involve the silent majority
Lars Fassmann, 44, founder of Chemmedia AG, a company of training online, has bought the buildings doomed to demolition in the district of Sonnenberg, in the north-east of the city centre, to put them at the disposal of artists and creative professionals. “The challenge is to act as multipliers by creating interfaces to engage the silent majority that has lost confidence in the system “, explains Ulf Kahlscheid, director of the gallery Borssenanger.
European capital of culture
“Chemnitz has experienced fractures, it has changed its name several times and the system, but it has always overcome challenges,” insists Barbara Ludwig, 58, mayor, social democratic party of the city. “We are not afraid of novelty and experimentation. The change is part of our DNA. “
In post for fourteen years, the old professor is not standing in the elections on 20 September, but it relies on the application of Chemnitz as the european capital of culture in 2025, to dissipate “the veil of prejudice “ that surrounds his city, the opportunity for a new start “open minds and create spaces “.
The trauma of August 2018
In August 2018, in Chemnitz (Saxony), far-right activists are engaged in a man hunt against refugees in the streets, in retaliation for the murder of Daniel Hillig, a German 35 years old, stabbed to death in the night from 25 to 26 August, during an altercation with asylum seekers. A series of violent demonstrations against the extreme right followed.
In a few days, this town of 240,000 inhabitants becomes the epicenter of a political crisis. Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of the domestic intelligence in germany, the federal Office for the protection of the Constitution, creates a scandal by questioning the reality of man-hunts. Given early retirement, the senior employee has joined the Union of values, a collective ultraconservateur founded in 2017 within the CDU.
A year after the fact, the German justice sentenced, on 22nd August 2019, Alaa Sheikhi, a Syrian, 24 years of age, at nine and a half years in prison. Considered as the main responsible, an Iraqi 22-year-old, on the run since a year despite an international arrest warrant, would have succeeded in returning to Iraq.