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I decide to visit my local supermarket in what was once Germany

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‘It’s a quarter past seven and I’ve been sitting at my desk way too long. So I go shopping at Lidl. I jump on my muscle-powered bicycle and cross the bridge to the neighbouring town. The streets are almost deserted, the atmosphere oppressive. 

I pass the hairdresser with Arabic writing, which only opens for private appointments and after ringing the bell, and then the Polish shop with all kinds of dried sausages. We continue, past the IT shop with the slimy Iranian who wanted to have my PC repaired after two days, but almost threatened me when I allowed myself to ask after a week when the repair would finally be finished.

Then I turn off at the beautiful old restaurant that a German sold to the highest bidding Turk and that now serves Turkish coffee. My long-established acquaintance has never forgiven the seller for this typical case of selling out one’s own home for base motives, i.e., greed, and hasn’t spoken to him since. For me, that’s also reason enough to never set foot in the café again.

I drive on, past the filthy pizza service and the two German family butchers who, after decades of successful development work, could not find a successor. The darkened shop windows have been radiating decay and sadness for three years. But the Turkish kebab shop and the attached café are all the more buzzing. Well, you can get that far if you stick together and pool the money instead of not even treating the other person to the cheapest sausage on bread or denouncing him as a cadaver-obedient bourgeois man because of the wrong mask fit.

Then I cycle past several women in headscarves, accompanied by powerful, wide-legged men and a number of Africans. They naturally fill the full width of the sidewalk. Their posture is proud and upright, and her unspoken message is clear: ‘Don’t mess with us.

In front of the Lidl, for the first time since the start of my journey, I see two young women conversing in German without an accent. I park my bike and enter the salesroom through the glass doors.

It’s always the same kind of people: Self-confident Turkish women, Africans and Arabs as well as overworked Eastern European workers. The few Germans, mostly pensioners from the lower classes, are easily recognizable by their poor clothing, hunched posture, masks and a certain unkemptness, almost as if they had given up. In fact, some seem as if they would like to make themselves invisible, in their own country.

I trek through the aisles and take stock. The shelves with the cheap goods are completely empty: sunflower oil, vinegar, bread, canned goods, the cheapest toilet paper and even meat are no longer available. The entire supermarket seems neglected. It seems as if the staff can no longer keep up with stocking the shelves properly and putting the goods back in line.

At the checkout I see a few Germans again: overweight mothers with overweight children, shopping trolleys full of unhealthy goods. Like the pensioners, they too give the impression of poverty. How can that be when we hear every day how immeasurably rich we are? So rich that we could spill the overflowing abundance of our treasures all over the world and even then, there would still be enough left for us. Or not?

In front of me in the row is a mute pensioner with a worn-out beak mask. I almost overlooked it because it is already semi-transparent. I place my goods on the belt while a muscular African man behind me keeps waving a can of Monster Energy in front of my face. 

I finally understand from his gestures what he wants from me: I should let him in because the one can. I shake my head no and ignore him. For once, I think to myself. He can line up behind me, when he is treated preferentially in so many things, as a person of colour and cultural enricher in this nation.

While I feel his angry, impatient look on my back, I pay the friendly saleswoman and we wish each other a wonderful evening. Who would have thought that there would still be such a ray of light in the midst of this sadness?

Outside, under the eyes of an Eastern European craftsman, I heave my nine-litre bottles of mineral water into my bicycle basket with one hand. I can almost read his mind: ‘Why doesn’t a man do that for her?’

Little does he know that this is one of the many exercises I do regularly to stay fit; to be ‘fit for military service’, so that I can punch an intrusive ‘new citizen’ in the face at any time, just to have enough time to flee. Of course, the Eastern European can’t know any of this while he continues to scrutinize me and undress me with his eyes.

I ignore him and push my bike across the parking lot. My eyes fall on a buxom female refugee who is drinking from a huge coke bottle with her son, maybe eight years old. ‘Great,’ I think to myself, ‘so early on she is raising her son as a diabetic. I will then have to pay for the costs of his treatment.

The woman looks at me and seems to seek confirmation from me of her presence. Ten years ago, I would have given her a friendly smile. But now too much has happened. Too many people have come to my country without my consent and I have heard too many scams.

Around the corner, the impatient African guy from the checkout sits relaxed on a bench, sipping his sugary drink and shooting me with hateful glares as I drive past him. I ignore him too because what else can I do in a country where I’ve become an Indian and all the other Indians seem to have holed up in their houses or cars. Meanwhile, the ‘occupiers’ are showing more and more bluntly on the streets and squares who is the supposed master of the house.

For a moment I start to lurch and almost fall off my bike laughing because I imagine the outrageous and absolutely ridiculous situation that a German or even the police would protect me from an attack by the African! 

Such an act would ultimately amount to a commitment to the AfD and would probably be many times more career-damaging for the officials than my slit throat. I would only be dead but the good CDU pensioner might no longer get his pension or the employed teacher, civil servant, doctor etc. would lose his civil servant status if he dared to come out from behind his rose bushes.

No, that is not possible at all. Better to tuck in your tail and slink off to the armchair in front of the TV, or write nasty comments on the PC and mourn for the past. After all, it’s also important…isn’t it?

Finally, I pull myself together, shake my head at my insane notion of ‘brave German men’ and continue on my way home. Two sleek, young Africans with expensive, wireless Air Pods stroll relaxed on the sidewalk. They know that no one should offend them. A well-dressed African woman, accompanied by her two children, and a veiled Turkish woman with a muscle man stroll down the street. Far and wide there is not a German in sight either.

My sleeveless pink t-shirt is flapping in the wind. The foreigners look after me. Waiting in front of me at the traffic light is an old, balding German hippie with long, shaggy hair that he has tied into a ponytail with a hair clip. His socks are worn out and stuck in worn sandals. Even though he’s two meters away from me, I can smell his unkempt body. I’m getting sick from his smell and also his displayed refusal to grow up and instead remain as a scrawny, repulsive, die-hard Peter Pan with rat braids in pseudo-rebellion.

Again, I wonder where all the Germans have gone. But wait, I know the answer: it’s now 8 p.m. You sit at home in an armchair and pick up the order of the day from the black hypnosis disc. So that they know how to behave the next day. How the wind blows What to say. Who to avoid? Are you still wearing the mask? And who is allowed to hate right now – Putin or Xi?

Yes, there are days when I envy the headscarf women. In an emergency, they have a protector who will defend them. We, on the other hand, have buns, vegan latte slurpers, radical left-wing old hippies and a bourgeoisie that pisses itself just hearing ‘AfD’.

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I got home and unlock the main door. A Pakistani lives in our house who works for a Dax company. His landlords, an old couple of professors who live in the middle of the city in the eco-revolutionary district with old villas, let him have the apartment because he is ‘so nice’. They don’t think it’s a bad thing that he drinks, throws loud parties all night on German holidays like Christmas and threatens anyone who complains with death. The home office is giving him trouble!’ I see. Then everything is good. I step into my apartment, lock my new, burglar-proof door behind me and say: ‘Good night. Source

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