it is that time of year when the normally quiet and pleasent north bavarian town of Coburg is over run by fascist pigs; the Coburger Convent is here.
although the wiki article says that hey are based on tolerance sadly that is not the case. our chinese housemate upon seeing an advert for a room went along and had the door promptly closed on him after being told to essentially "füuk off home" and that he was a dog eating so-and-so.
the Coburger Convent is, as the name suggests and convent of people here in Coburg. it is a meeting of Burschenschaften - similar to fraternaties but but with a more elitist, nationalistic and fascist idealology - from all over the german speaking lands.
they wear their uniforms and resemble train guards but it does not stop them drinking and acting like thugs.
the event's highlight is a mass meeting of over 1000 Burschenschaften (members of a student family- got to love german for it's word-building) at the Kreigdenkmal (war memorial) in the park and then a march through the town where each carries a flaming torch behind their relevant nationalistic flags.
they then congregate on the townsquare and sing the whole german national anthem, including the lines out-lawed after their second little auswanderung (walkabout).
there is always a large neo-nazi element present on the monday.
it is quite a scary sight to this little town over-run by these people.
so, anyways. we went out earlier for a pootle on the steeds and went about looking for a few tippled peeps carr the silly hats on their heads.
i managed to swipe a hat off one of them as i went past. his mates threw bottles, one of which came close to my mate. they gave chase and they weren't as tipsy as we had hoped. we split. sounded like a pack o'dogs on my tail. i went straight on into an alleyway and almost lost control of the bike. in the panic/slide/footdown i dropped the cap. bit gutted as they make a nice momento.
my mate already has a few from the previous years.
there is a demo against these elitist monkies tomorrow but after having read the paper it would seem that the press is trying to put people off going along. they are reporting that there WILL be violence. the leader of the CC is quoted as saying "Wir brauchen Coburg, und Coburg braucht uns" aswell as the mayor saying that hostility toward the gathering doesn't exist.
both of these two points are wrong. upon speaking to many locals and resident students it is evident that the CC isn't wanted in town.
what i find sad is that there now persists an apathy toward this gathering. that the local towns folk would rather leave town for the weekend then face up to these people and make it clear that they are not welcome.
several years ago there was a large scuffle. protesters, one of which a good friend and now family-man was involved, we pushed back by police when the national anthem begun toward a waiting group of neo-nazis. ambulances were on the scene albeit on the 'wrong' side of the square.
since that event things have been much 'quieter'.
as said there is a protest planned for saturday and buses have been laid on from other major german towns. but with the papers reporting violence bofore it has even begun i don't know how local turnout will look.
sadly i don't think that things will change. the Burschenschaften are much like the 'old boys' network in blighty. the mayor of the town, the chief of police and those in politics that could make a difference are very likely involved daily with, or indeed themselves are, members of these 'clubs'.
i think awareness should be raised and would invite any UK or german papers to come along and witness what goes on so as to report this to a wider audience.
i heard one story from my protesting friend about a colleague of his who worked for a local paper based 30km away. when the police saw him photographing they took him into a van and removed the film and literally broke the camera rendering it useless. when he protested and showed them his presspass they took that too and told him he was no longer 'press' and to leave town.
a friend was last year given a fine of 480€ for giving the finger to an udndercover cop. he was caught on camera but, didn't think anymore of it untill two months later he got a fine through the post detailing what he had done. if you go along to a demo the police will ask for your I.D. which you legally have to carry with you at all times. because of this they got him.
you are not free in germany. i feel much less of a known quantity in the UK than here. you cannot buy a pay-as-you-go phone without showing your passport and having it registered to your name. the GF's dad bought two phones and received an annoymous phone call asking him to explain why he needed two phones and why they weren't in the same place as each other (his wife had it) and he is just an ordin ary engineer.
i'm lying low now after my close shave. i dread to think what would have become of us had these thugs-in-suits got hold of either of us. we were planning on going on a day trip until we heard of the demo that has been organised. now i'm in two minds as to whether to go or not.
it wouldn't surprise me that after tonight looking at various anti-fascist sites, reading the local press pages and typing Burschenschaft and Coburger Convent several times into google and wiki that 'they' are now watching me.
i know next time i'm putting slicks on the bike. an Alpine with Maxxis 2.4 Advantage @25 psi, even with the fork locked-out isn't the quickest bike going.....