Friday, February 6, 2009
Germany not a police state
Fortunately or not, Germany, and more specifically Berlin, is definitely not a police state. My take on why that is? In an effort to atone for, and perhaps even somewhat eradicate, their atrocious history, Germans are doing what they can to remove all resemblance to their not-so-distant past. This is done on both superficial levels, such as prohibiting the use of the swastika in any way, as well as an institutionalized mentality and 'propaganda', if you will. While I generally agree with this type of an approach, considering Germany's actions during WWII, I nonetheless see certain setbacks (naturally).
When I first moved from Los Angeles to Berlin, I immediately noticed a lack of police around the city (relatively speaking) and that sort of made me nervous. Having lived here for more than three years now, I have seen incident after incident that made me wonder what the police were doing at the moment. For example, when the biggest train station in Europe had its grand opening a couple of years ago (in Berlin), over one million people actually attended the event. How many policemen? About 1,000. If I did my math correctly (and I did), that is approximately one policeman for every 1,000 people. This is the reason, perhaps, why a 17-year-old KID was able to stab 10 people before police were able to stop him. At that moment I was thankful that this was not America; otherwise, the knife would have been a gun, with potentially many more casualties, but that's a whole different blog entry.
Why were there not more police present? Where are the police every morning when the drug dealers gather at the subway station nearest to my house to make their deals? Where were the police when a gang of teenagers started smoking pot in the middle of a crowded subway? Where are the police, period? ... I know the answer to that. Whenever there is a demonstration, by law, the police must be present and it appears, in great numbers (I've witnessed demonstrations where there were more people in uniform than demonstrators themselves). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy many of the freedoms that I have here, which I did not have in the U.S., but they seem to come at a rather high price. As in many aspects of life, perhaps balance is the key here.