German actors launch controversial campaign against Covid measures

More than 50 prominent German actors have slammed the government's coronavirus crisis management with a series of videos in a coordinated social media action.

German actors launch controversial campaign against Covid measures
A selection of video stills from the #allesdichtmachen campaign. Photo: DPA

Under the hashtag #allesdichtmachen (close everything), the artists, some of whom have appeared in hit shows like Tatort and Babylon Berlin, simultaneously distributed ironic satirical clips with personal statements on Instagram and YouTube on Thursday.

In the videos, the actors addressed various aspects of the fight against the pandemic: Tatort star Jan Josef Liefers thanked, with an ironic undertone, “all the media in our country, who for over a year have been tirelessly responsible and with a clear stance to ensure that the alarm stays exactly where it belongs, namely at the very, very top”.

In his clip, Richy Müller took turns breathing in two bags and commented ironically, “If everyone used two-bag breathing, the lockdown would have ended a long time ago. So stay healthy and support the Corona measures. I’m going to go take a breath.”

Babylon Berlin star Volker Bruch sarcastically appealed to the German government: “Dear Bundesregierung, don’t leave us alone in this situation. It’s important that we all have enough fear.”

TV film actress Nina Gummich ironically proclaimed in her video: “I strongly support freedom of expression. Especially during such turbulent times as the coronavirus crisis. That’s why I’ve been ridding myself of my own opinion piece by piece over the last few months.”

Applause and jeers

In addition to some praise for the campaign, there was also immediate criticism from fellow actors. 

“A little ashamed of colleagues today,” German film star Christian Ulmen posted on Instagram.

Elyas M’Barek, well known for his role in the TV series Türkisch für Anfänger (Turkish for beginners) wrote: “No one is helped by cynicism.” 

He added that everyone wants to return to normality, and that will happen soon enough. 

Theatre actor Hans-Jochen Wagner called the action embarrassing and said, addressing Liefers, “You can’t be serious.”

Satirist Jan Böhmermann countered the action on Twitter, saying that the only video to watch “if you have problems with Covid containment measures” is the ARD documentary from Berlin’s Charité hospital entitled “Station 43 – Dying”, adding hashtag #allenichtganzdicht (don’t shut everything) with a crying smiley. 

“The actors of #allesdichtmachen can to shove their irony deep into the ventilator,” tweeted moderator Tobias Schlegl, who is also an emergency paramedic.

Yet some positive feedback came from politicians and virologists. Former president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen called the action “great” on Twitter. 

Hamburg virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit spoke of a “masterpiece” that should “make us think a lot”.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) member of parliament Joana Cotar tweeted, “This is intelligent protest.” 

The arts and culture scene has been suffering badly from the government’s tough coronavirus measures for more than a year.

According to the Bundesverband Schauspiel (BFFS), many of the approximately 15,000 to 20,000 actors and actresses in Germany have had hardly any income since March 2020. 

According to the association, two-thirds to three-quarters of all actors and actresses live from guest engagements at theatres that are currently unable or barely able to work. 

Member comments

  1. Because of the Lockdown, I’ve been jobless as well. I agree that closing everything does not solve the problem – the spread is happening because of Idiots meeting in Houses etc. However, complaining that it is all fear sounds like this lot don’t even believe in the problem. When the Afd gives you praise, you KNOW you are doing something wrong!

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EU ministers urge unity after Germany’s energy ‘bazooka’

EU finance ministers on Monday pleaded for unity after Germany announced a €200 billion plan to help German households and businesses pay for high energy prices, amid accusations that the EU's biggest economy was acting alone.

EU ministers urge unity after Germany's energy 'bazooka'

Europe is struggling with historically high energy prices as it faces an early autumn cold snap and a coming winter almost certainly to be endured without crucial Russian gas supplies because of the war in Ukraine.

Many EU countries have announced national programmes to shield consumers from the high prices. But Germany went the furthest on Friday when it announced its mammoth plan, which will see help pouring to Germans for two years.

Arriving to talk with his eurozone counterparts, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner insisted the spending was “proportionate” to the size of Germany’s economy and said his goal was to use as little of the money as possible.

READ ALSO: Germany to spend €200 billion to cap soaring energy costs

But Germany’s largesse rankled several EU capitals, some of which feared their industries could take severe blows while Germany’s sits protected, deforming the EU’s single market.

Outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has slammed Berlin for its lack of solidarity and coordination with EU partners.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, without directly criticizing Berlin, called on partners to agree a common strategy against the price shock and for countries to refrain from going it alone.

“The more this strategy is coordinated, united, the better it is for all of us,” he said.

Risk to ‘European unity’

Others pointed to the unprecedented solidarity shown in the Covid-19 crisis in which the 27 EU nations, against all expectations, approved a jointly financed €750 billion recovery plan.

“Solidarity is not only on the German shoulders, I think this is something that we have to deliver at European level,” said EU economics affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

“We have very good examples from the previous crisis on how solidarity can react to a crisis and also reassure financial markets. I think that this is our goal,” he said.

While a Covid-style recovery plan is not in the cards for now, Le Maire said €200 billion in loans and €20 billion in aid should be devoted to REPowerEU, a programme to help countries break their dependence on Russian gas.

READ ALSO: Will Germany set a gas price cap – and how would it work?

Bruegel, a highly influential think tank in Brussels, called the German plan a spending “bazooka” that many EU countries were unable to match, creating a potential source of animosity.

“If the German gas price brake gives German business a much better chance to survive the crisis than, say, Italian business, economic divergences in the EU could be deepened, and European unity on Russia undermined,” it said in a blog.