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New Year’s Eve 2025/2026: Once upon a time in 2020… [Part 1]

Some fiction about News Years Eve 2025/2026: Once upon a time in 2020 in Germany… [Part 1]

Originally published by Sunzi Bingfa (in German). Written by Wat Tyler. Translated by Enough 14.

A few more weeks and it will be the fifth anniversary of the memorable New Year’s Eve 2020/2021 on January 01. It seems like it was so long ago, our everyday life has totally changed since then. But back to New Year’s Eve 2020/2021, what happened back then?

The year 2020 was a year that no one will soon forget. When the virus appeared in the spring of 2020, many people were scared. At that time we still had a government and it did everything to protect the economy. Too many deaths were bad for business in the economic system back then. In the beginning, many people did not realize that it was about protecting financial interests. In retrospect, this seems strange, because the governing parties had privatized parts of the health care system in the years before, and as a result, the quality of the health care system went down rapidly.

That money was to be made even with health had already made clear where the priorities were. When Merkel and Co. appeared in front of the camera in March 2020 and talked about solidarity, the majority of the population still bought it. A paper from the then Ministry of the Interior found little attention, although it was clearly formulated that the people were to be frightened. By then, at the latest, we should all have become suspicious. But we didn’t, at least most of us didn’t.

Even people who saw themselves as left-wing radicals followed the mantra of politicians, experts and the endless loop of the media: Stay at home. For parts of the “radical left,” young people hanging out in a park were a bigger problem than the millions who continued to cram themselves into crowded buses and trains day after day so they could get to work on time. Home office was one of the magic words to cover up that millions of people were still forced to go out. For production workers and many others it was not even possible to work from home. The contradiction was either not recognized, or at least accepted.

Already during the first “lockdown” it rained bans, especially in the private sphere. The state prescribed how many people we were allowed to meet outside, but also how many visitors we were allowed to receive at home. By decree, because the parliament did not have much more to decide. That was done by a council of minister presidents of the German states and the federal government.

But summer came and the number of infections declined. However, there were repeated warnings of a “second wave.” Politicians had not done much over the summer. There was no discussion of privatizations in the health sector, nor of the many private nursing homes and homes for the elderly. Absolutely nothing was done. During the summer months of 2020, no new staff was hired in the health offices, not even additional capacity to keep a possible vaccine at a temperature below freezing point was organized.

Today, five years later, we can hardly imagine all this. Privatization is a relic of times gone by, and the elderly no longer are sent to institutions; now that the economic shackles have been broken, we are taking care of our loved ones ourselves as long as we can. As we had always done in the past.

During autumn 2020 the second wave came and while the state was sending thousands of cops to Dannenrod Forest to evict tree houses during the pandemic and cleared about 100 hectares of forest for a redundant highway extension, there were again many bans in the private sphere. In November 2020, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theaters and many other recreational facilities were again closed by executive order. In the first “lockdown”, however, business and politics had noticed that school closures are problematic because many parents then have to stay at home so that they can take care of their children.

So the schools stayed open, and teachers were simply told to ventilate regularly to keep the virus out of the classrooms. As December progressed, however, it got much colder, and ventilating classrooms increasingly became a problem. But the students got some advice from then-Chancellor Angela Merkel about what they could do about the cold during class. Merkel said, “Maybe you do a little squat or clap your hands.” After all, if you’re cold, that sometimes helps, she added. Meanwhile, more and more politicians and so-called experts had to admit that there were many infections in schools. It was in this phase that more and more people realized that they were being lied to and that the schools remained open only so that the parents could continue to work for the profits of the shareholders.

For months, the so-called lateral thinkers movement had been on the streets to protest against the Corona measures. This hodgepodge of far right activists, conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites denied the existence of the virus and were spreading crude fantasies. For many people, this movement was not an option, and while large parts of the radical left had found a new mission, elsewhere in society things started to boil. Politicians had planned to relax their authoritarian Corona measures over the holidays. But they quickly wanted to reduce these relaxations to Christmas.

Many politicians pleaded for an extension of the Christmas vacations and a complete “lockdown” that should start right after Christmas. This was not surprising for the time, because many people took time off every year during the Christmas vacations and schools were also closed due to the vacations. The vacations were to be extended only a little, until January 10. Business and politicians thought that this was the best way to protect the economy. The Christmas business would run to some extent because of the short relaxation, and afterwards the people could stay at home again.

In Bavaria and Saxony, however, curfews were then introduced before Christmas, but again mainly focused on the private sphere. People should continue to go to work during the curfew. Then, in the first half of December 2020, proposal after proposal came forward. There was talk of curfews, forced hospitalizations, and the removal of privacy regulations. Today, five years later, I can barely remember many of those abstruse proposals. Suppressed and from another world.

But more and more people started to realize that life is more than working, eating and sleeping. If life itself no longer takes place because the economy is the criterion of all things, then what are we still living for? The authoritarian order of measures makes us even more dependent and in no way promotes our abilities to think and act ourselves. After all, we are quite capable of developing our own behavioral patterns as to how to deal with such situations in the best possible way. Many people found it important to celebrate New Year’s Eve, especially after all the hardships and state arbitrariness. However, celebrations on New Year’s Eve were completely forbidden. Only a maximum of five people from a maximum of two households were allowed to get together, and outside you were only allowed to be in pairs or with your own household.

When I arrived at New Year’s Eve 2020 at the house of a few friends, I did not yet know how this evening would develop. We had a good conversation, but in part it was also very emotional. We hadn’t been in the same room together for a long time. A video conference is not the same as a face-to-face contact and an online party is not a party. At best, they are a digital surrogate through which people pretend to be together. Time was flying and at midnight we wished each other a Happy New Year and hit the streets. There were many people on the street and we noticed that obviously many people had missed the personal contact. There was dancing, laughing and many neighbors talked to each other for the first time in a long time.

Suddenly several cop vans appeared in our street out of nowhere. A loudspeaker announcement followed that everyone should go into their houses:

“Go home and stay home!”

But the people did not go. From the loudspeaker there was some talk about “coercive measures”, but nobody seemed to care much about that. The cops got out of their vans and started to beat people with their batons. But the people on the street started to resist, first bottles and stones flew. First barricades were built and the cops had to retreat because of the massive resistance. That was the beginning of the now legendary New Year’s Eve revolt.

I assumed that the cops would come back, estimated that they would need about one to two hours to get enough reinforcements from other cities. That would buy us some time. But the cops didn’t get any support from other cities, instead they came back after only one hour. The reinforcement consisted of trafic cops, some of them were also equipped with helmets. It took less than half an hour until the cops fled in panic in a hail of stones. They did not come back that night either. We used the time to reinforce the barricades and set up ammunition depots with stones, Molotov cocktails and everything else that was needed. Meanwhile, more and more news reached us from other cities. Hell was breaking loose everywhere. The reinforcements didn’t come because the whole country was in flames, in Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig and dozens of other cities there were fierce clashes with the cops.

What else happened and how politicians paved the way for the New Year’s Eve revolt, I will report in the next issue of the Sunzi Bingfa

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