Dietrich Brüggemann is one of the leading figures of the German extra-parliamentary opposition. His cynical measure-criticizing short clips within the framework of the #allesdichtmachen campaign also earned him a high reputation beyond his country’s borders.
On August 20 2021, he gave a remarkable interview to the Berlin-based Newspaper Berliner Zeitung that offers profound insights into the current tricky situation. After consultation with my friend Dietrich Brüggemann, I decided to translate this interview into English.
Interview of Berliner Zeitung with Dietrich Brüggemann
Berliner Zeitung: Mr Brüggemann, it’s been some time since #allesdichtmachen; when was that exactly?
Dietrich Brüggemann: On 22 April.
Berliner Zeitung: After some time has passed, what has the project achieved?
Dietrich Brüggemann: #allesdichtmachen had a massive impact on the entire country. It hit like rarely anything else. We have done one of the central tasks of art: we have put the axe to consensus.
Berliner Zeitung: Were you surprised that so many actors and actresses participated?
Dietrich Brüggemann: I was pleased. The predicament that prevailed in the discourse only became visible through this action. Before that, people still thought it was possible to criticize and point out the absurdity. The toxicity of the reaction showed what the actual situation is: whoever criticizes the lockdown is an inhuman being and will be publicly executed.
Berliner Zeitung: Did you expect such toxicity?
Dietrich Brüggemann: Not to this extent. I had hoped for some substantive discussion. The first comments were positive and thoughtful. But then a storm broke out, first on Twitter and then all over the place.
Berliner Zeitung: Did you hit a nerve?
Dietrich Brüggemann: Quite obviously, yes. The measures are abusive, and everyone can sense that secretly. This trivial fact should have nothing to do with the question of whether they are necessary. But there is tremendous pressure not to articulate this feeling, because otherwise you will be harassed. So one rationalizes the situation and one’s own submission as an act of reason: the measures have to be because science says so. Entirely on the sidelines is the legitimate question of whether the same goal could be achieved in other ways. The saying that the end justifies the means is wrong. The means are the end. Authoritarian governance is not the only possible way. As a filmmaker, I get around a lot and can say: the people in this country are okay. They’re reasonable and responsible. One could have said: We don’t make a legal regulation, but tell you what the problem is and how we can try to solve it together. We respect you as grown-up citizens. When natural disasters occur, cohesion and solidarity arise all by themselves. Instead, the measures have brought out the ugliness in society.
Berliner Zeitung: What is your view of the Covid measures?
Dietrich Brüggemann: They are a comprehensive intervention at the physical level. This begins with the masks. We should not underestimate the masks in their symbolism, the loss of facial expressions, the impeded breathing and speech. It continues with detail-oriented regulations on social interaction in the most private sphere. And finally, the vaccination, which is put forward as the sole remedy and is to be forced by social pressure. These are all violations of personal autonomy, which are, in fact, humiliating. In order to enforce them, Covid must be elevated to a kind of religion. There must be no dissenting opinion. In an ordinary and civil discourse, one could weigh things up. But with religiously based coercion, you can’t get into a conversation. Everything is just symbolism. Whoever says something against it is a crank or malicious.
“We should not underestimate the masks in their symbolism, the loss of facial expressions, the impeded breathing and speech.”
Berliner Zeitung: What is your view on the lockdown?
Dietrich Brüggemann: The goal was never clearly formulated. Angela Merkel said that with her background as a GDR (note: East German socialist dictatorship) citizen, it was perfectly clear that such restrictions were only justified in an absolute emergency. First, it was “flatten the curve,” then it was the R-value, then the vaccine, then the risk groups had to be vaccinated, then everyone should have had a vaccination offer, then everyone should have been vaccinated, then children should also have been vaccinated, and next, all vaccinations must be refreshed. Nobody talks about the end of the measures at all. But that should be the goal.
Berliner Zeitung: The vaccinated have been told that when you are vaccinated, you will get your freedoms back…
Dietrich Brüggemann: … and instead, the state of emergency has now become a permanent state. I hear more and more frequently that there is unrest even among the vaccinated. There have reportedly already been tumultuous scenes in places where the 2G (note: “genesen oder geimpft”; recovered or vaccinated) rule has been introduced.
Berliner Zeitung: What was the overall reaction to #allesdichtmachen?
Dietrich Brüggemann: We have seen tremendous support from the general public. We have received thousands of emails through the website. 99.5 per cent were expressions of gratitude and approval. It was touching. Many have written: Thank you, I had already thought I was the only one. Many of those who took part were approached on the street. Even I, although I am not a celebrity.
Berliner Zeitung: Some actors were afraid they would suffer economic damage because of the involvement. What was the impact on you personally?
Dietrich Brüggemann: It may surprise you: Yes, there were some negative surprises. But there were far more positive surprises. I had a book contract for a novel cancelled by a small publishing house, but two larger publishers came along and expressed interest. A record label, with which I had been working amicably for years, threw my band out the door without consulting me. As a result, we decided to market our music ourselves, and we realized: That’s possible, we don’t need this label, it’s even better that way. And I haven’t experienced any repercussions in the film industry. The subsequent films are being planned. Some doors have closed. But new doors have opened. There was even a suggestion to produce a movie with all the actors who participated in #allesdichtmachen.
Berliner Zeitung: What conclusions do you draw from these experiences?
Dietrich Brüggemann: You can speak your mind, and you should express your mind. First, you have to overcome the fear of the headwind. That is already half the battle. Everyone can, and must, now defend themselves against division and discrimination, especially concerning the de facto compulsory vaccination. We have to say: I’m not going along with that. I believe that those vaccinated will also complain when they realize that they have been promised something that is then not kept.
Berliner Zeitung: Which Corona policy would be the right one?
Dietrich Brüggemann: We should do everything we can proactively: Protect the high-risk groups, vaccinate, keep our distance, and let those who want to wear masks. But we need to get away from thinking that every problem is like a nail for which there can only be a hammer. What if we need a screwdriver? It can’t be that we only want to make hammers and solve every problem with them. And beat down anyone who says otherwise: Doctors are intimidated, threatened with losing their licenses. Judges have to endure house searches. In an open, free and liberal society, this should not happen. A culture that acts in this way multiplies its enemies. August 1 was perhaps a turning point. There it became apparent that the consensus can only be maintained with coercion. The police beat completely harmless people with brutality that leaves one speechless. We must all make this public and fight loudly against it.
Berliner Zeitung: For the public, you need the media. What is your experience in this regard?
Dietrich Brüggemann: I don’t want to let the media off the hook so easily. I see a regrettable tunnel vision, irresponsible scaremongering, a constant bombardment with Corona as a “killer virus”. Add to that the arrogance with which alternative media are held in contempt. And also the arrogance with which other countries are reported on or not reported on.
Berliner Zeitung: But many people don’t want criticism at all. You mentioned doctors and lawyers. Why is that?
Dietrich Brüggemann: (digs a book out of his bag) Here, Erich Fromm, “The Art of Loving,” 1956. It’s about conformity in societies. People want to be part of it; they don’t want to be isolated. So there’s herd conformity, but when it comes to something fundamental, each individual has to raise their voice.
Berliner Zeitung: What do you tell the doctors?
Dietrich Brüggemann: Inform your patients. Do not participate if you are not convinced.
Berliner Zeitung: What do you tell the lawyers?
Dietrich Brüggemann: Do your job, advise your clients. Complain, don’t be afraid. Network, be loud. Get on Twitter, write smart and sensible comments. All journalists are on Twitter. My experience is that you can make a difference there.
Berliner Zeitung: What do you tell the media?
Dietrich Brüggemann: That is crystal clear: the media’s job is to criticize and question the acting government. The press is the advocate of the citizens, not of the government. The state always tends to be encroaching. The citizens stand up to the state. That’s a core element of Western culture.
Berliner Zeitung: What do you tell the artist?
Dietrich Brüggemann: Inform yourselves. Listen to your conscience. And if you have come to an opinion, then out with it. Your task is to hold up a mirror to society. Art implies intellectual independence. Whoever loses it loses something of his artistic being.
Berliner Zeitung: What do you tell the politicians?
Dietrich Brüggemann: (thinks for a very long time, looks at a passing suburban train) A third of the population is massively against the measures. Give up your tunnel vision. Where are those who stand on the side of this group? Surely there will be a party that doesn’t want to leave the field to the AfD (very conservative German political party).
Berliner Zeitung: The children are particularly affected. What do you tell their parents?
Dietrich Brüggemann: There is a historically unique opportunity: it has never been so easy to become a hero. You’re standing at the ten-meter board, and you have to jump, and you believe there’s no water in the pool? I can encourage you: There is water in it. Many have jumped and are now swimming in the pool. Fight back. Masks for children during class is torture. We never had that in Sweden. Speak your mind. Don’t go with the flow. You will eventually realize that the current is changing its direction.
Masks for children during class is torture.Dietrich Brüggemann
Berliner Zeitung: What do you tell the young people?
Dietrich Brüggemann: Rebellion has always been the prerogative of youth. Have parties in parks. Ask questions. You don’t get anything for free, don’t have any illusions. Disagree wherever you can.
Berliner Zeitung: What do you call out to the Querdenker (“unconditional thinkers”; also used as defamation of concerned citizens in Germany)?
Dietrich Brüggemann: I’d instead address those who want to protest: Don’t let yourselves be called “Querdenker”. And don’t get involved with obscure profiteers. Sometimes I think this Ballweg (note: head of this Querdenken franchise) is a parody character to ridicule every Corona protest. Rewriting the Constitution during a rally in Berlin-Tiergarten is nonsense. We don’t need a new constitution; the old one was perfectly fine. Don’t be discouraged.
Berliner Zeitung: What about those who are really afraid of Corona?
Dietrich Brüggemann: Protect yourselves. You know how it is done. Get vaccinated. Wear masks, keep your distance. Against AIDS, safer sex helps; against gastrointestinal infections, it helps to pay attention to what you eat. So it’s not that difficult. But I also say: for most people, Covid is harmless or even passes unnoticed. The expectation of something terrible intensifies the physical reaction. This is called the Nocebo effect and is well researched.
Berliner Zeitung: What do you say to the Covidsufferers?
Dietrich Brüggemann: The thing you say to any sick person: get well soon.
Berliner Zeitung: Your new film will be released this fall. Is it about Covid?
Dietrich Brüggemann: No, it was produced before Covid. It is about the love of a couple. But there is a scene in which a society is divided into two groups: The VIPs and the Non-VIPs. They are assigned arbitrary identities and detailed rules about what they can and cannot do. The film is over two years old, but the scene seems more topical than ever.
Although Dietrich encourages everyone to be active on Twitter, it must unfortunately also be mentioned that Twitter behaves in an authoritarian manner towards dissenters. My accounts were deleted by Twitter for no reason, which unfortunately forces me to take legal action against this big tech company. For the time being, I can be found on my Telegram channel: https://t.me/goddek