Why the city is better than its reputation

Why the city is better than its reputation

Dhe most surprising first: The German capital has had an extremely beautiful and excellently functioning airport for more than two years, at least in comparison to other cities. Even last summer, when European air traffic was in chaos almost everywhere, things remained comparatively relaxed here.

Ralph Bollman

Correspondent for economic policy and deputy head of business and “Money & More” for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper in Berlin.

You rarely had to wait longer than 20 minutes at the security checkpoints, for example in Frankfurt or Munich even before Corona, queuing for hours was almost the norm. Well, during the autumn holidays 2021 there were brief problems. But even that had its good side. It meant that the Berlin Airport Company sought new staff earlier and more efficiently than the competition.

The local press, practiced in notorious Berlin bashing, could hardly believe it. “Busiest day at BER Airport: there is no chaos,” headlined the newspaper Berlin morning post disappointed last summer. “Berlin is starting the holidays – WITHOUT the feared chaos,” the tabloid BZ had to admit in the fall. The “Tagesspiegel” hadn’t given up hope even at Christmas, but then stated: “Holiday start at Berlin-Brandenburg Airport without chaos”.

Meanwhile, piled up BER the suitcases being forwarded from the international hubs, which were indeed chaos. Those who really wanted to could then blame the Berliners again.

German champion in vaccination

Perhaps the forthcoming re-election to the Berlin House of Representatives on February 12 is an occasion to put a few things straight. Yes, some things are going wrong in the federal capital. The most blatant example of this was provided by the messed-up election that now has to take place again.

But not everything goes wrong, on the contrary: some things work even better in Berlin, and many things are not good elsewhere either – and certainly not in those federal states that like to mock the conditions on the Spree the loudest.

Let’s take the topic that has literally kept the Republic in suspense for the past three years: the corona pandemic. When the long-awaited vaccine finally came onto the market at the turn of the year 2020/21, the confusion was nowhere as great as in Baden-Württemberg, which is said to be exemplary.

Failing State of Baden-Württemberg

There was a telephone hotline there for making appointments, but you could get anything from there for weeks, just no appointment – if you managed to get through at all. Appointments were also not available on the specially set up website. Even for 80-year-olds, it sometimes took several dozen attempts to even get the prospect of an injection.

Little or nothing was heard from Berlin at this time. And there was one reason above all: the organization worked almost perfectly. The age groups were written to one after the other, Berlin released the vaccination for all over 60-year-olds earlier than other countries. And in the large vaccination centers, two of them at the closed Tegel and Tempelhof airports, one work step intertwined with the other like the gears of a precision watch from Switzerland.

“This is how Berlin could function in the future, in a good mood, well mixed, for the benefit of everyone,” enthused the historian Götz Aly. All social classes, milieus and migration backgrounds pitched in, the whole colorful German capital. “That’s not how the Führer had imagined it,” Aly wrote, referring to the monstrous building at Tempelhof Central Airport, which Adolf Hitler once had built.

It works best in crises

Even if things sometimes go wrong during normal operations, the capital often works better in crises than other federal states with their entrenched administrative traditions. That didn’t work out just once, when the refugees arrived in autumn 2015. Suddenly, everyone in Germany felt something they had never known before State Office for Health and Social Affairs commonly known as lageso for short: the newcomers sometimes camped out for days in front of the overwhelmed authorities; however, the claim that a Syrian died in the process later turned out to be incorrect.

Perhaps the chaos had something to do with the fact that Berlin was not at the center of the refugee movements at the time. The Balkan route initially ended in Bavaria. In other words, the crisis may simply not have been big enough to trigger a special effort in Berlin.

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