Germany argues (not), Germany speaks | free press


There are many, but the participants in the “Germany speaks” campaign do not correspond to the representative cross-section of the population. Anyone who wants to talk about controversial political issues is open-minded, open and communicative. In this regard, the comments of “Germany speaks” cannot be applied one-to-one to the whole country …

There are many, but the participants in the “Germany speaks” campaign do not correspond to the representative cross-section of the population. Anyone who wants to talk about controversial political issues is open-minded, open and communicative. In this regard, the observations of “Germany speaks” cannot be transferred one-to-one to the whole country. Nevertheless, so far the campaign shows that democratic cohesion is not as bad as people tend to believe given the ‘culture’ of debate in social networks.

Many media companies have now joined the “Germany speaks” format, which has been developed online over the years. In the election year 2021 also the “Free Press”. Those who register will answer a number of opinion questions. Then interlocutors are presented who hardly agree with their own views. Linked to this, “Germany speaks”, so to speak, people with different opinions. Nearly 20,000 have signed up so far this year, and thousands have already spoken to each other. So the computer scientist with the librarian, the teacher with the team supervisor, the social educator with the technical supervisor. Or in one case the Freiberg PhD student Paul Scapan with Rupert Früh, after all CFO of service provider Lila-Logistik.

The evaluation of the participants’ preliminary answers (graphic) actually reveals a divided opinion on many topics. The question of whether there would be more sanctions against Russia and whether Germany cares enough about the East Germans is judged differently in Saxony than in Germany as a whole. Also, many participants generally express the feeling that it is becoming increasingly difficult to exchange differing points of view. “You notice it everywhere,” says Frankfurt/Main student Lucas Audouard, who sees himself as more conservative. “If you bring up a controversial topic, the alarms go off. Everyone goes into the defensive position.” In every political camp, there are those who want to find consensus-based solutions. “But they were silent. Not the one who yells loudly is right.’

In “Germany Speaks”, however, participants report respectful conversations, with an interest in the other’s point of view. Some are even convinced by the other side. Lucas Audouard spoke for over two hours with Gesa Cämmerer from Chemnitz via video conference. “Although we view the world from different political camps of course, there was a lot of agreement,” Gesa Cämmerer said afterwards. “I found his approach, that we gain people more with conviction than with rules and prohibitions, motivating for me. Personally, I just lose my faith in it.”

When it comes to racism, she makes self-conscious students think. “I can already see that even in our public service, certain people are being treated derogatoryly,” she told the audibly affected young man. “To me this is racist. We have many recipients of aid with a migrant background. They have a different status than when someone else fills in their slip… I don’t have to address everyone with you, if that is the case it is not usual otherwise. I have to say, that doesn’t work, because I usually can’t be quiet.” Audouard answered the question whether Germany is a racist country with no. “With us in Frankfurt you have more contact with foreigners. You have a Mehmet in your class, you are occasionally invited to Bayram. You get an explanation of what a sugar festival is, in Frankfurt you always have one or two Jews with you Great, that’s quite normal, and nobody defines themselves by that: I’m Turkish, I’m Mehmet.” For him, not everything that is flogged as such is racism: “Whenever I asked, are you Jewish? You can’t ask that. Yes, why do you ask? Yes, maybe because you have a star of David that turns the neck and is called Morgentaler I have nothing against her When I get to know a black man I may ask out of interest And if you try to construct something for every little thing you exclude these people Then diminish But if someone uses up If he’s not supposed to be, he’s an A… And if he only does that with blacks, he’s an A too Racist.” Like Lucas Audouard and Gesa Cämmerer, many participants in “Germany Speaks” develop an understanding of their counterparts’ point of view. For example, Paul Scapan, who complains that personal slander is rampant and that opinions solidify within certain bubbles. “We are a diverse society and have many different opinions,” says Scapan. “I think division and polarization are wrong.”

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After the interview: selection of reviews from different participants (anonymous)

What surprised you most about your conversation?

“What surprised me the most was how little my interlocutor (42 years old) knew about the time of reunification. He had no idea that the farmers in the new Länder had to plow their crops because their own people only wanted to eat vegetables from the west. Or how hard it was for the people there to be laughed at for their Trabis, which they had hoped for and kept for years.The existential fear of the job being lost overnight.The overwhelming demands of the people , which was dispelled by decades of self-responsibility and constructive work Criticism – and now all of a sudden personal initiative for future decisions was needed.” Participant, 62 years, Cologne

“Unfortunately, this form of debating, especially with people who were completely unknown before, has become less and less common lately. So I was all the more surprised that it really worked in this setup and that it was fun for both of us.” Participant, 49 years, Berlin

At what point did the person you interviewed most convince you?

“In the field of gender, the interviewee was able to report from her own point of view and thus give me new insights.” Participant, 53 years, Hamburg

“When asked whether Germany is racist. My starting point was: no, because Germany is not racist by the state. But everyday racism is widespread.” Participant, 54 years, Lower Saxony

“I strongly believed that East Germany had already received enough aid from the West and that there was still a lack of East German commitment and social equality.” Participant, 21 years, Baden-Württemberg

“I denied whether Germany cares enough about the East Germans and related this answer only to the level of the economy. Now I also see the question in relation to other levels, appreciation…” Participant, 53 years, Bremen

This is how you can participate

Eight yes/no questions are regularly published on the “Freie Presse” homepage and in the printed version. If you answer the questions and then sign up, an algorithm matches each prospect as quickly as possible with someone who thinks very differently about those questions. Once both have agreed to the conversation, they can arrange a virtual one-on-one conversation on a video platform of their choice.

It is possible to have multiple conversations with different people. Since the questions are updated according to the political situation, you can register multiple times before the federal elections.

You can sign up here.