It was in February 2020 when the wife of Peter Holze’s protégé applied for a visa appointment at the German embassy in Pakistan. According to Holze, the waiting time for an appointment is two years. It would therefore be the turn of the woman from northern Afghanistan at the beginning of next year. But now it’s all too late. She can’t leave, her husband, who worked as an interpreter for the Bundeswehr until 2016, is in Leipzig and is worried about her life. State structures in Afghanistan have been dissolved, on Saturday the Taliban took the town of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the headquarters of the Bundeswehr was located a few months ago. And the staff captain in Saxony got dramatic messages. He reports: “The Taliban are starting to search the houses – for people who have supported the Bundeswehr.”
Peter Holze spent four and a half months in Kunduz in 2012/2013 as a soldier with the staff of the then 13th Panzer Grenadier Division from Leipzig. Today, he is one of more than 200 sponsors of the Afghan local staff sponsorship network. The association cares for about 1,000 people across the country in 11 regional groups: Afghans and their relatives who worked as local staff in the Hindu Kush for the German armed forces and left their homeland because they were threatened with torture and death. Peter Holze is the sponsor of three families in Saxony, and after their arrival he helped them with registration, job and apartment search, language learning and integration. Monday, the day after the occupation of the presidential palace in Kabul by the Taliban, he wants to make contact for the “Free Press” with the man who is now having sleepless nights in Leipzig and whose wife probably doesn’t stand a chance in Mazar-i-Sharif. more has to go. But the former Bundeswehr interpreter, who lives alone in Leipzig with four children from his first marriage and had to end his studies due to stress, says he is currently unable to talk. The current situation is too dramatic.
According to Peter Holze, his wife actually wanted to fly from Mazar-i-Sharif to Kabul on Sunday. But since Saturday, air traffic there has come to a standstill. “It’s extremely hard for them to get out,” Holze said. The Taliban are systematically combing the city for Sharia violations, as well as supporters of their former military opponents. “There are no lists, but you ask neighbors: who worked for the Bundeswehr at Camp Marmal?” It was now impossible for a woman to go to Kabul alone. The border crossings in the north to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are also occupied by the Taliban. According to the Bundeswehr officer, his godfather in Leipzig is under enormous psychological pressure. His brother, who worked as a freelance journalist, also wants to leave the country and has since fled to Kabul.
Even in Kabul itself, according to Peter Holze, it might now at most be possible to get local personnel outside who have directly supported the German embassy there. For the others, the road from the city to the airport is blocked. Only the military section secured by the US military works there. “There is no more civil air traffic in Kabul.” Peter Holze personally sees a failure in the timely issuance of visas. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have reacted differently,” he says.
Marucs Grotian, once a Panzergrendaier in Afghanistan who founded the sponsorship network for local Afghan workers six years ago, published a very national and dramatic description of the situation on the association’s Facebook page. “We have tried to give the 8,000 local workers and relatives who remained, as well as subcontractors, journalists, women and children, a chance,” Grotian said. His association, based in Eberswalde near Berlin, collected donations to rent guarded accommodation in Kabul, where local staff, powered by civil society, stayed for weeks and hoped to leave. “They stayed there because they hoped for a road to safety.” On Monday, Grotian stated: “The Taliban have to go door to door looking for local personnel. I have dismantled the safehouses, which are just death traps.” Desperate, he tells how the Afghan aid workers are abandoned, how his association is drowning in a flood of cries for help. “We will never forget them. Unbearable. Our team is in shock. We pray for the souls left behind.”