Friday, January 13, 2017

A New Year's Reception

Neujahresempfänge are proliferating in Freiburg. It is a nice gesture to come together with friends, glass in the hand, wishing them a good year, and making small talk. Red Baron is invited to many of those New Year's receptions but has to skip some for their timely density is too high.

The day before yesterday the city of Freiburg held its New Year's reception at the Konzerthaus. Red Baron got an invitation and was one of 1300 guests.


When I arrived in time at 1800 hours all chairs for the elderly people were already occupied. So I placed myself with my back against a railing easing the weight on my aching legs.

There were only a few chairs for elderly people and VIPs in the foyer of the Konzerthaus.
Red Baron, white hair, blue jacket, is standing on the left with his back to the railing
(©BZ/Ingo Schneider)

Same audience as seen by the speaker Mayor Dieter Salomon.
Red Baron is the tall guy in the back clinging to the railing on the left (©Amtsblatt/A. J. Schmidt)
In his speech Mayor Dieter Salomon recalled the old year with all its turbulences. Citizens have become uneasy accusing authorities of no longer being able to protect them. Hence populists are questioning fundamental assets of a pluralistic society like democracy, parties, elections, parliaments, justice and freedom of the press. We may no longer take these values for granted. To weather the threat from the right on our "western values" we need a wehrhafte Demokratie (well-fortified democracy).

Dr. Salomon's speech was translated into sign language
Freiburg is a boom town. The growth in population is twofold. People from outside move to Freiburg and more children are born inside. The city needs more and in particular affordable housing. On the other hand the development of the city's infrastructure is well under way.

Dr. Salomon also mentioned the events that moved Freiburgers in 2016: the murder of a young student, the renaming of streets, and the remains of the old synagogue. Red Baron reported. At the end of his relatively short speech Mayor Salomon announced what was already known: he will run in 2018 seeking a third eight year term as mayor.

At the end of his speech the audience applauded
 but the mayor's glass was empty and he was eagerly looking for a water refill.
Since I was in a strategic position I "sprinted" into the empty space between him, the audience, and the glass of water, wished him all the best for the future, and gratulated him for his decision in quoting a phrase from a couplet by Otto Reutter: Nehm‘n Se ‘n Alten, denn der tut besser halten (Take an old guy for he lasts longer). The mayor roared with laughter.

What a relief!

Ich bin hindurch* (I am through with my speech)
*Martin Luther ought have said following his hearings at the Worms diet in 1521.
Not all citizens agree with Mayor Salomon's decision to run for a third term: His system is too burocratic, Dieter is lacking visions, we need a new person with new ideas. At the moment I do not see any other valuable candidate so in times of trumpism it is good to know that one can rely on a proven guy (Nehm‘n Se ‘n Alten ...).

Even our Italian citizens like Freiburg's mayor:
 Diter Salomon ist meine Papa.
(Graffiti at the Martinstor)

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