13 October, 2015

[FESTIVAL REVIEW] WIR. Stimmen für geflüchtete Menschen

I'm sure you've all seen the scenes from Munich's central station in the news. Since the beginning of September thousands upon thousands of refugees have been arriving in southern Germany, coming to Munich via Eastern Europe and Austria.
Whilst Germany's politicians in Berlin discussed what to do, the people of Munich took to the streets to do the only logical thing: an army of helpers descended on Munich's central station to provide care for the arriving refugees, providing food & drink, clothes and basic first aid. 24/7. 
Munich became an example of how refugees should be treated.
Sportfreunde Stiller, a Munich(?) based rock band (they're big in Germany) were especially impressed by the effort put in by the helpers. In the space of a few weeks the band, together with the Munich city council and the organisation Bellevue di Monaco, organised the "WE. Voices for Refugees"-festival (WIR. Stimmen für geflüchtete Menschen). On October 11th nearly 25,000 people braved the cold to see Sportfreunde Stiller, Donots, Wanda, Herbert Grönemeyer, The Notwist , Wolfgang Niedecken featuring Werner Schmidbauer und Martin Kälberer, Judith Holofernes, Fettes Brot, Dreiviertelblut, Roger und Schu vs. Blumentopf, Bosse, Michael Mittermeier, Schlachthofbronx, Aeham Ahmad perform on Munich's "Königsplatz". As all performing bands had agreed to play for free as a thank you to the helpers and to give a loud welcome to refugees, tickets for the event were distributed free of charge. The event had a special atmosphere as the majority of the people there were either helpers or refugees.
A minutes' silence in remembrance of the 25,000+ refugees who have drowned in the Mediterranean was a moment those in attendance will remember forever. 

With so many bands in the line-up, each group only got to perform a few songs, leading to a huge musical variety showcased on stage. Organisers Sportfreunde Stiller came on stage to loud applause before performing some of their best known songs. My personal highlight of the evening was Donots' performance of their song "Dann ohne mich" in which they take a stand against the spreading wave of nationalism and xenophobia in parts of Germany. 

Benjamin Brown