Press Release
Dated Oct. 20, 2002

In the middle of Germany.…

"You are leaving the democratic zone of Germany"…. Has this been forgotten already?
There  were such sign posts set up not far from Dannenberg at the eastern border of the Wendland, at a time in the past - when the former Wall and the barbed wire fences between East and West Germany were still existing. In the past? Nowadays, barbed wire fences have been set up again to stop people from moving from place to place without being checked. But there is no actual frontier, this has happened right in the middle of Germany. Or should it be that there is a border? Yes, there is - it might become a borderline of a special sort and if it is crossed, democracy is left behind. There are warning signs already: Warning - Danger ahead!

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A Walk on a Saturday afternoon

Originally, the stroller just wants to have a look on that sunny Saturday afternoon in October, when he stops for a rest at a place named Roadhouse located close to Dannenberg. He wants to find out what the purpose is for the red and white string that shines through bushes and trees in the afternoon sun, just a bit further on. He walks to the place and cannot believe his eyes. Where is he now? In the Kosovo or between North and South Korea?

No, he still is in the middle of Germany. Despite the fact that hundreds of meters of barbed wire stop his freedom to move. A special wire - NATO wire – sharp as a razor blade. In three rows, already noticeable from the far distance – it is installed parallel to a single, rusty unused railway line up to the place where the train station of Dannenberg is located.

Further down where the road crosses the rails and leads to an industrial area and to a discothèque there is even more barbed wire. On the right and left side of the road are floodlights - looming into the sky like the withdrawn tentacles of an octopus. Then there are fences and a gate right across the rails. In the background a high square building, painted in a pale greenish colour is visible. Grey-white barricades are installed right at the fences. And green VW police vans are lining up just behind those. It is a rather grotesque scenery.

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The stroller takes out his camera. He wants to document what he is seeing. He wants to establish a documentary evidence, otherwise, nobody would believe him, if he told people about the effort that is made to secure this unused railway line. Meanwhile, video cameras on high poles are recording each of his steps.

Now there is a rattling noise. The iron gate opens. Two gentlemen in a dark olive green outfit get out and join him. They ask in a friendly manner what he is doing here. "Taking pictures"! Is his reply. But they tell him that this is not permitted. The stroller is amassed. Why should it not be allowed to take pictures? The reply is, that this is considered as "endangered area" and thus no snapshots should be taken. Furthermore he was requested to show his identity card. "Why"? Because he took pictures of police cordons without permission and that would necessitate an "Inpol" investigation.

Germany in autumn. Again already? The stroller wants to know what the legal basis is for this allegedly prohibited photographing. The reply: this would be none of his business, it would be sufficient if the two gentlemen in green would tell him that they were policemen and taking photos would only be allowed upon permission by the police. This would be a constitutionally vested right. Just as the "Right of the Own Picture"

Has the NATO wire got a "Right of the own Picture"? Unfortunately the stroller does not know the constitutional law by heart. But he cannot remember to have ever read about the existence of a basic right of that sort. "That is of no importance now! You show your identity card immediately otherwise we take you with us straight away! "Whereto?" To our van to check your personal data!" On what legal basis, please?" On basis of paragraph 33" What is the contents of that?" "Unimportant" If the stroller is so familiar with the constitutional right he should also know paragraph 33. "33"! The stroller cannot help thinking "1933?" The two Gentlemen get impatient. They ask the stroller with the camera whether he wants to put up resistance. Why should he and with what? Then he should come with them. However, he thinks without being informed about the legal basis for this measure there is no reason for that, thus he simply remains where he is.

The two gentlemen obviously get impatient. They tell him that there would be "Danger ahead ". Didn't he actually know, why the policemen from Bonn have been ordered to this dangerous zone. Would he not know, that a CASTOR shipment was just about to arrive on this railway line soon and needed protection. Yes, he is familiar with that, but for him this is not enough reason to be bothered by the police.

The stroller remains where he is. The two gentlemen get support, probably from a superior person. Again he is requested to show his identity card. "You do not want to state your personal data?" The stroller tells them that he does not object to that but he wants know on what legal basis. The third policemen has no problem to give the required information. "Paragraph 14 of the Federal Law for Border Police Forces allows the check-up of a people`s personal data without any specific suspicion in a endangered zone at any time! No further mentioning of the Right of the own Picture, or that it is prohibited to take photos of police cordons. The stroller thinks: they found an explanation for their measures, finally. Now it can be checked with "Inpol" whether that person who only wanted to establish an evidence of a contemporary situation with his camera is registered in the police computer. After all we are living in a constitutional state. … Is he registered in the computer or not? When they return his identity card to him the stroller will get no reply to that question. Still one of the policemen dressed in green hands over to him a small note with a number mentioned on it which he noted down after some longer search in his police van.

A walk on a Saturday afternoon in the Wendland on the 19th Oct. 2002 . An Indian summer day in October. In the middle of Germany.

Dieter Metk,

Bearbeitet am: 28.10.2002/ad

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