It was a creeping process. It started approximately when I left Dresden for the first time to do my internship in the south of Germany. During my subsequent semester abroad in Loughborough (UK), I began to realize that this process is not only taking place in Germany, but also on a global scale.
By “process” I mean in this context the ever stronger association of Dresden with Pegida and of Saxony with right-wing extremism.
When I returned from my semester abroad, intimidated by the media coverage, I was unsure exactly what to expect. In fact, however, I quickly realized that not much had changed in my self-created “bubble” of university and various volunteer activities. The only changes worth mentioning in my immediate everyday life were the numerous calls for “counter-demonstrations”. Otherwise “Business as usual” was the rule.
During my MBA in Paris and Frankfurt, however, I was able to gain for the first time very emphatic experiences regarding the external perception of Saxony / Dresden. Because with the majority of my new acquaintances I could count on being confronted with questions about Pegida and right-wing extremism immediately after my self-imagination. In some conversations I almost had the impression that I had to justify myself for my place of study and thus also for my choice of university – especially since I was not originally born in Saxony. This development reached its climax when I recommended a fellow student from Paris, who is a Muslim and has a slightly Mediterranean skin tone, to visit Dresden during his holiday in Germany. Since it did not take long before other fellow students pointed out to me that this could be too dangerous for him. Until then, I was not aware that a stay in Dresden could apparently be classified as life-threatening.
Since I could not and still cannot estimate how these very drastic views about my new homeland could come about in detail, I therefore visited a Fishbowl discussion on the topic “Dresden and Saxony in the media” this Monday. All in all I had the impression that even the representatives of Deutschlandfunk and ZEIT did not have a really clear explanation for this phenomenon. Therefore, I would like to go here only into one insight gained by me during the discussion: Apparently errors were committed on all sides – both with the politics, and the media and the consumers/us all. For the latter, it was never as easy as it is today to help shape the external image of Saxony and Dresden with their own means. All you need is an internet connection.
Therefore I would like to point out in the next months in different posts, what makes Dresden so worth living, why the Technische Universität Dresden is an outstanding Alma Mater and that Dresden has to offer more than Pegida and right-wing extremism.