02 October, 2016

 One Month in Clausnitz: A Mayor in Tears - SPIEGEL ONLINE

 One Month in Clausnitz: A Mayor in Tears - SPIEGEL ONLINE:

One Clausnitz resident, who is rumored to have a cat named "Hitler," allegedly said: "They shit on our sidewalks." Others yelled that they don't want the "Kanaken," a derogatory German word that refers to foreigners.

Funke relates all of this in a matter-of-fact tone -- but then, from one second to the next, this large, proud man starts crying. It immediately becomes clear the burden he is forced to carry as mayor of this town.

"We are the people," he says. "They are abusing this slogan. How stupid can they be?"
He relates how, after that evening in the gymnasium, his 14-year-old daughter Lisa came to him and cried in his arms. "I never would have thought that people can be so full of hate," she said. Her father Michael Funke simply answered: "That's life."

His oldest daughter was just finishing her high school graduation exams and was planning to head for the US in the summer to work as an au pair. Hardly any of the town's young and educated stay in the region. The biggest employer in Clausnitz is an agricultural collective and there are also a couple of carpenters. Those who can, leave. Some go to Dresden but many more go further afield. In 1980, 5.2 million people lived in the state of Saxony, but today the state's population has fallen to 4 million. One forecast claims that only 2.6 million will be left by 2050. Mostly, it is the elderly and those without an education who stay behind, mostly male.

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