You’ve probably never been to Germany, but you may have heard of Oktoberfest. It’s that time of the year in September and October when Germany celebrates life with traditional music, beer and pretzels. Everybody is welcome. Year by year way over six million visitors from around the world travel to Munich, by train for example, ready to enjoy Bavarian coziness and hospitality.
However, everything looks different this time. Europe finds itself in the center of a refugee crisis. Over the last few weeks thousands of people stranded in Germany and Munich, Bavaria. Their hope is for a better future, a shelter or just a friendly word. But they have to learn now that Bavarian hospitality has its limits during Oktoberfest.
Bavaria's Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), a popular conservative party in Bavaria, doesn’t want so many refugees to arrive in Munich anymore during Oktoberfest. He said he would make arrangements.
Do refugees kill the mood of bratwurst and hendl? Is there no space on Theresienwiese for people that just endured a life-threatening journey? What the hack is wrong with you, Mr. Seehofer?
Dear readers, you might say that Germany already took care of a lot of refugees. You might also say that many other countries including the US did worse – and setting up a fence against mexican immigrants was just one thing on a long and darker list. And you might also say who cares about Oktoberfest and ugly Bavarians at all.
I say it’s always the small things.
Most of the time I try to explain Silicon Valley to the Germans. Today it’s the other way around. Here’s what Silicon Valley has to learn about Oktoberfest. If you'd travel to Munich to celebrate Bavarian cosiness and hospitality, you'd support a lie. Don’t go. Boycott Oktoberfest.
Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieser Kolumne.
Britta Weddeling is a technology journalist with Handelsblatt, Germany's #1 business daily, and Wired, based in San Francisco. She is author of a weekly English tech column called "Valley Voice" and contributes every week to a podcast at a major German radio station (Deutschlandradio,"Was mit Medien").