Enlarge image

Herbert Grönemeyer and the Rundfunkchor Berlin: »Kaltes Berlin«

Photo: Jörg Carstensen / dpa

At most winter or Christmas markets, well-known songs such as "Last Christmas" or "Jingle Bells" blare from the loudspeakers. Basically, you are happy about any change – but visitors to a Berlin Christmas market experienced a special musical surprise on the second Sunday of Advent. Between Christmas tree baubles, mulled wine stands and carousel, Herbert Grönemeyer suddenly appeared. The 67-year-old musician ("Mensch") sang his latest production »Kaltes Berlin« for the bewildered audience.

The ballad-like song describes a seemingly cold city in which hope and empathy are also hidden. Grönemeyer was supported by the Rundfunkchor Berlin at the Lucia Christmas market in the Kulturbrauerei in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district. The people at the Christmas market, some of whom were puzzled at first, were so enthusiastic that Grönemeyer and the choir presented the song again.

»For peaceful and respectful coexistence«

Also on Sunday, Grönemeyer was present in Berlin at a rally against anti-Semitism and racism. According to a police spokeswoman, up to 3200,<> people took part in the demonstration under the slogan "Never again is now". The rally was called by a broad alliance of different institutions and organizations.

Grönemeyer had already advertised the demo on his Instagram profile days ago. "Show your face for peaceful and respectful coexistence, against anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews, racism and xenophobia," he wrote in a posting.

The demonstration began in the early afternoon at the Victory Column, the final rally took place at the Brandenburg Gate. The event began with a joint prayer of Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Jews. The patron of the event was Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD), who also gave a speech.

Other speakers at the rally included the Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, the Governing Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU), Federal Minister of Labour Hubertus Heil (SPD), the President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, and the singer Roland Kaiser.

In his speech, Schuster once again denounced anti-Semitism in this country, which is "commonplace in the middle of society." I said it a few weeks ago, and it's still true: sometimes I don't recognize this country." Something had gone off the rails, Schuster emphasized. However, there is still an opportunity to repair this.