The Kulturkampf begins peacefully. Five police officers make their way through the blockade - very carefully, they do not want to step on anyone's finger. There are around 250 people on the ground. Many of them wear white overalls, they sing protest songs. The sun is shining over Frankfurt am Main, but the climate has gotten rough: The most powerful and highest-revenue industry in Germany is protesting as rarely. She had actually invited to the big showcases.
For the 68th time the International Motor Show (IAA) takes place. It used to mean that enthusiasm for old success, new models and more and more horsepower had no limits. But times have changed. Hundreds of policemen and countless meters of barriers are on duty this Sunday to separate the car opponents of the auto show. The auto industry has barricaded itself.
The car has become a symbol of the climate crisis for the people in front of the exhibition gates. Their protest is increasingly directed against the economy. In May activists from Fridays for Future demonstrated in Berlin at the annual general meetings of VW and Daimler, now at the IAA. When Angela Merkel officially opened the auto show on Thursday, members of Greenpeace climbed onto car roofs of luxury cars and unfurled posters there. On Friday, activists in Frankfurt blocked the traffic.
"Take the traffic turn in your own hands"
On Saturday, environmentalists then paralyzed half the city. From the entire Rhine-Main area, thousands came in a rally to Frankfurt - by bicycle. At least for a few hours, they reached their ultimate destination: a car-free inner city. Motorways and federal roads they took over the same. For the subsequent demonstration came about 25,000 children and the elderly, families and environmental activists - right in front of the gates of the IAA.
On Sunday, the protest is smaller - and more radical. Nearly 1,000 people came. "We go to the places where the climate destruction starts," says a young woman in black pants and heavy hiking boots. Her name is Marie Klee and she is one of the spokesmen for sand in the transmission. The Alliance had called for the blockades. "The political stalemate forces us to take the change in traffic itself in the hand," says the call, signed in addition to Attac, the youth associations of the Greens and the Left and Diem 25 dozens of other organizations.
Even before the first visitors arrive, the main entrance of the fair is already closed. "Welcome to IAA" is written in big white letters. Among them, hundreds of activists have gathered. They loudly shout slogans, holding up banners. "The street is busy. Turnaround now!" is there to read. The police let them largely grant. There are also demonstrators in front of two other exhibition gates. Nothing works anymore. The queues at the open entrances are getting longer and longer.
Falling sales and fewer exhibitors
For the auto industry, the protest is just part of the crisis. Falling sales figures, the consequences of the diesel scandal and the increasing pressure to finally push forward the traffic turnaround - all this is causing the industry to suffer. This is also clear at the IAA: four years ago, there were still about 1,100 exhibitors, now there are about 800. Big players like Fiat, Renault, Suzuki or Toyota have stayed away in rows, even luxury brands such as Rolls-Royce, Ferrari or Maserati looking in vain , Even the future of the IAA is up for debate.
The industry is trying to counteract - and wants to emphasize its green image in Frankfurt. The IAA is to be a "platform for the mobility turnaround" this year. Many electric cars can be seen, but also many, some electrically powered SUVs. For some they are status symbols, for others they are menacing climate sinners. The Kulturkampf rages particularly intensely around the so-called "city SUVs".