As soon as the German government announced the €9 ticket, with unlimited travel on regional trains all summer, a meme took over Deutsch-speaking social media: Off to Sylt!
Soon mainstream media were reporting that Antifa hordes were going to descend on the exclusive island in the North Sea, usually reserved for the financial aristocracy.
Ultimately, not much happened. A few punks did make it to the beach at Westerland. But they soon discovered that this island getaway is not just expensive but also really boring.
But a trip to Sylt was never a great idea to express our displeasure with late capitalism. We need to head to the exact opposite end of the country.
This weekend — June 26-28, so Sunday to Tuesday — the G7 summit is meeting at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria. This is in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a town in the Alps about an hour south of Munich, close to the Austrian border. With the €9 ticket, you can make it in about nine hours.
The Group of Seven unites the world’s seven most powerful governments: the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Japan. These seven governments stand for just about everything that is wrong with the world today: vaccine imperialism, global warming, austerity and militarism.
These seven governments stand for just about everything that is wrong with the world today: vaccine imperialism, global warming, austerity and militarism.
Summits like this one have provoked some of the most militant protests in recent decades in Germany. The G8 in Rostock and Heiligendamm in 2007 attracted tens of thousands of protestors, as did the G20 in Hamburg in 2017. The last G7 was seven years ago in the exact same location.
2015 was the only time I’ve been to Garmisch, and it was lovely: meadows, babbling brooks, towering mountains — straight outta The Sound of Music. I remember telling myself I would return for a vacation some day, but then I never managed to get past Brandenburg.
This idyllic location was then filled with protest camps, with helicopters circling overhead. Demonstrators linked arms under the burning sun, so they could keep together as cops attacked. This weekend, the German state is mobilising 30,000 police to protect the summit — far more than the expected number of protestors.
On Saturday, there will be a big demonstration in Munich. On Sunday, a second demonstration will take place in Garmisch. On Monday, demonstrators will head for the summit itself in Elmau castle.
These summit storms really started in 1999 with the Battle of Seattle, as tens of thousands of people filled the streets to oppose the World Trade Organization. They reached a high point in 2001, when the G8 came to Genoa in Italy. Protests like this have always been a chance to unite many different social movements — and in 2022, that is more necessary than ever.
I will be missing out this year, for reasons. But I would recommend the nine-hour train ride to everyone. Where else can you combine hiking in the Alps with a chance to protest seven different imperialist governments at once?
Nathaniel Flakin’s new anticapitalist guide book Revolutionary Berlin is available now from Pluto Press. 304 pages, €18.99 / £14.99.