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Max Annas
It’s Getting Dark in Germany

Those of us who are aware of the increasing xenophobia in our societies might indeed become alarmed. Crime author Max Annas' oppressive dystopia describes Germany's future as anything but rosy, especially for people with foreign roots.

By Holger Moos

Annas: Finsterwalde © Rowohlt Finsterwalde (i.e. dark forest) is the book's title. And in it things have once again become very dark in Germany. The country is governed by an extreme nationalist party that promised "politics for you" in the election campaign. A policy for one group is usually a policy to the detriment of another.
In Annas’ depiction, this detriment is massive. Policemen, soldiers and civilian guards hunt down foreigners in public. People who do not have a German passport or are simply not “German” enough for those in power are held prisoner in deportation camps and left to their own devices. The principle of “might makes right” prevails. One of these camps is located in Finsterwalde, a town a good 100 kilometres south of Berlin.

Watched over by drones

The camp inmates are not only watched over by guards patrolling the fences, but also by drones. Food is dropped from above over the camp. The people throw themselves at these parcels like animals.

Marie lives in this camp with her two children Antoinette and Kodjo. She was a doctor in Berlin, but was interned because she is dark-skinned. Together with some other camp inmates, she escapes through a sewer. The group intends to go to Berlin to rescue three African children left behind.

Entry-permit stipulation: No politics!

The story of Theo and Eleni, a Greek couple with two daughters is delineated against the backdrop of camp life. Eleni is much younger than Theo, the children are not his. It is mainly thanks to her that the family can come to Germany. She is one of those well-educated foreigners who are tolerated in Germany as skilled workers, albeit only on a trial basis. Theo, who worked as a critical journalist in Greece, has to wear an electronic ankle-monitor. Thinking is not free either, immigrants are banned by their entry permits from conducting political discussions during their first year in Germany.

Annas understands well how to create tension through these two storylines and how to link them together in the end. One wonders if and when this dystopia might become reality. Right at the beginning Annas makes an assessment: "Relatively soon. Or maybe two or three years later." Similarities with living persons or currently successful political parties are guaranteed not coincidental.

Cherry Picker Annas, Max: Finsterwalde
Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2018. 400 S.
ISBN: 978-3-498-07401-2