When an old friend and former neighbour contacted me recently via Facebook to tell me that he just bought a huge European flag I smiled as I always do when I see this flag and thought he will hoist it in his private vineyard behind his newly restored house. But he managed to surprise me – he bought the flag for the city he lives in and for a special building there: The Wachtenburg in Wachenheim, Rheinland Pfalz which is well known near and far as “the most beautiful balcony of the region”.
Sitting above the City of Wachenheim, the castle is now a ruin but it has been partially restored with a lot of love and is now a meeting point for locals and tourists as the view over the Rhine valley from there is spectacular. Unfortunately, the flag pole was in very bad condition and the City of Wachenheim had been waiting for good weather to repair it. The castle normally files the German or regional flag of Rheinland Pfalz (Rhenania Palatinate) and my friend promised me to keep me updated on the progress of fixing the flag pole and convincing the officials of Wachenheim to raise the European flag. On 9th of May, officially known as Europa Day, despite my misgiving on his success, the European flag will actually fly over Wachenheim.
A great victory indeed but actually, this event is far more important than we both could ever have imagined.
Because along with celebrating Europe day, the flying of the European Union flag will now act as a counteraction to the planned assembly of a far right wing demonstration at the nearby Hambacher Schloss (Hambach castle).
A historical important German region and two castles at Europe day
Simply put, Hambach Castle is the birthplace of modern-day Germany. From 1797 to 1815 the Palatinate belonged to France and aligned itself with the values of the French Revolution – liberty, equality and fraternity. The July revolution in Paris in 1830 further fuelled the desire for liberty in the Palatinate which culminated in the Hambach Festival. Leading liberals and over thirty thousand citizens from all walks of life gathered together in May 1832 and demanded more civil rights, religious tolerance and above all, national unity. They also demanded freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and a free press. The Hambach Festival went down in history as the birth of German democracy. It was also the first time that the black, red and gold tricolour was flown as the symbol of German unity. Today, Hambach Castle is a restored ruin in which its walls and towers are reminders of almost one thousand years of history.
And to celebrate Europe day 2018, on the 5th of May, the whole castle including the surrounding hill it sits on is closed to the public because German right wingers who are far from even accepting or promoting the values of human rights and religious freedom, fraternity and equality of all humans are planning an assembly there and obviously managed to rent the whole complex. While they are twisting and abusing the ideals of the founding assembly of German democracy while trying to change the narrative- and all this while we celebrate Europe day!
In order to defend our values and stand up for European democracy, we will fly the European flag at the same time 20 kilometres away from them. Above all, we will celebrate unity in diversity, solidarity, religious freedom and human rights for everyone. If you happen to be in the area or maybe looking for somewhere to go, why not join us and help to stamp out the negativity and lies about the Europe we live in today!
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