After a visit to the Semicon Europa exhibition this week, I see Dresden as a home of high tech and of some scary protests reminiscent of the 1930s.
I am just back from Dresden, in east Germany. The weather was sunny and warm during the day but the temperature fell in the evenings and became uncomfortably chill. But the chill I experienced was mainly due to an ominous feeling as I watched the Pediga protest march.
Dresden is the focus of a growing and ambitious cluster of electronics and semiconductor companies and, also this year, plays host to the Semicon Europa exhibition organized by industry organization SEMI. There are links below to stories from the exhibition – and more to come – but one impression that will last is an unfortunate one; my first experience of the Pegida march.
Pegida emerged in Dresden about a year ago and has become the organizer of a weekly protest against immigration into Germany and has religious and racist overtones. In translation Pegida stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident.
On the evening of Monday October 5, 2015, a heavily policed and noisy "snake" about 10 people wide took about an hour to go past my hotel in Post Platz. They were shuffling along at about 2 miles per hour and had about 3 foot of space between each rank of marchers. I will leave you to do the mathematics to determine the approximate size of the crowd.
The participants were of all ages, many groups of men but also older couples walking hand-in-hand and family groups. The chanting was incessant and often directed against Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and her open approach to the refugee crisis in Europe.
Those that carried flags seemed to favor the German national flag but also alternative German flags and I even saw a US Confederate flag held aloft along with numerous banners and posters. The crowd did not get out of control near me, or anywhere else as far as I know, and the noise was not particularly scary – unless perhaps if you are a recent immigrant to Dresden or anywhere else in Europe.
But we should all know that when a large crowd gets together with a seemingly common purpose it can become a powerful, frightening, living entity. We have seen that kind of group thinking before; and seen it manipulated and turned to evil purpose.
Related links and articles:
AFP report of Pegida march
News articles on EE Times Europe:
Blog originally posted on EE Times Europe.