Dota Kerr is a singer-songwriter from Berlin of especially local popularity. She has been making her mixture of intimate acoustic guitar music with poetic everyday life observations revolving around big city life, lover’s grief, cultural and political themes with her trademark witty, intelligent wordplays. Formerly known as Kleingeldprinzessin (princess of small change) and gaining a loyal fanbase by busking, she also integrates elements of Bossa Nova and brasilian traditional music into her music
Dota is going to release a new record on January 15th of next year, and even though it is not yet ready for a proper promo cycle to begin, she released a video of a song of this record that deals with the concept of borders, in order to publish a statement about the current situation of refugees in Germany.
(Again we have the problem of translation. The main point of the song is that the german word for borders might stand for borders as well as for „limits“, so every time Dota sings „es gibt Grenzen“ she implies that everything mentioned before is caused by the existence of borders, but also that the circumstances already have crossed the line of the tolerable.)
Who is inside, who is outside?
I draw a line. You must not pass.
Air meets Air here
Ground meets ground
Skin meets the bullet.
There is frontex and push-backs
Fences, weapons, refugee defense conferences
Themediterrean sea becomes a mass grave
There are borders / limits
They lead to nationalism with its nutty consequences
You disfranchise people just because they came from somewhere
There are borders / limits (…)
I sign off, hand me a passport,
that states: „World inhabitant“
Just „world inhabitant“.
Please tell me where to go to for this
I sign off, I re-register
It can’t be so difficult
Just sign me up as world inhabitant.
German Indie-Rock group Tocotronic have been known to openly position themselves in political debates. Even if they rarely explicitly adress policital issues in their lyrics, they’ve always been up to and willing to demonstrate their political positions, e.g. in taking part in campaigns against tendencies of creating a new, “german” nationalist identity, and resolutely opposing the implementation of a quote of german-language-only songs on radio by law (find a more detailled description of this debate at Goethe Institut).
In response to the recent racist and xenophobic attacks against asylum-seekers escaping from Syria, Lybia and other countries, Tocotronic released a song explicitly refering to the recent situation of the asylum-seekers in Germany. The song is called Solidarität and as the name states, expresses in very kind and comforting words the bands solidarity with these people. Here’s a translation of an excerpt of the lyrics (please excuse the crude translation, in german the carefully constructed prose is full of puns, but I guess it’s enough to get an idea of its content):
You, who undismayed are distressed by disdain Hunted every day by your traumata
You, who need every help who are running gauntlents in between the bourgeois / Babbits leashed by the herd confronted with their grimaces
You, who are at a loss and miss every bit of fondness standing in front of demolition you have my solidarity.
You can find the delicate ballad, only accompanied by acoustic guitars and a reduced string arrangement, here. It was also released on Tocotronics latest record, “Das rote Album” in May of this year.
Since gaining popularity in the early 90’s, Tocotronic were counted by music journalists and pop culture theorists as part of the so-called Hamburger Schule, a group of bands and musicians who dealt in their lyrics with the role of an individual in society and various cultural, political and societal issues from a leftist position (which is why the name references the german group of neo-marxist, sociological and philosophical theorists of Frankfurter Schule.) Important members of the Hamburger Schule (even though they normally despised the label) besides Tocotronic included bands like Blumfeld, Die Sterne and others.
German weekly Newspaper DIE ZEIT interviews two medical physicians working voluntarily in the Dresden refugee camp tent city, who report that the conditions of medical care and treatment, hygene and sanitary facilites in the camp are violating German Constitutional Law. Expired medication, no possibilites for sex segregation in sanitary facilities, not enough toilets, incially even without running water, unexperienced, overburdended, but dedicaded voluntary doctors. They speak of a humanitarian catastrophe. This illustrates various points of the recent debate:
Germany has been overwhelmed by the recent increases of asylum-seekers arriving here and still is trying to catch up regarding the organization and the regulatory processes.
There is a great need of improving the cooperation of the involved parties.
Anti-aslyum-seeker-violence and sentiments in various parts of the nation, as well as the reservations certain parts of the political world and the population hold regarding the dimensions of support Germany should offer to these people, have hindered the process of attending them.
Additional obstacles in the way are the physical and mental health conditions of the asylum seekers, cultural and language barriers, the recent heat and the vacation period in Germany.
Nevertheless, the great commitment of various civilists and volunteers donating basic necessities or offering their private space for a period of time should not be unmentioned and gives some spark of hope.