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German actors blasted over COVID protest videos

April 24, 2021

Dozens of German actors took part in a campaign mocking coronavirus restrictions in Germany. The federal government recently announced new measures to break the third wave of the pandemic.

A combination of screenshots from different #allesdichtmachen videos
Many actors have since deleted their videos and apologizedImage: Internetaktion #allesdichtmachen via Youtube/dpa/picture alliance

German actors have been criticized after launching a social media campaign that mocks the coronavirus restrictions.

More than 50 actors made social media posts under the slogan #allesdichtmachen (close everything).

The German parliament on Thursday approved new emergency brake measures to control the third wave of the pandemic, applied uniformly on virus hotspots across the country.

Who took part in the campaign?

Actors including Meret Becker, Ulrich Tukur, Jan Josef Liefers, Ulrike Folkerts, Richy Müller, and Volker Bruch took part with posts on YouTube and Instagram.

The stars are variously known for their parts in Babylon Berlin, Generation War, Madagascar, Munich, Tatort, The Baader Meinhof Complex, and others.

"Close down every human activity center and every commercial center without exception," Tukur urged the federal government, suggesting that grocery stores should also be shut down.

Liefers wryly thanked media outlets, "who for over a year have been tirelessly responsible and clear-headed in ensuring that the alarm stays exactly where it belongs, at the very, very top." 

Bruch posted a clip appealing to the government: "Make us more afraid. The people in the country need this fear now."

Müller took turns breathing into two bags. "If everyone used two-bag breathing, we wouldn't have a lockdown by now," he says. "So stay healthy and support the coronavirus measures."

Many videos have since been deleted, but have been compiled in various forms online.

The campaign received a hearty endorsement from the far-right scene, including politicians from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the Querdenkers (Lateral Thinkers) and self-declared "ultra-right" conspiracy theorist Attila Hildmann.

The movement was otherwise panned as insensitive and dangerous.

Immediate criticism

Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters said she would have liked to see "much more empathy for the people who are affected by the coronavirus or who are doing hard work in the health system."

She said the restrictions were about saving lives, "we must never forget that."

The German Cultural Council said it considered the action "unhelpful." "As long as people are dying, we have to do something," Managing director Olaf Zimmermann told the EPD news agency.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn made an offer of dialogue with the campaign initiators.

Berlin's culture senator as well as the president of the German Stage Association called the action "cynical." 

Fellow actors hit back

Other actors distanced themselves from the campaign. Marcus Mittermeier tweeted, "No one asked me if I wanted to participate in #allesdichtmachen. Thank God!," before ridiculing the various posts. 

Elyas M'Barek called it "nonsense, " while Nora Tschirner called the action "unf***ingbelievable."

Radio and television moderator Tobias Schlegl, who also works as a paramedic, said on Twitter: "The #allesdichtmachen actors can all shove their irony deep into their ventilators."

Satirist Jan Böhmermann said that if people have problems with the restrictions, then the only video they should watch is the first episode of the ARD documentary Station 43, showing the heart-wrenching scenes inside Berlin's Charité hospital.

Participants withdraw

Heike Makatsch, known for her role in Love Actually, withdrew a video that she had published as part of the campaign.

"I recognize the danger posed by the coronavirus pandemic and never want to diminish the suffering of the victims and their relatives and thereby hurt them," she wrote on Instagram.

Jan Josef Liefers said he rejected the support of the far-right, and contrarians.

Several hours after posting, the videos from Heike Makatsch, Trystan Pütter and Meret Becker were deleted from YouTube.

Tatort star Becker apologized that her video was "misunderstood" and removed it from Instagram.

Actor Ken Duken, who was also involved, distanced himself from right-wing ideas and said he did not want to make fun of victims.

aw/mm (AFP, dpa, epd, KNA)

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