Karoline Preisler was sick with Covid-19 and is still struggling with the consequences. The FDP politician is looking for a conversation with corona deniers at demos today.
As soon as Karoline Preisler, here at a demonstration in Konstanz, unpacks the sign, conversations begin Photo: Bernd Wüstneck / dpa
taz: Ms. Preisler, you yourself have Covid-19 and are still struggling with long-term consequences. How are you doing right now?
Karoline Preisler: I got infected in March and also had to go to the isolation ward in the hospital. There I was given sleeping pills, painkillers and medication for my lungs, and oxygen helped me. Then I got better very quickly. But when I got home and left quarantine, I was far from healthy. I just wasn’t contagious anymore.
What else did you struggle with?
My hair went out eleven weeks later, and I had problems with my fitness and breathing. And I had speech disorders: I formed a sentence in my head, but when I tried to pronounce it, it didn’t come out the way I wanted. Words were then exchanged as if I had gone wrong on the bookshelf. For two days I said “brushing my teeth” incoherently in sentences and one day constantly “Brandenburg”. That was the horror. I can now manage my strength well and I believe that I will soon fully recover. I’m already looking forward to it. But sometimes I still smell things that are not there. For example, when I eat an apple, I sometimes smell fried chicken. But sometimes cigarette smoke too, that’s not funny. My heart muscle is attacked, which is also unsightly.
Karoline Preisler, 49, is an FDP politician in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and a lawyer. She has been a member of the FDP since 2013 and is now active in the State Committee on Interior, Law and Europe.
You dealt very aggressively with your illness from the start. You started sharing your experience on Twitter using the hashtag #Coronatagebuch. Why did you do that?
I got infected from my husband, he was corona-positive, but didn’t know at the time. When we found out, I immediately went into voluntary quarantine – with three young children. My husband is a member of the Bundestag, he was in Berlin, I in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Then I had to consider: How do you quarantine small children if you don’t have a balcony or garden, how do healthy and possibly sick people live together? I have not found any experience reports on Covid-19 and families on the Internet. So we wanted to keep a diary to share our experiences with others. Over 6 million people have now had access to it. For us as a family, this is a successful educational project.
The crisis The escalated demonstration in Leipzig puts the Kenya government coalition in Saxony to the test. Vice Prime Minister Martin Dulig (SPD) spoke on Tuesday of a “great burden” on the coalition. It is the task of the next few days to restore this trust, ”said Wolfram Günther (Greens), also deputy to Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU). Dulig and Günther had requested in advance to prepare differently for the demo. The left are calling for Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) to be dismissed. On Thursday, the interior and legal committee of the state parliament in Dresden will deal with the demo in a special session.
Die Demo On Saturday, according to the police, around 20,000 protested at a “lateral thinking” demo in Leipzig, mostly without a mask or distance, rights ran with. The city of Leipzig dissolved the rally. There were scuffles and journalists were attacked. (dpa)
But there are also people who deny Corona. Are there any negative reactions?
There are people who say I should kindly die quietly. Or people who say: I am the best proof that Corona is not a terrible, deadly disease. I don’t take that personally. We only chose this extraordinary way of communication because of the extraordinary illness. For me, it’s not about my own fate, but about making an unknown disease a little better known. At the beginning of my corona illness, I wanted more information. They were missing.
They even travel to “thinking outside the box” demos and seek conversation. Last weekend in Leipzig, before that in Berlin. What is it that drives you?
So educating people about Covid 19 is one thing. But the demonstrations are registered under the heading “Criticism of Corona Measures”, but they also have a different subtext.
For example the selected dates. In Leipzig, the GDR government resigned on November 7, 1989. I come from the former GDR myself and for many people from the East this is an important date. In East Berlin and Leipzig there were demonstrations in the same squares and streets. At that time the peaceful demonstration took place, the lateral thinkers are playing with our culture of remembrance. You are abusing a historic feat of an entire country. The lateral thinkers consciously show pictures from 1989 and call themselves victims of dictatorship. I think it is important to discuss the proportionality of corona measures. And I think freedom of assembly is extremely important – after all, I fought hard for it myself. But when someone speaks of dictatorship today, in an age where we have a separation of powers and where every odd thought can be expressed, then he is perfidious and bold. This is how you really hit the victims of the SED dictatorship. That’s why I went to Leipzig with my perspective as a corona patient and as a former GDR citizen. The peaceful revolution of 1989 was based on responsibility and non-violence. These current demonstrations are not.
You always have a sign with you at the demos. It says, “I had Covid-19 and I’m worried about you.” How do people react to you?
As soon as I unpack the sign, conversations begin. That’s why I only unwrap it carefully. It is extremely well received. Almost everyone who goes to these demos has a concern. Unfortunately, there are also enough people who are blind in the right eye and want to make “Volkssturm”. But there are also demonstrators who want to talk about people in old people’s homes, about mask protection for primary school children. I listen, express my perspective, name a contact person, and sometimes strongly disagree. But I also point out other participants in the demonstration who are clearly recognizable as rights-wingers, hooligans or anti-Semites. I then say: You have such good reasons, but you are in such bad company.
And what do they answer then?
Many point out that they are wrong, that they want nothing to do with brawls. But I cannot release them from responsibility because they run side by side with extremists. In Leipzig there were an unbelievable number of people without masks and without any distance, with a lot of alcohol and a desire to break taboos. People who, from the outside and inside and with the language used, can be clearly classified on the right.
You and your family are already into neo-Nazis. Aren’t you afraid to unpack the sign?
I always weigh carefully what I am doing. My husband is also a politician and we have an appointment: there should only ever be one of us at an event that is risk-prone. The other has to be with the children. And I always stay near the police whenever possible and I am glad that such events are covered by the press.
Why is this important to you?
For example, I was talking to a television station and a man came in and said I was stirring up hatred. He said roughly that Germany needed resistance, that he had so much evidence of perversion of the law. That was a lawyer from Hamburg. Afterwards he wrote me an email that this should not be published. But I’m not a media representative. If he speaks into microphones then he has to contact the team that recorded it. He then replied that after our meeting he had sent “his boys” after me to watch me.
He wanted to intimidate you.
Exactly, I have now issued a ban on contact. My offer to talk is only for those who accept the basic rules of the culture of debate. My husband said later, don’t get upset, you are already on right-wing enemy lists.
That’s pretty macabre.
Yes, but true. Today as a politician you have to expect that. It’s a shame it is. I also think it’s a shame that creating lists of enemies is currently not yet a criminal offense.
So much comes together: Corona, “lateral thinking” demos, right-wing threat. As an FDP politician and as a Covid 19 patient, how do you rate the current measures?
In addition to the suspension of parliaments, with which the separation of powers is weakened, there is another important point: the measures are very difficult to see through for the people who have to carry them out. In the beginning churches were closed, now they are open. Or: First the courts lift the bans on accommodation and bang, a few days later, like a defiant little child, the federal government closes all accommodation establishments. That’s a kick in the buttocks of the judiciary!
The Liberals want to derive the measures based on the local infection process. But that means that different rules apply everywhere.
You address the most sore point there is currently. Nevertheless: The responsibility lies with the federal states and there, too, we should react much more detailed to the infection process. Because: Federalism is protection against totalitarianism.
But it also promotes the confusing situation that you criticize.
I am in favor of regional solutions, but a common line to curb the infection rate. An example: The state conference of ministers of education and culture could very well define certain measures for schools, including hybrid teaching, smaller classes, ventilation systems and significantly better protection for teachers. We had the whole summer vacation time, but there is still no good concept, I complain.