Jean-Michel Marsal didn’t know where he was when he woke up in a coma after ten days and German was spoken around him. The Frenchman was on the Covid 19 ward of the Freiburg clinic. When he was released healed in April, he was deeply moved: German doctors and nurses had saved his life; he would never be able to thank him enough for it. Bernard Parmentelat has now returned to France after spending six weeks in the intensive care unit at the Essen Clinic.
Numerous French Covid-19 patients who were brought across the border to Germany in helicopters have since returned cured. Her admission to German hospitals was more than just a gesture; it was, in the border area between the two countries, a large, speaking symbol. You save each other’s life without asking for your passport. This means a lot for Alsatians who have been pushed back and forth between two enemies by history.
The corona crisis is a burning glass. It also shows the state of Franco-German friendship sharply and precisely. Good things come to light, but the collective examination has also brought ugly insights. With the unilateral border closure, the Germans more than irritated their French neighbors. There were bad scenes, cars from French commuters were thrown at stones. But there were also deputies on both sides of the Rhine who tirelessly fought to have border crossings reopened.
But one thing the Germans can hardly imagine: How they always see their neighbors as that Model students are held. Even in this world crisis, Germany is again one of the few winners: fewer deaths, more tests, empty intensive care units, soon full city centers again, freedom instead of curfew, quick start of the economy.
It is as if the German superiority never ceases. But the best in class are not popular. You have to acquire the sympathy of others with great effort and are wise not to play yourself up. Taking in sick people, saving lives is good. It is not to be trumped up. Exceptionally celebrating May 8th after 75 years in Berlin as a holiday, as the French have been doing since 1953, is another nice gesture. The return to October 3rd must not be a return to the national navel show.