The gas clock is ticking in Germany. A severe energy crisis this winter seems almost inevitable. For a long time this was primarily seen as an industrial problem, politicians claimed citizens would be unaffected. Now, this myth, too, is being dispelled. As a result, German cities are starting to prepare large halls to provide heating opportunities for the elderly, the poor, and for anybody who cannot afford gas that has quadrupled in price compared to last year.
Gerd Landsberg of the Association of German Cities told Bild am Sonntag: “Since no one knows how dramatic the developments might turn out to be, we should consider providing warming islands or warming spaces, in which especially elderly people could stay in case of a very cold winter.”
The city of Ludwigsburg, in Rhineland-Palatinate, is already preparing for such a situation. Its Friedrich-Ebert-hall, which previously acted as a vaccination center during the pandemic, is being prepared as a central space to warm up. Additional halls, like in fire departments, spread throughout the region will be prepared in a similar fashion to offer a warm place to sleep to up to 5000 citizens. “We’re planning for things we hope won’t become a reality. In the first instance for the catastrophe, secondly for death,” said district fire chief Andy Dorroch. Emergency management is developing plans for what will happen to people in a retirement home in case the heating stops working. Next to warming halls there are plans to build so-called “warming islands,” spaces in which citizens could temporarily warm themselves. The idea of “warming buses” is also being discussed.
To prevent such worst-case scenarios, cities all over Germany are trying to save as much energy as possible. Traffic lights and air conditioning systems are being switched off when not in use, even swimming halls are being shut down to save every bit of gas for the coming winter.
To prepare for the potentially grim situation during the coming winter, Dorroch calls upon citizens not to rely on the state to provide for them: “Some citizens believe they are living in a comprehensively insured society and the state takes care of everything. I would like to remove this hope from anyone still holding it. Everyone must be responsible for himself.”
David Boos is an organist, documentary filmmaker, and writer for The European Conservative and other publications.