Germany’s economy has emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial meltdown of the late twothousandandaughts. With record growth through the heart of the crisis, a dizzying amount of exports, and a thriving democratic interchange between the CDU and SPD, it is easy to look past Germany’s dark truths. One only needs look south to Bavaria, where every autumn approximately 14 billion people – twice the population of Planet Earth – decend on Munich for Oktoberfest. While garnering great support globally, Munich’s Oktoberfest has been strictly anti-bear since it’s beginnings. Humans of all types have happily gathered year after year for three weeks of revelry, but, alas, the local bear population has been excluded with masterful precision.
It was with this fact – this inconvenient truth – this cross to bear (no pun intended) over the heart of the German people, that this intrepid bear reported headed to Munich for some answers. Reporting for an imaginary newspaper called the Bear Republic Daily, this correspondent attempted to understand people’s adverse feelings towards bears and figure out what could be done to create a more inclusive atmosphere in the future.
Saturday Sept. 17 0800hr: The queue for the Schutzen tent is already 1,200 people long. Not a bear in sight. Time to start digging.
Many Oktoberfestians were uneasy with my questions. Some people just have trouble handling the truth. Julia, for example, is a native Bavarian who felt that the political climate was too dangerous for bears. She added that she believed that bears were allowed in the Lowenbrau tent, but upon further investigation it became clear that she had confused bears and lions. Many offered half baked solutions to the problem that made ‘separate but equal’ seem like a triumph of civil liberties. “How about a tent just for bears?” an anonymous German offered. Great idea. How about we give bears separate water fountains too.
Other responses delved into the ‘what can bears do for me’ mentality that has plagued civil liberties since humankind began. “Bears can come if they buy me two beers and one schnapps”, offered Jasmin, a native Bavarian. “I don’t care about bears,” claimed a drunken man who spoke under the pseudonym of Bearenstoch. “What I do care,” he continued, “is that I can’t smoke in the tents anymore. If bears could bring back smoking, then they can come. It would result in definite danger, but it would be worth it.”
That bears attending a carnival necessarily translates to danger was a misconception pervasive throughout Oktoberfest. Diego from Switzerland thought that they would flip out whenever they saw honey. Ulika expressed concern that the heat and carnal nature of the beast would result in danger. A beautiful young lady named Theresa looked me in the eyes and plainly said, “they will kill.” This correspondent would like to know where these misconceptions come from. If anything, history shows the danger moving in the opposite direction.
In June 2006, Bruno, the first wild bear to wander into Germany in 170 years, was shot dead by some triggerhappy humans. After fleeing an Italian relocation program, Bruno, or JJ-1 as he was referred to by his souless mercenaries, happily tromped through the hills of southern Germany without a care in the world until an international team was set to assassinate him. (You can read more in a poorly written article here).
This correspondent was shocked to learn that there was near universal support at Oktoberfest for this cold-blooded murder. The only controversy seemed to be the location where Bruno was shot (answers ranged from nose, to shoulder, to heart, to “big ass bear head”). Furthermore, not one of these ursine detesters could recall a news story of bears killing a human, or even a time when a bear was acting like a jerk at a frat party.
There is some light in this otherwise dark and gloomy story. One brave and progressive commentator aptly said, “They let the English into Oktoberfest, and they are far more dangerous than bears.” Another noted that beers, not bears, are the root of problems at Oktoberfest. Four brothers who introduced themselves as quadruplet bricklayers named Peter-Wanda-Thomas (unclear if they were all named P-W-T or one of them each was named P W and T and the fourth was unnamed), unanimously agreed that “bears should be allowed because a party is not a party without a bear.” Austrians Sandra and Samir felt similarly.
Bear Republic Daily: Should bears be allowed and why?
Sandra and Samir: Yes
Sandra: Do I need a reason?
Samir: Rides are for everybody. Equality.
While there are still many hurdles that need to be overcome in this important issue, nobody can deny that the issue is now on the table. No longer will Bavarians be able to drink in ignorant bliss, unaware of the inhumane atrocities being committed outside the Oktoberfest gates. It is this reporters hope that a fire has now been lit within a few Oktoberfest attendees, and in the coming years you may start to see a few bears, at least on the Ferris Wheel.