At the beginning of March, when the Grand-Est region became the main outbreak of the coronavirus in France, the atmosphere spread across the border. In Saarland, several cross-border commuters report insults or spitting in the middle of the street, verbal attacks: “So go back to your coronavirus country “ launches a client at the counter of a supermarket … At the counter of a pharmacy, a Frenchwoman who comes buy some paracetamol can be answered: “Why are you coming to buy it? There are none in France? “
In Saarbrücken, the general consul of France gives the example of a cleaning company which, overnight, closed its doors squarely to its French employees who became unwanted.
A real anti-French feeling, but not generalized. VShe examples remain isolated acts. But they are upsetting this deeply francophile region which has been built around Franco-German reconciliation.
Several mayors are moved by these insults against the French. One of them, the Franco-German Michael Clivot, mayor of Gersheim, opposite Sarreguemines, even records a video message for his citizens:
“We have a problemhe says. In a region like ours, where French and Germans live together (…), such incidents are absolutely unusual. (…) We are in the same crisis. It’s not good for the future if now the French and the Germans get on top of each other rather than showing solidarity. “
The indignation goes back even to the highest level of the state: Wednesday April 8, on behalf of Germany, lhe Minister of the Economy of the Saar officially apologizes for these anti-French incidents. On Saturday April 11, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas replied on Twitter:
Corona kennt keine Nationalität. Genauso ist es mit der Menschenwürde. Es tut weh zu sehen, wie unsere französischen FreundInnen wegen #COVID ー 19 bei uns teils beleidigt und angegangen werden. So ein Verhalten geht gar nicht. Abgesehen davon: Wir sitzen im selben Boot! https://t.co/ZjkcItxwTKAdvertisement
– Heiko Maas (@HeikoMaas) April 11, 2020
“Coronavirus has no nationalityhe said. It hurts to see how our French friends are sometimes insulted and attacked because of the Covid-19. We are all in the same boat ! “
Saarland leaders insist on maintaining their ties of solidarity: several dozen French people infected with the coronavirus are in fact being treated in hospitals in the region. Beyond the border region, German military planes and helicopters also provide daily transfers of French, Italian and Dutch patients to hospitals across the country.