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Iraqi Refugee Rescues Woman From German Garbage Truck

author: 
Monica Hatman

Iraqi Refugee Rescues Woman From German Garbage Truck

Monica Hatman

The festival was coming to a close, with crowds celebrating in hot summer weather and market stalls preparing to shut down, when the apparently unprecedented happened: A municipal garbage collection truck working its way down a hillside close to a medieval city centre experienced a brake failure, escaped the control of clean-up personnel collecting remainders outside thereof, and slowly pushed into the crowd with no one at the wheel. Being powered by gravitation only, people quickly opened up a corridor for the vehicle to crash into a car park, and it seemed as if no one was endangered, when a street island made it change its way and put it on collision course with a ticket booth.

For a few seconds, onlookers on both sides of the road held their breath. Then Mehdi Wilhelm-Conrad, 17, who had come out of Iraq with his parents, lost his father in the Mediterranean pirate war, and experienced his mother find a new spouse at the family’s planned destination in central Europe, ran to the booth, opened the back door and pulled out the clerk who had not yet noticed what was approaching, as she was pondering why the queue in front of her had suddenly disappeared. Only seconds later the truck mowed down the booth, spilling coins, clothing, paper scraps and wood across the road, before it crashed into a row of cars. Despite of considerable damage no one was hurt.

But the incident immediately paralysed most of the crowd. Passers-by said they had feared an act of war as the scenario remotely resembled what they had seen on state, commercial and other forgery-dependent media. So did Wilhelm-Conrad, but unlike all others he went into swift action and got it completed before taking any damage, although at the time of decision he could not immediately verify whether the truck was accelerating with its engine or not. The clerk, who was not publicly named, remained unhurt but first aid workers later arriving at the scene said she had suffered a shock. A senior in the crowd wearing a honorary medal of which he said he had received it for working on war cemeteries in Poland took it off and attached it to the young man.

The clerk’s son and daughter-in-law who were part of the crowd and able to move aside without complication said that there was no chance to see the truck approaching from the desk, and that their mother was lucky to have remained within the attention of someone who would not merely play hands up in case of an alarm. They added that the trauma was limited, and in their view the best contribution to restore operational safety and public trust was a roll-back of austerity measures inflicted upon the city’s public services by a hotheaded junior mayor who had been ambitious to please finance speculators but with little success, after dropping a job as tourist guide in favour of a liberal election campaign.

Heidelberg, Germany is located riverside at the feet of a nature reserve known for its indigenous religious significance, and popular with visitors of all origins as it was at the bottom of a list of targets for carpet bombing in the 1940s, and the war ended before bombing raids were entirely through. Since the region still is part of the occupation belt, a significant share of tourists recruits from occupation troops and their relatives, who either spend a vacation next to where their unit is, or come back after many years to refresh past memories. Some in the crowd had misinterpreted the machinery failure as a possible terror attack targeting the spending power brought in by occupation, but though a first glance mirrored negative expectations no gunshots were heard on the scene.

A family from Hongkong presented video recording of the action to this writer, but hinted that it could not be copied to local networks without prior approval by Chinese authorities, of which it seems now that it was never obtained. As rescue workers removed the damaged vehicles, a racist fringe group showed up staging a protest against what they called “orange terrorism” trying exploit fears of retaliation for military warfare, but embracing the German army’s failure to withstand the seduction to participate in external wars and massacres. The racists said however, accidents like this should not be regarded as answers to national aggression, but instead national aggression should be the answer to incidents they perceived as attacks. They showed around copies of a tosh novel by an American writer of which they said it was a covert military manual inspiring precisely this kind of terror.

The family of the clerk talked to the East Asian tourists after it was shown the footage, and added that the propaganda they also had noticed was ill-coloured and not in their name. A cherry pie was thrown at said mayor later in the evening in a riverside beer hall, hitting the official into the face and interrupting a speech praising what it described as the self-starting and ground-breaking features of austerity, but witnesses said the action was not linked to the earlier racist appearance. Mehdi Wilhelm-Conrad was available to talk to this writer for a few minutes, but then took advice from the audience very seriously that soon the tabloid trolls would arrive and were better not to be fed. He left with the remark that if it were in fact an act of war the natural thing to do would be to seek cover and expect a second impact, and that the lack of said behaviour was rendering the collective response of most locals surreal in his eyes.

Tuesday, Jul 19th 2016


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