Corona: These people keep Germany going


Corona detective: looking for contacts

Dirk Kaufmann

Source: Doro Burkhardt / LRA Rhein-Neckar-Kreis

Dirk Kaufmann is a freelance theater teacher. But after the lockdown in March, he was left with no orders. He applied to the Robert Koch Institute as a containment scout, also known as a corona detective. Since April he has been helping the health department in Heidelberg to find the contact persons for people infected with Covid 19. “This is how I can help protect people from the virus,” says the 37-year-old.

He is assigned to the staff for nursing and retirement homes. If there are infections, he calls those responsible on site, organizes lists of those who need to be called and, in consultation with doctors, decides on further measures. “I also accompany the doctors to tests,” says Kaufmann. He then packs the swabs and documents everything. He often works behind a mobile pane of glass, wearing an FFP2 mask and protective clothing.

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The job gives the family financial security. That he can fight the virus at the same time makes him proud. “The elderly are some of the most vulnerable people,” he says. “Helping you is important work.”

Deacon: Do homework together

Antje Stoffregen

Antje Stoffregen

Source: Carolin George

When schools closed in the spring, one thing was quickly clear to Antje Stoffregen: Lessons at home will not work in all families. “I knew: we had to think of something Corona-compatible in order to support children from disadvantaged families,” says the deaconess from Lüneburg.

So the 57-year-old got her team together and they came up with something. The “LernRaum” was invented: a homework aid with a mask and space. There is enough space in the parish hall, they quickly found enough volunteers. When schoolwork was done, there was sometimes time for a short game. “The children loved the 1: 1 care,” says Stoffregen. “That was almost a luxury. And the adults were happy to be around people and to do something meaningful. ”

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The regional church of Hanover adapted the idea. Antje Stoffregen is now collecting donations for a mobile kitchen so that we can have lunch with the children – in the middle of the church, because it is big enough for that.

Intensive care carers: saving lives in Spain

Timo Knuplez

Timo Knuplez

Source: Private Archive Knuplez

In March an email was sent to all Helios employees asking who could imagine helping out in a crowded hospital in Madrid. Intensive care nurse Timothy Knuplez did not hesitate for a moment. “It cannot be that here in Karlsruhe we are staring holes in the ceiling because of postponed operations and that patients cannot be cared for elsewhere,” he says.

The 29-year-old arrived at the Spanish clinic three days later. 70 seriously ill Covid-19 patients were there in the intensive care unit, all under 60 years of age. The elderly could no longer use the lung machines: triage system. For two weeks Knuplez worked up to twelve hours a day in protective gear without a break, and reached the limit of his strength. “I didn’t even think about it, just worked”.

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When one morning the ventilator was removed from a man in his 40s after successful therapy, the whole care team applauded. To this day, says Knuplez, he gets goose bumps if he even thinks back to the moment.

Organist: to nourish the soul

Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter

Quelle: picture alliance/dpa

Would you be Cameron Carpenter describe as a rocketman of classical organ music, he would probably not mind. The 39-year-old travels all over the world with his International Touring Organ, which he devised himself. Plays circus music in shrill gear and in philharmonic orchestras in front of thousands of people. Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”, for example.

It was different in summer. The American, who lives in Berlin, packed a three-manual digital organ with loudspeaker walls onto a truck and drove off. From nursing home to hospital. Dressed in subtle black. Came in, played for 20 minutes, drove on, performed at up to nine places a day. A couple of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the great G major fugue. Good mood music. Music to elevate the soul. First in Berlin. Then between the Uckermark and Stuttgart.

That was necessary in the time. Carpenter’s audience sat on balconies, in wheelchairs, on walking frames, wrapped in blankets. People who would not have made it into the Philharmonie even without Corona. They needed Bach because, Carpenter says, Bach does something with you. Brings order to the mind. As a reminder of the systemic relevance of culture, of music.

Music and pictures for the soul – this cellist plays in empty museums

The corona crisis prohibits live concerts and cultural sites must remain closed. That is why a French cellist quickly plays in empty museums and puts the videos on the Internet.

Source: WELT / Gerrit Seebald

And because Corona, according to Carpenter, divides many musicians into two camps: The ones whose careers were destroyed by the virus and the lockdown. And the large number of those who do not yet want to admit it.

Creative consultant: Do something for the retailer

Valerie Kammertöns

Valerie Kammertöns

Source: private

It was the emotional call for help from a baker from Hanover, clicked a million times on the Internet, that Valerie Kammertöns, 31, did not let go of. It was the end of March when all retailers had to close their stores overnight. How to proceed, how to pay the rent? Many asked themselves that.

“It can’t be that everyone has to go through it alone,” thought creative consultant Kammertöns and shared her idea with three friends. Together they founded the Instagram feed “”. More than 4000 followers were listed on the platform in the first two days. Whether florist or bookseller, lunch or ramen bar, yoga studio or clothing store – they wrote under the motto “#closedbutopen!” How they are still there for customers. Pointed out changed opening times, delivery services or contact-free options to supply your customers with goods.

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The idea grew rapidly, and the platform is now available in 18 other cities. And even if the situation for retailers has eased somewhat in the meantime, there are many considerations to continue the contact exchange on a professional level. “The four of us can’t keep the whole thing going, but it would be a shame if it fell asleep. We are therefore considering transferring the account to another operator, ”says Kammertöns.

Neighborhood workers: being there for the elderly

Mohammad Eibo

Mohammad Eibo

Those: Privatarchiv Eibo

On March 13th, Mohammad Eibo noticed the fear spread. He was sitting on the train, the fellow travelers were talking about Corona. One of them told about his grandmother, who no longer dared to leave the house. Eibo thought: That shouldn’t be!

That same evening he wrote on Facebook that he could help the elderly. The next day he gathered dozens of people who also wanted to help. And one day later, the SoliNa neighborhood initiative was organized. It recently received a home award from the city of Siegen. Mohammad Eibo, 22 years old, student of civil engineering, says he is proud and enthusiastic that hundreds of younger people were ready to take part immediately. “We are a team”, that is important to him.

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Eibo is a Kurd who grew up in northern Syria. Five years ago he fled the war with his mother, and his siblings and father followed suit. During the first time in Germany, it was he who was dependent on others, he says. At school, with the language, with the authorities. “Many of those who have supported me are older people,” he says, “risk group, now I’m helping them.”

Travel entrepreneur: taking care of stranded people

Tobias Büttner

Tobias Büttner

Source: Geoplan Reisen

The Berlin travel entrepreneur Tobias Büttner, 45, would not have thought possible at the end of February that the Federal Foreign Office would warn against traveling to all countries. But then Corona forced more and more countries into lockdown, countless vacationers stranded somewhere in the world, hundreds of customers of Geoplan private trips were also stuck in Vietnam or Ecuador.

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“From March onwards, we spent weeks contacting our travelers, organizing return flights, rebooking tickets and encouraging them – initially around the clock,” says Geoplan boss Büttner. This year he had exactly five days of vacation, otherwise he worked every day, seven days a week. All customers who could not take booked trips and did not want to rebook got their money back. Unlike many tour operators and airlines, Geoplan did not feed them with compulsory vouchers and thus tried to rebuild trust that had disappeared.

Büttner did not lay off any of his 38 employees, instead the previous long-distance travel specialist developed new trips to Germany and Europe at short notice and saved a further 23 jobs by taking over two insolvent competitors. At the moment there are almost no new inquiries or bookings.

Can we ever go on vacation again without fear of quarantine?

The hotels in Germany are still closed for tourist overnight stays, so holidays in Germany are hardly possible. Alternatives in Europe and around the world are dwindling. The tourism industry is desperately looking for strategies to survive.

Büttner pays a high price: “Despite state aid, I am poorer in terms of the value of a single-family house, but without private money the shift would be in the shaft and the jobs would be gone.” He wants to continue: “The desire to travel is unbroken. 2021 can only get better. “

Train attendant: Make sure you feel good on the ICE

Sabrina Kauer

Sabrina Kauer

Source: Deutsche Bahn

She only knows her passengers masked to protect herself and others: Sabrina Kauer, 26, from Munich, has been one of 12,000 train attendants at Deutsche Bahn since the beginning of the Corona crisis. On the way in the ICs and ICEs on long-distance routes across Germany. She feels responsible for the safety and “feeling of welcome” on board – and makes sure that the guests also wear mouth and nose protection. It is mandatory to wear a mask.

The vast majority of passengers adhere to this and are very cooperative, but then there is this refusing minority who reacts gruffly to corresponding tips. “Then sometimes I’m the lightning rod,” says Sabrina Kauer. “But I try not to let myself get caught up in such negative experiences.” Mainly because she gets a lot of support from other passengers. They jump in on you in a conflict situation and work together to convince you.

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A large sign at the entrance to a clinic in Leipzig indicates that a mask is required.

And in the end the persistence pays off: Once she meets a mask refuser on the train to Hamburg. “Oh, it’s you, the one who always takes it so seriously.” He laughs and quickly pulls his dangling mask back over his nose. Sabrina Kauer takes it as a compliment. That is a question of common security in these times, daily on the train.

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