I am a frequent visitor to south-west Germany and have always been very impressed by the cleanliness of German streets and towns. One of the places I am seeing a lot of at the moment is a suburb of Karlsruhe, called Waldstadt. Faced with a post-war housing shortage, with thousands of people, including many refugees from the GDR needing homes, the mayor of Karlsruhe, Günther Klotz, came up with the idea of building a new suburb in the Hardwaldt, north of the city centre. Work started in 1957 to build large apartment blocks and houses, providing accommodation for a wide range of income groups.
The whole suburb is inside the forest, and with each apartment block surrounded by taller trees, it is difficult to see directly from one block to another. All are linked by a network of footpaths through the forest. It seems a very pleasant place to live.
Arriving there on Tuesday morning, I noticed large piles of discarded furniture, placed near the refuse collection points, at the ends of the paths, next to the street. I was told that there are occasional collections of these large items that people no longer need. An impressive service, I thought. At home in England I would have to ring the council and pay for the collection of something big like an old sofa or wardrobe that I no longer needed.
Imagine my horror when I walked along the same street a few hours later and witnessed these scenes...
It seems that the refuse collectors decided that some of what they found didn't come under the heading of "large items" and deliberately threw the smaller items around the grassed areas, paths and parking spaces, breaking glass and mirrors, discarding the drawers from inside a freezer, taking the rings off a curtain pole etc etc. I find this sort of petty minded, "jobsworth" attitude totally despicable! What if an elderly person, of whom there are many living in this area, had tripped and fallen on the strewn rubbish? Who would be held responsible for their injury? Do the local "Stadtverwaltung" actually believe that they cannot be held to account?
I somehow think that these refuse collectors would not have dared leave such a mess outside privately owned homes!