Sunday December 27, 2020
Revelation, horror, indignation
These videos moved the world in 2020
The USA on the verge of war and revolution, Beirut in ruins, terror and amok in Austria and Germany: Beyond the Corona crisis, 2020 will be a year of devastating events. Time and again, videos go around the world that document harrowing scenes and unfold the power of moving images.
The corona pandemic determines life in many respects for months almost everywhere in the world – nevertheless the year 2020 will be remembered as an extraordinary one. Since March the news pages in Germany have also been filled with developments in the biggest global crisis since World War II. But long before the world gave the virus an official name, the dark premonition was spreading: This year will not be like any other.
With cell phones and the Internet at hand almost everywhere, video recordings are always at the center of major global events. They serve as evidence in international conflicts, trigger waves of solidarity in tragic moments, bring grievances to the public and move, revolt or inspire millions of people worldwide within a very short time. We look back on moments in which videos change the course of large and small stories or in which the changing history of the world is revealed in videos.
The view of the beginning of this year is almost like memories from a much longer time past. Germany was already in turmoil on January 1st when the monkey house of the zoo and the animals living in it burned down in Krefeld. And the devastating, week-long forest and bush fires in Australia were also less than twelve months ago. The world collectively holds its breath for the first time when a US missile attack on Iranian soil kills senior Iranian General Ghassem Soleimani. The world believed that it was on the verge of a potentially global war for days when these recordings became public, showing how Tehran’s missile defense system, which was activated in response, shoots a fully occupied passenger plane from the sky.
And then, when the world is already on fire, Corona comes. Worried and suspicious looks are directed towards China, where scenes in Wuhan are played out like from a disaster film. At the latest when secretly filmed footage showing body bags in hospitals penetrate, it slowly becomes clear that the danger is greater than initially conveyed by the regime in Beijing. Outwardly, however, the propaganda communicates that China is getting the virus under control with all its might and is mastering the crisis at record speed.
And then what many have long thought to be far away suddenly becomes real: the virus is in the middle of Europe. Northern Italy and the city of Bergamo are hit particularly hard at first. The threat finally becomes clear when recordings from hospitals in the cordoned-off region go through the media.
Within a very short time, and while US President Donald Trump is still persuading his citizens that Covid-19 is not a problem in the US and will take care of itself by spring at the latest, the deadly lung disease is already rampant in the richest country on earth. The divided United States is demonstrating how quickly the pandemic can spiral out of control.
The first wave rolls over the New York region with particular force. What Trump is trying to instrumentalize for political purposes costs hundreds of their lives in the metropolis. Images like from a dystopian Hollywood blockbuster are suddenly on the news. Drone recordings of mass graves in front of New York illustrate the helplessness of the people.
Germany reacts relatively quickly, shuts down large parts of public life and is thus initially spared the uncontrolled spread of the virus. However, larger clusters of infections repeatedly cause fear and a stir. Pictures from a Tönnies meat factory provoke particular outrage after a large part of the tightly packed workforce became infected with the virus within days.
In the midst of the US health and economic crisis, police officers kill the black George Floyd on a street in Minneapolis. Videos show an officer kneeling on the victim’s neck for minutes until Floyd dies. It is the preliminary low point in a number of similar cases. The recordings seem like the spark that explodes the barrel of structural racism and unpunished police violence in the USA.
Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated for weeks, burning the inner cities of several metropolises, rioting demonstrators opposed the aggressive police officers and dubious military troops of the president, who are bringing the country to the brink of civil war-like conditions.
An unimaginable misfortune befell the Lebanese capital Beirut at the beginning of August. A warehouse fire engulfs loads of improperly stored explosives. The huge explosions tear a gigantic crater in the middle of the harbor and kill hundreds of people in the vicinity. Several cell phone cameras record the devastating extent of the detonations.
In Germany, meanwhile, crude conspiracy ideologies are spreading faster than the coronavirus itself. The measures taken against the pandemic hit many people hard, growing demonstrations mixed an explosive mess of right-wing extremist public enemies with esotericists, of simple critics of the measures with loud forces that the masses and want to abuse the momentum for political upheaval fantasies.
Again and again the self-proclaimed “lateral thinkers” are fueled by drifting celebrities. The confused videos of the already controversial ex-hit star Michael Wendler cause an outcry.
At the same time, however, when thousands on the streets and on the Internet complain that the crackdown on an allegedly harmless virus is too harsh, Germany is losing control of the previously ruled pandemic. The animation of the ntv.de data shows how dramatically the situation in Germany changes over the summer.
The virus is also making a comeback in Austria, and the government is imposing new measures. Hours before these come into force, Vienna experiences a night of horror. Heavily armed terrorists roam the streets of the capital and shoot around. Several people are killed, the country and Europe are in shock. And yet the night is also the hour of birth of a hero story.
The only basically predictable event in this series is the US presidential election. Already on election night, gloomy premonitions come true: With his speech long before the end of the vote count, the now proven election loser Trump causes horror and lays the foundation for what he instigates in the aftermath. He declares himself the winner, accuses his opponents of lying and manipulation and begins with what his critics brand as a coup d’état against the largest democracy in the world.
And Germany will not be spared another catastrophe either. In broad daylight, several people die in tranquil Trier when a man speeds through a pedestrian zone in a car.
Although a symbolic number in the calendar hardly interests world history in truth, the turn of the year has seldom been so longed for as the beginning of 2021. With the start of the vaccination against Corona and the approaching assumption of office of the US Democrat Joe Biden, the hope is linked to one To be able to draw a line under the disaster year 2020.