Once again a tweet from climate activist Greta Thunberg has become breaking news in German media. Last weekend Greta Thunberg was going home from the climate summit in Madrid, and travelled on a train with far more passengers than seats.
”Traveling on overcrowded trains through Germany. And I’m finally on my way home!” she tweeted from her account with 3.7 million followers. In the picture the 16-year-old is sitting on the floor, between her suitcases, looking out of the window with a melancholic face.
In just a few days the tweet had been liked by almost 200.000 people, and a discussion had started about the situation on German trains. The picture reflects an experience that a lot of German train passengers share: carriages so full that passengers have to sit on the floor or stand in the aisles (an experience that I have had many times).
The newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung tartly stated that it is obviously easier to sail across the Atlantic twice than to get a seat on a German train.
But when the national railway company Deutsche Bahn tweeted in response to Greta Thunberg, the debate took a different turn. Deutsche Bahn praised Thunberg’s commitment to the climate cause, but asserted that she had been traveling comfortably in first class.
”It would have been even nicer if you had also shared how kindly and competently you were treated by our staff while traveling in first class.”
The comments flooded in, and people accused Greta Thunberg of lying and spreading false claims.
Later the climate activist explained that she did get a seat after passing through the German city of Göttingen, but that she had previously been sitting on the floor on two different trains.
DN’s team, who were following Greta Thunberg on her way from Lisbon to Sweden, were on the train and confirm the picture she shared.
”I was on the train from Basel, which was taken out of traffic in Offenburg. From there we travelled to Frankfurt on one train and then continued to Hamburg on another one. On the first train both Greta Thunberg and myself were sitting on the floor,” DN’s reporter Alexandra Urisman Otto reports. (She also has video footgage showing the situation on the train).
They weren’t the only passengers who didn’t get a seat.
”Several others were sitting in the same aisle. On the next train there were a lot of people and many of them were standing in the aisles or sitting on the floor,” she says.
After Göttingen, Thunberg got a seat in first class, and later DN's team were also able to sit.
When DN asked Greta Thunberg if it felt tough to have to sit on the floor, she answered that it wasn’t a problem. A message that she also tweeted:
”This is no problem of course and I never said it was. Overcrowded trains is a great sign because it means the demand for train travel is high!” she tweeted.
Translation to English: Evelyn Jones