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Letzte Generation aims to “disrupt daily life” to keep climate issues on the front burner.
It took only a split second after the climate activists strode into the busy Berlin intersection for drivers on their morning commute to realize what was happening. Several leaped from their vehicles to wrestle the activists off the road, but two of the young people had already super-glued their hands to the freezing-cold pavement.
For the next hour, as traffic trickled through the partially blocked lanes, drivers regularly slowed down to hurl abuse at the activists. Police officers used cooking oil to dissolve the glue and remove the protesters from the blocked lanes as profanity-laced shouts of “Bums!” “Morons!” “Get a job!” and “You’re all nothing but failures!” pierced the cold December air. Even an ambulance driver, siren blaring, made a point of rolling down his window and letting the activists know just what he thought of them.
Unleashing anger was part of—or perhaps even the entire point of—the exercise. These activists, from Germany’s Letzte Generation (Last Generation) group, are here to annoy, irritate, and piss off German society. It doesn’t matter what you call them, as long as you’re talking about them. And on those terms, their project is working.
Letzte Generation activists have thrown potatoes at a Monet and motor oil at a Klimt, scaled the Brandenburg Gate, sneaked onto airport tarmacs, and pounded away at the street in front of the German Ministry of Transport with jackhammers. They’re widely referred to as Klima-Kleber, or “climate-gluers,” for their enthusiasm for super-gluing themselves to a dizzying array of things—the gilt frames of famed paintings, dinosaur skeletons, buildings, walls, and all manner of roadways and streets.
But they cause plenty of other havoc too. Just before Christmas, a group of Letzte Generation activists drove a hydraulic lift truck onto the square between the American and French embassies in Berlin and, directly under the noses of police, sawed off the tip of the city’s giant Christmas tree.
Now, after a year of escalating demonstrations and street blockades mostly in Berlin and Munich, the group plans to take its campaign nationwide. Letzte Generation leaders last week said that the newest phase in their protest offensive will launch Feb. 6.