This week on Feature Friday we feature The German Survivalist and get a different point of view on prepping vs the US.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Hey, you can call me John. I am a 28 yo Survivalist/Prepper from norther Germany. I work in the medical field but my former profession was as a computer service technician. I am a former competition target shooter, shooting instructor, trained in advanced first aid and trauma care, went to a couple of military style survival courses as well as more “bushcrafty” courses, have some limited experience hunting and fishing, and I am trained in Olympic Wrestling, Boxing, Judo, Karate, and recently started taking an online course in Kali (since there are no schools for that here). For the last 2 years I started getting more dedicated into prepping and have been building up my food and water supplies, medical gear and alternative weaponry. I run the “German Survivalist” YouTube Channel where I mostly post reviews of knives but also other survival related gear but I plan to get more into the mindset part of survivalism/prepping (please check it out). You can also find me on Instagram as the German_Survivalist where you can often see the newest product I`ve got in for review, as well as some of my day-to-day life and other shenanigans.
What made me want to get prepared?
This might be boring but there really wasn`t any specific cause for me to start prepping. I was into the whole bushcraft and survival hype that came around with shows like Survivorman, Bear Grylls and Dual Survival and that`s what set me onto the path really. For the first few years I considered myself a hobby bushcrafter/survivalist. The change of mentality towards prepping was actually a fairly recent one, mostly spurred on by the ongoing migrant crisis, the European debt crisis and the rising tensions between the different political and religious ideologies within the EU but also across the globe.
Since I live in Germany, what do I prep for and how is it different than prepping elsewhere, for example in the US:
I think the reasons for prepping are fairly similar, I am worried about economic collapse, civil unrest, and natural disasters.
I am the only active prepper in my family, though my mother is at least supportive of it. One difficulty I face is that I have to do most of the prepping for my family, my mother, step-father and sister, and also my closest friends. Prepping in general is very much frowned upon by the majority of the German population as something only crazy people do. Most Germans believe nothing bad could ever happen in this country, and even if they think something might happen they don`t want to take the effort of prepping. They rather spend their money and time on drinking, watching TV and running to soccer games. I think prepping even as just a hobby is much more worthwhile because you gain new knowledge, build new skillsets, you become more self-sufficient and it builds confidence because you learn how to deal with problems.
Community Prepping is practically a non-starter at least in my area, as far as I know there are no other dedicated preppers in my town or the nearby smaller towns. There might be some who don`t talk about it though. I encounter massive problems trying to build a network. While there are people within my friend group who are at least not against the idea of prepping, they are not willing to commit the time and resources to prep themselves. Instead, I rely on building relationships with people who have unique or otherwise useful skills that I might be able to barter for with my preps or the safety I can provide in case of an emergency. This way I might still be able to gain these useful people into my group after an event. It`s not ideal, but it´s the best I can do at the moment.
One major difference in particular between Germany and the US is that firearms, while available to a citizen within Germany, are heavily restricted and locked behind a wall of large expense and time. Only 1.5% of Germany’s population owns firearms. Most preppers, including me, rely on other means of defense and hunting, melee weapons, pepper spray, bows, and my favorite, the powerful crossbow.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Germany is small, It`s approximately the size of Texas. Our terrain isn`t very varied, there aren`t any major mountain regions or large forest areas (besides the ones bordering on France and Switzerland). Population density is also very high, there`s at least a small town within a 1-2 hour walk. The forests in my immediate area are all small enough to track through within a couple hours. This can be a benefit because getting lost in the woods or being stranded in no-mans-land is practically impossible, but it also has the demerit of not being able to hide in the terrain, at least not for long periods. Now the larger European Zone is a different matter, but solely comparing my country to the USA we have much less game available, it`s harder to find secure refuge in the terrain, and it`s harder to hide from other people. One benefit my location has is access to two oceans and multiple larger rivers and waterways. The border to Denmark is also fairly close and could be reached on foot in a couple of days. This makes fleeing to another country, hiding and waiting out whatever crisis occurred in the less populated countries Norway, Finland or Sweden a possibility. Since Germany is on the larger European/Asian continent reaching potentially friendly foreign countries on land is also a possibility.
What are 5 things I always take with me when I travel?
I only travel very rarely, and usually I only travel to visit my sister in Hamburg. Does my edc-bag count? 😀 In case it doesn`t I always carry a folding knife, a Lighter, a personally build first aid kit, enough liquid to last me a day, and my allergy medication cause I would die without it (not really, would just be really annoying XD). If I travel abroad I adjust this in accordance with local laws in order to avoid getting into trouble. I recently visited the UK and had to leave basically all my edc-gear and my survival gear at home because the border controls are so stringent.
A final word from the German Survivalist/Prepper:
Knowledge is (probably) infinite, there is always something new you can learn, and knowledge is the most valuable prep, it`s easy to carry, you can store a whole bunch of it and you can share and trade it with others very easily. Even if you can`t afford all the prepping goods, the food storage, the weapons, if you can`t acquire a skill through practice, read, listen, watch and learn as much as you can even if it`s just in theory, because theoretical knowledge will still provide you an edge. Survive, and pass on your knowledge and skills!