Two business owners from Dresden decided to take a stand against xenophobia – and were greeted with open arms.

Markus Bracklow organises interesting and unusual sightseeing tours of Dresden. But in the run-up to Christmas last year, the young entrepreneur began to feel uneasy. Increasingly, people were asking him whether they could or should come and visit Dresden, especially as foreign tourists. Bracklow felt concerned for his business and even more so for his city. He thought long and hard about what he could do, before he and events manager Elke Klee came up with the idea of making a short film to show another side of Dresden.

A wave of support

“We wanted to show what our city would be like without people and inspiration from abroad,” explains Elke Klee. The pair developed and refined their initial thoughts and soon had a wealth of ideas to play with. Many of Dresden’s diverse attractions, from Schloss Pillnitz and Brühl’s Terrace to the lively urban quarter of Dresden-Neustadt, would have been inconceivable without input from foreigners. When the Christmas holidays were over, Klee and Bracklow concentrated on translating their ideas into a film concept and devised a strategy for funding it.

They sent a copy of their film proposal along with a request for financial assistance to friends and business partners. “We were stunned by our success,” says Markus Bracklow. Pledges for 80% of the budget had been secured by the next day. Hoteliers, restaurant owners and many other business people and private individuals declared their support.

“We booked a film crew immediately and launched the website,” recalls Klee, who suddenly found herself with an awful lot to do. Filming permits were organised and participants for the film from Syria, Poland, England, China and eight other countries were found in just two days. Meanwhile, e-mails from donors and supporters continued to roll in.

A success for the people of Dresden

One very busy week later, the new video premiered on the Internet. Under the slogan “Dresden hugs the world”, the film reveals how the city has become richer, more beautiful and more diverse as a result of foreign influences. The seven-minute clip received over 17,000 hits on YouTube in the first three weeks. More than half the home page of the website is taken up by the names of the campaign’s supporters, and many of them have also added its logo to their own websites.