Johannes Fechner, a lawyer and member of the Bundestag since 2013 from Germany’s Social Democratic Party, sleeps in a tent during parliamentary sessions, “near the water, in the fresh air,” he says. Of course, choose the camping accommodation option as long as the weather allows. “I don’t need an apartment, maybe someone else needs it more,” he says, noting that he really likes the camping atmosphere.
Deputy Johannes Fechner is 50 years old, is a lawyer by profession and lives in Emmendingen, Baden-Württemberg. During the weeks of the parliamentary session, he comes to Berlin, but stays in his one-person tent, in a campsite in a green area of the German capital.
German parliamentarians earn more than 10,000 euros. Most likely, the accommodation expenses are settled. But he prefers to pay 72 euros a week at the campsite. He’s been doing this for years, but apparently didn’t make a big deal out of it and only recently found out. German journalists from Bild visited him at the campsite after a day’s work and chatted over a beer in front of the tent.
When asked why he chooses to stay in the tent, Johannes Fechner answered: “Because he’s relaxed. Right next to the water, in the fresh air. I sleep better here, it’s good to get out of the government bubble and enter this environment.”
Fechner needs two minutes to set up his tent. He has everything he needs in the car for fitting and sleeping.
He has been a Member of Parliament since 2013 and lives at the campsite during the 2019 session weeks. “I only sleep here 80 nights a year so I don’t need an apartment, maybe someone else needs it more.”
He says he also had some camping adventures: “A fox caught and killed a duck right by my tent at two o’clock in the morning. It was total chaos.”
He says that during the storms in Germany two weeks ago, a branch fell on his tent, but otherwise he had no trouble: “Just natural noises, and this year I’ve got a few fellow snorers, but that’s how it is at camping.”
The parliamentarian says that he is used to camping since childhood – this is how he spent his holidays with his family. Now, together with his wife and children, they also go camping when they go on holidays.
He says that he really likes the atmosphere at the campsite and that it is similar to the one at the party. He is friends with everyone and really enjoys chatting in the shower queue in the morning. “I participate in discussions, but I usually don’t say that I work in the Bundestag. No one would believe it anyway”he says.
He keeps his work clothes in his office, because he admits it would be complicated to leave the tent dressed in a shirt and suit. At the end of the program, he buys bagels and takes the train to his accommodation.
Sometimes he’s brought to the campsite by a black Bundestag limousine, but Fechner says the people here don’t give a damn: “Of course they’re watching when someone in a suit gets out of the limo. But the campers are used to crazy stories, so they don’t ask too many questions.”
In the winter, Fechner moves to another campsite that also has heated wooden cabins, of “four square meters, with a bed”but sometimes he also goes to the hotel.