What do people misunderstand about the homeless

The brass music is playing, the tables are set in the Nockherberg ballroom, and there are also celebrities: Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter with his wife Petra, for example, but not in a jacket or traditional costume, but today with a white safety vest, like many other helpers here this Saturday lunchtime . Because today it's not for the Gwappelten and the better-off on the Nockherberg, but for a good 600 Munich homeless. The "We help Munich" foundation will give them a three-course meal, plus a warming winter present, and if you like, you can also take some clothes with you.

It sees itself as a "foundation for people in need", and it has invited them to the Nockherberg above all through the city's food expenditure. The major action could be misunderstood - as not sustainable enough. Sparkasse board member Ralf Fleischer, foundation board member Stephan Heller from the advertising agency Heller & Partner, landlord Christian Schottenhamel and the many other volunteers do not see this as a "straw fire". Rather, it is a complementary highlight to the help that the foundation gives to most of the guests over the year anyway: With money for church and other soup kitchens and food outlets, which do not have three courses throughout the year - potato soup, meatballs with mushroom sauce and butter spaetzle as well as semolina flammeri with spicy cherries - there is, however, free warm food.

Josef, 67, who is currently staying in a dormitory in Berg am Laim and does not want to give his surname, jokes that he normally does not go to the Nockherberg, "the beer is too sweet for me". However, he is pleased with the invitation on Saturday - "a hell of a meal, a change". For the foundation board member Heller, this is above all a gesture that shows those in need "that they also belong to this city". He and his children serve soup and coffee, and when he drinks one himself, he watches with satisfaction as the cheerful, open Petra Reiter greets many and is warmly welcomed by many.

Middle-aged Horst, with a woolen hat and long beard, is happy about all of this, and at the same time feels ashamed. With two halves of wheat beer, he philosophizes finely about the impending winter cold and the cold in the heart. His sleeping place is currently a park bench near the Circus Krone, without a sleeping bag. "I pray for my safety every night," he says. To make a record, that is certainly not his wish, but he is homeless and sleeps in the open. The mayor's wife knows him, they exchange a few warm words - which then make him sad about his situation: "I am ashamed to have to shake hands with the mayor's wife in this elevator and with this beard, unwashed." It is degrading that one has to "beg for the key to the shower" even in a simple dormitory.

Among those for whom food is served in the ballroom, there are of course those who have decided on their way of life, for example that black-clad gentleman with the hoarse Franconian voice who lives with about 25 other people under the Wittelsbacherbrücke. He railed that "the city wants to steal our bed under our asses again on November 29th". Then an eviction is due again because the city fears health damage to the point of freezing - as well as flood problems with the furniture under the bridge in spring.

The mayor noticed this in passing, and also admits that he "actually hated this upcoming eviction", but was inevitable for reasons of security and responsibility. Reiter senses that things are crossing strangely. Today he brings them meatballs, on the 29th he has to collect beds under the bridge.

The campaign for the homeless has existed for years, earlier in the Löwenbräukeller, now it has moved to the Nockherberg with host Schottenhamel. All of the food was specially donated, says Heller. The foundation "We help Munich" can continue to support the food expenditure without any reduction or pay for school supplies for the children of welfare recipients for the "Bunte Münchner Kindl" campaign. The campaign is cooperating with 400 schools across the city, and Petra Reiter is also there with enthusiasm.