Seen nothing, heard nothing, done nothing: The Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of the Interior, Roger Lewentz, failed completely during the flood night on the Ahr. His resignation, which he announced on Wednesday, was therefore long overdue. In the summer of 2021, the Social Democrat left civil protection to the overwhelmed districts instead of convening a state government crisis team. He didn't even think it necessary to wake up Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD).
Instead, just before 1 a.m., he sent the head of government a quick text message saying the situation was escalating and people could or had already died. After that, Lewentz went to sleep himself, as the Ahr Valley investigative committee of the state parliament just revealed.
So far, the politician has refused to take responsibility for his failures or even to admit mistakes. The victims have not yet heard an apology from the country. Instead, for more than 14 months, Lewentz steadfastly stuck to the narrative that he was completely unaware of the true extent of the catastrophe.
The Social Democrat claims he was desperately looking for information on the night of the flood, but he was not presented with "a complete picture of the situation". Now it has become clear that this cannot be true. There was information, even a highly alarming police helicopter video.
Nevertheless, the 59-year-old wanted to sit out the affair. It wouldn't have been the first time. The SPD veteran, who has been in the state parliament since 1994, was already involved in the Nürburgring scandal, in which the SPD-led state government under Kurt Beck had lost half a billion euros.
Lewentz was state secretary at the time and later even the responsible minister. A few years ago, his ministry fell for dubious investors from China who wanted to buy Hahn Airport.
But Prime Minister Dreyer defended him. She didn't want to do without her confidant, a skillful strategist. Lewentz always had Dreyer's back and let him do it.
Only now, when Lewentz threatened to become a burden for them too, did Dreyer drop him. The minister had to take her announcement that Lewentz had to “answer questions” as a clear message that it was over. Lewentz had to go so Dreyer could stay.