Last year, a photograph was published on the back page of a Berlin daily. It depicted a German mother from the town of Eisenhuttenstadt–strongly built and dressed in loose jogging clothes–grabbing hold of her skinhead son and dragging him away from the hostel for asylum-seekers that he and his friends had been attacking with rocks.

Another picture of the same boy appeared a little later. In fact, the boy kept popping up in the press–sometimes with a kerchief wrapped over his face, sometimes without–in Stern, Die Tagezeitung, on television. But it was that first photograph that everyone remembered: mothers do not drive to the front lines to drag away their children by the scruff of the neck. Journalists Max Thomas Mehr and Regine Sylvester spent two days in Eisenhuttenstadt looking for the famous mother of the skinhead son and persuaded her–along with her husband and son–to talk to them. They met in a restaurant with loud music and a single grumpy waitress and began by asking the mother what she was telling her son as the picture was taken.

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