Tag Archives: Germany

Abstand? Fehlanzeige

Noch in der Nacht zum Sonntag sind die Zelte verschwunden, geräumt von der Polizei. Dabei hatten die Demonstranten nach ihrer Großdemonstration in Berlin den nächsten Schritt ihres Protests einläuten wollen. Ein Protestcamp nahe dem Kanzleramt, 14 Tage lang, gegen die Maßnahmen der Regierenden zur Bekämpfung der Coronapandemie. Kaum hat Michael Ballweg, der Protestorganisator, am Samstagabend die Kundgebung an der Siegessäule beendet, ruft er schon die nächste aus – die zum Campieren.!5706392/

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Posted by on September 7, 2020 in European Union


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Has Germany “Done This?”: A Look at the Refugee Crisis Five Years Later

With its population of around 20,000, the town of Hassloch is essentially the largest village in the Palatinate region of Germany. Still, it is well known in the country for being a special place – in that there is nothing special about it. Decades ago, the realization was made that from a demographic perspective, Hassloch is a microcosm of the country at large, with its age, gender and economic breakdown roughly reflecting that of Germany as a whole. Indeed, its demography is so normal that it was chosen in the 1980s by the Society for Consumer Research as the place where new products would be tested. After all, if people in Hassloch like it, you can be relatively sure that people in the rest of Germany will too. If Germany is a tree, Hassloch is its bonsai.

What, though, can the place tell us about Germany’s handling of the huge influx of refugees five years ago? On Aug. 31, 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel held a press conference in which she discussed the challenges that the wave of migration presented for the country. Hundreds of thousands of people were making their way into Europe at the time across the Mediterranean and along the Balkan Route – and many of them had set their sights on Germany. It marked the beginning of years of political discord, pitting EU countries, political parties and individuals against one another. In that press conference, Merkel said: “Germany is a strong country. We have done so much. We can do this!” It is a sentence that would become a trademark of her tenure.

Now, five years later, we know that almost exactly 890,000 asylum seekers came to Germany in 2015. But have we “done this”? It’s hard to say, just as it is difficult to define exactly what “this” means, or even who “we” are. It all depends on your perspective. In Hassloch, the question as to who managed to “do this,” and when and what that means, leads to a number of places — to a city administrator, to an expert on parrots, and to extremely German families with colorful collections of passports. This story, though, begins in city hall.

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Posted by on September 1, 2020 in European Union


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Germany Must Abandon Its Rejection of Eurobonds

Eurobonds, German Chancellor Angela Merkel assured eight years ago at the height of the euro crisis, will not exist “for as long as I live.” Last week, during a video summit of European Union leaders, southern EU member states were again brushed off just as brusquely when the idea of eurobonds was once again raised as a way of shielding their economies from the impact of the corona pandemic. German Economics Minister Peter Altmaier spoke disparagingly of a “phantom debate.”

Either Germany’s leaders do not grasp what they are so carelessly dismissing. Or they are choosing not to grasp it out of fear that the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) might exploit aid for European neighbors for its propaganda. Ultimately, it was the bitter debate over aid for Greece during the euro crisis that led to the AfD’s founding in 2013.

Rather than truthfully telling the German people that there is no alternative to eurobonds in a crisis like this, Merkel’s government is instead suggesting there is something rotten about these bonds. That in the end, they would have to be paid for by hard-working German taxpayers because the Italians have allegedly never been particularly good at handling money. The chancellor has resorted to this narrative so often that any concession to the Spaniards and the Italians would seem like a defeat. She never should have let it get this far – if for no other reason than compassion and solidarity. The impact of the corona pandemic has led to a human and medical tragedy in Italy and Spain – not least because of the strict austerity measures imposed on them by Brussels. It is not because they lived beyond their means.

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Posted by on April 6, 2020 in European Union


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Der ewige Wahlabend

Zu Beginn ein Rückblick: “Ich bin völlig baff”, twitterte der FDP-Vorsitzende Christian Lindner am 30. November 2019. Da hatte die SPD gerade überraschenderweise die Linksausleger Norbert Walter-Borjans und Saskia Esken zu ihren Vorsitzenden gewählt. Mit Lindner haben große Teile der deutschen Öffentlichkeit darüber gestaunt. So, wie sie schon gestaunt hatten über das Scheitern der Jamaika-Verhandlungen, über Angela Merkels Rückzug auf Raten, über die Beinahe-Rückkehr eines Friedrich Merz, über das schnelle Scheitern von Andrea Nahles. Und so, wie sie in diesen Tagen staunt über die Erschütterungen in Thüringen und, ganz aktuell, den Rückzug von Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

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Posted by on February 20, 2020 in European Union



A Very German Idea of Freedom: Nude Ping-Pong, Nude Sledding, Nude Just About Anything

The first time Michael Adamski saw his mother-in-law naked it was awkward.

But it wasn’t as awkward as seeing his boss naked.

Mr. Adamski, a police officer in Berlin who investigates organized crime, first started going to a nudist camp at a lake outside Berlin after he met his wife, whose family owned a cabin there.

One weekend, when he had just about gotten used to stripping in front of his in-laws, he bumped into the highest-ranking colonel in his precinct — who promptly challenged him to a game of table tennis.

They have been on first-name terms ever since.

“Once you’ve played Ping-Pong with someone naked, you can’t call them ‘colonel’ anymore,” Mr. Adamski said as he prepared to join a triathlon where the swimming and running portions of the race were naked. “Nudity is a great leveler.”

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Posted by on November 22, 2019 in European Union


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The girl in the box: the mysterious crime that shocked Germany

In the Alpine foothills in the far south of Germany is a vast lake called the Ammersee. Its shores are dotted with centuries-old villages where wealthy families from Munich buy large second homes and tourists drink beer at waterfront restaurants. At the north end of the lake is a pair of such villages, Eching am Ammersee and Schondorf, less than two miles apart. Separating them is a block of spruce forest that attracts hunters, joggers, mountain bikers and in the late summer 38 years ago, kidnappers preparing to commit what would become one of the country’s most notorious postwar crimes.

After class on Tuesday 15 September 1981, the first day of the new school year, a 10-year-old girl named Ursula Herrmann returned to her house in Eching. Ursula, the youngest of four siblings, practised piano with her oldest brother Michael, and then headed off to her late afternoon gymnastics lesson in Schondorf, cycling through the forest along the lakeside path. When the gym class was over, she went to her cousin’s house in Schondorf, where she ate dinner. At 7.20pm, Ursula’s mother phoned the aunt to say her daughter needed to come home. The shadows were lengthening but it was still light, and the cycle ride would only take 10 minutes.

Half an hour later, she was still not home. Her mother again called the aunt, who said Ursula had left 25 minutes before. Both of them immediately knew something was wrong. Ursula’s father rushed into the forest from Eching, and her uncle did the same from Schondorf. They met in the middle, along the path. Ursula’s name rang out through the darkening wood. But there was no reply.

Within an hour neighbours, police and firemen had joined the search, torch beams raking the water and struggling to penetrate the thick undergrowth. With midnight approaching, and rain falling, a sniffer dog led its handler away from the lake, into the brush. There, 20 metres from the path, was Ursula’s little red bike. But she was nowhere to be seen.

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Posted by on November 15, 2019 in European Union


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Türkei – Europa muss aus seiner Ohnmacht herausfinden

Hat die EU Mittel und Wege, um Erdoğans Krieg in Syrien zu stoppen? Ja. Sie darf sich nicht mit dem Flüchtlingsdeal erpressen lassen und muss ihre wirtschaftliche Stärke nutzen.

Auf die Frage, warum der türkische Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seine Truppe in den Norden Syriens hat vorrücken lassen, lautet die ausschlaggebende Antwort: Weil er es konnte. Das liegt zum einen daran, dass ihm ein intellektuell und charakterlich überforderter US-Präsident freie Hand gelassen hat, zum anderen aber auch daran, dass es keine andere Macht gibt, auf die Erdoğan glaubt, Rücksicht nehmen zu müssen. Die USA hätten die Türkei stoppen können, wollten es aber nicht. Die Europäer hätten die Türkei gerne gestoppt, konnten es aber nicht. Insofern sind die Menschen im syrischen Grenzgebiet zur Türkei nicht nur Opfer Erdoğans, sondern auch der Ohnmacht Europas.

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Posted by on October 19, 2019 in European Union


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Carola Rackete and Europe’s Troubling Refugee Policies

It’s been four days since Isaac, Fréderic and their friends arrived in the port of Lampedusa on board the Sea-Watch 3, captained by Carola Rackete. They can hardly believe they’re really here. The sun is setting and the temperature has become a bit more bearable as they sit on the steps of the San Gerlando church.

It is shortly after 9 p.m. on this Tuesday and they have just received a message on their smartphones: “Carola libera.” Carola is free.

The reference is to Carola Rackete, the 31-year-old German captain of the Sea-Watch 3 who has become a rival to Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini — and a figurehead for a less restrictive migration policy.

But the migrants standing in front of the church merely see her as the woman without whom none of them would have made it to Europe. They cheer when they read the news that she has been released.

“Carola Rackete saved our lives. Without her, we would all be dead,” says Fréderic Samassi, a 24-year-old from Ivory Coast. He says he spent three years in Libya, most of it behind bars, an ordeal during which he says he saw many terrible things. Now, he has reached the goal that he had imagined when he left his home in 2016: Europe.

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in European Union


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Danke, Bayern!

Diese Wahl war eine der wichtigsten in der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik. Denn das, was die CSU den Wählerinnen und Wählern da zur Abstimmung vorgelegt hat, stellte nicht mehr und nicht weniger dar als den Abschied von wesentlichen Grundprinzipien unserer Demokratie.

Diese Partei hatte zwischenzeitlich das hetzerische Vokabular der AfD übernommen und damit den humanitären Minimalkonsens dieses Landes verlassen, sie hat mit dem Kreuzerlass die christliche Religion zum Instrument im Wahlkampf herabgewürdigt und damit die Trennung von Staat und Kirche aufgeweicht. Sie hat die Stabilität ihrer eigenen absoluten Mehrheit mit der Stabilität der Demokratie gleichgesetzt, sie hat in Gestalt von Horst Seehofer beim Masterplan Migration Staat und Partei in eins gesetzt und das eigene Mandat auf Zeit als hoheitliche Ermächtigung verstanden, sich über die im Grundgesetz verankerte Richtlinienkompetenz der Kanzlerin hinwegzusetzen.

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Posted by on October 23, 2018 in European Union



Anarchy in the GDR

Burning Down the Haus, a new book by journalist Tim Mohr, details how a small group of East German teens kick-started a movement that contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The 1970s were oppressive years in the German Democratic Republic; there was no space, literal or philosophical, to live outside the system, let alone criticize it. Upon hearing The Clash and the Sex Pistols via forbidden British military-radio broadcasts, a handful of young people began to embrace the punk mentality, dressing differently, and shaking the foundations upon which authority had been built. And despite the best efforts of the East German secret police, aka the Stasi, the movement grew throughout the 1980s, as punks developed their own little world, disconnected from society. Punk was the soundtrack to the million-person demonstration on November 4, 1989. A few days later, the Wall came down.


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Posted by on October 12, 2018 in Reportages


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