The Left Berlin News & Comment

This is the archive template

Voting Rights for All

Die LINKE demands voting rights for those without German citizenship


Germany is home to people from many different places with many different stories. We all live, love and work here together. Yet many people who live here are not allowed to vote and cannot run for elected office. Their vote – their voice – doesn’t count, even if they have lived, worked, and paid taxes here for decades. And more and more people are being affected by this: Nearly 10 million adults cannot vote in the upcoming Bundestag elections.

In some voting districts, almost 30 percent of adults are not eligible to vote. That is a scandal for our democracy!

When so many people are excluded from the franchise, their perspectives and their problems are less visible: poor working conditions and precarious residency status of migrants in places like slaughterhouses and asparagus fields and in nursing and care professions. Immigrants and their descendants* [*Ed. note: The problem begins with the language: immigrants and their children and grandchildren are known in German bureaucratese as “people with a migration background” or history: Menschen mit Migrationsgeschichte] are more often impacted by poverty, marginalization and unemployment, even in later generations. Their children are systematically discriminated against in the educational system. People with “foreign-sounding” surnames are more likely to face problems finding housing and jobs.

DIE LINKE stands for a society in which everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, regardless of their origin, family history or sexual orientation. We say NO to discrimination and racism. Unequal wages, unequal opportunities for a good life — between men and women*, between East Germans and West Germans, between Germans and non-Germans – hurt all of us.

Antiracism requires more than symbolism and lofty yet empty promises. Democracy requires equal rights for everyone. People who live here must also be able to participate in political decision making, so that they can play an equal part in shaping society.

  • Active and passive voting rights. At every level and for all long-term residents of the country.
  • All children and adolescents born here whose parents reside here permanently should be granted German citizenship and have a right to multi-nationality citizenship.
  • Immigrants should have a legal right to naturalized citizenship after five years of residency in the Federal Republic.
  • We demand legalization options for people without resident status as well as effective right-to-stay rules for people who are forced to live with no secure visa status or those with multiple extensions of a “tolerated stay” visa (Duldung).
  • We reject deportations, particularly in cases of war, persecution and misery or as a form of double jeopardy.


Translation of a leaflet by die LINKE. Translation by Julie Niederhauser

Spaßbremse: Applying a Leftist Lens to German Politics

Interview with the producer and presenters of a new Berlin podcast


Interview with Isaac Würmann (IW), Ted Knudsen (TK) and Michelle Hayner (MH)


Hello everyone. To start with can you each quickly describe who you are and what your relationship is to the Spaßbremse podcast?

IW: I’m Isaac, I’m the producer/editor of the podcast. I’m originally from Canada and have a background in journalism.

TK: I’m Ted, one of the hosts. I’m from Washington State in the US and am doing my PhD in political economy.

MH: I’m Michelle, the friendlier Spaßbremse host, also from the US. I work at a Kita and study Heilpädagogik (special needs education).

The podcast is called “Spaßbremse”, which roughly translates as something like “buzzkill”. Does this mean that it’s not any fun?

IW: Definitely not! We want to have some fun with it, while still unpacking some serious issues. Part of the fun we have is in laughing at the absurdity of German politics.

TK: Right, the idea for the name came more from wanting to pump the brakes (“Bremse”) on the overly positive depictions of Germany (the “Spaß”) that you get in English-language accounts of the country. The overall narrative of Germany that you hear in the US or UK is very distorted and we wanted act as a corrective to that, particularly by applying a more leftist lens to German politics.

Why did you start the podcast?

IW: Personally, because I’m quite new to Berlin, I saw the podcast as an opportunity to better understand the German political landscape.

TK: I’m a fairly degenerate podcast addict and I’ve always half wanted to start one myself. I also like to ramble about leftism and politics to whoever will listen, so this is a good way to alleviate the burden on friends and family. The stars aligned with Isaac as producer and Michelle as a co-host so we just decided to go for it!

MH: I’ve been trying to understand German culture for quite some time: I lived in Germany for a couple years as a kid and ended up studying German in college. The pod is the perfect chance to weave together that background knowledge with a socialist critique of German politics.

There are a lot of podcasts out there at the moment. What makes Spaßbremse different?

MH: In our introduction episode Ted runs through some key examples of the drivel found in the English-speaking press about Germany. Seen by many liberal Americans as the end stage of political progress, Germany is often portrayed as a kind of utopia. We want to counter these narratives and shed light on the cruelty, inequality and dysfunction that is the reality of much of German society.

TK: Political podcasts seem to fall into one of two camps. First, a lot of left podcasts come up with the right political conclusions and have a ton of fun riffing but might delve too much into cultural minutiae to appeal to a wider audience. On the other hand, many centrist podcasts do a ton of research but are fundamentally wrong about history and not very insightful (I’m not mentioning any right-wing podcasts here as I wouldn’t know but assume they’re all terrible).

Essentially, our goal is to base critiques of the Germany political system on our own experiences and to connect those insights to real historical research. So, when we skewer Gerhard Schröder or the Treuhand, we’ll have fun with it, but also try to keep it concise and focused and based mostly on rigorous academic and journalistic sources.

So far, you’ve covered the Hartz IV reforms, German reunification, and climate politics. What’s coming next?

IW: We’re hoping to tailor our content over the next couple months to the German election, so covering topics that people need to know about if they want to grasp what the parties are talking about. But generally, we want to discuss some of the idiosyncrasies of German politics and society, and some of the things that made us scratch our head when we first moved here.

MH: After we wrap up our series on Reunification we’ll put out an episode dedicated to Angela Merkel and her legacy. Coming up in September we will be interviewing an activist from the Deutsche Wohnen und Co. Enteignen campaign for an episode on housing politics.

TK: And after the election, we definitely want to branch out a bit from the politics-heavy topics, discussing some more cultural things and other quirks. The German obsessions with Spargel, herbal medicines, the speed limit on the Autobahn, things like that.

Spaßbremse seeks to address the subjects that people are interested in about German politics. How can someone contact you if they have a topic suggestion?

MH: DM us on twitter @spassbremse_pod! We also have an Email for our less internet addicted listeners:

TK: Yeah definitely reach out! We love to hear what people think of the pod and also get any ideas of what people would like to hear about German politics. You can always see our latest episodes here or find us anywhere you usually listen to podcasts.


Ted will be talking about Spaßbremse at the Workshop on Building Left Media at Summer Camp on 4-5 September.

The Nazi and Misogynist History of Alternative für Deutschland

The AfD is not a normal party. This is their main candidate in Berlin-Mitte


This text originally appeared in German on a leaflet produced by Die LINKE Wedding. Reproduced with permission.

With the election slogan “Deutschland – aber völlig normal“ (“Germany – but perfectly normal”), the AfD are trying to play down their inflammatory politics. But the party is anything but normal. Here are some examples regarding Beatrix von Storch – the AfD lead candidate in Berlin-Mitte.

Right-wing network

Although she can do nothing about her family, it is still important to know the legacy from which Frau von Storch has built her career.

Beatrix Amelie Ehrengard Elija von Oldenburg came from the Oldenberg royal family. This family was for a long time one of the most influential in Europe. Her grandfather Nikolaus von Oldenburg was both a Standartenführer [a leading position] in the Nazi SA, and also in direct contact with Heinrich Himmler. He knew early on about the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and used his position to ask Himmler for land and property in the East. Her other grandfather was Johann Ludwig Graf Schwerin von Krosigk, who was Hitler’s finance minister from 1932-45.

Their current contacts continue to play down and glorify the cruelty of the Hitler régime. For example, von Storch is a great fan of Sebastian Kurz, nicknamed “Baby Hitler”, and of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, whose election campaign contained Hitler quotes.

Her family background and her sympathy for such people are also reflected in her own statements. In 2016, she made the inhumane and brutal suggestion that refugee women and children on the German border should be shot. On facebook, she wrote: “whoever does not accept the STOP at our border is an aggressor.”


The AfD stirs up hatred against people with a migration background and against Muslims.

In the AfD programme, the word “violence” appears exclusively in connection with Islam and people with a history of immigration. Their aim is to incite fear and to normalise general suspicion against Muslims.

In this sense, Beatrix von Storch described the anti-Islam campaign of the Austrian ÖVP government as exemplary. She also demanded a map of where Muslims live in Germany, which could be used to put them under general suspicion.

Climate Change denier

Regarding the climate and Corona crises, the AfD denies the credibility of scientists and disseminates false information which ultimately endangers people, including their own voters. In an interview about the climate crisis, von Storch denied its existence. As an answer to temperature increase, she suggested “telling the sun that it should not shine as much”.

Against women, gays and lesbians and Trans people

Beatrix von Storch wants to take away the right of girls and women to control their own life and bodies.

She demands a complete ban on abortions and the punishment of both women and the participating doctors. She want everybody who campaigns for the right to legal abortion to be monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz). At the annual anti-choice so-called “March for Life”, she marches in the front row.

The AfD denies that women are socially disadvantaged. Instead they fight against every form of equal opportunities policy. Single mothers should only receive financial support if “the living conditions are the result of misfortune, not if it’s the woman’s own fault, or they came from a decision she made.”

The AfD attacks the dignity of lesbians, gays, trans and intersex people, vilifying their identity as “unnatural”. The AfD opposes marriage for all and registering a third gender into a birth certificate. They want to stop gender research and prevent child centres and schools from explaining the sexual diversity in society.

In a parliamentary debate on the Transsexual law, Beatrix von Storch screamed “They are paving the way to make young, insecure people irreversibly infertile, to castrate, to deform and to destroy whole families. What they demand is really just disgusting”.


The aim of the AfD is the greatest possible benefits for German businesses.

High earners will be further advantaged through tax breaks. Refugees will be scapegoated for social abuses. The AfD wants to put the disabled and addicts into camps.

Your voice against Nazis and Racists

The AfD is the parliamentary arm of right-wing terror. They connect the right-wing spectrum from the bourgeois-conservative milieu up to the extreme right. AfD politicians include convicted antisemites, right-wing thugs and known Nazis. When the AfD entered parliament, they won money, power and resources.

If election stalls of the AfD take place without visible protest and open opposition, this will lead to them being treated as a normal party.

If the AfD becomes normalized, racism. misogyny and exclusion will become socially acceptable. Already, right wing thugs and hooligans feel their opinions confirmed by the AfD and the discourse that they are leading.

We need educational work, non-violent protest and blockades of AfD election stalls against the rise of the AfD and the acute threat from the right: your voice against Nazis and racists.

A society in which all people can live together in solidarity, regardless of their background, sexual identity, religion and gender is possible – but only without and against the AfD.


Translation: Phil Butland

Climate Action Community

Bringing climate activists and organisations together

Climate Action Community is a  community group and impact-oriented social enterprise that aims to help citizens move from climate anxiety to climate action through community empowerment, education, and collective action. We support and advocate for community-led climate action, engage with existing environmental and social justice groups and do outreach to concerned citizens with the aim of larger climate mobilization.

Our members are from all walks of life from students to DJs… everyone is welcome. We are a community of everyday folks who want to make a difference. Just come with an open mind, an open heart and get ready to get your hands dirty!

Want to get involved in climate action or social justice, but don’t know where to start? Climate Action Community is hosting a little festival on Saturday, 21st August at Haus der Statistik to connect activist organizations with Berliners offering up their skills and time to help build a better world for all of us.

Event Programme:
👚🔀 All-day clothing swap
👼🏹 Speed ‘dating’ for organizations
💬🫂 Climate café
🧆🍸 Food & drinks

Mor information and RSVP here.

Hosted by Climate Action Community, Haus der Statistik & MITKUNSTZENTRALE


  • Klimaliste Berlin
  • KulturLabor Trial&Error
  • Initiative 100% Tempelhofer Feld
  • Queer Trans Mutual Aid Berlin
  • Berlin Clothing Swap
  • Edible City Network
  • Give Something Back to Berlin
  • SuperCoop
  • Tatort Zukunft
  • Suere
  • FSWFrieda
  • Polis 180
  • And more to be announced!

To keep everyone safe and healthy, please bring proof of vaccination or recovery or a negative test, and a mask.

News from Berlin and Germany: 21st August 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany

compiled by Ana Ferreira



Berlin police slow to react to right-wing chat group

The police had leads, yet it took more than a year before they acted against a right-wing chat group. It had a striking name, after all: it was called: “Die Eierköppe”. And it was not until this summer that investigators came across the second “Eierköppe” chat group. The “eggheads” are alleged to have sent messages with “inhuman content” from September 2017 to November 2019, including pictures, racist content and anti-constitutional symbols. The investigations into the “Eierköppen” are being conducted by the public prosecutor’s office and the internal police investigation group “Zentral”. The cases involve 32 police officers. Source: tagesspiegel

Strike date set for health workers

This Friday the 100-day ultimatum expires. Neither the Charité nor and Vivantes hospitals nor the Berlin Senate have made any concrete proposal to improve working conditions for non-medical employees. Therefore, the union bargaining committees decided that there will be a strike from 23 to 25 August. Vivantes railed against the work stoppages, affirming the safety and well-being of patients would be “endangered”. Verdi’s position is clear: wherever there is no risk to patients from a strike, the right of workers to strike must be made possible. If the situation does not change, Verdi will call on for a strike ballot on 30 August. Source: jW

Berlin Kulturbrauerei apparently threatened with sale

The Kulturbrauerei is apparently up for sale. It has, according to the owner’s estimates, the sale value of the site is around 150 million euros. This is indeed a possibility, and it would also have the right timing once most of the leases expire at the end of 2021. The building itself, built by Franz Schwechten, is well protected by the historic legislation and in excellent condition – thanks, among other things, to large investments done by the state. But such protection applies only to buildings. If the Senate wants to protect the current users, it must try something else. Source: rbb



Covid not under control in Germany

In Israel, where the next Covid wave is already there, the number of hospital admissions and corona deaths rises. With a vaccination rate slightly higher than that in Germany, Israel is still far from getting the pandemic under control. We know why this is so: vaccinations do not protect against infection, but against serious illnesses. Meanwhile, in Germany, due to the unwillingness of many to pick up the first or second dose of the carefully tested and effective vaccines, the risk of another wave approaches. It is therefore misleading to keep adding new high-risk areas, as if the situation here is much safer than elsewhere. It is not. Source: taz

Brandenburg is taking over initial reception of Afghans

Brandenburg wants to take over the initial reception of local Afghan forces arriving in Germany. The people from Afghanistan will initially stay at the reception centre in Eisenhüttenstadt for three to four days after their arrival. There, they will be tested for the coronavirus, and receive medical assistance if needed. Meanwhile, the Left Party faction in Brandenburg is calling for a state reception programme for 500 refugees from Afghanistan. Berlin gets ready, too, to take in refugees from Afghanistan. According to the State Office for Refugee Affairs (LAF), there are currently 1,250 places available in Berlin to accommodate refugees. Source: rbb

Former AfD leader charged with tax evasion

Former AfD leader Frauke Petry is once again on trial. She will have to answer for tax evasion and subsidy fraud in an appeal trial before the Leipzig Regional Court. The public prosecutor’s office accused Petry of having received funding for a so-called turn-around consultancy for her company. However, the consultancy was not for the company, but exclusively for the preparation and support of her personal insolvency. In the first instance, the public prosecutor’s office demanded a 30,000 euro fine for subsidy fraud, breach of trust and tax evasion. Source: swp

NSU verdicts finally confirmed

Twenty-one years after the first murder of Enver Şimşek, ten years after the NSU terror was uncovered and three years after the end of the trial, the Federal Supreme Court has now declared the verdicts against Beate Zschäpe and two co-defendants final. The decision rewards the persistent taking of evidence by the Munich Criminal Senate led by Manfred Götzl. Nevertheless, decisive questions about the NSU terror are still unanswered. Among them, how did the trio choose its victims? Were there other helpers? Where did the weapons come from? Did the Office for the Protection of the Constitution know more after all? Source: taz