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News from Berlin and Germany: 18th September, 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


compiled by Ana Ferreira


Ver.di to extend strikes at Charité and Vivantes this week

The collective bargaining conflict at Charité and Vivantes is going into the next round. Even a new offer from the management did not bring the hoped-for movement. Now the strikes are to be extended. Ver.di’s deputy regional director Susanne Feldkötter again appealed to the Berlin Senate to persuade the state-owned hospital operators to compromise on collective bargaining. The Greens and the Left have called on Finance Senator Matthias Kollatz (SPD) to get more involved in the wage dispute at the state-owned hospitals. He rejected the demands, affirming the Vivantes management has made an offer to ver.di, which was rejected by the union. Source: rbb

Ver.di calls for strikes in retail trade on Monday

After the railway, Charité and Vivantes, there is now renewed industrial action in the retail sector in Berlin and Brandenburg. The services union ver.di has again called on workers in the retail sector and individual food warehouses in the region to take part in a day-long warning strike. Ver.di is demanding a wage increase of 4.5 per cent plus 45 euros per month as well as a minimum hourly wage of 12.50 euros – with a duration of the collective agreement of nine months. In addition, the agreement would have to be declared generally binding so that it would apply to all retail workers. Source: rbb

“Against rent madness”, thousands demonstrate in Berlin

Thousands of people demonstrated against high rents in Berlin on last Saturday. They marched from Alexanderplatz to Großer Stern. Various initiatives took part, led by the “Berliner Bündnis gegen Verdrängung und Mietenwahnsinn” (Berlin Alliance against Displacement and Rent Madness), with a common goal: a new housing policy and a rent freeze. The organisers estimated the number of participants at around 20,000. The demonstration aims at a change of course such as a rent freeze, no conversions into property and no terminations of own use, beyond no evictions, expropriations of large real estate corporations, as well as the nationwide rent cap. Source: md

Ali fears for his family in Afghanistan

The Taliban’s renewed seizure of power has Afghans living in Germany, among them many minors, extremely worried about their relatives. That is Ali´s situation. He came to Germany as an unaccompanied minor at the beginning of 2016. But without recognized refugee status, Ali has no right to bring his family here – even though he is under 18. The relatives, in turn, must obtain an entry visa for Germany, but only if they appear in person at a German embassy – in Islamabad or New Delhi as it is no longer possible in Kabul. Ali fears for his family. Time is running out. Source: rbb

Trans person dies of burns at Alexanderplatz

A trans person who set herself on fire at Alexanderplatz on Tuesday died in hospital. The background is unclear and the police are investigating. Based on findings so far, a political motivation can be ruled out. The 40-year-old trans person tried to burn herself without a word and without announcement in front of a department store. An employee extinguished the fire and alerted the Berlin fire brigade. An emergency doctor flew in by helicopter. According to the police, the person did not suffer any life-threatening injuries, but her condition deteriorated quickly. Source: Berliner Zeitung


AfD rise seems to have diminished in Brandenburg

So far, the AfD’s election results in Brandenburg have pointed steeply upwards. But the recent upsurges could now be over. The end of the AfD’s rise in Brandenburg began in the spring of 2020, when Brandenburg’s state and parliamentary group leader Andreas Kalbitz was kicked out of the party – but allowed to stay as sort of a ghost chairman. This might please the tightly-knit base, but scares off potential new AfD voters. By that time, the party was classified by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a suspected right-wing extremist case, too. And nothing has changed in that regard to this day. Source: rbb

Putting the brakes on the car lobby

It was a spectacle, but not so much for the benefit of the car lobbyists: the “IAA Mobility” trade fair in Munich was quite condemned by environmentalists. On Saturday, during a demonstration, the police used pepper spray on activists, journalists and paramedics. Union candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet criticized the protests when he spoke at the CSU party conference in Nuremberg, saying the fair was “the greenest IAA”. With this he unexpectedly hit the nail on the head. Climate activists pointed out, considering that just replacing one form of propulsion with another will not be enough. Source: jW

Party finances in the CDU: “Money is the most important thing!”

With 14.5 million euros in additional earnings, the CDU/CSU members of parliament are clearly ahead of all other parliamentary groups. Given this, a question arises: how does the CDU always manage to maintain its image as the people’s party? Voters should no longer be surprised if another one of their deals with special economic interests is exposed. This accumulation over decades clearly points to a structural problem, according to the book “Die Adenauer-CDU”. The book, among other aspects, points out to fundraising magazines such as the “Wirtschaftsbild”. This can be evidence for how the CDU manages to be closely linked to the economy, but not to transparency. Source: fr

News from Berlin and Germany: 11th September, 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


compiled by Ana Ferreira


Berlin buys thousands of apartments

In the next few days, supervisory board meetings have been scheduled for the private sellers Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen as well as for the state-owned buyers Howoge, Degewo and Berlinovo. Here, the responsible bodies must approve the takeover negotiated by the Senate Department of Finance with Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen. In the course of their merger, the two housing groups had announced that they wanted to hand over 20,000 flats to the state, trying to influence the opinion of the expropriation-friendly electorate in their favour. Among the properties to be bought, there are the Falkenhagener Feld in Spandau, the Thermometersiedlung in Lichterfelde and the Neukölln Highdeck-Siedlung. Source: morgenpost

CDU fears the fair housing referendum

Just a few days before the election and the referendum on the socialisation of large housing stocks, the CDU wants to know what knowledge the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had about the support for the initiative Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen from “left-wing extremists” – namely the post-autonomous alliance Interventionist Left (IL). When asked by CDU MP Stephan Lenz how “we” protect ourselves from that “infiltration”, Berlin’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Michael Fischer, replied that it was not the task of the agency to “take care of how they defend themselves against it”. Source: nd

Health workers fighting together

Starting this Thursday, the trade union ver.di is calling for an indefinite strike at the Berlin clinics of Charité and Vivantes (including its subsidiaries). In May, the workers gave the public hospital operators and the Berlin Senate a 100-day ultimatum, about better payment. This was followed by several further warning strikes. In the Vivantes subsidiaries, ver.di demands the full adoption of the collective agreement for the public service (TVöD) for all employees. So far, a considerable number of them are not protected by collective agreements and thus earn significantly less. For the hospital workers themselves, ver.di wants to push through a collective agreement on relief. Source: jW


Headscarf wearers face systematic discrimination

A study finds clear evidence of everyday discrimination against women wearing headscarves in Germany. Using actresses in train stations, who presented themselves with or without headscarves, the researchers noted that some seemed to be migrants, and others not, this was not an issue “per se.” The women wearing a headscarf, though, were treated with prejudice. The actresses dropped some fruits from their shopping bags. Those with headscarves got significantly less help – about eight percentage points lower. The researchers see this, among other results of the study, as scientific confirmation of everyday discrimination for women wearing headscarves. Source; süddeutsche

SPD demand commitment to Nato from coalition partners

Mathematically, a Red-Green-Red coalition is likely to happen after the Bundestag elections. However, SPD leader Saskia Esken is demanding a clear commitment about NATO from any possible coalition partner, which increases the pressure on the Left Party (Die Linke). And Armin Laschet (CDU), the candidate for chancellor of the CDU/CSU, has also renewed his claim that a Red-Green-Red coalition is not a realistic option. Laschet even claimed that if the Left wants to dissolve Nato this could be among the reasons “why these people should not be allowed to sit in a German government”.Source: spiegel

Expert calls on Tesla to finance the Fangschleuse station expansion

Can the taxpayer in Brandenburg “donate” a railway station to a profit-oriented corporation like Tesla if this corporation or its employees are the almost exclusive users of this new station? “Die Linke” presented an expert opinion about this last Tuesday. According to the expert, Tesla must at least contribute towards financing the extension of the Fangschleuse railway station, which is being built for 50 million euros and exclusively in the interest of the Tesla car factory in Grünheide. The expert also notes that the construction of such a station exclusively at the taxpayers’ expense would be a violation of European competition law. Source: nd

News from Berlin and Germany: 4th September 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


compiled by Ana Ferreira



Neo-Nazis soon to stand trial

The two main suspects in the right-wing extremist attack series in Berlin-Neukölln are likely to stand trial soon. They have been charged by the public prosecutor’s office with aggravated arson, damage to property and threats. According to the indictment, the two men allegedly committed the arson attacks on the car of a bookseller and the car of a left-wing local politician on 1 February 2018. The accusation is based on several pieces of circumstantial evidence. The victims were quite active against right-wing extremism. Crimes like arson attacks on cars are very difficult to solve because there are often neither witnesses nor traces. Source: taz

SPD prefer concrete to the environment

Berlin’s building code – for two years, the Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Greens have been working on an amendment to the regulations. The new building code would present, for instance, greener roofs and facades. On Monday, however, the SPD representative Iris Spranger informed the Greens and the Left the talks were over. This means it is the end of the red-red-green coalition. Not only until election night, but beyond. Because the CDU and FDP seem to be better at the grey concrete. Now the gardens of grey seem to be back in vogue, thanks to Franziska Giffey. Source: taz

Socialisers under attack

The accusations of alleged sexual harassment against an activist of the initiative Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen have now become public and the subsequent internal handling of the matter hold considerable explosive potential for the cause. While for some it is clear that in the case of allegations of sexual assault, the victim must first be fully believed, others consider it customary to first demand proof and also to let the alleged perpetrator describe his or her view of things. Two incompatible approaches. In this case, the feminist approach clearly prevailed. Source: nd



Bundeswehr colonel leaves the AfD

Uwe Junge is leaving the party, citing its radicalisation as the reason. Among those radicals, he means the candidates for the Bundestag elections, Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla. But he himself is anything but moderate, having been side by side for instance with Pegida founder Lutz Bachmann, as well as many neo-Nazis at a demo in Chemnitz in September 2018. In the meantime, the first reactions have come from the AfD: candidate Tino Chrupalla wrote on Twitter: “I thank Mr Junge for his work in building up the party. All the best in your political retirement! Source: taz

GDL announces five-day passenger rail strike

The train drivers’ union GDL has announced new strikes in the wage dispute with Deutsche Bahn. The third strike within a few weeks will also be the longest so far in the current wage dispute. The strikes are to end on Tuesday next week at 02:00 in the morning. GDL leader Claus Weselsky said he was sorry for the rail passengers, but that the “unteachable railway board” was responsible. S-Bahn and regional services will also be likely “massively” affected. It is not yet clear to what extent these areas will also be affected by the third strike. Source: rbb

Mobile data in Germany costs more than the European average

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations has made a comparison of the costs of mobile data across Europe and found out internet is cheaper in not only countries like Estonia, Romania, and Poland, but also in neighbouring countries such as France and Italy. Just to compare, a gigabyte of mobile data cost an average of 3.35 euros in Germany in 2019, while in France it was something like 3.18 euros. In Poland, it cost the average of 0.83 euros. The Federation advocated measures against high costs. Source: iamexpat

News from Berlin and Germany: 28th August 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


Compiled by Ana Ferreira



Large majority of Berliners in favour of taking in Afghan local workers

According to the Senate, 192 local Afghan forces and their families had arrived in Berlin by Tuesday. The Senate is preparing for more to come, affirmed Michael Müller (SPD). Berlin is prepared both for the reception and further distribution of people arriving in the capital and for the fact that some of them will remain here at least in the medium term. According to the Senate Administration, Berlin is a distribution centre. In Brandenburg, the first local Afghans already arrived on Friday and were brought to the initial reception centre in Doberlug-Kirchhain (Elbe-Elster). Source: rbb

Admission only for vaccinated and recovered people: will 2G come to Berlin, too?

Hamburg is the first German state to introduce the so-called 2G (“genesen, geimpft”) option model from Saturday on. In Berlin, the 3G (“genesen, getestet, geimpft”) regulation has been in force since last Friday. According to the mayor Michael Müller (SPD), the 2G model for public spaces cannot be implemented once this would represent an exclusion of, among others, families with small children, who cannot yet be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Other politicians such as Ramona Pop, Regine Günther and Dirk Behrendt (Greens) are very sympathetic to the 2G regulation. Source: Berliner Zeitung

Student council seeks non-white applicants for position

A job advertisement by the student representation (RefRat) of Berlin’s Humboldt University (HU) caused a stir on Thursday. The job is about a counselling centre on racist discrimination. “We ask (…) white people to refrain from applying for this counselling centre,” the advertisement reads. The management of the HU is calling on the constituted student body to review the job advertisement. Later, the advertisement could no longer be found in the RefRat section on tenders. “We are in the process of revising the advertisement. We regret the ambiguous wording,” the RefRat stated. Source: rbb



A moral dilemma

Who to get out of Afghanistan first? Those at risk who are hiding or those who make it to the airport? There is no easy answer to this moral dilemma. It cannot be right that half-empty planes take off just because there are not enough people in the chaos who have a legitimate claim to leave. But it would also be wrong to take in those waiting at the airport, while for those waiting in hiding to be rescued, the time for help is running out. Anyway, the action of taking 823 people in an aircraft showed something else: it showed humanity. Source: taz

Last German soldiers have left Afghanistan

Two weeks after the start of the rescue mission, the Bundeswehr has completed its evacuation flights from Afghanistan. Parallel to the latest exodus of Germans, a suicide attack occurred outside the gates of Kabul airport this Thursday. Due to the attack outside the airport, a German plane intended for emergencies landed in Kabul a little later. The aircraft, which was kept on standby for possible emergencies in the airspace over Kabul, made an unscheduled landing. It also picked up two German soldiers who had remained on the ground during the chaos following the explosion outside the airport. Source: spiegel

Germany “needs 400.000 immigrants a year”

To compensate for its growing worker shortage, Germany will need to attract hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the next years. The idea of inviting skilled migration to Germany is certainly not a new one. To fill more jobs, the Skilled Workers Immigration Act was introduced in March 2020. However, it was just when the first wave of coronavirus hit Germany, with its first national lockdown. The accompanying restrictions on travel only exacerbated the problem. And the number of applications for recognition of foreign professional qualifications – fell by 3 percent in 2020. Source: iamexpat




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