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News from Berlin and Germany, 24th January 2024

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Up to 100,000 people demonstrate against right-wing extremism in Berlin

Around 100,000 people demonstrated against right-wing extremism and the AfD in front of the Bundestag in Berlin on Sunday. At the start of the event, at 4 pm, 30,000 participants were on site, and within an hour the number of participants rose to up to 100,000. The organisers spoke of 350,000 participants. The event went until 6pm without incidents, a police spokeswoman told rbb. However, the Palastine block were separated from the main protest and were not allowed to rejoin the main body of the protest. In Munich, there also was a demonstration, where so many people gathered that the event was cancelled due to security concerns. The police stated there were 100,000 participants and organisers, 250,000. Source: rbb

Berlin politicians protest as more far-right meetings revealed

The protest started as Kristin Brinker (AfD) took to the podium to begin her speech at the Bundestag. Politicians from various parties – SPD, Greens, The Left and CDU – simply got up and left the hall, leaving only the speaker’s fellow AfD politicians remaining. The background to this demonstration of opposition was the highly controversial secret meeting last November, revealed by Correctiv, in which far-right groups and wealthy donors met to discuss plans for the mass deportations of foreigners from Germany. Later, it emerged Brinker was present at another meeting between radical right-wing extremists which took place at the apartment of the former CDU finance senator Peter Kurth. Source: exberliner

Berghain now being boycotted by DJs

It started with Manuka Honey and Jyoty: the two London-based DJs cancelled their participation in the opening night of the CTM Festival at Berghain on 12 January. They referred to the “Strike Germany” campaign: a collectively organised strike against state-funded cultural institutions and projects in Germany. One of the points of criticism mentioned on the Strike Germany website is the anti-discrimination clause initiated by Berlin’s Senator for Culture Joe Chialo (CDU). In this context, Strike Germany, like actors in the Berlin cultural world, criticises the application of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which is often criticised for making an inadequate distinction between antisemitism and criticism of Israeli politics. Source: Berliner Zeitung



“Average rent increases of a horrendous 21 per cent”

The German Tenants’ Association fears a further drastic rise in rents due to the crisis in the construction sector and the lack of hundreds of thousands of flats. Even in high-price regions such as Munich, rents have risen more sharply than ever before in the past two years, even for existing contracts, Tenants’ Association President Lukas Siebenkotten told the newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine. “The current rent index for Munich showed average rent increases of a horrendous 21 per cent compared to the previous rent index, a shock for all tenants affected.” Siebenkotten reported tenants’ associations nationwide were receiving more and more requests for advice due to massive rent increases. Source: manager magazin

Nationwide demonstrations

Following the revelations by the research network `Correctiv’ about a secret meeting attended by AfD politicians and others, people in Germany have been taking to the streets against the right every day. On Sunday, 25,000 people took to the streets in Berlin alone. New protests are being organised throughout Germany every day. The `taz’ has compiled a some dates. The information is not exhaustive and has not yet been verified. Correctiv published new details during a staged reading at the Berliner Ensemble on 17 January. According to Correctiv, Mario Müller, formerly active in the right-wing extremist Identitarian movement, also spoke about his “fight against the left” at the meeting in November. Source: taz

Appeal for a ceasefire in Gaza

The appeal is clear: German, Canadian and American MPs urge US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to campaign for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a two-state solution. In an open letter, they say: “We believe the price of defeating Hamas cannot be the acceptance of the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian civilian population. In the meantime, Israeli hostages have also fallen victim to the attacks. A renewed humanitarian ceasefire is needed immediately.” Many people in the German government and among the population are concerned about the situation and are trying to exert a positive influence in favour of a humanitarian solution. Source: taz

Hamburg demonstration ended due to overcrowding

Under the slogan “Hamburg stands up against right-wing extremism and neo-Nazi networks”, thousands of people demonstrated on Jungfernstieg last Friday. The rally was ended prematurely by the organisers for security reasons. The reason given for the cancellation was of overcrowding and therefore emergency services could no longer get through. According to the police, 50,000 people were present, but the crowds made it difficult to estimate the number. According to DGB Hamburg, which was one of the organisers of the rally, 80,000 people attended. SPD politician Kazim Abaci from the association Entrepreneurs without Borders, which also co-organised the demonstration, even spoke of 130,000 participants. Source: tagesschau

News from Berlin and Germany, 17th January 2024

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Remembering and fighting

Solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, the call for peace, and the necessity of socialism played a central role during the 29th International Rosa Luxemburg Conference, organised by junge Welt, with a record attendance of 3,700. “Viva Palestine” could also be heard as the kilometer-long commemoration demo marched under red flags to the cemetery where Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, murdered 105 years ago, are buried. Solidarity with Palestine was, however, the trigger for brutal police attacks. Among the 16 demonstrators arrested, according to the police, were several musicians from the Anatolian Grup Yorum, currently on hunger strike for comrades imprisoned in West Germany. Source: jW

Thousands of demonstrators protest against traffic light policy

Thousands of farmers, tradespeople, and transporters demonstrated against the policies of the German government in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Monday. Joachim Rukwied, president of a farmers’ association, demanded that additional burdens on agriculture be cancelled. In addition to the farmers, the transport industry also called on the federal government to change course. “Our industry has had enough too,” said Dirk Engelhardt, spokesman for the Federal Association of Road Freight Transport, Logistics and Disposal (BGL). Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) was loudly insulted and booed at the demonstration. Lindner referred to the need to make savings, offering in return a reduction in bureaucracy and more entrepreneurial freedom. Source: rbb24


Right-wing secret plan against Germany

On 25 November, at a hotel near Potsdam, a meeting that looked like a chamber play took place – but it was reality. A group of politicians (AfD, CDU), neo-Nazis and businesspeople were there to hear about secret plans. Their most important goal: “Remigration,” the ability to expel people from Germany based on racist criteria, regardless of whether they have a German passport or not. Although this “conference” was secret, copies of letters were leaked to CORRECTIV, and its team was able to film undercover at the hotel. In addition, Greenpeace researched the meeting and provided CORRECTIV with photos and copies of documents. Source: correctiv

Thousands demonstrate in Potsdam and Berlin for democracy and against the right-wing

Following the revelations about the meeting between radical right-wingers and AfD politicians in Brandenburg, thousands of people demonstrated for democracy in Potsdam. Demonstrations are also taking place in Berlin, at the Brandenburg Gate. Mayor Mike Schubert (SPD), who called for the Potsdam rally, talked of 10,000 participants. The demonstrators held up placards with slogans such as “We stick together.” Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) were among those taking part. Source: rbb24

New faces, but only three women

“One for all” is written on the banner of the self-proclaimed first “democratic-Christian-social coalition,” which will govern the federal state of Hesse after the constituent session of the Hessian state parliament. Boris Rhein, as re-elected Minister President of Hesse, and Nancy Faeser, as Federal Minister of the Interior, will remain in office. In his second cabinet, Minister-President Rhein relies on many new and significantly younger members of staff. However, in addition to Rhein and seven other men, there are only three women in the twelve-person cabinet, falling short of the 25% quota that Rhein himself had announced. Source: taz

Perpetrators are bad judges

Africa is becoming increasingly important, and Germany, according to official statements, strives for a “partnership of equals.” However, as the International Court of Justice in The Hague started hearings in South Africa’s lawsuit against Israel for genocide in Gaza, Germany rejected South Africa’s accusations. The German government also failed to mention that the same day was the 120th anniversary of the start of the German genocide against the Herero and the Nama people. Namibia’s president now accuses Germany of not having learned any lessons from its own history. Source: taz

News from Berlin and Germany, 10th January 2024

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Berlin cultural administration introduces anti-discrimination clause

The Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion intends to add an anti-discrimination clause to grants with immediate effect. This measure is intended to strengthen the prevention of discrimination and anti-Semitism. Cultural institutions and funding bodies are responsible for ensuring that no racist, anti-Semitic, queer-hostile or other marginalising forms of expression are promoted with public funds, said Culture Senator Joe Chialo (CDU) in the press release. “Art is free! But not without rules,” he emphasised. All potential recipients of funding should also ensure the funds do not benefit any organisation that is classified as extremist or terrorist. The decision effectively means that any artist in Berlin who criticises the State of Israel could have all state funding removed. Source: rbb

BVG will have subsidies cut after not providing reliable transport services

Transport Minister for Berlin Manja Schreiner (CDU) had announced the Berlin’s CDU-SPD city’s government will withhold almost 9 million euros in subsidies from the Berlin’s public transport association (BVG), due to the transport association’s failure to uphold its side of a contract with the German capital. “As customers we expect the BVG to provide the agreed services”, Schreiner told Berliner Zeitung in an interview. She explained yet that this response is based on two specific disruptions; the atypical timetable and limited U-Bahn services due to a partial-route service on the U6 line. Source: iamexpat

Celebrities should encourage Berliners to vote

In five weeks’ time, on February 11, more than half a million Berliners will be called to vote in the Bundestag election. This day happens also to be the last day of the winter holidays. State electoral officer Stephan Bröchler is concerned about voter turnout and is has launched a campaign. With the help of celebrities, the state of Berlin wants to motivate people to take part in the partial rerun of the Bundestag elections in next February. Bröchler added that there is already an address search function on the state electoral officer’s website “”. Source: rbb

Berlin teacher fined for comparing COVID vaccines to Holocaust

The Tiergarten Local Court in Berlin court fined a 62-year-old vocational college teacher €3,000 last Thursday for comparing COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the Holocaust. The presiding judge said comparing coronavirus vaccines to the Holocaust “is a trivialisation”. The statement was similar to a ruling quoting a previous decision by the Berlin Higher Regional Court in another similar case. In an online video, the teacher altered the infamous Nazi motto “Arbeit macht frei” for “Impfen macht frei” (“vaccination sets you free.)” Denying the Holocaust is illegal in Germany, as is trivialising the crimes committed under Nazi rule. Source: dw



2023 sees German carbon emissions drop to its lowest level since the 1950s

A study by the energy think tank ‘Agora Energiewende’ revealed 2023 saw Germany’s lowest carbon dioxide emissions since the 1950s. However, experts have said the findings should be looked at more closely. In 2023 Germany emitted 673 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – around 70 million tonnes fewer than in 2022. According to Agora, this brings the country’s 2023 emissions 46 percent lower than in 1990. A reduction in coal-fired power and output by energy-intensive industries were the greatest contributors to the reduction. Source: iamexpat

German rail union plans more strikes

Germany’s GDL train drivers’ union (“Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer“) announced last Sunday further strike action as talks with state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) appeared to be deadlocked. The union had announced a strike in passenger transport starting early Wednesday, Jan 10, and lasting until Friday evening, Jan 12. The two sides have been trying to agree on a deal on working hours, with GDL wanting hours cut from 38 to 35 per week without affecting pay. In addition to shorter working hours, the union GDL is also looking for a pay hike of €555 ($606) per month and an inflation compensation bonus for its members. Source: dw

Farmers take to the streets

The German Farmers’ Association had called for a week of action that will culminate in a large demonstration in Berlin next Monday, Jan 15th. A total of 10,000 participants have been registered, who will in all likelihood arrive in the capital with thousands of tractors. This means that massive traffic obstructions are once again expected in Berlin and surrounding areas. The protests are directed against the traffic light government’s plans to phase out tax breaks for agricultural diesel. The subsidy is to be phased out gradually and will no longer be paid at all from 2026. The federal government launched these plans last Monday. Source: rbb

“We don’t want right-wingers at our demos”

The President of the German Farmers’ Association (“Deutscher Bauernverband” – DBV) Joachim Rukwied has declared the participation of right-wing groups in next week’s farmers’ protests to be undesirable. “We are democrats and political change takes place – if at all – through voting in the polling booth,” said the DBV President. The DBV Association called for this weeks nationwide protests against the federal government’s policies. The farmers’ anger was fuelled by planned cuts in subsidies for the sector in the wake of the budget crisis. Source: tagesschau

News from Berlin and Germany, 4th January 2024

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Berlin police failure: 10 cases of unaddressed racism

In recent years, Department 533 of the Berlin State Criminal Police Office did not process at least ten cases of bodily harm and grievous bodily harm with a suspected racist background. They are part of 387 cases that the Commissariat for State Security did not pursue from 2018 to 2023. These cover a wide range of simple offenses to serious crimes: arson, coercion, several accusations of incitement, insults, and the use of unconstitutional license plates. The list comes from the Senate’s response to a written question from Left MPs Niklas Schrader and Ferat Koçak, according to the Tagesspiegel. Source: nd-aktuell

Labour market in Berlin almost unchanged, but in Brandenburg more unemployed

While the number of people without a job in Berlin stagnated at the end of 2023, it rose in Brandenburg – albeit seasonally. At the same time, the number of employees subject to social insurance contributions also rose in Berlin. “Berlin continues to see an increase in employment and job registrations,” said Ramona Schröder, head of the Berlin-Brandenburg regional directorate. The demand for labour also remains high. More than 19,700 vacancies were registered in Berlin last month. In Brandenburg, the number of unemployed people rose last December, with 1,650 more than in November. Nevertheless, there were a total of 44,400 vacancies in the region. Source: rbb24


Growing concern about possible AfD election successes

With a view to the upcoming elections in eastern Germany, the former President of the Federal Constitutional Court, Andreas Voßkuhle, warned of the consequences of the AfD making a breakthrough. “The AfD as the strongest parliamentary group in one or more state parliaments would turn Germany’s political landscape upside down.” Next September, the state parliaments in Saxony, Thuringia, and Brandenburg will hold elections. In all of those states, the AfD is by far the strongest party in the polls. European elections will also be held on 9 June and local elections are expected in 9 out of 16 federal states. Source: IslamiQ

Germany’s 2024 economic outlook

The German economy may see a little growth this year, but so far everything is pointing to a lackluster year. German exports will probably not be able to boost the economy enough. Looking back, economists and industry associations have rarely been so unanimous in their views: 2023 was a year of stagnation. It will take some time until the official figures are available, but the German economy likely shrank last year. Among the reasons are rising prices and the sluggish global economy, and the reduced governmental budget for 2024. Source: dw

Germans are falling out of love with online shopping

According to a recent survey by Postbank, the coronavirus-inspired online shopping boom has reached its peak in Germany, with more people going back to physical stores. Of the 3,038 people who took part in the survey, just 26 percent said that they do half of their shopping on the internet, compared to 32 percent in 2022. Companies destroying returns is a major concern holding consumers back from “adding to basket.” “Shopping behaviour is returning to normal after the end of coronavirus restrictions,” said Thomas Brosch, Head of Digital Sales at Postbank. “For younger people, however, online shopping is here to stay.” Source: iamexpat

News from Berlin and Germany, 13th December 2023

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Berlin builds fewer new flats than in 2022

Despite the high demand for housing in the capital, residential construction in Berlin is not gaining momentum. The target of creating 20,000 new flats per year will also be missed this year. As Building Senator Christian Gaebler (SPD) told the German Press Agency, the figure is expected to be around 16,000. “That is below last year’s figure of 17,310, but considering the difficult economic environment and also in comparison to the rest of Germany, we are still doing quite well,” said Gaebler. “The federal government also expects to miss its target of 400,000 flats,” he added. Source: rbb



State interior ministers propose punishing deniers of Israel’s right to exist

The interior ministers of the federal states in Germany have suggested that the public denial of Israel’s right to exist should be made a criminal offence. They asked Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) to examine whether the law should be adapted accordingly. The Conference of Interior Ministers (IMK) called on Faeser to ban other activities and associations, including there the Islamist Centre Hamburg. Further, the federal government will look at whether it is possible to revoke the German citizenship of people with multiple citizenships who had been convicted of forming terrorist organisations. Source: msn

Collective bargaining and a sobering result

The trade unions had praised the recent wage agreement to the skies. And yet there is a great deal of resentment. Right from the start of the negotiations, the unions were criticised for entering the negotiations with their minimum demand of 10.5 percent, but no less than 500 euros more pay. The critics warned that it was clear that less would come out in the end. And they were proved right: the results are well below the envisaged demands. The tax-free inflation premium may feel good in the bank account for a short time. But it cannot compensate for the real wage loss of recent years. Source: nd-aktuell

Spontaneous pro-Palestine demonstrations allowed

The Hamburg Administrative Court has lifted the general ban on spontaneous pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Previously, all unregistered gatherings in the Hanseatic city that were “related in content to support for Hamas or its attack on the territory of Israel (so-called pro-Palestinian gatherings) were prohibited. In the opinion of that court, however, the “current danger prognosis does not justify the general ban”. The “constitutional significance of freedom of assembly”, explains court press spokesman Maximilian Tallich, “requires that there is a real and concrete threat to public safety”. The police, as the assembly authority, accepted the court’s decision. They will “no longer apply” the general order with immediate effect. Source: zdf

Far-right group protests refugee housing plan

More than a thousand supporters of right-wing extremist group “Aufbruch Gera” held a protest in the eastern German city of Gera last Saturday against plans to build housing for refugees. The domestic intelligence agency for the eastern state of Thuringia classifies the group, whose name loosely translates to “awakening in Gera”, as a “suspected extremist case”. The agency’s chief Stephan Kramer described them as an “extremist core group that expresses itself in a particularly drastic manner.” The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party organised the vehicle convoy, MDR reported. The party had previously distanced itself from Aufbruch Gera. Source: dw

Chemnitz riot trial starts

The victims have been waiting five years. After 2018 right-wing extremist riots in Chemnitz, the trial against the alleged perpetrators began on December 11. Seven defendants aged between 26 and 51 stand accused of causing bodily harm and disturbing the peace in 11 separate cases during the incidents of September 1, 2018. On that evening, following an event organised by the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), and the anti-Islam Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA), the defendants are alleged to have engaged in violent confrontations with participants of a counterdemonstration, culminating at the death of a 35-year-old German-Cuban man. Source: dw