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

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