News from Berlin and Germany: 26 February 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


Compiled by Tom Wills



Launch of official petition to expropriate big landlords

The race to collect 174,000 signatures and trigger a referendum on the expropriation of Berlin’s biggest landlords has begun. The DW Enteignen campaign is seeking to use Berlin’s ‘Volksbegehren’ direct democracy process to force the city government to take all the housing owned by the biggest landlords (those with over 3,000 properties each) into public ownership. In the latest phase, there is now a four-month window in which to gather support from at least 7% of eligible voters. If that threshold is reached, the question of whether to expropriate the landlords will appear on ballot papers with the elections this autumn. Meanwhile, one year since the introduction of the Mietendeckel rent cap in Berlin, tenants’ representatives have welcomed the news that new apartment prices have stopped climbing, although warn that action must be taken to close loopholes in the law. Source: nd, Junge Welt

Call to ensure right to education for ‘illegalised’ migrant children

The campaign Legalisierung Jetzt (‘legalisation now’) has called for action to make sure children living without papers are no longer shut out of the school system. The group estimates that up to 100,000 people in Berlin do not have official documents, including many children. By law, schools are supposed to accept them and there is an exemption from the usual requirement for public bodies to report on people without papers to the immigration authorities. But schools and district authorities are apparently often unaware of the rules, meaning ‘illegalised’ children are deprived of their education. Source: nd

Suspect of attack on leftist is free to hand out Nazi flyers

A main suspect in the arson attack on Die Linke’s Ferat Kocak has been seen openly distributing neonazi propaganda in Neukölln. Sebastian T was among a group of around 6 people witnessed posting flyers for the party “Der III. Weg” through letterboxes. The man is one of the main suspects for a series of attacks on antifascists and others in Neukölln. He was arrested shortly before Christmas after a long investigation, but soon released. Source:


Berlin launches inquiry into Islamophobia

Berlin has become the first of Germany’s federal states to launch an inquiry into anti-Muslim racism. Dirk Behrendt (Green Party), the city’s senator for justice and antidiscrimination, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper: “It is unacceptable when in Berlin women’s headscarves are ripped off or even small children are attacked.” The inquiry will be carried out by a panel of experts over the course of a year and make “concrete recommendations” for actions to be taken by the city to tackle the issue. Around half of Germans see Islam as a threat, according to a representative survey by the Bertelsmann foundation. Source: Tagesspiegel


CSU politician resigns over facemask bribery claims

The deputy head of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU party grouping in parliament has left his post amid allegations of bribery. Georg Nüßlein’s immunity as a lawmaker was lifted on Thursday morning and his offices searched for evidence. The tabloid newspaper Bild reported that the CSU politician had arranged a deal with a Coronavirus mask manufacturer – including government orders – in return for a commission of more than €650,000 paid to his consultancy firm. Source: nd

Party divided on key issues as Die Linke conference gets underway

At its national conference this weekend, Die Linke is expected to become the first German party to be led by two women. Janine Wissler und Susanne Hennig-Wellsow are the only two well-known candidates in the leadership election. Wissler hails from the left and has built her profile through close contact with extra-parliamentary movements. On one of the key questions dividing the party, she believes joining a coalition government would offer little hope of effecting a politics of disarmament and social-ecological renewal. Hennig-Wellslow, on the other hand, represents the more conservative “realo” wing that advocates working within the system. The conference will also debate policy, including a proposal from the leadership that calls for an end to all overseas operations by the German armed forces.

Source: nd 1 2

Doctor takes fight for abortion rights to highest court

Kristina Hänel, the doctor who was prosecuted for providing information about abortions on her website, is taking her legal fight to the highest court in Germany. Although abortion is allowed under certain circumstances, a law known as “Paragraph 219a” banned doctors from advertising publicly that they carry out the procedure. After Hänel was convicted in 2017 for defying the ban, she appealed and as a result the law was changed so that doctors may now state that they offer abortions – but not give information about methods. Hänel will now argue that the restrictions are unconstitutional and should be lifted entirely. Source: nd

Catholics rush to leave after Cologne archbishop withholds abuse dossier

Leaving the Catholic church in Germany is a legal matter, and in Corona times that means logging on to a government website to book an appointment in court. In a sign of the unprecedented crisis in the church in Cologne, the server crashed last weekend under the weight of demand. Discontent reached boiling point after archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki decided to withhold the results of an independent inquiry he ordered into the church’s handling of abuse. Source: Junge Welt

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