News from Berlin and Germany, 29th May 2024

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Police officer beats journalist during evacuation at the Humboldt University

A video documented how a police officer hits a reporter from the ‘Berliner Zeitung’ (BZ) during the evacuation of an occupied institute at Humboldt University (HU) on Thursday. As BZ reported on the next day, the reporter, who had identified himself as a representative of the press, was beaten by an officer while filming the eviction. The newspaper also published the video about the incident. The police commented on the article, saying the following: ‘We were not previously aware of this video.’ The authorities had sent it ‘immediately’ to the State Office of Criminal Investigation for evaluation. The Journalists’ association demands a “complete clarification”. Source: tagesspiegel

Rent demo on 1 June

The official website of the Left party invites citizens to a demonstration against the rise of rent prices. It considers that “While rents are being increased, many people receive horrendous utility bills and everything is more expensive, little is happening when it comes to wages. And while the federal government prevents improved tenant protection, the CDU-SPD Senate allows rents to rise at the state-owned housing companies and it delays the referendum.” They then invite people to join for a demonstration shortly before the European elections taking place at 2pm on June 1st at Potsdamer Platz. Source: die Linke

Separation of powers in danger

The Berliner Senate admits that the ‘Palestine Congress’ was hastily ended in April. State Secretary of the Interior Christian Hochgrebe (SPD) now admits that the four bans on political activity were imposed at very short notice and communicated to the police. Salman Abu Sitta himself was not informed of the ban either verbally or in writing. The organisers only found out about it while Sitta’s video greeting was already running, even though he had been announced as a speaker for weeks. Furthermore, during the eviction at Humboldt University, a lawyer was arrested and a journalist was beaten by police officers. Lawyer Michael Plöse doubts that the Senate acted lawfully. Source: taz

Berlin 29-euro ticket: 75,000 subscriptions sold in its first month

Almost one month after Berlin’s 29-euro public transport ticket first went on sale, 75,000 passengers subscribed for it. According to the Berlin Senate for Transportation, 85 percent of the 29-euro tickets were sold to existing customers who were transferring over from another kind of ticket. Transport authorities in other German federal states fear the Berlin-wide ticket could diminish the popularity of the Deutschlandticket. Criticism has also come from police and emergency services in Berlin, which, according to police union representative Stephan Weh, have had 31,8 million euros of funding cut at the expense of “internal security” services, namely ambulances and police cars, to fund the 29-euro ticket. Source: iamexpat

The statue of “comfort women”: is Berlin planning to remove it?

The Friedenstatue (the statue of peace) which was inaugurated in September of 2020, is a memorial for the so-called “comfort women”, the hundreds of thousands of women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops during the Second World War – as well as to stand as a symbol against sexual violence more widely. Meanwhile, the recent years have seen the Japanese government putting pressure on foreign cities to remove such memorials. During a diplomatic visit to Japan, mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) affirmed he is committed to ensuring there is a monument against violence against women, but a “one-sided representation should no longer take place.” Source: the berliner

Berlin State Secretary Claudia Elif Stutz resigns

Berlin’s new transport senator Ute Bonde (CDU) has lost an important member of staff. State Secretary Claudia Elif Stutz (CDU) has announced that she is leaving the transport administration. According to the ‘rbb’ and ‘B.Z.’, the dispute over the 29-euro ticket is one reason for the resignation. The previoud State Secretary had argued in favour of the reintroduction of the ticket in the Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Association (VBB). Bonde, the new transport senator as of last week and now Elif Stutz’s superior, was the chairwoman at the time. State Secretary Britta Behrendt (CDU) will take over until the position is filled. Source: rbb



Champagne, Rolexes and racism

At the end of last week, a short video went viral. The video was taken last Sunday in the exclusive club ‘Pony’ in Kampen on the island of Sylt. A group of young people sing the phrase ‘Foreigners out, Germany to the Germans’ to Gigi D’Agostino’s song ‘L’Amour toujours’. The Nazi version was also sung on Monday at the Schützenfest in Löningen in the district of Cloppenburg. In the midst of these scenes, bottles of champagne are opened, using the teeth, or credit cards. All of it makes clear that racist statements are not just a phenomenon of boozing neo-Nazis. Source: taz

CDU cancels online vote against combustion engine ban

The planned ban on combustion engines for new cars has met with disapproval from the CDU, and the party wanted to secure support with an online poll.  However, reports from the Bild am Sonntag claim that things didn’t go according to the CDU’s plan.  The vote took place last saturday and in the morning more than 85 per cent of participants were in favour of a ban. The poll was taken offline in the afternoon and the vote cancelled. This was justified by Christoph Schleifer, who works for the company commissioned to conduct the survey, speaking of massive manipulation. He claims that ‘Tens of thousands of votes were cast automatically.’Source: tagesschau