News from Berlin and Germany, 6th December 2023

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Antisemitic attack on bar in Berlin-Lichtenberg

A new episode of antisemitic vandalism against the neighbourhood bar “Morgen wird besser” means that the venue has now been targeted three times this year. The bar is Jewish-owned and has repeatedly been the subject of antisemitic attacks. In 2020 an arson attack almost destroyed its entire interior. According to the Tagesspiegel, the owner said the situation left him feeling “desperate”, but also spoke of the great solidarity shown by the local neighbourhood. The Antisemitism Research and Information Centre (RIAS) reported October 2023 as having the highest number of such incidents since they started collecting data in 2015. Source: exberliner

Fewer buses in Berlin from December 10

Bad news for commuters and others who rely on public transport: the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) announced that its bus services will be reduced from December 10, as the city struggles to cope with a shortage of drivers. According to Rolf Erfurt, BVG’s operations director, the company has not yet decided which bus lines will be affected, but he promised such reductions will be evenly distributed across the city. The changes are planned to primarily affect services taking place outside of peak times, and large schools and hospitals should remain well-serviced. Erfurt said, however, that the cut was unavoidable given the tense situation on the labour market. Source: iamexpat

More than 10 criminal charges after pro-Palestinian demonstration in Mitte

Following a pro-Palestinian demonstration with around 2,000 participants in Berlin-Mitte last weekend, the police filed 13 criminal charges. The charges were for offences such as incitement to hatred or displaying signs of unconstitutional organisations, a police spokesman mentioned. The demonstration entitled “Stop the genocide in Gaza” marched through Wedding, Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte last Saturday. According to the police, isolated criminal statements were expressed. A second demonstration from Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg to Puschkinallee, entitled “Solidarity with Palestine,” took place without incident. Source: rbb24


Court mandates that the government should take additional climate measures

Following a judgement by the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court, the Federal Government must adopt additional immediate measures to reduce greenhouse gases from transport and buildings. This was decided by the court last Thursday following legal action by Deutsche Umwelthilfe and the environmental organisation BUND. The organisations had gone to court because, in their view, the responsible ministries had not acted sufficiently when the permitted amount of greenhouse gases was exceeded in the two sectors. The German government is considering an appeal. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, headed by Robert Habeck (Greens), said in response to an enquiry: “The court has expressly allowed the appeal.” Source: focus

Rent debts: around 30,000 forced evictions in 2022

Rent debts led to the forced eviction of tens of thousands of flats last year. More than 27,319 flats were evicted in 2022, according to an answer from the federal government to an inquiry by MP Caren Lay (Left Party). In Berlin, the number of evictions rose particularly dramatically compared to the previous year. According to the federal government, there were 1,931 evictions in the capital, compared to 1,668 in 2021. Brandenburg and Bremen were also disproportionately affected, considering the number of inhabitants. Lay demanded that eviction notices for back rent payments be cancelled and that “evictions into homelessness” be prohibited. Source: nd

November train punctuality worst in years

According to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, almost half the high-speed, long-distance trains of German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) were delayed last month. Moreover, DB was at its least punctual in eight years in November. A Deutsche Bahn spokesman said three-quarters of long-distance trains had been delayed by at least one construction site on railway tracks. The statistics do not include trains less than six minutes late, as DB classifies those as on-time. The company told the Bild that because of the “massive backlog in renovation” work, DB “had to expand considerably its construction operations during this year.” Source: dw

New report: right-wing extremism on the rise

Right-wing extremism is closer and more noticeable in the everyday lives of many people. This is the worrying conclusion of the first annual report of the Mobile Counselling Service against Right-Wing Extremism,  presented in Berlin last Monday. Although democratic forces throughout the country are standing up to the ultra-right, their work is increasingly under threat. The three reasons for the normalization of right-wing attitudes identified in the report are the growth of the AfD’s success, the Corona protest movements, and the local spread of right-wing extremists through the purchase of real estate, especially in many places in East Germany. nd

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