News from Berlin and Germany, 8th November 2023

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Thousands take part in demonstration in Berlin

A pro-Palestinian demonstration marched through Berlin-Mitte last Saturday afternoon. More than 8,500 people took part in the protest. The march was “mostly peaceful”, police spokeswoman Anja Dierschke told the rbb.  The demonstration was loud, but the atmosphere was not heated. According to the authorities, around 1,400 police officers were on duty throughout the day in connection with the Middle East conflict. Contrary to the demands of the police union, there was no support from other federal states. Since the 7th of October, there have been repeated rallies in the capital. According to the police, a total of 45 pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been registered, 20 of which have been banned. Source: tagesschau


No street for Kurt Goldstein in Dortmund?

Anyone who is no longer very young might remember Kurt Julius Goldstein, tirelessly active against Nazis. Goldstein was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit. He was surprised at the time, as a “German, Jew and communist” would not usually be honoured, he said. Now, 16 years after his death, commemorating him is controversial. In Dortmund, his hometown, a tiny new street is planned to be named after him. The naming should have been decided last week, but it was pointed out that Goldstein had “also held high offices in the SED regime in the GDR,” a revelation that apparently led the CDU to reconsider and postpone the decision. Source: nd-aktuell

German voters see antisemitism on the rise

Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) caused a stir when he posted a video with a speech in which he warned of growing antisemitism in the country — among Islamists, right-wing extremists, but also “in parts of the political left.” Habeck stressed that criticism of Israel’s policies is permitted in Germany, as is standing up for the rights of Palestinians. However, “antisemitism should not be tolerated in any form — none whatsoever.” The politician seems to have hit a nerve: the pollster infratest dimap recently conducted a survey among eligible voters and found out that 52% of respondents believe there has been a rise in antisemitism. Source: dw

Warning strikes announced in the state-level public sector

Due to the wage dispute in the public sector, state employees will be called out on warning strikes and protest actions in the coming days and weeks. This was announced by the ver.di trade union last Friday. Schools, university hospitals, the police, and the administration of justice will be affected. For Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen, unions are demanding a monthly state allowance of 300 euros. The demands thus tie in with the wage agreement reached in April of this year for the federal government and local authorities. The unions demand 10.5% higher income, but with a minimum increase of 500 euros. Source: rbb24

Germany set to tackle refugee issues

Germany is reexamining its refugee policy, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is under pressure to make changes. So far in the current year, more than 200,000 migrants have made their initial applications for asylum. In October, 600 of Germany’s 11,000 municipalities took part in a survey conducted by Mediendienst Integration together with migration researchers from the University of Hildesheim. Among the outcomes, almost 60% of them described the situation as “challenging, but still feasible.” But 40% percent report being “overloaded” or even said they were “in emergency mode.” The lack of accommodation is just one factor, together with a shortage of administrative staff and related infrastructure. Source: dw

Super-rich, please pay!

The SPD wants to create one million new jobs by 2030 with a large-scale climate-neutral reorganisation of the economy. In a key motion adopted on Monday for the upcoming federal party conference, the party’s executive committee proposes a state “Germany Fund” that would activate private capital and create an annual investment volume of 100 billion euros. “We have presented a comprehensive plan for the modernisation of Germany,” said party leader Lars Klingbeil. The SPD wants to reform income tax, inheritance tax, and gift tax, as well as the debt brake. The super-rich should also pay additional taxes. The Left Party criticised the proposal as an election campaign tactic. Source: taz

Germany agrees cuts for energy transition, NGOs fear lower standards

With a wide range of measures to cut red tape and ease licensing procedures, Germany wants to speed up investments in and construction of renewable power installations, among others. Following a meeting with all 16 state premiers, Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the agreement on a “Pact for Germany” as a landmark achievement. He also said Germany could no longer afford such a bureaucratic approach if it wanted to get infrastructure projects done faster. However, environmental groups are concerned the compromise could ultimately undermine environmental protection by reducing citizens’ abilities to participate and shrinking the room for legal intervention by conservationists. Source: cleanenergywire

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