Welcome to our English-language news magazine about Germany.
In partnership with Hochhaus, we will provide you with snippets of the most important news that happened last week in Germany.
News events from this past week that you may have missed:
[October 26 – November 1, 2020]
The news this week has been all about the upcoming lockdown, which starts today (November 2).
Angela Merkel’s announcement
Angela Merkel’s announcement this week that the country’s gastronomy and leisure industries would be closed for November didn’t go far enough for a particular friend of this newsletter. Karl Lauterbach, SPD health spokesman, told the Rheinische Post he wanted the Ordungsamt to be able barge into homes to make sure that people are social distancing in private too. Pulled up on the unconstitutionality of his plan, Lauterbach blustered that he only meant that officials should knock on the door and tell people to behave themselves.
Here is a back-of-an-envelope calculation for you. The average age of someone who dies in a traffic accident in Germany is 51. That is 30 years less than life expectancy (81). In other words over 90,000 years of life were lost on the roads in 2019 when 3,059 people died in traffic accidents (30 x 3,059). The average age of someone who dies of the coronavirus in Germany is 82 and therefore, one presumes, has no actual impact on life expectancy. If the pandemic is the greatest crisis of public health since the war, what does that make the year 1970 when 21,300 people died in car crashes?
SAP is trying to turn itself into a cloud-based company
Volkswagen (see below) isn’t the only DAX company that is trying to pull off a wholesale transformation in order to secure its future. SAP, the biggest software company in Europe, is trying to turn itself into a cloud-based business. That could be a rocky ride: the company lost €30 billion in value on Monday morning after it published reduced profit forecasts. The Financial Times reports on the company’s new strategy while the Süddeutsche Zeitung looks at the 40-year-old CEO trying to pull it off.
Germany’s next election date
The date of Germany’s next election has been decided. On September 26th 2021, after 16 straight years of Merkel, Germany will get a new Bundeskanzler. It should be a shoe-in for the CDU, who are polling at 35 percent. The only thing that can possibly come in their way is… the CDU. What was supposed to be an orderly succession is turning into a shit show. Candidate Friedrich Merz might be leading in polling of party members, but that matters little – the new chairman will be elected by 1,001 delegates at the party convention, which has been indefinitely postponed. Merz claims the delay is a conspiracy against him, instigated by the party establishment who want time to install a “surprise candidate”, either health minister Jens Spahn or Bavarian prime-minister Markus Söder (neither of whom is officially running). The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung didn’t mince their words, calling Mr Merz a populist and a narcissist “of which there are enough in world politics.”
Germany’s worst public spending sins
The Taxpayers’ Association has brought out its annual Black Book of Germany’s worst public spending sins, some of which put even the Berlin airport to shame. How about a playground for €1.1M, or a bridge which was renovated for €200,000 before it was realized that it was no longer fit for use? Or the mobile “Dance Cube” which the government paraded through the country to promote energy-efficiency – dance moves were supposed to generate energy. They did not. But the disco tour cost taxpayers €1.8M.
They all sought treatment at Berlin’s famous Charité
What do Pjotr Wersilow of Pussy Riot, Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune have in common? They all sought treatment at Berlin’s famous Charité, which is increasingly becoming the hospital of choice, not only for international politicians who don’t trust their own health care system, but also for anonymous (wealthy) patients from the Middle East. The 75-year old Tebboune was rushed to Germany this Wednesday after several of his staff tested positive for coronavirus.
Unbelievable as it might sound, Chemnitz was once the cradle of the German automotive industry. Today the East German city close to the Czech border is mainly known for its neo-Nazi scene and Germany’s lowest rents (€4,47 per square meter). That’s all about to change, hopes Saxony’s minister president Michael Kretschmer, who was one of many Saxonians to rejoice when the city won the nomination to become European Capital of Culture in 2025 with the refreshingly honest slogan “Chemnitz – on no one’s radar.”
Berlin correspondent savages the German establishment
“Germany’s media landscape has become an echo chamber for the idea that America is a deeply flawed, racist, semi-democratic state of gun-toting religious fanatics. At the moment, the country is on the brink of collapse and/or a civil war. The underlying message: Trump is just a symptom of much deeper dysfunction.” Politco’s Berlin correspondent Matthew Karnitschnig savages the German establishment for what he sees as its lazy disdain for the US in this provocative op-ed.
Can the pianist Igor Levit play a proper legato or not?
Can the pianist Igor Levit play a proper legato or not? That is the question on everyone’s lips this week. In the most high-brow battle in the culture wars to date, classical music fans have been sharing their opinions on the pianist’s finger work. One reader of Die Welt judged that Levit’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Waldsteinsonate sounds like “a herd of buffalo approaching.” The general consensus though is that, if Levit can play a respectable legato then he deserved his Bundesverdienstkreuz. If not, he gained Germany’s highest civilian honour solely for his luvvy Twitter feed.
Who are the editors behind Hochhaus?
Journalist based in Berlin since 2014. His work has been published by German and English outlets including der Spiegel, die Welt, the Daily Telegraph and the Times. Formerly in the Middle East.
Axel Bard Bringéus:
Started his career as a journalist for the leading Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet and has spent the last decade in senior roles at Spotify and as a venture capital investor. In Berlin since 2011.
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