The Local’s year in review

As 2009 kicks off, The Local takes a look back at some of the stories that caught our attention during our first year in Germany.

The Local's year in review
Photo: DPA


Just as The Local launched in Germany in March, a Lufthansa airliner narrowly avoided a deadly catastrophe while trying to land in Hamburg.

German trade union Verdi also plunged the country into chaos with multiple nationwide strikes.

Reneging on a campaign promise, the head of centre-left Social Democratic Party in the German state of Hesse, Andrea Ypsilanti, sought to build a minority government tolerated by the hard socialist Left Party.


The contentious eastward expansion of NATO wasn’t the only issue clouding the transatlantic alliance’s summit in Romania this month. The Local explored German reluctance to join the fighting in southern Afghanistan and the implications for Berlin’s foreign policy.

Not used to winning popularity contests, Germany came out on top of a new survey of global attitudes to major nations by the BBC.

A German appeals court confirmed a 15-year prison sentence handed to a woman for killing eight of her newborn babies in the country’s worst post-war infanticide case.

Berliners headed to the polls to have their say on the planned closure of the city’s historic Tempelhof airport. Naomi Kresge looked at the controversy dividing the city.


A potato destined for the fryer became a holy relic to some Berliners after a woman cut it open only to find an image of a cross inside.

Hitler came back to Berlin as a wax figure at a new Madame Tussauds wax museum and some German politicians were outraged.


The German football team made it to the final of the Euro 2008 and Germany was once again awash in black, red, and gold. But the country wasn’t merely attempting to regain the good vibes of the World Cup from two years ago.


A gigantic catfish in Germany’s Main River met its end when it suffocated after trying to eat a football.

The US Embassy returned to its historic location on Berlin’s Pariser Platz with an underwhelming architectural statement. But the new building presents a fittingly confused image of America to Germany and the world, commented Daniel Miller.

Over 200,000 jubilant Barack Obama supporters shut down the centre of Berlin on Thursday evening to listen to the US presidential candidate give an impassioned speech on the global challenges of the 21st century.


Germany currently has the largest population in Europe, but by 2060 the head count in both France and Britain will have exceeded this number, according to a new study by the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named the world’s most powerful woman by US business magazine Forbes.


Roger Boyes, the Berlin correspondent for British daily The Times, decided to lace up his Lederhosen this year and find out the true meaning of Munich’s Oktoberfest.

And The Local put together a guide to the world’s biggest beer bash that aimed to get you out of Bavaria alive.

Scientists from the University of Stuttgart said they had proven tiny advanced organisms can survive the harsh conditions of outer space for at least 10 days.


Germany’s hard-line socialist Left party named Peter Sodann, a former star of television police drama Tatort, as their candidate for the May 2009 presidential election.

Some Berlin residents didn’t cope well with the impending closure of the city’s historic Tempelhof airport, with police even investigating threats against Mayor Klaus Wowereit.

Is there an “Animal” endangering the streets of Bavaria? Police traffic cameras captured a puppet speeding, but the culprit turned out to be a hot-footed British driver with a sense of humour.


Americans went to the polls to elect either Barack Obama president, but Dr. Josef Braml from the German Council on Foreign Relations argued Berlin must look beyond the White House for good transatlantic ties.

Rebel Social Democrats derailed the formation of a left-wing minority government in the German state of Hesse amid ongoing opposition to cooperating with the hard-line socialist Left party.

In this latest dispatch of Portnoy’s Stammtisch, The Local’s column about life in Germany, Portnoy tackled the touchy subject of the German loo shelf on World Toilet Day.


German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück launched a highly unusual attack on Britain’s economic stimulus package, saying it will not fend off recession but will leave the next generation saddled with debt.

Helmut Schmidt, the chain-smoking former German chancellor who is enjoying a revival of popularity after being kicked out of office more than 25 years ago, turned 90.

The Local had plenty of special Christmas coverage for its first German Advent.

And we also looked into why Germans call New Year’s Eve Silvester

and explored the mustard-filled doughnuts, firecrackers, and melted lead.