2010: The year in review

As 2011 prepares to kick off, The Local takes a look back at some of the stories that caught our attention during the past year in Germany.

2010: The year in review
Photo: DPA


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new centre-right coalition got off to a rocky start, sparking the first of several crisis meetings in 2010.

In what would become a black year for the Catholic Church in Germany, revelations of widespread abuse of children at religious institutions came to light. The scandal would continue to grow over several months and has yet to be fully resolved.

The gritty Ruhr Valley region kicked of its year as a European capital of culture amid frosty winter conditions.

Our regular column about life in Germany, Portnoy’s Stammtisch examined the country’s beloved TV treasure Tatort.

And The Local’s Kristen Allen reported on the trend toward bargain burials and anonymous funerals in Germany.


Margot Käßmann, the head of Germany’s Protestant churches, was forced to resign after she was caught drunk behind the wheel of her car.

Lois Jones headed to Bavaria to take the former kingdom’s temperature. Loud, proud and fiercely independent, Bavaria is Germany’s Texas. But have laptops started to beating out lederhosen?

The Local also spoke with Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt after the flamboyant German-born LA socialite and husband to Zsa Zsa Gabor announced his intention to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California.


German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s official trips abroad were scrutinized amid accusations his partner and friends were tagging along to do business and network.

Germany’s most famous TV weatherman, Jörg Kachelmann, was arrested for allegedly raping his long-time girlfriend.

Germany’s Slavic minority the Sorbs celebrated Zapust to mark the coming of spring. Penny Bradfield photographed the spectacle.

Is Germany’s emblematic dog breed, the dachshund, dying out? With breeding statistics showing steady decline, The Local’s Kristen Allen got ankle-deep in wiggling wiener dogs at a champion show to investigate.

And as part of her two-week internship at The Local, 14-year-old Rona Bird described what it’s like growing up in a multicultural environment in Germany.


Ash from a volcano in Iceland caused travel havoc in Germany after airports across Europe were shut down.

And as the Greek debt crisis heated up, The Local’s Marc Young explained why the euro needs someone other than Germany to play Europe’s bad cop.

In a special report for The Local, Sally McGrane examined the energy challenges and opportunities of the 21st century and how Germany can remain a green technology leader.


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats suffered a drubbing in a state election North Rhine-Westphalia, robbing her centre-right coalition of its majority in the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat.

Germany was stunned after Michael Ballack, the capital of the national football team, suffered an injury so serious he would miss the World Cup.

Germany was then shocked when plucky teen Lena Meyer-Landrut won the Eurovision song contest.

And Germany was completely flabbergasted by President Horst Köhler’s shock resignation after he was criticized for supposedly suggesting Germany’s military involvement in Afghanistan was partly motivated by its economic interests.


Despite Ballack’s absence, the German national team had a fantastic World Cup tournament and dazzled fans with fantastic football. Losing to eventually champion Spain, Germany managed a respectable third place in South Africa. The Local’s completely awesome World Cup blog documented it all.

Paul, a psychic octopus in Oberhausen, wowed the world with his uncanny ability to predict World Cup winners.

Christian Wulff, the German government’s candidate for president, was elected the country’s head of state after a tortuously long vote seen as public humiliation for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition.

And The Local’s series “Motherhood in the Fatherland” chronicled Sabine Devins’ pregnancy as she negotiated the cultural quirks of having a baby in Germany.


The Lower Saxony state parliament made history by electing German-Scot David McAllister premier, making him the youngest-ever state leader and the first to hold British citizenship.

National railway operator Deutsche Bahn faced heavy criticism after several of its high-speed ICE trains saw their air conditioning units fail amid searing summer heat.

And the Love Parade ended in tragedy after 19 people died following a crowd crush during the techno music festival in Duisburg.


US internet giant Google sparked fear and loathing in Germany by announcing it would bring its popular Street View program to 20 cities. In a guest commentary for The Local, web guru Jeff Jarvis said Germany was digitally desecrating its online landscape.

Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin sparked even greater fear and loathing with an inflammatory book claiming Muslim immigrants were not compatible with German society.

The Local’s columnist Roger Boyes told Germans to forget the hysteria and take an honest look at the integration of immigrants. And Marc Young argued Germany had a special obligation to lead the fight against Europe’s rising intolerance towards Muslims after seeing the disastrous consequences of virulent anti-Semitism firsthand.

Sparking love and adulation around the world, The Beatles might have hailed from Liverpool, but the band got its big break in Hamburg. David Sharp traced the steps of the Fab Four fifty years later.


The German government said it would extend the life of its nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years – a controversial decision that will shape the energy policy of Europe’s top economy for years to come.

Munich’s beer bash Oktoberfest celebrated its 200th anniversary with a special area to remember the beer bashes of yore.

Huge demonstrations against the controversial revamp of Stuttgart’s main train station turned nasty after the police turned water cannons and pepper stray on protestors. One man ended up blind.


Germans marked the 20th anniversary of reunification with a collective shrug, but that didn’t mean there was nothing to celebrate.

Britain announced the early withdrawal of all UK troops from Germany, shocking communities in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. Lower Saxony’s premier David McAllister told The Local it was a sad moment both for the state and him personally, as the son of a British soldier.

The Local’s series “The New Berliners” explored the lives of immigrants from around the world in Germany’s capital. Julia Lipkins’ multimedia project allowed her subjects to tell their own stories.


An explosive package was found at German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s offices and tied to a string of letter bombs sent by Greek leftist extremists angry over austerity measures following the country’s debt crisis.

Germany’s first woman rabbi since World War II was ordained in Berlin, marking another milestone in the resurgence of Jewish life in the country that perpetrated the Holocaust.

Germany’s resurgent economy became the envy of struggling nations like the United States, but even Germans didn’t seem entirely happy.


In the wake of an acrid national debate on immigration, The Local’s David Wroe explored the challenges of integration by hitting to the streets of Berlin’s multicultural Neukölln district, visiting the country’s schools, and highlighting Germany’s need to recruit more foreign talent.

Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s embattled foreign minister and vice chancellor, faced a revolt by his Free Democratic Party, as leading members openly discussed replacing him as chairman. But according to ZEIT ONLINE’s Michael Schlieben, a putsch ahead of next year’s state elections would be disastrous.

The US ambassador to Berlin, Philip Murphy, sought to stem the diplomatic damage from awkward leaked cables on that described Chancellor Merkel as timid and Foreign Minister Westerwelle as incompetent.

And Berlin and much of the rest of Germany saw the snowiest December in over a century.

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