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Fury as Munich keeps kids' fee from Passion Play performances

The Local · 20 Sep 2011, 17:19

Published: 20 Sep 2011 17:19 GMT+02:00

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About a dozen of the children who live in the Marie Mattfeld House in Bavaria – because their own families are not in a condition to care for them – took part in last year’s Passion Play.

The play is an internationally-famous production depicting the life and death of Jesus, performed from May until October by almost the entire population of the village of Oberammergau – where the children’s home is located – every ten years.

The town has performed it since 1634, after the plague and the 30 years war had ravaged the region – a pledge was made to do so every decade as a sign of piety, and possibly to protect the village.

It is now celebrated as a traditional event which ties the villagers together and celebrates Christianity and community.

Yet when those working with the children from the home discovered that 75 percent of the money paid to them for their work was being seized by the city, they felt it was less than fair, according to a report in the Münchner Merkur. Each was paid a three-figure sum, the paper said.

Legally, the city of Munich, which is one of the bodies paying for the home’s upkeep, has the right to take 75 percent of any income the children living there have, as a contribution to the costs. The Münchner Merkur reported on Tuesday that it was normal practice for even money earned doing paper rounds to be docked in this way.

Kurt Meier is chairman of the organisation Friends of Mattfeld House, which donates €30,000 a year to the home, in which 27 children and young people live. He said he was outraged by the latest ‘contribution’ demanded of the children.

“We are looking after children who don’t have anybody, and who nobody cares for apart from us,” he told the Münchner Merkur.

“The full Passion Play payment would have been a nice chunk of pocket money for them, with which they could have afforded something for themselves, even if not much. The behaviour of the city is impossible and abysmal.”

But a spokesman for Mayor Christian Ude said the city had no option – the law demanded that the children give up all but 25 percent of their income.

A number of Munich city politicians have appealed to Ude for him to find a way for the children to get their money, to no avail.

Christian Stückl, principle director of the Passion Play, even got involved, speaking with Ude to plea for a exception to be made.

“Surely a precedent will be set somewhere, but if it is somehow possible, the children should get the money that is theirs, paid in full – even if they only get it paid into a savings account. Otherwise you remove any motivation for them to earn anything in the future.”

“That the city is inflexible on this is really disappointing,” said Florian Streibl, a local politician who has been trying to get the money paid to the children. “The children were integrated in the Passion Play, they experienced recognition in the village and provided a service for the community. They earned their full payment.”

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Yet although Maria Kurz-Adam, head of the city’s Youth Welfare Office, said she could understand the dismay, there was nothing she could do to change things.

“Of course such an involvement of the young people is very important. But we are dealing with a federal law here, and we have to keep to it.”

She said there was no way to make an exception as it was not fair to differentiate between money earned in the Passion Play or by delivering newspapers.

“Mind you,” she said, “The city of Munich spends €4,000 a month for each place at the Marie Mattfeld House in Oberammergau.”

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:56 September 20, 2011 by Dayzee
I'd like to see the politicians in Germany give up all but 25% of their earnings, because they too are being funded by the state....This is simply appalling.
18:25 September 20, 2011 by Ludinwolf
outrageous..... i loved the fact i could go to my favourite chuch to pray and even give some donation.. when was out of germany. Since here i feel pressed to pay, i stopped going to church and stopped giving money in.

germans are good at taking but horrendous to give.
20:27 September 20, 2011 by ECSNatale
What's the appropriate German phrase for "Bullshit!" ?

If you are poor in Germany, you might as well be a slave to the state. 1€ jobs, 400€ jobs, 75% goes to the state...blah, blah, blah.

Yet 48,000€ per month to care for 12 children? Do the children get 25%? Who can't run a house on this kind of money and still allow the children to keep whatever it is that they might earn doing small tasks?

Something sounds very fishy here.
21:18 September 20, 2011 by CaSimone
"€4,000 a month for each place" Does that mean each child? I dearly hope not. Cause iIf so I am calling out a big fat huge, BS! Someone is doing some serious pocketing funds or not budgeting, or these kids are living like kings and queens which I hardly think is the case. I hope I am misreading or there is some gap in the translation.... cause there is no justification to mark 4000 a month.... NONE. I seriously would say then the story here is about misappropriated funds! & the German public MUST put a microscope and demand transparency with such a nonsense claim!
22:43 September 20, 2011 by bobmarchiano
Legally, the city of Munich, which is one of the bodies paying for the home¦#39;s upkeep, has the right to take 75 percent

But a spokesman for Mayor Christian Ude said the city had no option ­ the law demanded that the children give up all but 25 percent of their income

So which is it has the right to take or no option

Has the right to would mean does not have too. No option.....

How many people receive money from the job center this is government support

If people found a job they would have to give up 75% who would go back to work?
23:31 September 20, 2011 by catjones
Rules are Rules. Without rules there would be chaos. Without Rules there would be judgement and with judgement comes responsibility. This cannot be.
07:47 September 21, 2011 by TigerTee
German tax payers give up over 50% of their income when you include surplus, gas and luxury taxes etc.
08:28 September 21, 2011 by Californian

Yes they are too high.

As much as I like the weather here in Germany, they are about to tax me right out of this country.

Taxes are too high for the working man to have much fun.

Then talk of raising VAT to 25% makes it even more fun, just not for me.

California's 9.3% income tax and 8.25% sales tax are calling "Move the family back to California".
08:41 September 21, 2011 by LancashireLad
I can't believe that the German state takes anything. These children are there through no fault of their own.

Do any parents here take back 75% of the pocket money they give to their children?

I can understand running costs of €4000 Euro per child when you consider things like the salary of the carers etc. but this all comes from the welfare state (or should). It would not surprise me if the thinking is "if the parents are not fit to look after the children, why should the state do it for free?", but they are punishing the wrong people for it. Let the children pride themselves on earning that money. That'll give them a sense of self confidence and the right way to do things.
11:23 September 21, 2011 by freechoice
The EU economic crisis is worse than we thought. It's time to implement Obama's latest tax initiative recommended by Warren Buffet. To bring back sanity in our tax system. Because the middle class are broke!
17:05 September 21, 2011 by finanzdoktor
If we knew with certainity that the 75 percent taken was actually used for feeding, clothing, and educating these children, then it might make more sense to us (except for the outrageous running costs of €4000 per child). Otherwise, its a shameful swindle.
22:31 September 21, 2011 by zeddriver

The problem is to much spending by the government. Rather than to little tax on citizens.

Consider this. The national debt is 14 trillion. There are approx. 230000 households that make over a million dollars a year. Just to pay the debt down over a ten year period would require each household to pay 6 million a year. And of course our government is at the same time adding 2 trillion more a year to the debt. Which adds up to another 7 million per millionaire household a year.

To look at it another way. Can you imagine going to your boss and requesting a 100% pay increase. Because you bought a 400,000 euro Lexus LMP. On your 50,000 euro salary. That's what our government does. Buy votes by promising the moon. And the avg. Nonthinking voter doesn't care where it comes from. As long as they get their cut of the free gov money.
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