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ARCHITECTURE

Town gets help to save Europe’s wonkiest tower

Federal funding will save the famous leaning tower of Bad Frankenhausen in Thuringia, which is both taller and wonkier than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Town gets help to save Europe's wonkiest tower
Photo: DPA

“I'm unbelievably happy that we managed to get lucky with the rescue,” Bad Frankenhausen mayor Matthias Strejc told n-tv.

“The government recognizing our leaning tower as a landmark with special national significance and an above-average positive impact on the town makes us very proud.”

The 56-metre tower leans 4.6 metres away from the vertical, half a metre more than the better-known Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Because of underground caves the tower has inched further sideways from a lean of 2.2 metres in 1920, although the subsidence has been slowed by big investments since German reunification.

Now €950,000 of federal cash will go towards solidifying the foundations and keeping it from falling over completely.

Bad Frankenhausen had been seeking help to stabilise the tower for years after taking it over from the Evangelical Church in Thuringia.

The state government had already refused several applications for funding despite the town's conviction that the tower was a powerful tourist draw.

Now the tower has become one of 21 projects the government will support with a total of €50 million of funding as part of the National Urban Planning Projects programme launched on Wednesday.

They were chosen by a jury of MPs, academics and urban planning experts from among 270 applications submitted earlier this year.

“The extremely large resonance of the government's call for submissions exceeded everyone's expectations,” Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said.

“We want to highlight these projects and bring them into public view.”

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THURINGIA

German politician panned over Candy Crush confession

A German regional leader has sparked a backlash after he admitted on a chat app to playing Candy Crush on his phone during online pandemic response meetings with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

German politician panned over Candy Crush confession
Thuringia state premier Bodo Ramelow. Photo: DPA

Bodo Ramelow, head of the eastern Thuringia state, made the confession during what he thought was a closed meeting on the invitation-only audio chatroom app Clubhouse at the weekend.

The politician from the hard-left Die Linke party said that during the often hours-long sessions, “some people play Sudoku, others play chess or Scrabble on their phones, and I play Candy Crush,” according to German media reports.

He also reportedly referred to the chancellor as “Merkelchen”, a diminutive meaning “little Merkel”.

Responding to criticism online and in the media, Ramelow apologised for the Merkel slur and reflected on Twitter that “diminishing the chancellor's name was an act of male ignorance”.

At a press conference in Berlin on Monday, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert quipped that the revelation “speaks for itself and requires no further comment”.

Armin Laschet, the head of Merkel's conservative CDU party, said he did not play games in the pandemic conferences “because they are about very, very important questions”.

“We are discussing fundamental encroachments on basic rights… in schools, in education, in the economy, and you have to be involved in a focused way,” he told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

Thuringia's interior minister, Georg Maier of the Social Democrats, told the RND broadcaster that Ramelow “should reconsider his behaviour”.

Ramelow and other state premiers pushed back hard against Merkel's proposals for a tougher lockdown at a decisive pandemic meeting in October – weeks before an explosion in new coronavirus cases.

Ramelow has since expressed regret and admitted that the chancellor was right to push for tougher measures.

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