Five of the best German April Fools’ pranks

Germany didn't quite live up to its reputation for humourlessness on April Fools' Day, with newspapers, businesses and even the police joining in the fun this year.

Five of the best German April Fools' pranks
No, the Justice Minister isn't campaigning for PETA. Photo: DPA

1. Actor Til Schweiger to anchor evening news

Til Schweiger. Photo: DPA

Public broadcaster ARD announced that actor Til Schweiger would read the news every night for a week. The most popular German news show Tagesschau has a reputation for serious, high quality news – making mumbling action star Schweiger a strange choice. The Hamburg hard man is best known for his starring role in the northerly port city’s edition of Tatort, Germany’s seminal TV cop drama produced by a different state’s public broadcaster each week.

Schweiger is also known for Facebook postings bedecked with far more exclamation marks than any German would usually use. ARD hinted that the appointment was a joke by noting that Schweiger would insist on the correct number of exclamation marks in the subtitles for the news broadcasts.

2. Amazon to deliver orders by pneumatic tube

Photo: Amazon

Maybe not only an April Fool but a potential visionary innovation came from Amazon Germany on Friday. They announced plans to deliver small packages using a network of pneumatic tubes from summer 2016.

The scheme was supposedly to be tested in Berlin and then rolled out to 16 different metropolitan areas across Germany. Sadly, the offer would only be open to members of the online retailer’s Prime next-day delivery scheme.

3. Justice Minister posing naked for PETA

Photo: PETA Deutschland

PETA Germany picked on Heiko Maas, Germany’s minister for justice, as the butt of their April Fool this year.

The international animal rights organization is well-known for its “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign. So they Photoshopped the Justice Minister and actress Natalia Wörner into a fake campaign poster – claiming it was the pair’s “first public appearance as a couple” after their affair was revealed in the media recently.

4. No boobs for porn lovers

A typical scene from the Venus erotic fair in Berlin. Photo: DPA

While a steamy picture of a naked minister might be stoking the fires of April Fools-loving PETA fans, the Berliner Kurier newspaper cooled things down in their prank.

The tabloid announced that naked flesh would be banned from future versions of the Venus erotic industry show held in the capital every year and known for live shows from famous porn stars and other performers. The 20th anniversary edition would feature only erotic book readings rather than stripteases, the journalists joked – adding that organizers wanted to reduce the rates of catching cold among the women.

5. Burning rubber at the Brandenburg Gate

Formula E cars racing at Berlin's former Tempelhof Airport. Photo: DPA

Anyone who knows anything about Germans knows they love cars. So it wasn’t immediately obvious that the Berliner Zeitung’s joke about plans for a new Formula One race on the streets of the capital wasn’t true – all the more so since Berlin already hosts a Formula E (electric) race each year.

A mocked-up image showed German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel doing donuts on the Pariser Platz, site of the Brandenburg Gate. The supposed 5.85-kilometre course through Berlin is similar to the lengths of the actual races in Monaco and Melbourne. And they even considered the impact on residents: the F1 cars were allegedly to be equipped with silencers designed to limit the noise for complaint-prone Berliners.

BONUS: Federal Police train in Bavaria

We couldn’t resist including this little gem from the Federal Police in Bavaria, who claimed to be deploying their first ever police locomotive on rail lines this morning.

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Facebook News set to launch in Germany in May

Facebook will roll out its news platform in Germany from May, providing articles from around 100 existing German media outlets, the US-based tech giant said Monday.

Facebook News set to launch in Germany in May
Newspapers on a high speed train in Germany. Photo: DPA

“Facebook News, a place dedicated to journalistic content will launch in German in May 2021,” the social media giant said in a statement, adding that it would offer content from a “strong and diverse range” of German titles.

The platform, launched in the US in 2019 and in the UK in January, delivers users of the world’s leading social network curated news content bought from traditional publishers.

Facebook will pay publishers for their content, with the list of German partners ranging from prestigious national weeklies such as Die Zeit and Der Spiegel to regional dailies like the Rheinische Post.

“We are delighted to try out new ways to reach our readers with quality journalism in close partnership with platforms like Facebook,” said Spiegel Group Managing Director Stefan Ottlitz.

READ ALSO: German court fines Facebook over hate speech action failings

In total, Facebook claims the German platform will host “more than 100 media brands”, including major groups such as Funke and Conde Nast. Yet it will not include German media giant Axel Springer, which owns top national titles such as Die Welt and the country’s most widely read Bild daily.

“We consider it problematic that some platforms are on the one hand trying to become news media themselves, while at the same time fobbing off publishers with disproportionately low payments,” an Axel Springer spokesman told AFP.

“We advocate for a European copyright which allows all media companies to receive reasonable remuneration.”

Facebook claims its platform will help German media companies “win new readers, monetise content and expand business model in a sustainable and long term way”.

Media companies have struggled with dwindling advertising revenue and print sales as content has moved online and become available for free, forcing a host of titles to close.

In an attempt to redress the balance between traditional media and modern tech giants, the European Union included a so-called “neighbouring right” in its 2019 reform to copyright law, forcing digital giants to sign remuneration agreements with media companies.

Yet Facebook is yet to sign any such agreement, preferring instead to focus on its own initiatives such as Facebook News and the Facebook Journalism Project.

In February, Facebook blanked out the pages of media outlets for Australian users and blocked them from sharing any news content for several days, in protest at proposed legislation to force it to pay for journalistic content.

It eventually ended the blackout after reaching a last-ditch deal with Australian lawmakers.