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Today in Germany: A round-up of what’s happening on Friday

From Kurzarbeit to German shopping habits, here's what's happening in Germany on Friday November 20th.

Today in Germany: A round-up of what's happening on Friday
People walking in Sellin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, this week. Photo: DPA

Police break up Hamburg pool party

Despite the coronavirus contact restrictions in place, 14 people in Hamburg held a party in the swimming pool of an apartment building.

Now they face fines for breaking coronavirus rules after police broke up the party on Wednesday night.

A neighbour had informed the officers in the Lokstedt district due to loud music.

According to police, the party host resisted showing ID with his personal details. The 22-year-old first wanted to lock the door to his flat. Then he approached officials with his fists raised and tried to push them away. He was arrested by police.

In the man's flat officers found a cannabis plant, an ecstasy tablet and marijuana.

The Hamburger Abendblatt also reported that two other parties were broken up by police.

Under contact rules, people in Germany are in general only allowed to meet with one other household, with up to a maximum of 10 people. There can be some slight differences in these rules among states.

Vocabulary: fine – (das) Bußgeld

READ ALSO: How many people can I meet during Germany's partial lockdown?

Photo of the day

This photo by DPA shows a nurse talking to a resident at Pauline Krone Home for the Elderly in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg before a rapid antigen-coronavirus test.

Germany recently introduced a widespread rapid testing programme for vulnerable people in a bid to prevent serious illness and deaths.

€18 billion spent on Kurzarbeit in Germany this year

The coronavirus crisis is costing the Federal Employment Agency a lot of money – particularly to finance Kurzarbeit  (reduced hours work). According to Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil, around €18 billion has been spent on this programme aimed at saving jobs so far this year.

Kurzarbeit is “very, very expensive”, the Social Democrat politician told the Bundestag on Friday. “But getting used to mass unemployment would be immensely more expensive for this country financially and socially,” he added.

Heil was speaking out during the final vote on the extension of special coronavirus rules on Kurzarbeit until the end of next year. According to this, employees who are on reduced hours for longer than three months will receive increased Kurzarbeit money in 2021.

The regulation means that Kurzarbeit payments will continue to be increased from their usual level, i.e. 60 per cent of wages, to 70 per cent from the fourth month onwards – and from 67 to 77 per cent for employees with children.

From the seventh month of short-time work, 80 and 87 per cent (for parents) of wages will continue to be paid. All employees who are put on short-time work until the end of March 2021 are to benefit from this.

READ ALSO: Why people on Kurzarbeit in Germany need to prepare for a tax surprise

According to current figures from the Federal Employment Agency (BA), companies registered Kurzarbeit for around 2.6 million people in August. At the peak of the first coronavirus wave in April, the figure was just under six million.

Vocabulary: Employees – (die) Beschäftigte

What do people in Germany want to buy on 'Black Friday'?

In recent years, 'Black Friday', a day of discounts for consumers held on the last Friday in November, has been the biggest shopping event of the year, including in Germany.

This year could be different: according to a study by market research institute GfK, customers in Germany are focusing much more on products for living and working at home.

“Many consumers are already in lockdown or expecting it,” says GfK expert Norbert Herzog. This year, computers and IT equipment for the home office are therefore in high demand, as are washing machines and kitchen mixers, cleaning agents and fitness equipment. “Covid-19 has led to a shift in purchasing intentions from 'want to have' to 'must have',”

Will you be buying discounts online? Photo: DPA

Meanwhile, consumers are likely to buy more online this year, rather than flooding city centres. The trend towards online shopping has continued even after the lockdown in spring.

Vocabulary – day of discounts – (der) Tag der Rabatte

Green party meets online for digital conference

Germany's Green party came together on Friday for a digital party conference.

They were set to debate and vote on where they stand on several issues such as climate protection and universal basic income, reported DPA.

Even though the party is not yet talking about an election programme or the Greens' candidate for chancellor, members are already making a start on next autumn's state and federal elections.

The ambitious goal: to take up the fight with Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union.

The Union is a “giant sham”, Habeck told the newspapers in the Funke Media Group on the Friday. “The high level of support for the Union is the support for the Chancellor. But Mrs Merkel will not run again,” he added, pointing at Merkel's move to step down from politics when her term ends next year.

The Greens have in the past few years been riding high in polls. But during the crisis support has shot up again for the CDU/CSU, probably due to Merkel's handling of the pandemic.

Vocabulary: federal party conference – (der) Bundesparteitag

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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