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

From missing contact with friends, family and neighbours in the pandemic to fewer young people driving, here's the latest news in Germany.

Today in Germany: A round-up of what's happening on Tuesday
People on an early morning walk in Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

Germans miss contact with family, friends and neighbours

Around half of all Germans say they are missing contact with family, friends and neighbours during the pandemic, according to a survey by the the BAT Foundation for Future Studies in Hamburg.

Every second interviewee even said that “they had (re)discovered the value of the family only through the coronavirus pandemic”.

“Most citizens recognise the necessity of the restrictions and stick to the rules,” explained study director Professor Ulrich Reinhardt. At the same time, there is a great longing to see relatives and friends again. “In this dual emergency situation, many citizens act pragmatically and switch to digital communication methods.”

For example, two-thirds of the population use messenger services at least once a week for contact with their families. The phone is similarly popular, with older citizens in particular turning to this form of communication.

Almost a quarter (23 percent) now use video calls at least once a week. “While younger citizens particularly emphasise the uncomplicated nature of the service, older people suddenly appreciate having even more contact with children and grandchildren than before the outbreak of the pandemic thanks to Zoom, Skype and the like,” explained Reinhardt.


A German man and nursing home worker on the balcony during the first lockdown in Leutkirch im Allgäu, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA

Despite promising reports on a coronavirus vaccine, the vast majority of Germans (71 percent) assume that similar restrictions will apply next year as in 2020.

The survey spoke to around 3,000 German citizens.

Vocabulary: the population – (die) Bevölkerung

Less young people in Germany taking to the roads

For a long time getting a driving licence was considered the key to freedom for youths. However, the Federal Motor Transport Authority says that fewer young people in Germany – known all over the world as a car-loving nation  – are going for their licence.

This was also backed up by driving instructor Markus Boldt from the Gressler Driving School in Munich. He told broadcaster BR24: “The driving licence is not the ultimate ticket for growing up or when it comes to freedom, as it used to be.”

Experts believe climate change and improved public transport plays a role in the trend. Meanwhile, the mobile phone has become more of a status symbol.

“The mobile phone is the be-all and end-all these days. The car has lost a great deal of its status,” said Boldt.

Nevertheless, a driving licence is still regarded as important for staying mobile. And especially for those living in the countryside.

Boldt said he has noticed an additional trend: young people are getting their driving licence a little later in life than used to be the case.

“Most of them finish school first and get their driving licence just before training or studies begin,” he said.

Vocabulary: driving licence – (der) Führerschein

Photo of the day

This beautiful photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand for DPA shows trees covered with frost in the fog at the edge of the Alps in Schwangau, Bavaria.

Suspect arrested after attack on Essen synagogue

A man has been arrested after an attack on a synagogue in Essen. The suspect is a 37-year-old Iranian man, police in the Ruhr district city said on Tuesday, reported Welt.

The suspect is accused throwing a large concrete slab into a window of the synagogue on November 20th.

Investigations revealed that the suspect had also allegedly damaged a window of the synagogue in a similar act about a week earlier, on November 14th.

The man had been filmed unmasked during the incident. This enabled the suspected perpetrator to be identified.

The attack had triggered nationwide outrage and a discussion about anti-Semitism.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany called for the incident to be investigated and for more security measures at synagogues.

Vocabulary: Suspect – (der) Verdächtiger

READ ALSO: German leaders express shame at rising anti-Semitism

Should all schools get ventilation systems?

Germany has placed huge importance on regular Lüften, or ventilation of rooms, during the coronavirus crisis.

Now experts are looking at how fresh air can help as a long-term solution in schools during the pandemic and beyond.

But instead of using mobile air purifiers, experts believe that schools should focus on other solutions.

“Permanently installed ventilation systems are still of great benefit even after the Corona pandemic,” said the President of the Federal Environment Agency (Uba), Dirk Messner, to DPA.

In contrast to many mobile air purifiers, they usually cause only minor noise in the classroom and not only reduce the amount of pathogens in the room air, but also the amount of carbon dioxide and vaporised pollutants.

In the short term, schools are opening windows regularly for ventilation.

Vocabulary: Air purifier – (der) Luftreiniger (or die Luftreiniger in plural)

READ ALSO: Lüften: Why Germans are obsessed with the art of airing out rooms

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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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