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Today in Germany: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday

From tighter coronavirus measures to a special holiday tradition, here's the latest news on Thursday.

Today in Germany: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday
Hikers in Germany's frosty Schwarzwald on Thursday. Photo: DPA

Most Germans for tighter coronavirus measures

Almost every second German is in favour of stricter rules in the fight against the coronavirus. Although the regulations have recently been tightened further, 49 percent are of the opinion that the measures should be “tougher”.

That is 18 percentage points more than two weeks ago, according to the ZDF “Politbarometer” published on Thursday. 

According to the survey, 13 percent think the regulations are currently “excessive”, while 35 percent think they are “just right”.

READ ALSO: Merkel makes emotional plea for tougher curbs as Covid-19 measures in Germany break record

Lower Saxony withdraws relaxed restrictions

Lower Saxony is cutting the time period for planned coronavirus relaxations at Christmas, announced state premier Stephan Weil (Social Democrats) in the state parliament in Hanover on Thursday. 

The current contact restrictions are only to be relaxed from December 24th to 26th to 10 relatives plus children under 14. After that, only a maximum of five people from two households will be allowed to meet again over the rest of the festive period.

Parents can remove their children from attending classes as early as next week so that fewer children are sitting in classes.

Photo of the Day

Photo: DPA

Thursday marks the first day of the eight-day long Hanukkah. The Jewish holiday is celebrated around the world, and Berlin is no exception, as this picture of a giant Menorah (a traditional candle holder) being set up at the Brandenburg Gate shows.

Tesla can continue building factory

On Thursday, the US electric car manufacturer Tesla was allowed continue to clear forest land at its construction site in Grünheide near Berlin. It's slated to open and begin producing e-autos in the summer of 2021.

READ ALSO: 'Tesla isn't above the law': Gigafactory construction halted in Berlin for environmental reasons

This was the decision of the Administrative Court in Frankfurt an der Oder, which rejected an urgent application by the environmental associations Nabu and Grüne Liga for a temporary halt to the clearing. 

The court stated that the approval of the premature start of the approved tree felling work was lawful. However, the environmentalists had argued that it could destroy the habitats of protected species of sand lizards and smooth snakes in the area, or disturb them during their winter hibernation.

Germany drops probe against Nazi guard

Germany has dropped a probe into a former Nazi guard slated to become “possibly the last” suspect deported from the US for alleged complicity in the Holocaust, prosecutors said Thursday.

Friedrich Karl Berger, 95, had been accused of aiding and abetting the killing of prisoners as a guard at two concentration camps in northern Germany, in particular by overseeing a brutal evacuation march.

A court in March ordered his deportation from the US, where he has been living since 1959.

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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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