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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Heavy weapons, ‘Spargelzeit’ and kebabs thrown at German police

In our weekend roundup for Inside Germany we look at the big news story of the week, why a kebab is the subject of a police investigation and what this photograph of doves is all about?

Living in Germany: Heavy weapons, 'Spargelzeit' and kebabs thrown at German police
Photo: Picture alliance / DPA Jens Kalaene

German government under fire over heavy weapons

Two months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the conflict is still causing headaches for the German government. This week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) found himself in the proverbial firing line over his continued refusal to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. According to Scholz, the German military simply doesn’t have enough tanks and heavy artillery to provide to the war-torn nation – and he fears the delivery of such weapons could lead to an “uncontrollable escalation”. 

Critics such as Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk pointed out that the Bundeswehr has at least 100 Marder tanks that are used for training and which could be handed over straight away. Others accused Scholz of a “lack of leadership”. Like many of Germany’s decisions in the conflict so far, the end result was a kind of fudge: while Europe’s largest economy won’t send the heavy weapons itself, it will replace the stocks of other countries that choose to do so

Tweet of the week

The humble Döner Kebab has to be the most iconic example of German-Turkish fusion cuisine – but who knew it could also be the subject of a criminal investigation? We personally can’t wait for the writers of cult crime drama Tatort to take inspiration from this case and air an episode about the notorious Döner attacker. 

Where is this?

Photo: Picture alliance / DPA Jens Kalaene

Spring in Germany can only mean one thing: the start of Spargelzeit, where white asparagus is served with every meal imaginable. Beelitz, a famous Spargel town in Brandenburg, opened its garden show this month in a grand ceremony complete with white doves and Spargelfrauen in traditional garb. 

Did you know?

Saturday is World Book and Copyright Day, a special day established by the UN to promote both the joys of reading and the publishing industry. But did you know that Germany played a key role in laying the groundwork for our modern book industry, way back in the Middle Ages?

In the 1440s, metalworker Johannes Gutenberg used his skills to build Europe’s very first printing press with movable type and later used it to publish the continent’s first mass-printed book: the Gutenberg Bible. His invention is credited with helping to bring literacy and education to the masses, and today his name is associated with the first online digital library, Project Gutenberg, where you can download a number of classic books for free. 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Exploring locally, Bargeld and the NRW state election

In our weekend roundup for Germany we look at exploring the country this summer, the country's obsession with cash and some facts about North Rhine-Westphalia, which goes to the polls on Sunday.

Living in Germany: Exploring locally, Bargeld and the NRW state election

A chance to explore Germany 

Although we’re still in the pandemic, it feels like life in Germany is beginning to feel a bit more like it did before Covid hit us. With many restrictions easing, people have been really enjoying spring and looking forward to summer.  So it’s no surprise that many of you have been reading our stories about travel. Our articles on the €9 monthly ticket as well as train travel in Germany and beyond have been particularly popular. The public transport offer will also give many people the chance to explore closer to home. I know I am really looking forward to seeing more of Germany, whether it’s around the Brandenburg area near where I live, or going further afield (Heidelberg, I’m looking at you). I’d love to know if you want to use the €9 ticket or if you have any plans to explore Germany this summer. Please fill in this survey on the €9 ticket (it’s open until Monday) and get in touch with your opinions or other travel plans by emailing [email protected]. Thanks so much to those of you who’ve already been in touch.

Tweet of the week

The German love of cash or Bargeld in 2022 while the rest of the world goes contactless is indeed one of life’s greatest mysteries, as this tweet highlights. We’ll definitely be using our ‘ask a German’ series to try and find out more about this habit… 

Where is this? 

Pankstrasse U-Bahn
Photo: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Berliners or those who’ve visited the capital may recognise this U-Bahn station which is situated in the north. The station is actually part of the Pankstrasse nuclear fallout shelter. Built in 1977 during the Cold War, this “multi-purpose” facility was intended to protect the citizens of West Berlin in case of a nuclear conflict. The bunker serves not only as an U-Bahn stop for commuters but also, in an emergency, could have sheltered 3,339 people for up to two weeks. For those interested, we’d recommend checking out a tour like those run by Berliner Untervelten E.V. Due to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to massive tension between Europe and Russia, the tours have become even more topical.

Did you know?

Since people in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) or Nordrhein Westfalen are going to the polls this Sunday, we thought we’d look at some facts about this western state. This is Germany’s most populated state with about 17.9 million people. It’s also home to the most foreigners – around 2.5 million non-Germans live in NRW. With cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen, the state is a culturally rich and diverse part of Germany. Many people don’t know that Bonn was the capital of the former West Germany all the way up to reunification, before Berlin took the title. Many federal buildings and institutions still have their base there. 

The state is led by Christian Democrat Hendrik Wüst who took over last year after Armin Laschet resigned as state premier following his unsuccessful federal election bid. The CDU is currently in a coalition with the Free Democrats. But it looks like change is on the horizon. The CDU and the Social Democrats are both polling at around 30 percent, with the CDU having a slight lead of two to four percentage points. Meanwhile, the FDP appears to have lost support. It’s going to be a tight race – and the Greens party – polling at around 17 percent – will likely be the kingmakers. Important topics for voters include the future of German industry, and how to secure jobs in the move to renewable energy. Many people see this election as a test for the federal government which is led by the SPD’s Olaf Scholz. 

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

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