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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: Looking abroad for airport workers, greeting cards and chimney sweeps

In our weekly roundup for Germany we look at what the government is doing to ease the air travel staffing crisis, very German greeting cards, lightning storms and the Schornsteinfeger - chimney sweep - lucky tradition.

Living in Germany: Looking abroad for airport workers, greeting cards and chimney sweeps

Germany looks for help abroad to ease aviation staffing crisis

Last week the German government made the exceptional move of stepping in to help private firms in the aviation sector restore their staffing levels. Ministers announced they will cut red tape to allow private companies to employ workers from abroad on a temporary basis, due to the chaos that we’re seeing in German airports and airlines. From long queues at security or when claiming baggage, to flights being cancelled, it can be a real nightmare to travel in Europe at the moment. One reader even contacted us to say he had to wait two and half hours on a plane in Düsseldorf because there apparently wasn’t enough baggage staff to load cases onto the flight. That’s why the German government says it will allow companies to employ staff from abroad at short notice. However, at the same time, ministers came down hard on the private sector for not preparing for the rising demand for travel. German’s Labour Minister Hubertus Heil Heil criticised many companies in the aviation industry for laying off staff in the pandemic – or not topping up reduced hours (Kurzarbeit) pay despite government support. 

Even if the sector manages to fill many positions, it will still take time to clear hurdles so it looks like we’re in for at least a few more weeks of stress if travelling by plane. And with more states about to go on their school holidays, it’s just going to get busier. Keep us posted on how it’s going in German airports if you’re on the move this summer – we’re always eager to hear your experiences. 

Tweet of the week

The dedication to cars and driving in Germany is quite something, as the tweet below shows. 

Where is this? 

Lightning over Frankfurt
Photo: DPA/Jan Eifert

There’s been a lot of mixed weather in Germany this week, with extreme heat, thunderstorms and hailstones depending on which part of the country you live in. This picture shows a spectacular storm on Thursday in the Frankfurt area. It was taken from the Großer Feldberg in the Taunus mountains.

Did you know?

I (Rachel) received my first visit in Germany from a chimney sweep (der Schornsteinfeger) on Friday. Although I don’t have an open fire in my flat, chimney sweeps in Germany are still needed once a year to check your heating system, check for gas leaks and carry out any other maintenance in that area. Did you know Germans also believe seeing a Schornsteinfeger brings good luck? Some say it comes from the olden days when sweeps cleared your chimney meaning you’d be able to cook again and reduced the risk of fires. It’s also meant to be especially lucky to see a chimney sweep on your wedding day or New Year’s Day. This is thought to be partly because traditionally chimney sweeps would collect the fee for their services on the first day of each new year, meaning they were often among the first to wish families a happy new year. Along with miniature pigs (which Germans also find lucky), horseshoes, ladybirds and four-leaf clovers, little chimney sweeps made out of marzipan or plastic are also given as a New Year’s gift to loved ones.

READ ALSO: Eight things German believe bring good luck 

A chimney sweeper in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt.

A chimney sweeper in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Some chimney sweeps (although not all!) wear a traditional uniform complete with top hat and silver buttons. Giving one of the buttons a twirl is said to bring good luck, but you’d have to politely ask them before doing it!  

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

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