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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: ‘Opportunity card’, tributes to the Queen and Oktoberfest returns

In our weekly roundup about life in Germany, we look at the 'green card' plans to address the worker shortage, Oktoberfest and remember the Queen's visits to Germany.

The Oktoberfest 2022 logo on a gingerbread heart.
The Oktoberfest 2022 logo on a gingerbread heart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Germany’s ‘opportunity card’ aims to attract more workers 

It’s no secret that Germany is worried about its shortage of skilled workers, with a recent report saying 87 percent of companies are struggling with this issue right now. This week Labour Minister Hubertus Heil unveiled more details about a plan which the government hopes will attract talent from abroad. The idea is to introduce a points-based immigration system to smooth out the process of people coming to Germany to work. It’s based on a Chancenkarte (opportunity card), which is similar to other points-based systems such as the American Green Card. It will offer non-EU nationals the chance to come to Germany to look for work even if they don’t have a job offer. But they will have to fulfil certain criteria such as having a university degree or professional qualification and language skills. 

It’s all part of Germany’s plans to modernise immigration and naturalisation laws. It involves allowing non-EU nationals to retain their original citizenship when they apply to become German. And in future, naturalisation should be possible after five years instead of eight years, and as little as three years in cases where people have integrated well. The law is scheduled to be presented this autumn so The Local will be watching closely and reporting on all the ins and outs. 

Tweet of the week

As animal lovers, we think it’s very important to know how to make dog noises in a foreign language. So this tweet was absolutely fascinating! Our team wasn’t aware that “wau wau” was used often in Germany (perhaps to signal the “bow wow”?). When we asked a German friend, we discovered “wuf wuf” is also common. These are kind of life skills that just have to be known! 

Tributes to the Queen

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in Berlin
Photo: Kurt Rohwedder

Germany has been paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after her death at the age of 96. We looked through the archives to see photos of the Queen during her many visits to Germany over the years. This photo of the Queen with husband Prince Philip was taken in Berlin during her first state visit to Germany in May 1965.

Did you know?

Munich’s famous Oktoberfest is returning after a two-year pandemic pause. The Wiesn (more on that later) will run from Saturday September 17th until October 3rd. It is set to attract millions of people. Here are a few facts about the origins of Oktoberfest to get you in the mood. The first Oktoberfest took place in 1810. At that time, the festivities began on October 17th, but the Wiesn was moved to September in 1872 due to weather conditions. Nowadays it always starts on the Saturday after September 15th. The festival started as a celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, who married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”) in honour of the Crown Princess, although locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the Wiesn.

And how many people attend nowadays? A lot! In 1985, a record was set at the Theresienwiese: over seven million people visited Oktoberfest that year. The average for many years has been just over six million visitors. At the last Wiesn in 2019, 6.3 million people came to drink beer and munch hearty food, with many of them wearing traditional Bavarian costumes.

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Keeping track of working hours, rude AfD sweets and Miniatur Wunderland

In our weekly roundup about life in Germany we look at the effect a recent court ruling could have on working life, weird political sweets, the leaning tower of Gau-Weinheim and Hamburg's cool model wonderland.

Living in Germany: Keeping track of working hours, rude AfD sweets and Miniatur Wunderland

Court ruling set to change the way we work in Germany 

One of our most-read stories this week was on the Federal Labour’s Court decision that employers in Germany should be recording the working hours of all their employees. Although it actually dates back to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (2019), no further action had been taken in Germany until now. So what does this mean? Well it appears that bosses, who don’t do this already, will soon have to set up a system to record their employees’ work schedules. The aim is to protect employees from working too much and carrying out unpaid overtime. But it does also raise issues about trust – which the current system is based on – and what happens when an employee works from home. There’s no clear start date for when this will have to start, and Germany is a long way off from being able to implement tracking of employees’ hours across the board. But it signals a cultural shift, and it’s something we can expect to be more integrated into working life in future. Imogen Goodman explored the decision in an explainer published on Friday. You can read more here.

Tweet of the week

There’s been some red faces among Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The party in Lower Saxony had gummy bears made for their state election campaign in the shape of the red arrow from their logo. But people have spotted a very strong resemblance to something else….

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/ Boris Roessler

Forget the leaning tower of Pisa – today we’re highlighting some other magnificently crooked architecture. This is the leaning tower of Gau-Weinheim. Due to its inclination of 5.4277 degrees, the former fortified tower of the small municipality in Rhineland-Palatinate is considered the “most leaning tower in the world” according to the Record Institute for Germany (RID). 

Did you know?

With its rich history, location by the water and abundance of Fischbrötchen, the northern German city of Hamburg is well worth checking out. But did you know that it’s also home to the world’s largest miniature railway? Twin brothers Fredereki and Gerrit Braun set about creating the masterpiece back in 2000. One year later, Miniatur Wunderland opened its doors. The Wunderland has over 1,040 trains and a layout size of more than 1.490 square metres. You can take a trip around the world in the surroundings – and there’s even a miniature airport which simulates take offs and landings with model aeroplanes. The brothers are always expanding and consistently break their own Guinness World Records. It’s great for kids too. 

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

This article is also sent out as a weekly newsletter to members every Saturday. To sign up and get it straight into your inbox just go to your newsletter preferences.

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