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Living in Germany: Film festival rows, doughnut debates and a cloudy Carnival

The Local Germany
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Living in Germany: Film festival rows, doughnut debates and a cloudy Carnival
'Krapfen' on display in a bakery in Munich in January. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

This week we get into the politics taking centre stage at the Berlinale, a debate about one of Germany's most beloved sweets, and the event which brings costume-clad Germans to the streets en masse.

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Berlin’s famous international film festival is due to kick off on Thursday, but the cinematic programme has so far been overshadowed by controversies over the far-right AfD. 

Just days before the festival premier, organisers said they had rescinded invitations to AfD politicians to attend the opening ceremony. 

Traditionally, German MPs from all parliamentary parties are invited to take part in the Berlinale opening gala, but the decision to invite the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party this year caused widespread public fury. 

Tens of thousands of people have been taking to the streets around the country in protest after an investigation by Correctiv linked party members to a meeting of right-wing extremists in which plans to deport migrants, and those with a migration background, from Germany had been discussed. 

Though the decision to exclude the AfD from Berlinale may seem like a small gesture, it could reflect some deeper changes taking place in the fabric of German society. After years of accepting and normalising far-right groups, the era of tolerance may well have come to an end. 

Tweet of the week

Does a doughnut by any other name still taste as sweet? Well, depending on where you are in Germany, it could be a Pfannkuchen, a Krapfen, a Berliner or even a Kreppel - so we certainly hope so! 

Germany in Focus podcast 

This week’s episode is devoted entirely to our readers’ questions, ranging from what it’s like to be a new expat parent in Germany to whether you really need German in order to find a job here (and lots of other pragmatic advice). 

Check it out here or wherever you get your podcasts. Please leave a review and a rating or let us know your feedback.

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Banneyer

Thousands of people poured into the streets of Cologne for Karneval‘s kick-off on Thursday, completely unfazed by the on-and-off rainy weather. That’s why many of these costume-clad Jecken are holding equally colourful umbrellas as they proudly march through the centre of the Cathedral City.

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The celebrations continued on the streets of Germany throughout the weekend, with processions as far east as Cottbus in Brandenburg. The festivities stretch until next Wednesday but the highlight will be Rose Monday parades in the Rhine Region - with the rain replaced by cloudy skies. 

Düsseldorf’s parade, known for its politically-themed floats, is bound to be memorable.

Did you know?

You might be looking forward to a night out with your special someone on Valentine’s Day on February 14th, or perhaps you’re a Valentinmuffel who wants to forget all references to the overly commercialised holiday. But whatever camp you’re in, it’s hard to deny that there’s something sweet about the day: chocolate!

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And what better place to enjoy it than Germany, the largest producer of Schokolade in the EU, even beating out Belgium, France and Italy, according to Eurostat. It’s also the top exporter of chocolate in the world, responsible for 17 percent of all global chocolate exports as of last count.

Chocolate made its way to Germany in the 17th century, when it was initially sold as a medicine in pharmacies. That all changed in 1673 when Dutchman Jan Jantz von Huesden opened a shop in Bremen offering up both chocolate and coffee to wealthy clients. It remained a luxury product until the 19th century when most German states got rid of their taxes on the popular product, and more businesses opened offering an affordable cuppa cocoa.

By the late 19th century, Dresden became Germany’s chocolate centre, cranking out over 500 tonnes a year, a figure that’s only risen from there. 

 

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