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by Katja Hoyer
Friday, 15
October 2021
Dispatch
11:20

The 100 year old Nazi standing trial in Germany

It is hard to watch, but justice is being pursued 76 years later

A former SS guard who worked at Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin from 1942-1945 must now stand trial in Germany under tight security measures. It has taken 76 years for this case to be brought in front of a court.

When the accused appeared there last week, he cut a sorry figure as he laboriously pushed himself forward on his rollator with oner liver-spotted hand, while shielding his face from the cameras with the other. It is hard to believe that the frail, 100-year-old in the home-knitted jumper was once in the SS.

Joseph S. maintains his innocence. When he spoke — confusedly — it was easy to feel sorry for the old man. He looked frail and exhausted. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Thursday, 7
October 2021
Reaction
15:32

Olaf Scholz almost certain to become Chancellor

Negotiations in Germany have proceeded faster than expected

German election results rarely produce a clear winner. It can take weeks, if not months, to form a new government afterwards, but there is a chance it could be different this time.

It seems as though plumes of white smoke are already rising from the smaller parties’ headquarters in Berlin and we might know the new government sooner than expected. If the early indicators are right, Angela Merkel’s successor will likely be Olaf Scholz, who will run the country with a centre-Left coalition.

As Scholz’s SPD won the election only narrowly with 25.7% of the vote compared to Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU which came second with 24.1%, the smaller parties have been cast in the role of kingmakers in an effort to create a workable majority of over 50%. It is now almost certain that the Green Party (15%) and the Free Liberals (FDP, 11.5%) are going to be part of any new government. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Monday, 27
September 2021
Explainer
10:09

Angela Merkel hasn’t left the building

Extended coalition talks could leave Mutti in place as a lame-duck chancellor

Election nights are always long. In Germany, where voters went to the polls yesterday, it is unlikely that we will know who Angela Merkel’s successor will be anytime soon. After sixteen years in office, it seems, the 67-year-old won’t be retiring just yet.

Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD) came in nearly neck and neck, but the SPD has edged ahead and has secured a narrow victory. This puts the smaller parties of the Greens (15%) and the Free Liberals (11%) in the position of kingmakers while the political fringes of Die Linke on the Left (5%) and the Alternative für Deutschland on the Right (10%) appear to be set for the opposition benches. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Wednesday, 22
September 2021
Dispatch
10:13

In Germany, our energy crisis is far worse than yours

Since the removal of nuclear energy, we don't have many options left

As Britons fear (or look forward to) a return to three-day work weeks this winter, Germany too is staring down the barrel of an energy crisis. Neither country seems to have found a solution to supplying millions of their citizens with reliable, affordable and sustainable energy.

Boris Johnson has brushed off looming supply problems and rising prices as a ‘short-term problem’ for the UK. But as wholesale gas prices have soared (there has been a 70% increase since August alone), the industry has warned that many suppliers could go bust even with a record-level energy price cap of £1,227 from next Friday. While companies may be offered state-backed loans to keep them afloat, there are no plans to help families who are struggling to make ends meet, just a promise that ‘‘the market is going to start fixing it’. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Friday, 17
September 2021
Explainer
07:00

The Merkel era was not Germany’s golden age

A new poll finds that a plurality of Germans miss the old days

On the eve of Angela Merkel’s political retirement, most Germans are feeling gloomy about their country’s future. A new poll showed that the majority believe Germany’s best days are behind it, with an astonishing 52% believing that the country’s ‘golden age’ has past. A plurality of other Europeans agree that the star of the continent’s largest economy is fading.

It is tempting to link this dent in Germany’s self-image and its prestige in Europe to the departure of Angela Merkel. In her sixteen years in government, she has shaped European policy and loomed large in the public perception as a stabilising force. The ECFR’s report goes as far as to claim that ‘without Merkel, the foundations of Germany’s leadership role in the EU will be significantly weaker’ while the Telegraph also speaks of ‘enduring support for the outgoing Mrs Merkel across the bloc.’ ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Tuesday, 31
August 2021
Dispatch
10:08

In Germany, nobody wants to talk about the workers

Politicians are staying silent on the crisis in the labour market

Covid lockdowns have upended the global workforce. According to some studies, nearly half of the world’s workers considered a career change and/or quitting their current job over the next year. In Europe, Britain has had the second highest rate of job-leavers with 4.7% of the workforce having left their positions in the wake of lockdowns, topped only by Germany’s 6%. Why are these numbers so high?

Unfortunately, the problem is nothing new. Germany has complained about a shortage of skilled labour for years, a problem now compounded by Covid. And yet it does not seem to accept that there is something amiss with the experience it offers its workers. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Wednesday, 25
August 2021
Explainer
18:09

Are we witnessing a centre-Left resurgence in Germany?

CDU complacency has allowed the SPD to close in on their polling lead

Are centre-Left politics on the rise again in Germany? It certainly looks that way. The latest polls suggest that the Social Democratic Party (SPD) could more than double its constituency seats in the upcoming elections. It’s also the first time since 2017 that the German Social Democrats have not trailed behind Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the polls. At 23% each, the two parties are neck-and-neck.

Momentum is in the SPD’s favour. Since February, the reigning coalition have fallen by 13 points in the polls while the Social Democrats have gained 8. Their chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz, is now far and away the most popular option for German voters. As things stand, he may even lead the negotiations to form a coalition for post-Merkel Germany. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Friday, 13
August 2021
Behind the news
07:00

Why the Berlin Wall lives on in German minds

Sixty years on, politicians have made East-West divisions worse

Sixty years ago today, on 13 August 1961, Gerda Langosch (28) was in the middle of making breakfast in her flat in the Kieler Straße 3 in central Berlin when she heard the news on the radio: the Soviet sector, in which she lived, had been sealed off from the Western parts of the city by an ‘anti-fascist protection wall’. 

Gerda was stunned. How could the government seal off an entire part of Berlin overnight? She hurried to her parents’ flat a few doors down from where she could see onto the Boyenstraße, which marked the border. And indeed, so-called ‘Spanish Riders’, defensive wooden barriers with barbed wire, had been set up. She and 16 million other Germans would spend the next 28 years of their lives behind the Iron Curtain, whether they liked it or not. ...  Continue reading