#102: That WWII bomb, thunderstorms, corruption
And the latest on the Oder river tragedy
Hey 20 Percent!
What a night, eh?
The last time that many people were collectively awake at 3.30am in Berlin was the Love Parade 2001. As a kid of the US Southwest, I love (and miss) thunderstorms so I enjoyed it but my cats did not. They pretty clearly thought they had angered whatever god it is they worship and that the feline rapture was upon them. We couldn’t convince them that they weren’t about to atone for their sins so we just went back to enjoying the free light and sound show.
Apparently the storms brought some flooding to southern Berlin, so if you live down there, I hope your cellar stayed dry. Also, the thunderclaps were far preferable to another kind of boom that could have happened last night but thankfully didn’t (see below).
But Friday has dawned and all is well, though my cats are a little too clingy this morning. I hope your weekend is cooler and with a little more rain than other recent weekends (which is actually the forecast). And a quick shout-out to other Berlin parents — we survived yet another summer break with our offspring. Starting Monday, they become their teachers’ problems again.
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The Berlin corona stats for Friday, August 19
Received booster: 63% (63% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 1,105 (2,875 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,739 (+4 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 233.4 (293.1 Tuesday)
🔴7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 16.3 (16.1 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 5.1% (5.6% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Another day, another WWII bomb
A bomb from the Second World War was defused by Polizei specialists shortly after midnight near Ostkreuz. The 500-kg American bomb was discovered during construction work Thursday and led to the closure of the station and nearby streets as well as the evacuation of 12,000 neighborhood residents, according to the Morgenpost. The bomb has now been transported to the Grunewald ammo dump — the same one that spent a week in flames early this month — and all closures have been lifted. The offender:
Another day, another corruption scandal
Stephan von Dassel (Die Grüne), the mayor of the borough of Mitte, is resisting calls for his resignation after a Tagesspiegel report last week accused him of corruption. The borough reportedly appointed a party friend to a high-level position that reports to von Dassel, sparking a different candidate for the job to sue, alleging favoritism. Von Dassel then sent the rebuffed candidate an SMS offering €18,700 of his own cash for the suit to be dropped, according to Tagesspiegel, so that his pal could retain the spot. The SPD and Grüne politicians that elected him have withdrawn their support and said they would vote him out if he doesn’t step down on his own. He says he did nothing wrong and asked the borough to start a disciplinary investigation against him. Even Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) — his boss — said he likely went too far.
Another day, another possible cause of the Oder fish die-off
German and Polish officials are still stumped by the massive fish die-off in the Oder river about 100km east of Berlin. At first it seemed mercury was to blame, then it was salts and, most recently, biologists pointed at an algae bloom, possibly brought on by the climate crisis. But Polish newspapers are now pointing the finger at the Polish KGHM mining company that extracts not only silver and copper but also salt, though it actually has approval to dump saltwater into the Oder, according to Focus. Helpers have already pulled 100 tonnes of dead fish out of the water and continue to find more every day — the Focus article says we may never know what caused it. Officials have sealed off links to Berlin’s waterways to keep us and our fish safe.
Another day, another fight at a swimming pool
Police had to respond to a fight at the Humboldthain swimming pool Friday after a group knocked a 15-year-old unconscious during a scuffle, police said. The tumult began when a 14-year-old tried to cut in line for a water slide and fell from the stairs. Police last weekend were also called to the Olympiabad in Charlottenburg for what appeared to be a flash mob-like riot where participants tried to force their way onto the high dive. At least two other earlier mass brawls sparked police to establish a permanent presence at the Columbiabad in Neukölln. Newswire dpa says Berlin spends €1.5 million annually on security at swimming pools.
A December B.Z. report says Berlin has about 4,600 WWII bombs hiding in the city’s earthy underworlds. Earlier reports said it was about 3,000 so your mileage may vary but just know it’s a lot. Although common, they can be very dangerous, like in Munich last December.
After a two-year hiatus, the German government is once again opening a number of ministries and even the chancellery to the public Saturday and Sunday — go inside all those cool government buildings and maybe even stumble into a high-ranking pol! The official German-language site is here. Scroll down and there’s a map with all the buildings — they’re generally open from 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday. There are also a number of events (also on that page). Take some ID and leave bulky luggage at home.
Part of the magic of Berlin is the unique neighborhoods — sometimes within the ring but often outside. Lübars is a sleepy northern horse suburb (officially part of Reinickendorf) that has a nice park, plenty of paths for walking and endless domesticated and wild-life to keep kids entertained. And it’s had a farmer’s market on Sundays for about a year. The place — and the market — are worth a visit. More here.
I kid you not: The German Wrestling Federation is a thing and if you’re into Teutonic trash then you might just be at home Sunday evening at Festsaal Kreuzberg. And let’s be clear, we’re talking about the fake kind of wrestling everyone pretends is real. Doors 5pm, Show, er, matches, start at 6pm. Tickets here.
And, finally, reader Mark Stonebanks points out that the BBC is streaming an English audiobook version of Marzahn, Mon Amour, a 2019 novel by Katja Oskamp about middle-age … and Berlin’s probably most-maligned borough.