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#218: Unity day, Görli fence, erotic fishing, fax machines
Shops that are open
Dear 20 Percent,
Here we are again, the Tag der Einheit, the Day of Unity. Thirty-three years ago, East and West Germany fused into a single Bundesrepublik, a collosus of 80 million+ people lodged in the centre of Europe.
Hopefully, you have the day off. Hopefully, you did your shopping yesterday but if you forgot, don’t panic, here’s our list of supermarkets and drugstores that are open today.
Every October 3, German media publish lengthy essays and interviews on German identity and the differences between East and West. Who’s arrogant, who’s resentful. Who’s a winner, who’s a loser. I’m a little tired of the topic but if you’re interested here’s a non-offensive, boilerplate “divisions remain” feature on English DW.
One thing that has changed in 33 years is that the portion of foreign residents with non-German passports has doubled from about 7% to nearly 15%. In Berlin, that number has shot past 20% (😉) and how you all fit into the story of united German story often gets ignored during today’s Teutonic fanfare/soul-searching. Not always, though. If you understand German, here’s a decent ZDF documentary that compares the East German experience of upheaval after reunifcation to the challenges faced by immigrants.
What do you think? Has reunification been a success? Or do you encounter East-West tension in your daily lives? Or should Germany give the national navel-gazing a rest? Let us know in the comments!
And if you’ve got the day off, enjoy!
More news below, not all of it serious.
P.S: Andrew and I are unified in our desire to keep this thing going for the next 33 years. Please upgrade to paid if you support out mission!
The Berlin Wall is long gone, but fences are back. Last week Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) announced a fence would be built around Kreuzberg’s problematic Görlitzer Park by the end of the year, as part of a package of anti-crime measures, says taz. The gates would be locked at night, he said, pointing to Manhattan’s Central Park as a positive example. The New York park used to be one of the “least safe parks in the world” until it was fenced off and locked at night. Then Tagesspiegel talked to a criminologist (paywall) who knows something about NYC. Wegner was spreading fake news, he said. Central Park, though closed 1am-6am, has no fence, just a 1.5m wall. It also has its own police force. And even if Berlin fancies itself a Weltstadt in the same league as New York, let’s be honest, it’s (big) apples and oranges.
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On Monday, GPs and specialist doctors from across Berlin and Germany held a demo at the federal health ministry against rising costs and stagnant incomes, reported RBB. Many doctors’ offices remained shut — an extra inconvenience on a “bridge day” between Sunday and today’s holiday. The docs’ main complaint was that they don’t earn enough from the gesetzliche Krankenkassen, Germany’s quasi-public insurers, under which most people are covered. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) fired back: “On average, they earn around €230,000 per year after deducting all costs. Should employee contributions rise so that doctors’ fees can rise?”
Erotic fishing scam?
No, not phishing. Fishing. A man in Karstädt-Garlin, Brandenburg, fell victim to a fraudulent sex chat scam while out fishing. The 35-year-old angler was contacted on social media and persuaded to take part in a video chat and strip down to his birthday suit. Later the man received a nude video of himself and a message warning that if he didn’t pay a certain sum of money, the video would be shared online. The 35-year-old blocked the account and told the police — and, this being Germany, wasn’t the slightest bit embarrassed by the story.
Germany’s love of the fax machine is the butt of half of all expat jokes and last month’s “fax hack” was legendary. But how many are really still around in government offices? Earlier this year, politicians asked Berlin’s administration and and the answer is… 5,333 That’s a lot of fax machines! The city’s Department of Interior Affairs, Digitalisation (!) and Sport alone has 1,422 of the buggers. The same report found that 189 local gov services still required a fax. (via All About Berlin)
And, finally: people grilling chicken in the S-Bahn. What more is there to say?