#29: WWII bomb, Paris art, Tiergarten verdict
Plus! Nina Hagen and a longish read: Do you Grundungszuschuss?
Hi 20 Percent,
Every time I sit down to write one of these I debate including an item on the weather - they’re popular with readers but I didn’t choose any because none promised snow. And I love snow (no, you’re not the only one making coke jokes now).
Weather reports have never been popular with me because they are nearly always wrong, which they were this time as well. Thank heavens. Snow is my light at the end of the tunnel of seasonal depression. A silent blanket that makes even ugly urban landscapes beautiful. Snow in Berlin always reminds me of the winter of, I think, 2010 when it snowed heaps, was freezing for months and no one shoveled their sidewalks (leading to new sidewalk shoveling regulations).
Everyone walked in the streets because they had been plowed. The city resembled a zombie movie with everyone inching down the middle of plowed-but-slippery Straßen.
And who doesn’t like a good zombie movie?
Hoch die Hände Wochenende (throw up your hands, it’s the weekend),
PS: Please welcome new contributor Anna Fleck. She knows all about an employment agency program that maybe you should know too (even I used it once).
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The Berlin corona stats for Friday, December 10
Fully vaccinated: 70.1% (69.7% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: +2,614 (2,614 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 3,904 (+37 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 342.2 (336.8 Tuesday)
🟡 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 4.7 (4.7 Tuesday)
🔴 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 24.7% (22.3% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
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Speaking of corona
The Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, just expanded the powers of states to deal with the pandemic - bars, clubs and cultural institutions can again be closed in areas with “very critical” infections. Pharmacists, dentists and veterinarians will now also be allowed to provide vaccinations following training. Oh, and care personnel now have to be vaccinated by mid-March.
Another day, another WWII bomb
About 15,000 people will have to leave their homes Sunday in Wedding and Reinickendorf for the defusing of an undetonated WWII bomb discovered on the grounds of the Jewish hospital near Osloer Strasse U-Bahn station. Reuters claims 15% of all munitions dumped on Germany during the war failed in their mission (do our grandparents get a tax refund from defense companies?) but the caution is warranted - four were injured earlier this month when a WWII bomb detonated on a construction site in Munich. Mini-explosives are often used to render the bombs useless and, as in this YouTube video from 2012, some times set them off.
Centre Pompidou in Berlin
The new Neue Nationalgalerie will exhibit portions of the Centre Pompidou’s collection in 2026 as the Paris museum undergoes renovation, the Berlin museum said Friday. Old-school Berliners are excited about the opportunity because a similar exchange with New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) lured 1.2 million visitors in 2004, when a significant portion of Berlin’s current residents were still in elementary school.
Anti-semitic incidents up
The number of anti-semitic incidents (522) rose in the first six months of the year over the first half of 2020, according to the Recherche- und Informationsstelle Antisemitismus, which has collected the figures since 2015 but also recently changed its data-gathering methods. The incidents include 12 physical attacks, 22 acts of vandalism and 26 anti-semitic mass mailings. The organization said it learns on average of three anti-semitic acts per day.
No pattern for you!
BVG has to stop using the comical urban camouflage pattern that has become synonymous with the public transport authority, a Hamburg court ruled Thursday. The 88-year-old designer Herbert Lindinger designed the anti-graffiti pattern in the 80s for West Berlin S-Bahns (which were then operated by BVG) but he says he never approved the design for wallets, underwear or special-edition kicks. The court agreed and ordered BVG to destroy any remaining merch and to tell it how much it’s made from the design, so it can figure out how much Lindinger is owed in damages. Existing seats using the design can remain, however. BVG is appealing, according to Berliner Zeitung.
Life sentence demanded in Tiergarten hit
A verdict is expected any day in the trial of alleged Russian spy Vadim S., who is suspected of killing a former Georgian military officer in Tiergarten in 2019 on behalf of the Kremlin. In their closing arguments this week, prosecutors asked for a life sentence for Vadim, who is accused of shooting 40-year-old Zelimkhan Khangoshvili three times in the Kleiner Tiergarten park before escaping on a rental bike. The act is seen as part of a series of killings around the world orchestrated by Moscow to seek revenge for the victims’ roles in conflicts involving Russia, according to investigative website Bellingcat. Witnesses saw the suspect jettison evidence near the Spree in Moabit and called police, leading to Vadim’s arrest. Russian diplomats have been ejected over the crime and a fresh political response is expected following the verdict.
Singer Nina Hagen found herself in the spotlight again this month, when Angela Merkel surprised many — including the singer herself — by including a song by the 66-year-old godmother of Punk in her military leaving ceremony. For a while now, Hagen has used her distinctive vocal style to pursue an alternative career - as a German voice-over actor. So if you’ve ever seen the dubbed versions of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Spirited Away or Look Who’s Talking Too, you’ll have heard her not-so-dulcet tones. In 2006, Hagen was also in the reckoning for the German-language role of Marge in the Simpsons. Alas, that was one that got away. - Andrew Blackman
Longish read: The start-up bonus for Arbeitslosen
Are you unemployed? Do you want an extra 300 euros each month? Then boy do we have some exciting news for you! If you’re on Arbeitslosengeld I, you may be eligible for the wondrous Gründungszuschuss—another word to know that you won’t learn at Deutschkurs. This is a generous grant from the German government for people who are thinking of going freelance. But be warned—in oh-so-Deutsch fashion, this social initiative, while brilliant, is a bloody nightmare to wrap your head around.
You'll need a bunch of documents, including a business plan, a freelance tax number, a profitability forecast, a letter from the Finanzamt, and another from an industry professional that says your plan is viable. In return, you could get 300 euros on top of your AGL monthly payment for 6 months.
While it’s up to the Amt to decide your fate, if you put in the leg work, it could be yours. Just make sure you still have at least 150 days of unemployment benefit left when you apply. According to one of our trusty readers, Maxmarie Wilmoth, a US expat who just went through the process: “They say 150 days, but they actually mean five months, as the Agentur für Arbeit, for 'simplicity's sake', counts each month with 30 days instead of the number of days that the month actually has.
“When I found out about the programme, I thought, wow, this is amazing. And now that I've gone through it, I still think that anyone who wants to exit Arbeitslosengeld to become a full time freelancer would be crazy not to apply for it. Just be aware that they make you jump through a lot of hoops that aren't necessarily obvious to the naked eye.”
So yes, play by the extremely complicated rules - and maybe get a German-speaking adviser—and you’ll be fine. - Anna Fleck