#68: Ukrainian kids, antisemitism, pee for free
And: when Nena moved to Berlin
Dear 20 Percenters,
As my co-author Andrew likes to put it: why can’t we have nice things in Berlin?
Nice things, like being able to pee when you’re out and about without fumbling for change for one of those robo-toilets. Or not having to bring your own toilet paper when you go to the playground in case you have to disappear in the bushes.
The lack of free public WCs in Berlin is appalling and a sign that this city still has some way to go before being able to call itself civilised.
Not that I’m hopeful that it will make much difference in the short term, but someone has launched a petition calling for free public loos for all Berliners and city visitors — and not just men’s urinals. Sign it here (scroll down for English) and tell your friends.
More news below.
Have a good day,
The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, April 26
Received booster: 60.3% (60.2% Friday)
New cases in one day: 5,002 (3,274 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,461 (+6 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 518.9 (342.9 Friday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 10.3 (12.1 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 7.2% (7.5% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Anti-semitic hate speech at demo
Around 500 pro-Palestinian marchers made their way through Neukölln and Kreuzberg on Saturday. The demo caused an uproar after protesters were seen shouting anti-semitic slogans. A reporter working for tabloid BILD said he was surrounded and threatened by a group of 50 demonstrators and subjected to taunts such as “dirty Jew”. The Central Council of Jews in Germany said in a statement: "Hatred of Jews comes as regularly as ‘never again.’ It is time to act!" Meanwhile, journalist union DJU accused the Berlin police of failing to protect journalists covering the event. This week, the Polizei says it will be monitoring a left-wing group known as Migrantifa for antisemitic speech during the massive May Day demonstration expected next Sunday.
Welcome classes for Ukrainian kids
About 50 new “welcome classes” that help non-German speakers integrate into German schools have been set up for Ukrainian refugees in Berlin, reports Berliner Zeitung. About half of the approximately 2,000 Ukrainian school-age children that have arrived in the city have been placed in the classes. The other half are being integrated into regular lessons — primary school kids who are still at an age at which they can rapidly soak up a new language. And thirty new Ukrainian teachers have been hired to teach the welcome classes, with more to follow. One local politician proposed creating a bi-lingual German-Ukrainian Europaschule.
🤗 Andrew and I really enjoy writing 20 Percent Berlin every Tuesday and Friday. With your support we’ll enjoy it even more! 🤗
Online doctor visits up
Even though many German doctors refuse to use e-mail (DATENSCHUTZ!) telemedicine is becoming a thing in the capital city, thanks to the pandemic. Last year, Berlin general practitioners charged Krankenkassen for about 380,000 online video consultations, up from 300,000 in 2020 — and up from 132 in 2019.
Cash for climate-tech
Another boost for Berlin green-tech. Vaayu, a start-up that says it tracks the carbon footprint of retail companies in real time, has attracted €11.5 million in seed funding. Vaayu says its software calculates carbon emissions connected to every step of the retail business — and then enables companies to participate in carbon reduction, removal or offsetting.
Another reason to block the A100 autobahn extension
A glance at a map of Friedrichshain makes clear that the proposed extension of the A100 along the Ringbahn north to Storkower Straße in Prenzlauer Berg would bulldoze its way through a vast area of small commercial spaces — home to much of Berlin’s nightlife. Leftie techno club About Blank — which celebrated either its 12th or 13th birthday at the weekend (they’re not sure which ) — would be one of many that would have to close if the huge construction project gets the green light.
Forty years ago, German singer Nena (99 Red Balloons, anyone?) moved to West Berlin with her boyfriend, the drummer Rolf Brendel. With guitarist Carlo Karges, keyboard player Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, and bass player Jürgen Dehmel, the couple released their first single “Nur geträumt” in May 1982, propelling Nena to stardom. She caused a stir at a Berlin concert last July when she told the audience to ignore Covid hygiene rules — causing the organisers to shut down the show prematurely.
Speaking of music
Iconic Berlin metal band Rammstein are back with a new album this week. Like its lead single, the LP is also called Zeit — though hopefully it won’t contain any more Herbert-Grönemeyer-style intros (ask your German friends). If you can’t wait until Friday, Berlin cinemas including the renowned Zoo Palast are among dozens of venues around the world that will host exclusive listening parties the night before the official release. You don’t get that with Die Ärzte (or any other band that sings in German, come to that). — Andrew Blackman