Berlin News in English: January 7 – 13

Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity news feature for Berlin! Our goal is to provide you with the most important news of the last two weeks from the German capital – so you can stay up to date.

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1. Sahra Wagenknecht remains head of “Die Linke” in parliament

(c) DPA

Sahra Wagenknecht prevailed in the challenge for her leadership position of her party Die Linke. As Linke members of the Bundestag entered a two-day conference, it became clear that – for now – Wagenknecht was going to emerge on top of things. However, her critics had prepared a few attacks on her.

Her opponents brought a motion for Die Linke to openly embrace the ”Unteilbar“ initiative: a campaign promoting social inclusion and solidarity – which made hundreds of thousands of people march in the streets. Wagenknecht, unlike her colleagues, has deemed the initiative a demand for open borders, which she doesn’t support politically. During the debate, both critics and Wagenknecht supporters agreed to this motion.

A second attack was a memorandum against “Aufstehen”, a project many deem to be splitting up the party. In the memo the critics asked members of the party to distance themselves from right-wing extremists and abstain from inner party competition during elections – two things Wagenknecht already did in the past. Both attacks were either solved amicably or disappeared from the final conclusion of the conference.

Wagenknecht has been a polarising figure among her party for several years now. The main points of criticism are her controvsersial views on refugee politics and a power struggle with the party leadership.

Source: Der Spiegel

2. Home-schooling remains illegal in Germany

After Dirk and Petra Wunderlich took their case of homeschooling their kids (due to religious beliefs) all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, they have now suffered a final defeat. The court agreed with the youth welfare office’s actions to remove the Wunderlich children from their home after the parents refused to send them to school. Germany exercises compulsory schooling and parents who violate this law can end up in jail.

After repeatedly breaching the law, social workers and the police removed the children from their parents. The cited reasons where that there is the danger of children growing up socially isolated, in a parallel world, and will rob them of their chance of adopting a normal social behavior. The children were returned once the parents agreed to start sending them to school.

The lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights from the parents claimed that taking the kids was violating their right to privacy. The judges in Strasbourg, however, pointed out that the schooling laws in Germany are lawful and that they see no human rights violations in them.

The judges agreed with the new actions taken and believe it will guarantee good integration for the children into society. The well-being of the children would have been at danger by keeping them at home and in a “symbiotic family constellation”. Plus, since the parents were not cooperating with the law, action was needed.

Even though this verdict comes too late for the children in question (starting in 2013), it will now be relevant for other Germany based families who homeschool their kids. According to estimations, there are over a hundred kids currently being illegally taught at home in the country.

Source: taz

3. The growing pains of N26

Germany based internet-bank N26 has been growing rapidly over the years, but there are still issues customers should be wary of. The company is currently active in 24 countries and plans to expand into the United States.

Even though the bank currently has 2.3 Million customers, it is still in the red. Most of the revenue is invested into expanding and attracting more customers. To make their services more appealing, the bank is making their access more convenient, therefore attracting a lot of fraudsters. For example: since a Giro account only takes eight minutes to create, the scammers can send out fake job applications that demand candidates to identify themselves via an N26 account. Once the account is opened, the fraudsters use it to launder money.

Furthermore, N26 bank uses photo identification in some countries – something that is illegal in Germany. Customers only have to take a picture of themselves with an ID. Their TAN process is similarly testing the limits of the legal restrictions that all banks must adhere to.

Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung

4. Sugar-free milk in school?

Students at schools in Berlin and Brandenburg might not have access to sweetened milk in the future. The school milk program of both states – which is financed by EU money – will be adapted.

The federal government will be asked by SPD, Linke, and CDU in a proposal to only offer milk that has no added sugar. The Berlin Senate Department is supporting this proposal.

Source: Berliner Zeitung

5. Shredded Banksy artwork coming to Baden-Baden


Fans of Banksy and his latest trick of shredding “Girl with a Balloon” at an auction will be happy to hear that the piece will be exhibited in Germany, more exactly in Baden-Baden. The Museum, Frieder Burda, will be showing the shredded drawing between the February 5th and March 3rd.

The museum has pointed out that it not only wants to show the art, but also wants to address Banksy’s concerns about the “democratization of art”. The management of the museum is discussing how to make the drawing as accessible as possible to the public. Apart from the controversial background and intention of Banksy, the conditions in the art world, which allow an “explosion in value” will be addressed too.

The artist had tried to shred the drawing during an auction at Sotheby’s, during which it was sold for 1.2 Million Euro. The operation went south as the picture got stuck halfway through. While Banksy wanted to criticize the art market, Sotheby’s is celebrating “Girl with a Balloon” as the first piece of art that was created live during an auction, and intensifying its monetary value.

Source: Der Spiegel

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