Germany’s News in English: January 21 – 27
Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity news feature for Germany! That’s right, we’ve expanded our scope, following up on the feedback we got from you!
Our goal is to provide you with the most important news of the last two weeks from Germany – so you can stay up to date.
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1. Deutsche Bank Deals with Donald Trump under investigation
US Democrats have launched an investigation against Deutsche Bank. The heads of the finance committee and secret service committee are investigating the business between the bank and president of the United States.
A Deutsche Bank press representative has confirmed the investigation and has stated that the bank has “entered in a dialogue” with both committees to support them in their work. The bank will provide all the necessary information requested.
The Democrats have demanded for a long time for Deutsche Bank and its possible ties to Russia to be investigated. Until now, those steps weren’t possible. With the House of Representatives now being controlled by the Democrats, there is now a majority in support for the investigation.
Deutsche Bank was Donald Trump’s main bank for a while and granted him high loans. This happened during a time when many other financial institutions refused to do so. The Democrats believe that Trump was involved in a Russian money scandal which involved Deutsche Bank. Customers of the Bank may have laundered approximately 10 billion dollars of money between 2011 and 2015. The accusations against the Deutsche Bank state that their internal monitoring has failed.
Source: Die Zeit
2. EU strengthens working parents’ rights
The European Commission has presented a catalog of changes for employees valid in all EU countries. Working parents are getting more rights across the European Union. Fathers will have a claim on paternity leave of at least ten days after the birth of their child. Furthermore, parents have the right to take at least four months leave from their job. However, at least two months of this leave are not transferable, unlike the current standard of only one untransferrable month.
Further changes are that employees in the future can take five days off for the caretaking of family members. Parents and caretaking employees can also demand flexible working hours more easily.
The European Parliament and the EU Member States still have to formally agree to the catalog. Afterward, the individual countries have to implement them within their national laws.
Source: Die Zeit
3. Government lowers economic growth prognosis
While the prognosis for German economic growth stated growth of 1.8% back in autumn, Brexit and the weak world economy are having a stronger effect than expected.
The government has since reduced the number of expected growth. Now the Ministry of Finance has stated that for 2019, they are now only expecting growth of 1.0%. The boom would still be happening, just at a lower rate. The Ministry further stated that they are expecting a 1.6% growth rate as of 2020.
4. March 8 – a new holiday in Berlin
The city council of Berlin has declared the International Women’s Day on March 8 to be an official holiday. Additionally, the law also includes May 8, 2020, as a day off, as it will be the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of National Socialism and the end of World War II.
The initiative for the Women’s Day was spearheaded by the SPD. A representative stated that this was done as a sign to further the work on equality between men and women. While the Linke and Grüne parties welcomed this new law, CDU and AfD have criticized the choice of the day. Both parties would have preferred the liberation day as a future holiday, but the FDP and business association Berlin-Brandenburg have stated that Berlin couldn’t afford another holiday.
The International Women’s Day has its roots in the year 1910 at a conference of socialist women in Copenhagen. The initiator was the women’s rights advocate Clara Zetkin. The first Women’s Day happened in 1911 on March 19 and was later changed to March 8. During the early marches, one of the most important demands in Germany was the right for women to vote. This was introduced in 1918. During the separation of Germany, the day lost importance in West Germany, while it was still officially celebrated as of 1947 in the East. The day gained importance again in the West when the women’s movement picked up steam in the 70s.
The United Nations first formally celebrated Women’s day in 1975. In 1977 the General Assembly named it the “United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace”.
Source: Die Zeit
5. Painter Gerhard Richter criticizes Oscar candidate “Never Look Away”
Florian Henckel von Donnersmack may have scored two Academy Award nominations for “Werk ohne Autor”, or “Never Look Away” as it is called in English, but has to face criticism from the man who inspired his story about the 20th-century life of an artist.
The painter Gerhard Richter, whose biography served as an inspiration, has criticized Donnersmarck to have misused and deformed his biography. The movie tells the story of the fictional painter Kurt Barnert who, like Richter, grows up during World War II close to Dresden, studies art in the DDR and later flees to West Germany where he has his international breakout.
Richter and Donnersmarck had met in advance of the project, with Richter being able to read the script and supposedly offering to provide some of his paintings. In an interview with The New Yorker, Richter has stated that he declined his blessing for a movie about him after the first or second meeting. He further states that he asked Donnersmarck to change the job of the main character, as it doesn’t need to be a painter. He further arranged that Donnersmarck could not use his name or his pictures. Richter concluded his interview by stating that in reality, Donnersmarck pushed for the connection between his movie and Richter and that the media was being very helpful in that.
Donnersmarck has reacted surprised by the interview. He states that he included many tiny love letters to Richter in the film and feels sad that the painter hasn’t picked up on them. At the same time, he has offered empathy for the artist.
Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung
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