Erik's Feed
Aug 27, 2011

Schaeuble warns coalition MPs to back EFSF reforms

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned members of parliament in his ruling coalition that financial markets may doubt Europe’s ability to act if they fail to back measures bolstering the powers of the euro zone bailout fund.

Schaeuble was quoted telling the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper he was confident deputies in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition would pass the measures on the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) on September 23 without having to rely on opposition votes.

Aug 22, 2011

Analysis: German rail to run on sun, wind to keep clients happy

BERLIN (Reuters) – It won’t be easy to run a national railway on renewable energy like wind, hydro and solar power but that is what Germany’s Deutsche Bahn aims to do for one simple reason: it’s what consumers want.

Deutsche Bahn says it wants to raise the percentage of wind, hydro and solar energy to power its trains from 20 percent now to 28 percent in 2014 and become carbon-free by 2050.

Aug 22, 2011

German rail to run on sun, wind to keep clients happy

BERLIN (Reuters) – It won’t be easy to run a national railway on renewable energy like wind, hydro and solar power but that is what Germany’s Deutsche Bahn aims to do for one simple reason: it’s what consumers want.

Deutsche Bahn says it wants to raise the percentage of wind, hydro and solar energy to power its trains from 20 percent now to 28 percent in 2014 and become carbon-free by 2050.

Aug 14, 2011

German government no longer rules out euro bonds: report

BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government no longer rules out agreeing to the issuance of euro zone bonds as a measure of last resort to save the single currency, conservative newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported on Sunday.

Even though Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Economy Minister Philipp Roesler again spoke out against euro zone bonds and debt collectivization, Welt am Sonntag reported the German government is nevertheless considering that and other measures.

Aug 13, 2011
via Global News Journal

Berlin Wall, 1961-1989, R.I.P

Photo

There is something a bit bizarre, yet fascinating, about the way Berlin and the local media mark the anniversaries of the Berlin Wall’s construction on Aug. 13, 1961 and the anniversaries of its collapse on Nov. 9, 1989.

There are many of the same things each time: sombre speeches, fancy ceremonies, countless thousands of stories in the print and TV media and a general consensus that A) the Wall was a horrible thing B) the Communists who built it were loathsome liars C) its collapse was a  glorious moment in German history and D) its memory should serve as a global symbol of  the yearning for freedom.
Yet like Berlin itself, which has gone through what are probably the most dynamic changes of any big city in Europe in the last two decades, elements of the commemorations have been shifting over the years and the city’s view of the wall has also been transformed.  Incredibly enough, some Germans now miss the Wall – a few diehards both east and west who feel their standing of living has gone down since 1989 want it back the most (about 10 percent, according to a recent poll) . But many others, especially those too young to remember it, lament that there is so little left of it to see and feel.
Indeed, almost all of the Wall is gone. Yet 10 million tourists still come to Berlin each year looking for it. “Where’s the Wall?” is probably one of the most commonly asked questions by visitors. The answer – unfortunate or fortunate, depending on your point of view – is that there’s almost nothing left.
It was all torn down in a rush to obliterate the hated barrier in late 1989 and early 1990.  Only a few small segments were saved – one 80 metre-long section, for instance, behind the Finance Ministry that was saved thanks to one Greens politician who declared it to under “Denkmalschutz” – a listed monument. That enraged many Berliners at the time.
Despite the lack of Berlin Wall to look at and touch, a thriving cottage industry has grown up at some of the places where it once stood. You can get a “DDR” stamp in your passport if you want from a menacing looking soldier in an authentic East German border guard uniform (who appreciates tips) at Checkpoint Charlie or have your picture taken with others wearing Russian army uniforms. You can buy Wall souvenirs at many of the points where the Wall once stood.
Some leaders such as Mayor Klaus Wowereit now admit it might have been a mistake, from today’s point of view, to so hastily tear  down all but a few tiny bits of the Wall in 1989. “There’s a general complaint that the demolition of the Wall was a bit too extensive,” he told me recently. “That’s understandable from today’s point of view and it would probably have been better for tourists if more of it could have been preserved. But at the time we were all just so happy to see the Wall gone.”

Aug 13, 2011

Berlin mayor criticizes nostalgia for Berlin Wall

BERLIN (Reuters) – Berlin’s mayor said on Saturday he was appalled that some Germans were nostalgic for the Berlin Wall and supported a newly fashionable leftist view that there were legitimate reasons for building it in 1961.

At a somber ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s construction, Mayor Klaus Wowereit, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff paid tribute to the 136 people killed trying to get over the Wall to West Berlin.

Aug 10, 2011

Berlin Wall Trail a surreal journey into city’s past

BERLIN (Reuters) – It was once one of the world’s most deadly frontiers but has since been converted into one of the planet’s most fascinating bicycle paths — a green belt that offers a surreal ride into Berlin history.

The “Berliner Mauerweg” (Berlin Wall Trail) follows the wall’s 160-km (100-mile) route and the accompanying “death strip” that encircled West Berlin during the dark decades of the Cold War.

Aug 9, 2011

Berlin Wall makes comeback for tourists

BERLIN (Reuters) – The Berlin Wall is making a comeback. A half century after it was built and two decades after its demise, a few bits of the Wall that once split Berlin into East and West are being reinstated for posterity to the delight of tourists seeking a glimpse of the city’s Cold War history.

Almost all of the 160 km (100 miles) of Berlin Wall that encircled West Berlin in the heart of Communist East Germany was hastily torn down or chiseled away in the euphoria after it was breached in 1989.

Aug 4, 2011

Berlin mayor confident he can stop Greens’ surge

BERLIN, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said
on Thursday he was confident he could put a stop to the surge of
the Germany’s Greens party and win a third term leading the
country’s biggest city-state in a September election.

The Greens have surged to record highs in opinion polls in
the last year, boosted in part by the nuclear disaster in Japan,
and rocked the political landscape by snatching control of the
country’s wealthiest state, Baden-Wuerttemberg, from Chancellor
Angela Merkel’s CDU party in a March election.

Jul 20, 2011

Fatter and fewer German nudists as numbers dwindle

By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN, July 20 (Reuters Life!) – The naked sunbathers who
once crowded Germany’s Baltic beaches and city parks are
becoming an endangered species due to shifting demographics, the
fall of the Berlin Wall, growing prosperity and widening girths.

Much to the chagrin of Free Body Culture (FKK) enthusiasts
who have been stripping off their clothing on beaches and parks
since the early 1900s, a cold wind has been blowing across
Germany for nudists and their numbers are steadily dwindling.

    • About Erik

      "Erik Kirschbaum is based in Berlin. He has been covering politics, economics, entertainment and sport in Germany since 1989 from Frankfurt, Bonn and Berlin. He also has worked for Reuters in Vienna. Previously, he also worked for newspapers in Connecticut, Wisconsin and Nevada. He has also written two books."
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