Tag Archives | Germany

Hundreds Of Mystery Underground Tunnels Below Germany

image-239154-galleryV9-wqggWhy were vast networks of carefully constructed “goblin tunnels” built below Bavaria during the Middle Ages? Why is there not a single written word about their purpose or construction? Der Spiegel delves into the darkness:

There are more than 700 curious tunnel networks in Bavaria, but their purpose remains a mystery. Were they built as graves for the souls of the dead, as ritual spaces or as hideaways from marauding bandits?

At least 700 of these chambers have been found in Bavaria alone, along with about 500 in Austria. In the local vernacular, they have fanciful names such as “Schrazelloch” (“goblin hole”) or “Alraunenhöhle” (“mandrake cave”). They were supposedly built by elves, and legend has it that gnomes lived inside. According to some sagas, they were parts of long escape tunnels from castles. Similar small underground labyrinths have been found across Europe, from Hungary to Spain, but no one knows why they were built.

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German Insurer Munich Re Rewards Salesmen With Prostitutes

Munich ReBBC News reports:
One of the biggest insurance companies in the world held a party for salesmen where they were rewarded with the services of prostitutes. Munich Re is the world's biggest re-insurer — in other words, the company acts as an insurance company for other insurance companies. One of its divisions, Ergo, told the BBC that the party had taken place to reward salesmen in 2007. A spokesman said the people who organised it had since left. The gathering was held at a thermal baths in the Hungarian capital Budapest as a reward to particularly successful salesmen.
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U.S. Gov’t Sues Deutsche Bank For More Than $1 Billion

MortgageITBBC News reports:
The US Justice Department has sued Deutsche Bank for more than $1bn (£600m) for defrauding the government. The complaint says Deutsche's MortgageIT subsidiary lied in order to get Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance for its loans. FHA rules say lenders must make sure the borrower will be able to repay the loan, but the Justice Department claims Deutsche did not do so. A Deutsche spokesperson described the claims as "unreasonable and unfair". "We intend to defend against the action vigorously," she added. The lawsuit is one of the first targeting mortgage lenders under the federal False Claims Act.
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The Young Nazi Who Grew Up To Become A Jew

Theo Haser & FamilyVia BBC News:
As a child, Theo Haser was a loyal member of the Hitler Youth. But decades later, haunted by the horror of the Holocaust, he converted to Judaism. As a young boy, growing up amid the nationalist frenzy of Nazi Germany, Theo Haser idolised Hitler. When the fuehrer came to his hometown of Munich to visit, Theo and his father were at the front of the crowd reaching out to touch his hand. "I know if I was able to shake his hand I probably wouldn't have washed for a few months," he recalls. Seventy years later, in a bid to come to terms with his Nazi past, Theo has become a Jew. "I wanted to be part of a community, this was something I had never felt in my life," he says. "I wasn't running away from something, I was joining something entirely new."
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Germany To Close Seven Nuclear Reactors For ‘Safety Review’

Brunsbüttel Nuclear Reactor. Photo: Steffen Papenbroock (CC)

Brunsbüttel Nuclear Power Plant. Photo: Steffen Papenbroock (CC)

Could Japan’s tragedy be used as a wake-up call for other countries? Germany has decided to close some of it’s oldest nuclear reactors for safety checks after Japan’s nuclear crisis. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Germany said it would shut down its seven oldest nuclear reactors during a three-month “safety review,” a surprise reversal by Chancellor Angela Merkel whose government just months ago vouched for the plants’ safety.

Ms. Merkel’s center-right government, which already said on Monday that it would suspend a lifespan extension for country’s nuclear reactors, responded to growing public unease over nuclear power amid the Japanese crisis by agreeing to shut down the oldest of those plants. The sudden shift reflects concern within Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic party that it has been on the wrong side of an emotional political issue that analysts say could tip the balance in several upcoming regional elections.

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Germans Protesting Nuclear Power Form 75-Mile Human Chain

Reuters reports:
Opponents of nuclear power formed a 120-km (75-mile) human chain between reactor sites in Germany Saturday to protest against government plans to extend the power plants' operation. Around 120,000 peaceful demonstrators, according to police and organizers, linked arms in a chain running between the northern towns of Brunsbuettel and Kruemmel that passed through the city of Hamburg...
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German Cabinet Recognizes Kids’ Right to Make Noise

1890sc Artwork 04Take that, Prussian child rearing!  AFP reports (via Google):

Germany’s cabinet Wednesday adopted draft legislation aimed at battling a growing tide of complaints against noisy children, in what is a rapidly ageing society.The legislation aims to make it easier to build creches in residential areas following a spate of objections against the din of children at play.

Some of these complaints have resulted in kindergartens being refused planning permission or childcare centres having to build noise-protection walls so as not to disturb locals.

Many are from people in their 30s and 40s, including couples with children, worried about the value of their property falling if a noisy new kindergarten springs up nearby, experts say.

In a statement, Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said: “This is a clear legislative signal in favour of a child-friendly society.”

“The noise made by children … cannot be treated in the same way as the noise made by industrial equipment,” added the minister.

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Pictures From The Secret STASI Archives

stasiGerman artist Simon Menner has a bundle of photos taken by East Germany’s secret police during Cold War. Offering a glimpse into the small absurdities of life as a Communist spy, included are snap shots of suspicious household objects, agents modeling their “normal civilian” disguises, and West German spies who knew they were themselves being spied on, et cetera:

East Germany, until it ceased to exist in 1989/90, had one of the most advanced surveillance system ever in operation, the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Department of State Security) or STASI. In terms of number of agents per capita it even outranked the Russian KGB by far.

Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was decided that most of its archive should be made accessible to the public and for historic research. Even though the access is restricted, this was very much in contrast to what most of the other nations of the former Eastern Block did.

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The Neo-Nazis of Jamel, Germany

Jamel, GermanyVia the Huffington Post:

JAMEL, Germany — This is a town taken over by neo-Nazis.

Wooden signposts by the main road point to Vienna, Paris, and Braunau am Inn – the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. A far-right leader runs his demolition company from home, its logo featuring a man smashing a Star of David with a sledgehammer.

Every few months, townsfolk host outdoor parties where guests sing “Hitler is my Fuehrer” to chants of “Heil” around a massive bonfire.

Jamel is the most extreme manifestation of a chilling phenomenon in the former communist East Germany: a creeping encroachment of neo-Nazism that makes Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania one of only two states where Germany’s biggest far-right party, the National Democratic Party, or NPD, sits in parliament.

The extreme-right is believed to be behind some 40 attacks in the state over the past year, including stones thrown through windows of political parties and fireworks blown up in a prosecutor’s mailbox.

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China Vows To Help European Debt Crisis

2010 had Greece and Ireland receiving financial help from the Internatioanl Monetary Fund and Eurozone nations. 2011 has Spain, Germany and Britain finding help from Chinese investors as Vice Premier Li Keqiang began his European tour. Via The Jakarta Globe:

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang backed Europe in its sovereign debt battle on Wednesday, starting a three-nation tour by promising to buy more Spanish government bonds.

Li, widely tipped to be the next premier, delivered a significant vote of confidence given China’s world record foreign reserves of 2.648 trillion dollars (2.0 trillion euros), much of it in euros.

On his visit to Spain, Germany and Britain he is supporting Europe’s recovery efforts and seeking to soothe global market fears of a debt quagmire spreading from Greece and Ireland to Portugal and even Spain.

[Continues at The Jakarta Globe]

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