Tag Archives: german history

[Video] Why is there almost no Google Street View in Germany | Instant News

Have you ever wondered why you can’t find many places on Google Street View in Germany? Well, it turns out that it all has to do with the country’s political history!

Germany’s privacy and data protection rules are at the forefront

Given its turbulent past, it is not surprising that many in Germany have such distrust of government, organizations and agencies in terms of data protection and privacy. After living under two regimes – the Third Reich and the GDR – that put residents under intense scrutiny and harshly cracked down on dissent, Germany regards privacy as a hard-earned freedom.

This has led to a strong data protection tradition for German civilians, which is a hindrance to Google’s Street View Program. Google has tried to launch Street View twice in the country, and both times failed due to public backlash.

The video below explains more about why Google is one of the largest in the world company, can’t make it with Street View in Germany yet.

Video: YouTube / Cheddar

What do you think about Germany’s stance on privacy laws? Over or almost right? Let us know in the comments below!


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[Video] Christmas in Germany in 1949 | Instant News

Calling all history fans! Check out this excellent snippet of Christmas in Germany in 1949 to find out what Christmas was like in Germany 70 years ago, just four years after the end of the Second World War.

Merry Christmas historic

Everyone knows that Germans love Christmas. Every year (apart from this year, for obvious reasons) large Christmas markets open across the country, serving hot food contemplated wine and spread cheer. Now, you might not be surprised to learn that this Christmas love has endured throughout history.

Check out the video below reminiscing about Christmas in Germany 70 years ago… Honestly, it doesn’t seem like much has changed!

Video: YouTube / British Pathé


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Wladimir Kaminer on Berlin’s anarchist years | Meet Germany | DW | Instant News

I am fine. Having lived and worked in Berlin for 30 years, I define myself professionally as a German writer, but personally I am still Russian. That means I don’t make prior appointments when I want to visit my mother, I don’t walk around the apartment in my street shoes and I don’t look in the trash to see if my neighbors are separating their trash properly.

At home we only speak Russian. We sometimes even watch Russian news, although we know that it should be enjoyed with care. After all, my house always has very different news from anywhere else in the world. Even so, I feel like a German, I live in both cultures. Germany and I have come a long way in these 30 years and both have changed a lot.

The chaotic Berlin of the 1990s

My favorite memories are from the early 1990s, the days of anarchy.

Wladimir Kaminer gained fame as a DJ in Berlin and as the author of the book ‘Disco Russia’

I came from Moscow to East Berlin in June 1990. Many houses were vacant after residents left their apartments in haste. These people went to the West because they thought the Wall might come back soon. They thought the whole reunification was a misunderstanding and Russia didn’t pay attention and therefore didn’t interfere – maybe the Soviet Army tank driver stationed in Germany just ran out of gas.

Maybe they sold all their diesel to East German farmers. A friend of mine in the past, a Soviet tank driver who once served near Neuruppin and applied for political asylum in Berlin after reunification, still likes to tell us today that officers actually sold large quantities of fuel to East German residents. They feel insecure, don’t know what to expect at home after their departure from Germany and need an egg nest for dark times.

Even then, the Soviet Union was clearly on its way to capitalism. The Cold War is over, and it’s unclear if there will be any place for Soviet officers in this bleak future. So they sell everything they don’t need anymore. They sell construction materials, radiators, uniforms, fuel – they will probably sell the tank if they can find a buyer for it. But East Germany was so proud of their peaceful revolution that they didn’t want any tanks, only gasoline.

My friend, the tank driver, then got political asylum, and started working for Telecom. “Germany is my home,” he said. “Here all my dreams come true.”

Gray streets in Berlin, 1988 (Jean-Pilippe Lacour / AFP / Getty Images)

Berlin buildings were still gray and the air smelled of burning coal

Dazzled by the air of freedom

Before I moved to Berlin, I envisioned Germany as an orderly, disciplined and clean country, where people are never late for a beer and trams stop at each stop alone. If it’s too boring, I can always move to France or Italy, I thought.

But Berlin fascinates me with its anarchy. The city breathes an air of freedom, reeking of marijuana and nitrogen, which is produced when coal briquettes are burned to warm apartments.

Even today as I drive through the villages of Brandenburg at night, I can still smell this very fragrant coal briquette, which Berliners used to steal from neglected cellars and use for heating.

A brave new market

Berlin and I who reunited are young and full of energy. The residents of the occupied house throw a party in their backyard every week, you don’t need permission from the health department to sell beer on the street.

Image icon |  Punk in the GDR (imago images)

Parties are held in squat houses, like this one in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood

It’s easy to find a used car. West Germans buy new cars because they can sell their used cars to East Germany and make a profit. A car that doesn’t change hands at least three times a year is considered very uncool.

Non-Germans integrated themselves into the city quickly. That Vietnamese enthusiastically selling duty-free cigarettes under the bridge and opening the first Chinese restaurant. “Duck sweet and sour” and “green jasmine tea with plum brandy” were our best sellers.

For East Germans, this is an introduction to the world of global gastronomy. They used to only be allowed to eat ducks at Christmas, but suddenly they celebrate Christmas every day – and for a very cheap price of 9.90 Deutsche Marks! However, evil tongues gossip that many of these cheap ducks are actually just city doves.

That African from Angola and Mozambique opened dance bars where you can go dance and drink. That Russia destroy housing companies; they bribed the officials and were able to buy large apartments at ridiculous prices.

The convenience store is filled every day with Western goods, the salespeople can no longer remember the names of all the cheeses and jams, they just say “Ham wa nischt” [we don’t have that, in Berliner dialect] when people ask things they don’t know.

Customers in supermarket check-out lines (Hubert Link / picture-alliance / ZB)

Suddenly there is more stuff in the former East Berlin supermarkets too

And life is easy

The financing of anarchist life is also guaranteed. You have to go to the social welfare office once a month and without any lengthy discussion you get 500 marks in cash and the occasional little extra for warm clothes and movie tickets.

Russians, Africans and Vietnamese line up at the many telephone booths. Calls to homes are free, all you need is a phone fishing rod: The coins are attached to the fishing line with adhesive tape, and you have to pull carefully each time the phone is “clicked” to get a free call.

The people on the phone had a lot to talk about, so the people in line became impatient; they were constantly calling out to each other. “Stop talking, go back to Angola,” and “Say hello to your uncle Ho.” “Well, did Gorbi hang up?” they’ll ask us Russians.

The Germans watched this circus and wiped their eyes in disbelief. Their cozy little world with its clearly marked entrances and exits dissolves like a ghost.

The bureaucracy finally caught up

It took quite a while for the reunited Germany to reunite and begin to restore order. Finally, everyone who lives in a house without official documents is provided with appropriate lease contracts; rental prices immediately jumped; cigarettes are taken from Vietnam and pass through customs; dismantled telephone booths; and the origins of duck in Chinese restaurants are examined.

A green police truck and two policemen climb the stairs to a house with a banner and graffiti (Christophe Gateau / dpa / picture-alliance)

‘Liebig 34’, one of the houses in Berlin that had closed in the early 1990s, was evacuated in October 2020.

The social welfare office was turned into a work center. You must collect 30 signatures once a month from potential employers who are proven to have rejected you. These regulations destroyed many livelihoods and people had to develop new life plans. Many actually go on to study or even work.

Some remain stubborn and still try to earn a basic unconditional income.

Germany has found its way back to its famous order. Only recently, was one of the last houses ever occupied in the 1990s vacated. Only the memory of the moments of anarchy remains.


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Why are German roofs so steep? | Instant News

Lots of people on Internet has some really interesting questions about Germany and, so far, we’ve been investigating some of the more interesting topics: From Hitler’s love for Fanta and drinking tradition to history of royalty and some academic habits, we’ve studied some interesting aspects of German history and culture.

However, some people have more mundane questions about Germany. Well, maybe less interesting, but a little more useful or practical than we discussed earlier. Questions like, “What do people in Germany eat for breakfast?” or “Why is the roof so steep in Germany?”

Now, if you’ve ever asked either of those two questions, you’re in luck, because today we’re going to answer both.

What do Germans eat for breakfast?

A German breakfast may not be as famous as a traditional English breakfast (or fry-up) or an American breakfast which is frankly quite horrendous (in this author’s opinion) of bacon, maple syrup and pancakes. This is probably the reason why so many people are curious about what people eat after waking up in Germany.

Breakfast is considered one of the most important foods in Germany, which gives rise to the German proverb: Eat your breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dinner like a man beggar (eat breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king and dinner like a poor man).

German breakfast usually revolves around baked goods, which is reflected in the many bakeries found on street corners and on train and metro stations across the country. Bread or rolls are usually eaten with spreads such as butter, margarine, jam, honey or Nutella which are always popular.

Meat and cheese slices are another popular bread topping, as are eggs and quark (a soft, creamy dairy product amidst yogurt and cottage cheese). Muesli with milk or yogurt, topped with fresh fruit, is also a popular complement. All of this is usually washed down with tea, coffee, orange juice or milk, depending on your preference.

Why are German roofs so steep?

On your trip to Germany, you may have noticed that many houses have very steep roofs. In fact, so many people have noticed this that it is one of the most searched questions on Google about Germany.

The answer is actually very simple. Flat roofs can run the risk of collapsing in heavy snow, which can be too much a burden for the roof to bear. The steep roof eliminates this, so it snows right away.

However, this posed another problem: because the steep roof would allow large lumps of thick snow to slide and potentially injure passers-by. To solve this, therefore, the ingenious German roof designer incorporated a small “fence” that broke the snow into small lumps and allowed the melted snow to sink in.

The steep roof also allows for more living space or attic in the house.

Now you know

So there you have it, some of the most searched questions on the internet about Germany answered. Did we miss something? Of course, everyone has their own version of the perfect breakfast, so if you have any thoughts, let us know in the comments below!


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