This Tree in Germany Has Been Helping People Find Love for Over a Century

The Bridegroom’s Oak, a 500-year-old tree just outside of Eutin, in Germany, has its own postal address and actually receives around 40 letters every day. They are sent by love seekers from all around the world, in the hope that someone will read them and write back.

With so many dating apps and services available nowadays, sending letters to a tree in Germany hardly sounds like the most effective way to find love, but for true romantics, there’s really no comparison. There’s just something undeniably charming about sending a letter and allowing fate to work its magic, so the Bridegroom’s Oak remains very popular even in this digital age.

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German Lawyer Can’t Get Any Work Done Because Someone Keeps Ordering Pizza on His Behalf

Guido Grolle, a lawyer from Dortmund, Germany, was recently forced to file complaint with the local police, because someone keeps sending him pizzas to his workplace. Over the past two and a half weeks, the man has received over 100 pizzas he never ordered, and he just wants the madness to stop.

By the time he gets out of the shower in the morning, Grolle sometimes receives several emails letting him know that the pizzas he ordered will be delivered to his office at lunch. On some days, you can actually see several pizza delivery guys crossing the street to bring the lawyer the lunch he never asked for. This has been going on since late January, and Grolle really has had enough of it.

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Leading Member of German Far-Right Political Party Quits After Converting to Islam

Arthur Wagner, a leading member of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a far-right German political party whose slogan is “Islam doesn’t belong in Germany”, recently resigned after converting to Islam.

Originally created as an anti-euro party, the AfD has recently campaigned on an anti-Muslim, anti immigration platform, strongly criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow over a million refugees into Germany, since 2015. Just last summer, Arthur Wagner, who sat on the party’s executive committee in the state of Brandenburg, accused Merkel of “making a big mistake” by allowing so many Muslim refugees into the country, and warned that “Germany is mutating into a different country”. On January 11th, he left the party citing personal reasons, but it was later revealed that he had converted to Islam.

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Hobby Historian Claims to Have Discovered Forgotten 80-Meter Section of the Berlin Wall

Save for a few symbolic sections in the center of the German capital, the Berlin wall was completely demolished in 1989 . However, a local hobby historian claims to have discovered an 80-meter-long section of which authorities apparently knew nothing about.

37-year-old Christian Bormann found the forgotten section of the Berlin Wall between two train stations in the Pankow district in the northeast of the city, back in 1999. The local government office responsible for monuments was unaware of the surviving segment, and records showed the section registered as demolished. Bormann kept his discovery to himself until recently, when he noticed that it had been damage by storms. Concerned about the slowly deteriorating monument, he finally revealed his secret in a blog post and contacted Pankow district authorities, calling on them to protect it as a historical monument.

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German Schools Use Sand-Filled Vests to Calm Down Hyperactive Children

200 schools in Germany have begun asking hyperactive children, typically those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to wear heavy sand-filled vests to calm them down and keep them in their seats during classes. The controversial vests, which weigh between 1.2 and six kilograms (2.7 – 13Ib), have sparked misgivings among parents and psychiatrists.

There are plenty of advocates, however, who claim to have witnessed remarkable changes in behavior among the children who have worn them and insisted that they help curb restlessness. There has been a growing number of ADHD cases diagnosed in Germany each year, and schools that use the vest claim that they are a gentler and less complicated way to tackle the phenomenon than administering psychiatric drugs such as Ritalin.

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Bank Clerk Spends 6 Months Counting 1.2 Million Coins by Hand

Imagine inheriting more money that you and your family could ever hope to carry. That’s exactly what happened to a family in Bremervörde, Germany, who received an inheritance of over 1.2 million coins weighing around 2.5 tonnes. In this particular case, however, counting the money proved a lot more difficult than carrying it.

It all started 30 years ago, when a German truck driver started saving  1 pfennig (0.01 Deutsche Mark) and 2 pfennig (0.02 Deutsche Mark) coins for his family. He managed to collect around 1.2 million coins until his death, earlier this year, all of which were inherited by his family. Now, Deutsche Marks haven’t been in circulation since 2002, but the Bundesbank  – the central bank of Germany – still exchanges the old currency, so the man’s family were still able to collect their inheritance. All they had to do was weight until the coins were all counted by hand. It took a while.

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German Town Is Slowly Falling Apart Due to Geothermal Drilling Gone Wrong

The German town of Staufen is falling apart at the seams. The town of 8,100 residents, located on the edge of the Black Forest, decided to invest in geothermal energy back in 2007, aiming for a green energy future. Unfortunately, the decision backfired when the underground drilling went wrong causing hundreds of buildings to begin cracking apart.

The town rests on a layer of soft anhydrite, below which is a layer of groundwater confined to an aquifer. It was this combination which proved to be fatal for the Baden Württenburg hamlet. When the drills hit the groundwater, it poured into the anhydrate, which soon formed gypsum and expanded by about 50 percent. Over 270 buildings have suffered fractures in the ten years since and things don’t appear to be getting any better.

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German Man Swims to Work Every Day to Avoid Heavy Traffic

Most commuters in Munich, Germany, spend hours stuck in traffic or trying to squeeze into one of the overcrowded subway trains, every morning, but for 40-year-old Benjamin David, commuting is actually a relaxing experience. Every day, he jumps into the Isar River and swims two kilometers to his workplace in Kulturstrand.

Benjamin David used to be one of the thousands of Münchners trying to make their way to work on busy roads and cycling paths, but two years ago he decided that he needed to find a simpler alternative and the Isar River seemed like the obvious answer. It flows right past his apartment in Baldeplatz, and, even though no one has been using it for traveling purposes in decades, it used to be the best ways to get around. People traveled up and down the Isar using rafts, and, at one point, it was one of the most popular routes between Rome and Vienna. But instead of paddling on a raft, Benjamin decided to swim to work instead, and that’s been his main commute for the past two years.

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German Granny Has Been Battling Hate Speech All by Herself, for 31 Years

72-year-old Irmela Mensah-Schram is a special kind of cleaning lady. For the last 31 years, she has been travelling across Germany, cleaning its streets of hateful messages, be they propaganda posters or graffiti. She has received death threats from neo-nazis and the police have fined her numerous times, but she continues her fight against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia.

Armed with a small scraper and a can of spray-paint, Irmela Mensah-Schram, a.k.a. Germany’s “Hate Destroyer” has been removing or covering up Nazi propaganda and other right-wing slogans across her country for over three decades. For many, she is a hero fighting against hate, while some consider her actions to be in violation of freedom of speech, and even state officials have mixed feelings about her. She has received several awards for her long-term efforts to keep hateful propaganda off the streets, but she has also been fined and even taken to court for damaging others’ property.

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At 68, Berlin’s Famous “Techno Grandpa” Still Hits the City’s Hottest Clubs

If you thought your grandpa was cool for his age, you’ve probably never heard of Bernhard Enste, the legendary “techno grandpa” of Berlin. When other 68-year-olds turn in for the night, he’s just getting ready to hit the hottest techno clubs in the German city and party until dawn with kids young enough to be his grand-children. They worship him, by the way, as he represents their hope for a happy old age.

Bernhard Enste wasn’t always the techno grandpa. He was born into a Catholic family in Mainz, and grew up dreaming of one day becoming a priest and converting the Eskimos to Christianity. That didn’t work out as planned, and he became a carpenter instead. At age 40 he got tired of working with wood and became an artist. Ten years later, his only son succumbed to cancer and his marriage fell apart. He felt that he needed to get out of Mainz, so he moved to Berlin, where he discovered the techno scene.

Growing up with The Beatles and Santana, techno always sounded more like noise than music to Bernhard, but all that changed when some friends invited him to a rave one night. The bass, the flashing lights and the energy of the crowd appealed to him instantly and clubbing became his thing. Today, he spends most his nights in Berlin’s many techno clubs, where he dances until the late hours of the morning.

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German Man Insists His Spanish Water Dog Is Actually a Sheep to Avoid Paying Tax

The following story actually happened!I wouldn’t have believed it myself if it hadn’t been reported by the German police, following a first-hand experience the likes of which you don’t hear about every day.

A man in Rostock, North-Eastern Germany, had to pay a fine and will likely face a tax evasion lawsuit after he claimed that his Spanish Water Dog was actually a sheep, to avoid paying a mandatory tax. In Germany, dog owners must pay a “dog tax” – ranging 24 to 100 euros ($25 to $107) – and equip their pets with a special tag confirming that they paid the license. This does not apply to pet sheep (remember that, it’s important).

Last Wednesday, the man in question was spotted walking his dog in the Rostock harbor area, by a harbor security officer. Paying your taxes is apparently a big deal in Germany, because after noticing that the animal did not have the tag confirming that the dog tax had been paid, he confronted the owner about it. To his surprise, the man appeared shocked by the question and replied that his pet was not a dog, but a sheep. At first, the harbor employee thought it was a joke, but the man stuck to his original answer, so he had mo choice but to ask for the man’s ID and notify the police about him.

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German Man Cheats Recycling Machine Out of Over $47,000 Using a Single Bottle

A drinks vendor in Cologne, Germany was recently tried and convicted to ten months in prison for modifying a bottle recycling machine and cheating the swindling several tens of thousands of euros from the national recycling system.

Bottle-recycling machines in Germany are fairly straightforward – a person inserts one or more bottles into the machine and they receive a receipt for a few euro-cents, or euros, depending on the number of bottles recycled. But in a case presented in front of a Cologne court last week, one recycling machine ended up paying a whopping €44,362.75 ($47,000) without recycling a single bottle. It turns out that an unnamed local drinks vendor managed to modify one such recycling machine located in the basement of his shop so that he could earn a lot more than the usual spare change. Evidence presented during the trial showed that the 37-year-old defendant had installed a magnet sensor and a kind of wooden tunnel into the machine, which allowed him to insert the bottle into the mechanism, receive his receipt and then retrieve the bottle without it actually getting shredded inside.

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German Town Builds Huge Stone Wall to Separate Locals from Refugees

The Munich suburb of Neuperlach Sud has nearly completed a giant stone wall meant to separate the local population from around 160 unaccompanied child refugees set to move into a nearby shelter. The 4-meter-high barrier will be taller than the Berlin Wall (3.6 meters).

After the local government decided to build a large refugee shelter approximately 100 meters from a residential estate, the people of Neuperlach Sud went to court to have a stone wall separating their community from the migrants. One of their arguments was the fear that the prices of their homes would plummet if there was nothing to separate them from a group of refugees that could be there for many years. They also expressed concern about the noise that might be coming from their new neighbors. The judge of the Administrative Court in Munich approved their request, and now the large stone wall is almost complete.

“Donald Trump wants to build a wall for Mexico, and we in Munich Neuperlach build one to keep us safe from refugees!” one Neuperlach Sud couple told a local newspaper.

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Eat Up or Pay Up – German Restaurants Charge Patrons Extra for Not Finishing Their Meals

A number of restaurants in Germany have come up with a somewhat controversial way of fighting food waste – charging patrons a small fee if they cannot finish all the food on their plates.

Yuoki, a sushi restaurant in Stuttgart, Germany, is not your everyday all-you-can-eat buffet. For starters, there isn’t an actual buffet to fill your plate at. Instead, patrons are seated at a table and provided with iPads which they can use to order up to five small dishes every ten minutes. They can eat as much as they want for 120 minutes, but having the food delivered at short intervals allows diners to constantly assess how hungry they are and order accordingly, preventing food waste. Also, owner Luan Guoyu believes our “eyes are bigger than our stomachs”, so not being able to see the cooked food at the buffet prevents people from ordering more food that they can actually eat just because they like the way it looks.

But Luan Guoyu’s most effective way of fighting food waste, and the one that has attracted media attention, is his €1 ($1.15) fine for food still left on the plate. “It’s called ‘all-you-can-eat,’ not ‘all-you-can-chuck-away,’ he says, adding that the extra charge is not meant to increase his profits, but to act as a reminder not to waste food. In the two years since Yuoki implemented this “eat up or pay up” policy, Guoyu claims he has collected €900 ($1,020) to €1,000 ($1,133) in food waste fees, which he plans to donate to charity.

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German Family Flees Homeland “Dictatorship”, Seeks Asylum in Russia

Germany is widely regarded as one of the most democratic countries in the world, but for Carola Griesbach and her family it is nothing more that a dictatorship that they just had to escape from. So they hopped in their Volkswagen van and drove 1,400 miles to Moscow’s red Square where they are now asking for political asylum.

51-year-old Carola, her husband Andre, their two daughters – Julia and Dominique – and four grandchildren arrived in Moscow on New Year’s Eve in 2015, hoping to start a new life. They have since been living in a small motel in a forest on the outskirts of the Russian capital, as they wait for their asylum request to be accepted by the Government. Only that’s not likely to happen anytime soon, as authorities consider Germany a “safe” country, so the Griesbachs’ request is unfounded.

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