The vulgar translation

Dear Reader,

Welcome to your weekly digest of the German news.

Lockdown for the unvaccinated

Imagine you live in a society in which your entry into all buildings outside your home is dependent on you undergoing a medical procedure meant primarily to serve your own health.

It is fair to ask whether such a society is still a liberal one - one that respects individual choice.

But that is the course that Germany is set to embark on under a new government made up of three parties who once professed to believe that individual liberty was a non-negotiable cornerstone of a free society.

Under new plans being drawn up by the ‘traffic light’ parties (SPD, Greens and FDP), state governments will be able to impose limits on the number of contacts unvaccinated people have, both in public and in their own home. This comes in addition to the ability to impose bans on entry to restaurants, cafes, theatres and museums.

Nobody in the traffic light parties balks at calling the new rules what they are. The SPD have billed them as “in effect, a lockdown for the unvaccinated.” Green party leader Robert Habeck said that: “contact prohibition or 2G rules, essentially what we mean is a lockdown for the unvaccinated. That’s the vulgar translation.”

Since the evidence on infectiousness shows ever less difference between the washed and the unwashed, the new measures can only be interpreted as an attempt to blackmail the unvaccinated by denying them the pleasures of daily life. The Austrians, who have already gone down this route, have wittily nicknamed it the “schnitzel lockdown.”

With the conservatives already making themselves at home on the opposition benches by accusing the government-in-waiting of not taking the pandemic seriously enough, the new German rulers have lost their nerve before they’ve even assumed power.

Whether these rules will have wider societal consequences, whether they are even enforceable, seems to be of secondary importance.

Some will argue that individual liberty is a luxury that German society can ill afford when hospital wards are being stretched to breaking point. Others will say that it is exactly at a such a point of crisis, when society could split in two, that liberalism must stand strong.

Personally, I remain sceptical that the rules will have the desired impact. Who are the unvaccinated over 60s who, lest we forget, are the ones putting the strain on hospitals? There is little detailed information on these people. A good bet though is that they don’t spend their Sundays in the galleries of the Museumsinsel and don’t have enough money to eat out on a regular basis.

For a full description of the plans, see here.

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Bank robbers out of business

The number of bank robberies committed in Germany has dropped by 95 percent in the past three decades.

In 1993 alone criminals attempted to rob banks over 1,600 times. Last year that number had dropped to just 80 attempts at a good old heist.

It seems that the cost-benefit ratio just isn’t what it used to be. Banks storing ever less cash in their safes, coupled with police solving 75 percent of these crimes, means that for most robbers it just ain’t worth the risk anymore.

Scandal of the week

Fashion designer Wolfgang Joop has landed himself in hot water for waxing lyrical in a Der Spiegel interview about the good ol’ days of the fashion industry in the 1970s and 1980s when “the agencies gave rich men the room keys for the models who didn't bring in so much money. And if a girl complained, they said: We can do without you.”

Joop was reminiscing about the heyday of German fashion when Karl Lagerfeld was in his pomp. “My God, that was cool. The impudence, the insolence, the ignorance,” he recalled.

Just a few days (and abundant negative headlines) later and it seems like the founder of the JOOP! and Wunderkind brands has had a change of heart. 

“My statement regarding the sins of the fashion world was inappropriate,” he wrote on Facebook, adding that he “has always deeply rejected any form of abuse of power and violence.”

Talking to Bild newspaper, he explained that “the models wanted to earn money and fit in. It was better for them to meet with rich men than to have to sit at the supermarket checkout.”