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Germany: Berlin parliament passes five-year rent freeze

Berlin’s parliament . . . passed a law to freeze rent prices in the rapidly gentrifying city-state for five years, becoming the first federal state in Germany to introduce a rent cap. The new law puts a cap on residential rental prices in the German capital, where the cost of rent has doubled in the last 10 years.

DW
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Behind the scenes of Germany’s foreign intelligence service

Ever since Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service completed its move to Berlin, the agency has tried to promote an image of openness rather than secrecy. An interactive exhibition is now open to visitors.

Source: DW

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Berlin bans Checkpoint Charlie ‘soldiers’

Local authorities have revoked permission for actors to dress like US soldiers and take pictures with tourists. Police had reportedly requested the ban, saying some actors pressured tourists into paying for the photos.

Source: DW

Too bad. This was fun:

David Enzel at Former Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, Germany
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Berlin has 3.6m people; many of them lonely

DW reports:

One out of every two households in Berlin has only one person. There are chitchat hotlines for the elderly, professionally organized cuddle parties, and self-help Facebook groups. Now, the Berlin branch of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), wants the capital to have an official commissioner for loneliness.

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Berlin: A Wonderful Capital City

I first visited Berlin in the early 1980s. Berlin was then a divided city. I stayed in the Western zone near the Kurfurstendamm, which at the time was the heart of Berlin. I took a one day bus tour to the East. We crossed through Checkpoint Charlie. The bus was thoroughly searched by East German border guards. In contrast, the American military just let us pass freely.

The West was vibrant with shops, restaurants and people everywhere. In contrast, buildings in the East still showed signs of having been bombed in the war. There were Soviet style memorials throughout East Berlin. Our East German guide was openly dispirited and seemed to be reciting a script he was told to speak, especially when he spoke of “warm relations” with the then Soviet Union. At the end of the day, I was glad to be back in the West where I felt free and comfortable.

In 2018, I went back to Berlin to see an undivided, transformed and reinvented Berlin, still under construction 73 years after the end of WWII. I stayed near the Kurfurstendamm so I could compare my experience today with the early 1980s. My hotel —Pension Peters— is a small owner-managed hotel, where I felt like a temporary resident in a nice Berlin neighborhood.

I saw the transformation of Berlin immediately. The Kurfurstendamm is no longer the center of town. The heart of Berlin today is in the former East, which was a shambles when I was last there. The Kurfurstendamm is now a nice shopping street in a lovely Berlin neighborhood called City West but isn’t the heart of the capital.

David Enzel at Former Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, Germany