Anybody who comes to Germany must realise that the German way of life is rather different to that of the people who grow up in countries which are proud of themselves. Germans have an awful habit of running themselves down. A very good example of this self-punishment can be observed in the international forum of the On-line Spiegel. It is a crime in this land, to be anti-Semitic, but nobody seems to worry about being anti-German.
Because the Germans are so frustrated with their own way of life, they can be most nervous when foreigners also point towards traditions and habits which would be better forgotten. However Anne K, you have a problem which all British/German families share. Someone will always be away from their homeland, so please try to make the best of it.
My wife is German, but she comes from Silesia, a part of Germany taken by Poland after WW2. She was deported as a child and for many years she could not go home at all. At least you can visit your homeland without any great trouble. Brighton in Sussex for example, is not further away from NRW than Branice/Branitz in Silesia.
The truth is, were it not for the language, there is less difference between Germans and Britons than with the French, so if you love your family, this problem should not be too great in the long run. Most of us will always have a special feeling for the place where we were born, but home is where we are with those we love and that can be in any country.
While agreeing that we need a word for describing some terrible people, it might be worth having a new one. In Germany, even the word Neger is being looked upon as deplorable, although it is not more than a translation taken from the Latin for black and has been used for at least three hundred years. I wonder what the Germans would think of a discussion about bastards.
In Germany , any sort of discrimination towards illegitimate children can lead to being put before a court of law. The words themselves are harmless, but not always the way in which they are used.
One can look at the words bastard and Neger, in the same way as it was once an insult to call somebody a German Jew.
The current trend towards political correctness, leads many organisations to get over ardent, in trying to tell us what we might think or say, but it is wise to be careful especially in Germany. Here to say the wrong thing, or to express a free opinion, can lead to a longer jail sentence than one would receive for punching somebody on the nose.
Perhaps it would be better to talk about arrogant or criminal pigs rather than bastards. That way we would probably only upset the animal protection societies.
We find that Little England is a fine little shop to buy British goods which either cannot be bought, or are too expensive to buy, in German Super-markets. It is an half an hour drive from Bielefeld, which means we cannot pop in every day, but well worth visiting when the shopping list has grown.
We are also pleased to see, that a British/German couple have taken over a pub on the Detmold Str., in Bielefeld. They offer amongst other items freshly made Fish and Chips. Now that the British forces are slowly leaving NRW, this might turn out to be a good meeting place for those of us who remain behind. Lord Nelson is the name and I am told by my daughter, that the food is good and the hosts very friendly
The marriage of two people of the same sex is jast a farce. The idea of marriage is to provide a legel basis for a family. Two of a kind may get on well together, but they cannot produce offspring. A partnership contract is all that is needed.
I was a bit surprised about the answer from cicero concerning the Lloyds bank (17 Nov.), I gave up my TSB account in England because of the high charges. Perhaps it depends upon how much money of yours they are able to use without paying you interest.
This Road crossing is like many in Bielefeld, but you would not often find two cars using their blinkers as shown in your picture. Most drivers here forget what such signals are for once they have obtained a driving licence. :unsure:
During the time I have been in Germany I have faced the wrong side of a revolver twice. Both criminals were German. In the first instance my briefcase was stolen. The second time I was luckier and was able to take the robbers weapon. However,such experiences are always scary and always remain in ones memory. On another occasion a Greek threatened to use his knife, I found that even worse although nothing happened.
I do not think there is much more crime than there was fifty years ago, but it has been made easier for the criminals through the reduction of police on the streets. Here in Bielefeld older people are frightened to go out after dark and young women usually only go in pairs or with a group.
Thank you for your comments Twol,
but I was already in Germany at the time of retirement and have paid into both British and German health schemes. At the moment, there is just the choice to take it or leave it as far as I can see. I have grown to like Germany and its people, but some of the laws and those who make them, are in my opinion far away from the needs of normal citizens.
I just thought my experience might help those who wish to stay here.
Hello again. First my thanks to Ancient Brit for contacting me!
Unfortunately his words of advice do not apply, the Barmer Ersatzkasse, into which I paid my subscriptions while working here, refused to accept the British forms provided by Pensions Service which were intended to provide me with health cost coverage.
However, after retiring, I was told no charge for health insurance would be made on the British part of my pension. This changed on 1 July 2011, although nobody took the trouble to inform me at the time. It was purely by chance that I found out about this new regulation.
Today I have just received a letter demanding the back payment for the last 6 months, back to July last year and telling me I shall in future have to pay an additional 8.2% of the British Pension into the „Krankenversicherung“ and a further 1.95% for the Pflegerversicherung. This is on top of what is taken from my German income.
Of course the choice is ours, we do not have to live in this country. Nevertheless it does all seem a little strange,when one considers that Germans going to live in Britain, continue to receive their full pensions plus a free health service. No wonder the NHS is nearly broke!
Under a co-ordination of health services within the “United Europe,” a little more fairness might have been forthcoming, but those who make the laws do not suffer from such schemes.
In your case you might be better off if on your place of residence (at least on paper), is given as Britain. however, then come the problems with income tax!
My pension is part British and part German. This month I have received the information from the BEK, that as from the first of July 2011, all pensioners living in Germany, will have to pay 8.2% of their foreign pensions into the German health insurance. ( Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Koordinierung der Systeme der sozialen Sicherheit in Europa und zur Änderung anderer Gesetze).
This new law completely ignores the fact, that in Britain pensions are lower, because the possible costs for free health insurance have been calculated, before the rate of pensions is fixed. This means, that in future British pensioners living in Germany are burdened twice with the costs for their health.
The best thing to do, as I see it, for those who have been caught out, is to complain to the foreign office about this problem. Perhaps they could then contact the responsible people in Germany. I have tried to contact the German politicians responsible, but until now have received no reply.
The pensions in Germany are based upon two completely different systems. Civil servants (Beamten) are not required to make any subscriptions for their pensions, during their working life and receive regular rises based on the cost of living.
Normal employees are obliged to pay into the state system, but have no guarantee that the pension they receive will in anyway keep up with the inflation level. The buying value of such pensions has dropped by approximately 20% during the last 10 years. In addition, such retired persons lose another 20% of their income, because the State requires them to pay this amount into the Health Insurance.
On the whole, the Germans receive a higher pension than Britons who have had similar employment, but in view of the above costs and no advantages such as the British free bus tickets for retired persons, the end result is little different.
British pensioners who wish to live in Germany after retiring must now - since 1 July 2011 - also pay into the German Health Insurance. The charge made is 8.2% of the gross British pension.
The pension a British person receives in Germany is usually a combination of both British and German pensions, according to how many years and how much one has earned in each country.
Sorry to barge in again, but usually the Notar has the duty to make sure those signing the contracts (even if they may be only beneficial to one-side), are able to understand what they are signing.
The proposed contract has to be read out before anything is signed. In the case, where the buyer does not understand enough German, an interpreter must be involved. This is also mostly to be paid for by the purchaser.
Do not sign anything you have not completely understood. Once you have signed, it is too late! Only in cases where you can prove (before a court of law), that you have been deliberately misled, is there any chance that the contract can be viewed as invalid, or that compensation may be due.
A good Notar will give you a copy of the proposed contract in advance, giving you the chance to read it, raise questions like those you have done here online, but also to give you the chance to suggest changes. Such changes must of course be agreed by both sides.
Cheers for now.
Wohngeld, is purely the name for payments to be made, covering the costs your apartment or flat causes to the house community each month.
They can vary according to whether, electricity, water, cable television or rubbish removal charges etc., are included. Each year you should receive a statement - in our case it arrives about May for the passed year - in which you are told if the money you have paid was enough or too little. Usually this arrives with an invitation to attend the annual meeting of the house community. These then agree on a majority basis, as to whether the statement is correct or not. If you have paid too much, you will get it back (later).
Our administrator "Verwalter" deducts the expenses needed directly from our bank account. The only thing we have to do, is to make sure there is enough cash for him to obtain.
Other taxes and charges may be extra. We pay twice a year a fee to the owner of the ground upon which the block of flats has been built, plus a quarterly ground tax on the local authorities. You should check whether these charges are included in your Wohngeld or not. It would seem that not every house community, administrator, or town/land council, do the same.
Nevertheless, if you do travel abroad a lot, having the charges booked automatically can save time and trouble. Cheers for now and good luck
Despite all warnings, a number of European countries have for years now been allowing people to flow in with little control. One only has to destroy identification papers and a temporary refugee status is given.
This sort of naiv generosity has not only been abused by a minority of immigrants seeking economical advantages, but also deliberately used by radical movements, to form terrorist networks within Europe.
For the people of Norway, the terrible shock from today, will almost certainly lead to a change from an extremely liberal and friendly policy for foreigners, towards one of suspicion and greater security.
Perhaps the new checks on the Danish borders will now be better understood by the dreamers within the EU. One thing has become tragically certain, every nation, taking part in military actions overseas, must now anticipate revenge by those attacked inside their own country.
It might be well advisable for newcomers to Germany, especially if they intend to learn the language and /or reside here for sometime, first to realise which words and phrases should not be used.
Germany has one of the finest written Constitutions in the world. The trouble is, that many of the laws, passed by the Bundestag and local regional governments, undermine or are contrary to the very articles of this same Constitution.
One of the most important articles - which has almost completely been nullified by law makers during the last forty years - is Article 5, which guarantees freedom of comment. Others are articles from 1 to 4, which were written to allow not only the right of an independent opinion, but also to prevent unjust preference for, or prejudice against individuals of certain groups.
Although it would illegal and not advisable to use either of the following phrases, the similarity between them and the difference of the ensuing possible punishment for their use illustrates such aberrations.
Saying "you are a NAZI Swine" to a German police officer, would almost certainly lead to the payment of a small fine. Call the same man "a Jewish pig" and you will not only be charged for the insult, but also for trying to cause racial hatred. The punishment for the latter can be a long jail sentence.
It is however not only such unnecessary insults which might bring a quite innocent foreigner into trouble. A long list of words, which we could consider to be quite normal, have become taboo in Germany, because at sometime in the past they were used by right-wing radicals.
For example, the expression "Global Judentum" (World Jewish connection), is currently being investigated by the police in Bielefeld.
Perhaps the "Local" has yet a few more suggestions for avoiding trouble?