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Subject: soc.culture.german FAQ (posted monthly) part 1/6
This article was archived around: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 06:03:06 GMT
Last modified: 2001-09-02
||~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FAQ for SOC.CULTURE.GERMAN ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~||
|| -- general remarks -- ||
|| DOWN-LOADING the FAQ ||
|| via WWW: (aka HTTP) ||
|| The FAQ homepage is at http://www.watzmann.net/scg ||
|| where you can also obtain tarballs and zip-archives ||
|| for download. ||
|| via EMAIL: ||
|| The FAQ is no longer available via email. If you ||
|| absolutely, positively can't get the FAQ either from ||
|| the WWW or from USENET, send email to email@example.com ||
|| and highly trained chipmunks will hand-pick a version ||
|| for you and send it off (most probably to you) ||
|| via FTP: ||
|| The friendly people from news.answers archive the postings ||
|| of this FAQ on their server. You can find it at ||
|| ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/faqs/german-faq/ ||
|| The website above also provides zip- and tar-archives of ||
|| the ASCII and the HTML version of the FAQ. ||
|| David Lutterkort Berkeley, Sun, 02 Sep 2001 ||
Table of parts
Part 1: Sections 1- 4
Part 2: Sections 5- 7
Part 3: Sections 8-12
Part 4: Sections 13-17
Part 5: Sections 18-22
Part 6: Sections 23-27
Table of Sections
1. Introduction to the FAQ List
2. Traditions and Cultural Oddities
5. The Internet
8. Electronic Language
10. Phone System
11. Political Life
12. History, Law -- Internet Resources
14. Audio / Video
15. Foreign Affairs; Consulates / Embassies
16. Educational System
17. Economy; Industry; Working in Germany
18. Broadcasting Media
19. German zip codes (Postleitzahlen, PLZ)
20. (Public) Transportation in Germany
21. Cars and Driving in Germany
23. Money Talk
25. Urban Legends
27. Questions and Answers
Table of Contents for Part 1
1. Introduction to the FAQ List
1.1 Where can I get it ?
1.2 This thing is huge. Is there a way to search the FAQ ?
1.3 May I Copy the FAQ List?
1.4 Can I help, too?
1.5 Can I believe what's in here?
1.6 Who did it ?
1.7 What's new in the FAQ ?
1.7.1 Page comments
2. Traditions and Cultural Oddities
2.1 German Holidays and Festivals
2.1.1 Holiday Dates
2.1.3 St. Martin
2.1.4 Advent, St. Nicholas and Christmas
22.214.171.124 St. Nicholas
2.2 Walpurgis Night
2.3 Wedding Traditions?
2.4 Card games -- Skat and Doppelkopf
2.5 Gluehwein Recipe
2.6 German Cooking
2.7 Flea Markets and such
2.8 Kneipen, Discos, ...and curfew time
2.9 Who are these freaks in black suits asking me for money ?
2.9.2 Page comments
3.1 What Language to use?
3.2 How to Type Umlauts?
3.2.1 Page comments
4.1 Newspapers and Magazines online
4.1.1 National newspapers and magazines
4.1.2 Regional and local publications
4.2.1 Searching the GermNews Archive Notebooks
4.3 De-News (the English version)
4.4 Deutsche Welle News
4.5 Press Agencies
4.7 Mail Ordering Newspapers and Magazines
4.7.1 Page comments
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/_ rhein |_ @ / \___
~~~~~----_ ! \___
DUESSEL`, @@ RUHR ! elbe~`\
DORF @!@@@@ POTT ! @ `\
@ @@ LEIPZIG `\
BRUESSEL `@KOELN `@ DRESDEN
_! FRANKFURT PRAG
_- `\___@_ _ _ @
mosel_- `\ ~!__! `\_! ~~
! main NUERNBERG
SAAR @ `, @
BRUECKEN ,' STUTTGART donau
NANCY ,' @ ___--~~~~-_
@ / _-~~ ~~--__
rhein' __--~~ ~~@--_-_
! ----~~ @ LINZ
`\___,-----### boden MUENCHEN @
BASEL @ @ ### see SALZBURG
1. Introduction to the FAQ List
This posting contains answers to frequently asked questions in
soc.culture.german. Please check this posting first before you ask a
question in soc.culture.german.
1.1. Where can I get it ?
The FAQ is available on a website
<http://www.watzmann.net/scg/index.html> from which you can also
download it in various formats.
It is posted to soc.culture.german on the first of every month.
If neither of these methods works for you, send email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and request a copy.
1.2. ? This thing is huge. Is there a way to search the FAQ
The whole FAQ is indexed with htdig <http://www.htdig.org>. The search
page <http://www.watzmann.net/scg/search.html> lets you find the stuff
you're interested in.
The FAQ used to contain long lists of postal addresses of various
institutions. These are slowly going away since it is too hard to keep
these lists up to date. Instead, the search engine
<http://www.watzmann.net/scg/search.html> also indexes the pages where
institutions like the Goethe Institut <http://www.goethe.de> publish
postal addresses of their branch offices. To try it out, search for
Lyon and marvel in amazement.
1.3. May I Copy the FAQ List?
The FAQ is under the GNU Free Documentation License
<http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html>. The exact legal statent is:
Copyright (c) 1999-2000 David Lutterkort.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with the Invariant Sections being Section 1 'Introduction to the FAQ
List', with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license can be obtained from
If you downloaded the FAQ as a tar- or zip-archive, you can also find
a copy of the license in the file COPYING.
1.4. Can I help, too?
This FAQ list was prepared by collecting different postings and email
messages. Input is always welcome. Maybe you would like to volunteer
for writing a paragraph or two? <twinkle> <peering over shoulder>
So, please, please, send any comments, corrections, enhancements, new
questions etc. to email@example.com. If you want to speed up the
process of incorporating your material into the FAQ, try to submit
something that I can (almost) cut and paste into the FAQ.
1.5. Can I believe what's in here?
Even though I strive for accuracy and I try to verify all I can, the
information contained in this FAQ list is nevertheless provided as is.
The good news is that it's free.
1.6. Who did it ?
Over the long, long history of the USENET, this FAQ has had various
maintainers, who under the greatest personal sacrifices and hardships
faithfully puttered over this list, turning it into what it is today.
Ralf Vogelgesang: maintainer from 19xx to 1999
Who else ?
What's new in the FAQ ?
Recently, I changed these sections:
Completely rewrote the section on ``humor''.
Some blurb on the ``Green-Card'' added.
Many changes throughout. Special thanks and kudos to Paul
Schmitz-Josten for his detailed suggestions.
Added a comment system to the website. See this page
<http://watzmann.net/comments/about.html> for some information
Moved the FAQ to a new website <http://www.watzmann.net/scg>.
New section on ``minimum wage'', thanks to Peter Haefner and
Stefan Huebel. Added an explanation of ``St. Martin'', thanks to
Karl-Hendrik Kueper. Minor changes in ``Money Talk'' and
Revised the section on ``public transportation'' and added links
to online resources. Thanks to Karl-Hendrik Kueper.
Added long list of links to ``newspapers and magazines
online''. Thanks to Joerg Ulrich Chlistalla.
New section on ``immigration''. Many people in
soc.culture.german contributed to this, most notably Wayne Brown
and Dirk Brink.
Some more ``Tongue Twisters''. Thanks to Georg Umlauf.
Changed the sections on ``the phone system'',
``government resources'', ``elections'', ``history'',
``card games''. Smaller changes throughout. First stab at
updating dead links. Still too many left.
Reworked the ``section on the internet'', in particular the
subsections on ``email in Germany'' and ``getting Internet
Cleaned up and updated the section on ``Zip
Started this What's new section. Older entries are retrofitted
and pretty spotty.
Updated some information on the ``German railway system'' in
``Section 21: Public transportation''. Thanks to Mark
Added a full-text search capability
Took over as maintainer of the FAQ. Converted the FAQ to SGML
and discovered why many people dislike the Linuxdoc DTD.
1.7.1. Page comments
2. Traditions and Cultural Oddities
2.1. German Holidays and Festivals
2.1.1. Holiday Dates
The German Information Center <http://www.germany-info.org/> maintains
a well hidden list of German holidays
information on their origins.
Date German Name English Name Observance Variable
Jan 1 Neujahr New Year
Jan 6 Heilige Drei Koenige Epiphany ``BW'',``BY'',``SN''
Feb 19 Rosenmontag no official holiday, but free day inmost parts of the Rhineland 7 weeks before Easter Monday
Apr 5 Karfreitag Good Friday Friday before Easter Monday
Apr 8 Ostermontag Easter Monday First Sunday after the first newmoon in spring
May 1 Tag der Arbeit Labour Day
May 16 Christi Himmelfahrt Ascension Day 11 days before Whitsuntide, a Thursday
May 27 Pfingstmontag Whitsuntide 7 weeks after Easter Monday
Jun 6 Fronleichnam Corpus Christi ``BW'',``HE'',``NW'',``RP'',``SL''.In ``SN'' and ``TH'' only towns and villageswhich are mostly Roman Catholic 10 days after Whitsuntide, a Thursday
Aug 15 Mariae Himmelfahrt in ``SN'', in``BY'' in towns and village which aremostly catholic
Oct 3 Tag der deutschen Einheit National holiday
Oct 31 Reformationstag Reformation Day ``BB'',``MV'',``SN'',``ST'',In ``TH'' only towns/villages with mostlyprotestant population
Nov 1 Allerheiligen All Saint's Day ``BW'',``BY'',``NW'',``RP'',``SL''.In ``TH'' only towns and villages which aremostly Roman Catholic
Dec 24 Heilig Abend Christmas Eve Half a holiday, after noon
Dec 25 Erster Weihnachtsfeiertag Christmas Day
Dec 26 Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag Boxing Day
Dec 31 Silvester New Year's Eve Half a holiday, after noon
German Holidays; dates are given for 1996.
Abbreviation Federal State
HB Hansestadt Bremen
HH Hansestadt Hamburg
ISO 3166 Abbreviations for the Federal States
Some of the upcoming dates of variable holidays.
In Germany the season of Carnival is referred to as Karneval or
Fastnacht or Fasching depending on the region. It's very different
from e.g. Brazilian or Venecian (Venice/Italy) Carnival. In general,
Carnival is a Catholic festival. In predominantly protestant areas
you'll find little Carnival activities. It is the period before Ash
Wednesday, before the Lent, the fasting-days, begin. People take it as
the last opportunity to drink, eat and frolic to their hearts content.
Until Easter things will be going to some extremes.
A common trait throughout Germany is people's liking for costumes and
disguises, may they be traditional (e.g. in Baden or in Venice/Italy)
or leaning towards the bizarre side as in the Rheinische Karneval,
(i.e. between Mainz and the Dutch border along the river Rhine)
Naturally, children like to dress up but adults do so, as well.
The Alemannische Fasnet, celebrated mainly in Southwestern Germany and
northern Switzerland, has its roots in pagan beliefs and is
preoccupied with chasing ghosts and demons by intimidating them with
very elaborate scary wooden masks, fire and the terrible noise of
pipes and drums. One of the most impressive displays of the
alemannische Fasnet can be watched in Basel, Switzerland at the
Narrensprung (run of the fools). For the Narrensprung, which starts
early in the morning between 4am and 5am, all the lights in the city
of Basel are turned off and men disguised in traditional costumes
parade through the streets, accompanied by marching bands playing
The Rheinische Karneval has its roots in the French occupation of the
Rhineland following Napoleaon in the early 1800s, mocking the
occupiers. Traditional Karneval costumes are modeled on the military
uniforms of that time. The season begins on 11/11 at 11:11 a.m. at
which time people on market places of every major Rhineland town
celebrate Hoppeditz Erwachen (The awaking of Hoppeditz, a figure in
the Carnival). Typical music is played, disguised people drink beer,
wine, champagne... and Hoppeditz rises from his bed (or grave). This
beginning mark is not really a big event, however, very quickly normal
day-to-day life takes over again; Christmas passes..., Silvester
passes... but eventually Carnival gets going! Some Sitzungen start
being held here and there; people commence at halls for a show that
starts precisely at 7:11 (or 8:11) p.m. On the stage a panel of eleven
(the Elferrat) presides the Sitzung and some artists (who can be
ordinary people) come on stage. Music groups perform and dance groups
and especially Buettenredner -- men and women who make mocking
speeches about everyday life, politics (local, national,
international) and so on. The most important of the evening are,
however, the Prince and Princess of Carnival. Every town has their own
royal couple. The Prince and Princess' guards bear wooden rifles and
wear uniforms resembling those of Napoleons armies which occupied the
Rhineland from about 1800 to 1815. Their manner of conducting serves
to ridicule military in general.
The hot phase of Karneval starts on 11:11am of the Thursday before Ash
Wednesday, the so-called Weiberfastnacht (Carnival of women), the day
women take control. (Wearers of ties beware! Women might carry
scissors to trim your manly accessories -- and you won't even be
allowed to complain!-) 1997-01
From Saturday to Tuesday parades take place in many towns; the most
important ones are on Rosenmontag ... starting at (you guess!)
11:11am. The three big ones are in Duesseldorf, Cologne and Mainz. In
the parades you see some brass bands, a lot of disguised people, a few
guests from abroad (US brass bands, Brazilian groups; only in the big
parades) and many Motivwagen. Those are tractors with a trailor
displaying a motive, some paper dolls representing celebraties or
politicians to mock about... other Wagen carry the Prince and
Princess, or their guards or the children prince and princess. All
parading groups throw sweets or other goodies into the watching crowd.
Spectators along the way shout Helau or Alaaf (depending on the area.)
There are different traditions to end up Carnival. On Ash Wednesday
0:00, Carnival is over. The Hoppeditz goes back to his grave, or the
nubbel has to be burnt...
2.1.3. St. Martin
According to legend, St. Martin was a knight in Roman times who
charitably cut his cloak into two with his sword and shared it with a
beggar who was about to freeze to death. This memorable event is
celebrated to this day in November, mainly in Southern and Western
Germany. St. Martinstag is the 11th of November. The celebrations
involve little kids walking around town at dusk on November 10th,
carrying home-made lanterns. The lanterns used to be made from
hollowed out beets with a face carved in, similar to what Americans do
to pumpkins around Halloween. The kids parade threw town singing
traditional songs, sometimes accompanied by a St. Martin on a horse.
In some regions the kids also go gripschen (grabbing) by singing songs
in front of houses, and being rewarded with candies, apples and nuts.
After the parade, kids traditionally get a Weckmann and a cup of hot
chocolate, while the adults devour a Martinsgans (goose). The Weckmann
is a sweet breadroll, 25-30 cm long, in the shape of a man with
raisins for the eyes and often a white clay pipe in his mouth.
2.1.4. Advent, St. Nicholas and Christmas
Of course, the usual disclaimer applies: regional variations are to be
Advent is very similar to the way it is celebrated in the US, except
for the wreath displayed with four candles on a table instead of being
hung on the door. The Adventszeit are the four weeks (each concluded
with an Adventssonntag) before Christmas. It is customary to light
only the number of candles on the wreath that correspond with the
count of the Advent Sundays having passed. Consider the old nursery
ein Lichtlein brennt.
Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier --
und dann steht das Christkind vor der Tuer.
Instead of the last line, you may find the rather sarcastic variation:
und wenn das fuenfte Lichtlein brennt,
dann hast du Weihnachten verpennt.
126.96.36.199. St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas is based on a bishop of Myra (in what is today Turkey)
who lived in the 4th century AD. He is said to have provided
charities to people, in particular children. He is usually portrayed
in a bishop's habit with a Mitra and a red coat.
In the catholic tradition, on the eve before December 6th St.
Nicholaus comes to the children's houses, accompanied by his servant,
Knecht Ruprecht (sometimes called Krampus). He reads out of the golden
book all good and bad attributes of the kids and the generaly well-
behaved children will get small presents (traditionally fruit, nuts,
and cookies) But the bad ones receive a birching from Krampus...and
the really bad apples are taken away in Krampus's big sack.
In protestant regions, children will put a pair of shoes, well
cleaned, or a dish in front of the house's front door for Nikolaus to
fill small presents in, on the evening of December 5th. The next
morning, they find some chocolate, oranges, nuts or similar there.
Christmas is celebrated on the evening of December 24th -- the
Heiligabend. As a child, you will be told to remain in your room from
late afternoon on, because the christ-child (das Christkind) will come
tonight. Without you knowing (or something like that), your parents
prepare the Christmas tree (Weihnachtsbaum). Choice of ornaments
varies dramatically from household to household, ranging from all-
natural and home-made with wax candles to the plastic tree with
flickering electric lights. 1997-01
After sunset (maybe 6pm) you are asked to join your parents. This is
typically done with a special little Gloeckchen that serves only this
one moment in the year. After the Bescherung (when the gifts are
unwrapped) the special Christmas dinner is served. 1997-01
In a varition, dinner may be served before the Bescherung in the room
different from where the Weihnachtsbaum is. When the family has
almost finished dinner one of the parents will sneak out and ring the
little bell. The other parent exclaims: "Oh, das Christkind was just
here!" which is your cue to open the door and for the first time you
see the Weihnachtsbaum -- and all the presents underneath. Then
everyone wishes everybody else a "Froehliche Weihnachten"; you open
your presents and play until you fall asleep under the tree. This is
the one night in a year, when you do not have to go to bed early.
2.2. Walpurgis Night
On April 30th, in the Harz Mountains, near Hahnenklee and Bad Grund
some odd things happen. At Blocksberg and Brocken you will see some of
the few last real witches leaping over camp fires...and (if you are
really lucky) taking off on their broom stick into the air for their
annual journey to where no one knows... 1996-04
2.3. Wedding Traditions?
Of course, there is no single accepted tradition. You'll find lots of
peculiar behavior surrounding this event...some of them:
I remember being surprised at seeing in Idar Oberstein,
Rheinland Pfalz, people carrying dishes out to the street
and smashing them, and a young couple, turned out bride and
groom (to be?) trying to keep them swept up. Apparently the
custom is that all old dishes should be broken before the
wedding, and the marriage will be excellent if the couple
can keep up with the sweeping.
During the reception the bride is kidnapped by the wedding witnesses
(best man etc.) to a local bar or restaurant, the groom has to go
rescue her and pay the bill at the local bar.
German receptions last very long into the night - at midnight the
bride's veil comes off and is given to the next girl/woman who is
going to get married.
The first dance is danced by the bride and the groom, it is
traditionally a waltz! The next dance is only for bride with father
and groom with mother, while bride's mother dances with groom's
father. The day/night before the wedding there is the tradition of the
Polterabend, where everybody who knows of this wedding is coming to
the bride's house and brings old dishes (ceramics - NO glass - bad
luck) and breaks them in the front yard (drive way), this is done for
good luck! And the bride's parents generally provide refreshments -
beer (very German). The bride and the groom have to clean up
everything that same evening with a broom, and they have to do it each
time somebody breaks something. This is to demonstrate that the bride
and groom will cooperate in good as in bad times.
Germans wear wedding rings on the right hand! And the groom and bride
have identical rings (wedding bands - no diamonds).
In Northern Germany they like to play a trick on the wedded couple,
while they are in church, getting married. As they come back they
will find all their furniture on the roof of the house where they are
going to live, and all the doors locked, i.e. barricaded, no way to
get in the normal way. The first obstacle for the couple to take then
is to somehow get into the house and the furniture off the roof, beds,
chest drawers and everything, usually through a hole in the roof. No
outside help, but everybody will be watching ... 1996-04
What I thought was quite romantic about their weddings was
how they decorate the hood of the bride/grooms wedding car
with lots of flowers (compared to the junk they put on and
tie to Americans cars) They form a procession after the wed-
ding and drive through town honking their horns. Friendly
Germans always honk back wishing the couple "Good Luck".
I've witnessed this in a few parts of Germany, and think it
is a nice tradition! 1996-04
Card games -- Skat and Doppelkopf
The card games homepage <http://www.pagat.com/> has a list of the most
popular German card games
Skat is the German cardgame, it is played everywhere, from bars to
after Christmas dinner at home, recreationally with a case of beer
next to the table, with small or large money stakes, and competitively
at official Skat tournaments. If you see people play cards in Germany,
chances are they are playing Skat.
Unfortunately, the rules are somewhat complicated to learn, but it is
well worth the effort. A very rough description of the rules can be
found here <skat.html>. The International Skat Homepage
<http://jwsell.wooster.edu/Skat/Skatdflt.html> is dedicated to Skat.
It contains an extensive explanation of the rules
<http://jwsell.wooster.edu/Skat/Skatdflt.html>, and some links to
proprietary Skat software
<http://jwsell.wooster.edu/skat/Skatdflt1.html#Software> and Skat
shareware <http://jwsell.wooster.edu/Skat/Skatpages/Shareware.html> ,
among other things.
If you don't feel like Skat, and if you have big hands, try Doppelkopf
<http://www.pagat.com/schafk/doko.html#other> or Schafkopf
<http://www.mattina.com/bavaria/sk.htm>. They both have their origins
in southern Germany, mainly Bavaria, where they still are very
2.5. Gluehwein Recipe
3 cups red wine
1 cup water
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 lemon's juice
some lemon peel
Ingredients for Gluehwein (Lechner's Kochbuch).
Mix and heat up everything (don't let it boil, though); serve hot.
And a variation:
Take a huge pot or kettle. Place in it 1/2 cup of water. Add
1 tbsp ground cinnamon and 1 tbsp ground cloves and juice of
1 lemon. Bring to a boil. Add a 4-liter jug of burgundy (or
other cheap red wine). Heat, but make sure the temperature
stays below 170 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling point of ethyl
alcohol). Add sugar to taste and brandy for additional wal-
lop if the outside temperature drops below 0. Walk, don't
And one more:
3 cups red wine
150 ml water
1 cinnamon stick
2 small pieces of ginger root
75 g sugar
700 ml red wine
1 orange for taste
Another list of ingredients for Gluehwein.
Cook a thick syrup from the water, the spices and the sugar. Add the
red wine and mix with the syrup. Reheat, but don't let it boil. Take
out the spices (e. g. pass the Gluehwein through a sieve) and serve
What is it used for? Well, you drink Gluehwein during the cold times
of the year. Imagine, you are strolling over the Christkindl's Markt
on a weekend before Christmas. Or it's one of those really cold
winters again, when the Steinhuder Meer freezes over and you can go
skating for hours -- what nicer thing to warm up right on the ice at
one of those booths set up for the season! 1996-10
2.6. German Cooking
You can find over 11,000 German recipes at the Kochbuch
<http://kochbuch.unix-ag.uni-kl.de/> of the Unix AG <http://www.unix-
ag.uni-kl.de/> in Kaiserslautern.
2.7. Flea Markets and such
In many of the majors cities there is a tradition to have a regular
official place for haggling. All the odd stuff that you might have
accumulated on the attic you can sell at any price you want (or get.)
Rather than celebrating individually scattered yard sales, all those
with an interest in such free micro-marketing come together on, say,
every first Saturday of the month or (in a sufficiently large city)
The conventional ways of placing classifieds in the newspapers are
also quite popular. Der Heisse Draht is one of more well-known papers
which are entirely devoted to direct private ads of stuff. You now
even find it on the net. 1996-10
2.8. Kneipen, Discos, ...and curfew time
In most German towns and cities, businesses that sell alcoholic
beverages have to close at some curfew time (which is under the
ordinance of the local government) ...unless they apply for a special
permit (for which they pay quite a bit; discos are a typical candidate
to purchase such a permit.) In some areas, such as Berlin and
Hamburg, there is no curfew at all -- hence the saying Berlin is open
all day long. Exceptions will also be granted for particular
festivities (see, for instance, `Fastnacht') 1997-06
Who are these freaks in black suits asking me for money ?
Sometimes when you sit in a German bar enjoying a beer, one or a few
guys in black corduroy suits with fancy hats will approach your table,
knock with their knuckles on it and recite a poem, the gist of which
is that they are traveling and asking you to give them some money for
food and accomodation.
Since the Middle Ages, when crafts where organized in guilds,
traveling has been an integral part of the education of any craftsman.
Before one can become a Meister (master craftsman), one has to be a
Lehrling (apprentice) with a Meister for usually three years. Upon
completion of the Lehre (apprenticeship) one becomes a Geselle. The
guilds for most crafts, in particular the ones for carpenters, masons
etc., mandated that every Geselle had to travel for a certain number
of years without returning to their hometown, except in case of family
emergencies. During these years, Gesellen would travel from town to
town seeking temporary employment with various Meister.
These travels are called Walz and are to be done in traditional
dresses, which for carpenters and masons consists of a black corduroy
suit, their traditional work clothes, a top hat or a bowler, depending
on the trade, a bandana, used to wrap and carry all belongings on the
road, and often a fancy walking stick. Traditionally, the Walz had to
last three years and one day, during which time the journeyman walked
from town to town. The perks of these journeys included one free meal
at the local restaurant and sometimes a close encounter with the
current employers wife, the Frau Meisterin.
In modern times, the Walz is no more a requirement for becoming a
Meister, since we now have more effective ways of disseminating the
skills and knowledge for a particular trade. In recent years, it has
become more and more popular again with Gesellen in the traditional
trades, and the people bothering you in your favorite bar are most
likely legit and on the Walz (those corduroy suits aren't exactly
Apart from the now optional Walz other bits of the medieval guilds
that have survived the centuries are the requirement that you have to
be a Meister to be allowed to have your own shop and take apprentices,
the Meisterstueck (master piece), a piece of work of high quality and
demand that you have to produce in rder to become a Meister and the
The Richtfest (topping out) is a traditional part of any building
construction in Germany. As soon as the Rohbau, the shell of the house
including the roof structure, is finished, it is decorated with a fir
wreath or fir tree and everybody involved with the building gets
together for a celebration with drinks (beer, not cocktails) and some
This tradition goes back to the traveling Gesellen on the Walz: for
the traveling carpenters the Richtfest was the time to move on, their
work on this building had been done and they were supposed to go and
find work somewhere else. So apart from celebrating a milestone in the
construction of the building, it was also a goodbye party for some of
the people working on it.
2.9.2. Page comments
This USENET newsgroup <news:soc.culture.german> was created to be an
international forum for discussion of German culture, history, etc.
3.1. What Language to use?
I'd have never imagined, I'd write this paragraph...but hey!, after
all, it seems to be an FAQ, doesn't it? (If I may add a personal
Picking up the previous, it should be noted that while a fresh
discussion of a nation's culture certainly is about its language, too,
this does not at all imply the sole use thereof. S.c.g is arguably a
unique newsgroup in the soc.culture.* hierarchy, featuring two main
languages (German and English) as widely accepted modi operandi. The
vast majority of s.c.g readers do read/write both German and English
-- on varying levels of mastery, of course -- and for posting to the
newsgroup they use either language at will.
Now, this ambiguity of s.c.g frequently has lead someone to wondering
about two questions, for which ultimate answers have been found only
the other day:
o How did it come to be that way? -- Who knows?
o Will it stay that way? -- We'll see...
The third question, Should it be that way?, is mostly a matter of
taste, since this is anarch..., pardon me, USENET! Looking up the
documents/doc/netiquette/netiquette.txt> we find: a great big
nothing in this case. My best answer would be the old McCartney
song: Let it be!
As a suggestion about what language to use, please take the following
o When starting a new thread, use whatever is more comfortable to
you, or what feels more appropriate.
o As a courtesy to original posters post followups in the same
o And as a courtesy to all readers, don't make a fuss if someone
decides to answer in a different language, or to mix languages in a
o In general, avoid meta-discussions about soc.culture.german.
3.2. How to Type Umlauts?
As you may have noticed, there are various ways to write umlauts.
Alas, there is no generally accepted way to do this in
soc.culture.german. Periodically, therefore, you will observe hard-
fought battles on this topic in this group.
Here are the two methods most often used:
o common Version ae oe ue Ae Oe Ue ss or sz
o TeX Version "a "o "u "A "O "U "s
Please! if you have a German-style keyboard with umlauts, and if
you're using it to post something in soc.culture.german, don't use the
umlauts. They probably won't get displayed correctly on terminals in,
say, North America. Call'em poor user's of ancient equipment or
victims of lousy 7-bit administration -- many people simply don't get
the vital 8th bit...it's a fact, ey!
For much more in-depth description of how to handle 8-bit characters
(not only German umlauts) look at the FAQ-ISO-8859-1
3.2.1. Page comments
Sources of news from/about Germany. One particularly well-done
collection of pointers to German news sources is Carl Butler's
listing, <http://www.duke.edu/~cgv/library/> containing (I bet) all of
the pointers mentioned here and more. 1996-04
The alpha complete news index <http://www.select-ware.com/news/> has
a very extensive selection of German print and broadcast news media
Newspapers and Magazines online
All the major German newspapers and magazines and many of the local
ones are available on the web. Some put their whole edition online,
some only excerpts and the really stingy ones will only give you
A news site to end all newspaper websites is provided by paperball
<http://www.paperball.de/>. The site compiles news from various
newspapers and magazines and offers them in one overview. Very slick.
4.1.1. National newspapers and magazines
o Der Spiegel <http://www.spiegel.de>. The German news magazine. Its
site is frequently updated and similar to online news services like
o Focus <http://www.focus.de> The big competitor of Der Spiegel
o Die Zeit <http://www.zeit.de> The weekly newspaper of Germany's
o Stern <http://www.stern.de>
o Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung <http://www.faz.de>
o Die Welt <http://www.welt.de>
o Rheinische Post <http://www.rp-online.de>
o Sueddeutsche Zeitung <http://www.sueddeutsche.de/>
o Monde Diplomatique <http://monde-diplomatique.de/mtpl/.home>
o TAZ <http://www.taz.de/tpl/.nf/home>
o Frankfurter Rundschau <http://www.frankfurter-rundschau.de/>
o Handelsblatt <http://www.handelsblatt.de>
o Prinz <http://www.prinz.de/>
o Das Sonntagsblatt <http://www.sonntagsblatt.de/>
o Die Wochenpost <http://www.wochenpost.de/>
Der Standard <http://www.derstandard.net/> and Tages Anzeiger
<http://www.tages-anzeiger.ch/portal/tagi/portal.htm> are some
offerings from Austria and Switzerland.
4.1.2. Regional and local publications
Here are some links to local papers: Berliner Morgenpost
<http://www.berliner-morgenpost.de/> | Berliner Zeitung
<http://www.BerlinOnline.de/aktuelles/berliner_zeitung/> | Durlacher
Blatt <http://www.durlacherblatt.de/> | Express <http://express.de/> |
Frankenpost <http://www.frankenpost.de/> | Haidhauser Nachrichten
<http://hn.munich-info.de/> | Hamburger Abendblatt
<http://www.abendblatt.de/> | Hamburger Morgenpost
<http://www.mopo.de/seiten/seite1-uebersicht.html> | Hannoversche
Allgemeine <http://www.niedersachsen.com/MOL/HAZ/> | Heilbronner
Stimme <http://www.stimme.de/> | Hellweger Anzeiger
<http://www.hellwegeranzeiger.de/> | HollsteinischerCourier
<http://www.courier.de/> | Kevelaerer Blatt
<http://www.kevelaer.de/kevelaerer-blatt/> | Kieler Nachrichten
<http://www.kn-online.de/> | Koelner Stadtanzeiger
<http://www.ksta.de/> | Koelnische Rundschau <http://www.rundschau-
online.de/> | Landeszeitung Lueneburg <http://www.landeszeitung.de/> |
Lausitzer Rundschau <http://www.lr-online.de/> | Lippische Landes-
Zeitung <http://www.lz-online.de/> | Main Echo <http://www.main-
echo.de/> | Mainpost <http://www.mainpost.de/> | Mannheimer Morgen
<http://www.mamo.de/> | Marktspiegel <http://www.marktspiegel.de/> |
Mindener Tageblatt <http://www.mt-online.de/> | Mittelbadische Presse
<http://www.baden-online.de/> | Maerker <http://home.t-
online.de/home/Maerker-OPR/> | Muenstersche Zeitung <http://www.mz-
online.de/> | Neue Presse <http://www.niedersachsen.com/MOL/NP/> |
Nordbayrischer Kurier <http://www.bayreuth-online.de/> | Nordwest
Zeitung <http://www.nwz-online.de/> | Nuernberger Nachrichten
<http://www.nn-online.de> | Nuernberger Zeitung <http://www.nz-
online.de/> | Nuertinger Zeitung <http://www.ntz.de/> | Passauer Neue
Presse <http://www.vgp.de/> | Pirmasenser Zeitung
<http://www.pz.pirmasens.de/> | Rems Zeitung <http://www.rems-
zeitung.de/> | Remscheider General-Anzeiger <http://www.rga-
online.de/home.htm> | Rhein-Zeitung <http://rhein-zeitung.de/> |
Rheingau Echo <http://rhein-zeitung.de/> | Rheinische Post
<http://www.rp-online.de/> | Rheinischer Merkur
<http://www.merkur.de/> | Rostocker Nachrichten <http://www.nnn.de/> |
Ruhr Nachrichten <http://www.westline.de/rn/> | Das Zeitfenster
<http://www.is-bremen.de/zeitfenster/> | Der Tagesspiegel
<http://www.tagesspiegel-berlin.de/> | Neue Westfaelische Zeitung
<http://www.nw-news.de/> | Saarbruecker Zeitung <http://www.sz-sb.de/>
| Schaumburger Nachrichten <http://www.niedersachsen.com/MOL/SN/> |
Schwarzwaelder Bote <http://www.swol.de/> | Schweriner Volkszeitung
<http://www.svz.de> | Schwaebische Zeitung <http://www.bvd.de/> |
Siegener Zeitung <http://www.Siegener-Zeitung.de/> | Singener
Wochenblatt <http://www.wochenblatt.net/> | Stuttgarter Zeitung
<http://www.stuttgarter-zeitung.de/> | Saechsische Zeitung
<http://www.sz-online.de/> | Suedkurier <http://www.skol.de/> |
Trierischer Volksfreund <http://www.intrinet.de/> | Weser Kurier
<http://www.weser-kurier.de> | Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung
<http://www.cww.de/> | Westfaelische Nachrichten
<http://www.wnonline.de/> | Wochenspiegel <http://www.ws-online.de/>
Since December 1993, GermNews <http://www.mathematik.uni-
ulm.de/germnews/> broadcasts a daily summary of events as reported by
major German news sources. The paragraphs are manual transcripts from
radio etc. by a number of volunteers around Rainer Mallon.
The German compiled text is made available daily in several ways:
It is posted in soc.culture.german.
It posted on the world wide web <http://www.mathematik.uni-
ulm.de/germnews/ThisYear/ThisMonth/Today.html>. An overview of the
current year <http://www.mathematik.uni-ulm.de/germnews/ThisYear/> of
the current year is also available. 1999-02
It is emailed to the subscribers of a mailing list. To subscribe to
the mailing list, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The body of
the message should only contain the line SUB GERMNEWS. To
unsubscribe, send mail to the above address
<mailto:email@example.com> with the line UNSUB GERMNEWS 1999-2
4.2.1. Searching the GermNews Archive Notebooks
A glossary <http://www.mathematik.uni-ulm.de/gn/glossar/> 1996-02
containing English explanations of words and phrases often used in
German news can be obtained by sending an email:
To: LISTSERV@LISTSERV.GMD.DE with body GET DE-NEWS GLOSSARY
(Don't use any signature lines!) 1996-05
All messages to germnews are archived in units called notebooks or
logs each month. You can search these notebooks for references using
the powerful database searching function of listserv to get the
information you want.
There are two steps to searching the archives. First put your search
together and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org which will return as
mail an index or list of the messages that meet your search criteria,
each with a unique item number. Using this item number, you then send
another request for the specific messages you want, which will be
returned as a longer database output file.
To find out more about this process send the following email:
To: LISTSERV@LISTSERV.GMD.DE // Database search DD=Rules
//Rules DD * Search * in GERMNEWS Print 112 /*
4.3. De-News (the English version)
The de-news <http://www.mathematik.uni-ulm.de/de-news/> mailing list
is the English edition of GermNews -- the English translation of
yesterday's issue of GermNews. To subscribe to de-news 1996-05
send email To: LISTSERV@listserv.gmd.de with body SUBSCRIBE
DE-NEWS first name last name
4.4. Deutsche Welle News
The Deutsche Welle <http://www.dwelle.de/> also has a news service,
available in various flavors:
o As WWW version <http://www.dwelle.de/today/nrdeu.htm>
o and as a mailing list: to subscribe send email
To: email@example.com Subject: subscribe nachrichten
o In addition, they provide a market news mailing list: to subscribe
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: subscribe market
4.5. Press Agencies
Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
The Kurznachrichtendienst features articles from Germany's premier
news agency. The articles, transmitted and displayed in German, are
categorized into Headline News Summaries (Schlagzeilen), Politics
(Politik), Business (Wirtschaft), Sports (Sport), Culture (Kultur) and
Miscellaneous (Vermischtes). The news service delivers more than 60
news stories a day, 24 hours a day. 1994-05
Compuserve offers DPA News Headline Services as part of its basic
services; Compuserve members access the service with the command go
DPANEWS. A warning from CompuServe: The information contained in the
Deutsche Presse-Agentur news report may not be published, broadcast or
otherwise redistributed without the prior written authority of the
Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 1995-3
Austrian Press Agency (APA)
The Austrian Press Agency, APA, <http://www.apa.co.at/> is also
o Oldenburger STACHEL <http://www.informatik.uni-
o InDOpendent (U Dortmund) <http://www.fb15.uni-
o jetzt <http://www.jetzt.de/> (Jugendmagazin der Sueddeutschen
o Ruprecht (U Heidelberg) <http://ruprecht.fsk.uni-heidelberg.de/>
o Spektrum der Wissenschaft <http://www.spektrum.de/>
o Computer-Zeitung <http://www.computer-zeitung.de/>
o iX-Leitseite <http://www.heise.de/ix/>
o C'T-Redaktion <http://www.heise.de/ct/>
o Gateway <http://www.gateway.de/>
Mail Ordering Newspapers and Magazines
GLP International (German Language Publications) <http://www.glp-
153 S. Dean Street
tel +1 201-871-1010
fax +1 201-871-0870
You can subscribe to many German publications, daily and weekly
papers, as well as monthly magazines (altogether more than 150.)
Ask for their catalog. They offer sample copies for most of the
titles (for a price).
Deutschland Nachrichten / The Week in Germany
The German Information Center (GIC)
950 Third Ave.
New York, NY 10022
Deutschland Nachrichten <ftp://langlab.uta.edu/pub/GIC/DN/> or
its English version The Week in Germany <http://www.germany-
info.org/newcontent/np/index_week.html> is a free 8 page flyer.
It features selected articles from various German newspapers,
soccer results, and the US$/DM exchange rate. The German
Information Center <http://www.germany-info.org> also
distributes lots of other information (books, maps, ...) for
free. They are a particularly helpful resource for those who may
have to prepare a school presentation about Germany.
Check out the official web site <http://www.germany-
info.org> of TWIG. 1996-03
The GIC archive <ftp://langlab.uta.edu/pub/GIC/> can now be
reached on the net, too. Compuserve users may try GO EURFOR, GO
FLEFO, GO GERLINE or GO INFOGERMANY. 1995-03
(see GLP International above)
Published weekly, subscription price for the USA is US$280 p.a.
Partly available on WWW <http://www.spiegel.de/>.
Die Zeit <http://www.zeit.de>" Die Zeit
29 Coldwater Road
PO Box 9868
Costs: US$54 for 1 year (52 issues)
international edition via surface mail from Canada. The
international edition is much cheaper but contains less pages.
The German Tribune
does not exist any more ...
Die Nordamerikanische Wochenpost
Die Nordamerikanische Wochenpost
1120 E. Long Lake Road
Troy, MI 48098
3 month trial subscription: US$15, one year US$42.95.
This is a general interest newspaper. The front page generally
features news from/about Germany. There are special pages for
regional, domestic American news of interest to German speakers
(e.g. Florida, New York, Chicago/Milwaukee, and Detroit).
Additionally, there's a special page for news from/about
Austria. All the major sections that you would expect in any
newspaper are represented: politics, sports, the economy,
fashion, cartoons, features, editorials, etc. There are also
several short-stories and a serialized novel. There's a list of
German-language radio broadcasts for North America (US and
Ontario, Canada). It also contains a list of German-American
Prices (Sfr) for all countries, first four issues free.
air mail surface mail 3 months 41.74
33.75 6 months 78.50 66.50 1 year
Tages-Anzeiger is one of the major Swiss daily newspapers (besides
Neue Zuericher Zeitung). Their international edition is published
1 Corporate Drive
Grantsville, MD 21536
tel +1(301)895-3859, +1(800)314-6843
Their introductory subscription is 6 issues for US$17.95 It
seems commercial but with beautiful slick paper and some
interesting articles. An old map of North America all in German
(Virginien, Pennsylvanien, Kanada, Chikago, ObererSee, etc...)
articles about Berlin after WW II (e.g. die Truemmerfrauen,)
Berlin in the 20's, etc. 1996-03
Washington Journal (est. 1859)
1113 National Press Building
Washington, DC 20045-1853
German language weekly with European news, features, sports, ads
of German clubs etc., targeted at the audience of Germans in the
Yearly subscription cost US$32 to US$34 in US; US$40 in Canada
email email@example.com for more information. 1995-9
PO Box 26308
1201 N. Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026
A one year subscription to this weekly paper is US$25. It has
all the local German events as well as all the Bundesliga
Sueddeutscher Verlag GmbH
Sendlinger Strasse 8
Neue Presse (from California)
Neue Presse - Vertrieb
9001 Oso Avenue, Suite F
Chatsworth, CA 91311, USA
Alternative newspaper from Cologne; covering topics from the
region and beyond. WWW <http://home.t-
Stern, Hamburg firstname.lastname@example.org
4.7.1. Page comments