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Subject: soc.culture.german FAQ (posted monthly) part 3/6
This article was archived around: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 06:03:18 GMT
Last modified: 2001-09-02
This is part 3 of the ASCII version of the FAQ list for
soc.culture.german. Find the WWW version at
<http://www.watzmann.net/scg/index.html>. The FAQ is posted on
the first of every month.
Table of Contents for Part 3
8. Electronic Language
8.1 Dictionaries (and Word Lists from the Net)
8.2 Encyclopedias, Lexika
8.3 Translation Programs
8.4 Spell Checkers; Thesauri
8.5 Tutorial/Educational Software
8.6 Computer Terminology Dictionaries
8.7 Alphabetizing German Words
8.8 German Fonts
8.8.1 Page comments
9.1 How do I Find Out About my Family Name?
9.1.1 Online info
9.1.2 The old fashioned way
9.2 Where is Famous ... Buried?
9.2.1 Page comments
10. Phone System
10.1 Some recent history
10.2 Public Phones / Phone Cards in Germany
10.3 Nation-Wide Phone-Numbers (Emergency, Information)
10.4 Getting Phonenumbers via Internet
10.5 Importing Phone/Modem/fax to Germany?
10.7 Calling Germany Collect from Abroad?
10.8 Using US Phone Cards in Germany?
10.8.1 Page comments
11. Political Life
11.1 National Anthem
11.2 The Federal Flag
11.3 Text of the Grundgesetz
11.4 Government resources on the net
11.5 Political Parties Represented in the Bundestag
11.6 Elections and election dates
11.6.1 Page comments
12. History, Law -- Internet Resources
12.3 Immigration matters
12.3.1 Getting a work permit
220.127.116.11 The "Green-Card"
12.3.2 Aufenthalts what?
12.3.3 What about studying in Germany ?
12.3.4 Page comments
8. Electronic Language
There is a huge list of quotes
<http://www.freunde.imperium.de/gansel/> of the strange kind.
8.1. Dictionaries (and Word Lists from the Net)
German word lists
German word lists and German-English dictionary word lists are
available via ftp from the sites listed below. Note that the
dictionary at U Ulm <ftp://ftp.uni-
ulm.de/pub/misc/dict/english_german.tar.gz> made by Juergen
Dollinger) comprises a cleaned up combination of many of the
others. Much redundancy removed. This project has just been
updated and is now also available as a straight zip file
<ftp://ftp.uni-ulm.de/pub/misc/dict/eng_ger.zip> for dos-users.
An alternative directory to find these files is ftp://ftp.stud-
FTP sources in Europe
o U Ulm <ftp://ftp.rz.uni-ulm.de/pub/misc/dict/> 1995-10
o TU Munich <ftp://ftp.informatik.tu-
o U Cologne <ftp://ftp.uni-kl.de/pub2/packages/doc.tum/dict/>
o TH Darmstadt <ftp://ftp.tu-darmstadt.de/pub/dicts/german/>
o U Muenster <ftp://ftp.uni-muenster.de/pub/dict/german/>
o WU Wien <ftp://nestroy.wu-wien.ac.at/pub/lib/info/dict/>
o TU Wien
FTP sources west of the Atlantic
o from Purdue University
Also check out: Forwiss, U Passau <http://www.forwiss.uni-
Oh yes, and then there's Munich! <http://dict.leo.org/> and the
comprehensive services from TU Chemnitz <http://www.tu-
Travelang has set up a very general translator
<http://www.travlang.com/languages/> and also a mirror
<http://www.travlang.com/GermanEnglish/> of leo's
U Kiel <ftp://ftp.informatik.uni-kiel.de/pub/kiel/dicts/hk-
For general mail order places selling CD-ROM's look at
`Questions and Answers!'
The following companies might have CD-ROM versions of Collins
o Bibliographisches Institut & F.A.Brockhaus AG, Dudenstr. 6, 6800
Mannheim 1, tel +49(621)3901 -81, fax -389 1994-11
o EBP - Electronic Book Publishing, 52 Monmouth Street, GB-London
WC2H 9EP, tel +44(71)2404-292, fax -138 1994-11
o Harper Collins Publishers, Electronic Reference, 14, Steep
Lane, Findon, Worthing, West Sussex, BN14 0UF, U.K., tel +44
(0)903-873-555, fax -633, Compuserve: 100317,1372 Collins
themselves have different kinds of electronic bilingual
dictionaries. They are only available on floppy disk (they
intend to issue a CD-ROM in the future)
o Collins On-line v2.20: >40,000 references; >70,000 translations;
>1.5Mb disk space;#59 +VAT.
o Collins Series 100 v1.1a: >75,000 references; >110,000
translations; >2MB hard disk space; #69 +VAT.
Both versions are supplied for use in windows and DOS. I was
told that the main difference between the two versions is that
although the Series 100 is larger, it does not allow you to add
your own entries, whereas the smaller On-Line is not fixed.
Languages of the World
There is also a CD-ROM, originally put out by Sony in
1989, called Languages of the World. This disk was in
DOS and cost US$800 back then, but now it's
available for Windows with a better interface for about
US$40, has German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish,
Japanese and Chinese (with limited character output),
Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. You can go from
any one to any other, but since mostly English-Other Lan-
guage dictionaries are the base it is best to and from
English. The dictionaries are decent student paperback
type works, not the quality of the Oxford English Dictio-
For German specifically, it has Harrap's Concise, which I
have found to have just about everything I have looked up
(and I'm a German major), and Brandstetter's Science and
Technology dictionaries. Again, it's top rate, and it can
run as a TSR so you can pull it up in any other program,
such as a word processor.
8.2. Encyclopedias, Lexika
Bertelsmann Universal Lexicon
Available on CD-ROM, which can be ordered one from
o totronik Torsten Droste, Rotebuehlstrasse 85, D-70178 Stuttgart,
tel +49(711)6271980, fax +49(711)616218
o Asix Technology GmbH, Postfach 142, 76255 Ettlingen, tel
+49(7243)31048, fax +49(7243)30080 The cost is about DM 150, and
they take major credit cards. Airmail shipment arrived within a
week. They carry a number of other CD-ROM's also, and a catalog
on 3-1/2inch disk is available. 1994-1
Meyer's Lexikon - das Wissen A-Z
An experimental online version of Meyer's Lexikon.
8.3. Translation Programs
Translation by Timeworks Inc.
For both Macintosh and MS-DOS
Power Translator (PT)
Cost in US: about US$120. Requires: Mac II or better, 31 MB
of disk space, 2 MB RAM, System 7. Note: There is also a
Professional version (untested, about US$475) for which
subject dictionaries are available.
A user of Power translator said
PT is designed for producing rough draft translations,
whereas (GA) provides reference tools in addition to
translation. PT translates several times faster than
GA. PT can (barely) be used as a bilingual dictionary,
but GA's dictionary is much, much better. PT provides
only a single word translation, while GA has multiple
definitions and phrases as one would find in a real
dictionary. GA also has a useful verb conjugation tool
and grammar help. Generally speaking, in this price
bracket the software translations range from poetic to
Language Assistant (GA)
Made by Microtac Software. Cost in US: about US$50 Requires:
Mac II or better, 6 MB of disk space, 3 MB free RAM, System
7. Note: Comes with 90 day money back guarantee directly from
8.4. Spell Checkers; Thesauri
For German on the Macintosh, look for Excalibur. This is
a spell-checker designed to work with LaTeX documents,
but does also handle plain text very well. Communication
with just about any editor via clipboard is possible!
There are German, Dutch, French, Italian, and many other
(about US$0). ftp://ftp.rrzn.uni-hannover.de/pub/info-
For both MS-DOS and Macintosh
o Word, WordPerfect and the like offer special modules for
several languages, not only German. One can get spell checking
and thesaurus modules for German. (about US$100) 1994-2
o Claris' International Language Packs include spellcheckers,
dictionaries, thesauri and more. Available also in German and
Swiss German. Claris Corporation, Box 526, Santa Clara, CA
95052-9870, +1(800)544-8554 US$50 1995-10
Multilingual Word Processor
Over 30 different languages. Needs IBM 386 with Windows, 6 to
25MB. Spellcheckers: 17 languages, Thesaurus: 9 languages,
Hyphenation: 12 languages, Berlitz(R) Interpreter(TM) (5
language translation tool)
Accent file filters allow you to import and export documents
to other standard Windows software you are using including:
Lotus, Ami-Pro, Excel, Word, Wordperfect, RTF, and ASCII
text. The accentwm.zip file
Send email for more information. <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
8.5. Tutorial/Educational Software
If you have an MS-DOS platform, an interesting place to look at
might be the Simtel Software Repository at oak.oakland.edu
<ftp://oak.oakland.edu/> and its mirrors, directory:
There is free/shareware German, Spanish, Afrikaans, and other
language software in this directory:
Cover German language topics (mainly verb CONJUGATION and
basic vocabulary for several different languages.
German Plus v3.0 is a language tutorial featuring review and
exercises of over 500 nouns, adjectives, and verbs conjugated in
the four major tenses. The program contains a look-up feature
for use with the database. (about US$0)
o GI-ZERTI.ZIP <file://OAK.OAKLAND.EDU/Simtel/msdos/langtutr/gi-
zerti.zip>. Basic vocabulary German. The official list of the
Zertifikat Deutsch als Fremdsprache (ZDaF) of the Goethe
Institutes <http://www.goethe.de/> and the Deutscher
Volkshochschulen <http://www.vhs.de/>-Verband. You will find
all the basic vocabulary with example sentences that show you
how to use these words in a context. Very useful for beginners.
About 2000 words in hypertext . The program can be loaded
resident. Features help, search, index, print and color
options. IBM-compatible. (Shareware)
o GI-LEHRW.ZIP <file://OAK.OAKLAND.EDU/Simtel/msdos/langtutr/gi-
lehrw.zip> List of teaching materials of German. Helps students
and teachers of German to find all kind of information about
teaching materials of German. In hypertext . IBM-
compatible. The list is the official Arbeitsmittelliste fuer den
Deutschunterricht von Auslaendern 1994 of the Goethe
Institutes <http://www.goethe.de/> including prices and
o GI-DLAND.ZIP <file://OAK.OAKLAND.EDU/Simtel/msdos/langtutr/gi-
dland.zip> More facts about Deutschland (Germany.) Helps
students and teachers of German to find information about all
kinds kinds of political, economic or social issues of German
reality. Hypertext . IBM-compatible.
o GI-ADRES.ZIP <file://OAK.OAKLAND.EDU/Simtel/msdos/langtutr/gi-
adres.zip> 10,000 addresses of German institutions. Helps
students or teachers of German to find addresses in Germany by
name, location or any other key word. Hypertext . IBM-
Several German instructional software programs at this
Washington gopher site.
<gopher://isaac.engr.washington.edu:70/11/software/> No idea
what it is, though. There are text descriptions for each you
can read before down-loading. (about US$0)
An interactive morphological analysis system
<http://www.lingsoft.fi/cgi-pub/gertwol> for German. 1995-4
Berlitz Conversation Course (on CD-ROM)
HyperGlot's Berlitz Think and Talk German package
consists of 9 CD-ROMS containing a (rather simple)
10,000 word dictionary, the German text for 50 conver-
sations (scenes), and an instructional program. The
scenes CD-ROMs are compatible with audio CD players,
so you can play them on your stereo, walkman, or com-
puter. They range from the basic Das it ein Wagen, to
the complex discussions similar to business discus-
The Berlitz method to teach German consists of 4 steps:
1. Listen to the scene,
2. Read the scene,
3. Write the scene,
4. Think and talk about the scene.
The program seems to be designed for beginner speakers of Ger-
man. List price is $149.00, but it should be available for less
than $90 via mail order. 1995-10
The Rosetta Stone
For the early stages The Rosetta Stone was recommend. It's an
interactive windows program by Fairfield Language Technology.
Comes on CD-ROM and amply uses its multimedia to your
advantage. (US$350) 1995-05
For both MS-DOS and Macintosh version 2.0, tel
+1(800)332-8851, email email@example.com
principle: don't memorize -- get involved in a story! main
window shows story in original language, (French, German,
Italian, Latin, or Spanish) three other windows explain
correct meaning of word in context, meaning of sentence, and
notes on grammar/root words/etc.
You get only three stories for free, additional stories are
US$15-35; they have 17 different German stories as of now,
adding about 4 every year.
Readers from soc.culture.german have reported positive
experiences, esp. good for not absolute beginners. But the
stories tend to be on the serious side. (Kafka didn't have
much fun, either!) List price is US$99 -- but mention that
you heard of the promotional US$30 price! A number of
soc.culture.german readers have already saved good bucks and
paid only US$29.95 + 8.00 S&H. 1994-4
Herr Kommissar(R) 1.5
For Macintosh -- a language-learning software with a
difference. tel +1(717)296-2517, tel +1(800)262-3791 A
free demo <http://www.agoralang.com:2410/amber.html>.
Rather than drill-and-practice or canned lessons, Herr
Kommissar teaches intermediate German vocabulary and grammar
by immersing learners in a (simulated) conversation in the
living language itself. (A vacationing American police
detective attempts to help German colleagues in solving a
On-line assistance in vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.
Optimized to handle the productions of beginning learners;
Herr Kommissar's core syntactic/semantic engine also covers
most of more advanced grammatical constructions, such as
relative clauses, coordinate sentences, and the passive
RAM: >1Mb, System: almost any (US$100), 1995-10
A self-paced tutorial in German grammar fundamentals. On
error the program analyses the mistake and automatically
generates a review exercise based on the mistake. Online
help, list of all possible answers, glossary, and grammar
RAM: >1Mb, System: >6.0.5, (US$29), 1995-4
Create computer-assisted language learning exercises.
Possible exercise types: vocabulary, fill-in-the-blank,
paragraph, multiple choice, jumble, multi-. Use English
and any one of the following German simultaneously. (Also
good for a variety of other languages.)
RAM: >1Mb, System: >6.0.5, (US$25), 1995-4
8.6. Computer Terminology Dictionaries
Woerterbuch der Datentechnik / Dictionary of Computing
by Vittorio Ferretti. Available from Springer's office in
NYC. <http://www.springer-ny.com/> 1997-06
Universalwoerterbuch der Technik
CD-ROM version published by Routledge
Fachausdruecke der Informationsverarbeitung
Woerterbuch und Glossar, Englisch-Deutsch, Deutsch-Englisch
(current status unknown).
IBM Form GQ 12-1044-1, approximately 1700 pages, copyright 1985,
no ISBN #
IBM Deutschland GMBH, Postfach 800880, 7 Stuttgart-80
Complete Multilingual Dictionary of Computer Terminology "
English - French - Italian - Spanish - Portuguese
900+ pages, (1984); ISBN: 0-8442-9108-0
Passport Books, Trade Imprint of National Textbook Company, 4255
West Touhy Avenue, Lincolnwood, Illinois 60646-1975, 1995-3
8.7. Alphabetizing German Words
About the intricacies of constructing good algorithms for
alphabetizing international languages have a look at Hans
Christophersen's article <http://www.rostra.dk/alphabet/alpha_dt.htm>
on the subject!
8.8. German Fonts
Kontex International, Box 8898, Atlanta, Georgia 30306, USA,
tel:404-874-4164 fax:404-874-4169 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Traditional Fraktur Fonts Series includes four fonts for
either the Mac or Pc including Regular, Medium, Medium Lang
and a fat version. Both PostScript Type 1 and TrueType for-
mats are shipped for each platform.
Three more fonts can be found the Yamada font collection
Find German Suetterlin script fonts (like the Walden Font, (c) Oliver
Weiss) and many other Fraktur fonts at www.waldenfont.com
P.O. Box 871, Winchester, MA 01890, USA
tel +1(800)519-4575, email email@example.com
8.8.1. Page comments
Tracing yours and others' ancestry
9.1. How do I Find Out About my Family Name?
9.1.1. Online info
The world and your family history is at your finger-tips ...
Read the newsgroups soc.genealogy.*; in particular
soc.genealogy.german or get their FAQ list
German genealogy web sites
Try the German genealogy server in Kerpen
<http://www.genealogy.net/gene/> and its mirror site in
Giessen <http://www2.genealogy.net/gene/> and in Clovis,
Other web sites
The two biggest world-wide genealogical databases are RootsWeb
<http://www.rootsweb.com/> and GenWeb.
9.1.2. The old fashioned way
Sometimes, very old information can not be found with very new
technology. That's when you actually have to get off your butt and
leave the house.
In the USA you may want to...
go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS.) and
visit one of their Family History Centers (FHC) and run a
computer check to see if your family name appears on the
International Genealogical Index (IGI.) This may provide you
with the general kingdom, duchy, province, (whatever) where your
family name appears. It is then up to you to contact the
genealogical association from that area. 1995-4
Be sure to check all available U.S. sources: local church
records, citizenship papers, census reports, passenger lists,
social security files, war records (civil, WWI, WWII, etc) which
may list the origin of birth. 1994-11
Deutsche Zentralstelle fuer Genealogie
Kaethe Kollwitzstr. 82
The Center won't provide you with your family tree, but promises
to answer specific questions (the more specific, the better your
chances of success!) Their collection includes 100,000 personal
documents and 16,000 church registers (dating back to the
sixteenth century) and basic information on more than 1.4
million people is available.
The Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage
P.O. Box 20554
email GERMNHERTG@AOL.COM 1994-7
9.2. Where is Famous ... Buried?
For burial sites of famous Europeans pick up a copy of the Handbuch
1. Aubert, Joachim; Handbuch der Grabstaetten beruehmter Deutscher,
Oesterreicher und Schweizer. 2. Ed.; Muenchen; Dt. Kunstverlag
(1977); ISBN 3-422-00335-5
2. Adler, Josef; Die Grabstaetten beruehmter Europaeer; Muenchen,
Berlin; Dt. Kunstverlag (1986); ISBN 3-422-00782-2
9.2.1. Page comments
The German phone system used to be operated by the Deutsche Telekom
<http://www.telekom.de>, only (then government-operated, now
privatized). The German phone market was demonopolized in January,
1998. Since then, more than 100 new phone companies have sprung up and
the phone rates are under fierce competition. In the less than two
years, for example, the rate for calls to the USA has dropped from 3
DM to less than 0.15 DM per minute.
So, as they always say in those great ads, how do you get these
fantastic rates ? Look at one of the web sites that offer rate
comparisons. Billiger Telefonieren
<http://www.billigertelefonieren.de/> and teltarif.de
<http://www.teltarif.de> are two sites that offer rate comparisons and
the latest news around all things telephone. Heise Verlag
<http://www.heise.de/ct/ttarif/> maintains a rate calculator, too.
Officially, every phone, fax or modem you connect to a phone line
needs to be approved by the German telekom. Approved appliances have a
special sticker with a BTZ number on the back. Although it is illegal
to connect appliances without a BTZ number, e.g., your favorite low-
price phone from your last USA trip, violations are rarely prosecuted
or punished - as long as your unapproved appliance doesn't bring down
everybody else's phone connection.
Area codes in Germany all start with a 0. To dial an international
call, you dial 00 and then the country code. Area codes and phone
numbers in Germany are variable length: the bigger the city, the
shorter the area code, so that 089 is Munich, but 07252 is some small
You can tell that a number is toll free if it starts with 0800; older
toll free numbers might still use the 0130 prefix, which will be
abandoned for the internationally more common 0800. On older coin
phones without an LCD display, you might have to insert 20 Pfennige to
place a toll free call. Don't worry, you get it back after the call.
Look at the de-telefon-faq <ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-
for more information. Defunct ?1999-11
10.1. Some recent history
It used to be, in the good old days (before 1995) that the phone
system was operated by a government owned monopoly, the Bundespost.
They had all the advantages of a government monopoly: phone calls were
expensive, their service was outrageously unfriendly, and hooking up a
new phone could take up to six weeks. But they had very pretty yellow
Deutsche Telekom was split off Bundespost and turned into a public
company on January 1, 1995. In November 1996, they sold a first packet
of shares to the public and have by now around 2 million shareholders.
In their monopoly days, the Deutsche Telekom based their rate not on
per minute fees, but instead sold one unit to a fixed price and varied
the length of time on the phone one unit would get you depending on
how far away you were calling and on the time of day and day of the
week. A big mess. By now, rates are usually quoted on a per minute
basis, although you can sometimes still find quotes for 1.5 or 4
minutes. So always make sure the rate you got quoted is really for the
amount of time you think it is.
The Deutsche Telekom <http://www.telekom.de/> lets you explore all the
intricacies of their pricing scheme with their Tarifrechner
10.2. Public Phones / Phone Cards in Germany
In the good old days, phone booths were bright yellow, a real eye-sore
but easy to spot if you needed one. The new phone booths are almost
all glass with some gray and a pink trim, trendy but not as easy to
spot as the old ones. If you are in an urgent need for a public phone
and can't find one, ask in a restaurant, they usually let you use
their phone for a quite usurious price (like 50 Pfennige per minute or
Public phones in Germany work more or less like everywhere else,
except for the differences: Most public phones by now are card phones.
Unlike American card phones, they use debit cards. German phone cards
can be bought at any post office, most money exchanges at major train
stations and many newspaper stores. They have a given value, for
example 12 DM for 60 units or 50 DM for approx. 260 units, which works
out to something like 0.20 DM/unit. Once you have used up this value
you must get a new card.
It is not that easy any more to find a public coin phone, even though
they still exist. You usually have to insert 20 Pfennige, the minimum
price for a call. In airports, train stations and some of the more
touristy places you often find credit card phones, too.
10.3. Nation-Wide Phone-Numbers (Emergency, Information)
There are two nation-wide emergency telephone numbers:
o 110 -- Police
o 112 -- Ambulance and/or the Fire Fighters The numbers are toll
free, in the modern public card-phones you should be able to dial
them at any time, without the need for change or a card. If you
don't know what kind of emergency you have at hand, call 110. The
fire fighters will send you nasty bills if you call them
In some older pay-phones, though, you may have to insert coins first,
but they will be returned after the call. In some phone booths you
will find special emergency switch boxes which can be used by simply
pulling a lever. 1999-11
o 19222 -- gets you an ambulance in many cities. This number is not
prioritized, though. Use 110 or 112 in emergencies.
o 19410 -- cab and taxi services.
o 19444 -- city-netz (see `Transportation')
o 19419 -- railway travel information (see `Railways')
o 19433 -- touristic information (see `Tourism')
10.4. Getting Phonenumbers via Internet
There is now a service available for the yellow pages
<http://www.gelbe-seiten.de/NSAPI/Anfrage?SPRACHE=EN> by Deutsche
Telekom which allows you to search the contents of the CD-rom
<http://www.gelbe-seiten.de/> Gelbe Seiten fuer Deutschland. 1997-01
For searching white pages: That has recently become available; for
o www.teleinfo.de <http://www.teleinfo.de/>
o www.teleauskunft.de <http://www.teleauskunft.de> (English
<http://www.teleauskunft.de/NSAPI/Anfrage?SPRACHE=FR>) are operated
by Deutsche Telekom <http://www.telekom.de/>
If you are looking for an Austrian phone number, you can use the
following BTX-gateway <http://www.tu-graz.ac.at/> or this telnet
For Swiss numbers you may use the following telnet gateway.
10.5. Importing Phone/Modem/fax to Germany?
You may own any phone but you may not connect it to the public system
unless it has a BZT number (Old phones: ZZF). You may not own radios
or cordless phones which are not approved. The number is usually found
on a sticker at the back of the case.
Tone dial and pulse dial are available everywhere. Problems are
possible with Hong Kong or British pulse dial phones because the
pulses there are not exactly the same as in Germany. But the phone
system is very tolerant and with most of these phones you can switch
to the other system anyway (same for modems).
Cordless phones are a real problem. In Germany, cordless phones
operate on different frequencies (900 MHz) than in most other
countries. In the bands that many foreign phones use (80 MHz for cheap
US-phones) are a number of official channels (police, emergencies,
radio, TV ...). It is punishable to own and use an illegal cordless
phone! Therefore, use only approved cordless phones !!! or they will
get you !!!
On a lighter note: it is possible, for more money, though, to obtain a
900 Mhz phone abroad. In the US, for instance, these are about twice
as expensive as the 80 MHz phone; however, you may expect to still cut
a deal, compared to German prices ;-) 1996-1
The wall outlets for phones in Germany have a different shape than the
usual modular plug. Adapters are available in Germany (from 2.50 to 20
DM). These adapters are no problems with phones. But legal and illegal
things might not work together on the same line.
Fax machines usually work in Germany, too. Typically you'll need a new
power adapter, though. 1995-3
Since local phone calls in Germany are usually billed by the minute, a
speedy Modem is not only convenient but can also be a real money-
saver. By now, both ISDN connections with 64 kbit/s and v.90 modems
with up to 56 kbit/s are widely available. An ISDN hookup, which
provides up to ten phone numbers and two simultaneous lines, is not
only faster but also cheaper than two seperate conventional lines.
Watch out for the 16kHz timer signal, which the telekom sends to allow
for your own tracking of billing periods. This is an additional
account feature, costs 99 Pfennige per month and is pretty useless
with the newer rate structures anyway. But if you have it and if the
modem doesn't filter this signal you might lose connection every 90
seconds (or at multiples thereof.) 1999-11
Teleadapt (http://www.teledapt.com) has a device called TeleFilter,
which filters the Accounting signal used in the german phonesystem,
useful for modems that do not have the filter built in (e.g., most
non-german modems). The same device is also sold by Blackbox
Mobile/cell phones (called "Handy" in the local vernacular) are
operated on one of four networks: D1, D2, E+ and E2. If you want to
do international roaming from your home country, it should work, ask
your home provider about that. You will need a GSM900 phone for the
D-networks or a GSM1800 phone for E- networks. US GSM1900 phones will
not work! Note that the D networks have far better coverage outside
the bigger cities, they work nearly everywhere, including forests
and such. 1999-11
There are cheap(!) adapters available (between 2 and 20 DM.) To build
one yourself is most likely not cost efficient. Be aware of possible
legal conflicts. Your phone is more likely to be illegal than the
homemade adapter. Connection scheme:
American plug German TAE-F or TAE-N plug
| * yellow 4 / /
| * green 3 4 // 3
| * red 2 / /
| * black 1 // 2
+------------- / /
them to the two wires that come into your house (if you can make out
which they are) yellow/black are for data transmission devices.
impedance is no problem.
10.7. Calling Germany Collect from Abroad?
The most convenient way for German tourists to call home is the
Deutschland direkt Line. You can reach it toll-free from the US at
o 1-800-927-0049 From Canada it is
o 1-800-465-0049 Note that this service is very expensive. The cost
is supposedly around DM 2.10 per minute, plus a flat fee of DM
3.00. Collect calls are possible. It is also possible to use a
special phone card and password. Ask your local 'telefonladen' for
If you want to call a German '130' number from the US, you need to
call either the above mentioned service or your long distance
operator. '130' numbers are Germany's version of the US have to pay
the usual fee for operator assisted long distance calls. Some of the
German '130' numbers are linked to US '800' numbers so you can
actually call them for free in the US.
It is also not possible to reach US '800' numbers from Germany. You
will have to use an operator. If you own a US phone card use one of
the numbers listed (see `Using US Phone Cards') Otherwise
use the German long distance operator.
Using US Phone Cards in Germany?
If you have an American phone card you can get connected to an English
speaking operator from any phone by dialing:
o AT&T Direct:
o 0130-0010 (operator)
o 0130-0011 (phone cards)
o 0130-850 058 (customer assistance)
o MCI Direct: 0130-0012
o US Sprint: 0130-0013
o Canada Direct: 0130-0014
The following countries offer an equivalent service by dialing:
0130-800-### (### is the international access code. For two digit
access codes dial 0##. Example: Australia 0130-800-061)
Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iceland,
Israel, Italy, Japan, Rep. of Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, New
Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey,
United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Finland, France, Hungary,
Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Denmark
Many other international long distance companies provide the same
service. Ask your long distance carrier for the right number.
10.8.1. Page comments
11. Political Life
I am gladly a patriot, but first I am human, and where the
two are incompatible, I always go along with the human.
(Hermann Hesse, 1877-1962)
11.1. National Anthem
The origins of the German national anthem -as well as of the official
banner- date back well before the revolution of 1848. The Lied der
Deutschen was composed by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben
on the island Helgoland in 1841, based on a melody by Joseph Haydn.
The melody, the so-called "Kaiserquartett", a quartett for strings in
C-major, op. 76,3. was composed 1797 at the request of Count von
Saurau, the imperial High Chancellor of the Hapsburg empire. The
hymn was first sung on the birthday of Kaiser Franz II 12. Feb 1797.
Haydn later set the melody with variations as the slow movement of
the string quartet. The melody was based on a Croatian folk song,
"Vjutro rano se ja vstanem." It was the national hymn of Austria
before it was adopted as the German one. 1997-06
The first stanza begins with Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles --
which in the light of that time (Germany was split into a patchwork
of many small states) has to be interpreted as an expression of the
desire to employ the best forces and emotions towards a unified
After the first world war the first President of the Weimar Republic,
Friedrich Ebert, proclaimed the Lied der Deutschen national anthem.
However, in the course of history particularly the first stanza was
frequently misconstrued. And after world war II, in 1952, Chancellor
Konrad Adenauer and President Theodor Heuss --while confirming the
Lied der Deutschen as the national anthem of the Federal Republic of
Germany-- declared only its third stanza to be sung at official
With the event of the re-unification of Germany the subject was
reconsidered. In their correspondence of August 1991 President
Richard von Weizsaecker and Chancellor Helmut Kohl acknowledged the
tradition of the Lied der Deutschen, noting that --as a document of
German history-- all three stanzas form a unit; however:
The third stanza of the Lied der Deutschen by Hoffmann von
Fallersleben with the melody by Joseph Haydn is the national
anthem for the German people.
The lyrics of the national anthem of the Federal Republic
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit fuer das deutsche Vater-
bruederlich mit Herz und Hand.
und Freiheit sind des Glueckes Unterpfand.
Blueh' im Glanze dieses Glueckes, bluehe deutsches Vater-
11.2. The Federal Flag
Article 22 of the Grundgesetz states that The federal flag
<http://www.government.de/ausland/country_people/flag.html> is black-
This stems back to the early 19th century; among the many forces
fighting in the 1813-1815 wars that raged through Europe to end the
Napoleonic government the Luetzower Jaeger were particularly popular.
The numerous students from Jena in this group continued wearing their
uniform -- black and red, with golden ornaments -- even at school.
When in 1817 students from all over Germany assembled at the Wartburg,
those from Jena prevailed with their colors taken to symbolize the
Allgemeinen Deutschen Burschenschaft (the head fraternity). By 1832
(Hambacher Fest) black-red-golden had become generally accepted as the
(revolutionary) German colors. The 1848 federal assembly (in
Frankfurt) declared black-red-golden as federal colors. (During the
1848 revolution the colors were often meant to signify gunpowder-
black, blood-red, and future-golden.)
The official German colors changed through history, however, a number
of times. In 1871 the German Reich choose black-white-red as national
colors; the Weimar Republic again opted for black-red-golden and Nazi-
Germany re-instated black-white-red. Finally, both parts of after-
WWII Germany decided (in both cases) to use black-red-golden. 1996-04
11.3. Text of the Grundgesetz
The Grundgesetz (Basic Law) is the constitution of Germany. You can
access it on the web in various languages:
Available from compuserve.de
<http://www.compuserve.de/bc_recht/gesetze/> or from U
Avaliable from spies.com
<ftp://wiretap.spies.com/Gov/World/germany.con> or from U
Available from U Saarbruecken <http://www.jura.uni-
Government resources on the net
Germany is a federal republic. The Bundesregierung
<http://www.bundesregierung.de> (federal government
<http://www.government.de>), headed by the Bundeskanzler
<http://www.bundeskanzler.de/kanzlerenglisch/home.html>) is the main
part of the executive branch. The main legislative chamber is the
Bundestag <http://www.bundestag.de>, elected every four years by
general, free and secret ballot. The second legislative chamber is the
Bundesrat <http://www.bundesrat.de> whose members are appointed by the
state governments. You guessed it by now, Bund is the German word for
federal. For the whole scoop on how the political system works and
what the Bundespraesident <http://www.bundespraesident.de> does for a
living, have a look at the federal government's site on the
There are nice collections of links about politics and on-line
political organizations at the Universitaet Koeln <http://www.uni-
koeln.de/themen/politik/> and at Dr. Doeblin Wirtschaftsforschung
Germany consists of 16 Bundeslaender
<http://www.bundesrat.de/Laender/index.html> (english version
There are several highest courts, depending on the matter of the case.
The Bundesverfassungsgericht <http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de>
in Karlsruhe reviews all constitutional cases and its rulings are
binding for all other constitutional organs. It is not an appellate
court. Everybody can bring a case before it if they feel that their
constitutional rights have been violated by a public organ. The
highest appellate courts are the Bundesgerichtshof <http://www.rz.uni-
karlsruhe.de/~bgh/> in Karlsruhe for criminal and general civil cases,
the Bundesarbeitsgericht <http://www.bundesarbeitsgericht.de/> in
Kassel for labor disputes, the Bundessozialgericht
<http://www.bundessozialgericht.de> in Kassel for matters of social
law, the Bundesfinanzhof in Muenchen for tax law and the
Bundesverwaltungsgericht <http://www.bverwg.de/> in Leipzig for
11.5. Political Parties Represented in the Bundestag
There are quite a few parties that try to get their candidates elected
into the Bundestag. Most of them fail miserably to get the required 5%
of the popular vote or get three candidates elected directly, the
requirement to send any of their candidates into the Bundestag.
Currently, these five parties are represented in the Bundestag:
Christlich Demokratische Union 1999-02
Die Gruenen <http://www.gruene.de>
Freie Demokratische Partei 1999-02
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands1995-8
Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus 1999-02
Elections and election dates
The Bundeswahlleiter <http://www.statistik-bund.de/wahlen/index.htm>
(Federal Returning Officer <http://www.statistik-
bund.de/wahlen/e/index_e.htm>) maintains a list of upcoming election
(english version <http://www.statistik-
bund.de/wahlen/termine/e/wterm_e.htm>). The page also has a well-
hidden search function <http://www.statistik-bund.de/cgi-
bin/wahlen/wahlSuchService> at the bottom that lets you search for
results of past elections, the boundaries of constituencies etc.
The only federal organ directly elected is the Bundestag
<http://www.bundestag.de>. It is elected every four years by general,
free and secret ballot. The state parliaments (Landtage) are elected
every four or five years, depending on the state. Elections for local
governments, such as mayors and city councils, are also held every
four or five years. All the local governments in a state are usually
elected on the same date, with sometimes very complicated election
procedures (kumulieren and panaschieren will evoke fond memories in
anybody who has ever filled in a multipage ballot). 1999-11
11.6.1. Page comments
History, Law -- Internet Resources
The 2000 Jahre Chronik <http://www.geschichte.2me.net/aaa_001.htm>
contains an amazing wealth of information on German history. The
Deutsches Historisches Museum <http://www.dhm.de/> provides materials,
mainly connected to their exhibitions, online.
The Holocaust seems to be one of the all-time favorite topics in
soc.culture.german <news:soc.culture.german>, mainly for revisionist
nuts. The Nizkor project <http://www.nizkor.org/> maintains a wealth
of information related to the Holocaust. The Hochschule fuer
juedische Studien <http://www.hjs.uni-heidelberg.de/> (University for
judaic studies) and the Zentralarchiv zur Erforschung der Geschichte
der Juden in Deutschland <http://www.uni-
heidelberg.de/institute/sonst/aj/> (Central Archives for Research on
the History of the Jews in Germany <http://www.uni-
heidelberg.de/institute/sonst/aj/englisch.htm>) publish studies on the
history of Jews in Germany.
The state of Thueringen maintains a nice text
<http://www.thueringen.de/LZT/geschddr.htm>, alas in German, on the
history of the DDR (German Democratic Republic).
For the history of German-Americans, go to German Heritage
<http://www.germanheritage.com/> or German Americana
<http://www.serve.com/shea/germusa/germusa.htm>. The revolution of
1848 <http://www.serve.com/shea/germusa/1848.htm> forced many Germans
to emigrate to the USA.
Angela Schmidt <http://angela.core.de/> has put out a very impressive
collection of many(!) HTML-enhanced German law texts
The Juristisches Internetprojekt Saarbruecken <http://www.jura.uni-
sb.de/> has lots of links to legal information
<http://www.jura.uni-sb.de/internet/>, among them links to German
courts <http://www.jura.uni-sb.de/internet/gericht.html> and links to
collections of legal decisions worldwide <http://www.jura.uni-
The RAVE project <http://www.jura.uni-
duesseldorf.de/rave/e/englhome.htm> at the law school
<http://www.jura.uni-duesseldorf.de/> of the U Duesseldorf
<http://www.uni-duesseldorf.de> provides an extensive database of
citations about public international and European law. The same site
also provides a catalog of annotated legal links <http://www.jura.uni-
The Anwaltssuche <http://www.anwaltssuche.de/> contains a directory of
attorneys, searchable by location and specialization.
Immigration matters (-- Large portions of this section have been con-
tributed by Wayne Brown and Dirk Brink.--)
Even though not being an immigration country is a bit of a national
myth in Germany, there are lots of foreigners living in Germany --
around 8%-10% of Germany's population are foreigners. The immigration
laws have been greatly revised; the revised laws go into effect on
January 1, 2000.
Immigration is regulated by some half dozen laws, the most important
of which are the Auslaendergesetz regulating residency of foreigners
in Germany and the Staatsangehoerigkeitsgesetz regulating
Immigration matters are usually handled by the Auslaenderbehoerde of
the city governments. The one in Muenchen has an extensive webpage
<http://www.muenchen.de/referat/kvr/ala/index.html> with a wealth of
information, unfortunately only in German. On the practical dealings
with the authorities, Wayne Brown notes that
Despite the horror stories I have heard at times, my experi-
ence with translating for foreign friends on numerous occa-
sions and seeing the authorities up close has been good. I
would describe the officials I have encountered as reserved
and Dirk Brink says that
These people are Bureaucrats, like everywhere else. They
have their prejudices like most people do as well. If you
are a white European, American, or Japanese, speak half way
decent German and show up in a tie they will probably try to
be more helpful than if you are from a third world country
and the only German you know is the word for Asylum. Always
be polite. You will never get anything done by irritating a
bureaucrat anywhere in the world.
For yet another view, read Gyula Szokoly's account
<http://www.aip.de/~gszokoly/germany.html> of his experiences with
working in Germany.
12.3.1. Getting a work permit
Before you can work in Germany, you need a work permit
(Arbeitserlaubnis). If you are a EU citizen, you're lucky: you only
need to go to your local Einwohnermeldeamt and ask for a work permit.
The whole process should take only a few days, but check with the
If you are from a non-EU country, thinks are more complicated. You
first need to find an employer that is interested in hiring you and
can prove that you are more qualified for the position than any German
citizens. The prospective employer needs to fill in several forms for
you. You take these, a copy of your contract (Arbeitsvertrag) and your
passport to the local authorities who will then issue you a work
permit, valid for one or two years and renewable, for employment by
that specific employer. If you want to change employers, you need to
obtain a new work permit. Some large companies take care of all the
formalities for their employees.
If you marry a German citizen you will get unrestricted, permanent
work and residence permits.
A foreign employee qualifies for unemployment benefits the moment he
starts paying the obligatory unemployment insurance through his
employer. I believe an employee has to have worked for at least six
months to draw money. If the unemployed foreigner cannot get another
job, the authorities will extend his residency permit until he has
collected all the money coming to him under unemployment. The payments
depend on the employee's salary on termination, length of service and
his age. The maximum amount one can draw, I believe, is currently
about 370 US dollars a week. The maximum time of such payments is
about two years. Unemployment benefits also include free medical and
dental care as well as a contribution to rent, if an employed person
can no longer pay his rent. If an employee has a private life
insurance when he is terminated, the department of unemployment will
take over those payments and pay them extra for as long as
unemployment is paid.
18.104.22.168. The "Green-Card"
In early 2000, Chancellor Schroeder announced that the German
government will do something about the shortage of information
technology workers in Germany and try to attract foreign IT workers,
the talk is mainly about Indians, to Germany. The work permit that
should achieve this is imaginatively titled a Green-Card and has very
little in common with the permanent residence permits that the USA
hands out under the same name. It more resembles a US H1-B visa.
Read the federal government's press release
<http://www.bundesregierung.de/05/0515/04/sofort_eng.html> about the
Green-Card and their FAQ about this topic
12.3.2. Aufenthalts what?
To legally reside in Germany, you need a Aufenthaltserlaubnis or
Aufenthaltsberechtigung. The former lets you reside in Germany
temporarily or permanently, while the latter gives you the right to
live in Germany permanently.
After the authorities have issued a labor permit, they also issue a
residency permit for one year. At the end of a year, the residency
permit and the work permit can be extended for another year. After
residency in Germany for ten years, an employee can apply for an
unbefristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis and an unbefristete
Arbeitserlaubnis, in other words unlimited residency and work permits,
which seem to be issued without much ado.
If a person just wants to live in Germany and not to work, then he
goes to the local authorities and applies for a residency permit. He
has to show proof that he can support himself (pension statement, bank
statement, letter of credit, etc.) and that he has health insurance.
Such residency permits are issued for one year and are renewable
Aufenthaltsrecht, right to residency, is a different story. A
foreigner who has lived in Germany for many years, something around 20
years, can apply for the right to residency, which gives him the right
to live in Germany for the rest of his life. Before issuing such a
permit, the authorities check with local police that the candidate
does not have a police record, that he has means of support and that
he has normal living accommodations.
12.3.3. What about studying in Germany ?
First, a student should apply for entrance to the university of his
choice. Foreigners do not fall under the numerus clausus system
introduced some years ago to cope with the crowding at German
universities. All German universities have a certain quota for foreign
students; therefore, the foreigner can apply where he likes. Once
accepted by the university, the foreigner takes the admittance
documents supplied by the university to the local authorities
(Kreisverwaltungsreferat) and applies for a student residency permit.
The student must show that he has means to support himself while in
Germany (bank statement, letter of credit, scholarship statement,
etc.). The university will advise how much money and what else the
student needs to satisfy the visa requirements.
The best way, I believe, to get a temporary work permit for a period
of practical training is to apply to one of the many programs offered
by German companies and to get accepted. Such a company then handles
all the formalities connected with the program.
12.3.4. Page comments