Expatica news

Berlin publishes ‘living in Germany’ book

1 March 2004

BERLIN – No-one pretends that settling into new country is easy. But you have to start somewhere. And to help the process along the German government has produced a new guide book to try to explain the country to new arrivals.

The book, which sets out to shed light on range of issues that newcomers to the nation often face such as working conditions and pay, also seeks to try to say what is typically German. Moreover, it argues that Germany is not quite as complicated as it may seem.

The 220-page handbook also gives new arrivals a brief run down on everything from garden gnomes (to help out the book includes a large photo of a garden gnome), cuckoo clocks and the Oktoberfest through to Goethe and public holidays.

Even the explanation of Germany’s lumbering and complicated tax system is reduced to just one paragraph. Although the authors admit that the tax system is so complex that it is better to seek out specialist advice.

The book also appears to be aimed at helping to meet criticism that Germany has been failing to take the necessary steps to help newcomers integrate.

Indeed, the German language, the handbook tells new arrivals is also very complicated and difficult but they should press on and come to grips with it. The government handbook itself is published in six languages.

There is also a mention of Germany’s number one sport, soccer.

One question that often causes problems for new arrivals is Germany’s very rigorous recycling regime.

For those battling to work out how it all really works, the government handbook sets out a guide on how to separate your rubbish so as to meet the rules.

It may startle some newcomers to hear from an official government source the doner kebab has replaced the Bratwurst as Germany’s most popular fast food.

But then the release of the handbook, however comes as the nation continues to grapple with its new burgeoning multi-cultural society and as Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government attempts to push through Germany’s first ever immigration law.

The government’s draft immigration law has been blocked in the upper house of parliament by the Christian Democrat-led conservative opposition.

Berlin says that an law to regulate immigration in Europe’s biggest economy is needed to help offset Germany’s low birth rate and to fill gaps in the labour market for highly skilled workers.

But after signs of compromise between the government and the opposition over the immigration law recently emerged, there appears to be growing tensions between Schroeder’s Social Democrats and their junior coalition partner, the Greens, on the proposed compromises with the opposition.

You can find it (complete with order form) at:


Copyright Expatica 2004

Subject: German news