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Issue #94

Issue #94

Guten Morgen!

Welcome to another edition of the Krautshell! This week, Jonny analyzes a recent arts scandal for our House’s View and makes some sharp observations about an issue of special concern in Germany – anti-Semitism. Also, check out our articles on our Economics Minister’s Klartext (plain-talking) about the expected gas crisis, EU politicians’ misplaced glee at Boris Johnson’s downfall, and the German liberal party’s new immigration proposal. Finally, enjoy Christian wax lyrical about German vs. US music charts, North Sea summer parties and what our Finance Minister has to do with it.

As always, have a great weekend!



Anna                                Christian


Crisis Mode: Activate

You know something is awry when political memes start drawing parallels between German energy prices and Weimar-level inflation. And awry it is in Berlin at the moment. It’s no secret that natural gas is currently in short supply, and fears are that Germany will be disadvantaged even further in the next weeks and months. Let’s examine what’s going on, and what’s being done to address those fears.

On Monday, repairs will begin on the gas pipeline North Stream I (not the one that’s been causing international uproar, that’s NS II) connecting Germany and Russia, requiring a temporary halt on gas flow. There’s well-founded fear that Putin will use the opportunity to permanently shut off the pipeline, and Germany’s Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) already primed the German population for hard times ahead in a popular political talk show. In a refreshingly honest and straightforward exchange, Habeck stated that Germany needs to rid itself of its “luxury problems,” using probably the most German example of all: Bakeries should reduce their bread variety (we have over 300 types…) to avoid excessive waste. Consumers will have to reduce their expectations to save energy. Also, don’t expect your local public pool to be heated during the summer in Germany. His message: learn to live with a bit of discomfort.

On the industry side, Habeck also clearly signaled he would not let a Lehmann Brothers effect occur in the German energy sector as energy companies are increasingly experiencing financial difficulties. In his words, we’re in a “whatever it takes” moment to avoid market collapse. Many politicians wouldn’t have the chutzpah to make such crisp and clear statements out of fear of angering the electorate. But what Habeck has shown this week is that being honest and sometimes being able to say “I don’t know” comes across much better than the usual political bullshit bingo.


Will Brussels Miss Boris?

For all the Schadenfreude going around, you’d be forgiven for thinking Brussels has won a great victory. “Disgrace”, “full of sh*t”, “happy to see him gone” were just some of the reactions to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s quasi-resignation this Thursday. “Things can only get better” was the confident verdict of Guy Verhofstadt, liberal heavyweight in the European Parliament. But will they? Just like in 2016, when Juncker threatened British “deserters” even before the Brexit vote (smart move), some EU policymakers don’t seem to understand the political mood in the United Kingdom. For all the current tensions, Brussels may well look back on Boris as a troublemaker, yes, but also as someone more closely aligned to EU policies than his probable successors.

A few reasons make this a likely outcome. Firstly, the Tory electorate is overwhelmingly Eurosceptic: It’s no coincidence that Boris won the 2019 election on the slogan “Get Brexit Done”, and it is the party grassroots (not the public) who will select the next Prime Minister. This is important because it means no so-called “closet Remainer” will be acceptable to the Tory base. Secondly, Johnson’s brand of big-state conservativism is increasingly isolated among his probable successors. Of the frontrunners, former Health Secretary Sajid Javid and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak are fiscal conservatives, and while little is known of Defense Secretary Ben Wallace’s economic views, no likely candidate for Tory leader has stepped forward in open support of Boris Johnson’s economic policies. These policies – while often overshadowed by the Northern Ireland dispute – were at least broadly in line with Brussels priorities and provided a base for international cooperation, especially on the environment. Now, with even hardline Brexiteer Steven Baker mulling a run to “save Brexit” by fighting EU regulatory alignment and renewable energy expansion, Brussels should awaken to the chance that cross-channel relations may remain stormy for some time to come.


No More Lost in Translation?

The Free Democratic Party (FDP), who are currently part of Germany’s governing coalition, made headlines this week by publishing a position paper on how to reform Germany’s immigration and integration policy. Particularly eyebrow-raising was the FDP’s proposal to make English an official administrative language at German authorities, in order to make bureaucratic processes easier for foreigners. This change would be ground-breaking, as local German bureaucracies are notorious for being inflexible when it comes to dealing with other languages.

Other proposals that the FDP made included digitalizing visa allocations, decreasing the hurdles for recognizing academic and professional credentials, allowing asylum applicants to apply for work visas, expanding the eligibility of work visas to individuals with fewer academic credentials, increasing work-related immigration, and advertising German immigration opportunities abroad.

The reason for these sweeping immigration reform proposals is a stark worker shortage that cuts across a wide range of domains in Germany. For example, there are shortages of IT specialists, caregivers, craftsmen, and bureaucrats. Surveys conducted by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce showed that approximately 50% of German companies consider the labor shortage a risk to their business. A recent PwC study concluded that the public sector will face a shortage of 1 million employees by 2030. Therefore, the urgency to address Germany’s labor shortage is increasing significantly every year. However, reforming Germany’s immigration policy will be an uphill battle, as the German Civil Servants’ Association’s response to the reform proposal showed: it quickly rejected the idea of making English an official administrative language.


Source: Europa


by Jonny

Always Trouble with Anti-Semitism – German Art and Cultural Politics

Every five years, the tranquil German city of Kassel hosts the Documenta. It can undoubtedly be described as the world’s most important contemporary art exhibition alongside the Venice Biennale. This year, however, Documenta was overshadowed by an unpleasant scandal. One of the main works, a hundred-square-meter artwork entitled “People’s Justice” by the Indonesian artist collective “Taring Padi,” which was hung in a central square in Kassel, clearly contained anti-Semitic imagery. The scandal goes far beyond the artwork and highlights structural problems not only with anti-Semitism, but also with German art and cultural policy.

Cultural Policy in Germany

Culture has not had its own ministry in Germany for many years. There is a Minister of State for Culture, currently Claudia Roth of the Green Party, who works directly for the Chancellor’s office. Above all, the Minister of State for Culture is responsible for a pile of money that is used to promote cultural projects of all kinds: art, literature, music, museums and many more.

From a political point of view, the Germans’ relationship to their art and culture is difficult. On the one hand, they are proud of Goethe and Schiller, Bach and Bartholdy, but on the other hand, they have experienced political censorship of art and culture, especially during the Nazi era. This is also the source of the (very correct) conviction that politics should not intervene too much in culture. One should promote and enable, but otherwise allow everything that happens within the framework of artistic freedom.

The Other Side of the Coin

Promoting and enabling sounds great. But in practice it has created some structural inadequacies. Documenta is organized by a company founded specifically for this purpose, which receives over €3 million from the federal government to implement the exhibition. The federal government withdrew from the company’s supervisory board under Roth’s predecessor Grütters (CDU) in 2018. There were complaints about too little influence, but money continued to be provided.

While the company organizes the exhibition, the content is always left to changing artists or collectives. This year’s Documenta was designed by the Indonesian artist collective “ruangrupa“. Already in the run-up to the exhibition, there were increasing accusations against the collective, though at the time they could not be proven, that it had an anti-Semitic character, or at least that it would explicitly exclude Jewish artists from the Documenta. Minister of Culture Roth allegedly dealt with the accusations but defended Documenta after being assured by “ruangrupa” that the accusations were groundless.

Anti-Semitism Over and Over Again

While it is certainly true that, for historical reasons alone, the biggest problems with anti-Semitism have come from the political right, unfortunately in Germany it is also becoming a problem on the left. The group of artists responsible for “People’s Justice” is a clearly left-wing group that formed as part of the resistance against Indonesia’s military dictator Suharto. They also criticize Suharto’s support by foreign secret services, including the Mossad. Not politically, but with anti-Semitic symbols. The fact that these could be exhibited in Germany is incomprehensible. The political reactions, however, are not less unfortunate.

There is, of course, agreement that anti-Semitism should be condemned. In cultural policy, however, the actions of the more left-wing parties speak a dubious language. Roth announced a review of the anti-Semitism accusations, but these never took place. People from Roth’s circle and from the Green and Left parties participated in the “Initiative GG 5.3 Weltoffenheit,” which criticizes the German Bundestag’s resolution condemning the BDS movement as anti-Semitic. The initiative does not officially support the goals of the BDS movement, but it refuses to acknowledge that it is anti-Semitic. Since it is an artistically motivated initiative, they argue that freedom of art is guaranteed in the German constitution.

The House’s View

As someone who would describe himself as a left liberal, has Jewish friends, and began to fall in love with the prose of Jewish authors like Paul Auster, Philip Roth, and Maxim Biller a few years ago, the current situation shocks me. What bothers me most is the anti-Semitism, the discomfort, the anger, the pain it causes those affected. The lack of response to it from the political spectrum to which I belong infuriates me. The political left finds it easy to condemn anti-Semitism in others, but apparently extraordinarily difficult to recognize it within its own ranks. They know the scope of the problem throughout society, but massively underestimate the part they play in it. For instance, just the other day, an anti-Semitic caricature of Ukrainian President Zelensky was published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the largest daily newspapers in Germany and traditionally more politically left.

Freedom of art objectively ends with discrimination against individuals or entire groups. Nothing excuses anti-Semitism. The German cultural landscape, however, is not even remotely capable of coming to grips with this problem. State funding for culture – of which, by the way, there is far from enough, unfortunately – must be accompanied by structures that manage to preserve artistic freedom while at the same time preventing discrimination. To achieve this, cultural policy must become more popular again. Otherwise, the once proud artistic and cultural landscape in Germany will become the battleground for culture wars, and at some point, there won’t be much left of what everyone loves so much.


  • Gas and Nuclear Go Green: In a development with potentially far-reaching consequences for EU climate policy, the European Parliament voted this week on the Commission’s “EU Taxonomy”, which categorizes economic activities according to their environmental sustainability. The vote allows labeling nuclear and gas investments as climate friendly. The German government has accepted the decision but maintains that nuclear is not a sustainable source of energy.
  • Berlin Bungles Back to Bundestag Election: Berlin’s public administration can add one more scandal to its reputation for shoddy management: An expert commission has recommended a repetition of last year’s federal elections in several hundred polling booths in the capital. If implemented, a repetition could have implications for the make-up of the Bundestag. The Federal Returning Officer had previously criticized “systemic failure” following the botched organization of last year’s elections in Berlin, which saw large-scale delays, ballot mix-ups and general confusion. A decision is outstanding.
  • Gas Crisis Hits Gas Company: The large German gas company Uniper has asked the federal government for a bail-out following a drastic increase in energy prices. Uniper seeks about 9 billion euros in aid, more than its market value. The company is the latest victim of an escalating energy dispute with Russia following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.


By Christian, Founder and MD

As it was

The parliamentary summer break has begun and it is time to capture the mood in the country. Given the various threats we are about to face in the second half of the year, our famous “German Angst” should be the dominant summer feeling in our protection creamed necks, like


Looking at what mirrors our feelings the best and how it compares to the US, I took a look at the music charts in both countries. Let’s see! In the US, Harry Styles leads the charts with a groovy melancholic song and its lyrics might stand symbol for the current US-feeling: “In this world, it’s just us. You know it’s not the same as it was.”




Quite different in Germany. “DJ Robin & Schürze” are placed No.1 with a “song” in simple beats that is made for a raucous drunk mass that wants to blare about the beauty of “Layla” and her brothel (don’t look up the lyrics please! 🙈).

So, the mood here is a tad more like



No “Angst” but rather party is set to rule the summer of the German “plebs”. And so the political elite might opt-in to that feeling. At least our freshly wed Minister of Finance Christian Lindner and his top-journalist wife seem to have set the right tone when choosing the North Sea island Sylt for their wedding – probably THE place in Germany for a stylish and exuberant summer party and to enjoy the summer, even if not all might be as it was.