Geopolitics

Police Decode EncroChat: The Whatsapp For Organized Crime

Decoded data from messaging services have given the authorities in Germany a new weapon in the fight against gang crime, as shown in the latest raid in Berlin. Criminal families are feeling increasingly uneasy.

BERLIN — They arrived in the early morning. Some 500 police officers from Berlin and Brandenburg, officers from the state criminal investigation department, the riot squad and the counter-terrorism and special operations unit GSG 9. They stormed houses, apartments and a convenience store in Berlin, as well as two locations in Brandenburg. As they later announced without any fanfare, 30 search warrants were executed at 22 locations. Two men were arrested, members of the Remmo clan, an Arab gang made up of one extended family.

The raid targeted suspects accused of organized arms and drug deals, assault and tax evasion, among other crimes. The perpetrators were suspected of storing drugs in warehouses in Brandenburg, packing them into barrels and transporting them to Berlin.

Watch Video Show less

Watch: OneShot — 30 Years Ago, Fall Of The Berlin Wall

It marked the end of an epoch: on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell — and seemingly in an instant, the decades-long Cold War was over.

Built in 1961 by the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) to keep the different sectors of Berlin separated, the wall became the singular symbol of the Cold War divide, and a concrete example of the limits and repression of the communist system.

The final chapter of the Cold War began when East Berlin's Communist Party announced that, from midnight, citizens of the GDR could cross the Iron Curtain. "Tor auf!" ("Open the gate!")

At midnight, the checkpoints were flooded. People, from both sides, grabbed sledgehammers and picks and started to dismantle the wall themselves, paving the way for Germany's reunification and our current post-Cold War epoch.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall © University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Studies
Keep reading... Show less

Soviets Soldiers, Past And Present

In the background, one of Treptower Park"s massive monuments commemorating Soviet soldiers fallen during World War II. In the foreground, real-life Soviet soldiers still trooping around the USSR-occupied section of Berlin.

Watch: OneShot — Grandparents And A Soviet Memorial

Etienne Mallard has spent a lifetime venturing far and wide. A retired high-school philosophy teacher, he has always considered himself nothing more or less than an amateur photographer — with decent equipment. He has visited a running total now of 80 countries since he first went to Austria in 1949, all the while taking more than 20,000 pictures: from views across the Iron Curtain, a still sleepy Brazil in the 1960s to his most recent tour of the Balkans.

With a little help from his grandson (and Worldcrunch's photo editor) Bertrand, for the past five years Etienne Mallard a.k.a. "Grand-Père" has been sharing his 60+ years of travels with the world. With OneShot, he adds his voice, and our editors help make the story move.

Soviet memorial, 1967 (©Étienne Mallard/My Grand-Père's World)

At the end of World War II, several monuments were built across Berlin to commemorate the Soviet soldiers fallen during the war. Visiting in the middle of the Cold War, it was a bit risky to snap this photo of his wife Claudine walking past Soviet soldiers, who controlled East Berlin at the time.

Keep reading... Show less
SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG
Jagoda Marinić

The Real Invisible Threat To Democracy: Poverty

Even in economically powerful Germany, poverty threatens the social fabric. And neither the left or right has any real solutions — except to play to fears.

MUNICH — These are scenes that are not worthy of Germany, scenes that should not take place in a prosperous society. For example, this summer I sat down with my friends at a café on one of the lakes in Berlin and we ordered over-the-top ice cream dishes. When a family of four sat down next to us, the mother of the children looked nervously at the father. The father leaned forward and whispered to his wife: "It's ok, it's ok!" She shook her head. "I'll make it back, I promise!" The kids got their ice cream sundaes. It was a treat for them, but painful for their parents.

This is just one of many everyday scenes in Germany, the powerhouse of Europe that reports one economic success after another. Of course, no child actually needs an ice cream sundae to survive or a day of leisure at the lake. Is this poverty? Or are poor children those who cannot go to the lake at all, because their mother struggles as a single parent? Maybe these mothers would like to avoid such scenes in public. In developed industrial societies, poverty is predominantly female. After women, the second poorest category is the youth, the future of the country. Four and a half million children in Germany live in poverty; children who will not get the best out of this country and will not be able to give back their best. No, social mobility is not a "made in Germany" success story.

Watch Video Show less
Sources
Jan Vollmer

Drug-Free, Imported DJs, KGB Spies: A Singular Rave Scene In Minsk

Techno scene in Belarus faces a youth tempted by emigration, pricey vinyls and the KGB lurking in the shadows. But the nights in Minsk are still something truly remarkable.

MINSK — There are two men outside the "Re:publik" Club. They were there last night too, soon after midnight. and again at about 4 a.m. If this weren't Minsk, you would be forgiven for thinking that they just want to sell their stash of ecstasy. But no one deals in front of clubs here because even simple marijuana possession could get you five years in prison. No, those two guys are mostly likely with the intelligence services. The KGB probably.

While these would-be KGB guys look on, two girls try to get into the club without their ID but do not stand a chance. No one wants trouble with the authorities here.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Tori Otten

North Korea, Time To Face The Music

-Analysis-

As Kim Jong-un again edges the world closer to an unthinkable nuclear showdown, the tribulations of a humble music store owner in Berlin may help explain why it's so hard to figure out what to do with North Korea.

Watch Video Show less
Sources
Mathieu Bock-Côté

A Christmas Wish For Europe: Time To Defend Our Civilization

After the Christmas market attack in Berlin, the Western world would be wrong to assume it can prevent its cultural or political dissolution by merely  repeating its prayers to the glory of diversity.

-OpEd-

PARIS — There was something atrocious and yet, at the same time, terribly ordinary about the scene. A few days before Christmas, a dozen people killed and some 50 more wounded by a truck at a Christmas market in Berlin. It felt like déjà vu after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had driven into crowds in Nice on Bastille Day. Once again, a public celebration will chosen as a target to spread terror and trauma among ordinary citizens.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Sruthi Gottipati

Merkel After The Christmas Market

For some, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has become both the economic and moral leader of Europe. From tackling the eurozone's debt crisis to countering Russian ambitions to bucking the tide of populism to welcome a million refugees into her country last year, Merkel has been lauded for her quiet but principled pragmatism in the face of the most complicated national and international challenges.

But after Monday's terror attack at a Christmas market in Berlin that left 12 people dead, her already fragile sway over domestic public opinion might finally begin to slip away before crucial national elections next year.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Dominique Moïsi

Berlin’s Past Holds Warnings For Brexit And U.S. Elections

-Essay-

BERLIN â€" "No other place recalls so vividly the fragility of democracy in Europe in the 20th century."

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Thomas Harloff

Film Captures "Beautiful" Paradox Of 1945 Berlin Summer

BERLIN â€" Shortly after World War II ended, American cameramen filmed people living in Berlin. Technicolor, an expensive proposition at the time, showed people on the streets, apparently happy to have survived. The film shows the joyful faces of people, some sunbathing, others swimming in the river. But the footage is telling from what is missing in the shots: men aged between 20 and 45.

About 11 million German men were held as prisoners of war at the time. Death was on every city corner and, yet, was barely visible: mounds of turned earth, sometimes marked with small crosses or steel helmets, was its only sign.

Watch Video Show less
Migrant Lives
Michael Fabricius

Merkel Response To Refugee Crisis Tramples Rights Of Germans

-OpEd-

BERLIN â€" German authorities are now trying in every possible way to come up with solutions for sheltering the wave of refugees entering our country. But that has somehow led the state to threaten the suspension basic rights of property and ownership.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Silke Mülherr

Why Greece's Tsipras Could Prove To Be A Wise Choice

Pure necessity could turn Alexis Tsipras Greece's liberal prime minister-elect, into an unexpected reformer willing to go against client politics.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — Despite all the warnings from Europe, the Greeks voted for the leader they felt was right. Whether or not Brussels and Berlin like it, the next prime minister of Greece will be Alexis Tsipras, but does his Syriza party victory really seal the downfall of the European West, or at least the Eurozone?

Watch Video Show less
food / travel
Nataly Bleuel

Muesli In Bulk, Vodka On Tap: This Package-Free Berlin Store Could Change The World

If you want milk or Berlin-made vodka, bring your own bottles. At Original Unpackaged, there's no cardboard or shrink wrap, nothing jarred or canned. Is this the smart consumer of the future?

BERLIN — There's a new store in Berlin. And I'm not talking about the mall on Leipziger Platz that's being opened with such fanfare. There are already 65 malls in Berlin, one as ugly as the next, selling stuff from retailers like H&M, Wormland and Toys R Us that'll land on the junk heap soon enough — along with the 16 million tons of garbage produced from packaging alone every year in Germany.

The new store is notable most of all because it doesn't have any packaging, but you can still buy muesli, spaghetti and washing detergent. And of course fruit and vegetables just as you can in any store selling food and household items. And because it's in the city's Kreuzberg area, the stock is largely organic too. The store is called Original Unverpackt (Original Unpackaged), and unlike Berlin's 66th mall, it is very original indeed.

Watch Video Show less
Sources
Til Biermann

Latex And Leather: Inside A Berlin Bondage Club

When a journalist visits an old horse stable converted into a sado-masochist club, he finds surprisingly normal people who just have a different idea of foreplay.

BERLIN — Three men in their forties are standing by an old fireplace repeatedly smacking their wives’ behinds with the flat of their hands. Other couples three meters away are drinking cocktails.

The men lounge in chairs with their legs apart while the women, heads bowed, kneel on the floor. A twisted picture of domination, or so it would seem, but for these couples, it’s simply an evening’s entertainment — they want things to be this way.

Watch Video Show less
EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS