german politics

Angela Merkel – Germany’s first scientist?

Angela Merkel  - Germany's first scientist?
© Pixabay

She was the Time magazine’s person of the year 2015, and people refer to her as the mightiest woman in the world: Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. If she wins the election in 2017 for the fourth period, she will be head of government as long as her longtime mentor Helmut Kohl was. If not, she will also become one of the most iconic chancellors in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The life of Angela Merkel before Politics

Angela Merkel was born in 1954 in Hamburg but grew up in the GDR in the Uckermark near Berlin. The general public sees her as the first chancellor from the east. Her origin has also always been some issue that was sometimes named when it comes to criticizing Angela Merkel: Her past in the GDR. As a youngster in the socialist state, she had to join the Freie Deutsche Jugend, the youth organization of the GDR. But she did not only participate in it but was also a referent for cultural issues during her times in university. She was never part of the SED-Party, but also never participated in any opposition. Angela Merkel was more a scientist, and therefore she might have kept herself out of anything that could have harmed her academic career. She became a Physicist and even graduated with her Ph.D.

Some people say that her scientific way to solve problems is also a characteristic of her way to act in politics: Don’t rush into something, just look at it in quiet, analyze it and then find a solution. It is this way of dealing with problems that gave her respect, but also a lot of criticism when Angela Merkel became chancellor. When it came to public discussions, she often kept it small and just remained quiet. That’s why she sometimes even was called the Teflon Chancellor because everything just bounces off her.

On the way to Leadership

As she was elected first in 2005, Angela Merkel was not completely unknown. She was a fellow of Helmut Kohl who more or less stood in the background. But she is said to have prepared her rise inside the party CDU precisely. In 1999, she dared to criticize Helmut Kohl in public in an article in the Newspaper FAZ – something that was unthinkable before inside the CDU and especially risky for her because Kohl was something like her mentor. But this step made her soon become the chairwomen of the party itself which led to the opportunity to become the candidate for the chancellorship.

As chancellor, Angela Merkel was not only known for her analytic behavior, but also for her attitude to strengthen the European Integration and therefore the European Union. She became close to both Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, last one of course because she is also fluent in Russian.

But some of her most infective actions just took place in the last few years. First, she was known for her strict course towards the debtors inside the European Union, most of all Greece, whose people even  referred to her as the second Hitler. She also strengthened the leading role of Germany inside Europe which had the same effect on some groups. On the other hand, she also became popular among left voters for her course during the refugee crisis and her bon mot “Wir schaffen das!” (we will handle it!).

Angela Merkel is both respected and hated, but which one of the political leaders is not? But one thing is for sure: Her way to deal with things like a physician has influenced Germany probably more than any other could have done in the last ten years.

Angela Merkel - Germany's first scientist?
german food and restaurants

Der Biergarten – A Garden full of Beer?

Der Biergarten - A Garden full of Beer
© Pixabay

Beer garden Eden

The days are getting longer, the temperature is rising and suddenly it is summer. One of the best things you can do in Germany during the warm season is to visit a beer garden, especially when you are somewhere in the south of the country. Especially in Bavaria, you can not only see clichés become real, but also have some refreshing beverages and a traditional, yet timeless experience of “Gemütlichkeit”.

The History of beer gardens in Germany

You can find Biergärten all over the country, but the real ones are more to be found in the southern Bundesländer of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, just like their origin. The history of those beer gardens is tightly bound to the history of brewing. Thus, a bit of previous knowledge is important. In the 19th century, there was not such a wide variety of beers like you can find today in Germany, mostly because of the lack of cooling techniques. The most common beer in Munich, the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, was thus the Märzen (from März = March). It is a bottom-fermenting beer (untergärig, the opposite of obergärig), one of the two basic kinds of brewing according to the Bavarian purity law. In this sort of beer, the brewers use a particular kind of yeast – a yeast that only ferments at temperatures between four and eight degrees Celsius for brewing. Therefore, the beer could not only just be brewed in the winter months (until the end of March), it was also hard to store it during summer: It hat to be stored cool to stay fresh. To do so, the brewers used deep cellars. On top of those cellars, they planted chestnut trees that shaded the light to increase the ability to cool the precious brew and, at the same time, do not damage the vault with their flat roots.

Soon, some of the brewers got an idea: They sold their beer just out of the cellar and also placed some simple chairs and tables just under the shady trees on top of them where the thirsty customers could sit and enjoy their beverage. Because the other pub-owners protested, King of Bavaria Maximilian I. proclaimed in 1812 that the master brewers could sell their beer and also some bread, but no other meals. Out of this fact, people were allowed to bring their own “Brotzeit” (a traditional snack) to enjoy with their alcoholic drink. That’s why even today it is a maintained tradition that it’s allowed to bring your meal to the Biergarten (but of course not your drinks).  Outside of Bavaria, this tradition is in some places uncommon and especially in beer gardens that are part of a restaurant or a pub it’s sometimes not allowed to do so. So better ask or just observe other visitors before unpacking your sandwich.

Beer Garden Culture nowadays

Today, there are numerous beer gardens, also outside of Bavaria, thus you will find the real traditional ones mostly in this Bundesland. Especially in Munich, there are several well-known Biergärten, for example at the Hirschgarten-Park where you can experience the right kind of Bavarian Gemütlichkeit. They are still very common places to be in summer and also to meet new friends because of their long tables where it’s not unusual to sit with strangers and enjoy a Maß or a Weißbier. Most of them are also offering traditional dishes in self-service if you have forgotten to bring your own. Of course, you can also get non-alcoholic drinks there. So don’t miss out on having an authentic time beneath one of the chestnut-trees.

Der Biergarten - A Garden full of Beer
german sports

The Miracle of Bern – Das Wunder von Bern

The Miracle of Bern - Das Wunder von Bern
© Pixabay

When the German national soccer team won the World Cup in 2014, the whole country got on a razzle-dazzle. The fans of the team were expecting the cup for many years, and it was a kind of a relief to finally become the best Mannschaft of the World for the fourth time. There was a triumph in soccer in the past that was much more important for Germany and the Germans than the last one. It was the championship of the year 1954 where the so-called “Wunder von Bern” (Miracle of Bern) took place.

The importance of the Match in Bern

It was more than a soccer game. It was an event that gave the Germans the feeling that they could reach something in the world unrelated to terror and war. Not even ten years before, World War II ended with millions of people dead. Germany was still lying in ashes, and the guilt of what happened was visible in everyday life, not to mention the country’s status inside the international community. It was an occupied country, and it wasn’t even clear what would happen to it or if it could ever be “normal” again. Also in matters of soccer, Germany had to endure the consequences of the war and the Holocaust: The German soccer association (Deutscher Fußball Bund, DFB) had been dissolved in 1940, and almost every nation boycotted the German national soccer team since then. Only the Swiss team has played some international matches against Germany.

Thus, the World Cup was an excellent opportunity for the Mannschaft to gain some international sporting experience again. In the early 1950s, Germany tended to stabilize itself. The economy was also growing. International acceptance got bigger after the foundation of the Bundesrepublik in 1949. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer tried to show the world slowly that not all Germans are evil. Also, the national team had been accepted to participate in the championship the first time after the war. Although the players had little experience, they managed to get through the tournament and reached the final game against Hungary.

A tense Final

It has been a nerve-racking final in the Wankdorfstation in Bern. Both teams scored two goals until the break. It was Helmut Rahn who scored the goal that made West-Germany world champion in minute 84. This goal was not only celebrated in Bern but also all over Germany because this world cup had been the first one the Germans could widely receive via radio or even TV. The German commentator Herbert Zimmermann became a legend because of his emotional way to describe the events and almost any German today can at least recite one of his sentences he spoke during the game.

The impact of the “Wunder von Bern”

The win evoked a sheer wave of euphoria all over Germany. The notable players traveled back in a special train that stopped in many West-German cities where the heroes of Bern were celebrated frenetic. The world cup was not only the first time a German team was allowed to participate and also not only the first time the German national anthem played on an official sports event, but it was also the starting signal for the Wirtschaftswunder. In this time started the rapid rise of the German economy that gave people prosperity and self-esteem again. Even today this event is still vivid in Germany’s collective memory.

The Miracle of Bern - Das Wunder von Bern
german media

Bud Spencer – The Incarnation of the "Haudrauf-Film"

Bud Spencer - The Incarnation of the "Haudrauf-Film"
von Elekes Andor (Eigenes Werk) CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

In the year of 2016, many beloved celebrities have gone, for example, the singer Prince or Lemmy from Motörhead. But another man died who was something like an icon for many people, not only in Germany. Bud Spencer died on June 27th. But his movies, his bon mots and all in all his life’s work will remain unforgotten. Let’s take a look back on his efforts and try to understand why he was such a beloved person for many Germans.

The beginning of his Career

Bud Spencer was born in 1929 as Carlo Pedersoli in Naples, Italy. Unlike his later appearance, he soon became very successful in sports, especially in swimming. He was a tall and athletic young man who gained many successes in the water. In 1949, the 20-years old Carlo won the national swimming championship, later he even became part of the Italian Olympic team and succeeded in the games of 1952 in Helsinki, 1956 in Melbourne and 1960 in Rome. But not only swimming was his big talent, but also in water polo (or in German, Wasserball). One of his greatest efforts in this game was winning the Italian championship with his team S.S. Lazio Rome and also winning a gold medal in the Mediterranean Games of 1955. 

Bud Spencer and Terrace Hill

At the same time, Carlo Pedersoli started his acting career, first in some shallow Italian movies, later also in western movies that have been very popular in the 1960s and 1970s. In this time, he also met the unknown actor Mario Girotti aka Terrance Hill. To make their names sound more international and also more western, Girotti changed his name and so did Pedersoli: He chose the name “Bud Spencer.” Both met again on another movie set and soon became a duo, many movies followed like “They called me trinity” or “I’m for the Hippopotamus.” All the movies had in common that both Spencer and Hill never got tired of beating up their enemies, most of the time in an extreme and sometimes even silly way. They both soon became the incarnation of the so-called “Haudrauf-Film.”

These movies are still all-time-classics and many people, also the youngsters, have seen them and can quote at least one sentence. Their extreme way of beating up people by making it look slapstick-like also influenced the German language today: The verb “Budspencern” means to beat up a group of people in a superior and somehow comical way. 

Although Bud Spencer started many other projects in his later life like becoming a politician, it is the movies that made him well-known around the world and especially in Europe. Many young people even admire him in the way of a cult that made him somehow iconic. As the city of Schwäbisch Gmünd asked the citizens for a name for a new to build a tunnel, of course, the suggestion “Bud-Spencer-Tunnel” won the polling. Thus, the city council refused to name the tunnel after Pedersoli but gave their public swimming pool his name: it is now known as the Bud-Spencer-Bad. Also, a hill near the city is now called Terrance Hill. But with all this honoring, Bud Spencer remained a modest man until his death. That’s one reason why so many people still admire him so much.

Bud Spencer - The Incarnation of the "Haudrauf-Film"
german politics

A quick Overview of the Political System in Germany

A quick Overview of the Political System in Germany
© Pixabay

 

 

Politics influence everything, so it is always good to be informed. But for knowing what you are talking about, you have to have the necessary information about the system you are living in. So let’s try to make a quick overview of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

A representing President

 

If you have your origin in the United States or France, you would think that the president is the most powerful person in the state – but not in Germany. In fact, the Federal Republic just has a president in a representative manner. He (or she) does not have a lot of political power. More like the Queen of Great Britain, he represents the values of the nation and here and there makes statements. Besides, he has to sign the bills and appoint the ministers. The reason for this fact is simple: Germany has had some dreadful experiences with one person having the power of the whole state. That’s why all of German politics aim at preventing to let one person gain too much influence.

 

Bundestag and Bundesrat

 

Germany is therefore not only a federal but also a parliamentary republic. That means that the parliament has the power, the so-called Bundestag (not to mix up with the Reichstag: That’s just the name of the building.). The members of the Bundestag (all in all 630) are voting and passing the bills. But with Germany being also a federal republic, another chamber is part of the legislative system, the Bundesrat. As soon as the bill is at any place affecting the matters of the 16 Bundesländer, the Bundesrat has also to vote for and then pass the bill. Sounds a bit confusing? It is, also for those who are well-educated in politics.

 

The role of the Chancellor

 

The Chancellor, at the moment Angela Merkel, is also part of the Parliament and has, of course, a mandate. Thus executive and legislative are at a certain amount mixed, but that’s not a problem at all: The Bundeskanzler has to be elected by the members of parliament and not by the citizens. The Bundestag controls the Bundeskanzler, although he or she sets the basic principles of the German policy in advance (the so-called Kanzlerdemokratie). The parliament can dismiss the chancellor in different ways – the konstruktives Misstrauensvotum (motion of no confidence) and the Vertrauensfrage (where the chancellor asks the parliament for loyalty). The first thing happened twice until now, the second one five times.

 

The chancellor is not only part of the parliament, but also head of the government (but not the head of state). Therefore, he/she is choosing different ministers for his/her government. Because Germany has a multi-party system, the chancellor needs to follow the result and the ratio of the election when naming the ministers. Because of that, normally a coalition between two or more parties has to be made to form a functioning government. Otherwise, the government would not have the parliament’s majority to rule the country properly.

 

Separated from the executive and the legislative is of course also in Germany the judicative. There is a close link to the idea of federalism: Each Land has its courts, but the highest instance is the Bundesgerichtshof and therefore a court of the Bund (The Federal Republic).

 

One could write pages and pages more about the rather complicated system, but this overview should give you a first impression. If you are planning to learn more about the political system in Germany, just take a look at the page of the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal office of political education).

Political System Germany
Culture german history

Die Berliner Luftbrücke – The Berlin Airlift

Die Berliner Luftbrücke - The Berlin Airlift
© Pixabay

Berlin is a city full of rich history, culture and diversity. It has witnessed many deep impacts, was severely destroyed during WW II and separated afterwards. But nothing might have influenced the city more like the Berlin Blockade and the Luftbrücke: From June 1948 until May 1949, the Western Part of Berlin was blocked by the Soviet Union.

 

 

The Berlin Blockade

 

To understand the meaning of the Berlin Blockade, you have to know about the geographic situation and the history. The allied forces and the Soviet Union split the city into four occupation zones: The three western zones of the US, Great Britain, and France and the eastern zone of the Soviet Union. The last one was later also a part of the GDR and its capital, whereas the western parts of Berlin became part of the western Federal Republic of Germany.

 

 

 

To rebuild the country after the war, the three western occupants decided to introduce a new currency in the western sectors: The Deutsche Mark. The introduction of the new currency happened in 1948 without the Soviets knowing about it. The eastern occupants then feared the flooding of their zone being with the old currency, the Reichsmark. To prevent this, they had to introduce a new currency in the East, also called Mark. But the standing of Berlin was yet unsolved: The Russians planned to introduce their currency in whole Berlin, the French, British and Americans refused: The Deutsche Mark should also be the currency of West-Berlin. The tension between the Allies and the Russians grew in the following month and Berlin became more and more a game point of world politics once again.

 

 

 

But the Russians had one big trump in their hands: Because Berlin was just an enclave inside the eastern zone, the Soviet Forces just blocked all the entries to the western part of the city. They could do so because Berlin was still a big field expanse of rubble and was not able to take care of itself or the two million inhabitants in the western sectors. The Russians cut all entries on the land, the rivers and also railroads and the electric cables.

 

 

 

The establishment of the Luftbrücke

 

The Allies now had two possibilities: To give up the city and make the Russians overtake their sectors or to try everything to supply the inhabitants. They did the last one. They could to so because there have been three air corridors to Berlin that had been guaranteed by a particular treaty – to be in sharp conflict to the land and the rivers where there wasn’t any treaty like that.

 

 

 

The Allies and especially the Americans then decided to use those corridors to supply the city by airlift. It was a huge duty for the pilots and their stuff and also for the political decision-makers. Over 8.000 tons of goods had to be delivered to the city each day: Not only food but also common products like coal or gasoline. The allied managed to do over 200.000 flights in one year to save the inhabitants of starving – and also to prove the Russians their stamina. Over one year later, they reached their goal: The Soviet Union stopped the Blockade, all the necessary goods could be delivered by land and water again. The Berliners thus are still thankful to the Americans that they have never given them up.

Die Berliner Luftbrücke - The Berlin Airlift
Culture

Vereine – Associations in Germany

Vereine - Associations in Germany
© Pixabay

Are you a Vereinsmeier?

Wanderlust, Fernweh, Fahrvergnügen – there are many words in the German language that one can’t translate into English. Many of them also describe some basic German virtues. One you might not know yet is “Vereinsmeierei.” It represents the German specialty to organize themselves in voluntary associations or, as you would better call it, Vereine. But a Vereinsmeier does more than that: He (or she) lives the Verein – or better, even more than just one. You can find a Verein for almost everything in Germany and some would even say you are not a real German if you are not a member of at least one.

 

The best-known kind of Verein

This might be the Fußballverein (football club). It is of course also possible in Germany to play soccer outside a club, but almost everybody who likes to score goals not only in the yard but on a real field will sooner or later be at a point when he or she joins a Fußballverein. In this example, it becomes apparent what’s the difference between a Verein and just a loose group of people doing the same stuff together. A real Verein is “eingetragen,” that means it has been officially registered and thus has the letters e.V. at the end of its official name (as you can see, for example, the former logo of FC Bayern München e.V. that was used until 1996.

But when you think you can just get incorporated and get started, you are wrong: If you get engaged in such an association in Germany, you are into some serious business. Not only do you have to come together at least once a year to vote for a chairman, a cashier, and others, you also have to participate in the activities of the Verein, depending on its orientation, and there are many different styles of clubs in Germany.

 

Famous types of  Vereine

One of the most “notorious” Verein is the Schützenverein (Shooting Club). There are not only uncountable Schützenvereine in Germany, but it is also the one with the most current clichés about the members and the tradition. Shooting is very restricted in Germany and therefore, most of the shooters use air guns. But mostly it’s not about shooting at all; it is the kind of tradition that comes with joining such a Schützenverein. The annual presentation of the most successful shooter, the Schützenkönig (King of the Shooters) is at least as important as the gatherings like the Schützenfest that comes with the “crowning” of the King. Of course, each of the Schützen has a Uniform.

Many of them are not only for pleasure but for helping others or the members. Selbsthilfevereine (self-help associations) for example can help alcoholics or other addicts with their problems by coming together with other affected persons. Also, Junggesellenvereine (bachelor associations) exist where singles gather to have fun or even to have the opportunity to find somebody to love.

But whereas shooting might be something more or less sportive and helping others something noble, there are also associations that occur just a bit bizarre, for example, the snuffing or smoking clubs that also organize competitions in snuffing or smoking. There is, in fact, a Verein for everything. So if you are a Vereinsmeier yourself, make it to Germany.

Vereine - Associations in Germany
Culture german customs and traditions

Über Integrationskurse – About Integration Courses

Über Integrationskurse - About Integrationcourses
© Pixabay

Everybody is talking about immigration, refugees, whether they are allowed to stay or even who is allowed and who not. But what’s next? What happens if somebody comes to Germany and gets his permission to stay? Besides the urge of a flat and work, there is one crucial aspect: Learning the language and getting integrated into German society. Because both is not easy in many cases, there is the opportunity and, sometimes, even the obligatory to attend an Integrationskurs  – an integration course.

Who has to attend an Integrationskurs?

First of all, not everybody who is coming to Germany and is planning to stay is obligated to attend such a course. It would not even be possible because there aren’t even enough courses for those who need one. There is a difference between the obligatory and the optional courses. As soon as somebody gets his or her Aufenthaltsgestattung, the permission for staying in the country, he or she can apply for a course until three months after receipt.

But as said before, sometimes you have to take a course. This is the case if the Ausländerbehörde (the bureau for foreigners) has the opinion that you are particularly needy to get integrated into German society, for example, if you won’t find a job. This is also the case if you will receive social welfare of a particular kind or, for instance, your kids have problems at school that could be put down to you or your behavior.

What does an Integrationskurs include?

No matter if somebody is obligated or not, the Integrationskurs contains two different parts: Learning the language and learning about the culture of Germany. Both is, of course, very tightly linked and especially the language course ought to teach you about the cultural circumstances of your new home country. The language course consists of 600 hours of lessons, separated into basic and advanced courses. The focus of this courses lies especially on coming around in your everyday life as a new citizen of Germany. Consequently, you will not only learn how to deal with your neighbors or the people at the bakery but also how to understand German bureaucracy. The goal is “intercultural competence” and you can achieve it through ongoing analysis of the differences between Germany and the according culture of origin. At the end of this language course, you will have to pass the Deutsch-Test für Zuwanderer (German test for foreigners).

What happens afterwards?

After 600 hours of learning the German language, the second part – the Orientierungskurs (orientation course) – contains just 60 hours. It is designed to teach the participants about German culture, history, law and matters of dealing with your fellow citizens. Also, this course ends with a test.

The classes are not held by public governmental agencies, but by social institutions. They get a certain amount of their money by the German state, but also the participant of the course has to pay one-half of the costs. Because the payment for the social institutions depends on the number of participants, there have also been cases of fraud where the participants could only speak unsatisfactory German.

But after all, integration courses are a superb opportunity for new citizens to become a part of this country by learning not only its language but also its very own culture.

Über Integrationskurs - About Integrationcourses
Living in germany transportation

Live in Germany – Travelling between cities

Travelling between cities
© Pixabay

Germany has many beautiful places worth visiting. But besides the beauty of the country, it is also one of the largest in the European Union. So what to do if you are planning to travel Germany, to see as many places as possible and all this perhaps even in a very short time? Don’t waste time by making yourself an overview how to travel from city to city: Here you can get all the possibilities at once.

Travelling by Car

Germany is a nation of car drivers and also car manufacturers. The inventor of the car was German, just as the man who thought out the engine. You know BMW, Audi, Mercedes and of course the Autobahn. The last one is the reason why traveling by car is an excellent opportunity to come around in the Bundesrepublik. The country has one of the largest and also best-equipped highway systems in the world. You can get everywhere by using a car (watch Tom Hanks talking about his experiences on the Autobahn here). There are many areas where you can drive as fast as you want, and the Autobahn is (still) free of toll. So it is always a good way to get around very quickly – at least if you don’t get stuck in a traffic jam. As an alternative, you can also use the Landstraßen where you can see much more of the countryside.

Mitfahrgelegenheit

If you don’t have an own car, there is the possibility to join a Mitfahrgelegenheit (car pooling). There are many different platforms like blablacar.de on the internet that offer those lifts. They cost about 5 or 6 Euros per 100 Kilometers.

Travelling by Hitchhiking

If you are on a low budget trip, hitchhiking can also be a possibility. Germans are rather open to pick up hitchhikers, and it is common to do. Also, it is mostly very safe to ride with a stranger. But beware: If you are hitchhiking on an Autobahn, only do it from the service areas. It is forbidden to catch rides on the Autobahn itself or the motorway slip. A sign with your direction can be helpful.

Travelling by Bus

A rather new way of traveling in Germany is the so-called Fernbus. These modern and comfortable buses connect almost every major city and also the smaller ones getting better connections every month. Those buses are equipped with Wifi and toilets, but can be very crowded on weekends. But after all, they are a cheap way of coming around. Of course, they are also delicate to get stuck in traffic.

Travelling by Plane

There are many international and even regional airports in Germany, but mostly only the long distances, for example from Munich to Hamburg, are worth flying. Germany is just too small to go by plane inside the country. There are cheaper ways that are also more environmentally friendly. If you are flexible and booking a few weeks before, you can get a domestic flight for about 120 Euros.

Travelling by Train

The German railroad system is very well established. There are not only regional trains but also high-speed trains called ICE that connect the major cities of Germany. Unfortunately, the Deutsche Bahn is rather expensive and has a very complicated pricing system. An excellent way to get a cheap ticket is to have a look on ltur.de. There you can get cheap tickets always from one week before the date of travel. If you are flexible and not fixed on Friday or Sunday, you can get a one-way ticket even all the way through Germany for 27 Euros.

Travelling between cities
german industry

German Technology – The DIN-Norm

German Technology - The DIN Norm
© CurtisMmedia // Pixabay

Everything has its rules in Germany. It is not only a standard cliché but also true in many cases – especially when you take a look at the so-called DIN, the Deutsche Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization). This institute might be as German as Bratwurst and Sauerkraut. But besides confirming a cliché, it also makes the country and especially its economy work like a well-oiled machine.

The Origins of the DIN

It all began in times of war: When the German Reich was participating in World War I, every capacity of German industry was used for producing the goods they needed for the battles, especially shells, products of armor and machinery. For that purpose, factories in every part of the Reich had to contribute their parts. When they later have been assembled, they often just didn’t fit. That is why there was the need to standardize those goods – the so-called Deutsche Industrie-Norm (German industry norm) was born. The first step was to create production standards for heavy machines – they consist of uncountable different and sometimes even tiny parts, a proper fitting was, therefore, obligatory. The first part to be standardized was thus the taper pin, many other followed.

The war ended, and the German Kaiserreich stopped to exist, but the DIN was still alive and gained more and more importance. In the year 1920, the Deutsche Industrie-Normen became a voluntary association, and in the following years, it published those norms that are not only still in use, but the best known until today, for example, the DIN 476 that defines the different sizes of paper. It is not only used today (for example as size A4) but was also taken over by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to an international norm. Another popular standard was established in that time, the DIN 1451 that is still defining the letters of traffic signs in Germany. 

The Principles and Importance of the DIN in Germany

Soon, not only industrial goods were standardized by the DIN, but also other products of daily use. In the 1970s, the foundation even signed a treaty with the German government that proves that the DIN will be consulted in every matter of standardization of public goods and also that it will represent Germany in international affairs of standardization. Today, the DIN-norm (DIN 820) even defines the fundamental principles of the DIN: It says, for example, that norms are made for the public and not for the benefits of single companies and also that they are made to improve every part of life.

For that purpose, everybody can ask for a norm for something by just addressing the DIN and explaining the reasons why standardization would be necessary in this particular case. After publishing, they become a kind of recommendation towards industry, manufacturers, distributors and the customers: Nobody should be forced to follow the norm, but most of the affected persons and companies would normally do – it just makes things much easier. But in some cases, the German government even takes advantage of the DIN’s work by referring to their norms when passing new laws. Then, the norms become obligatory. So appreciate the work of this German institution when writing on a sheet of A4 paper the next time.

German Technology - The DIN Norm