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Inside Germany: Tensions high ahead of elections, Spargeldöner and 'Barbaras Rhabarberbar'

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
Inside Germany: Tensions high ahead of elections, Spargeldöner and 'Barbaras Rhabarberbar'
The asparagus kebab at Berlin Restaurant Kebap with Attitude. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

From alarm over rising attacks on politicians to food creations and a viral German tongue twister, here's what we're talking about in Germany this week.

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Inside Germany is our weekly look at some of the news, talking points and gossip in Germany that you might not have heard about. It’s published each Saturday and members can receive it directly to their inbox by going to their newsletter preferences or adding their email to the sign-up box in this article.

Olaf Scholz urges vote for democracy amid attacks

People in Germany will head to the polls for the European elections on June 9th. Although the run-up to elections can always be heated, this year there's a more sinister atmosphere in Germany. Several politicians and campaigners have been attacked - some violently - raising concerns about the safety of public officials and bringing up memories of Germany's past. 

READ ALSO: Why are politicians in Germany facing increasing attacks?

Among the incidents have been a serious assault on Matthias Ecke, the head of the Social Democrats' European election list in the Saxony region. He was set upon by a group of youths while putting up election posters in Dresden last Friday. According to reports in German media, the four teenage attackers are thought to have links to the far-right group known as "Elblandrevolte".

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A few days later on Tuesday afternoon, the former Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey, also from the SPD, was hit on the head and neck with a bag in a library in Berlin. The increase in both verbal assaults and violence has led to calls for tougher action against people who target politicians. 

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An election poster showing Germany's Social Democratic Party SPD lead candidate Matthias Ecke for the upcoming European Parliament elections on Schandauer Strasse in the city district of Striesen in Dresden, eastern Germany on May 4th, 2024. Photo by: JENS SCHLUETER / AFP

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of the SPD, said in a podcast released on Thursday that these "attacks on our democracy concern us all. He added: "That's why we can't stand idly by when our public officials, campaigners or volunteers are brutally attacked. When campaign posters for the European elections are destroyed...The answer that each of us can give is very simple - go vote."

READ ALSO: How to register in Germany to vote in the 2024 European elections

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Would you try an asparagus kebab?

The German love of Spargel or asparagus knows no bounds. But have you tried asparagus with another German favourite - the Döner kebab?  'Döner Beelitzer Art' is the name of the creation from chef Felix Schneider from the restaurant 'Kebap with attitude' in Berlin-Mitte. White asparagus sourced from Brandenburg town Beelitz is served in flatbread with grilled beef, lettuce, hollandaise sauce, strawberry-ginger jam and wild garlic mayonnaise. It's a more up-market take on the well-known classic street food - and it will set you back €14.90. Managing director Deniz Buchholz said the restaurant was inspired to bring together German and Turkish cuisine. "It has been a passion project for years to bring the two cultures, Beelitz asparagus and kebab, together," he said.

Readers in Bavaria may be aware of another spot that's been serving up asparagus kebabs for a while. Elif Gül has been making Spargeldöner in the town of Abensberg in Lower Bavaria for around five years. Gül serves it in the classic way with kebab meat and salad. There is also hollandaise sauce and "just a little onion so that the asparagus flavour is not masked", Gül says. Abensberg is a well-known asparagus region and this particular kebab is very popular, according to Gül.

The Döner also appeared in the news this week in another capacity - The Left party (Die Linke) are calling for a price cap for the delicacy or a Dönerpreisbremse in the face of rising living costs. The party reportedly wants to see kebab prices capped at €4.90 and €2.90 for schoolchildren. They also want to see price caps on rent, gas and grocery items. 

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The German tongue twister going viral on TikTok

Apologies in advance because you are going to get this song stuck in your head (if you haven't already). On TikTok and Instagram, people around the world are dancing to a German tongue twister, and millions are watching. The song - called 'Barbaras Rhabarberbar' (Barbara's Rhubarb Bar) was written by cabaret artist Bodo Wartke and turned into a rap song at the end of 2023 with the help of Marti Fischer. Now it appears almost everyone, including celebrities, is trying the Barbaras Rhabarberbar dance. 

If dancing isn't your thing, the tongue-in-cheek song - about a woman named Barbara and her rhubarb cakes - is one to try and sing along to if you're practicing your German pronunciation (it's very difficult). 

Wartke, who received the German Language Prize from the Henning Kaufmann Foundation in 2023, already became an internet hit a few months ago with his own version of the tongue twister ‘Der dicke Dachdecker deckt das Dach’. (The fat roofer covers the roof). In an interview with Stern magazine, he described his current success as an "absolute fluke", adding: "We just wanted to have a bit of fun."

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