Cherry Tree Massacre

Bike thefts are down 11% in Berlin. Just over 30,000 bikes were reported stolen in the past year, 4000 less than the year before. Has the flood of shared bikes helped?

There’s been a cherry tree massacre at the Garten der Welt in Marzahn. Seventeen cherry trees were chopped down on Sunday. The kirchbäume were the garden’s biggest drawcard each spring during the cherry blossom season. The gardens have been targeted by protests over a plan to have sheep and cattle graze on nearby paddocks.

Don’t be confused if soon see U3 trains running on the U1 line. The BVG is extending the U3 all the way to Warschauer Straße to increase service frequency. In the past 10 years, passenger numbers have increased by 17%, but there are about 5% less carriages.

The Berlin Feminist Film Week is on now with a programme of movies made by women, transgender and queer film-makers. It’s on at Crcrl in Neukölln and Babylon in Mitte until Wednesday March 14.

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Maisie Hitchcock, and brought to you by RadioEins.

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RS Live: Inside Tempelhof

Film director Karim Ainouz tells us what life was really like for refugees living in Tempelhof airport. His documentary “Zentralflughafen THF” was filmed in the camp, which recently closed.

Could public transport in Germany soon be free? The federal government suggested it as a way of reducing air pollution from diesel cars. What would Berlin be like if dirty cars are banned? Should car manufacturers be made to pay for cheating and lying?

Maisie says Berlin’s U-Bahns are filling up with more passengers. That might be because the BVG has cut costs and failed to order enough trains. They’re now allowing graffiti-tagged carriages to stay on the tracks.

This episode was recorded live at the Comedy Cafe Berlin on Sunday February 25, 2018. Hosts: Maisie Hitchcock, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

Image © Juan Sarmiento, Luxbox films.

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How To F#€k Up An Airport – Episode 3: Money for Nothing


BER has been built twice – the first time incorrectly, the second time incompletely. We hear from Marco, an engineer who worked on site. Employees were busy stealing copper instead of fixing the fire system. Some managers got rich taking bribes. Informers had their coffee poisoned.

Joel and Jöran drive out to the unfinished BER terminal to inspect the too-short escalators that end with stairs. They were just one of 150,000 mistakes discovered in an audit after the 2012 cancellation. Cables were stuffed together in overloaded enclosures – a fire risk. The sprinkler pipes were too small to carry the required water. More than 600 fire walls had to be reconstructed. And the builders forgot to install lightning rods.

Even when it’s fixed, BER will need another overhaul: “As soon as they open it they have to modernize it,” Marco says. “The technology is old standards. New airports are already building in a different way. This is going to be from the beginning an old airport.”

But finally, heads are starting to roll… the wrong heads. The BER supervisory board fires the only people who know what’s going on, creating new chaos. Then they fire the CEO Rainer Schwarz, but bungle the paperwork. Will any politician ever take responsibility?

How To Fuck Up An Airport is presented by Radio Spaetkauf and RadioEins.
Producer: Joel Dullroy
Presenters: Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern
Music: Ducks!
Artwork: Jim Avignon

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How To Fuck Up An Airport – Episode 2: Double The Recipe


Days away from the planned 2012 opening party, nothing seemed wrong at BER. What was really going on? On this episode, we look at how the airport managers and politicians were messing with the plans, even as construction was underway.

They demanded a 70% increase in terminal space to add hundreds of extra shops, and requested special double story boarding gates for the supersized Airbus A380, even though no airline requested it. Instead of a working fire safety system, they planned to hire up to 800 people to act as human fire alarms.

Despite multiple warnings, the airport board pushed ahead with opening party plans right up until May 8, 2012, when the first major delay was announced. We meet the man who put a stop to it all – Stephan Loge, the administrator of the Brandenburg building department.

Also on this episode, Joel and Jöran visit the Schönefeld S-Bahn station in search of the empty train that runs nightly to the unfinished airport to keep air moving through the tunnels.

How To Fuck Up An Airport is presented by Radio Spaetkauf and RadioEins.
Producer: Joel Dullroy
Presenters: Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern
Music: Ducks!
Artwork: Jim Avignon

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Support us with a monthly donation!

How To Fuck Up An Airport – Episode 1: Without A Plan


Every Berliner knows the new airport is late. Few know exactly why. We’re here to explain. BER is the international airport code for Berlin Brandenburg Airport, nickname Willy Brandt. It has also become a signifier of failure, incompetence, corruption and Berlin’s general inability to get its act together.

If you’ve flown to Berlin Schönefeld Airport in the last few years, you’ll have seen BER as your plane taxied along the runway. But despite outward appearances, BER is far from finished. It has been under construction for 11 years, blown through six opening dates, three general managers and two state leaders. Costs have ballooned from around €1 billion to at least €5.4 billion.

Across this series, you’ll learn why the escalators are too short, why the lights are always on, and why the rooms seemed to be numbered by bingo. We’ll interview insiders and disgruntled workers, chase ghost trains running to the terminal, and go inside the unfinished airport.

On this episode we’ll go way back to before any plans had been drawn, before even the Berlin wall had come down, to discover the foundational flaws that continue to haunt the unfinished airport.

How To Fuck Up An Airport is presented by Radio Spaetkauf and RadioEins.
Producer: Joel Dullroy
Presenters: Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern
Music: Ducks!
Artwork: Jim Avignon

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Support us with a monthly donation!

RS Live: A Supermarket for Trash

Germans throw out one truck’s worth of good food each minute. SirPlus is a supermarket that sells groceries that are past their best-before date but are still edible. Founder Raphael Fellmer joins us with a basket of typical products from his shelves. You can visit the shop at Wilmersdorfer Staße 59, or you can order a home delivery box at: http://www.sirplus.de

Konrad Werner explains why Germans are terrified of fresh elections. The country still doesn’t have a governing coalition and might need to go back to the polls. Joel suggests a policy to add to coalition negotiations: abolishing the racist term “Schwarzer Peter” (Black Peter) to refer to a trouble-maker. Newspapers often use the shameful term to refer to the FDP, which walked out of coalition negotiations. Listen to Konrad’s podcast here: http://bit.ly/2zsamzo

You might have heard of Berlin’s top league football team Hertha BSC. But the city is also home to numerous neighbourhood clubs across seven different football leagues. Bloody Hell Magazine is an English-language blog that celebrates local football teams. Writers Ben, Dave and Alex join us to share their passion. Read more at: http://bloodyhellmagazine.com

Iconic Berlin illustrator and musician Jim Avignon joins us to perform live and talk about his new art book, Business As Unusual. He tells us how he managed to rediscover his love for Berlin despite how much it has changed during his 30 years here. Find his book here: http://bit.ly/2hW0jLC

This is our last live recording for 2017. Stay tuned for our upcoming spin-off podcast focusing exclusively on the debacle at Berlin Brandenburg Airport BER.

Recorded at Comedy Cafe Berlin on Sunday November 26. Your hosts: Jöran Mandik, Maisie Hitchcock, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

Full transcript available here.

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Watery Grave for Shared Bikes

The number of public bikes in Berlin increased to 6200 this week when Chinese company Mobike placed 700 of their orange and silver bicycles on the streets. They’re not to be confused with O-Bike, the Singaporean company that introduced 500 yellow-framed bikes just a few weeks earlier. In other cities, Mobike gives users credits for reporting broken bikes, and takes away credits for poor parking and “abandoning the bike when intercepted by police.”

The Berlin transport department says another three bike sharing companies have expressed interest in operating here. Radio Spaetkauf co-host Jöran Mandik discovered a watery graveyard of Lidl Bikes in the Landwehrkanal near Admiralsbrücke where some hater has been throwing them.

Police in Berlin recovered over 100 stolen items formerly belonging to John Lennon. A man has been arrested for allegedly selling the objects, worth an estimated €3 million, via an online auction website. They items were stolen from Yoko Ono by her former chauffeur, and passed on to a fence in Berlin. The auction website’s former managers says it didn’t know the items were stolen.

This Sunday is our very last live show of the year. Jim Avignon, an iconic Berlin illustrator and musician, is our special musical guest. The whole team will be on stage at the Comedy Cafe Berlin in Neukölln. Doors open at 3.30pm, show starts at 4pm, entry is free.

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Maisie Hitchcock, and brought to you by Radio Eins.

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Put Up Rent, Cheat Tax: How Berlin Landlords Stay Rich


Dodgy Berlin real estate deals have been discovered in the Paradise Papers. According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, a company called Phoenix Spree based on the Isle of Jersey has been buying Berlin property, forcing out tenants, putting up the rent, then sending the profits to offshore accounts where they pay little tax. Wondering why rents are going up and where that extra money is going? Now you know. Another trick highlighted in the Paradise Papers are so-called share deals. Investors avoid Berlin’s 6% property sales tax by buying shares in companies that own property, instead of the property directly. This trick robs the city of €100 million euros annually, according to the Berlin finance department. The Sony Center was sold for €1.1 billion in October under such a share deal. None of these tricks are illegal. They’re simply immoral.

The Berlin Police Academy in Spandau is in the headlines. An anonymous letter published in the Tagesspiegel alleged Arabic gang members were being accepted as recruits. A police union spokesman claimed gangs were grooming some of their members to get into the police academy, by holding them back from committing crimes to keep their records clean. Berlin’s chief of police, Klaus Kandt, says there’s no such infiltration going on. The anonymous claims were fueled by racism toward people from immigrant communities, he said.

Hasenheide, Kottbusser Damm, Karl Marx Straße will get bike lanes in spring 2018. They will be up to 2 meters wide, painted bright green, and separated from cars by posts in some places. Berlin getting another bike sharing company. O-Bike will soon place 500 of its yellow bicycles across the city. The city now has 5500 public bikes, and will have at least 9000 by the end of 2018. O-Bike will charge €1 for 30 minutes, €20 a month, or €80 a year – which could be an alternative to buying a bike.

Check out the temporary sculpture Monument in front of the Brandenburger Tor. It features three upturned busses, replicating a scene from Aleppo in Syria, where civilians hid behind busses to protect themselves from gunfire during the ongoing civil war. The sculpture will be parked in Berlin until November 26.

This episode was presented by Joel Dullroy and Maisie Hitchcock, and brought to you by Radio Eins.

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Paint Your Own Bike Lane

Almost 200 cyclists blocked traffic on Oranienstraße in a protest after a cyclist was doored and seriously injured. O-Straße is the third most dangerous street for cyclists in Berlin. What would happen if we painted our own bike lane? Over 34,000 bicycles worth almost €20 million are stolen annually in Berlin, only 3.5 percent are recovered.

Air Berlin’s turbulent descent into insolvency has reached its end. At 10.45pm on October 27 the final Air Berlin flight AB6210 from Munich will touch down at Tegel Airport, and the airline will cease to exist. Lufthansa won the bidding war to take over the majority of the bankrupt airline. It will purchase 81 aircraft and take on around 3000 employees and integrate them into its Eurowings brand. Lufthansa will soon carry over 90% of domestic German air traffic. Don’t be surprised if ticket prices start going up. Time to take a train? The low-cost rail company Locomore has recently re-launched, offering tickets to Frankfurt and Stuttgart for €9.90.

Berlin authorities have cracked down on homeless people camping in Tiergarten, where the murder of a 60 year old woman sparked politicians to claim the park had become lawless. Evictions have taken place in other locations. A homeless camp of around 70 people was cleared out from behind the Berghain nightclub. The Neukölln district council chartered buses to take homeless people back to Romania and Bulgaria. The number of homeless people staying in shelters has risen from almost 8000 in 2013 to over 30,000 in 2016, and an estimated 2000 are sleeping rough on the streets. Rising rents are forcing more Berliners out of their homes.

Come along to our next live recording at 6pm, Sunday November 5 at the Comedy Cafe Berlin.

This episode of Radio Spaetkauf is brought to you by Radio Eins, Berlin’s public broadcaster.

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