Billionaire in the Basement

Berlin has welcomed 30,000 new residents as Ukrainian refugees fill the city. We meet Mimi, a volunteer from Wir Packens An. They send boxes to refugees – not just from Ukraine, but those forgotten in other parts of Europe too. You can help by volunteering to fill boxes for a day:

Find other ways to volunteer or donate here:

How is the war affecting Berlin, a city that runs mostly on Russian fossil fuels? Our energy bills are going up, we’re getting cheaper public transport, and may soon live under an iron dome missile shield.

As coronavirus rules disappear, are Berliners ready to give up their masks? So far many are opting to keep covered up in shops.

Right to the City for All, the English speaking arm of the DW Enteignen campaign for an update on what has happened since the referendum. Email:

We meet Paul Hanford, who has written a book on the clubbing culture in Berlin since the 90s. We ask what it means when one of the world’s richest men is now hanging out in Berlin’s basement bars. His book here:

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Kunsthalle Catastrophe | Guest: Zoe Claire Miller

The BVG has reinvented the concept of time. Ticket checkers no longer go undercover. Tempelhof art show boycott explained. Dog poisoning scare.

A huge art exhibition inside Tempelhof airport has gained millions in public funding. But Berlin artists say it’s suspicious. The so-called Kunsthalle Berlin is sponsored by big property investors, got public money without an open process, and doesn’t include Berlin artists. We talk to Zoe Claire Miller about the controversy behind the exhibition. More here.

Dog owners in Berlin are terrified of a possible poisoner after at least one dog died in suspicious circumstances. Jöran is among the worried. There’s not one but two apps for people to report possible poisonings – Dogorama and GiftkoderRadar.

A climate change protest group called Letzte Generation has been causing traffic chaos in recent weeks by occupying autobahns. Some glued their hands to the asphalt. Angry drivers and BSR rubbish collectors attacked the protesters, then police arrived and charged them with crimes. They’re campaigning for food security, pointing out the risk to humans of climate change.

The BVG has altered the concept of time. Instead of displaying ‘mins’ to the next train on digital signs, it’s using the prime symbol: ′ (not an apostrophe). The BVG said it needed to make space for a wheelchair symbol. But does everyone recognize the prime as a sign of the time? Also, BVG ticket inspectors will no longer work undercover, but will wear blue vests to be clearly identified. It’s the end of an era for Berliners trained to spot suspiciously dressed passengers with large pouches.

How reliable is your COVID-19 test? Possibly zero percent, according to a website to compare Schnelltests. Matilde and Dan spent the past weeks analysing their analysers at:

Gym members who were charged during the pandemic could get some of their money back. A group lawsuit is suing fitness centres for failing to offer refunds. Join in at:

This episode was presented by Izzy Choksey, Matilde Keizer, Joel Dullroy, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern.

First Class U-Bahns

Recorded remotely from Kreuzberg, Neukölln, Rome and England. New Year’s Eve is effectively cancelled, with limits of 200 people for indoor events and a ban on dancing in clubs. Much like last year, fireworks have been restricted but not banned outright. Sales are highly restricted and around 50 areas have been declared fireworks free, such as main squares and big streets. Jöran would prefer an outright ban as he now has a dog who will be terrified by the noise.

Berlin’s new double-decker buses have gone into service. The top deck is slightly higher, they also have wifi, and USB ports. The BVG has been outfitting older buses with USB as well, noting a reduction in vandalism which according to a BVG spokesman is because “The youth are so busy with their phones, that they hardly get any other ideas.” Unfortunately the new buses are diesel powered, an anachronistic choice the BVG blames on the unavailability of double-storey electric buses.

A recent study published by the World Economic Forum, the Boston Consulting Group and Switzerland’s University of St Gallen suggests the implementation of a “first class” option for Berlin’s public transportation system. According to their models wealthy Berliners currently commuting from low density outlying areas via car would switch to public transportation by €10 bookable seats featuring such luxuries as comfortable seats and reliable internet. We have our doubts.

A property located on Habersaathstraße in Mitte with 100 apartments has been left mostly vacant for years. The owner is Arcadia Estates, a company which has applied to demolish the building, but the city council has resisted, arguing that it should be used as is. This month a group of 30 people without permanent homes squatted the property. Mitte Mayor Stephan von Dassel of the Green party intervened and announced the squatters would be allowed to stay. Celebrations were short lived. City authorities later declared no one could stay there because there were no smoke alarms or fire extinguishers. A donation drive was organized and fire safety equipment was ready to be installed, but that wasn’t accepted. Everyone was evicted, in sub-zero temperatures. The Green party mayor stated that places had been found for them in other shelters.

The SPD’s Fraziska Giffey is Berlin’s new mayor. Giffey is reunified Berlin’s first elected woman mayor, but not the first woman to run the city. Louise Schroeder ran the city from 1947 to 48, though she was appointed rather than elected. And East Berlin also had a woman leader, Ingrid Pankraz, for a few days in 1990. These women have been ignored by most media covering Giffey’s election.

More than half of BER airport’s “travelators” aka moving sidewalks are out of action. ​​Most of the travelators and escalators were installed in 2011 and sat unused for almost a decade. The hardware deteriorated, making them unusable. Now they have to be replaced.

Thank you to everyone who listens. We appreciate the audience and the community. If you would like to help keep this project viable we appreciate financial support. Become a monthly supporter or make a one time donation at

This episode was written produced and recorded by Joel Dullroy, Jöran Mandik, Daniel Stern, Izzy Choksey and Matilde Keizer.

Two Ways to Steal A House | Guest: James Jackson

Confusion in the club queues as new 2G+ rules start. Does the plus mean mask, test or both? The short answer is always check ahead. We’re back to the bad old days of finding vaccine appointments by word of mouth. The website can help you find an available vaccination center.

Christmas markets are open for now. Izzy recommends the Nollendorfplatz Christmas Avenue LGBTIQ* Weihnachtsmarkt, with performances at 19:30 each night.

We meet Berlin’s most prolific Twitter curator, James Jackson. He explains his annoyance at Germany’s obsession with homeopathy and plant-based medicine. Follow him here:

How do you steal an entire apartment block in Berlin? You can fake paperwork, like a group of fraudsters did, or you can use the courts to kill off the government’s Vorkaufsrecht, or right of first purchase, as some greedy investors have just done. Both cases show how Germany’s property market is thoroughly corrupted.

Berlin’s new Red-Green-Red coalition has presented some of their planned policies for the next five years. They plan to reduce Berlin’s fossil fuel use – but not fast enough, says Izzy. The new federal government plans to legalize marijuana. Will it take away income from people who can’t get working permits?

This episode presented by Izzy Choksey, Matilde Keizer, Joran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern. Thanks to all our supporters! You can donate to keep us going here:

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RS Podfest: Destroy This Company

BER turned to chaos over the October holidays, with huge queues and many missed flights. Airlines advised travellers to come four hours early. The airport is only handling half the pre-pandemic passenger numbers. Who saw this coming?

Should we use Gorillas or boycott? We meet three members of the Gorillas Riders Collective, who are suing the 10-minute-delivery company, and being sued, as they fight for on-time pay, non-faulty bikes, lighter loads and real contracts. They say users should think before ordering butter in bad weather, and at least give a tip. Gorillas is supposedly worth almost €3 billion, but they aren’t spending that money on maintaining bikes.

Swapping is the new shopping. Hundreds of Berliners have joined a movement to trade their clothes instead of buying unsustainably produced fashion. They get together for meet-ups to exchange their items. Founder of Berlin Clothing swap Jenna Stein joins us.

How does it feel to win the battle, but maybe lose the war? Wouter from Deutsche Wohnen und Co Enteignung tells us what the housing activists plan to do to force politicians to respect the referendum result.

Berlin is on track to get a red-green-red coalition after local SPD branches rebelled against Franziska Giffey’s attempts to partner with conservative parties. Was it a tactical ploy, or a sign of weak leadership?

This episode was presented by Izzy Choksey, Matilde Keizer, Joran Mandik and Joel Dullroy. It was recorded live at Podfest Berlin, an event supported by Patreon and organized by our own Dan Stern.