Überwachungstour

Surveillance tour of Berlin.

A Danish artist and media conference organizer has created a Snowden-inspired bus tour in Berlin, taking visitors to historic sites of surveillance.

High points of the “Magical Secrecy Tour” include:
A guided tour of the Stasi museum and archive, a look at the outside of the giant new headquarters of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND), Berlin’s Google office, the bridge where they used to exchange spies, the giant white golf ball listening stations atop the Teufelsberg (great views!) and some surprises.

(Ü bah VOCHH oongz TOO ah.)

Berliner Schnauze

Berlin lip, snout, mouth, mouthiness. Both the Berlin dialect and the cheeky irrepressible attitude.

(Beah LEAN ah   sh NOW tsah.)

Luftbrücke

Air bridge.

On 12 Nov 2013 German news reported that military and civilian aid is starting to get to the stricken Philippines islands of Leyte and Samar by flying in to the western island of Cebu and then ferrying goods and people back and forth by air in a Luftbrücke, like what was used to supply West Berlin during the Cold War.

Arriving donations and doctors are bottlenecked in Manila by the typhoon’s destruction of the eastern islands’ transport infrastructure complicated by post-superstorm monsoon rains.

(LOOFT br-r-rick ah.)

Quadriga

Latin word for four horses yoked to a chariot, such as the stone statues above Brandenburg Gate that got to watch festivities for the Berlin-Besuch, President Obama’s visit to Berlin this week.

(KVOD ree ga.)

“Denk mal nach”

Means both “monument afterward” and the more obvious “give it some thought (for once).” Scrawled in chalk on the pavement at the protests before the largest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall, sections of which are to be torn down to create accessways to new luxury apartment buildings in the former “killing zone.” Berliners were very upset at destruction of this last, art-covered piece of the Wall; they protested and the teardown was temporarily halted after removal of one section. At the protest, the handmade signs, chalk graffiti and interview comments of artists and demonstraters were excellent. Protesters also created and painted a replacement section out of Styrofoam to fill the new hole.

(Dengk moll nochh.)

Bausoll

Though this word looks like it might mean “obligation to build” it’s actually a “construction targets” document describing precisely what has to be done in a construction project, documents apparently neglected in three prestige enterprises recently gone awry in Germany: the Elbphilharmonie riverfront concert hall in Hamburg, the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport, and the expansion of the Stuttgart train station underground (“Stuttgart 21”). ZDF heute journal reported part of the systemic problem is that responsible parties include politicians, absent in 15 to 20 years when the project finishes, who absolutely want to build the shiny thing and construction firms that absolutely want to obtain the building contracts without, apparently, feeling constrained to submit realistic bids. Also, planners’ fees apparently are a percentage of the project’s ultimate cost?

(BOW zollll.)

Flughafen-Untersuchungsausschuss

“Committee Investigating the Airport.” Berlin’s state parliament has created a committee to look into the billions of unbudgeted euros and months if not years of delays incurred in the construction of its new airport. The committee chair is Martin Delius (German Pirate Party), the first Pirate Party member ever to chair a parliamentary committee in Germany.

ZDF said Martin Delius (28) has meticulously prepared for this job, even swotting up on police interrogation techniques. He also created Wikileaks-type websites for airport workers to submit information to anonymously. ZDF briefly flashed an image of a book in Delius’s office by Oliver Wenzlaff called Piratenkommunikation: Was die Eliten in Politik und Wirtschaft von den Piraten lernen können [“Pirate communication: What the political and economic elites can learn from pirates”]. Berlin’s ruling SPD party said it wants to follow this GPP example of good transparency. The Greens said they want to do better than the stated Pirate goal of finding out what happened, by finding out what happened and then firing people and bringing lawsuits. The investigation is to last approximately one year, so results will be published in October 2013, presumably.

(FLEW g hoff en   OON ter ZOO kungs ow! ss SHOOSS.)

Sonderermittler

“Special investigator.”

In February 2012 Berlin state senator and state interior minister Frank Henkel (CDU) learned important Berlin police information about the neonazi terrorist cell but never passed it on to either parliamentary committee investigating the disaster. In March 2012 he did share the information with the federal Attorney General of Germany in Karlsruhe, who apparently informed the two investigating committees about it in Sept. 2012. Henkel now says he regrets people didn’t understand him better. He cites security concerns as the reason he didn’t tell the state and federal parliamentary investigating committees the things he was supposed to tell them. He says it was the federal Attorney General’s idea to maintain silence. (The federal Attorney General sent a letter to news agencies on 19 Sept. 2012 stating that there was no secrecy agreement.) Henkel is now considering appointing his own Berlin state Sonderermittler or special investigator to investigate the terrorist cell.

Update on 26 Sept. 2012: Senator Henkel said his police top managers are the ones who credibly indicated to him that there was an agreement with the Attorney General in Karlsruhe to keep this information secret. His police top managers wrote a letter contradicting this—on 3 April 2012. His police top managers said Spiegel’s quotes from this six-page letter are out of context. Spiegel published the entire letter online in response.

Update on 27 Sept. 2012: Henkel’s man has been named. He is a “senior prosecutor” and will investigate for three months, making regular reports including to the Berlin parliament and the Bundestag’s investigating committee.

(ZONE der err MITT lerrr.)

Untersuchungsausschuss

“Investigating committee.” There appear to be two parliamentary committees investigating the organizational failures in Germany’s federal, state and local law-enforcement, and domestic, foreign and military-intelligence, pursuits of a right-wing terrorist cell of bank-robbing serial killers that rampaged through Germany for more than a decade. The Thuringian state parliamentary committee investigating the affair is based in Erfurt. The federal investigating committee, consisting of Bundestag members, is based in Berlin.

Apparently Germany has a federal Attorney General in Karlsruhe [Bundesanwaltschaft] who is also looking into this. Some of the key organizational failures appear more willing to open their files to the federal Attorney General than to the responsible Untersuchungsausschuss committees.

Update on 16 Feb 2013: The federal investigating committee traveled to Ankara, Turkey, on 15 Feb 2013 to inform the Turkish government about the progress of the investigation. Eight of the ten people allegedly murdured by the neonazi cell had Turkish backgrounds.

(OON ter ZOO koongs ow! ss shooss.)

Bundeskriminalamt, BKA

Federal-level German police. Like the Verfassungsschutz, the German police are managed in state and federal offices with some degree of mutual autonomy.

Thirteen suspects are under investigation by Germany’s Attorney General (Generalbundesanwalt) in the matter of the neonazi terror cell that murdered people of immigration backgrounds for more than 13 years without getting caught. The Berlin state police (Berlin Landeskriminalamt) are now in trouble after the investigating parliamentary committee discovered, last week, that one of these suspects, who supplied explosives to the neonazi terrorists, was a paid informant to the Berlin police. From 2001 to 2011. Berlin state interior minister Frank Henkel (CDU) found out about this in Feb. 2012 and informed Germany’s Attorney General about it in March 2012. But, says this Spiegel-Online article, the investigating committee in Berlin only found out about it last Thursday morning (13 Sept. 2012), and was informed not by the state of Berlin but by Germany’s Attorney General.

“Hardliner” law-and-order Berlin state senator, and Berlin interior minister in charge of the Berlin police, Frank Henkel (CDU) is now being asked by the SPD party to finally provide all relevant files or resign from government.

The Berlin police received at least five tips from the TNT-delivering V-man between 2001 and 2005 reporting hearsay about the location of the underground cell, but they didn’t forward the information to Thuringian Verfassungsschutz, which had been actively looking for the bank-robbing neonazi serial killers since 1998. Federal Verfassungsschutz even routinely investigated this informant for a security clearance once when he applied for a “sensitive job,” and gave him the clearance because the Berlin police hadn’t passed on the fact that he was their connected neonazi. Thuringian Verfassungsschutz apparently didn’t pass on much about him either. He won’t be charged for supplying explosives to the right-wing terror cell, due to the statute of limitations.

(BOON dess CREAM een oll omt.)

Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND

“Federal news service,” the German foreign intelligence agency. Wikipedia said maybe 6500 employees, with maybe 100 domestic offices (of which ~70 have been captured by Bavaria, i.e. Merkel’s Texan sister party the CSU) and perhaps 100 offices abroad. In 2011 the domestic German offices were all supposed to move to new premises in Berlin, but the CSU managed to wrangle some remaining presence in Bavaria.

The predecessor “Gehlen organization,” formed in 1945 in a hurry by the Allies under Wehrmacht spymaster Reinhard Gehlen, became the BND in 1956 but no law was created regulating it until 1990.

There has been an interesting tango between the BND and renowned historians for the past few years, in which historians with good reputations have been invited to view the BND’s records and write up its history but were then ultimately blocked from doing so.

(BOON dess NOCK rick ten DEENST.)

Brandschutzanlage

“Fire protection system,” fire safety system. The most expensive failure at Berlin’s new airport, blamed for over a trillion euros in unplanned costs and delays of more than a year. It seems the Willy Brandt airport’s architects decided traditional smoke extraction systems, in the form of vents and fans hung under the airport’s ceilings, where smoke actually rises to, would put too many ugly ducts in view. They decided to run the smoke extraction system under the airport’s flooring, necessitating extra-powerful fans and kilometers of conduits for the extra cabling required. But apparently construction proceeded too rapidly while these design decisions were being taken, and communication with the construction side was poor, because the in-floor smoke extraction system was built without conduits for all its cables. The airport’s floors are now being torn up to create these. A new top manager has been brought in, with experience from large projects at Frankfurt/Main airport. He says things are going to work out fine.

A similar jaw-dropping story happened when the well-known Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe high-speed train station was built.

(BROND shoots on log eh.)

Planfeststellungsverfahren

“Plan determination process.” People living near Berlin’s new Willy Brandt Airport are trying get a court order to change the proposed landing paths, by petitioning for a new Planfeststellungsverfahren.

(Plon FEST shtell oongz fer FAR en.)

Goldfinger

Nickname of a yellow highrise the Axel Springer publishing company built next to the Wall in Berlin’s old publishing district.

Ideentischlerei

BAUFACHFRAU e.V. is an education nonprofit for women builders in Berlin, and Ideentischlerei is their interesting idea of “ideas cabinet-making” or “ideas joinery.” Tischler, the German word we translate as “cabinet maker,” actually means “table maker,” so the word also carries the association of sharing ideas across a table.

(Ee DAY en TISH ler eye.)

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