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7. 5 Million people in Germany can hardly read or write. This figure is about 14% of the working population in Germany. Most of these people are considered “Functional Illiterate” This are people capable of writing a few sentence or identifying few words, but can hardly read a complete sentence.

As parents, institutions and agencies we are challenge to do more.

For assistance contact:
Bundesverband Alphabetisierung und Grundbildung e.V.
0800 - 53 33 44 55 oder www.alfa-telefon.de

German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) is annually held on October 3 to mark the anniversary of the nation's unification. It remembers when the Federal Republic of Germany and the Democratic Republic of Germany united to create one single, federal Germany on October 3, 1990.

 What do people do?

Many people have a day off work and big public celebrations are organized. These include:

*                  Speeches by politicians and other leaders.

*                  Concerts.

*                  Communal meals.

*                  Food and culture presentations from Germany's regions.

*                  Fireworks.

The celebrations' atmosphere is festive, welcoming and safe. Each year a different city hosts the national celebrations. Many mosques in Germany are open to the general public on October 3. This is an initiative to stimulate contact between Muslims and non-Muslims and to emphasize the role that Muslims played in forming modern Germany. German Unity Day is the only national holiday in Germany, as all other holidays are administered by the individual states.

Public life

German Unity Day is a public holiday in Germany so post offices, banks and many businesses are closed. Nearly all stores are closed, although a few may be open in some city areas. Bakeries, petrol stations and stores at railway stations, airports and near highways are often open. Public transport services may run as usual, at a reduced service or no service depending on where one lives or intends to travel. There may be some disruption to traffic around large celebrations.


Following World War II, the area that was Germany was divided into four military sectors controlled by France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union. On May 23, 1949, the sectors controlled by France, the United Kingdom and the United States became the Federal Republic of Germany. On October 7, 1949, the sector controlled by the Soviet Union became the German Democratic Republic.

The two countries developed very different political and economic systems and, due to the political tensions in post-war Europe, there was little contact between the inhabitants of the two countries. A protest against the German Democratic Republic's government occurred in Leipzig on September 4, 1989. More demonstrations took place across the German Democratic Republic.

The protests called for political reform and to open the borders. On November 9, 1989, the checkpoints between the two countries were opened and people were allowed to travel freely. This date marked the "fall" of the Berlin wall.

These events lead to political change. Democratic elections paved the way for unity in the German Democratic Republic on March 18, 1990. The "Treaty of Unification" was signed by both countries' leaders in August that year. Finally, Germany's unification became official on October 3, 1990.


The Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin wall were two important symbols of Germany's division following World War II and Berlin's and Germany's unification in 1990. Images of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin wall's destruction are often displayed on German Unity Day. The German unification treaty also symbolizes the day and its meaning.

Germany's flag is displayed, particularly on public buildings, on German Unity Day. This flag is three units high and five units wide and is divided horizontally into thirds. The top third is jet black, the middle third traffic red and the bottom third is gold. Together these colors represent the freedom of Germany as a whole and each of its people. In the past, the colors represented: the darkness of servitude (black); bloody conflict (red); and the light of freedom (gold).

Source: timeanddate.com


Berlin police are investigating separate shootings that left two young men seriously injured on Saturday and Sunday. Both occurred in the early hours of the morning.

At around 6:30am, a 23-year-old man was shot in the central Alexanderplatz area. He was found lying in a doorway at the train station with life threatening injuries by passersby. Police said that the bullet went through his groin.

Paramedics were called to the scene and the victim was taken to one of the capital city's hospitals, where he received emergency surgery. He was reported to be in a critical condition.

The identity of the attacker is not known - nor is the motive behind the shooting. An investigation has been launched.

The attack came around just 24 hours after another man was shot elsewhere in the city. A 22-year-old was returning from a party at 5am when the group he was with was approached by a stranger.

An argument broke out and the attacker pulled out a gun and fired a shot into the air. The seven-strong group of friends tried to carry on walking but the young Berliner was shot in the stomach as he left.

Police are appealing for witnesses, and have been asking taxi drivers working in the Schöneberg area at the time if they say anything. So far, no clues have emerged.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/jcw

German police called to the scene of a fatal stabbing were plunged into a mystery worthy of a television series – the man’s former girlfriend who had killed him was still tied up and had been tortured

Bonn’s public prosecutor is now trying to untangle the circumstances behind the death of a 55-year old man identified only as Jürgen S.

Neighbours had been pleased for him when he got together with Renata B., an attractive 57-year-old academic, the Express newspaper reported on Thursday.

Jürgen S. was only 1.5 m (about 4'11'') tall, a head shorter than Renata B., and is said to have "blossomed" during their relationship.

But they split up recently, and when she went to his house in Bornheim near Bonn on Tuesday morning to collect her things, she said he tied her up and started to torture her.

Investigators believe that Renata B. managed to wrestle away the knife and stab him, the paper said. A post mortem examination showed he died from one stab wound, the police said on Wednesday.

As Jürgen S. lay bleeding on the floor, she shouted for help –cries which were heard by a passer-by who called the police. The Express reported that authorities broke down the door to the balcony and freed Renata B., who showed signs of physical abuse.

Bonn police said they could not confirm that she was tied up, citing the ongoing investigation.

But a spokesman for the Bonn police told The Local that Renata had not been held in custody because at this point her actions appeared to be self-defence.

The Local /sh

The Hamburg city parliament said there are only 29 prostitutes working in the city, in response to an official information request - a dubious claim for the home of the legendary Reeperbahn and its illicit sex shows and raunchy night clubs.

The figure was reported by the parliament after local Christian Democrat politician Ralf Niedmers requested figures on number of prostitutes in an attempt to establish whether a prostitute scene was forming in the Wandsbek neighbourhood, the daily Bild reported.

The parliament informed Niedmers that there were only 29 registered prostitutes operating in the city. The report noted there were "numerous other business registrations under euphemisms for prostitution," but that these dancers, escorts and masseuses could not be officially recognized as doing sex work.

Tax authorities seemed to be doing only a slightly better job of keeping count of the city’s sex workers. The report noted that "the Hamburg Tax Office reported 153 prostitutes."

Prostitution is legal in Germany but sex workers must pay income tax on their earnings like any other freelancer.

The police say there are about 2,400 people working as prostitutes in Hamburg, and between 500 and 700 in the nightlife districts of St. Pauli and St. Georg.

Source: The Local

A 23-year-old German woman died while canyoning in the Swiss Alps on Sunday, newspapers reported. She is thought to have drowned after heavy rain created treacherous conditions.

The unnamed woman was canyoning near the Swiss town of St Gallen, the Bild daily reported. The sport has gained in popularity over recent years and involves abseiling, climbing, jumping into water and swimming in mountain rivers.

Despite heavy rainfall, a group of tourists set off from the town for a day in the mountains. But water levels in the river they were to hike along had risen dramatically and was running extremely fast.

When the group were deep in a ravine a surge of water suddenly filled the valley, sweeping two women to their deaths. One of whom was the 24-year-old group leader, from Belgium.

Others managed to climb to safety and were rescued by a helicopter. Three of the five saved were taken to hospital and treated for injuries.

Mountain rescue teams began searching for the two missing women and continued into the night. Bad weather made the hunt difficult, but at around 11pm they found the bodies of the women.

“It had rained a lot on Sunday afternoon in the area, but how exactly the incident happened is still being investigated,” a police spokesman from the St Gallen area told Swiss paper Blick.

The Local/jcw


BERLIN (AP) — German police say someone broke into a hotel room that was used as an office of the chancellor’s conservative party while Angela Merkel was holding talks in the same building.

Police spokeswoman Antje Roeper said Sunday nothing appears to have been stolen and no explosives were found.

She says Merkel and other party leaders were holding an internal two-day conference near the town of Neuruppin north of Berlin when the incident was discovered Sept. 17. Merkel, the Christian Democrats’ chairwoman, was in a meeting on a different floor of the boutique hotel.

Roeper says the room was used as an office to facilitate the conference’s organization. No motive has been established as police continue to investigate.

A spokesman for Merkel’s party declined to comment on the incident.

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