The 10 most German things to happen in Germany in 2022
From fights over recycling and noise on Sunday afternoons, to the issuing of ventilation instruction manuals and people returning library books after 50 years, there are some stories that are so peculiar they can only have happened in Germany. To celebrate the closing of another weird and wonderful year in the federal republic, we bring you our top picks of the “most German” things that happened in Germany in 2022.
1. When a driver got a 5.000-euro fine for flipping off a speed camera
Germany is a country that respects law and order. It’s also home to some rather unusual laws. One naughty driver fell foul of both of these when he was caught on camera flipping off the police - and was slapped with a 5.000 euro fine. Even better: he’s not the first.
2. When two companies went to court over the word “Spezi”
It’s exactly this penchant for precision that leads to so many unusual legal cases in the federal republic. Over the years, we’ve seen companies arguing over who can make square chocolate bars, a mushroom pizza named “Champignons League”, and the difference between the Hofbrauhaus and the Hofbräuhaus. In October, we all breathed a sigh of relief when it was finally settled which company could name their drink “Spezi”.
3. When cities applauded themselves for using recycled paper
Germans love letters, documents and all things paper-based. That’s why we couldn’t help but laugh when we stumbled upon a press release from the German Pro Recyclingpapier scheme that was lauding German cities for saving energy by making switches - but not, say, from paper to email, but from naughty virgin paper to good old recycled paper.
4. When a hospitalised woman turned off someone’s ventilator because it was “annoying”
Peace and quiet is sacrosanct in Germany - especially on Sundays - but one woman in a German hospital took that to a new level when she turned off her roommate’s ventilator because she apparently found the noise it was making too “annoying”. Come between a German and their sleep at your peril.
5. When two drunk guys stole a vehicle to recycle some bottles
As every expat knows, Germans are obsessive about recycling and love collecting their bottle deposit receipts from the supermarket. Therefore, a story about a pair of drunk guys stealing a car full of plastic bottles to cash them in for Pfand seemed fairly logical to German minds. Those 25 cents quickly add up!
6. When locals called the police on money falling from the sky
As one of our readers aptly put it, only in Germany would people call the cops on money. When a flurry of banknotes fell from the sky in Mainz in May, local residents decided against pocketing the 50.000 euros in cash and instead reported it to the police - in case you were ever in doubt about just how upstanding citizens in Germany really are.
7. When outdated software left shops unable to take card payments for 2 weeks
Germany’s known for being a country that’s - ahem - not particularly tech-savvy, and still very keen on cash. So it was annoying and disruptive, but not necessarily surprising, when in May hundreds of major retailers in Germany were left unable to accept card payments for over a week after a software malfunction laid bare just how many shops were using outdated card machines.
8. When a man got 87 COVID jabs to sell the vaccine certificates
Compared to some of its European neighbours, Germany has had a bit of an “iffy” relationship with vaccines against coronavirus. Nothing demonstrated this more than when, after vaccine certificates became compulsory for various public venues in Germany, one entrepreneur launched a lucrative business - getting himself vaccinated, and then selling on the certificates - at least 87 times. Vaccine sceptics take note: he lived to tell the tale.
9. When public offices ruled out speaking English to “avoid bureaucracy”
This one struck a chord with anyone who’s ever had to battle with German bureaucracy with beginner’s-level German. Hopes were raised that German authorities like immigration and registration offices might be required to speak English to help assist new arrivals. The proposal was resoundingly rejected a few days later on the basis that it would “create more bureaucracy.”
10. When a court ruled that a noisy rooster had to be kept in a soundproofed coop
And, finally, a case that proved that nobody is above Germany’s Ruhezeit laws - not even pets or animals: a woman kept up by a cockerel's nighttime crowing succeeded in winning a court case against its owner by keeping a log of every single time it had disturbed her sleep. The judge ruled that the noisy rooster needed to be kept in a soundproof coop in future.