From Smoke Detectors to Electric Cars: New and Revised Laws in Germany for 2016

Sometimes it’s surprising how a modern nation like Germany can lag behind in certain areas. A good example from the past is smoking. While the US and many other countries long ago banned smoking in restaurants, the workplace, and other public areas, Germany was slow to do the same. After an initial period of voluntary restrictions by some businesses, Germany began to regulate smoking in public places. (Austria, on the other hand, still has a lot of work to do on public acceptance of smoking bans. Cough! Cough!) While non-smoking areas in Germany were once a rarity, today German anti-smoking laws are similar to those in the US in most cases.


As of 2016, some German states require the installation of smoke detectors (Rauchmelder) in existing homes. PHOTO: Feuerwehr e.V.

Another area where Germany was lagging behind was smoke detectors. As with many things in Germany, this is an area left to each of the 16 Bundesländer (states). There is no nationwide law. After a slow start beginning around 2004/2005, almost all of the German states now require smoke detectors in new houses and apartments. As of 2016, only Berlin and Brandenburg still lack any smoke-detector requirements (Rauchmelderpflicht). Some Länder now also require smoke detectors in older, existing living quarters. Continue reading

The First Twelve Months

I’ve been enjoying getting to know my new baby during these first three months of his life. I organized a Mommy & Me Yoga/Baby Massage class at our local yoga studio here in San Diego to give myself that regular undistracted one-on-one time with baby Lenny. During the massage portion, I enjoy warm memories of taking a baby massage class with my first born while we were still living in southern Germany.

One of the other main benefits to taking a baby class is getting to know some of the other mothers. After each class we find ourselves at the local cafe exchanging stories about our same aged babies and getting to know each other better. This aspect of motherhood is pretty critical to my own well-being as a mother. On one of these recent occasions, I was enjoying a conversation with one of these fellow mothers and was suddenly struck with a pang of guilt as she told me about a mutual friend of ours who would be going back to work soon, three-months postpartum. It was a new feeling, a new world feeling. Continue reading

Go Forth and Reproduce

It’s a fact: Germany needs babies. The generous welfare system of this social democracy needs young people to work hard and pay enough taxes to support the rest of society. One problem: young people are too busy working to bother with raising the next generation of workers. How to solve it? Pay them to reproduce!

Ok, it sounds like really tacky social engineering when I put it that way. Let me try again. Continue reading