It’s tradition at our sister publication, tipBerlin, to annually shame the most embarrassing Berliners for their outrageous behaviours and disappointing missteps. Here’s our pick of the peinlich litter for 2023. You can read our colleagues’ full selection (in German) here.
No 1. Till Lindemann
Coming in at No. 1, and thus being crowned this year’s Most Embarrassing Berliner is musician Till Lindemann, lead singer of East German fave Rammstein.
In June of this year, a number of people came forward accusing the musician of sexual misconduct, including drinks being spiked and young women being scouted from the so-called “row-zero” to be Lindemann’s potential sexual partners. The singer always denied the allegations, and in August, the case was dropped on account of insufficient evidence.
At a concert in July at the Olympic Stadium, he swapped one of his song lyrics for what is thought to be a reference to the allegations, bemoaning that “the singers don’t fuck anymore”. Brimming with self-pitying gesticulation and boasting an onstage ‘cock-cannon’ to boot, Till Lindemann’s place at the top of this list is well-deserved.
Signa Real Estate
This Austrian corporate real estate giant had spun its web around iconic properties in prime Berlin locations – including Karstadt department stores, KaDeWe and the former Femina-Palast on Nürnberger Strasse.
This year they filed for insolvency, and their controversial founder Rene Benko stepped down (he is now being investigated for fraud and money laundering), leaving behind a legacy of half-baked development and refurbishment projects. What will happen next is not known, fingers crossed the properties don’t get sold off to meet even more sinister ends.
This unhelpful figure of the German media landscape has taken it upon himself to rally and rant against “wokeness” and gender politics on his channel “Nius”. This year he tweeted about the police raising a rainbow flag – hardly the pinnacle of counter-cultural radicalism – comparing the queer community to national socialism in his statement regarding “the flags of a political movement [being] hoisted in front of police”.
He was charged with incitement to hatred, filed by the Senate government’s queer commissioner, and with but a small Google you’ll soon discover this is not the only legal dispute of Reichelt’s year.
As part of an 18-article anthology on the state of “masculinity today”, the popular writer wrote about an act of “sexualised violence” that he himself committed. Initially, such an open acknowledgement of male wrongdoing sounds like a good thing (men owning up to their complicity in misogyny and sexual violence is exactly what is needed). A crucial aspect to note, however, is that the victim of the violence specifically asked Moritz not to write about the incident.
By going against the female victim’s wishes, capitalising on her trauma and somehow foregrounding himself as a kind of brave hero, Moritz has revealed himself not only as a perpetrator but also as having absolutely zero understanding of the lessons that men need to learn.
The five-time Olympic skate champion turned policewoman wore her officer uniform to the CDU convention, which did not go down all that well. Nor, for that matter, did her speech, in which she attempted to ‘justify’ her demands for faster deportations by claiming that the elderly and women “should be able to use public transport” “without having to cast anxious glances to the left and right”. Her nonsensical attempts to legitimise her racist ideologies proved that the former champion doesn’t skate so smoothly off the ice.
This member of the AfD has consistently come out in support of Vladimir Putin. His appearance this year on the Russian propaganda TV programme “The Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” had him accusing the German media of doing “everything to turn the German population against Russia” and expressing his horror at German tanks in Kyiv. His latest antics have started alienating even fellow AfD members, which is when you know you’ve really gone a bit too far.
The ‘lioness on the loose’ back in the Summer truly feels like a different time, a golden era if you will. The phantom predator caused a massive panic in the suburbs and ended up going viral, with the mayor of Kleinmachnow briefly becoming world-famous. After a 37-hour search, the underwhelming conclusion was confirmed: it was, of course, a wild boar. Embarrassing.
It’s always fun to see people lose their shit at what are incredibly inoffensive moves towards inclusivity. Gunnar Lindemann, AfD member of parliament, became absolutely hysterical this year over the bakery Kamps’ addition of an asterisk to the word “Weckmänner*” (the popular sweet treat in the shape of a person, eaten around St Martin’s Day).
Lindemann decried the “defacing of our German language!” over on X, insisting that anyone who went along with the altered word “can no longer be completely sane”. A closer look at the Kamps homepage reveals that the asterisk is in fact nothing to do with gender inclusivity, and is just there to outline the duration of the promotional period, making the whole thing even more hilarious.
Following the New Year’s Eve riots, the former health minister made a show of his penchant for baklava and halloumi while being interviewed on a walk down Sonneallee. Far from attempting any kind of meaningful connection with the communities of Neukolln, Spahn instead spent his stroll spouting broad, racist and Islamophobic stereotypes while feasting on pastries and being palpably annoyed whenever a local tried to talk to him.