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One of the very often reasserted “facts” about Germany is that people are not allowed to wear masks.

Who has been in Germany during Carnival knows that the streets are full with masked people. How can it be that this should be illegal when the police is also in the streets and does not react to this?

The fact is that it is not allowed during political demonstrations to wear stuff that is intended to camouflage your identity. Not allowed are therefore ski masks, hooded sweats with big sun glasses and similar clothes. It is not just a German but also an Austrian, Swiss and Italian law. There is a big discussion in the German society whether this is an adequate measure. But the police have a margin of discretion whether to act or not. If the demonstration is untroubled, there will be no intervention. The rule should help to find rowdy participants in demonstrations also by pictures and videos.

Into the same category of generalized misunderstandings falls the statement that a pillow can be a weapon. This belongs into the same law for gatherings (“Versammlungsgesetz”) not allowing helmets, one piece leathers and armour-cased vehicles. The word used in the law for the stuff not allowed at gatherings is “Schutzwaffe” (muniment) which in early times were shields, helmets and armours. Therefore a pillow seems to be at the lower end of those muniments, but can also be used as a mask.

During flash mobs people met to have pillow fights in public places and nobody cared about it.

“It is illegal to build an office without a view of the sky” post some authors. If you read the rules right than it is said that workplaces preferably should have sufficient daylight and should have a suitable artificial lighting. This is not just German law but an EU guideline for the whole of Europe and helps to keep the workforce healthy.

“It is against the law to deny a chimney sweeper access to your home if he demands it.” One can discuss the old rules for the “Handwerk” (craft) in Germany which are partly a tradition since the middle ages. Therefore you will not find it in the US. But you could also quote this rule with somebody from waterworks or the electricity supplier. As they all have to enter your house to look at their appliances for metering etc. one has to give them the opportunity. The same rule applies also for the chimney sweeper. As you are obliged by law to let sweep the chimney, the sweeper has to pick up the smut from the bottom of the chimney and as that is usually inside the house. In our house he has not been in for years as we have a gas heating and there is no smut. This discussion only comes up if somebody argues that he doesn’t wants to use the chimney sweeper of the area (as it is a regional monopoly) but another sweeper and the regional sweeper still has the right to go into the house after he has made an appointment. But this is more a discussion whether this regional monopoly is ok, than whether the sweeper is allowed to enter the house. At high buildings he has to go through the house, enter the roof via a window in the roof, and only than can sweep and pick up the smut later in the cellar.

Many people on the Internet complain about German rules of not mowing the lawn between 12 and 3 or no loud music after 10. Living in a country which is one of the most densely populated countries in the world one can understand those rules very well, which someone in the middle west of the US may not understand. But also in Wikipedia now Noise Control is a topic. Cities like Portland have own officers to enforce the noise control programme. What that viewpoint the German rules seem to be very progressive, as they are nothing else than noise reducing measures.
Not hanging wash on a Sunday is not a law there it could even be allowed. There are laws from the German States on the Sunday and on bank holidays. And for a state where church and state are divided it seems strange that so many rules are in there to give guidance what is allowed on Sundays and what not especially during the time of the main worship. But in Northrine-Westfalia necessary works for domestic needs are allowed. That could also be washing. But people still seem to believe that this is not allowed.
 

If you have sex with your fiancé and then later dump her she is entitled to compensation – but only if she was a virgin at the time when you proposed! (It is called “Kranzgeld”)

That was a rule from 1900. It was deleted from German laws in the early 1990s.

Sticking out your tongue while driving will end up in 150 EUR fine.

Sticking out your tongue to someone is seen as an insult. You always have to be careful with some gesture in different countries. Nothing special to those crazy Germans.

Werner Schneider, 401 Buttercup Creek Blvd, Unit 501, Cedar Park, TX 78613