Rob Schmitz

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ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: And I'm Rob Schmitz in Trier, Germany, where the chants of young protesters are the only sounds echoing through the freezing alleyways of this medieval town along the border with France.


Updated December 8, 2021 at 8:39 AM ET

BERLIN — Olaf Scholz became Germany's chancellor on Wednesday, marking the end of Angela Merkel's 16 years as the country's leader.

Scholz's center-left Social Democratic Party, which won the most votes in September's federal election, leads a coalition government along with the Greens and the libertarian Free Democratic Party.

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For months, the government of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has accelerated the number of visas it grants migrants seeking refuge from war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and beyond.

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Editor's note: Poland's government announced Thursday it plans to build a new barrier on its border with Belarus. The move comes as Poland says migrants from around the world are sneaking in from across the border. NPR's original story, published Tuesday, follows.

BERLIN – On the day after Germany's election, whichever party has won the most votes typically takes charge of enticing other parties with smaller shares of the vote to form a new government. But Sunday's election results were far from typical.

BERLIN — Germany's two largest parties have emerged from Sunday's election in what amounts to a dead heat, according to preliminary results. The first projected results released by national broadcaster ARD put the country's center-left Social Democrats at 24.9%, just two-tenths of a percentage point ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party.

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BERLIN — Millions of Germans will head to the polls in a federal election on Sunday that will determine who will succeed Angela Merkel after 16 years as Germany's chancellor.

According to the latest polls, Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party is narrowly ahead of Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian partner, the Christian Social Union. They're closely followed by the Greens, the far-right Alternative for Germany and the libertarian Free Democratic Party, all holding onto double-digit poll numbers going into Sunday's election.

Updated December 7, 2021 at 5:14 PM ET

Editor's note: Angela Merkel steps down Wednesday after 16 years as Germany's chancellor. Earlier this fall, NPR caught up with some people who remembered her earliest days as a politician and asked them to reflect on her legacy.

HAMBURG, Germany — The hammering typically begins at 8 o'clock sharp and continues through the day, its pulsing sound echoing along the gleaming renovated buildings and canals of this city's harbor district. It's the heartbeat of Hamburg.

For the past 10 years, this has been the soundtrack to the transformation of Germany's largest port from one of run-down warehouses to a thriving cultural center filled with loft apartments, hotels and pedestrian trails and capped with a massive philharmonic hall, a glass goliath whose roof is in the shape of undulating ocean waves.

Updated September 2, 2021 at 4:12 PM ET

RAMSTEIN, Germany — Hangar 5 at this giant U.S. air base can snugly fit some of the largest planes in the world. It was not meant to house people. But for the past two weeks as the United States conducts the largest airlift in its history, the base has hosted more than 25,000 Afghans waiting to be taken to America.

MALLERSDORF, Germany — The village church bells chime 11 in the morning and Hermann Zausinger has decided he needs more beer. He's a farmer, and by midday, he has worked up a thirst.

"My farm has vegetables, a fish pond, a herd of sheep," he says. "I grow everything for myself, except for beer."

He's just emerged from his village brewery and he plops four crates — 80 bottles — into the trunk of his car, smiles, and proclaims an oft-repeated phrase from these parts. "Beer is Bavarian bread."

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Germany and Belgium are beginning to recover from historic flooding that has devastated parts of those countries and left more than 180 people dead. German Chancellor Angela Merkel toured some of the affected areas today.