1. No Pill for Death

The man was still in good spirits when my colleague Sara Wess visited him yesterday at home in the Palatinate Forest. Harald Mayer has been suffering from multiple sclerosis for many years and wants to enforce in court that he is allowed to buy a lethal drug. Prior to the Federal Administrative Court's decision, Mayer believed this instance would allow him to purchase sodium pentobarbital. He wouldn't take it right away, but wants to make sure he could easily die if he can't take it anymore.

Due to his multiple sclerosis disease, Mayer is almost completely paralyzed and can only control a wheelchair by operating a switch with his chin. The trained carpenter and long-time firefighter has been fighting a battle with the courts for six years, he was always forbidden to buy sodium pentobarbital, he went from instance to instance, wanted to obtain an exemption from the Narcotics Act.

Now the Federal Administrative Court has also blocked access to a lethal dose of narcotics for those who want to die, like Mayer. The Narcotics Act, which does not provide for permission to purchase the drug sodium pentobarbital, does not violate the individual's right to self-determined dying, the court in Leipzig ruled today. The dangers to the population posed by the acquisition and storage of the product are too high.

The court argued that for people who want to end their lives, there are "other reasonable ways to realize their wish to die" – for example, through euthanasia organizations or doctors who are willing to assist in suicide.

Today, Mayer expressed his deep disappointment to Sara, who made her way directly to the court in Leipzig after Mayer's visit. "What's that? I can sink myself into a lake." Is that what the court meant when it said that there are other ways to end one's life in a self-determined way?

  • Read the full story here: "Are you afraid of death?" – "No. I've been torturing myself for too long for that."

2. Warm rooms at the expense of others

The filling level of Germany's natural gas storage facilities has reached the 100 percent mark again. The European Gas Storage Association (GIE) registered exactly 100.03 percent, according to recently published preliminary data. According to earlier information from the Federal Government, this amount is roughly equivalent to the consumption of two to three averagely cold winter months.

The President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, expressed his relief: "It is good news that the storage facilities are now 100 percent full. We are much better prepared for the winter than we were last year," says Müller. However, it is too early to give the all-clear. "We ask people to continue to think carefully about what consumption can be saved."

Accordingly, the German Association of Storage Operators does not rule out a gas emergency in the event of a very cold winter. With extremely low temperatures, as in the EU weather year 2010, German storage facilities could be empty as early as the end of January 2024, the Energy Storage Initiative reported today in Berlin. In such a scenario, the storage facilities could only be refilled in the course of March.

With a normal temperature pattern as in 2016, the association assumes that the storage facilities will still be 42 percent full at the beginning of February. A filling level of at least 1 percent is prescribed on 40 February. In a warm winter with temperatures like those of 2020, the storage facilities are 70 percent full at the beginning of February, according to the model.

My colleague Stefan Schultz has been observing the gas market for years. Last winter, the gas supply was a major concern for citizens, government and business. Now, less than a year later, the storage facilities are overflowing and prices are lower than they have been for a long time. The reason: laws were changed rapidly, and the switch to renewable energies was accelerated. "From my point of view, this is a positive example of the resilience and adaptability of Western democracies," says Stefan. One of the downsides is that Europe's and Germany's gas supply is so stable because we have temporarily bought liquefied natural gas from poorer countries. "As a result, some of these countries have led to energy crises," says Stefan.

  • Read the full story here: Why Germany's gas supply is suddenly so stable

3. The Swabian king abdicates

If there is one fossil of the German economy, it is the head of Trigema, Wolfgang Grupp. For 50 years, he has been running the family-owned textile company in the Swabian town of Burladingen. Sometimes you get the impression that his worldview also comes from the early days of his management. He always provokes with gaudy statements, always in the certainty that he will appear in the media.

Recent examples: On the subject of works councils – "Those who have nothing to say at home can finally say something and let themselves be put forward." On the subject of working from home – "If someone can work at home, they are unimportant." Gender equality – "If women want the jobs and the men should do the housework, then the world is upside down."

I have no idea what went wrong with Grupp, sometimes he even slipped into the conspiracy-narrative milieu (on the subject of arms deliveries to Ukraine: He knows, according to Grupp, "that I don't have the mainstream of ARD and ZDF – you're not allowed to say anything other than that."). As if there were a directive as to what had to be broadcast on public broadcasters and that private individuals had to adhere to it.

Now his children may have discreetly taken him aside and said: Dad, it's good now. In any case, the 81-year-old will have plenty of time for the household in the future. In the future, his job will be done by a woman: his daughter, together with her brother. Grupp announced his intention to hand over the management of the company to his 34-year-old daughter Bonita and his 32-year-old son Wolfgang Grupp junior. "I trust their ability to ensure the continued existence of the company and to lead Trigema into a secure future," said Grupp.

Most recently, Grupp senior was a star on TikTok, cheesy videos show him on tours of the company or expressing his love for his wife. For a long time, he consistently rejected social media. "I don't bother with that. Twitter is just stupid to me, and the people who use it are idiots to me," he said in 2010. Since Trigema himself was represented on Twitter, he reaped a corresponding shitstorm and rowed back: "This is certainly a very contemporary communication option," he later wrote.

It is certainly also timely that Grupp is now stepping down.

  • Read more here: Trigema boss Grupp hands over to daughter and son

News and background information on the war in the Middle East can be found here:

  • Anti-Semitism Counseling Center Records Rapid Increase in Help-Seekers: The Berlin-based anti-Semitism counselling centre Ofek has been asked for advice more often in just one month than in any year since it was founded. In order to be able to cope with this additional work, political support is needed.

  • Interior Minister Faeser sees the "red line" crossed: After the controversial rally in Essen, investigations for incitement to hatred are underway. And Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser is clear: "Not compatible with our understanding of democracy."

  • Israel's military is apparently already operating "deep in the city of Gaza": Israeli ground troops say they have advanced far into Gaza City. The pressure is being increased there, said an army spokesman. And Biden is pushing for humanitarian ceasefires in the Gaza Strip.

  • Here you can find all the latest developments: The news update

What else is important today

  • The Office for the Protection of the Constitution classifies AfD in Saxony-Anhalt as right-wing extremist: The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has assessed the AfD in Saxony-Anhalt as proven to be right-wing extremist. It is already the second state association in which the party is now completely monitored.

  • Every second black person in Germany experiences racism: Researchers surveyed 21,000 people about their experiences of racism in Germany. The result reveals a massive disparity between white people and all those who are considered racially marked.

  • Portugal's Prime Minister Costa resigns: Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa resigns. He made the announcement in a nationwide televised address. The reason is corruption investigations – the authorities had arrested, among other things, Costa's head of cabinet.

  • Defense speaks of misunderstanding, bad humor – or "anti-Semitic allusion": The musician Gil Ofarim is on trial in Leipzig. The prosecution finds that the Star of David supporter, who is at the center of the anti-Semitism allegations, was not seen at all, the defense sees "testimony against testimony."

  • DEL players will have to wear neck protection in the future: The accidental death of professional ice hockey player Adam Johnson has shaken the sports world. Now the German Ice Hockey League is drawing consequences. The obligation to wear a neck protection will take effect from next year.

What we recommend today at SPIEGEL+

  • Trump's outburst in Room 300: During his appearance as a witness in his own trial, Donald Trump attacks the judge and the prosecution. Politically, this may benefit him, but not so much legally. What happened?

  • Scholz's points victory – and what it means: For more than eight hours, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister wrestled over asylum policy. A scandal seems possible, so everyone is all the more relieved after the agreement. What has been the most disputed and what has now been decided.

  • "The consequences for deprived children are terrible": The Hamburg hostage drama was an extreme case, but statistics show that child abductions happen frequently. Family law expert Karin Delerue explains what affected mothers or fathers can do.

  • How a married couple wants to turn Romanian wilderness into a national park: Two Western biologists have been working for years in Romania's Făgăraș Mountains for their dream: a kind of Yellowstone nature reserve in the heart of Europe. Now they are planning something even bigger.

What is less important today


John Salangsang/ dpa

Good connection: Singer and actress Barbara Joan "Barbra" Streisand, 81, was unhappy with an Apple product - more precisely, with the voice function Siri. Apparently, her last name was not properly pronounced. So the diva called the CEO himself and complained to Tim Cook that something had to be done. "Streisand," I said, "my name is not spelled with a Z. It's called Strei-sand, like sand on the beach. It can't be that hard. Sand on the beach. Anyway, I asked myself, how can I change that?" she told the BBC.

Mini Concave Mirror

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And tonight?

Not only would our editor Rudolf Augstein have turned 100 years old these days, but another great German could also have celebrated his 100th birthday next Sunday: Loriot. He died in 2011. At the time, SPIEGEL dedicated a cover story to him, written by my colleagues Thomas Tuma and Martin Wolf. It said: "After his death, the conservatives in particular are trying to co-opt him as one of their own: von Bülow, von Adel, von wegen. Loriot may have had a keen sense of aesthetics, values, virtues... Nevertheless, he was always an anarchist in his work, Apo in a tweed jacket."

If you missed the homage to Loriot on ARD last night, I recommend that you watch it afterwards in the media library. All kinds of comedians, companions and admirers have their say, from Gerhard Haderer to Helge Schneider to Hape Kerkeling, who sees Loriot's comedy reaching up to the present day: "Loriot would have had to live to see that we have a Chancellor who looks like these little Knollmännchen."

I wish you an enjoyable evening. Heartily

Yours sincerely, Janko Tietz, Head of Department Germany/Panoramader