Sausage, Stalingrad and Sadomasochism The Dumbest Ideas Ever Uttered in German Politics

This month has seen a veritable flood of stupid proposals and ill-considered utterances from politicians in Germany. But the country has also seen plenty of inanities in its past. From the pizza tax to a call to buy Mallorca, SPIEGEL ONLINE has collected some of the most bone-headed.


Attention, one could argue, is the currency of politics. And if that is true, then one Berlin politician these days has become something of a tycoon. The more he opens his mouth this month, the more people turn their heads in his direction. But rather than the fawning awe created by US presidential candidate Barack Obama, the looks being generated by Berlin Finance Senator Thilo Sarrazin are characterized more by wrinkled brows and the wide eyes of astonishment.

Bratwurst -- an essential part of a new diet for welfare recipients in Germany.

Bratwurst -- an essential part of a new diet for welfare recipients in Germany.

Earlier this month, Sarrazin presented a menu for those on Germany's not-as-generous-as-they-used-to-be welfare benefits for the long-term unemployed -- referred to as Harz IV -- arguing that it's simple to create a well-balanced, healthy diet on €4.25 ($6.45) per day. Breakfast includes two bread rolls, a daub of jelly, a bit of butter and cheese and two glasses of tea. Lunch could include a bratwurst and a bit of sauerkraut, while dinner, Sarrazin suggested, would be "two slices of bread, 100 grams of cheese spread, a slice of lunchmeat, two tomatoes and two glasses of tea."

The outrage was immediate, with even Sarrazin's boss, Klaus Wowereit, giving his long-time fosterling the cold shoulder. After all, the menu items Sarrazin listed -- heavy on the bland -- were not exactly the most appetizing.

Sarrazin, though, wasn't finished. In a recent appearance, he allegedly said that high school dropouts in Bavaria were better educated than graduates in Berlin. And then on Wednesday, he seemed to support illegal labor. "I am almost relieved when someone does a bit of illegal work instead of sitting in his apartment on the 20th floor watching television all day," he said. Perhaps not super-scandalous stuff, but enough for Sarrazin watchers to shake their heads yet again. In 2002, he began his tenure by referring to "pale and bad-smelling bureaucrats."

But let's be honest. Sarrazin is far from the only German politician who has foot-in-mouth syndrome. Idiotic ideas and speeches have a long history in Germany. In honor of Sarrazin, SPIEGEL ONLINE has put together some of the best ones in recent years:

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