How very, very, German

A grieving mother has received a final demand to pay up for the damage to a tree caused when her daughter died after colliding into it.
Nineteen-year-old Franziska was killed in the car crash in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia on August 16 when her vehicle hit the tree.
But German authorities have invoiced her mother €548 for a 50cm by 35cm ‘wound’ in the tree.
The girl, who was studying to become a zookeeper in a nearby town, was on her way home in the afternoon when the accident happened.
She was between the towns of Stokkem and Jakobwuellesheim, when for unknown reasons her Volkswagen Polo swung off the carriageway and crashed into the tree.

Authorities never determined out the cause of the accident.
Yet the German authorities have blamed her for damaging the tree in the accident.
Local media report that the ‘wound’ of the tree is merely 50 by 35 centimetres big, which resulted in a 20 percent loss of functionality.
The authorities sent an invoice of €548 to Franziska’s shocked mother to pay for the costs.
She said: ‘The wounds of the tree will heal. Ours will not.’

But according to the the German bureaucrats, the case was clear and they have refused to back down.
Gerhard Decker, the manager of the state company for road construction, said: ‘If there is damage to a tree or crash barrier caused by a car, we will charge the person that caused it and their insurer. It is always like that.
‘In this case I am really sorry. I have a 19-year-old son myself. But the rules are the rules.’

Rules is rules, see?

Now, get on that train to Poland.

33 comments on “How very, very, German

  1. This is similar to the deductions for board and lodgings in the wrongful imprisonment cases: it doesn’t play well emotionally but it makes sense. Damage has been done – if it were a lamppost, taxpayers would be looking at a bill of several thousand to repair it – and the person who caused it was covered by insurance. Those charged with calculating damaged and recouping the costs probably aren’t allowed to take into account grieving mothers, and for good reasons. If she’d killed a pedestrian instead of hitting a tree, would the same argument apply?

    My guess was the girl went off the road while dicking about on her phone, too.

  2. “This is similar to the deductions for board and lodgings in the wrongful imprisonment cases”

    I don’t approve of those because the prisoner never signed a contract choosing to stay in that prison and eat that food. It’s like the thing of people calculating the return value of the EU spending, when it’s on things that maybe we don’t want.

    And it also just feels really mean to me. The state pisses money away. The foreign aid spending is mostly burning money. Civil servants and hospital managers can piss away money, be an utter catastrophe and worst case, they resign with honour and pensions. But they’re watching the pennies on a small number of poor bastards who spent years in prison.

  3. If she was dicking about with her phone they would know. They ought to waive this sort of thing in cases of death, FFS.

  4. “Local media report that the ‘wound’ of the tree is merely 50 by 35 centimetres big, which resulted in a 20 percent loss of functionality.”

    That German love of accuracy and precise measurement in action…

  5. BiW: “I don’t approve of those because the prisoner never signed a contract choosing to stay in that prison and eat that food. “

    There’s a social contract they broke though – the one about not stealing/injuring others.

  6. @TimNewman: “Damage has been done – if it were a lamppost, taxpayers would be looking at a bill of several thousand to repair it – and the person who caused it was covered by insurance.”

    It’s not just Germany, either…

  7. @Julia
    BiW was talking about wrongful imprisonment, so (assuming the guy is actually innocent) no breach of social contract.

  8. Perhaps I’m being dense here but why is it her mum (more accurately, I suspect, her estate – which her mum stood to inherit?) on the end of the bill rather than the insurance company?

  9. “why is it her mum (more accurately, I suspect, her estate – which her mum stood to inherit?) on the end of the bill rather than the insurance company?”
    Because the insurance company isn’t directly liable for the claim, not having been a 12 floor building with 2500 employees at the wheel of the car. Door wouldn’t shut. But it will be liable to the estate for settling the claim. (Presuming no small-print wriggle.) Just the way it works.
    Sounds like a non-news story to me

  10. Were I in the unfortunate womans situation I would rent a chainsaw and :

    1-Cut the tree down to the ground.

    2–Seek out the office of the cunt who had sent me the letter and use the chainsaw to cut his desk in half–preferably while he stood watching, open-mouthed with terror.

  11. I’m particularly interested in the functionality of a tree which is a concept I hadn’t come across before. Does anyone know how this is calculated?

    I took out (I’m hard, me) an apple tree which will result in 100% loss of functionality in terms of leaves and apples but an increase in functionality in terms of logs. I wonder how many people are employed in assessing arboreal potential and whether one can take their assessments to appeal?

  12. Bernie G: Rules is rules… is that the Nuremberg defense?

    No, I think you’re thinking of “I was only obeying alders”.

  13. “If she’d killed a pedestrian instead of hitting a tree, would the same argument apply?”

    If it wasn’t her fault yes it would.

    I do have to ask though: isn’t this just the damage.from a road traffic accident? Shouldn’t her insurance cover this?

  14. The problem is that societies are so much better where the rules are the rules and everyone obeys them. The whole horror of the German aberration is that it used the power of the modern state and the idea of a society of laws to murder millions.

    Mind you, the French started off charging people for the cost of their execution. Somehow this seems worse.

  15. “Mind you, the French started off charging people for the cost of their execution. Somehow this seems worse.”

    AIUI the Chinese still do, but that could be urban myth and I can’t be arsed researching to find out.

  16. BiW,

    Good point.

    “But they’re watching the pennies on a small number of poor bastards who spent years in prison.”

    And often because said State messed up.

  17. “which resulted in a 20 percent loss of functionality.”

    Perhaps taking them to court and proving this would be interesting. What is the ‘functionality’ of this tree and how was it reduced by 20%?

    Sounds like made-up bullshit to fleece the rubes to me.

  18. I see nowt wrong with it as long as the same rules are applied to Angela Merkel and everyone else. So there’s plenty wrong with it.

  19. She caused damage through some act of negligence, so she has to pay for the damage. In this case – insurance will cover. The bill will have gone to the girl’s estate (I guess the mother is a beneficiary). What is there not to get here?

    There seems to be this Anglophone belief (inaccurate even in the Anglosphere) that you are only liable for intentionally-caused damage, or if you hurt yourself in doing damage you get let off for some reason. First thing I tell Anglophones I hire – get yourself the best public liability insurance you can find. They’ve usually never heard of it, in Germany it is almost universal.

    When people throw themselves under trains here their estates get a bill for the damage as well. So they should. And the insurers have to pay because suicide is seen as an illness and not a wilful act.

  20. BIG

    Most people here get it through their house contents insurance or similar but don’t realise it.

    When I served in Germany in the early ’80s it was well known that we would need insurance as we weren’t immune from public liability.

  21. If it’s Anglophone to believe in a bit of Christian charity and common sense towards a mother who has lost a daughter in a tragic accident, then count me in.

    This sort of thing just reinforces the idea that the step down from solid German citizen to heathen Syrian immigrant is small one, and Angela Merkel knew it.

  22. @Dennis

    “Remind me again as to why we didn’t just kill all of them in 1945?
    Or 1918, for that matter?”

    Do you actually think that or would you like to take the opportunity to rephrase?

  23. Rob: The surface layers of the trunk of a tree transport water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves and vice versa. That’s the functionality they’re talking about – the tree can only transport 80% of what it could before, which has an impact on how much it can support in the way of foliage and branches.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girdling

  24. Do you actually think that or would you like to take the opportunity to rephrase?

    I’ve known Jews with numbers tattooed on their arms.

    And yesterday was Veterans Day.

    No, an opportunity to rephrase isn’t something I’m looking for.

  25. Old Russian proverb:

    The German? A good man, perhaps, but better to hang him.

    Old Wild West proverb:

    Some men need killing.

    Old Dennis proverb:

    What part of what I said don’t you understand?

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