Germany is preparing for the emergency allocation of gas: who gets what, where is it switched off? Should the polluter pays principle apply, the former chancellor would get very cold.

Friedrich Merz said in the Bundestag that the federal government should no longer talk about the past 16 years. The economic crisis the country is facing is now her challenge. Everything that comes is the sole responsibility of the new government.

Always informed: Analysis by Thomas Jäger – Putin’s step towards a war economy is part of a much larger strategy

I guess Merz. For real. He is the best thing that could have happened to the CDU after the lost election. But I think he’s making it a little too easy for himself. As much as I understand the desire to leave the past behind: you don’t get rid of it that quickly, as you know – from the past.

Germany has its back against the wall. The Economics Minister speaks of a “nightmare scenario”, the Federal Network Agency draws up plans for emergency gas supplies, and citizens are ordering heaters. What was toilet paper during the pandemic is now radiators.

For anyone who can no longer get their hands on a fan heater, there are practical savings tips. In Berlin, the Gasag boss called for people to wash their hands less. The fear of gas poverty is even greater than the fear of the virus. And you shouldn’t ask yourself how we got into this mess?

Everyone is now acting surprised that the man in the Kremlin is using the power we have given him. What exactly have you thought in the Chancellery over the years, how Putin would react if he was threatened with sanctions?

That he continues to dutifully fulfill his delivery obligations because he promised to do so? In my naivety, I would always assume that someone who rains poison gas on children has no problem turning off the gas tap if they think it will do them any good. But I’m not a chancellor’s adviser either.

The Russians always delivered, they say, despite the Cold War, aid for Assad and the annexation of Crimea. In fact, Putin has used his gas as a weapon on numerous occasions – against the Ukrainians, against Belarus, against Estonia. We just chose not to acknowledge it.

So you could easily have known that you were dealing with a gangster as the main supplier. And prepare accordingly. Instead, on the chancellor: inside floor at the Spreebogen, people preferred to make fun of the pictures in which the strong man from Russia posed shirtless while riding in the taiga. What a ridiculous macho! Yesterday! hahaha!

Everything on which Germany’s energy supply was based is now in ruins. If you ask the woman who has been in charge for the past 16 years, you get the answer that the dependency is a result of the liberalization of the energy market. Because Russian gas was always available in sufficient quantities, nobody in the economy showed any interest in looking for alternatives. Politics as a spectator.

Oh well. National security, critical infrastructure – none of this seems to have been a concept in Angela Merkel’s world. Also, on other occasions she didn’t show so much scruples. In 2011, the Chancellor decided to phase out nuclear energy, followed in 2017 by the ban on fracking. When it came to phasing out domestic energy production, she was always ready to disregard the interests of business.

Merkel’s longtime foreign policy advisor, the diplomat Christoph Heusgen, recently reported that the share of Russian gas in the energy supply had never been an issue in the Chancellery. The share increased within ten years from 37 to 55 percent. Heusgen says he can’t remember ever seeing such numbers. How to call that? carefree? Careless? Abandoned by all good spirits?

It’s not like nobody warned. When the federal government decided to hand over the country’s largest gas storage facility to the Russians, it was the Greens, led by MP Oliver Krischer, who warned of the consequences. “The security of supply is not at risk,” was the reply. The set was sent by default.

As far as the Merkel government is concerned, the Greens could tell a lot. Habeck reported to the “Spiegel” how they thwarted the construction of a liquid gas terminal in Brunsbüttel in the Chancellery. RWE wanted to purchase larger quantities of gas, and the contracts were ready to be signed. But the Chancellor showed no interest. The matter had to be called off.

It could also be worth asking Joschka Fischer why nothing came of Nabucco. One or the other will remember: That was the pipeline through which gas was supposed to flow from Azerbaijan to Germany. Fischer was employed on the project as chief consultant. In the end he had to admit defeat to the Gazprom mafia – one of the few really painful defeats of his life.

Do we learn from damage? We will see. The new dream is called turning away from fossil fuels. Getting rid of all fossil fuels is high on the green agenda.

I’m afraid that too will remain a dream. A developed industrial country the size of Germany cannot be operated entirely with renewable energies, at least not if you want to remain an industrial country. It always needs an energy source that the manufacturing industry can rely on. But the world as will and imagination is a concept that has lost none of its appeal to this day.

Just one detail: The coalition agreement states that from January 2025 every newly installed heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energy. Oil and gas heating systems are therefore ruled out. Only the heat pump achieves this value.

I spoke to my plumber because I wanted to have my old gas heater replaced over the winter. My house is from 1993. Classic semi-detached house, 140 square meters, nothing special. “Not a chance,” he said. “Such a heat pump is much too big for your basement. Also, you need a whole different kind of insulation to make it work.”

I then read in the “FAZ” that the majority of existing houses in Germany are unsuitable for the installation of heat pumps. Of course, that doesn’t stop the government from sticking to its goal. One can only advise homeowners to quickly replace the old gas boiler with a new one before 2025. After that it is forbidden – energy balance or not. This is exactly the mindset that led us to the gas crisis. Sorry for saying that.

One shouldn’t hold grudges. On the other hand, I am a supporter of the polluter pays principle. If gas is to be stockpiled in the near future, I would have one modest wish. Couldn’t one list those responsible for the debacle in front of the industry in the plans for who will be cut off the gas first?

We have decided to delete Gerhard Schröder’s employees and his office. In comparison, a few cold weeks for Angela Merkel and the architect of Russia friendship, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, would be comparatively mild restrictions.

Also: With two sweaters and a little climbing stairs you can get through the winter, says the Gasag boss in Berlin. This also applies to the chancellor’s apartment and Bellevue Palace.

The readers love him or hate him, Jan Fleischhauer is indifferent to the least. You only have to look at the comments on his columns to get an idea of ​​how much people are moved by what he writes. He was at SPIEGEL for 30 years, and at the beginning of August 2019 he switched to FOCUS as a columnist.

Fleischhauer himself sees his task as giving voice to a world view that he believes is underrepresented in the German media. So when in doubt, against the herd instinct, commonplaces and stereotypes. His texts are always amusing – perhaps it is this fact that provokes his opponents the most.

You can write to our author: By email to or on Twitter @janfleischhauer.

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