The Germans are not quite so keen on bringing court cases before judge and jury as we Americans but some of the cases which come before the courts could just as easily be staged in New York, Kansas or Florida and not be out of place. Recent court cases in Berlin Friedenau, Hamburg and Merzig have brought so much attention, however, that the German government has quickly changed the law.
The individual cases might not have made the press but for a loud complaint by the Vice Chair of a Senior Citizens group who, befitting his status and age, complained that children in Kindergarten make far too much noise. Leonhard Kuckart has only one wish in his old age, to live in peace and quiet and that without the daily stress of hearing children playing with one another.
To a certain extent, and according to the law, he is quite within his rights to complain and, if he so wishes, to bring a case before the courts. The cases in Berlin-Friedenau and Hamburg were both brought by neighbors of the local Kindergarten, and resulted in the children having to find a new area. The case in Merzig was brought before the Kindergarten was even built. The law, each court decided, was perfectly clear: a Kindergarten has no place in estates set aside for homes. The residents have the right to demand peace and quiet around their homes, both from the daily routine of a Kindergarten and from the occasional play of children at home or in their own yard.
Berlin, in a very unusual move for a government, reacted immediately. The change in the law allows local authorities to build Kindergartens within an estate regardless of how much noise the children may cause. Children, it is often said, are part of our society and our future; it would be wrong to ban them from societies midst just because they play louder than others. The new law does not, however, allow children to make too much noise when playing in their own yard, and local authorities are still entitled to ban all forms of sport and play in residential areas which might cause any form of noise, or upset the not so hard of hearing old age pensioners.