Dead German poet told to pay his television license

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

It seems that even being dead for over 200 years still doesn’t escape you from the curse of the German bureaucrats.

One of Germany’s most famous poets and playwrights, Friedrich Schiller, was sent two threatening letters by the GEZ (the television licensing agency).   They told him that he had to pay 17 Euros ($24) a month for the right to watch his television and listen to his radio otherwise they would begin legal action against him!    The letters were sent to the Friedrich Schiller Primary School in East Germany.

The second letter came despite the school’s headteacher sending the agency a letter informing them that “the addressee is no longer in a position to listen to the radio or watch television”.   He also enclosed Schiller’s resume listing his accomplishments such as writing the world famous “Ode To Joy” which was later put to music by Ludwig Van Beethoven.

The bureaucrats replied back saying Schiller would not have to pay if he could personally prove that he was “not in a position to watch television or listen to radio”

They finally got it into their heads that Schiller has been dead since 1805 and issued an apology.    Their excuse for the screw-up?   Yup, you guessed it – a “computer error”.    Amazing how bureaucrats fall back on that classic excuse of blaming everything on the computer!

So I guess that means the payment demands for Mr L Van Beethoven, Mr J S Bach and Mr W A Mozart are now in the post then?

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3 Responses to Dead German poet told to pay his television license

  1. Beethoven and Mozart lived in Austria, so they shouldn't have to worry. Bach, though, was a lifelong German citizen.

    What, Germany has socialized television?

    • Many countries around the world, Europe especially, issue licenses for you to watch television and listen to the radio. Basically the public fund the television stations.

      Wikipedia has a list here

      In Britain, it's a very sensitive subject as the fee keeps going up and the BBC's programmes keeps making "more reality shows" (according to my mother). Here in Germany, I've noticed people just tend to pay it and not say anything. There's no complaining, no big deal about it. People just accept it.