I'm taking the Technician's exam in 4 days! Yes, in Germany you can talk on a HAM radio around the world. But do keep in mind that the FCC (for United States only Region 2 ITU) has certain restrictions on what you can do to "transmit" outbound. For example, I just purchased the Yaesu FT-60R HT (Hand held mobile) and until I see my call sign registered in the FCC database, all I can do is listen. After I get the technician licence, I am going for the "General" licence, which gives you more frequencies to operate on. The exam after that is the "Extra" class licence, which again gives you more privileges and frequencies. The higher you get, the different ranges you can talk. Some are better than others and some work better in the daytime and with solar flares etc etc. Basically RF waves bounce around in and off the ionosphere layer and sends them back down to Earth hitting another radio. For CB (citizen band), FRS (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service), you are limited to a good 20-30 miles and usually this is by line of sight without obstructions. If something happens, then these services might be flooded with "talkers" on them. With certain HAM licence, you'll have a huge range to talk through. Although as some folks might think these are "private", and that you can talk without others listening in, this is not the case. Even the FRS and GMRS radios state they have privacy features, which is a misunderstanding. Basically these types of radios have certain types of squelches, which responds to your partners "tone" to make it more of a private feature, but by no means is it really "private". Also to note that even though there are multiple channels on these types of radios (GMRS/FRS) there are certain channels that you cannot use by FCC guidelines. I will not go into detail, but this is a misunderstanding from little johnny playing paintball and puts his "walkie talkie" on channel 1 and transmits. Big no no!
My HT setup is below, with a 5watt battery charger solar panel (from HF $23 down from $55). I'm going to carry this in my BOV and if the power runs down, then I have a cigarette charger, and thus the solar panel to charge the battery. My base "control station" is of course at my home, which at anytime the FCC is allowed by law at no notice to come in and take a look at your setup to make recommendations etc, which is fine with me. Just a tidbit of information that I know a lot of OPSEC folks worry about. My base is still in the research mode of what I'm going to get, but I'm purchasing a triband to be able to utilize everything I can with my licence as they come to me. I'll be able to talk around the world and even to my antipole location! The HT (Hand held) is good for usually 30 miles, unless you hit a repeater, which are towers owned by other HAMs that relay your signal along the way. In the event of something bad (earthquake for example), there should still be some repeaters around. In fact, there are about 10 in my local area (10 mile radius) that cover 1/4 of the entire state. If you are not hitting a repeater and communicating directly to another HAM (Simplex), then your communications will still work.
CW (Internation Morse Code) is the best thing to learn in the event of a disaster. It utilized the smallest bandwidth on 150 hz. Although morse code has been removed from the tests, I'm still going to learn it and increase my speed with this type of communication. When power goes out, Internet goes down, cell phones stop working, you'll hear Morse code on anything electric.
Yaesu FT-60R with 5w solar panel (battery charger)
Yaesu FT-60R VHF/UHF Dual Band FM Transceiver 5w
Line of sight of repeaters in my area (Hard to see, but there is about4 from this photo you can see)