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Birth and baptismal certificate for Eliesabetta Scheffer (born August 17, 1796)


                  What's New
"More than a century after being commissioned by Germany's last Kaiser, Wilhelm II, the passenger and freight ship 'Götzen' is still in service in Tanzania, one of the last working steamships of its era."  (Handelsblatt - Global Edition, 2/24/15) "There is not, as yet, any prize given for 'best supporting location' at the Academy Awards. But Görlitz, 60 miles east of Dresden on the German-Polish border, has a history of doing well at the Oscars."  (The Guardian, 1/19/15; YouTube, 2/22/15) Now is a great time to see "Drawn With Spirit," an exhibition of Pennsylvania German Fraktur, at the Philadelphia Museum Art.  (The Philadelphia Tribune, 2/7/15)


                  Pegida, Nogida, and Charlie Hebdo
"What’s holding Pegida together now is the media and political attention and the feeling of cohesion during the demonstrations. The movement’s future won’t be decided by its leaders, but by the way the rest of us deal with this misguided protest."  (The Guardian, 2/1/15) "Germany has come a long way since even the early ’90s. And rather than causing violence, Pegida has set off a public debate on Germany’s national identity. This is long overdue."  (The New York Times, 1/22/15) "Germany's anti-Islamic movement Pegida is a vampire we must slay," writes Timothy Garton Ash.  (The Guardian, 1/18/15)


                   Music
"The tradition of Beethoven and Wagner is ignored by today’s academic composers, but over-the-top Romanticism thrives in first-person-shooter video games."  (The Daily Beast, 2/21/15) "By the time Richard Strauss died in 1949, many musicians and critics considered him an embarrassing fossil." Don't listen to them, writes Tim Page. Instead, listen to the "significant and beautiful music" that Strauss composed throughout his long career.  (The New York Review of Books, 1/31/15)  Germany's baroque opera houses: still stimulating the local economy after all these years.  (Bloomberg, 2/12/15)


                  Art & Design
Now is a great time to see "Drawn With Spirit," an exhibition of Pennsylvania German Fraktur, at the Philadelphia Museum Art.  (The Philadelphia Tribune, 2/7/15) Thomas Struth's photographs "catch the history of a place the way a reservoir catches rainwater. He just gets up early, sets up his tripod, and stands very still."  (The New York Review of Books, 1/26/15) "US museum professionals have largely accepted the mantra that 'less is more.' Designers often prevail on curators to shorten exhibit labels, refine story lines and let artifacts breathe. In Germany, by contrast, thoroughness remains the summum bonum."  (The Nation, 1/13/15)


                  Books & Ideas
Whatever happened to Ernst Haffner? His 1932 novel Jugend auf der Landstrasse Berlin (republished as Blutsbrüder) became the German literary rediscovery of 2013. Now there's a new English translation by Michael Hofmann.  (love german books, 9/2/13; The Guardian, 10/3/13; The New York Times, 2/13/15) Glass! Love!! Perpetual motion!!! Paul Scheerbart "wrote prolifically on science, urban planning and design, space travel, and gender politics, often in the course of a single text."  (The Paris Review, 2/9/15) "When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed right there in his bed into some sort of monstrous insect.” Thanks to translator Susan Bernofsky, you'll want to (re)read The Metamorphosis.  (Slate, 1/7/14; The New Yorker, 1/15/14; World Literature Today, 1/2015)


                  Film
I'm looking forward to Deutschland 83: "Love is a battlefield for the undercover spy kids in the 1980s-set Eurodrama, soon to become the first German-language TV series ever to air on a US network."  (The Hollywood Reporter, 2/11/15; The Guardian, 2/14/15) Forty films made during the Nazi era remain banned in Germany today. Felix Moeller has put (parts of) them together in one new documentary.  (j.b. spins, 1/18/15; The New Yorker, 1/22/15) "There is not, as yet, any prize given for 'best supporting location' at the Academy Awards. But Görlitz, 60 miles east of Dresden on the German-Polish border, has a history of doing well at the Oscars."  (The Guardian, 1/19/15; YouTube, 2/22/15)


                  Theater
"The frontcloth to ENO's new production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg features a collage of 103 of the most famous cultural figures from the German-speaking world. How many can you name?"  (The Guardian, 2/5/15) "Compared to other countries, copyright rows on German stages are all part of the show." Grab some popcorn and watch the dispute over Frank Castorf's new staging of Baal at Munich's Residenztheater unfold.  (Deutsche Welle, 2/4/15; Deutsche Welle, 2/19/15; love german books, 2/23/15) "For reasons difficult to fathom, Weber’s 'Der Freischütz' has rarely caught on outside Germany." Michael Thalheimer's new production at the Berlin State Opera probably won't be the one to spark new interest abroad.  (The New York Times, 1/22/15; Deutsche Welle, 1/24/15)


                  History
"More than a century after being commissioned by Germany's last Kaiser, Wilhelm II, the passenger and freight ship 'Götzen' is still in service in Tanzania, one of the last working steamships of its era."  (Handelsblatt - Global Edition, 2/24/15) "Hundreds of thousands of war refugees from Eastern Europeincluding many top Nazi collaborators—gained entry to the United States in the first few years after the war," writes Eric Lichtblau, "but visas were scarce for those left in the camps."  (The New York Times, 2/7/15; H-German, 2/22/15; H-German, 2/22/15) "We thought Dresden was invincible." A survivor recalls the February 13, 1945 bombing of his childhood home.  (The Guardian, 2/13/15)


                  Et Cetera
Strange new world: nobody ever  imagined "Germany would be negotiating directly with Russia—or that France would be too weak, Britain too inward-looking, and the United States too uninterested to object."  (Slate, 2/20/15) "Neat brown bob, sweet little floppy hat, hands like C-clamps." Meet Martin Luther, fastest-selling Playmobil figure ever.  (Deutsche Welle, 2/11/15; The Guardian, 2/18/15) "The world's most powerful leader isn't Obama or Putin—it's Angela Merkel." (The New Yorker, 12/1/14; The Guardian, 12/22/14; Vanity Fair, 1/2015; The Guardian, 1/7/15; The Globe and Mail, 2/12/15; The Guardian, 2/15/15)