kulturplease.com archive 2009

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Music

An extravagant new concert hall, well-behaved squatters, and Richard Florida's ideas on the "creative class" are fueling public debate over the future of Hamburg.  (The New York Times, 12/31/09; Spiegel Online - International, 1/7/10)

Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (1919-1999) was among the Federal Republic's most esteemed musicologists. New historical investigations reveal that he previously belonged to the Wehrmacht's Feldgendarmerie division 683, which was responsible for the murder of 14,000 Crimean Jews in December 1941.  (signandsight.com, 12/28/09; signandsight.com, 1/5/10)

Q: Where can you hear extraordinary sounds by artists Keith Jarrett, Andras Schiff, Arvo Pärt, and Kim Kashkashian?  A: On the German classical and jazz label ECM, now celebrating its 40th anniversary.  (The New York Times, 12/27/09)

In 19th-century Germany, conductor Hans von Bülow set the standards of his profession by promoting "critical detachment between the creation of a musical score and its orchestral realization." Bülow's professional detachment had personal dimensions: he steadfastly championed Richard Wagner's music despite the composer's long affair with Bülow's young wife Cosima.  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/23/09)

Stifters Dinge is "a composition for five pianos with no pianists, a play with no actors, a performance without performers." Heiner Goebbels' recent performance installation at NYC's Park Avenue Armory is captivatingly unique. One critic raves: "The abstract avant-garde has seldom looked, or sounded, more vital, more dramatic or more accessible." (Financial Times, 12/17/09; The New York Times, 12/18/09)

January 16, 2010: Mark your calendar for a day of Total Immersion into the sound world of Hans Werner Henze, sponsored by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London. Tom Service explains why the 83-year-old composer may be "the most important operatic and symphonic voice of his generation."  (guardian.co.uk, 12/14/09)

Split between Krakow and Berlin since the end of WWII, the autographs of Mozart's best-known operas have been reunited in facsimile. Through the initiative of the Packard Humanities Institute, complete facsimile editions of Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, and five additional Mozart operas are now available to music lovers worldwide.  (The New York Times, 11/22/09)

"Cram sex and violence into a Dadaist vise....add layers of loud guitar music and synthesizer noise, and gurgle out the words in a deep, throaty voice." Rammstein's recipe for success has changed little over the past 14 years, but now German youth protection censors have had enough. "Liebe ist für alle da" is an international best-seller, but you'll need to be 18 to purchase the CD in Germany.  (Spiegel Online - International, 11/20/09)

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performed Brahms' First Symphony on its recent U.S. tour. Read Barbara Jepson's appreciation of the composer and his work.  (The Wall Street Journal, 11/13/09)


The fall of the Wall, 20 years later:
David Hasselhoff -- yes, he's part of the
Kultur:

Germans have long hoped "that the world would forgive and forget" their brief love affair with David Hasselhoff. But now that MTV has invited Hasselhoff to appear at the 2009 Europe Music Awards (20 years after his performance at the Brandenburg Gate), the reunified nation's "hopes have been dashed." (Spiegel Online - International, 11/5/09)

Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno "expiated on music, language and society in a German prose so dense and inverted that it almost resists comprehension, let alone translation." So why does Norman Lebrecht find him so entertaining? Lebrecht encourages you to pick up -- and pick a fight with -- a new compilation of Adorno's essays on music.  (The Lebrecht Report, 10/19/09)

"Munich needs a first-class hall," asserts Mariss Jansons, music director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. If the Bavarian government supports the construction of a new, acoustically superior concert hall, Jansons' orchestra would gain an edge over its local rival, the Munich Philharmonic.  (The New York Times, 10/14/2009)

Will Munich's loss be Dresden's gain? Star conductor Christian Thielemann, "magisterial maestro in late-romantic Austro-German warhorses," is exchanging his troubled tenure at the Munich Philharmonic for a new future with the Staatskapelle Dresden.  (WETA, 10/11/09; guardian.co.uk, 10/15/09)

"The Blue Rider in Performance," a collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum and Columbia University's Miller Theatre, presented the work of Vasily Kandinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and other modernist pioneers onstage in "a spellbinding program of music, projected images and movement."  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/23/09; The New York Times, 9/25/09)

Kraftwerk "mapped the digital pop future long before digital technology existed." Decades later, the band -- minus founding member Florian Schneider -- is as active as ever: releasing its first studio album in almost 20 years, as well as eight remastered classics. On tour, Kraftwerk delivers a "sense-swamping audiovisual banquet" that remains cutting-edge.  (The Times, 9/25/09; The New York Times, 12/6/09)

At the Seattle Opera's recent presentation of the complete Ring des Nibelungen, Henry Alford explores the colorful sub-culture of "Ring"-nuts -- music lovers who are passionately devoted to Richard Wagner's monumental, four-opera cycle.  (The New York Times, 9/20/09)

"What sets Bonn's Beethoven Festival apart from all other music events in the modern world," writes Norman Lebrecht, "is its innate political nature." Case in point: the "Weg der Demokratie" -- a decade-by-decade music marathon through the former German capital's most prominent political sites.  (Bloomberg.com, 9/14/09)

Panzerballett is "faster than Metallica, more powerful than Motörhead, and funnier than Rammstein." The German jazz-metal band's latest album features the music of Abba, Frank Zappa, and even the theme from "The Simpsons." (The Guardian, 8/21/09)

In memoriam: Hildegard Behrens (1937-2009). Through her compelling stage presence and luminous soprano voice, Behrens won acclaim for challenging roles such as Wagner's Brünnhilde and Strauss' Salome and Elektra.  (The New York Times, 8/20/09; The Times, 8/20/09; The Washington Post, 8/20/09; guardian.co.uk, 8/30/09)

The politics of performing Wagner in Bayreuth, L.A., and Annandale-on-Hudson: 
Richard Wagner promoted his own career -- and a dubious treatise on "Judaism in Music" -- at the expense of his older colleagues Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer. At this year's Bard Music Festival, Leon Botstein shows that "Wagner's debt to both composers was far more than he cared to admit."  (The New York Times, 7/26/09; The Wall Street Journal, 8/5/09)   

Jonas Kaufmann shines as Lohengrin at the Bayerische Staatsoper, but critics are less enthusiastic about Richard Jones' direction. Has a brilliant musical performance been "undermined by a wayward production"?  (The New York Times, 7/15/09; La Scena Musicale, 7/16/09; Opera Today, 7/20/09)

What happens when "a place ruled by sun, surf and superficial movies" becomes the unexpected haven for Europe's exiled avant-garde? A new book by Dorothy Lamb Crawford recounts how a windfall of musicians transformed the culture of southern California.  (Los Angeles Times, 7/9/09; The Wall Street Journal, 7/22/09)

The politics of performing Wagner in Bayreuth, L.A., and Annandale-on-Hudson: 
Richard Wagner 1, Mike Antonovich 0. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors votes that the 2010 Ring Festival L.A. may proceed as planned -- despite one supervisor's protestation that Wagner's music "became the de facto soundtrack for the Holocaust."  (Los Angeles Times, 7/15/09; Los Angeles Times, 7/21/09; The New York Times, 8/5/09)

The politics of performing Wagner in Bayreuth, L.A., and Annandale-on-Hudson: 
Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Katharina Wagner set a new tone at the 133-year-old Bayreuth Festival with the promise of podcasts, open-air viewings on giant TV screens -- and a historical investigation of their family's Nazi ties.  (The Observer, 6/21/09; The Times, 7/27/09; The Financial Times, 8/1/09)

Sir Simon Rattle has lunch with the Financial Times. The Berlin Philharmonic's principal conductor discusses Wagner, Anglo-German cultural differences, and his orchestra's digital concert hall.  (Financial Times, 6/19/09)

Could a group of "discreet, cryptic German neo-academics" comprise one of the best pop bands ever? Paul Morley shows off Kraftwerk. (The Observer, 6/14/09)

Not your grandparents' Freischütz: In Baden-Baden, Robert Wilson -- and a lot of Swarovski crystal --  transform Weber's Romantic opera into a colorful comic strip. (MusicalCriticism.com, 6/3/09; The New York Times, 6/10/09)

A "vast and highly-regarded classical song-cycle" inspired by the rock band Rammstein? Richard Fairman sums up the London Philharmonic's rendition of Mein Herz brennt with an enthusiastic "wow."  (Financial Times, 6/2/09)

Is Lulu the greatest opera of the 20th century? Read Philip Hensher's appreciation of Alban Berg's decadent, unfinished masterpiece. (The Guardian, 6/1/09)





Art & Design

London's Design Museum is celebrating the work of Dieter Rams, a titan in the field of consumer product design. As creative director at the German manufacturer Braun for more than three decades, Rams transformed everyday appliances and electronics into objects of modernist desire.  (guardian.co.uk, 12/4/09) 

The Bauhaus turns 90:
The Bauhaus birthday celebration moves across the Atlantic, taking up residence in New York's Museum of Modern of Art until January 2010.  (The New York Times, 11/6/09; Design Observer, 11/15/09; Time, 11/23/09; The New Republic, 12/10/09)

The Bauhaus turns 90:
When the Bauhaus opened in 1919, more women applied than men. Yet the revolutionary design school did not provide all of its students with equal opportunities. Progressive in so many other respects, the Bauhaus "was never a haven of female emancipation."  (The New York Times, 11/2/09; The Guardian, 11/7/09)

For one Anglophone critic, Thomas Demand's new exhibition in Berlin is "cunningly disguised as its location: 'Nationalgalerie.'" Barry Schwabsky ponders the Germanness of Demand's "eerily disinfected" photographs.  (The Nation, 10/21/2009)

The Neues Museum in Berlin has reopened for visitors. Heavily damaged during WWII, the "new" museum received a 212 million makeover from architect David Chipperfield. The museum's most famous relic, a 3300-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, has just become its most controversial; the Egyptian government has suggested that the bust was illegally acquired. (Spiegel Online - International, 10/16/09; The Independent, 10/17/09; The New York Times, 10/19/09; The New York Times, 10/24/09)

Only weeks after the display of a Hitler-saluting garden gnome in a Nuremberg gallery sparked public investigation and debate, artist Ottmar Hörl has designed a far larger provocation -- 1,250 Hitler-saluting garden gnomes on a main square in the Bavarian town of Straubing. Financing the 5-day installation? The local SPD.  (The Guardian, 10/14/09; The Times, 10/15/09)

Is the plan to build an enormous new railway station in Stuttgart a visionary proposal to secure the city's economic future? Hardly, argues Nicolai Ouroussoff: "Stuttgart 21 joins a growing list of misguided projects that are reducing Germany's 20th-century architectural history to a fairy tale version of the truth."  (The New York Times, 10/3/09) 

The Bauhaus turns 90:
"Bauhaus Confidential"? Just in time for the design school's 90th anniversary, comes Nicholas Fox's The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism. Look here for colorful personal details you won't find at the recent museum retrospectives.  (ARTnews, 10/09; The New York Times, 12/27/09; HuntingtonNews.net, 1/17/10)

Did Hitler and Lenin meet 100 years ago and play a game of chess? Doubtful. But what if an artist had immortalized the moment in an etching, with the future dictators' signatures (perhaps) penciled on the back? Then the picture could be put up for auction.... (The New York Times, 9/30/09; The New York Times, 10/5/09)

"The Blue Rider in Performance," a collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum and Columbia University's Miller Theatre, presented the work of Vasily Kandinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and other modernist pioneers onstage in "a spellbinding program of music, projected images and movement."  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/23/09; The New York Times, 9/25/09)

On December 4, 1989, five artists stormed and occupied Stasi offices in Erfurt. 20 years later, a performance by these five women marked the opening of Ohne Uns!, an exhibition of alternative art from Dresden before and after the Wende. The exhibition is on display now through January 17, 2010.  (Financial Times, 9/22/09)


August Sander painstakingly "captured and classified his fellow Germans" through the art of photography. A new exhibit at the Fondation Cartier-Bresson in Paris features 105 of Sander's detailed portraits and landscapes from the early 20th century.  (The Economist, 8/27/09)

Benedikt Taschen's limited-edition art books "are like huge, 24-carat diamond publishing bling, intended to generate excitement and exclusivity." Not just for coffee tables anymore, Taschen books have become an attractive investment for wealthy collectors. (The Guardian, 8/17/09)

The Bauhaus turns 90:
Why wait 100 years for a grand retrospective? The Martin-Gropius-Bau is commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus right now, in an exhibition featuring some 1,000 objects culled from the art school's three German archives and the Museum of Modern Art.  (Spiegel Online - International, 7/22/09; The New York Times, 7/27/09; The Smart Set, 8/12/09)

Hitler-saluting garden gnome -- unacceptable Nazi symbol, or satirical critique? The Nuremberg public prosecutor's office rules: Ottmar Hörl's sculpture may remain on display in a local gallery window.  (Spiegel Online - International, 7/17/09; Spiegel Online - International, 7/22/09)

Michael Kimmelman remembers the colorful life of Elisabeth (Tisa) von der Schulenburg. Born into the Prussian aristocracy, Tisa took up art, converted to socialism, married a Jew, and eventually became a Roman Catholic nun.  (The New York Times, 7/16/09)

A "spectacle of ruins" marks the 20th anniversary of Paris' Opéra Bastille. Inspired by the history of the Holy Land, as well as the rubble of German cities after WWII, Am Anfang unites the creative vision of Anselm Kiefer with the music of Jörg Widmann.  (Financial Times, 7/3/09; The New York Times, 7/9/09; The Guardian, 7/10/09)

The Terezín declaration approved by 46 national delegates to the recent Holocaust Era Assets conference urged governments to return artworks and other property once looted by the Nazis. But is a non-binding declaration enough to complete the "unfinished business" of the 20th century?  (The Prague Post, 6/24/09; The Associated Press, 6/29/09)

The East Side Gallery
is turning 20 -- and getting a 2.5 million makeover. 88 artists are replicating their original murals on Berlin's most famous stretch of Wall. (Spiegel Online - International, 6/10/09)

Munich's art district has a new splash of color -- Museum Brandhorst, a "big, seductive container" for contemporary art. The latest addition to the Bavarian State Art Collections showcases the work of world-class artists like Beuys, Hirst, Twombley, and Warhol -- and boasts a handsome budget for future acquisitions.  (The Guardian, 6/4/09; The Art Newspaper, 6/24/09)

The Federal Republic of Germany is turning 60, and the Martin-Gropius-Bau is celebrating -- with an exhibition of one representative artwork for each year since 1949. GDR art? Not included. (More Intelligent Life, 5/15/09; Berlin Culture Crawl, 5/23/09)




 
Books & Ideas

"It can be no coincidence," writes Meg Rosoff, "that the tradition which spawned the Brothers Grimm, and the most terrifying stories in all children's literature, also brings us Wolf Erlbruch." In Duck, Death and the Tulip, the award-winning author and illustrator addresses "life's most monstrous inevitability" with eloquence and honesty.  (The Guardian, 12/19/09)

Reflections on the RAF and the legacy of 1968:

Letters exchanged in 1968-1969 between Gudrun Ensslin and Bernward Vesper, "the man who lost her to Andreas Baader," provide a glimpse into the inner world of West Germany's most notorious radicals. Ensslin's and Vesper's correspondence is now available in paperback from Suhrkamp. (signandsight.com, 12/7/09)

Heil Heidegger? A new round of debate on the philosopher and his politics

Heidegger has influenced distinguished thinkers of all political persuasions. "Never have so many owed so much to the work of such 'a small man,'" writes Tim Black. "Heidegger prompts discomfort precisely because he was a Nazi propagating a non-Nazi philosophy."  (spiked, 11/27/09)

English translations of Rainer Maria Rilke's work remain contested, but the poet himself is indispensible. Ange Mlinko writes: "We read Rilke for a vocabulary that transcends our little, individual languages to a universal (and premodern) figural vocabulary of the lyric."  (The Nation, 11/24/09)

Friedrich Schiller is hot again. In time for the Romantic poet's 250th birthday, the Schiller National Museum in Marbach has revamped its permanent exhibition. And a new film portrays the author of Ode to Joy "as a dashing, flame-haired womaniser, mixing high philosophy with simple lust."  (The Observer, 11/22/09)

Before Herta Müller received this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, most English readers were unfamiliar with her work. As publishers hurry to release or re-release her novels in English translation, should you take a closer look? Richard B. Woodward and Carolyn Kelly can help you decide.  (The Wall Street Journal, 11/10/09; Belletrista, Nov/Dec 2009)

Heil Heidegger? A new round of debate on the philosopher and his politics
Martin Heidegger: greatest philosopher of the 20th century, or irredeemable fascist? Patricia Cohen and Heather Horn provide an overview of the recent debate.  (The New York Times, 11/9/09; The Atlantic Wire, 11/11/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:  
What novel best captures the spirit of reunification-era Berlin? Serge Debrebant votes for Herr Lehmann
(Berlin Blues), the tale of a good-natured slacker in the western district of Kreuzberg, blissfully unaware of the monumental political changes about to befall him.  (Financial Times, 11/6/09)

Heil Heidegger? A new round of debate on the philosopher and his politics
"When is a reader free to dismiss a difficult writer as an obfuscatory charlatan? To what extent is a work of literature tainted by the total moral failing of its author?" Stephen Metcalf doesn't "pretend to know the answer to these questions," but he does suggest that Carlin Romano got them wrong. Damon Linker goes a step further: Romano's glib dismissal of Martin Heidegger is "an intellectual disgrace."  (Slate, 10/23/09; The New Republic, 11/1/09)

Part "Borat," part serious journalist, Günter Wallraff investigated German racism by disguising himself as a black man. His new film (Schwarz auf Weiss) and book (Aus der schönen neuen Welt) have drawn criticism on numerous grounds. One author asks, "If Wallraff really wanted to find out what it's like to live as a black in Germany, why didn't he take the time to let any blacks in Germany answer the question?" (Spiegel Online - International, 10/21/09; love german books, 10/22/09; The Times, 10/23/09)

Heil Heidegger? A new round of debate on the philosopher and his politics
Will a new book by Emmanuel Faye usher Martin Heidegger to "his final resting place as prolific, provincial Nazi hack?" Carlin Romano certainly hopes so: Heidegger "should be the butt of jokes, not the subject of dissertations."  (The Chronicle Review, 10/18/09)

Amazon.com now ships Kindles to customers in Germany. But Germans will pay more for the wireless reading devices, with fewer e-books available to them. Joachim Kronsbein asks why publishers in Germany are avoiding going digital.  (Spiegel Online - International, 10/15/09)


The Tin Drum is "odd, profound, sprawling, poetic, often unnerving." Fifty years after its first publication, Darragh McManus explains why Günter Grass' best-known work may be "the great novel of the 20th century."  (guardian.co.uk, 10/7/09)

And the winners are....Herta Müller (2009 Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature), and Katrin Schmidt (recipient of the 2009 German Book Prize, for her novel Du stirbst nicht). Now you can sample excerpts of the award-winning authors' work in English translation.  (signandsight.com, 10/2/09)

Rainer Maria Rilke was not only a lyric poet of genius; he was also "vain, self-pitying, obsessive, narcissistic, snobbish, whining, arrogant, childish, demanding, lachrymose and neurotic, as well as being given to tantrums and panics." Robert Vilain discusses a new translation of The Book of Hours, and other recent Rilke scholarship.  (The Times Literary Supplement, 9/16/09)

Erich Kästner's Emil und die Detektive, first published in 1929, is a classic work of children's fiction. The book's original cover, designed by Walter Trier, is equally brilliant.  (Financial Times, 9/7/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:  
Q: What do authors Len Deighton, Anna Funder, Wladimer Kaminer, and Peter Schneider have in common? A: The Berlin Wall. See if you agree with Suzanne Munshower's Top 10 books about the Berlin Wall.  (The Guardian, 8/25/09)

Was the Critical Theory of Horkheimer and Adorno "a way for these brilliant German Jews, assimilated to German culture yet rejected by Germany itself, to imagine a place for themselves outside of Jewishness and Germanness?" Adam Kirsch discusses Thomas Wheatland's new study of The Frankfurt School in Exile.  (Tablet, 8/18/09)

Benedikt Taschen's limited-edition art books "are like huge, 24-carat diamond publishing bling, intended to generate excitement and exclusivity." Not just for coffee tables anymore, Taschen books have become an attractive investment for wealthy collectors. (The Guardian, 8/17/09)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
Should Mein Kampf be published in Germany?
The country's Central Council of Jews says yes -- a historically critical, annotated edition should be produced for German readers. After all, Adolf Hitler's inflammatory text is readily available online...  (The Independent, 8/10/09; Haaretz, 8/12/09)

Conquest of the Useless: Werner Herzog's "mesmerizingly bizarre account" of the making of Fitzcarraldo -- and his tangles with Peruvian wildlife -- is now available in English. (Los Angeles Times, 6/28/09; The New York Times, 6/29/09; The New York Times, 8/2/09)

Julia Franck's historical novel Die Mittagsfrau won the German Book Prize in 2007. Two years later, a new translation by Anthea Bell (The Blind Side of the Heart) is winning the praise of English-language critics.  (The Scotsman, 6/25/09; The Independent, 7/24/09) 

Hans Fallada survived a teenage suicide pact, served two jail sentences -- and then he met Suse, his "muse of good common sense and sound home economics." Fallada's novel Little Man, What Now? depicts the struggles of middle-class Germans in the late Weimar era, but it is also a "tribute to a woman."  (The Nation, 6/24/09)

In honor of its 50th anniversary, The Tin Drum is being republished worldwide. Breon Mitchell's new translation gives English readers a fresh look at Günter Grass' challenging, classic novel.  (Three Percent, 6/8/09; The Washington Post, 10/7/09)

Exiled publishers released more than 200 German-language books in America between 1942-1947. An exhibition at the Leo Baeck Institute spotlights the publishers and authors who kept German literature alive outside of the Third Reich.  (More Intelligent Life, 5/19/09)




Film

Michael Haneke's
The White Ribbon:
"It's Village of the Damned as re-imagined by Thomas Mann after studying August Sander's photographs of German types while perusing Wilhelm Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism."
The White Ribbon is released in the U.S., collecting further critical laurels. (The Village Voice, 12/29/09; Los Angeles Times, 12/30/09; The New York Times, 12/30/09; The Wall Street Journal, 12/30/09)

Michael Haneke's
The White Ribbon:

Michael Haneke's new, Palme d'Or-winning film depicts a chain of sinister happenings in a north German village in 1913-14. "Filmed in black and white with the lustre of liquid nitrogen," The White Ribbon is a disturbing, unresolved whodunit that exposes deep pathologies underlying the Wilhelmine social order.  (New Statesman, 11/12/09; guardian.co.uk, 11/12/09; The Observer, 11/15/09)

Michael Haneke's
The White Ribbon:

How accurately does the sexually repressed, authoritarian milieu of The White Ribbon reveal the roots of German fascism? Director Michael Haneke discusses his intentions, and scholars of Nazi Germany add historical context.  (The New York Times, 11/1/09)
 
Part "Borat," part serious journalist, Günter Wallraff investigated German racism by disguising himself as a black man. His new film (Schwarz auf Weiss) and book (Aus der schönen neuen Welt) have drawn criticism on numerous grounds. One author asks, "If Wallraff really wanted to find out what it's like to live as a black in Germany, why didn't he take the time to let any blacks in Germany answer the question?" (Spiegel Online - International, 10/21/09; love german books, 10/22/09; The Times, 10/23/09)

Berlin '36 depicts "a Nazi plot against Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann, who was prevented from competing in the 1936 Olympic Games and replaced by a man dressed in women's clothes -- a dramatic story, but probably not an accurate one." (Spiegel Online - International, 9/15/09)

A new epic about WWI flying ace Manfred von Richthofen hasn't been earning rave reviews. "The Red Baron is like Le Grande Illusion remade by a German porn director," one critic remarks. "Never in the field of human film-making was so much money wasted on so little." (Times Online, 9/4/09; The Guardian, 9/4/09)

Reflections on the RAF and the legacy of 1968:
The Baader Meinhof Complex, based upon Stefan Aust's history of the same name, skillfully recounts the rise and fall of the RAF in 1960s and 1970s West Germany. Don't miss, says Christopher Hitchens, "the year's best-made and most counter-romantic action thriller." (The New York Times, 8/16/09; Vanity Fair, 8/17/09; Slate, 8/21/09)

The truly truest truth about Dani Levy's My Führer: it's not particularly clever or hilarious. Nonetheless, American moviegoers now have their chance to see Helge Schneider's buffoonish portrayal of the not-so-great dictator with English-language subtitles. (Film-Forward.com, 8/14/09; The New York Times, 8/14/09)

First published anonymously (and largely neglected) in 1959, A Woman in Berlin is now a feature film directed by Max Färberbock. The diary of "Anonyma" recounts the widespread rape of German women at the hands of Soviet soldiers, as well as the ethical ambiguities that abounded in the final days of the Third Reich.  (The New York Times, 7/17/09, salon.com, 7/17/09; Los Angeles Times, 8/7/09)

Nazis on the dark side of the moon? Hitler disguised as a woman in postwar London? An invincible army led by Josef Mengele? Nazis have become the rent-a-villains of choice in a new spate of irreverent films.  (The Independent, 7/17/09)

"No film this year is less likely to get a Hollywood remake," says reviewer Anthony Quinn, "but that would be to praise Andreas Dresen's drama of passionate love in old age." Cloud 9 movingly depicts the love triangle of three Berlin seniors, graphic sex scenes included.  (The Independent, 7/10/09; The New York Times, 8/14/09; CinemaWriter.com, 8/17/09)

"One of the funniest films shot in East Germany" finally receives its big screen debut. In 1966, Hände hoch oder ich schieße (Hands Up or I Shoot) irked GDR censors with its gentle mockery of the communist police state. (Spiegel Online - International, 7/1/09; The Times, 7/4/09; The Guardian, 8/6/09)

Conquest of the Useless
: Werner Herzog's "mesmerizingly bizarre account" of the making of Fitzcarraldo -- and his tangles with Peruvian wildlife -- is now available in English. (Los Angeles Times, 6/28/09; The New York Times, 6/29/09; The New York Times, 8/2/09)

Take The Postman Always Rings Twice, add a dash of The Grapes of Wrath, transplant to a desolate corner of post-reunification Germany -- so might read the recipe for Jerichow, the latest film from Christian Petzold.  (The New York Times, 5/10/09; The New Yorker, 6/1/09)




Theater

Stifters Dinge is "a composition for five pianos with no pianists, a play with no actors, a performance without performers." Heiner Goebbels' recent performance installation at NYC's Park Avenue Armory is captivatingly unique. One critic raves: "The abstract avant-garde has seldom looked, or sounded, more vital, more dramatic or more accessible." (Financial Times, 12/17/09; The New York Times, 12/18/09)

"The Blue Rider in Performance," a collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum and Columbia University's Miller Theatre, presented the work of Vasily Kandinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and other modernist pioneers onstage in "a spellbinding program of music, projected images and movement."  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/23/09; The New York Times, 9/25/09)

At the Seattle Opera's recent presentation of the complete Ring des Nibelungen, Henry Alford explores the colorful sub-culture of "Ring"-nuts -- music lovers who are passionately devoted to Richard Wagner's monumental, four-opera cycle.  (The New York Times, 9/20/09)

Tony Kushner explains why Mother Courage and Her Children is not just an anti-war play: "It places us in judgment of the actions of a woman who inhabits a universe defined by war, who often makes calamitous choices; but her choices are unbearably hard, and sometimes all but impossible."  (The Guardian, 9/8/09)

In memoriam: Peter Zadek (1926-2009). Born in Germany, trained in Britain, Zadek became one of the Federal Republic's most innovative and provocative directors.  (The Guardian, 8/3/09)

Jonas Kaufmann shines as Lohengrin at the Bayerische Staatsoper, but critics are less enthusiastic about Richard Jones' direction. Has a brilliant musical performance been "undermined by a wayward production"?  (The New York Times, 7/15/09; La Scena Musicale, 7/16/09; Opera Today, 7/20/09)

What will happen to the Tanztheater Wuppertal after the death of Pina Bausch? Daniel J. Wakin considers the next steps for a world-renowned dance company that unexpectedly lost its creative guide.  (The New York Times, 7/12/09)

A "spectacle of ruins" marks the 20th anniversary of Paris' Opéra Bastille. Inspired by the history of the Holy Land, as well as the rubble of German cities after WWII, Am Anfang unites the creative vision of Anselm Kiefer with the music of Jörg Widmann.  (Financial Times, 7/3/09; The New York Times, 7/9/09; The Guardian, 7/10/09)

In memoriam: Pina Bausch (1940-2009). In Wuppertal and around the world, her Tanztheater revolutionized dance performance.  (The Guardian, 7/1/09; The New York Times, 7/1/09; Spiegel Online - International, 7/1/09).

In memoriam: Hanne Hiob (1923-2009). Actress, political activist, and daughter of Bertolt Brecht.  (The Times, 6/29/09)

Not your grandparents' Freischütz: In Baden-Baden, Robert Wilson -- and a lot of Swarovski crystal --  transform Weber's Romantic opera into a colorful comic strip. (MusicalCriticism.com, 6/3/09; The New York Times, 6/10/09)

Is Lulu the greatest opera of the 20th century? Read Philip Hensher's appreciation of Alban Berg's decadent, unfinished masterpiece. (The Guardian, 6/1/09)

Can Germans laugh at Hitler? Is Mel Brooks' zany send-up of Broadway hopelessly muddled in German translation? The Producers begins a two-month run at the Admiralspalast in Berlin.  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/16/09; The New York Times, 5/19/09; The Wall Street Journal, 5/23/09)





History

Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (1919-1999) was among the Federal Republic's most esteemed musicologists. New historical investigations reveal that he previously belonged to the Wehrmacht's Feldgendarmerie division 683, which was responsible for the murder of 14,000 Crimean Jews in December 1941.  (signandsight.com, 12/28/09; signandsight.com, 1/5/10)

Eradicating Prussian militarism was a top priority of Germany's occupiers after the end of WWII. "What an irony that after 60 years of telling the Germans they were a race of warmongers, the allies want Germany to begin fighting again."  (The New York Times, 12/16/09) 

Holger Herwig regards The Battle of the Marne "as the most decisive land battle since the Allies defeated Napoleon at Waterloo." In a compelling new history, Herwig investigates the conflagration that drew in 2 million soldiers in WWI's opening weeks, pointing the way "toward a brutality that world had never before witnessed."  (The Huffington Post, 12/1/09; The Wall Street Journal, 12/4/09)

John Demjanjuk faces 27,900 counts of acting as an accessory to murder at the Sobibor death camp. He is among the last alleged perpetrators of the Holocaust to stand trial in the Federal Republic -- and the first non-German national. Thus far, the proceedings against Demjanjuk have raised more questions than answers.  (Newsweek, 11/27/09; Esquire, 11/30/09; Spiegel Online - International, 12/1/09; The Independent, 12/3/09)

Did Nazi ideology play a role in the development of radical Islam? "The toxic mixture of religious and secular themes forged in Nazi-era Berlin, and disseminated to the Middle East, continues to shape the extreme politics of that region," argues historian Jeffrey Herf. Other scholars are less convinced...  (The Chronicle Review, 11/22/09; Tablet, 2/16/10; The Independent, 3/12/10)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:
November 9: a key date in 20th-century German history -- but not always cause for celebration. Decades before the Berlin Wall's demise, there was the Revolution of 1918, the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, and the Night of Broken Glass in 1938.  (Spiegel Online - International, 11/9/09) 

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:
Wanted: one brilliant young historian, "at home in many languages; capable of empathizing both with powerholders and with so-called ordinary people; a writer of distinction...well-funded for extensive research on several continents." Critiquing a spate of new books on the 1989 revolutions, Timothy Garton Ash laments the absence of a global, synthetic history of "the year that ended the short twentieth century."  (The New York Review of Books, 11/5/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:  
"The GDR has ceased to be," writes Anna Funder, "but those who loved her still do." The author of Stasiland explains why nostalgia for the bygone GDR is "toxic, rose-coloured fantasy" that disregards the treachery of an anti-democratic police state.  (The Times, 11/3/09)

Michael Haneke's
The White Ribbon:

How accurately does the sexually repressed, authoritarian milieu of The White Ribbon reveal the roots of German fascism? Director Michael Haneke discusses his intentions, and scholars of Nazi Germany provide historical context.  (The New York Times, 11/1/09)

Reflections on the RAF and the legacy of 1968:
Hans Kundnani argues that Germany's "1968 generation" was defined by its reaction against the Nazi past.
In Utopia or Auschwitz, Kundnani traces the political maturation of this generation through the student protests of the 1960s, the left-wing terrorism of the 1970s, the rise of the Green Party in the 1980s, and the Red-Green coalition of the 1990s.  (The Observer, 11/1/09; New Statesman, 11/19/09; The Book, 2/9/10)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:
For Josef Joffe, the history of the Berlin Wall is a 28-year tragedy that unexpectedly gave way to farce: velvet revolutions throughout central Europe, and "the astonishing vanishing act of the GDR." This history does not yet have a happy end: "It takes more time to a rebuild a nation than to raze a wall."  (The Washington Post, 11/1/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:
At a Nov. 9, 1989 news conference, Günter Schabowski informed reporters that travel restrictions on GDR citizens had been lifted "immediately." 20 years later, two different journalists are claiming to have asked Schabowski the pivotal questions that led to the opening of the Berlin Wall.  (The Wall Street Journal, 10/21/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:
Anne McElvoy, East Berlin correspondent for The Times in 1989, revisits the acquaintances who informed her perceptions of the GDR's final months. Read her four portraits of "friends from a place that doesn't exist anymore."  (The Times, 10/17/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:
In October 1989, Alexander Osang reported on a celebratory torch parade of the Free German Youth (FDJ) for an East Berlin newspaper.  With the addition of a single word, Osang's editor changed the story's emphasis from questioning to affirming the communist regime. A thoughtful look back at the final weeks of GDR history before the opening of the Berlin Wall.  (Spiegel Online - International, 10/16/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:  
In 1989, Egon Krenz served two months as the last communist leader of the GDR. After reunification, he served four years for the earlier manslaughter of East Germans attempting to flee over the Berlin Wall. Today, Krenz remains unrepentantly proud of his final weeks as party secretary: "My watchword was stability, not violence." (The Times, 10/19/09; The Times, 10/19/09)

Is Germany's Social Democratic Party a "victim of its own success"? Henrik Hertzberg places the SPD's stunning electoral loss in historical perspective, tracing the party's evolution since 1863. "Few political institutions anywhere have a nobler history," Hertzberg writes.  (The New Yorker, 10/1/09)

Did Hitler and Lenin meet 100 years ago and play a game of chess? Doubtful. But what if an artist had immortalized the moment in an etching, with the future dictators' signatures (perhaps) penciled on the back? Then the picture could be put up for auction.... (The New York Times, 9/30/09; The New York Times, 10/5/09)

On October 29, 1944, U.S. forces held a Jewish prayer service at the edge of a battlefield near Aachen. A recording of this service -- the first of its kind to be broadcast from Germany since Hitler's rise to power -- has become a YouTube sensation.  (The New York Times, 9/18/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later: 
Not everyone exulted at the Berlin Wall's demise. Newly released documents from 1989 and 1990 demonstrate the extent of Margaret Thatcher's opposition to the prospect of German reunification.  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/11/09; The Times, 9/11/09; The Daily Telegraph, 9/13/09)

An exhibition on "The Third World in the Second World War" has incited controversy in Berlin. Placing WWII in global perspective, the exhibition shows non-Europeans' role in the fight against fascism -- but also the role of some as Nazi collaborators. Curators refused to remove documentation of Haj Amin al Husseini's alliance with Adolf Hitler, necessitating a last-minute change of venue.  (The Local, 9/4/09; Deutsche Welle, 9/12/09; The Wall Street Journal, 9/24/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later: 
Michael Meyer served as Newsweek's correspondent in Germany and central Europe in 1989. He argues that The Year That Changed the World was driven not by American dominance, but rather by "the logic of human messiness" and by courageous reformers like Miklós Németh.  (The Washington Post, 9/6/09; Los Angeles Times, 9/13/09; The Christian Science Monitor, 9/21/09)

Berlin '36 depicts "a Nazi plot against Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann, who was prevented from competing in the 1936 Olympic Games and replaced by a man dressed in women's clothes -- a dramatic story, but probably not an accurate one." (Spiegel Online - International, 9/15/09)

Remembering the start of the Second World War in Europe: 
On September 1, 1939, Richard von Weizs
äcker was a 19-year-old private in the German army. Weizsäcker, who served as President of the Federal Republic from 1984 to 1994, reflects back on the Nazi invasion of Poland and the subsequent course of WWII.  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/1/09)

Remembering the start of the Second World War in Europe:  
Andrew Nagorski illustrates scenes from the invasion of Poland,
told from the perspective of U.S. journalists and diplomats who were resident in Nazi Germany. (Newsweek, 8/31/09)

Peter Millar spent the 1980s as a foreign correspondent in the GDR. Did a would-be hippie named Volker unwittingly encourage him to bolster an early youth protest, thereby nudging "East Germany towards the graveyard of history"?  (The Sunday Times, 8/30/09) 

Remembering the start of the Second World War in Europe:  
"Everything about modern Germany," writes Anne Applebaum, is the way it is because of the war,
from its pacifism and its devotion to the European Union to the architecture of its capital city." Little surprise, then, that Angela Merkel was the first European leader confirmed to attend the 70th-anniversary commemoration of the outbreak of hostilities.  (Slate, 8/28/09)

2009: 20 years since the fall of the Wall, 60 years since the founding of the Federal Republic...and 2000 years since the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. Hermann's victory over three Roman legions became the mythic "big bang of the German nation." The bimillennial anniversary is being commemorated with caution and a critical eye. (Spiegel Online - International, 8/28/09; The National, 10/9/09)

If 1945 was the hinge of 20th-century Europe, Germany was the point at which it turned. Richard Bessel's Germany 1945: From War to Peace is "a sober yet powerful account" of a year marked by atrocity, hardship, guilt, and denial -- as well as the glimmer of hope for a better future.  (The New York Times, 8/16/09; History Today, 9/09)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
Should Mein Kampf be published in Germany? The country's Central Council of Jews says yes -- a historically critical, annotated edition should be produced for German readers. After all, Adolf Hitler's inflammatory text is readily available online...  (The Independent, 8/10/09; Haaretz, 8/12/09)

500 years after the Protestant Reformation, "Luther tourism" is alive and well. James Reston Jr. retraces Martin Luther's historic journey from Wittenberg to Worms.  (The Washington Post, 8/2/09)

A new addition to the WWII history shelves: Andrew Roberts' The Storm of War stresses the pivotal role of Adolf Hitler, whose ideological obsession launched and ultimately undermined his country's war effort. Not an altogether original thesis, say Robert's critics, but nonetheless a compelling read.  (The Economist, 7/23/09; Financial Times, 7/31/09; Financial Times, 8/8/09)

Hunting Evil: A new history by Guy Walters portrays the inadequacy of postwar efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice -- as well as how dedicated Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal may have "fabricated much of his own Holocaust story."  (The Sunday Times, 7/19/09; The Sunday Times, 7/19/09)

First published anonymously (and largely neglected) in 1959, A Woman in Berlin is now a feature film directed by Max Färberbock. The diary of "Anonyma" recounts the widespread rape of German women at the hands of Soviet soldiers, as well as the ethical ambiguities that abounded in the final days of the Third Reich.  (The New York Times, 7/17/09, salon.com, 7/17/09; Los Angeles Times, 8/7/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:  
Looking for the Berlin Wall?
More pieces of the Cold War relic can now be found overseas than in their original locations. 20 years after the fall of the Wall, a growing number of Germans are advocating for the preservation of what remains.  (Spiegel Online - International, 7/16/09)

Michael Kimmelman remembers the colorful life of Elisabeth (Tisa) von der Schulenburg. Born into the Prussian aristocracy, Tisa took up art, converted to socialism, married a Jew, and eventually became a Roman Catholic nun.  (The New York Times, 7/16/09)

Newly released figures suggest that 17,000 civil servants in the Federal Republic of Germany today once worked for the East German Stasi. A necessary compromise or political embarrassment, nearly 20 years after reunification?  (Spiegel Online - International, 7/10/09; The Independent, 7/11/09)

The Holocaust's European dimensions:  
Timothy Snyder explains why Operation Reinhardt -- and not Auschwitz -- should be at the center of Holocaust history.  A persuasive rethinking of both Auschwitz and the Gulag as dominant symbols of mass killing under Hitler and Stalin.  (The New York Review of Books, 7/16/09)

Between 1813 and 1945, the Iron Cross honored German soldiers who demonstrated bravery in battle. More than six decades after WWII's end, the Federal Republic of Germany has issued its first Crosses of Honor for Bravery. Is the look-alike medal an appropriate symbol for the 21st-century Bundeswehr?  (The Times, 7/7/09; The Times, 7/8/09)

Kaiser Wilhelm II: tactless, impulsive, panic-prone
-- and the head of one of Europe's youngest but most powerful nation-states.  Christopher Clark investigates Wilhelm's fateful, 40-year career as the semi-constitutional monarch of Imperial Germany.  (The Independent, 7/3/09; Literary Review, 8/09)

The Terezín declaration approved by 46 national delegates to the recent Holocaust Era Assets conference urged governments to return artworks and other property once looted by the Nazis. But is a non-binding declaration enough to complete the "unfinished business" of the 20th century?  (The Prague Post, 6/24/09; The Associated Press, 6/29/09)

Revisiting June 2, 1967 and the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg: 
We need to learn more about Karl-Heinz Kurras' motivations, asserts Wolfgang Kraushaar. Did Kurras act alone....or on Stasi orders?  (signandsight.com, 6/8/09)

Since Reagan visited Bitburg, U.S. Presidential itineraries in Germany have been the object of intense public scrutiny. Daniel Schwammental and Volkhard Knigge weigh in on Barack Obama's planned visits to Dresden and Buchenwald. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/09; Spiegel Online - International, 6/5/09)

The Holocaust's European dimensions:
 
A new encyclopedia released by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reveals "a complex ecology of coordinated devastation." More than 20,000 camps and ghettos were established throughout Europe between 1933-1945.  (The Washington Post, 6/4/09)

Right-wing streetfighters murdered Rosa Luxemburg and threw her body into Berlin's Landwehr Canal in 1919. But have her remains languished in the basement of a nearby hospital ever since? Frank Thadeusz reports on an unexpected discovery in Berlin.  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/29/09)

Revisiting June 2, 1967 and the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg: 
Meet Karl-Heinz Kurras -- senior inspector in the West Berlin police department, weapons enthusiast, heavy drinker....as well as SED member and undercover Stasi agent. What if the Sixty-Eighters had known about Kurras' multiple identities? (Spiegel Online - International, 5/28/09)

Revisiting June 2, 1967 and the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg: 
So "the shot that changed the Federal Republic of Germany" was actually fired by a communist spy. Nicholas Kulish highlights the historical and political dilemmas raised by this unexpected archival discovery. (The New York Times, 5/27/09)

The Holocaust's European dimensions
The upcoming trial of John Demjanjuk will draw attention to the role of foreigners in executing the Final Solution. Was the Holocaust, as historian Götz Aly suggests, "a European project that cannot be explained solely by the special circumstances of German history"?  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/20/09)

Richard J. Evans, author of an acclaimed new history of The Third Reich at War, explains how economic disadvantages turned the tide of WWII decisively against Nazi Germany by the end of 1943.  (The Washington Post, 5/10/09; The New York Times, 5/17/09; The Guardian, 9/8/09)




Et Cetera

An extravagant new concert hall, well-behaved squatters, and Richard Florida's ideas on the "creative class" are fueling public debate over the future of Hamburg.  (The New York Times, 12/31/09; Spiegel Online - International, 1/7/10)

Same procedure as every year, James. Little known outside the Federal Republic, a 1963 English comedy sketch called "Dinner for One" has become as essential to German New Year's Eve celebrations as fireworks and champagne.  (The Local, 12/31/09; guardian.co.uk, 1/5/10)

Eradicating Prussian militarism was a top priority of Germany's occupiers after the end of WWII. "What an irony that after 60 years of telling the Germans they were a race of warmongers, the allies want Germany to begin fighting again."  (The New York Times, 12/16/09) 

The decades-old rivalry between Die Tageszeitung (Taz) and Bild has grown to new proportions. A  6-meter-high penis, apparently belonging to Bild editor Kai Diekmann, is the centerpiece of a controversial mural adorning the outside of Taz headquarters in Berlin.  (Spiegel Online - International, 12/3/09; The Independent, 12/5/09)

"Germany's cutest communist" has turned 50. The Sandmännchen first appeared on GDR television in 1959, and he remains a beloved icon of children's programming in reunified Germany today.  (The New Yorker, 11/9/09; The Guardian, 11/23/09)

What should replace Berlin's defunct Tempelhof airport? The Berg, answers visionary architect Jakob Tigge. His proposal to construct a 1000-meter-high mountain in the heart of the German capital may be ironic, but it's attracting attention worldwide.  (Environmental Graffiti, 11/16/09; Financial Times, 11/21/09)

Has the pacifism of Germans today gone too far? German men and women stationed in Afghanistan "set off for war without the support of the populace," writes Nicholas Kulish. "'Support the troops' can start to sound like a hollow mantra until you live in a country that just doesn't do it."  (The New York Times, 11/14/09)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years later:
Years after the Berlin Wall's disappearance, humans aren't the only species bound by a Mauer-im-Kopf mentality. Two decades after the once deadly border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia became an open nature preserve, herds of German and Czech red deer still refuse to cross the old NATO-Warsaw Pact line.  (The Wall Street Journal, 11/4/09)

"No country ever disappeared in such an orderly fashion as East Germany, but no divided country ever had such a hard time finding its identity." Henryk Broder disapproves of the direction this quest has taken. Does the rise of the Left Party indicate reunified Germany's embrace of social equality at the expense of political freedom?  (The Wall Street Journal, 10/26/09)

"To soften the blow" of losing its status as Germany's political capital, Bonn received "a meticulously imported bureaucracy and an ensuing boom in desk jobs." Today, 75.5% of the city's working population are "middle-ranking officials who spend most of their lives behind computer screens."  (The Independent, 10/22/09)

"After two decades, a unified Germany is coming into focus," writes Roger Cohen. "This Germany is more nationalistic, more evenly poised between Washington and Moscow, cool to the point of disinterest about the European Union, self-absorbed and self-satisfied, dutiful but unenthused about the NATO alliance." (The New York Times, 10/1/09)

German viewers love their detectives. Michael Kimmelman explains the enduring popularity of "Tatort," the longest-running drama on German television.  (The New York Times, 8/27/09)

"The truth is," writes Michael Kimmelman, "we can stare as long as we want at that Raphael Madonna" and the other cultural treasures of Dresden's restored city center. "But it won't make sense of a senseless murder or help change the mind of a violent bigot."  (The New York Times, 8/15/09)

NASA Steals Berlin TV Tower! Well, not really. But you'll still smile at digital media designer Fabian Tischer's rendering of the space age landmark launching into the stratosphere.  (Spiegel Online - International, 8/7/09)

Can video games have a national character? Seth Schiesel explains why Dawn of Discovery, a stylish new game of strategy set in the early 15th century, is quintessentially German.  (The New York Times, 8/3/09)

Is Berlin the new Brooklyn? Leah McDonnell notes that "Germany's capital is becoming more like Brooklyn everyday." (Deutsche Welle, 7/31/09)

From the upscale cafés and baby carriage-clogged sidewalks of a gentrified Prenzlauer Berg, to the impoverished countryside that has become a "Teutonic Mezzogiorno" -- read Tony Paterson's colorful portrait of eastern Germany today.  (The Independent, 6/27/09) 

UNESCO has spoken: Dresden's Elbe Valley is off (but the Wadden Sea is on) the organization's list of World Heritage Sites. A review of the media response. (Spiegel Online - International, 6/26/09) 

In memoriam: Lord Ralf Dahrendorf (1929-2009). Distinguished scholar, politician, and keen observer of post-World War II Germany. (The Guardian, 6/19/09; Times Online, 6/19/09; The Economist, 6/25/09)

In German translation, Donald Duck is no ordinary bird -- he quotes Goethe, opposes demagogy.... and still sells an average of 250,000 comics each week. Susan Bernofsky explains how this Disney character became a German cultural hero. (The Wall Street Journal, 5/23/09)