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Music

How about "a gleefully ghoulish satire on consumerism" for the holidays? Don't miss your chance to stream Glyndebourne's 2008 production of Hänsel und Gretel -- available for one week, starting on Boxing Day.  (The Guardian, 12/21/11)

Looking for the "ultimate up-market Xmas show"? Try Graham Vick's exuberant staging of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at London's Royal Opera House -- so festive, you'll (almost) forget about the work's darker undertones.  (Classical Iconoclast, 12/20/11; Financial Times, 12/20/11; The Guardian, 12/20/11)

"The German tenor Jonas Kaufmann would seem to have it all: a plush yet ringing tone, the ability to float high notes with ease, and facility singing in French, Italian and his native tongue. Oh, and let's not forget his smoldering, Latinate good looks..." (The Wall Street Journal, 11/29/11)

The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra presented the first complete cycle of Beethoven's symphonies in 1825-26.  Nearly 200 years later, the pairing is just as fresh. Conductor Riccardo Chailly "has refashioned the mellow, old Gewandhaus sound with a sharper focus -- how often does a traditional symphony orchestra shine as clear a light through the music as this?" (The Guardian, 10/25/11; Classical Iconoclast, 10/26/11; Financial Times, 10/27/11)

Remember world music pioneers Dissidenten and their 1984 album Sahara Elektrik? If not, Michael Hann can reintroduce you...  (The Guardian, 10/27/11)

Occupy Wall Street! And then head over to Brooklyn to see the Berliner Ensemble's "bizarre, farcical, and strangely beautiful" production of The Threepenny Opera, directed by Robert Wilson. As Macheath says, "What's breaking into a bank compared to founding a bank?"  (AndrewAndrew TubeTube, 10/5/11;  The New York Times, 10/5/11; BackStage.com, 10/6/11; The L Magazine, 10/6/11; Opera Today, 10/12/11)

An electrifying performance by Christine Goerke, accompanied by the monumental set design of Anselm Kiefer, distinguishes the new production of Elektra at the Teatro Royal in Madrid.  (El País, 10/4/11; Associated Press, 10/7/11; The Wall Street Journal, 10/7/11)

"The Brandt Brauer Flick Ensemble is inspired instrumental chic. It's way too cool for you not to know about it before all your friends."  (Perfect Porridge, 10/3/11; The Independent, 10/4/11; Los Angeles Times, 11/10/11)

Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles: "a bitter old man walking beneath the palms in righteous 12-tone alienation"?  Hardly, reports Sabine Feisst in Schoenberg's New World, a fresh look at the avant-garde composer's American years.  (The Rest is Noise, 9/28/11; Opera News, 11/11; The Boston Globe, 11/20/11)




Art & Design

"Whether one bear needs three memorials in a a single city is debatable." Then again, the city is memorial-obsessed Berlin, and subject is superstar polar bear Knut. Let the debates begin!  (Spiegel Online - International, 12/23/11; The New York Times, 1/5/12; Spiegel Online - International, 1/13/12)

"Templers, Nazis, alchemy, Jewish mysticism, Norse gods: Kiefer brings together a raft of portentous elements that would give even Dan Brown pause for thought." Still, Anselm Kiefer's exhibition Il Mistero delle Cattedrali is "a mind-bending show that must be seen."  (The Guardian, 12/8/11; theartsdesk, 12/13/11; The Telegraph, 12/30/11; Financial Times, 1/5/12)

"There's a certain coolness" about Gesamtkunstwerk, the Saatchi Gallery's show of new art from Germany. "German artists stand back from their art-making with a tiny smirk of knowingness on their faces...Above all, they adore junk, and they dislike too much refinement."  (The Independent, 11/22/11; The Guardian, 11/26/11; The Independent, 11/27/11)

Despite MoMA's support for the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, its permanent collection still includes works of problematic provenance. "Behind a lawsuit brought against the Museum of Modern Art by the heirs of George Grosz lies a troubling history of acquiring works seized by the Nazis and sold to support the German war effort." (ARTnews, 11/17/11)

Andreas Gursky's mammoth photograph Rhine II provides a "contemporary twist on Germany's famed genre and favorite theme: the romantic landscape, and man's relationship with nature." It just sold for $4.3 million, setting a new world record for a photo at auction.  (The Guardian, 11/11/11; The Telegraph, 11/11/11; NPR, 11/15/11)

"For as long as dreams of equality advanced through architecture persist, the surpassingly humane work of Ernst May will show irresolute idealists just how much a principled pragmatist can achieve." Learn more about May's modernist vision at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt.  (The New York Review of Books, 11/10/11)

Fall 2011: Anselm Kiefer is in season
"It is an act of reconciliation." The Tel Aviv Museum of Art opens its new new wing with a powerful exhibition by German artist Anselm Kiefer, Shevirat Ha-kelim (Breaking of the Vessels).  (The Independent, 11/2/11; Midnight East, 11/8/11)

"Completely bald, made up like macaws, and dressed like surrealist pantomime dames" -- it's hard to forget EVA & ADELE, fixtures of the Berlin art scene since 1989.  (The Guardian, 11/1/11)

Fall 2011: Anselm Kiefer is in season
What will the Federal Republic do with its shuttered nuclear power plants?  Anselm Kiefer would like to purchase and convert the Mülheim-Kärlich reactor into "an emotive art installation."  (Reuters, 10/30/11; Spiegel Online - International, 10/31/11)

An archive of images from the "Great German Art Exhibitions" of the Third Reich is now available online.  Look for "a seemingly unending stream of landscapes, bouquets and female figures suffering from a chronic lack of clothing."  (Spiegel Online - International, 10/18/11)

"A military museum with a moderately antiwar bent, housed in a structure that combines the conventional and the strikingly modern, overlooking a city stuck between its bloody past and its rapid modernization": meet the Museum of Military History in Dresden, featuring a radical redesign by architect Daniel Libeskind.  (Bloomberg, 10/13/11; Los Angeles Times, 10/13/11; The Economist, 10/15/11, The Observer, 10/22/11)

If you build a monastery, tourists will come? That's the hope of Messkirch, where construction will soon begin on a medieval-style monastery, using original plans and building techniques from the 9th century.  (Deutsche Welle, 10/5/11)

Much more than a 25th-anniversary edition, Art Spiegelman's MetaMaus "offers a tour of the intellectual architecture and creative framework for what remains one of the world's great graphic narratives."  (The Washington Post, 10/4/11; The New Republic, 10/5/11; The Globe and Mail, 10/8/11, The Observer, 10/22/11)

Fall 2011: Anselm Kiefer is in season
An electrifying performance by Christine Goerke, accompanied by the monumental set design of Anselm Kiefer, distinguishes the new production of Elektra at the Teatro Royal in Madrid.  (El País, 10/4/11; Associated Press, 10/7/11; The Wall Street Journal, 10/7/11)

The art of Lyonel Feininger "transforms the mechanical fragmentation of modernism into an imagined harmony of another time." See for yourself at the Whitney Museum of American Art, now through October 16.  (The Smart Set, 10/3/11; ARTnews, 10/13/11)

Gerhard Richter, art superstar
In 1961, Gerhard Richter "crossed from East Germany to the west and re-embarked on a career full of interesting confusions, crosscurrents, contradictions and detours." Explore them all at the Tate Modern through January 8. (Standpoint, 10/11; The Guardian, 10/4/11, Financial Times, 10/7/11)



 
Books & Ideas

Remembering W.G. Sebald (1944-2001)
On the tenth anniversary of the death of "one of contemporary literature's most transformative figures," Mark O'Connell explains why you should read W.G. Sebald.  (The New Yorker, 12/14/11)

Is it comeback time for the author of One-Dimensional Man?
Carlin Romano drops in at the biennial conference of the International Herbert Marcuse Society, considering the relevance of the Frankfurt School philosopher and activist in the OWS era. (The Chronicle Review, 12/11/11)

The subject of Ingo Schulze's fiction "is always the moment when Communism turned into post-Communism: an era of decomposition." His latest novel, Adam and Evelyn, is newly translated into English.  (The New York Times, 12/9/11; The Washington Post, 12/23/11)


The Iron Curtain separating East and West Germany stretched far beyond the Berlin Wall. In Burned Bridge, Edith Sheffer investigates how residents of Sonneberg and Neustadt, twin towns on the Bavarian-Thuringian border, experienced the Cold War barrier. (The Book, 12/7/11)

"Germany is the traditional villain in the story of World War I's beginnings, but what if Russia played an even greater role?" Sean McMeekin argues for the Russian origins of the First World War, but does not entirely convince.  (The Book, 12/5/11; The Wall Street Journal, 12/23/11)

Wilhelm II ruled as German emperor for three fateful decades; his father occupied the throne for just 99 days. What if things had been different? In Our Fritz, Frank Lorenz Müller examines the influence of Frederick III on the political culture of Imperial Germany.  (Washington Independent Review of Books, 12/1/11; The Wall Street Journal, 12/12/11)

In memoriam: Christa Wolf (1929-2011). Novelist, feminist, loyal dissident.
For better and for worse, her literary reputation is inseparable from her complex relationship with the East German state. (The Guardian, 12/1/11; Lost in Berlin, 12/1/11; New York Times, 12/1/11; Spiegel Online - International, 12/1/11; The New Yorker, 12/13/11)

Another Third Reich book? It's not what you might think -- although plotting to achieve Axis victory does play a role. Roberto Bolaño's posthumous novel, The Third Reich, depicts a war game obsessed German tourist on a Spanish beach vacation gone bad.  (The Economist, 12/1/11; Tablet, 12/6/11; National Post, 12/9/11)

"As a rule -- and especially when it comes to Nazism -- we prefer our ethical judgments to be rendered in black and white. To its credit, A German Generation helps to cure us of our longing for moral absolutes." Thomas Kohut's "experiential history" examines the lives of German men and women born between 1900-1914.  (History News Network, 11/23/11; The Wall Street Journal, 2/27/12)

19th- and early 20th-century diaries, new to 21st-century readers

He dined with Diaghilev, assisted Hofmannsthal, and served as a cultural diplomat and spy. Experience the Belle Époque through the eyes of one of its most prolific and well-connected chroniclers, in Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918.  (The Atlantic, 11/20/11; The Wall Street Journal, 11/26/11)

Remembering W.G. Sebald (1944-2001)
"Now that death is all of life/ I wish to inquire/ Into the whereabouts of the dead". W.G. Sebald's poetry is newly published in English translation: Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems 1964-2001. (The Economist, 11/19/11; The Irish Times, 11/19/11; The Guardian, 11/25/11; The Independent, 12/2/11; The New Republic, 7/12/12)

New investigations in the life of SS leader Heinrich Himmler

"How could such a banal personality attain such a historically unique position of power? How could the son of a prosperous Bavarian Catholic public servant become the organizer of a system of mass murder spanning the whole of Europe?" Peter Longerich addresses these questions and more in Heinrich Himmler: A Life.  (Irish Times, 11/12/11; The Washington Post, 1/20/12)


Otto von Bismarck -- the godfather of "competitive authoritarianism," or a "Teutonic version of Dick Cheney in power for several decades"? Catch up with these recent takes on Jonathan Steinberg's acclaimed Bismarck biography. (The National Interest, 10/25/11; Foreign Affairs, Nov/Dec 2011; Policy Review, 6/1/12)

Germany became "an immense charnel house in the last months of the Third Reich," yet popular and elite support for the regime persisted until the bitter end. Ian Kershaw investigates this tragic conundrum in The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Gemany, 1944-45.  (The New York Times, 10/21/11; The Globe and Mail, 11/4/11; Spiegel Online - International, 11/18/11)

New investigations in the life of SS leader Heinrich Himmler
"It is hard to think of two people more honoured in their own time and more hated in history than the terrifying double act of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich."
Now their scholarly biographies are being reviewed side by side.  (The Telegraph, 10/18/11; The New York, Times, 1/6/12; The New York Review of Books, 2/9/12; Forward, 4/19/12)

In memoriam: Friedrich Kittler (1943-2011): media theorist, Pink Floyd aficionado, "Derrida of the digital age."  (Machinology, 10/18/11; A great nerve, vibrating, 10/19/11; In the Moment, 10/20/11; The Guardian, 10/21/11)

19th- and early 20th-century diaries, new to 21st-century readers

The young Helga Weiss witnessed the Nazi occupation of Prague, and she survived the Terezín and Auschwitz concentration camps. Her journal will be published for the first time next year.  (The Observer, 10/15/11)

Much more than a 25th-anniversary edition, Art Spiegelman's MetaMaus "offers a tour of the intellectual architecture and creative framework for what remains one of the world's great graphic narratives."  (The Washington Post, 10/4/11; The New Republic, 10/5/11; The Globe and Mail, 10/8/11, The Observer, 10/22/11)

19th- and early 20th-century diaries, new to 21st-century readers

The celebrated diary of Viktor Klemperer "now has a counterpart": Friedrich Kellner's clear-sighted commentary on everyday life and the atrocities perpetrated in wartime Nazi Germany ("Vernebelt, verdunkelt sind alle Hirne": Tagebücher 1939-1945). (Spiegel Online - International, 10/5/11; Reuters, 10/12/11; Green & Pleasant Land, 10/17/11)

And the nominees are....Before the Frankfurt Book Fair begins, read up on the contenders for this year's German Book Prize.  (signandsight.com, 9/30/11)

Remembering W.G. Sebald (1944-2001)
In Patience (After Sebald), director Grant Gee explores the Suffolk coast, the legacy of W.S. Sebald, and the addictive "mental space" of The Rings of Saturn.  (j.b. spins, 9/28/11; Bookforum, 10/3/11; Reverse Shot, Issue 30)

Heinrich Böll book giveaway!  Effi Briest group read! November 2011 is for you, German literature fans. (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat, 9/25/11; Lizzy's Literary Life, 11/1/11)

Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles: "a bitter old man walking beneath the palms in righteous 12-tone alienation"?  Hardly, reports Sabine Feisst in Schoenberg's New World, a fresh look at the avant-garde composer's American years.  (The Rest is Noise, 9/28/11; Opera News, 11/11; The Boston Globe, 11/20/11)

Remembering W.G. Sebald (1944-2001)
Ever wondered what W.G. Sebald thought about Theodor Adorno, Jane Austen, Henry Ford, or butterflies and moths?  Now there's a reference work that covers this....  (Vertigo, 9/24/11)

Remembering W.G. Sebald (1944-2001)
W.G. Sebald's early books, "fired from the UK like long-range mortar shells, constituted a one-man version of the student rebellion that his fellow students were fighting in Germany."
Uwe Schütte looks back on Sebald's career as a writer and an academic.  (Times Higher Education, 9/22/11; Times Higher Education, 9/29/11)

Eugen Ruge has won the 2011 German Book Prize for his novel In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts, "a complex and beautifully written novel infused with subtle humour, about four generations of a German communist family." The English translation (In Times of Fading Light) is already underway.  (love german books, 8/31/11; Deutsche Welle, 10/11/11)

"In part a piecemeal history of the final half-century of German East Prussia, in part a travelogue through what was left behind," Max Egremont's Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia "is as wistful as a flick-through of an old photo album, as melancholy as a rain-spattered northern autumn afternoon."  (The Spectator, 7/9/11; New Statesman, 7/25/11; The Wall Street Journal, 11/11/11)

Reinhard Heydrich "did not hold Nazi views until they were useful to him, but when he embraced them it was with passion." A new biography by Robert Gerwarth explains how love and opportunism contributed to the making of one of Nazi Germany's cruelest leaders.  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/19/11; The Book, 11/3/11; The Wall Street Journal, 11/5/11)

Much more than another romanticized depiction of jazz in Nazi Germany, Half-Blood Blues is "truly extraordinary in its evocation of time and place, its shimmering jazz vernacular, its pitch-perfect male banter and its period slang." Novelist Esi Edugyan "intricately unpicks the tensions between her characters, and their relationship to the different kinds of blackness defined by the Nazi state."  (The Independent, 9/9/11; The Wall Street Journal, 2/25/12; Los Angeles Times, 3/4/12)




Film

Wim Wenders' film for Pina Bausch
"This obviously can't go on forever, or even that much longer," muses critic Mark Swed. Wim Wenders' new film Pina "will undoubtedly create significant new demands for a Tanztheater Wuppertal that has a glorious past but no real future." Ouch!  (Los Angeles Times, 12/7/11)

Wim Wenders' film for Pina Bausch
"Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost." Wim Wenders pays tribute to Pina Bausch in digital 3D. Academy Award voters, take note!  (3quarksdaily, 12/5/11; The New York Times, 12/9/11; The New Yorker, 12/19/11; The Wall Street Journal, 12/29/11)

Marvel at "man's rational efforts to harness the irrational" -- and at the eerily retro industrial design -- in Under Control, Volker Sattel's "gleamingly intimate tour" of German nuclear power plants.  (Smithsonian.com, 11/15/11; Slant Magazine, 11/29/11; The New York Times, 12/1/11)

"Young poet strives, loves, outlasts welcome." New York critics aren't impressed by "the silly Sturm and Drang boosterism" of Philipp Stölzl's Young Goethe in Love.  (Village Voice, 11/2/11; The New York Times, 11/3/11; The Wall Street Journal, 11/4/11)

What do you get when two German cabaret artists (specialties: impersonating Hitler and Stalin) meet up with Walter Ulbricht and a beautiful Dutch communist in Moscow during the Great Purge?  The irreverent comedy Hotel Lux, now playing in German theaters.  (Bloomberg, 11/1/11; ScreenDaily, 11/3/11)

The Silence, from director Baran bo Odar, is "an icy, gripping police procedural thriller," set during a heat wave in rural southern Germany.  (The Guardian, 10/27/11; Times Higher Education, 10/27/11; Los Angeles Times, 3/8/13)

Judgment at Nuremberg premiered in Berlin in 1961. 50 years later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents an anniversary tribute to Hollywood's first dramatization of the famous war crimes tribunals. (Los Angeles Times, 10/11/11)

"A Great Best-Seller! A Fabulous Adventure....A True Story!" Or close to true, anyway. Alex von Tunzelmann gives the 1951 biopic The Desert Fox, starring James Mason as Erwin Rommel, a B for history and a B+ for entertainment.  (The Guardian, 10/6/11)

Remembering W.G. Sebald (1944-2001)
In Patience (After Sebald), director Grant Gee explores the Suffolk coast, the legacy of W.S. Sebald, and the addictive "mental space" of The Rings of Saturn.  (j.b. spins, 9/28/11; Bookforum, 10/3/11; Reverse Shot, Issue 30) 





Theater

How about "a gleefully ghoulish satire on consumerism" for the holidays? Don't miss your chance to stream Glyndebourne's 2008 production of Hänsel und Gretel -- available for one week, starting on Boxing Day.  (The Guardian, 12/21/11)

Looking for the "ultimate up-market Xmas show"? Try Graham Vick's exuberant staging of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at London's Royal Opera House -- so festive, you'll (almost) forget about the work's darker undertones.  (Classical Iconoclast, 12/20/11; Financial Times, 12/20/11; The Guardian, 12/20/11)

Wim Wenders' film for Pina Bausch
"This obviously can't go on forever, or even that much longer," muses critic Mark Swed. Wim Wenders' new film Pina "will undoubtedly create significant new demands for a Tanztheater Wuppertal that has a glorious past but no real future." Ouch!  (Los Angeles Times, 12/7/11)

Wim Wenders' film for Pina Bausch
"Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost." Wim Wenders pays tribute to Pina Bausch in digital 3D. Academy Award voters, take note!  (3quarksdaily, 12/5/11; The New York Times, 12/9/11; The New Yorker, 12/19/11; The Wall Street Journal, 12/29/11)

Hamlet with a cast of six, wine and food flying everywhere. Othello in an enormous water tank; the heroine of Hedda Gabler as a sulky child. Thomas Ostermeier's high-concept stagings of theatrical classics have become a signature of the Schaubühne in Berlin. (The Guardian, 11/13/11; Financial Times, 11/25/11) 

Occupy Wall Street! And then head over to Brooklyn to see the Berliner Ensemble's "bizarre, farcical, and strangely beautiful" production of The Threepenny Opera, directed by Robert Wilson. As Macheath says, "What's breaking into a bank compared to founding a bank?"  (AndrewAndrew TubeTube, 10/5/11;  The New York Times, 10/5/11; BackStage.com, 10/6/11; The L Magazine, 10/6/11; Opera Today, 10/12/11)

An electrifying performance by Christine Goerke, accompanied by the monumental set design of Anselm Kiefer, distinguishes the new production of Elektra at the Teatro Royal in Madrid.  (El País, 10/4/11; Associated Press, 10/7/11; The Wall Street Journal, 10/7/11)




History

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Now here's a historic parallel that hadn't occurred to us: Wolfgang Münchau compares the eurozone crisis to the Thirty Years War.  (Financial Times, 12/28/11)

Revolution sparked through social media!  500 years ago, that is. Centuries before Facebook and the Arab Spring, Martin Luther and the ideas of the Reformation went viral in German-speaking Europe.  (The Economist, 12/17/11)

"The line that separated the Federal Republic of (West) Germany from the (East) German Democratic Republic is a zombie border: it's been dead a few times in the past, and that hasn't stopped it from coming back.
The line between east and west existed long before the postwar split" -- 1000 years before, in fact...  (The New York Times, 12/12/11)

Gerhard Lang published his first Advent calendar in 1903, the beginning of a beloved holiday tradition. A special exhibition in the city of Herne shows how Advent calendars reflect the twists of 20th-century German history.  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/10/11) 

The Iron Curtain separating East and West Germany stretched far beyond the Berlin Wall. In Burned Bridge, Edith Sheffer investigates how residents of Sonneberg and Neustadt, twin towns on the Bavarian-Thuringian border, experienced the Cold War barrier. (The Book, 12/7/11; Times Higher Education, 1/19/12)

"Germany is the traditional villain in the story of World War I's beginnings, but what if Russia played an even greater role?"
Sean McMeekin argues for the Russian origins of the First World War, but does not entirely convince.  (The Book, 12/5/11; The Wall Street Journal, 12/23/11)

"Was the Desert Fox an honest soldier or just another Nazi?"
A growing circle of German critics argues it's time to reevaluate Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's image as the chivalrous victim of Nazi tyranny.  (The Independent, 12/4/11)

"The town of Wünsdorf near Berlin was once the headquarters of the Soviet military in East Germany and home to some 50,000 soldiers. But after the Red Army's departure in 1994, the buildings were left to crumble." View a fascinating collection of images by photographer Jörg Rüger.  (Spiegel Online - International, 12/2/11)

Wilhelm II ruled as German emperor for three fateful decades; his father occupied the throne for just 99 days. What if things had been different? In Our Fritz, Frank Lorenz Müller examines the influence of Frederick III on the political culture of Imperial Germany.  (Washington Independent Review of Books, 12/1/11; The Wall Street Journal, 12/12/11; Times Higher Education, 1/12/12)

"The spectre of history looms over the eurozone crisis and Germany's role in resolving it but it's not the spectre of Nazism...
It's not ambition that lies behind the German stance - it's fear, even paranoia, deeply embedded in the national political culture. It is a fear that Germany needs to overcome."  (New Statesman, 11/24/11; The New York Times, 11/28/11)

"As a rule -- and especially when it comes to Nazism -- we prefer our ethical judgments to be rendered in black and white. To its credit, A German Generation helps to cure us of our longing for moral absolutes." Thomas Kohut's "experiential history" examines the lives of German men and women born between 1900-1914.  (History News Network, 11/23/11; The Wall Street Journal, 2/27/12)

19th- and early 20th-century diaries, new to 21st-century readers

He dined with Diaghilev, assisted Hofmannsthal, and served as a cultural diplomat and spy. Experience the Belle Époque through the eyes of one of its most prolific and well-connected chroniclers, in Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918.  (The Atlantic, 11/20/11; The Wall Street Journal, 11/26/11; The New York Times, 12/23/11)

New investigations in the life of SS leader Heinrich Himmler
"How could such a banal personality attain such a historically unique position of power? How could the son of a prosperous Bavarian Catholic public servant become the organizer of a system of mass murder spanning the whole of Europe?" Peter Longerich addresses these questions and more in Heinrich Himmler: A Life.  (Irish Times, 11/12/11; The Washington Post, 1/20/12)

From 2,500 guest workers, to more than 2.5 million people of Turkish descent in Germany today: the Recruitment Agreement of October 1961 sustained the German postwar economic miracle -- and paved the way for a multicultural society.  (Eurozine, 10/27/11; Foreign Affairs, 10/28/11; Today's Zaman, 10/30/11; Spiegel Online - International, 10/31/11, Spiegel Online - International, 11/1/11)

Otto von Bismarck -- the godfather of "competitive authoritarianism," or a "Teutonic version of Dick Cheney in power for several decades"? Catch up with these recent takes on Jonathan Steinberg's acclaimed Bismarck biography. (The National Interest, 10/25/11; Foreign Affairs, Nov/Dec 2011; Policy Review, 6/1/12)

Germany became "an immense charnel house in the last months of the Third Reich," yet popular and elite support for the regime persisted until the bitter end. Ian Kershaw investigates this tragic conundrum in The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Gemany, 1944-45.  (The New York Times, 10/21/11; The Globe and Mail, 11/4/11; Spiegel Online - International, 11/18/11)

New investigations in the life of SS leader Heinrich Himmler

"It is hard to think of two people more honoured in their own time and more hated in history than the terrifying double act of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich."
Now their scholarly biographies are being reviewed side by side.  (The Telegraph, 10/18/11; The New York, Times, 1/6/12; The New York Review of Books, 2/9/12; Forward, 4/19/12)

19th- and early 20th-century diaries, new to 21st-century readers

The young Helga Weiss witnessed the Nazi occupation of Prague, and she survived the Terezín and Auschwitz concentration camps. Her journal will be published for the first time next year.  (The Observer, 10/15/11)

"A military museum with a moderately antiwar bent, housed in a structure that combines the conventional and the strikingly modern, overlooking a city stuck between its bloody past and its rapid modernization": meet the Museum of Military History in Dresden, featuring a radical redesign by architect Daniel Libeskind.  (Bloomberg, 10/13/11; Los Angeles Times, 10/13/11; The Economist, 10/15/11, The Observer, 10/22/11)

Judgment at Nuremberg premiered in Berlin in 1961. 50 years later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents an anniversary tribute to Hollywood's first dramatization of the famous war crimes tribunals. (Los Angeles Times, 10/11/11)

"A Great Best-Seller! A Fabulous Adventure....A True Story!" Or close to true, anyway. Alex von Tunzelmann gives the 1951 biopic The Desert Fox, starring James Mason as Erwin Rommel, a B for history and a B+ for entertainment.  (The Guardian, 10/6/11)

19th- and early 20th-century diaries, new to 21st-century readers

The celebrated diary of Viktor Klemperer "now has a counterpart": Friedrich Kellner's clear-sighted commentary on everyday life and the atrocities perpetrated in wartime Nazi Germany ("Vernebelt, verdunkelt sind alle Hirne": Tagebücher 1939-1945). (Spiegel Online - International, 10/5/11; Reuters, 10/12/11; Green & Pleasant Land, 10/17/11)

The precedent-setting conclusion of John Demjanjuk's trial in May 2011 was "the first time prosecutors were able to convict someone in a Nazi-era case without direct evidence that the suspect participated in a specific killing." Hundreds more death camp guards -- most in their 80s and 90s -- may now be brought to trial.  (Associated Press, 10/5/11) 

Much more than a 25th-anniversary edition, Art Spiegelman's MetaMaus "offers a tour of the intellectual architecture and creative framework for what remains one of the world's great graphic narratives."  (The Washington Post, 10/4/11; The New Republic, 10/5/11; The Globe and Mail, 10/8/11, The Observer, 10/22/11)

Berlin's Charité Hospital has returned 20 Nama and Herero skulls to the Namibian government.  An appropriate gesture of reconciliation for German colonists' slaughter of thousands of Africans in the early 20th century? (Spiegel Online - International, 9/27/11; Deutsche Welle, 9/30/11; The Namibian, 10/3/11; Associated Press, 10/4/11)

Reinhard Heydrich "did not hold Nazi views until they were useful to him, but when he embraced them it was with passion." A new biography by Robert Gerwarth explains how love and opportunism contributed to the making of one of Nazi Germany's cruelest leaders.  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/19/11; The Book, 11/3/11; The Wall Street Journal, 11/5/11)

Eva Braun was "an ordinary woman who loved sports, fashion and jazz"...and one of history's most reviled dictators.  Now she's the subject of a scholarly biography by Heike B. Görtemaker.  (The National Interest, 8/24/11; The New York Times, 11/16/11; The Washington Independent Review of Books, 11/17/11)

"In part a piecemeal history of the final half-century of German East Prussia, in part a travelogue through what was left behind," Max Egremont's Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia "is as wistful as a flick-through of an old photo album, as melancholy as a rain-spattered northern autumn afternoon."  (The Spectator, 7/9/11; New Statesman, 7/25/11; The Wall Street Journal, 11/11/11)




Et Cetera

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"So Germany rules and southern Europe should prepare for austerity, followed by deflation, unemployment and, eventually civil strife, if the eurozone holds."
What's more, John Plender knows who's at fault: Goethe and Faust Part II.  Really?!?  (Financial Times, 12/29/11)

Germany and the Eurocrisis

Now here's a historic parallel that hadn't occurred to us: Wolfgang Münchau compares the eurozone crisis to the Thirty Years War.  (Financial Times, 12/28/11)

"Whether one bear needs three memorials in a a single city is debatable." Then again, the city is memorial-obsessed Berlin, and subject is superstar polar bear Knut. Let the debates begin!  (Spiegel Online - International, 12/23/11; The New York Times, 1/5/12; Spiegel Online - International, 1/13/12)

Is it comeback time for the author of One-Dimensional Man? Carlin Romano drops in at the biennial conference of the International Herbert Marcuse Society, considering the relevance of the Frankfurt School philosopher and activist in the OWS era. (The Chronicle Review, 12/11/11)

Gerhard Lang published his first Advent calendar in 1903, the beginning of a beloved holiday tradition. A special exhibition in the city of Herne shows how Advent calendars reflect the twists of 20th-century German history.  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/10/11) 

Germany and the Eurocrisis

Never underestimate the power of a black pantsuit. Vanessa Friedman explains how Angela Merkel "demonstrated great fashion fluency" for her policy-setting speech to the Bundestag on the future of the European Union.  (Financial Times, 12/2/11)

Germany and the Eurocrisis

"Jürgen Habermas is angry. He's really angry...He bangs on the table and yells: 'Enough already!' He simply has no desire to see Europe consigned to the dustbin of world history."  (Spiegel Online - International, 11/25/11)

Germany and the Eurocrisis

"The spectre of history looms over the eurozone crisis and Germany's role in resolving it but it's not the spectre of Nazism...It's not ambition that lies behind the German stance - it's fear, even paranoia, deeply embedded in the national political culture. It is a fear that Germany needs to overcome."  (New Statesman, 11/24/11; The New York Times, 11/28/11)

Hamburg, city of the future? "By both reshaping how it sees the old and by audaciously building new development, Germany's second-largest city after Berlin is positioning itself as a leader in urban design and practice, and spending billions of euros in the process."  (The New York Times, 11/17/11)

L.A., meet Berlin. Southern California gets its first Currywurst restaurant, and "local gourmands have taken notice." Guten Appetit!  (The Local, 11/15/11)

Prussia, meet Bavaria. "Europe's biggest Bavarian bierhalle" is now located on the Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse in Berlin.  Prost!  (The Guardian, 11/4/11; The Local, 11/9/11)

"Fragen Sie die Bundeskanzlerin!"  Now you can interview Angela Merkel and keep up with the German federal government on YouTube.  (The Next Web, 10/19/11; Reuters, 10/19/11; Social Times, 10/20/11)

Germany and the Eurocrisis

"For decades, Germany's role in Europe has been to supply the cash, not the leadership"...but a resolution to the current Euro crisis increasingly demands both. Who regrets the situation more, Germany or its financially struggling neighbors? (The New York Times, 10/11/11; The Washington Post, 10/22/11; The Economist, 10/29/11; The Wall Street Journal, 11/4/11)

"The hat could be a problem. The hat is the embodiment of capitalism, and that's why Karl Peglau was somewhat anxious when he made his recommendation before East Berlin's traffic commission on Oct. 13, 1961." He didn't have to worry -- 50 years later, the Ampelmännchen is beloved by communists and capitalists alike.  (Spiegel Online - International, 10/6/11) 

Would you like a Billy with that?  Ikea outranks McDonald's and other traditional fast food establishments, according to a recent study from the German Institute for Service Quality.  (The Atlantic, 10/5/11)

If you build a monastery, tourists will come? That's the hope of Messkirch, where construction will soon begin on a medieval-style monastery, using original plans and building techniques from the 9th century.  (Deutsche Welle, 10/5/11)