kulturplease archive 2012

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Music

"One of the more unexpected places to find striking, thought-provoking art, year in and year out, is on the album covers of ECM Records," directed by Manfred Eicher since 1969.  (The New York Times, 12/26/12)

You could write an entire book about the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Oh wait, Matthew Guerrieri has! Guest appearances by Adorno, Wagner, Marx (A.B. and Karl), E.M. Forster, Ralph Elllison, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 12/18/12; The Wall Street Journal, 12/21/12; Bookforum, Dec/Jan 2013)

Failing computers crashed the robot party. Philip Oltermann wasn't able to get tickets online for Kraftwerk at the Tate Modern (and really, who could?) -- but at least he appreciates the beautiful irony of his lot. (The Guardian, 12/13/12)

Richard Wagner at 200
"Just how many times will Wagner's Ring be performed next year, on the occasion of the composer's bicentennial?" At least 41 complete performances (and counting)...  (The Rest is Noise, 12/12/12)

In memoriam: Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012). "His fundamental artistic credo was that music ought to have something to say about human emotion and ought to contribute to contemporary society." (Financial Times, 10/27/12; The Guardian, 10/27/12; The New York Times, 10/28/12; The Guardian, 10/29/12)

Kurt Weill composed the music to "Railroads on Parade" at the 1939 World's Fair.  No known recording existed -- until collector Guy Walker got lucky at a 2007 estate sale.  (The New York Times, 10/21/12)

Can Herbert Grönemeyer become a pop star outside of Germany? His English-language album I Walk is on sale now.  (Financial Times, 10/12/12; NPR, 3/9/13)

"Ezekiel, Death, a Scorpion Man, singing phalluses and vulvas, and a troupe of monkeys all find a place in Jörg Widmann's lavish new opera," Babylon, now on stage at the Bavarian State Opera. And did we mention that Peter Sloterdijk wrote the libretto? (The Guardian, 10/8/12; Financial Times, 10/30/12; The New York Times, 11/6/12) 

American Lulu at Berlin's Komische Oper "begs one question: why?"  (Financial Times, 10/1/12; The Guardian, 10/8/12; Musical America, 10/12/12)

Just over a century ago, Arnold Schoenberg received a signed photograph from his elder colleague Gustav Mahler. How did the treasured possession wind up in the hands of 35-year-old Cliff Fraser?  (The New York Times, 10/10/12; The New York Times, 10/17/12)

So much Kultur, so little cultural sensitivity
As if the racist views of composer Richard Wagner weren't problematic enough -- the Festpielhaus Baden-Baden found a new way to offend with its tasteless publicity for Parsifal, conducted by Kurt Nagano in August 2004.  (Boulezian, 9/28/12)

"Hitler was one of a million youths infatuated with Wagner at the turn of the last century. Some were anti-Semitic extremists; others were socialists, communists, democrats, feminists, apostles of free love, early gay-rights advocates, Rosicrucian mystics, Theosophists, and members of every other imaginable group...We have forgotten that glorious interpretive confusion; in an unsettling way, we now listen to Wagner through Hitler's ears."  (The New Yorker, 9/25/12)

Wolfgang Rihm's "gigantic musical output -- one of the greatest and grandest in terms of sheer quantity of hours of music composed, of consistent quality, of massive emotional range, of variety of forces and scales -- resists any attempt to reduce its reach to a few handy labels."  (The Guardian, 9/24/12)

In 1943, Joseph Goebbels gave musical prodigy Nejiko Suwa an exquisite gift: an 18th-century Stradivarius. It remains in her family today, "but the origins of the violin itself remain a mystery. Was it confiscated property, one of thousands of musical instruments plundered by the Nazis, or otherwise obtained under duress from those persecuted during the Nazi era?"  (The New York Times, 9/21/12; Classical Iconoclast, 9/22/12)

"More than 300 years ago, Johann Sebastian Bach was born in the small German town of Eisenach. Unlike his contemporary Handel, he never traveled very far. But from this intense central point, Bach -- or at least the sound waves representing him -- seems to be filling up the universe." Paul Elie contemplates three centuries of Reinventing Bach.  (The Economist, 9/15/12; The Barnes & Noble Review, 11/13/12; The New Republic, 11/15/12; The Nation, 12/31/12)

Love Song by Ethan Mordden: the latest, if not the best, portrait of the remarkable lives of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. "Their story should be told, but could benefit from more surehandedness."  (Bookslut, 9/2012; The Wall Street Journal, 10/12/12; Theater Talk, 11/14/12; The New York Times, 1/6/13)

The (music) drama at Bayreuth is offstage
Norman Lebrecht visits Bayreuth -- but he's not going back. (Standpoint, 9/2012)

"Of all the worldwide celebrants for the 100th anniversary of John Cage's birth...the Germans seem to be the most adamant." Music critic Mark Swed hopes their enthusiasm is catching.  (Los Angeles Times, 9/3/12)

Sergiu Celibidache didn't enjoy the celebrity of Furtwängler or Karajan, but he too enriched Germany's symphonic landscape. Here's "a round-up of the finest recordings made by a conductor who had a lifelong opposition to the recording of music."  (Financial Times, 8/27/12)

High-concept highlights of Summer 2012
"With a string quartet flying in helicopters, musicians suspended on giant swings and a dancing camel, Karlheinz Stockhausen's radical six-hour opera Mittwoch Aus Licht was thought to be unstageable -- until now."  (BBC News, 8/17/12; The Arts Desk, 8/23/12; Financial Times, 8/25/12)

"It is one of the 10 largest performing rights organizations in the world, representing the rights of more than 64,000 members in Germany and more than 2 million foreign artists...So far, GEMA has survived every sea change, including the cassette, the CD, German reunification and the USB flash drive. But now things are getting more complicated."  (Spiegel Online - International, 8/17/12)

The (music) drama at Bayreuth is offstage
Stay tuned -- we're betting that Jonathan Meese's staging of Parsifal at Bayreuth in 2016 isn't going to be dull.  (Opera Today, 8/13/12)

The (music) drama at Bayreuth is offstage
Is the Bayreuth Festival "imaginable without a Wagner family member at its helm? Is Wagner without Wagner still Wagner?" Ellen Alpsten contemplates the many facets of Bayreuth's long-running family music drama.  (Standpoint, July/Aug. 2012)

Kultur on the chopping block: the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the English Theatre Berlin, and the SWR's two symphony orchestras may not be around much longer.  (The Guardian, 7/31/12; The Guardian, 8/3/12; The Guardian, 8/3/12) 

Fifty years after the Beatles' residency at Hamburg's legendary Star-Club, Davin O'Dwyer revisits the St. Pauli neighborhood where the Fab Four lived and performed before they were superstars.  (The Washington Post, 7/27/12)

The (music) drama at Bayreuth is offstage
Former heavy metal singer Evgeny Nikitin was set to assume the title role in Wagner's Flying Dutchman. "It all seemed fitting and in accord with the Bayreuth Festival's newer open, casual, youth-friendly image" -- until photos of the swastika tattoo on Nikitin's chest began making the rounds.  (The Guardian, 7/22/12; Deutsche Welle, 7/23/12; Spiegel Online - International, 8/6/12)

That "beautiful timbered house painted in Voodoo Lounge red" and adorned with giant photos of Mick Jagger and his bandmates?  It's the new Rolling Stones Fan Museum in Lüchow (Niedersachsen).  (The Economist, 7/20/12)

The 107-disc set "Wilhelm Furtwängler: The Legacy" contains "every work the legendary German conductor is known to have recorded or broadcast...Priced at barely more than a dollar a disc by some online merchants, it may also be the greatest recording bargain ever."  (Los Angeles Times, 7/1/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"Can anyone give up the Euro? Does anyone have a plan to return it from whence it came without Europe falling into semi-destruction?"
Mark Ronan notices some nifty parallels between the Eurocrisis and Wagner's Ring Cycle.  (History Today, July 2012)

First gentrification, now GEMA.  Berlin's all-night clubs "say they are facing annihilation if a new set of music royalty payments come into force." Save the trendy nightlife!  (Spiegel Online - International, 6/26/12; The Guardian, 7/3/12)

From Conny Froebess to Paul van Dyk and Peter Heppner: a 10-song introduction to the history of German pop.  (The Guardian, 6/25/12)

High-concept highlights of Summer 2012
The Bavarian State Opera kicks off its Ring Cycle with photographer Spencer Tunick, 1700 nude volunteers, and a lot of red and gold body paint.
(Lost in Berlin, 6/24/12; The Local, 6/25/12)

High-concept highlights of Summer 2012
"The vigorously committed, cosmically inclined composer Karlheinz Stockhausen was never known for small gestures -
- nor is the Park Avenue Armory," site of the two-night event "Philharmonic 360," featuring Stockhausen's GruppenView the free webcast here!  (The Wall Street Journal, 6/21/12; The New York Times, 6/22/12; The Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/3/12; The New Yorker, 7/6/12)

Ready to "throw your preconceptions about musical conventions out the window"? Tom Service would like to introduce you to the extraordinary sound world of composer Helmut Lachenmann.  (The Guardian, 6/12/12) 

It looked as if the unofficial ban on performing Richard Wagner's music in Israel was about to be broken. Not anymore
-- Tel Aviv University has quashed the June 18 symposium and performance planned by the Israel Wagner Society.  (The Guardian, 6/5/12; Deutsche Welle, 6/6/12)

Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire still provokes and fascinates audiences
, 100 years after its Berlin premiere. (The Boston Globe, 6/3/12)

Kurt Weill once said "that a vast, unexploited field lay between grand opera and musical comedy."
Weill tapped the riches of that field, and musicologist Stephen Hinton explains how, in Weill's Musical Theater: Stages of Reform.  (The Washington Independent Review of Books, 5/22/12; Entartete Musik, 6/20/12)

In memoriam: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925-2012)
, the remarkable baritone who gave 19th-century lieder their definitive 20th-century voice.  (The Guardian, 5/18/12; The New York Times, 5/18/12; The New Yorker, 5/18/12; The New York Times, 5/19/12; The Economist, 5/26/12; The New Yorker, 5/29/12)

Nazi cultural authorities declared swing and jazz "degenerate," but the music reigned in WWII-era Europe. What was Goebbels' propaganda machine to do? Create an "oxymoron in four-bar form: a Nazi-approved, state-sponsored hot jazz band known as Charlie and his Orchestra."  (Smithsonian, 5/17/12)

The Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle: Rage against "the Machine"?
Fortunately, a behind-the-scenes look at the Ring Cycle critics love to hate makes for fascinating cinema. Wagner's Dream chronicles the troubles and triumphs of Robert Lepage's current production at the Met.  (j.b. spins, 5/2/12; Film-Forward, 5/7/12; The New York Times, 5/7/12)

Kraftwerk at MoMA
Kraftwerk "is the Warhol of pop -- apolitical, fond of mechanical reproduction, and almost creepily prescient." Sasha Frere-Jones explains how this pop band ended up in a museum.  (The New Yorker, 4/30/12)

The Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle: Rage against "the Machine"?
Q: "So after all the hassles, the initial malfunctions, the $16 million price tag," and Met general manager Peter Gelb's "repeated proclamations that the Lepage 'Ring' is revolutionary, what are we left with?"  A: "The most frustrating opera production" ever, says critic Anthony Tommasini.  (The New York Times, 4/25/12; The Boston Globe, 5/6/12; The New Yorker, 5/7/12)

"Please don't call Jonas Kaufmann 'the German tenor': it raises too many preconceptions about a restricted repertory a German tenor should address, and Mr. Kaufmann wants to sing it all."  (The New York Times, 4/20/12)

Kultur at ENO! Wolfgang Rihm's chamber opera Jakob Lenz is based upon "a novella by one German Romantic playwright, Georg Büchner, about the mental breakdown of another." What's more, Rihm's virtuosic score recalls "Alban Berg's own Büchner-based masterpiece, Wozzeck." Onstage at the Hampstead Theatre through April 27.  (Classical Iconolast, 4/18/12; The Independent, 4/18/12; The Telegraph, 4/18/12)

Kraftwerk at MoMA
When plans to bring Kraftwerk "to New York's Acropolis of modernity were being hatched, it must have been much more fun to compute the curatorial kudos they'd bring than crunch the audience numbers....If the audience was to be so small, then for whose benefit was this series of events actually for?"  (frieze, 4/16/12)

Kraftwerk at MoMA
"Even for a New York museum crowd, there was a lot of black" on opening night of MoMA's sold-out Kraftwerk retrospective. "Artfully swept hair, uncomfortable-looking shoes, architectural glasses: check, check and check. The high-design audience was rewarded with an equally aesthetically tuned concert..." (W Magazine, 4/10/12; The New York Times, 4/11/12; The New York Times, 4/11/12; NPR, 4/13/12; The New Yorker, 5/1/12)

Peter Sellars' extraordinary staging of Bach's St. Matthew Passion is now available on DVD. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and "a dream cast of players" are led by conductor Simon Rattle.  (NPR, 4/10/12; Entartete Musik, 4/30/12; The New York Times, 6/8/12)

When J.S. Bach led the St. Thomas Boy's Choir, singers' voices typically changed between ages 17 and 18. Now the average is closer to 13, compelling choir leaders to seek ever younger talent.  (The Washington Post, 4/7/12)

Europe's most important living composer? America, meet Hans Werner Henze, "an outsider who followed his own path."  (The New York Times, 3/16/12)

"There's a torchlit parade, a giant red honeycomb thing, walls of fire, lots of taut muscles, a keyboard player in a glitter suit walking on a treadmill, burning microphones, fire-breathing musicians and a stage set like Fritz Lang's Metropolis meets The World at War -- and that's just the opening 20 minutes" of Rammstein's greatest hits extravaganza, on tour this year.  (The Guardian, 3/2/12)

Rock-und-roll comes to Hamburg! Check out the dance moves in this 1956 newsreel.  (The Guardian, 2/27/12)

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra brought Mahler's Second Symphony -- and a newly reconstructed version of Bruckner's Ninth -- to Carnegie Hall. Couldn't attend? You can listen to the Mahler at npr.org.  (Associated Press, 2/26/12; National Post, 2/26/12; The New York Times, 2/26/12)

Q: What were those avant-garde sounds emanating from the riverboat perched atop Queen Elizabeth Hall this February? A: Heiner Goebbels' musical response to the journal of Joseph Conrad, of course.  (Financial Times, 2/24/12; The Guardian, 2/28/12)

"In a sane and just world someone would be paid to go to Verso's offices in London W1, and shower its employees with rose petals every day, simply because they are Adorno's publishers here." Nicholas Lezard explains why Theodor Adorno's criticism is essential but not easy reading.  (The Guardian, 2/21/12)

"What could be more natural than a German punk band teaming up with a hip-hop forefather for a 1983 novelty record?" Chris Taylor looks back at an "inspired slice of silliness" from Die Toten Hosen and Fab 5 Freddy.  (The Guardian, 2/9/12)

The Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle: Rage against "the Machine"?
Götterdämmerung, the final installment in the Metropolitan Opera's new Ring cycle, ends not with a bang but a whimper. Director Robert Lepage's notorious set machine does not -- alas -- "collapse into a heap of smoldering planks at the end of the Immolation Scene, which would have been appropriate." (The New York Times, 1/28/12; The Wall Street Journal, 1/31/12; The New York Observer, 2/1/12)

Have Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic produced "the Beethoven cycle of the 21st century"?  Not so fast -- first listen to Riccardo Chailly's recording with the Leipzig Gewandhaus.  (The Guardian, 1/19/12; Entartete Musik, 3/11/12)

"In a society that understands and loves such a songbook, life will be lived well and without danger." Jeremy Eichler reminds us of the beauty and tragedy of Hanns Eisler's Hollywood Songbook.  (The Boston Globe, 1/15/12)

Karlheinz Stockhausen "wasn't always the easiest person to be around." The composer's estate can be just as demanding...  (Feast of Music, 1/11/12)




Art & Design

"One of the more unexpected places to find striking, thought-provoking art, year in and year out, is on the album covers of ECM Records," directed by Manfred Eicher since 1969.  (The New York Times, 12/26/12)

One more reason to visit Lake Constance: six murals by Otto Dix, newly discovered at the artist's former home in Hemmenhofen.  (Spiegel Online - International, 12/20/12)

Failing computers crashed the robot party. Philip Oltermann wasn't able to get tickets online for Kraftwerk at the Tate Modern (and really, who could?) -- but at least he appreciates the beautiful irony of his lot. (The Guardian, 12/13/12)

"Riveting yet utterly perplexing" -- see the colorful woodcut prints of Gert and Uwe Tobias at the Whitechapel Gallery in Windsor, Florida, now through April 4.  (Financial Times, 11/30/12)

The Illuminator demands your undivided attention. "The twice-a-year German magazine, which bills itself as 'the greatest magazine about light - in nature, culture, art, architecture an design' is huge....At 27 inches tall and 19 inches wide, it's not something you can stuff into a messenger bag."  (T Magazine, 11/20/12)

An unexpected find at a Jerusalem junk shop -- a 1933 pen-and-ink drawing of Worms' Old Synagogue by the young artist Paul Reinman -- inspires a fascinating historical quest.  (Tablet, 11/8/12) 

"Adrian Searles talks to German cross-media master Thomas Schütte about his dribbling, exploding ceramic portraits, about getting sculptures spray painted by Harley Davidson -- and why would should always showcase your disasters."  (The Guardian, 10/22/12)

A memorial in Cumbria to commemorate Kurt Schwitters and other artists who were vilified as "degenerate" by the Nazis? Jonathan Jones explains why this undertaking is a "monumental mistake." (BBC News, 10/19/12; The Guardian, 10/22/12)

"Farewell to Icarus," now showing at the Neues Museum in Weimar, "could well become one of the most important exhibitions of the year, thanks to the great effort it puts into attempting to reevaluate the controversial legacy of East German art."  (Spiegel Online - International, 10/18/12; Deutsche Welle, 11/4/12; The Art Newspaper, 12/17/12)

"Gerhard Richter may be the most important painter of our era. But the picture that also made him our most expensive living artist" -- Abstract Painting (809-4), sold for a record-setting $34.2 million -- "may not have much to do with his greatness."  (The Telegraph, 10/13/12; The Daily Beast, 10/16/12) 

Fall 2012: Museum highlights in Berlin
"Shuttered Society: Art Photography in the GDR 1949-1989" -- on display at the Berlinische Galerie, now through January 28.  (Spiegel Online - International, 10/5/12; Deutsche Welle, 10/16/12)

"Rororo told the young Germany of the post-war generation good stories, but it also taught them something about the world."  The covers of the 1950s paperbacks are still eye-catching today.  (50 Watts, 10/2012)

"It's a rare feat to transcend from curator to art star" -- but MoMA's Klaus Biesenbach has "clearly got the hang of it."  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/27/12)

"Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1475-1540" -- on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, now through December 31.  (The Washington Post, 9/27/12)

It's time for the protagonists of Berlin's subculture to professionalize and develop a long-term cultural vision, writes Jens Balzer. Tacheles will be missed, but Berghain and Bar 25 are better models for the future.  (The New York Times, 9/19/12)

Fall 2012: Museum highlights in Berlin
Welcome to the Museum of Things -- "It's the material culture of Germany in the 20th century stuffed into glass-fronted cabinets,"..."a Manichean world where every object is either good or evil."  (The Guardian, 9/17/12)

A copy of Lucas Cranach the Elder's Madonna under the Fir Tree (1510) has hung in Wrocław's cathedral for decades. Has the original finally come home?  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/7/12)

Tacheles is no more. "It's a sad day for Berlin, 22 years in the making, "and confirmation of its catastrophic slide towards blandness and sterility at the expense of what once made the city great."  (Der Irische Berliner, 9/4/12; Spiegel Online - International, 9/4/12; Exberliner, 9/5/12)

Sarah Illenberger's blend of sculpture and photography "plays on unexpected tricks of scale; she creates infographics from raw vegetables and zippers and builds tiny cities from dominos and sugar cubes."  (The Atlantic, 8/20/12)

The Photographic Work chronicles the iconic postwar images of photographer F.C. Gundlach.  (T Magazine, 8/1/12)

Gentrification strikes again: Berlin's Wilhelmstrasse may soon be losing some of its 1980s-vintage socialist charm.  (Reuters, 7/27/12)

Chemnitz's artistic highlights extend well beyond that 40-ton bronze bust of Karl Marx. Read how the city has become "an unlikely art hub honed by enthusiasm." (The New York Times, 7/27/12)

Richard Brody laments the inadequacy of Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  (The New Yorker, 7/15/12)

So how did those adorable cherubs come to upstage the Madonna and Child? See "The Sistine Madonna: Raphael's Iconic Painting Turns 500" -- now at the Old Master Picture Gallery in Dresden, the painting's home for over 200 years.  (Jewish Voice from Germany, 7/4/12; The Wall Street Journal, 7/11/12)

Fall 2012: Museum highlights in Berlin
How to please no one: rearrange the paintings in Berlin. "It is one of the stormiest art world rows of recent times, pitching Rembrandt and Botticelli against Rothko and Beuys and angering art historians around the globe."  (Bloomberg, 7/10/12; The Guardian, 7/12/12; The Wall Street Journal, 9/12/12; Spiegel Online - International, 9/14/12; Bloomberg, 12/10/12)

High-concept highlights of Summer 2012
The Bavarian State Opera kicks off its Ring Cycle with photographer Spencer Tunick, 1700 nude volunteers, and a lot of red and gold body paint. (Lost in Berlin, 6/24/12; The Local, 6/25/12)

High-concept highlights of Summer 2012
"If ever an art exhibition felt like a scavenger hunt, it's Documenta -- a freewheeling display of contemporary art that draws hundreds of thousands to the northern German city of Kassel every five years."  (The Wall Street Journal, 6/10/12; The New York Times, 6/14/12; The Guardian, 6/11/12)

"If ever a play needed to be written about the early 20th-century German soul torn apart, friendships broken, families and homes lost, and so much of that conflict doubly invested in art and architecture, its title would be Worpswede."  (Standpoint, June 2012)

Dallas, 1952. Who better to capture the fast growing Texas city on canvas than....émigré artist George Grosz? (Associated Press, 5/18/12)

Explore Die Brücke and the origins of expressionism at the Musée de Grenoble, now through June 17.  (The Guardian, 5/8/12)

The life and work of Albrecht Dürer, "who brought the Renaissance over the Alps 500 years ago and used a brush made of guinea pig hair to paint his finest strokes," just got a little more intriguing. A large exhibition of his early works opens at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum on May 24.  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/1/12; The Art Newspaper, 5/22/12)

Kraftwerk at MoMA
Kraftwerk "is the Warhol of pop -- apolitical, fond of mechanical reproduction, and almost creepily prescient." Sasha Frere-Jones explains how this pop band ended up in a museum.  (The New Yorker, 4/30/12)

Fiona MacCarthy is looking forward to "Bauhaus: Art as Life," the UK's largest Bauhaus exhibition in 40 years, opening at the Barbican on May 3. Here's why.  (The Guardian, 4/27/12)

Kraftwerk at MoMA
When plans to bring Kraftwerk "to New York's Acropolis of modernity were being hatched, it must have been much more fun to compute the curatorial kudos they'd bring than crunch the audience numbers....If the audience was to be so small, then for whose benefit was this series of events actually for?"  (frieze, 4/16/12)

Kraftwerk at MoMA
"Even for a New York museum crowd, there was a lot of black" on opening night of MoMA's sold-out Kraftwerk retrospective. "Artfully swept hair, uncomfortable-looking shoes, architectural glasses: check, check and check. The high-design audience was rewarded with an equally aesthetically tuned concert..." (W Magazine, 4/10/12; The New York Times, 4/11/12; The New York Times, 4/11/12; NPR, 4/13/12; The New Yorker, 5/1/12)

"Less is a bore"? Hardly -- the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is everywhere in today's design landscape. "He was arguably the first architect to have the last word."  (The Guardian, 3/27/12)

Gerhard Richter, art superstar
As if being the world's top-selling artist weren't enough, now Gerhard Richter is a film star, too -- "serious and purposeful but also unexpectedly good-natured." See the master and his squeegee in Corinna Belz's Gerhard Richter Painting.  (The New York Times, 3/13/12; j.b. spins, 3/16/12; Toronto.com, 3/30/12; boston.com, 4/11/12)

Lessons in the fine art of forgery, from world-class practitioners Wolfgang Beltracchi and Hans-Jürgen Kuhl.  (Spiegel Online - International, 3/9/12; Wired, 5/18/12; Vanity Fair, 10/10/12)

Gerhard Richter, art superstar
"Last year at auction, German painter Gerhard Richter outsold Monet, Giacometti and Rothko -- combined. A case study of an artist's rise. Will it last?"  (The Wall Street Journal, 3/8/12)

18th-century artist John Zoffany "was a man on the move: painting in Germany, Italy, back to Germany, England, back to Italy, India and back again...Zoffany's career exemplifies the fertile possibilities of a booming European and global art market." See his works at the Royal Academy of the Arts in London now through June 2012.  (The Guardian, 3/2/12)

"Thomas Zipp's installations of paintings and sculptures are the heavy metal of the art world: transgressive, blackly comic and trained on what the German artist has described as 'the weirdness of mankind.'" (The Guardian, 3/1/12)

The Städel Museum's contemporary art collection has gone underground. The striking, €52 million extension was financed through the assistance of private donors. Through an appeal to civic pride, the Städel has expanded and staked out a new identity that is unique among German art museums.  (Spiegel Online - International, 2/22/12; signandsight.com, 3/7/12)

"Piled-up, forgotten and gathering dust, 23,000 artworks from the former East Germany fill a vast warehouse 90 kilometres (56 miles) from Berlin, testimony to an oppressive past."  (AFP, 2/20/12; YouTube, 2/22/12)

"The comet that was the German artist Martin Kippenberger streaked across the firmament for about two decades, excessively gifted, and also just plain excessive." In Kippenberger: The Artist and His Families, his sister Susanne "offers a tender, reasonably cleareyed, oddly gripping account of her only brother's headlong plunge through life."  (The New York Times, 2/17/12; The Paris Review, 3/13/12)

We're not making this up: Per-Oskar Leu's art installation Crisis and Critique "consists of a video of trial scenes selected from German films from the 1930s and '40s, leather coats hung over speakers sometimes playing Bertolt Brecht's 1947 testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee, and four mattressed seating areas with the German words for locked up, night, your ears, and misfortune printed on them."  (The New York Times, 2/16/12; Rhizome, 2/21/12)

Gerhard Richter, art superstar
The Gerhard Richter retrospective "Panorama" moves from London to Berlin in time for the artist's 80th birthday. Fawning critics and overflow crowds greet the "greatest living German painter."  (Spiegel Online - International, 2/10/12; The New York Times, 2/19/12; The Economist, 2/20/12)

Take a fresh look at the Bauhaus in the J. Paul Getty Museum's exhibition of photographs by Lyonel Feininger -- on display now through March 11.  (Imprint, 2/4/12; Imprint, 2/10/12)

Gerhard Richter, art superstar
Irony, anyone? Gerhard Richter began painting from photographs in the early 1960s. He destroyed several dozen of the finished artworks -- but only after photographing them first.  (Spiegel Online - International, 2/3/12)

"Like a 3-D take on Jackson Pollock, the latest work by the artist Martin Klimas begins with splatters of paint in fuchsia, teal and lime green, positioned on a scrim over the diaphragm of a speaker. Then the volume is turned up."  (The New York Times, 1/15/12)

"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)

Bauhaus: the influential school of art and design known for its credo of "form follows function". Yes, but also a successful chain of home improvement stores, now expanding throughout Europe. The two entities aren't related, but both have equal legal claim to the Bauhaus name. (Spiegel Online-International, 1/5/12)

"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)



 
Books & Ideas

So far, German crime fiction has failed to thrill U.S. readers. Will Nele Neuhaus' Snow White Must Die be the Krimi that breaks the trend?  (The World, 12/28/12)

In Lübeck museums, 20th-century literary giants -- Günter Grass and the Mann brothers -- get a boost from 21st-century media and innovative curation. (The New York Times, 12/25/12)

200 years of Grimms' fairy tales
The Grimm brothers made extensive changes in the editions of their Kinder -und Hausmärchen that appeared between 1812 and 1857. Jack Zipes explains what "makes the rediscovery of the tales in the first edition so exciting and exhilarating."  (The Public Domain Review, 12/20/12)

You could write an entire book about the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Oh wait, Matthew Guerrieri has! Guest appearances by Adorno, Wagner, Marx (A.B. and Karl), E.M. Forster, Ralph Elllison, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 12/18/12; The Wall Street Journal, 12/21/12; Bookforum, Dec/Jan 2013)

Novelist Jenny Erpenbeck discusses her East German childhood and the adventure of archival research.  (The Quarterly Conversation, 12/3/12)

"Demand free housing and free education, drink cases of beer, be a member of some Verein, be PC, denounce Israel, eat Bio, be on time..." Tuvia Tenenbom spent a summer traveling through Germany to write about the nation he loves to hate.  (Spiegel Online - International, 11/30/12)

Psychotherapist Hans Keilson (1909-2011) spent most of his career helping children who had been traumatized by war. Now the world has rediscovered his early literary efforts, including Life Goes On: "a profound novel, written in Weimar Germany and newly reissued, about life during an economic depression."  (The Wall Street Journal, 11/22/12; Bookforum, 12/11/12; The Barnes & Noble Review, 12/18/12; The New York Times, 1/4/13)

Put some Kultur in those holiday stockings! "Dressed up as a child-friendly, pocket-sized hardback... Inventing the Christmas Tree is actually a learned 90-page thesis on the history of the Christmas tree by the German author Bernd Brunner."  (The Wall Street Journal, 11/16/12; The Guardian, 12/14/12; The Spectator, 12/15/12)

"When Peter Sloterdijk concentrates on tangible objects or actions, he illuminates. The more anthropological he is, the more he reveals. Then Dasein appears and darkness descends..." (The Chronicle Review, 11/5/12; The New Republic, 7/19/13)

Tim Parks' novel Cleaver became the German-language TV production Stille. What was lost in translation?  (NYRblog, 10/3/12)

In memoriam: Sven Hassel (1917-2012).  His novels sold millions -- "war comics without the pictures, devoured especially by teenage boys" -- although details of his own WWII experience remain under question.  (The Guardian, 10/2/12; The Quietus, 10/2/12; The New York Times, 10/6/12)

"Rororo told the young Germany of the post-war generation good stories, but it also taught them something about the world."  The covers of the 1950s paperbacks are still eye-catching today.  (50 Watts, 10/2012)

What did German POWs talk about when they thought no one else was listening? In Soldaten, Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer interpret thousands of covert surveillance protocols from WWII. "The soldiers' conversations make it clear that practically all German soldiers knew or suspected that Jews were being murdered en masse."  (The Daily Beast, 9/24/12; The Observer, 9/29/12; Financial Times, 10/12/12)

Günter Grass, "the angry old man of German letters," revisits the year 1990. He wasn't happy about it. (The Spectator, 9/22/12; New Statesman, 10/4/12; Financial Times, 10/5/12)

200 years of Grimms' Fairy Tales
Philip Pullman retells "the best and most interesting" of the Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen, "clearing out of the way anything that would prevent them from running freely."  (The Guardian, 9/21/12; The Economist, 10/2712; Slate, 11/2/12; The Atlantic, 11/8/12)

Here's what selling at Hugendubel: Philip Oltermann introduces six recent bestsellers written by German authors.  (The Guardian, 9/21/12)

Germans tend to self-identify as world citizens, Atlanticists, or Europeans, proposes author Bernhard Schlink. "The wish, he says, is symptomatic of another desire, to escape what it means to be German, including the solidarity, responsibility and guilt attached to that."  (The Guardian, 9/16/12)  

"More than 300 years ago, Johann Sebastian Bach was born in the small German town of Eisenach. Unlike his contemporary Handel, he never traveled very far. But from this intense central point, Bach -- or at least the sound waves representing him -- seems to be filling up the universe." Paul Elie contemplates three centuries of Reinventing Bach.  (The Economist, 9/15/12; The Barnes & Noble Review, 11/13/12; The New Republic, 11/15/12)

Love Song by Ethan Mordden: the latest, if not the best, portrait of the remarkable lives of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. "Their story should be told, but could benefit from more surehandedness."  (Bookslut, 9/2012; The Wall Street Journal, 10/12/12; Theater Talk, 11/14/12; The New York Times, 1/6/13)

"Although we tend to remember the special international tribunal at Nuremberg, which tried some members of the Nazi leadership, Dachau was the more important, and the more typical, site of American military justice."  (The New Republic, 8/24/12)

Loneliness isn't inherent to the human condition, argues Peter Sloterdijk. Find out more -- a lot more -- in Bubbles, the first volume of his Spheres trilogy. "The book is not a pot of unalloyed gold, but rather a mine: there's plenty of slag to dig through."  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 8/21/12)

Bertrand M. Patenaude recounts the strange story of the postwar recovery and publication of Joseph Goebbels' diaries.  (Hoover Digest, 8/13/12)

"Could one not see the history of God as if it were the side of the human condition that was never visited, always put off, saved up for later, and eventually missed out on altogether?" Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters on God" are newly translated into English.  (The Wall Street Journal, 8/5/12)

"What would Ayn Rand do about the Euro Crisis?" Kai John really wanted Germans to know -- so he bought the rights to Atlas Shrugged and brought out a new translation (Der Streik).  (Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/2/12; Publishing Perspectives, 10/30/12)

The Photographic Work chronicles the iconic postwar images of photographer F.C. Gundlach.  (T Magazine, 8/1/12)

"Just as the teams of Bletchley Park and the US Army Signals Intelligence Service sought to crack the enemy's secret codes, so psychoanalysts and psychiatrists were mobilised to decipher the unconscious encryptions and fantasies that were thought to drive Nazi ideology." With decidedly mixed results, as Daniel Pick explains in his new study, The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind.  (The Guardian, 8/1/12; Times Higher Education, 8/30/12)

How should Friedrich Nietzsche's legacy be preserved?  The philosopher's sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, and Count Harry Kessler had very different ideas.  (Humanities, July/Aug. 2012)

In Bernard Schlink's short story collection Summer Lies, "the psychic infrastructure of an entire country is gradually revealed, one carefully crafted sentence at a time."  (Los Angeles Times, 7/29/12)

Joachim Fest, biographer of Hitler and Speer, reflects on his own past in Not Me: Memoirs of a German Childhood. "Despite the relative 'normality' of some of his childhood memories, he cannot look back without feeling the constant weight of historical events."  (Financial Times, 7/27/12; The Independent, 7/28/12)

200 years of Grimms' Fairy Tales
"Mutilation, dismemberment, and cannibalism, not to speak of ordinary homicide, often inflicted on children by their parents or guardians" -- the action in Grimms' Fairy Tales isn't for the faint-hearted. Joan Acocella considers the stories collected and retold by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm.  (The New Yorker, 7/23/12)

Another literary hero with feet of clay: Erwin Strittmaier, "one of the most successful and popular writers in East Germany," turns out to have had a more complicated past than he publicly revealed.  (Spiegel Online - International, 7/20/12)

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)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"The particular charm" of Jürgen Habermas' utopian vision for a supranational, democratic Europe, writes Anson Rabinbach, "is its genesis in a passionate and combative engagement with the dispiriting state of today's European Union." Die Verfassung Europas is now available in English translation.  (The Nation, 7/10/12; Los Angeles Review of Books, 9/20/12)

Daniel Pick "tells us what we can learn from attempts to use psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis to understand Nazism."  (The Browser, 6/28/12)

Two years after the Axolotl Roadkill literary furore, Helene Hegemann still shrugs off originality in favor of authenticity. Read Katy Derbyshire's translation of Hegemann's novel -- now, with sourced quotations --- and judge for yourself.  (The Guardian, 6/23/12)

"Hans Bethe (1906-2005) was the first human being to understand why the stars shine in the sky." In Nuclear Forces, Silvan Schweber examines the accomplished theoretical physicist's early career.  (Times Higher Education, 6/14/12; The Wall Street Journal, 7/13/12)

"Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians -- the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children und 16 -- were forcibly ejected from their places of birth..."  (The Chronicle Review, 6/11/12; The Book, 6/25/12; The Nation, 11/27/12)

Andrew Nagorski picks his top five books by Americans (Edgar Ansel Mowrer, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, William Shirer, William Russell, and Sigrid Schultz) who reported from 1930s Germany.  (The Wall Street Journal, 6/8/12)

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)

"Hitler's Berlin" is a fascinating topic, but the historians aren't impressed by Thomas Friedrich's study (now available in English).  (H-Net, 1/2008; Open Letters Monthly, 6/2012; The Guardian, 6/8/12; The Book, 9/27/12)

How does Germany keep "Amazon at bay and literary culture alive"? Fixed-price books, and Michael Naumann wouldn't have it any other way.  (The Nation, 5/29/12)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
The Institute of Contemporary History in Munich is now a scholarly bomb disposal team. "'Mein Kampf' is the rusty old artillery shell, and we're removing the fuse."  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/23/12; The Chronicle Review, 7/1/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Alas, Thilo Sarrazin is back and selling more books. You've heard his inflammatory statements about Muslim immigrants (Deutschland schafft sich ab), now it's on to the Euro and Holocaust guilt (Europa braucht den Euro nicht).  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/22/12; The Atlantic, 5/26/12; Financial Times, 5/27/12)

It seems there's already a new candidate for the worst book on Hitler ever written. "Forget about Hitler the political nihilist and despot, the warmonger and mass-murderer. What Munn gives us is a Hitler not worse (or better) than Simon Cowell of The X Factor fame."  (The Guardian, 5/17/12)

"She was thorn and jewel to the GDR, read as widely and enthusiastically in West Germany as in the East, courted and hosted by universities, clubs and organizations on both sides of the Iron Curtain." Holly Case discusses the literary legacy and multiple identities of author Christa Wolf.  (The Nation, 5/16/12)

Who was Albert Göring?  He couldn't have been more different from his infamous brother, explains biographer William Hastings Burke. "The idea that this monster we learn about in history class could have had an Oskar Schindler for a brother seemed absolutely unbelievable."  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/2/12)

Laurent Binet's HHhH "is certainly a thoroughly captivating performance. Whether you find it something more than that will depend on how you feel about the application of breezy charm and amusingly anguished authorial self-reflexiveness to a book about the Nazi security chief Reinhard Heydrich..."  (Literary Review, 5/2012; The Barnes & Noble Review, 5/2/12; The Guardian, 5/16/12; The New Yorker, 5/21/12)

The Valley of Unknowing: a clever title for Philip Sington's latest novel, a thriller and love story set in 1980s Dresden.  (Financial Times, 4/28/12;  The Independent, 5/2/12)

"A translation of Werther that is true to our twenty-first-century understanding of Goethe, yet in which readers from the 1770s would have felt at home, is an unattainable ideal." J.M. Coetzee shares his thoughts on Goethe, Ossian, and The Sufferings of Young Werther.  (The New York Review of Books, 4/26/12)

Richard Evans discusses Operation Barbarossa and David Stahel's Kiev 1941: Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East. (The Book, 4/26/12)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
Mein Kampf will be on the shelves of German bookstores again for the first time since 1945. The Bavarian government plans to publish critically annotated, "commercially unattractive" editions of Adolf Hitler's infamous polemic before its copyright runs out in 2015.  (The National Interest, 4/24/12; Spiegel Online - International, 4/24/12; Haaretz, 4/26/12; The Independent, 4/26/12; BBC, 5/9/12; Standpoint, June 2012)

200 years of Grimms' Fairy Tales
Once upon a time, 200 years after the Brothers Grimm first published their famed story collection, two journalists set off along Germany's Fairy Tale Road.  (Financial Times, 4/21/12; The Guardian, 10/19/12)

Krupp: "the embodiment of the devious corporatism and inherent bellicosity that defined the Prussian and Nazi nature." Right? Well, maybe. Harold James shows us there's more to the 200 year-old company story in Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm.  (The Wall Street Journal, 4/16/12; Literary Review, 9/2012)

Günter Grass, Israel, and Iran: What was said
Günter Grass responds to his critics.  (Spiegel Online - International, 4/5/12; Deutsche Welle, 4/6/12; The Guardian, 4/12/12)

Günter Grass, Israel, and Iran: What was said
Wait, there's more: what Jeffrey Herf, Lily Gardner Feldman, Robert Sharp, Josef Joffe, and Mara Delius said about Günter Grass' Was gesagt werden muss.  (The New Republic, 4/5/12; AICGS, 4/10/12; New Statesman, 4/13/12; The Wall Street Journal, 4/17/12; Standpoint, May 2012; AICGS, 5/3/12)

Günter
Grass, Israel, and Iran: What was said
What Hans Kundnani, Michael Wolffsohn, Tom Segev, Anshel Pfeffer, Gideon Levy, and others said about Günter Grass' controversial poem.  (The Guardian, 4/5/12, Spiegel Online - International, 4/5/12; Spiegel Online - International, 4/5/12; Haaretz, 4/6/12; Haaretz, 4/8/12; The New York Times, 4/13/12)

Günter
Grass, Israel, and Iran: What was said
"Rarely, if ever, have a few lines of modern German poetry created so much anger, confusion and controversy." Günter Grass' nine-stanza poem Was gesagt werden muss, published on April 4 by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, has sparked international debate about Israeli and Iranian nuclear policy, German anti-semitism, and Grass' own moral culpability.  (Spiegel Online - International, 4/4/12; The Guardian, 4/5/12; The New York Times, 4/6/12; Financial Times, 4/10/12; The Guardian, 4/10/12)

Kultur, no thank you! The authors of Der Kulturinfarkt argue that the cultural scene in Germany is "vain, swimming in subsidies, and not all it's cracked up to be." Their modest proposal? Close half of the institutions now receiving state funding.  (YouTube, 3/31/12; The Art Newspaper, 4/19/12) 

Now that Herta Müller is a Nobel laureate, the English-language release of Atemschaukel (The Hunger Angel) is a literary event. And for good reason: "this is not just a good novel, it is a great one."  (The New York Times, 4/9/12; Financial Times, 5/5/12; NPR, 5/8/12)

"Karl May, who died 100 years ago, was an impostor, a liar and a thief -- and one of Germany's most widely read authors."  The creator of Chief Winnetou and Old Shatterhand led a life that was nearly as fantastic as his fiction.  (Deutsche Welle, 3/29/12; Spiegel Online - International, 3/30/12; The New Yorker, 4/9/12

For the record -- not all reviewers thought A.N. Wilson's Hitler was excruciatingly bad. (The Guardian, 3/17/12; The Wall Street Journal, 4/6/12; History Today, 6/2012)

Nackt unter Wölfen, the story of a Jewish boy selflessly rescued by Buchenwald camp prisoners, became East Germany's best-selling book. Bruno Apitz's novel was based upon actual events -- but the circumstances of the child's rescue were more problematic than GDR readers knew.  (The Observer, 3/17/12; Deutsche Welle, 7/13/12)

"Reading about the Nazis is not supposed to be fun," but Andrew Nagorski, author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power, "manages to make it so. His touch is light, his point of view intentionally detached. The analysis is consequently woefully thin..."  (The Washington Post, 3/16/12; History News Network, 3/19/12; The Economist, 3/31/12)

Where is the love for The Sufferings of Young Werther?  "This heartbreaking, irritating, and occasionally funny semi-autobiographical epistolary novel about a young man's unrequited love and tragic suicide should need no defense."  (The Book, 3/12/12)

Like the protagonist of Andres Neuman's Traveler of the Century, you won't want to leave Wandernburg, a magical walled city somewhere between Saxony and Prussia. The novel's "subject is translation, or traveling. Or love. Or the 19th century. Or Germany. Or Spain. Or the 20th century. Or all of the above."  (The Book, 3/8/12; The Independent, 4/20/12; Bookforum, 5/4/12) 

"Is this the worst book about Hitler ever written?"  (New Statesman, 3/8/12; New Statesman, 3/12/12)

"Ferdinand von Schirach is both a German criminal defense lawyer and an exceptional prose stylist." His new story collection, Guilt, offers a fascinating glimpse into the German legal system and its ethical ambiguities.  (The Washington Independent Review of Books, 3/7/12; The New York Times, 4/6/12)

200 years of Grimms' Fairy Tales
"A whole new world of magic animals, brave young princes and evil witches has come to light with the discovery of 500 new fairytales, which were locked away in an archive in Regensburg, Germany for over 150 years." Their collector, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, was a contemporary of the Brothers Grimm. Now you can read "King Goldenlocks." (The Guardian, 3/5/12; The New Yorker, 4/2/12; The Economist, 4/4/12)

A pause to appreciate the Federal Republic of Germany's first literary Nobel Prize laureate: Heinrich Böll created prose that was "lean but sturdy, subtle yet unsettling, always with the power to provoke and to devastate."  (The Quarterly Conversation, 3/5/12) 

Shulamit Volkov has written a new biography of "Weimar's Fallen Statesman," Walter Rathenau.  (The Wall Street Journal, 2/29/12; The Forward, 3/1/12; Jewish Ideas Daily, 6/20/12)

"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)

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)

"In a sane and just world someone would be paid to go to Verso's offices in London W1, and shower its employees with rose petals every day, simply because they are Adorno's publishers here." Nicholas Lezard explains why Theodor Adorno's criticism is essential but not easy reading.  (The Guardian, 2/21/12)

"A nice fat literary scandal" is brewing on the German feuilleton pages. It involves Imperium, "a highly fictionalised account of the early-twentieth-century German August Engelhardt, who moved to the colony of German-New Guinea to start a community of cocovores." Is the novel a conduit for author Christian Kracht's radical right-wing ideas? Stay tuned...  (love german books, 2/15/12; Dialog International, 2/19/12; German Joys, 2/20/12)

Looking for light-hearted insight into Anglo-German relations? Skip Steven Spielberg's War Horse ("which, despite twisting and turning to be even-handed, simply could not help itself and, like some faux-reformed alcoholic, gorged itself on an entire miniature liqueur selection of Anglo-German clichés.") Instead, read Philip Oltermann's Keeping Up With the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters.  (The Guardian, 2/9/12)

Fifty years ago, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich won the National Book Award. Ron Rosenbaum explains why William L. Shirer's seminal history was "an extraordinary act of daring" then, and remains essential reading today.  (Smithsonian, 2/12)

Robert Walser, "clairvoyant of the small." His prose sketches of the German capital in the early 1900s depict "a city of Sunday strolls, decrepit and miserly landladies, variety shows, art dealers, penniless writers, and dilettanti -- but also one of thwarted aspiration, social tensions and conformity." Berlin Stories is newly translated by Susan Bernofsky.  (More Intelligent Life, Jan/Feb 2012, The Observer, 2/11/12; The Quarterly Conversation, 3/5/12)

"Such is the hunger for new books about Nazi Germany that authors have begun chronicling the chroniclers...The latest arrival in the genre is Adam Sisman's An Honourable Englishman: The Life of Hugh Trevor-Roper, a portrait of one of the most stylish historians of Adolph Hitler."  (The Washington Monthly, Jan/Feb 2012)

The Hans Fallada revival continues! A Small Circus (first published as Bauern, Bonzen und Bomben in 1931) is "a panorama of all the hate and scheming of a small town, from the brothels to the bureaucrats, a slew of small men losing their way while a nation loses its."  (The Scotsman, 1/28/12; The Independent, 2/3/12; The Telegraph, 2/15/12)

"Diehard Sebaldians may seek to retrace the footsteps that formed the basis of WG Sebald's meditative masterpiece The Rings of Saturn. Or they may choose to watch Grant Gee's film tribute instead." Patience (After Sebald) is now showing in England.  (The Arts Desk, 1/27/12; Dog and Wolf, 1/27/12; The Observer, 1/28/12; The Guardian, 2/8/12)

Harald Jähner pays tribute to the work of Emine Sevgi Özdamar, "whose novels have made Berlin greater, more expansive, warmer."  (signandsight.com, 1/22/12)

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)

"But what remains, above all, are her many books." Read Günter Grass' eulogy for his colleague and friend Christa Wolf.  (The New York Review of Books, 1/17/12)

Who deserves credit for the Volkswagen's design? "Perhaps because it is hard to accept that a feel-good car like the Beetle could be so closely linked to the evils of Nazi Germany, people have long been captivated by stories of alternative origins."  (The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/12; The New York Times, 1/20/12)

William Shawcross recommends the five best books about the Nuremberg war crimes trials.  (The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/12)

Kevin Brophy's novel The Berlin Crossing is a cliché-laden tale of spies and family secrets in post-reunification East Germany. We recommend reading The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Stasiland instead.  (Financial Times, 1/13/12; The Guardian, 1/20/12;  Independent.ie, 1/21/12)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
Publicity stunt, history lesson, exercise in free speech, or overdue demystification of an incoherent text? All of the above. British publisher Peter McGee plans to sell excerpts of Mein Kampf (with accompanying historical commentary) in Germany on January 26.  (Spiegel Online - International, 1/16/12; Associated Press, 1/17/12; The Atlantic, 1/19/12; The New York Times, 1/25/12; The Washington Post, 1/27/12)

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)

Jan Wagner, "arguably the German poet of his generation," shares his thoughts on writing and the German literary community.  (Poetry International, 1/4/12; love german books, 1/10/12)





Film

J. Hoberman explains why no cure is necessary for Siegfried Kracauer's astute film criticism.  (The Nation, 12/19/12)

Barbara is capturing the admiration of North American audiences, too. "By including something like an unanticipated good along with the more obvious bad in examining life in a police state, Petzold creates a rich portrait of life in East Germany."  (The New York Times, 12/7/12; Los Angeles Times, 12/8/12; The New Yorker, 1/11/13)

Take a look at Harakiri, The Wandering Shadow, and Four Around the Woman by director Fritz Lang. "The three films give a sense of the incredible speed with which Lang -- and the German cinema in general -- evolved from the moral and psychological certainties of the prewar era toward a new sense of discontinuity, fragmentation and paranoia."  (The New York Times, 11/9/12)

"The underlying purpose of the Heimatfilme was to sell Germany to postwar Germans, to create a seductive vision of German identity oblivious to the traumas of the Second World War and the sins of the Holocaust."  For Thomas Rogers, "they were a different kind of salvation. The movies' Germany became my imaginary refuge from the anxieties the Canadian suburbs."  (The New Yorker, 11/6/12)

"Was Germany's Second World War general, Erwin Rommel, really the chivalrous 'Desert Fox' commander of legend who is reputed to have plotted against Hitler? Or was he a deeply convinced Nazi and anti-Semite driven by an egotistical desire for fame?"  (The Independent, 10/28/12; Reuters, 11/1/12)

Filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger unearthed some unexpected family history while cleaning out his grandmother's Tel Aviv apartment. "A quietly brilliant study in cognitive dissonance, The Flat is a documentary look at Holocaust denial, but not the kind you might think." (Film-Forward, 10/25/12; rogerebert.com, 10/31/12; The Washington Post, 11/2/12)

For Japanese cuisine in the GDR, Waffenschmied was the (only) place to go. Sushi in Suhl "is a warm-hearted homage" to the restaurant's chef and manager, Rolf Anschütz.  (The Economist, 10/19/12)

Tim Parks' novel Cleaver became the German-language TV production Stille. What was lost in translation?  (NYRblog, 10/3/12)

"The real star of Snowman's Land isn't an actor. It's the German forest, captured during a particularly cold winter...Unfortunately, the images are more inviting than the narrative."  Bleak reviews for a bleak comedy, directed by Tomasz Thomson in 2010.  (The Village Voice, 9/12/12; Slant Magazine, 9/16/12; rogerebert.com, 9/26/12)

In memoriam: Kurt Maetzig (1911-2012), "whose socialist films scrutinized anti-Semitism, explored corporate complicity in the rise of fascism and helped compel Germans to come to terms with their Nazi past."  (The New York Times, 9/1/12; The Independent, 11/8/12)

"You could spend your whole life making films -- and Herzog himself has tried -- and not invent a character as complex or endearing as Werner Herzog."  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 8/28/12)

"If you thought skateboards and the GDR were mutually exclusive, think again." This Ain't California is a "poetic documentary" of the teenage skaters in Magdeburg and East Berlin who found inspiration in the concrete expanses that blanketed their cities' public space.  (The World, 7/31/12; Deutsche Welle, 8/16/12; mpls film digest, 8/18/12)

"An L.A. love letter to Rainer Werner Fassbinder": see 16 of the acclaimed director's films at the American Cinematheque, now through June 14.  (Los Angeles Times, 5/30/12)

Who knew? Rutger Hauer starred as Frederick I Barbarossa in a 2009 production that went straight to DVD. Alex von Tunzelmann explains "why the emperor needs a new movie." (The Guardian, 5/16/12)

In memoriam: Günther Kaufmann (1947-2012). Actor, Fassbinder collaborator, self-described "weisser Neger vom Hasenbergl." (Deutsche Welle, 5/12/12; The Guardian, 5/15/12)

If you haven't seen Jean Renoir's 1937 antiwar masterpiece Grand Illusion, don't delay. "Rialto Pictures's release of a new restored print is perfectly timed, and not just for the film's anniversary. When European unity has again show how fragile it can be, and polarizing ideologies have fractured democracies everywhere, 'Grand Illusion' offers an unsentimental vision of common humanity.  (The New York Times, 5/10/12; The New Yorker, 5/11/12; The New Yorker, 5/11/12; The Wall Street Journal, 5/18/12)

"No wonder Aleksandr Sokurov's Faust -- cranky, wild, and visionary -- won last year's Venice Golden Lion. It comes roaring into view, shaking its glorious mane, and by the end has proved that the best way to honour a great original may be to eat it alive."  (New Statesman, 5/9/12; Financial Times, 5/10/12; The Observer, 5/12/12)

The Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle: Rage against "the Machine"?
Fortunately, a behind-the-scenes look at the Ring Cycle critics love to hate makes for fascinating cinema. Wagner's Dream chronicles the troubles and triumphs of Robert Lepage's current production at the Met.  (j.b. spins, 5/2/12; Film-Forward, 5/7/12; The New York Times, 5/7/12)

Gerhard Richter, art superstar
As if being the world's top-selling artist weren't enough, now Gerhard Richter is a film star, too -- "serious and purposeful but also unexpectedly good-natured." See the master and his squeegee in Corinna Belz's Gerhard Richter Painting.  (The New York Times, 3/13/12; j.b. spins, 3/16/12; Toronto.com, 3/30/12; boston.com, 4/11/12)

"In a convincing unhurried way," director Christian Petzold recreates the spirit and atmosphere of 1980s East Germany. Barbara "is a fine homage to ordinary people living in extraordinary times."  After acclaim at the Berlinale and German Film Awards, will it win an Oscar too? (The Economist, 3/10/12; signandsight.com, 3/21/12; GlobalPost, 9/26/12)

"The seven films in which Josef von Sternberg directed Marlene Dietrich constitute one of the most dazzling runs of creativity in the history of movies." Dishonored (1931) and Shanghai Express (1932) are newly available on DVD.  (The New York Times, 3/3/12)

If not The Baader-Meinhof Complex, then how about a prequel?  Andres' Veiel's biopic of Gudrun Ensslin and Bernward Vesper, If Not Us, Who?, is "a melancholic addition to the canon of films about Germany's 1960s radicalism."  (The Arts Desk, 2/29/12; Sight & Sound, March 2012)

"Even if you've never seen Metropolis, you've seen a dress, a building or a pop video that was inspired by it. The film's look -- the teetering architecture, the round-shouldered workers marching in unison, and of course, the robot -- is the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall of the design world." In other words, "this silent film fires the imagination of everyone who sees it."  (The Guardian, 2/27/12)

Go back to the future with World on a Wire, the "rediscovered Fassbender mindbender" from 1973 -- now available "in a luxe Blu-ray transfer, along with some choice extras." (Slant Magazine, 2/23/12; The Barnes & Noble Review, 2/27/12) 

Hamburg Media School student Max Zähle wrote and directed a 24-minute drama on illegal child-trafficking and adoption in Calcutta. Now Raju is an Oscar nominee for Best Short Film (Live Action) in 2012.  (MovieMaker, 2/16/12; The Wall Street Journal, 2/17/12)

Berlinale 2012
The German-Russian venture Mezhrabpom-Film produced around 600 films between 1922-1936, from the sci-fi comedy Aelita to agitprop classic Kuhle Wampe. Rediscover "The Red Dream Factory" at the 2012 Berlinale.  (signandsight.com, 2/12/12; KINO, 2/14/12)

Berlinale 2012
Q: What do you get when you mix the Finnish creators of "Star Wreck," Nazi space invaders, Internet crowdfunding, and a clever viral marketing campaign? A: Iron Sky, the hottest -- if not exactly the classiest -- ticket at this year's Berlinale.  (The Hollywood Reporter, 2/12/12; Variety, 2/12/12; Spiegel Online - International, 2/13/12; The Guardian, 2/13/12; The Economist, 3/17/12)

Looking for light-hearted insight into Anglo-German relations? Skip Steven Spielberg's War Horse ("which, despite twisting and turning to be even-handed, simply could not help itself and, like some faux-reformed alcoholic, gorged itself on an entire miniature liqueur selection of Anglo-German clichés.") Instead, read Philip Oltermann's Keeping Up With the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters.  (The Guardian, 2/9/12)

Berlinale 2012
"Berlin! It’s like Cannes except colder and more Prussian!" See Angelina Jolie, Werner Herzog, Shah Rukh Khan, and even Nazi scientists on the dark side of the moon at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.  (The Guardian, 2/8/12; Spiegel Online - International, 2/10/12; Film School Rejects, Berlinale)

Berlinale 2012
Happy birthday Babelsberg!  The world's oldest major film studio is celebrating its 100th birthday. This year's Berlinale features a retrospective of ten Babelsberg productions, from Der Totentanz (1912) through The Reader (2008).  (Variety, 2/4/12; The Local, 2/8/12; Spiegel Online - International, 2/10/12)

"Diehard Sebaldians may seek to retrace the footsteps that formed the basis of WG Sebald's meditative masterpiece The Rings of Saturn. Or they may choose to watch Grant Gee's film tribute instead." Patience (After Sebald) is now showing in England.  (The Arts Desk, 1/27/12; Dog and Wolf, 1/27/12; The Observer, 1/28/12; The Guardian, 2/8/12)

Just a few months ago, David Wnendt's Kriegerin (English title: Combat Girls) "would have been dismissed by many as an exaggerated if not fanciful depiction of the far-right skinhead problem...in eastern Germany...But recent events have led critics to declare the film an example of how fiction sometimes matches reality."  (Deutsche Welle, 1/24/12; The Independent, 1/30/12; Spiegel Online - International, 2/8/12; The New York Times, 2/8/12)

Christoph Hochhäusler's The City Below is worth another look. This 2010 drama -- starring Nicolette Krebitz and Robert Hunger-Bühler as members of Frankfurt's financial elite -- "is a stronger, more relevant, altogether more seductive film today than when it first appeared." (j.b. spins, 1/11/12; Moving Image Source, 1/13/12)





Theater

Richard Wagner at 200
"Just how many times will Wagner's Ring be performed next year, on the occasion of the composer's bicentennial?" At least 41 complete performances (and counting)...  (The Rest is Noise, 12/12/12)

Broadway on the Elbe! "Hamburg has become that rare thing in the theater world: a reliable profit center for producers outside of their two biggest markets, New York and London."  (The New York Times, 12/9/12)

"Rocky: Das Musical, produced by Sylvester Stallone and the Klitschko brothers, opens to enthusiastic notices in Germany." (The Guardian, 11/20/12; The New York Times, 12/5/12)

American Lulu at Berlin's Komische Oper "begs one question: why?"  (Financial Times, 10/1/12; The Guardian, 10/8/12; Musical America, 10/12/12)

"Ezekiel, Death, a Scorpion Man, singing phalluses and vulvas, and a troupe of monkeys all find a place in Jörg Widmann's lavish new opera," Babylon, now on stage at the Bavarian State Opera. And did we mention that Peter Sloterdijk wrote the libretto? (The Guardian, 10/8/12; Financial Times, 10/30/12; The New York Times, 11/6/12) 

Love Song by Ethan Mordden: the latest, if not the best, portrait of the remarkable lives of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. "Their story should be told, but could benefit from more surehandedness."  (Bookslut, 9/2012; The Wall Street Journal, 10/12/12; Theater Talk, 11/14/12)

The (music) drama at Bayreuth is offstage
Norman Lebrecht visits Bayreuth -- but he's not going back. (Standpoint, 9/2012)

The (music) drama at Bayreuth is offstage
Stay tuned -- we're betting that Jonathan Meese's staging of Parsifal at Bayreuth in 2016 isn't going to be dull.  (Opera Today, 8/13/12)

The (music) drama at Bayreuth is offstage
Is the Bayreuth Festival "imaginable without a Wagner family member at its helm? Is Wagner without Wagner still Wagner?" Ellen Alpsten contemplates the many facets of Bayreuth's long-running family music drama.  (Standpoint, July/Aug. 2012)

Kultur on the chopping block: the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the English Theatre Berlin, and the SWR's two symphony orchestras may not be around much longer.  (The Guardian, 7/31/12; The Guardian, 8/3/12; The Guardian, 8/3/12) 

The (music) drama at Bayreuth is offstage
Former heavy metal singer Evgeny Nikitin was set to assume the title role in Wagner's Flying Dutchman. "It all seemed fitting and in accord with the Bayreuth Festival's newer open, casual, youth-friendly image" -- until photos of the swastika tattoo on Nikitin's chest began making the rounds.  (The Guardian, 7/22/12; Deutsche Welle, 7/23/12; Spiegel Online - International, 8/6/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"Can anyone give up the Euro? Does anyone have a plan to return it from whence it came without Europe falling into semi-destruction?" Mark Ronan notices some nifty parallels between the Eurocrisis and Wagner's Ring Cycle.  (History Today, July 2012)

High-concept highlights of Summer 2012
The Bavarian State Opera kicks off its Ring Cycle with photographer Spencer Tunick, 1700 nude volunteers, and a lot of red and gold body paint. (Lost in Berlin, 6/24/12; The Local, 6/25/12)

"In Michael Frayn's brilliant play, first seen in 2003, the politics of the divided Germany of the 1970s becomes a metaphor for the divisions within the human soul." See Democracy at the Old Vic, now through July 28.  (The Telegraph, 6/21/12; The Arts Desk, 6/22/12; The Independent, 6/30/12)

High-concept highlights of Summer 2012
"Germany's leading experimental theater, Hebbel am Ufer, had the gall not only to stage the world theatrical premiere of an Infinite Jest adaptation, but to play it on the grandest stage possible: the city of Berlin itself."  (Slate, 6/18/12; Financial Times, 6/22/12)

The Physicists cast "crippling doubt on the likelihood that either scientists or politicians would responsibly wield the power of science." Fifty years after its premiere, Samuel Matlack reexamines the main themes of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's famous drama.  (The New Atlantis, Summer 2012)

So much Kultur, so little cultural sensitivity
Note to German theaters: it's time to stop the thoughtless use of blackface on stage.  (Exberliner, 5/30/12; The Guardian, 10/18/12; Time, 10/18/12; The Guardian, 10/23/12)

High-concept highlights of Summer 2012
The cultural decathalon in London starts now: "World Cities 2012" features 10 works based on Tanztheater Wuppertal's residencies all over the world. "It is simply an unprecedented cultural event."  (Financial Times, 5/26/12; The New York Times, 5/31/12; The New York Times, 7/13/12)

Kurt Weill once said "that a vast, unexploited field lay between grand opera and musical comedy." Weill tapped the riches of that field, and musicologist Stephen Hinton explains how, in Weill's Musical Theater: Stages of Reform.  (The Washington Independent Review of Books, 5/22/12; Entartete Musik, 6/20/12)

"British playwrights have tended to fall into two camps in the past 15 years: the type that succeeds on Broadway and the type that succeeds in Berlin." Guess which type Simon Stephens would like to be?  (The Guardian, 5/9/12)

The Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle: Rage against "the Machine"?
Fortunately, a behind-the-scenes look at the Ring Cycle critics love to hate makes for fascinating cinema. Wagner's Dream chronicles the troubles and triumphs of Robert Lepage's current production at the Met.  (j.b. spins, 5/2/12; Film-Forward, 5/7/12; The New York Times, 5/7/12)

The Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle: Rage against "the Machine"?
Q: "So after all the hassles, the initial malfunctions, the $16 million price tag," and Met general manager Peter Gelb's "repeated proclamations that the Lepage 'Ring' is revolutionary, what are we left with?"  A: "The most frustrating opera production" ever, says critic Anthony Tommasini.  (The New York Times, 4/25/12; The Boston Globe, 5/6/12; The New Yorker, 5/7/12)

Kultur at ENO! Wolfgang Rihm's chamber opera Jakob Lenz is based upon "a novella by one German Romantic playwright, Georg Büchner, about the mental breakdown of another." What's more, Rihm's virtuosic score recalls "Alban Berg's own Büchner-based masterpiece, Wozzeck." Onstage at the Hampstead Theatre through April 27.  (Classical Iconolast, 4/18/12; The Independent, 4/18/12; The Telegraph, 4/18/12)

In memoriam: Thomas Langhoff (1938-2012), "one of the most important theatre directors in the German-speaking world."  (The Independent, 4/12/12)

Cate Blanchett shines in the Sydney Theater Company's international touring production of Botho Strauss' Big and Small (Gross und Klein). At the Barbican, "there were four ovations from the audience, which I think we can safely wager is the first time for a while that London audience has felt that way about lengthy German surrealist drama."  (The New York Times, 4/4/12; The Observer, 4/14/12; The Arts Desk, 4/15/12)

Peter Sellars' extraordinary staging of Bach's St. Matthew Passion is now available on DVD. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and "a dream cast of players" are led by conductor Simon Rattle.  (NPR, 4/10/12; Entartete Musik, 4/30/12; The New York Times, 6/8/12)

The Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle: Rage against "the Machine"?
Götterdämmerung, the final installment in the Metropolitan Opera's new Ring cycle, ends not with a bang but a whimper. Director Robert Lepage's notorious set machine does not -- alas -- "collapse into a heap of smoldering planks at the end of the Immolation Scene, which would have been appropriate." (The New York Times, 1/28/12; The Wall Street Journal, 1/31/12; The New York Observer, 2/1/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
You've read the headlines, now see the musical. "EuroCrash!" was penned by David Shirreff, business correspondent for The Economist. "The Germans, he hopes, will have a sense of humor about it all."  (Spiegel Online - International, 1/20/12; Los Angeles Times, 2/5/12)

"Brutal, with a touch of magic": Marius von Mayenburg's The Ugly One receives its NYC stage premiere at Soho Rep.  (The New York Times, 1/18/12; The New York Times, 2/7/12; The Village Voice, 2/8/12)

Wim Wenders' film for Pina Bausch
Pina Bausch polarized the dance world of the 1980s, Joan Acocella remembers. "Some spectators were tremendously excited by her work, and saw its cruelty and tedium as a true portrait of modern life. Others saw those traits simply as an indication that the company came from Germany."   (The New Yorker, 1/10/12)




History

Anna and Richard Wagner had a photograph taken by their Christmas tree every year between 1900 and 1942. Their household changed immensely over four decades, as did Germany. Fascinating!  (Retronaut, 2/2010; The Atlantic, 12/25/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Could the (post-Thirty Years War) Holy Roman Empire be a positive model for the European Union today? (The Economist, 12/22/12)

"It was only in the summer of 1941, eight years after seizing power, three years after his first territorial enlargement, two years after beginning a war, that Hitler could envision ways to carry out a Final Solution. The method that proved workable, mass murder, was developed in a zone where first the Soviets had destroyed independent states and then the Germans had destroyed Soviet institutions." (The New York Review of Books, 12/20/12)

"Russians & Germans": a highly selective portrayal of a longstanding, complex, and often fraught relationship. The exhibition was developed by Russian and German cultural authorities -- and sponsored by E.On.  (The New York Times, 12/20/12)

Who dominated the year in German media debates? Günter Grass, Nadja Drygalla, Evgeny Nikitin, the National Socialist Underground, the NPD. "At the end of 2012," writes Dirk Kurbjuweit, "it seems as if we were the gloomy Germans once again, the Germans who either cannot or don't want to shed their horrific past." (Spiegel Online - International, 12/13/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Robert Cooper identifies compelling historic parallels between the EU and the Habsburg Empire. "It is striking that after the unhappy interval of the 1930s and World War II, Europe -- or rather Western Europe -- found itself with a body that in many ways resembles the Habsburg Monarchy."  (Eurozine, 12/10/12)

See the building of the Cologne Cathedral and a battlefield from the German wars of unification -- among other rare photographic glimpses of 19th-century Germany. (Deutsche Welle, 12/10/12; Spiegel Online - International, 1/16/13)

Dr. Hubertus Stronghold is revered for his contributions to the U.S. space program -- but he once directed Nazi Germany's Aeromedical Research Institute.  Should a prestigious prize from the Space Medicine Association continue to bear his name?  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/12)

Menachem Z. Rosensaft recalls Ronald Reagan's ill-advised tour of Bergen-Belsen and Bitburg on May 5, 1985. Reagan and Kohl "can either honor the memory of the victims of Belsen," Rosensaft protested, "or they can honor the SS. They cannot do both."  (The Washington Post, 11/30/12)

"The battle against Western pop culture was fought and lost in East Germany even before the Berlin Wall was built -- and everywhere else, too." Anne Applebaum explains how Halbstarke and bikiniarze frustrated east bloc authority in the early 1950s.  (The Huffington Post, 11/21/12)

"Visitors to the final resting place of Germany's often reviled last monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm II, could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled on a bizarre attempt to create a modern equivalent of an Egyptian Pharaoh's tomb." Plan that excursion to the Netherlands quickly -- 2012 could be your last chance to experience House Doorn.  (The Independent, 11/18/12)

Put some Kultur in those holiday stockings! "Dressed up as a child-friendly, pocket-sized hardback... Inventing the Christmas Tree is actually a learned 90-page thesis on the history of the Christmas tree by the German author Bernd Brunner."  (The Wall Street Journal, 11/16/12; The Guardian, 12/14/12; The Spectator, 12/15/12)

"On 9 November 1918, the first German Republic was declared; exactly four years later, Hitler staged a putsch. The Reichskristallnacht on 9 November in 1938 was linked to both and on 9 November 1989 the division of Germany came to an end. How, then, should Germany commemorate this fateful and ambiguous day?"  (Eurozine, 11/9/12)

"Guests of the Third Reich" -- euphemistically titled exhibit on American POWs in Nazi Germany -- is on display at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, now through July 7, 2013.  (The Wall Street Journal, 11/7/12; Associated Press, 11/8/12)

"Was Germany's Second World War general, Erwin Rommel, really the chivalrous 'Desert Fox' commander of legend who is reputed to have plotted against Hitler? Or was he a deeply convinced Nazi and anti-Semite driven by an egotistical desire for fame?"  (The Independent, 10/28/12; Reuters, 11/1/12)

Filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger unearthed some unexpected family history while cleaning out his grandmother's Tel Aviv apartment. "A quietly brilliant study in cognitive dissonance, The Flat is a documentary look at Holocaust denial, but not the kind you might think." (Film-Forward, 10/25/12; rogerebert.com, 10/31/12; The Washington Post, 11/2/12)

"One truth we can affirm," write Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern, "Hitler had no greater, more courageous, and more admirable enemies than Hans von Dohnanyi and Dietrich Bonhoeffer."  (The New York Review of Books, 10/25/12)

The end of an era: Maternus, the unpretentious Bonn restaurant where Cold War-era leaders once "shaped the world over schnitzel," is shutting its doors. (Spiegel Online - International, 10/24/12)

"Almost 70 years after the end of World War II, Germany has unveiled a memorial to the up to half-a-million Roma and related Sinti people murdered by the Nazis."  (GlobalPost, 10/24/12; The New York Times, 10/24/12; Spiegel Online - International, 10/24/12)

The 1904-1908 slaughter of the Herero and Nama people is considered the first genocide of the 20th century. What responsibility does Germany -- and do the descendants of German settlers (who still own much land in Namibia) -- bear today?  (The Globe and Mail, 10/21/12; The Guardian, 10/23/12)

Good news for researchers: the Leo Baeck Institute's extensive archive on the history of German Jewry is going online.  (The New York Times, 10/9/12)

The first V-2 rocket was successfully launched 70 years ago, on October 3, 1942.  (Deutsche Welle, 10/2/12;  The Wall Street Journal, 10/3/12)

In memoriam: Sven Hassel (1917-2012).  His novels sold millions -- "war comics without the pictures, devoured especially by teenage boys" -- although details of his own WWII experience remain under question.  (The Guardian, 10/2/12; The Quietus, 10/2/12; The New York Times, 10/6/12)

What did German POWs talk about when they thought no one else was listening? In Soldaten, Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer interpret thousands of covert surveillance protocols from WWII. "The soldiers' conversations make it clear that practically all German soldiers knew or suspected that Jews were being murdered en masse."  (The Daily Beast, 9/24/12; The Observer, 9/29/12; Financial Times, 10/12/12)

Günter Grass, "the angry old man of German letters," revisits the year 1990. He wasn't happy about it. (The Spectator, 9/22/12; New Statesman, 10/4/12; Financial Times, 10/5/12)

In 1943, Joseph Goebbels gave musical prodigy Nejiko Suwa an exquisite gift: an 18th-century Stradivarius. It remains in her family today, "but the origins of the violin itself remain a mystery. Was it confiscated property, one of thousands of musical instruments plundered by the Nazis, or otherwise obtained under duress from those persecuted during the Nazi era?"  (The New York Times, 9/21/12; Classical Iconoclast, 9/22/12)

October 1962: "a watershed moment for West German democracy." The Spiegel Affair affirmed the rights of a free press, embarrassed heavy-handed government authorities, and brought down Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss.  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/21/12; Spiegel Online - International, 9/24/12) 

A "grotesque Disneyland" no more: the Wolf's Lair in northeastern Poland, once the nerve center of the Nazi war machine (and site of the July 20 plot to kill Hitler), will be renovated as a historical and educational museum.  (The New York Times, 9/17/12; The Independent, 9/20/12)

Leopold III Friedrich Franz, prince and duke of Anhalt-Dessau, constructed a working replica of Mount Vesuvius in 1794. "The Stone Island of Woerlitz is a little-known wonder of the Enlightenment, a provincial prince's attempt to bring a bit of Italian drama and grandeur to the farmers of Germany."  (Smithsonian, 8/30/12)

"Although we tend to remember the special international tribunal at Nuremberg, which tried some members of the Nazi leadership, Dachau was the more important, and the more typical, site of American military justice."  (The New Republic, 8/24/12)

"Chances are that you have studied the Zimmermann Telegram in a history class, but have you ever actually seen the coded message?" Here's your chance to read the communication that changed WWI, and to see how cryptologists decoded it.  (Smithsonian, 8/21/12)

Bertrand M. Patenaude recounts the strange story of the postwar recovery and publication of Joseph Goebbels' diaries.  (Hoover Digest, 8/13/12)

Long before Arial and Helvetica dominated our computer screens, "German typography became the battlefield of a heated battle of the fonts, the so-called Antiqua-Fraktur-Streit."  (Strange Maps, 8/12/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Looking for the role of history in Germany's response to the Eurocrisis? "Rather than scour tarnished Weimar," writes Steven Ozment, "we should read much deeper into Germany's incomparably rich history, and in particular the indelible mark left by Martin Luther and the 'mighty fortress' he built with his strain of Protestantism."  (The New York Times, 8/11/12)

"Just as the teams of Bletchley Park and the US Army Signals Intelligence Service sought to crack the enemy's secret codes, so psychoanalysts and psychiatrists were mobilised to decipher the unconscious encryptions and fantasies that were thought to drive Nazi ideology." With decidedly mixed results, as Daniel Pick explains in his new study, The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind.  (The Guardian, 8/1/12; Times Higher Education, 8/30/12)

Olympics past and present
Margaret Lambert, 98 years old and living in New York City, "is the last living athlete who was banned from competing at the Berlin 1936 Olympics for being Jewish."  (The Independent, 7/31/12)

Joachim Fest, biographer of Hitler and Speer, reflects on his own past in Not Me: Memoirs of a German Childhood. "Despite the relative 'normality' of some of his childhood memories, he cannot look back without feeling the constant weight of historical events."  (Financial Times, 7/27/12; The Independent, 7/28/12)

Richard Brody laments the inadequacy of Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  (The New Yorker, 7/15/12)

Daniel Pick "tells us what we can learn from attempts to use psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis to understand Nazism."  (The Browser, 6/28/12)

"Hans Bethe (1906-2005) was the first human being to understand why the stars shine in the sky." In Nuclear Forces, Silvan Schweber examines the accomplished theoretical physicist's early career.  (Times Higher Education, 6/14/12; The Wall Street Journal, 7/13/12)

"Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians -- the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children und 16 -- were forcibly ejected from their places of birth..."  (The Chronicle Review, 6/11/12; The Book, 6/25/12; The Nation, 11/27/12)

Andrew Nagorski picks his top five books by Americans (Edgar Ansel Mowrer, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, William Shirer, William Russell, and Sigrid Schultz) who reported from 1930s Germany.  (The Wall Street Journal, 6/8/12)

"Praised for his work that still enables agriculture around the world, yet condemned for his work on chemical weapons, Fritz Haber personified the extremes of technological innovation in the 20th century."  (Smithsonian, 6/6/12)

After the failed uprisings of 1848, Carl Schurz couldn't "be the citizen of a free Germany." So he became the next best thing: "a citizen of free America."  (The New York Times, 6/2/12)

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)

"Hitler's Berlin" is a fascinating topic, but the historians aren't impressed by Thomas Friedrich's study (now available in English).  (H-Net, 1/2008; Open Letters Monthly, 6/2012; The Guardian, 6/8/12; The Book, 9/27/12)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
The Institute of Contemporary History in Munich is now a scholarly bomb disposal team. "'Mein Kampf' is the rusty old artillery shell, and we're removing the fuse."  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/23/12; The Chronicle Review, 7/1/12)

Checkpoint currywurst, anyone? "Nearly 23 years after Communism's collapse and German reunification, Checkpoint Charlie has degenerated into a tacky, Disneyland-version of its former self which attracts four million visitors a year."  (The Independent, 5/20/12; The Washington Post, 7/12/12)

It seems there's already a new candidate for the worst book on Hitler ever written. "Forget about Hitler the political nihilist and despot, the warmonger and mass-murderer. What Munn gives us is a Hitler not worse (or better) than Simon Cowell of The X Factor fame."  (The Guardian, 5/17/12)

Who knew? Rutger Hauer starred as Frederick I Barbarossa in a 2009 production that went straight to DVD. Alex von Tunzelmann explains "why the emperor needs a new movie." (The Guardian, 5/16/12)

Soho House Berlin has had quite a history -- although it's not readily apparent to guests who frequent the elite private club.  (Tablet, 5/10/12)

Olympics past and present
The Olympic torch relay got its start at the Berlin games of 1936. "Though propagandists portrayed the torch relay as ancient tradition stretching back to the original Greek competitions, the event was in fact a Nazi invention, one typical of the Reich's love of flashy ceremonies and historical allusions to old empires." (The Atlantic, 5/10/12; The Guardian, 5/16/12)

67 years after the end of WWII, the German War Graves Commission still locates and reburies the bodies of 40,000 missing soldiers each year throughout Russia and eastern Europe.  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/8/12; Spiegel Online - International, 7/31/13)

Who was Albert Göring?  He couldn't have been more different from his infamous brother, explains biographer William Hastings Burke. "The idea that this monster we learn about in history class could have had an Oskar Schindler for a brother seemed absolutely unbelievable."  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/2/12)

"It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Thirty Years' War, but until recently there was no trace of those who died there. Now a mass grave is shedding light on the mysteries of the Battle of Lützen."  (Spiegel Online - International, 4/27/12)

Richard Evans discusses Operation Barbarossa and David Stahel's Kiev 1941: Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East. (The Book, 4/26/12)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
Mein Kampf will be on the shelves of German bookstores again for the first time since 1945. The Bavarian government plans to publish critically annotated, "commercially unattractive" editions of Adolf Hitler's infamous polemic before its copyright runs out in 2015.  (The National Interest, 4/24/12; Spiegel Online - International, 4/24/12; Haaretz, 4/26/12; The Independent, 4/26/12; BBC, 5/9/12; Standpoint, June 2012)

Krupp: "the embodiment of the devious corporatism and inherent bellicosity that defined the Prussian and Nazi nature." Right? Well, maybe. Harold James shows us there's more to the 200 year-old company story in Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm.  (The Wall Street Journal, 4/16/12; Literary Review, 9/2012)

In 2005, historian Moritz Pfeiffer interviewed his grandfather about his experiences in WWII -- and then Pfeiffer fact checked the testimony. Mein Großvater im Krieg 1939-1945: Erinnerung und Fakten im Vergleich sheds "light on a dying generation that remains outwardly unrepentant, but is increasingly willing to break decades of silence on how, and why, it followed Hitler."  (Spiegel Online - International, 4/11/12)

Margot Honecker served as the GDR's education minister for 26 years. Now resident in Chile, "the widow of the former East German leader Erich Honecker has broken a 20-year silence to defend the dictatorship, attack those who helped to destroy it, and complain about her pension."  (The Guardian, 4/2/12; Deutsche Welle, 4/4/12)

The German hyperinflation of 1923 was bad...but the Kipper- und Wipperzeit was even worse. The epic economic crisis of the early 17th century "was the product not only of slipshod economic management, but also of deliberate attempts by a large number of German states to systematically defraud their neighbors."  (Smithsonian, 3/29/12) 

Amalie Noether may be the most important mathematician you've never heard of. Born in Erlangen 130 years ago, "she invented a theorem that united with magisterial concision two conceptual pillars of physics: symmetry in nature and the universal laws of conservation." (The New York Times, 3/26/12)

For the record -- not all reviewers thought A.N. Wilson's Hitler was excruciatingly bad. (The Guardian, 3/17/12; The Wall Street Journal, 4/6/12; History Today, 6/2012)

"Reading about the Nazis is not supposed to be fun," but Andrew Nagorski, author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power, "manages to make it so. His touch is light, his point of view intentionally detached. The analysis is consequently woefully thin..."  (The Washington Post, 3/16/12; History News Network, 3/19/12; The Economist, 3/31/12)

"Is this the worst book about Hitler ever written?"  (New Statesman, 3/8/12; New Statesman, 3/12/12)

March 8 is International Women's Day. Brush up on your knowledge of German communist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933), one of the day's founding mothers.  (The Guardian, 3/8/12)

"Bundestag document 17/8134 officially announced, for the first time, something which had been treated as a taboo in the halls of government for decades: A total of 25 cabinet ministers, one president and one chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany -- as postwar Germany is officially known -- had been members of Nazi organizations."  (Spiegel Online - International, 3/6/12)

"Postwar Germany's battle to come to terms with its past stands out as unique -- and uniquely successful." Can (or should) Germany help Central Europe confront its dark past?  (The Chronicle Review, 3/4/12)

If not The Baader-Meinhof Complex, then how about a prequel?  Andres' Veiel's biopic of Gudrun Ensslin and Bernward Vesper, If Not Us, Who?, is "a melancholic addition to the canon of films about Germany's 1960s radicalism."  (The Arts Desk, 2/29/12; Sight & Sound, March 2012)

Shulamit Volkov has written a new biography of "Weimar's Fallen Statesman," Walter Rathenau.  (The Wall Street Journal, 2/29/12; The Forward, 3/1/12; Jewish Ideas Daily, 6/20/12)

Remembering Anne Frank -- new representations of the young diarist are on YouTube, in a graphic biography, at Madame Tussauds in Berlin, and at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt.  (Spiegel Online - International, 2/29/12; Spiegel Online - International, 3/9/12; The New Republic, 4/18/12; The Washington Independent Review of Books, 4/18/12)

"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)

The burning of the General Slocum, a steamboat filled with German speakers from St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, resulted in 1,021 deaths and contributed to the decline of Kleindeutschland on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The 1904 disaster was New York City's deadliest until 2001.  (Smithsonian.com, 2/21/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
The fiscal austerity measures of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning (1930-32) hastened the economic and political downfall of the Weimar Republic. Richard Evans warns against drawing simplistic parallels with Germany today: "Merkel is not Brüning and 2012 is not 1930, let alone 1933."  (New Statesman, 2/12/12)

Looking for light-hearted insight into Anglo-German relations? Skip Steven Spielberg's War Horse ("which, despite twisting and turning to be even-handed, simply could not help itself and, like some faux-reformed alcoholic, gorged itself on an entire miniature liqueur selection of Anglo-German clichés.") Instead, read Philip Oltermann's Keeping Up With the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters.  (The Guardian, 2/9/12)

"Just as Albert Speer was never just an architect...Germania was never merely an architectural programme." Roger Moorhouse shows how outsized plans for the capital city of a greater German empire perfectly reflected "the dark, misanthropic heart of Nazism."  (History Today, 2/7/12; History Today, March 2012)

In a 1936 photo of a Hamburg crowd, shipyard worker August Landmesser stands out -- he's the only person not giving the Nazi salute. Decades later, he's achieved Internet fame.  (The Washington Post, 2/7/12)

Fifty years ago, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich won the National Book Award. Ron Rosenbaum explains why William L. Shirer's seminal history was "an extraordinary act of daring" then, and remains essential reading today.  (Smithsonian, 2/12)

"Such is the hunger for new books about Nazi Germany that authors have begun chronicling the chroniclers...The latest arrival in the genre is Adam Sisman's An Honourable Englishman: The Life of Hugh Trevor-Roper, a portrait of one of the most stylish historians of Adolph Hitler."  (The Washington Monthly, Jan/Feb 2012)

Bismarck speaks!  Helmuth von Moltke, too. Their voices are preserved on wax cylinders (recorded in 1889 and 1890) that were recently rediscovered at Thomas Edison's New Jersey laboratory.  (The New York Times, 1/30/12; The Atlantic, 1/31/12; Lost in Berlin, 2/1/12)

It's the 300th birthday of Prussian King Frederick the Great, and Germany is celebrating. A "Fritz frenzy of anniversary events" is planned around Berlin and Potsdam throughout 2012.  (Bloomberg, 1/24/12; Classical Iconoclast, 1/24/12; The New York Times, 1/24/12; The Economist, 2/3/12)

"The killing of West Berlin student Benno Ohnesorg by a police officer changed the course of German history by triggering the 1968 protests. Now research by prosecutors and by SPIEGEL has found that the fatal shot probably wasn't fired in self-defense -- and that the police covered up the truth."  (Spiegel Online - International, 1/23/12; Lost in Berlin, 1/23/12)

New investigations in the life of SS leader Heinrich Himmler
Personal photos are political -- especially when they belong to Heinrich Himmler and Julius Streicher. Hoover Institution archivist David Jacobs explains what these men's photograph albums reveal about the "psychic structure of the Nazi state."  (Hoover Digest, 1/23/12)

Armin Mueller-Stahl "raced through life for years, forever heading westward." Read a moving account of his return -- after a 73-year absence -- to his birthplace in Sovetsk, Russia (formerly the East Prussian town of Tilsit). (Spiegel Online - International, 1/20/12)

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)

70 years since the Wannsee Conference: On January 20, 1942, senior Nazi officials gathered at a lakeside villa near Berlin to coordinate plans for the genocide of European Jews.  (Deutsche Welle, 1/19/12; Associated Press, 1/20/12; Chris Hale's Blog, 1/20/12)

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)

The Stasi Museum has reopened in Berlin-Lichtenburg after a two-year renovation. The "archaic equipment and dismal decor" in Erich Mielke's office remain.  (Reuters, 1/16/12; Bloomberg, 1/22/12)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
Publicity stunt, history lesson, exercise in free speech, or overdue demystification of an incoherent text? All of the above. British publisher Peter McGee plans to sell excerpts of Mein Kampf (with accompanying historical commentary) in Germany on January 26.  (Spiegel Online - International, 1/16/12; Associated Press, 1/17/12; The Atlantic, 1/19/12; The New York Times, 1/25/12; The Washington Post, 1/27/12)

Who deserves credit for the Volkswagen's design? "Perhaps because it is hard to accept that a feel-good car like the Beetle could be so closely linked to the evils of Nazi Germany, people have long been captivated by stories of alternative origins."  (The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/12; The New York Times, 1/20/12)

William Shawcross recommends the five best books about the Nuremberg war crimes trials.  (The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/12)

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)

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)

April 12, 1933: the execution of Arthur Kahn, Ernst Goldmann, Rudolf Benario, and Erwin Kahn marked "the first serial killing of Jews in Nazi Germany." Timothy Ryback illuminates the "tenuous phase of an emerging genocidal process when intercession could have disrupted and derailed the horrific and now seemingly inevitable outcome." (The New York Times, 1/3/12)




Et Cetera

18th- and 19th-c. German philosophers are alive and well on Twitter.  Want to follow Nietzsche? There's at least 100 to choose from. (Hegel, not so many.)  (Deutsche Welle, 12/26/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Could the (post-Thirty Years War) Holy Roman Empire be a positive model for the European Union today? (The Economist, 12/22/12)

Nicholas Kulish would like you to meet Germany's top female comedian, Cindy from Marzahn, "an overweight 6-foot-2-inch Valkyrie of a woman in a pink velour sweatsuit."  (The New York Times, 12/21/12)

Who dominated the year in German media debates? Günter Grass, Nadja Drygalla, Evgeny Nikitin, the National Socialist Underground, the NPD. "At the end of 2012," writes Dirk Kurbjuweit, "it seems as if we were the gloomy Germans once again, the Germans who either cannot or don't want to shed their horrific past." (Spiegel Online - International, 12/13/12)

Berlin and its discontents
Berlin: refuge of choice for frustrated New York millennials and 19th-century scholar William James. Native Berliners: not necessarily pleased about this.  (The Awl, 12/11/12; The Awl, 12/11/12)

"Demand free housing and free education, drink cases of beer, be a member of some Verein, be PC, denounce Israel, eat Bio, be on time..." Tuvia Tenenbom spent a summer traveling through Germany to write about the nation he loves to hate.  (Spiegel Online - International, 11/30/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"The relationship between the popular Times columnist and the dominant European economy has thus settled into a stable, if neurotic, pattern: Krugman attacks Germans for their economic habits and trashes their most beloved public officials; in response, Germans wince, complain, and then ask for more."  (The New Republic, 11/28/12)

Berlin and its discontents
"One day, while taking a break from staring at a nudist at the Hasenheide," Robert Coleman realized that his band had "ended up in a kind of artist’s paradox: We had gone to Berlin because of the lifestyle it offered to artists, yet we were coming unstuck by that exact lifestyle. Berlin was ruining us."  (The New York Times, 11/23/12; Exberliner, 11/27/12; The Local, 11/30/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
The Eurozone: Should Germany stay or should it go?  Six different policy experts let you know.  (The New York Times, 11/13/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis

"At the same time as the EU is becoming more coercive, it is also becoming more German," observes Hans Kundnani. "There is now once again much debate about potential German 'hegemony' within Europe and serious commentators are even discussing the possible emergence of a German 'empire' - historical problems that the EU was meant to solve." (Project Syndicate, 11/11/12)

Less than two years after his death, Knut's memorial is unveiled at the Berlin Zoo.  (Spiegel Online - International, 10/24/12)

Berlin and its discontents
Tacheles is gone, rents are rising, and a gentrified Berlin has become "the de facto capital of the EU." Attention, hipsters and starving artists: now Leipzig is the city for you. (Financial Times, 10/22/12; Spiegel Online - International, 10/24/12; Deutsche Welle, 1/2/13; New York Magazine, 10/25/13) 

News flash from 1864: "Germans used to drink an astounding amount of beer."  (The Atlantic, 10/22/12)

"Differences between Anglo-Saxons and Germans on economic questions are now more complicated than they used to be," writes Hans Kundnani. "In fact, whether because the German right has moved to the right or the Anglo-Saxon right has moved to the left, or both, it now sometimes seems as if the German right is actually is actually to the right of the Anglo-Saxon right." Alles klar?  (Project Syndicate, 10/13/12)

"In Germany the most striking thing about the army is how invisible it is."  67 years after WWII, and 22 years after reunification, "Germans still have a uniquely complicated relationship with their soldiers."  (The Economist, 10/12/12; The Economist, 10/13/12)

"Angela Merkel has found a fashion formula she likes, and she's sticking to it."  (The Guardian, 10/9/12)

After 22 years of German unity, Jackson Janes considers how Germany's reunification has influenced the "crossroad of choices" at which Europe finds itself today.  (AICGS, 10/4/12)

"What a week it has been for two men in wheelchairs and the woman they once called 'the girl'...What these three have lived though was 'historic' by any standard and is not over yet."  (The Economist, 9/29/12)

Berlin and its discontents
It's time for the protagonists of Berlin's subculture to professionalize and develop a long-term cultural vision, writes Jens Balzer. Tacheles will be missed, but Berghain and Bar 25 are better models for the future.  (The New York Times, 9/19/12) 

Before there was Fahrvergnügen, Vorsprung durch Technik boosted global enthusiasm for driving German cars.  (The Guardian, 9/18/12)

Germans tend to self-identify as world citizens, Atlanticists, or Europeans, proposes author Bernhard Schlink. "The wish, he says, is symptomatic of another desire, to escape what it means to be German, including the solidarity, responsibility and guilt attached to that."  (The Guardian, 9/16/12)  

"A German debate over the legality of ritual circumcision has many in the country's tiny Jewish community re-examining a more existential question: Can Jews feel at home in Germany?"  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/10/12; The New York Times, 9/17/12; The Wall Street Journal, 9/18/12; The New York Times, 9/19/12

Berlin and its discontents
Tacheles is no more. "It's a sad day for Berlin, 22 years in the making, and confirmation of its catastrophic slide towards blandness and sterility at the expense of what once made the city great."  (Der Irische Berliner, 9/4/12; Spiegel Online - International, 9/4/12; Exberliner, 9/5/12)

"Die Patin," the "Iron Frau," "Europe's most dangerous leader"? The media can't resist clever nicknames and character studies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.  (The Guardian, 8/15/12; The Economist, 8/25/12; The Washington Post, 9/11/12; The Guardian, 9/20/12; Financial Times, 12/14/12)

"While London continues the long march towards aviation nirvana by steadily opening new airports, Berlin heads doggedly in the opposite direction."  (The Independent, 8/20/12)

"Die Patin," the "Iron Frau," "Europe's most dangerous leader," "the most powerful German woman since Catherine the Great." The media can't resist clever nicknames and character studies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.  (The Guardian, 8/15/12; The Economist, 8/25/12; The Washington Post, 9/11/12; The New York Times, 10/29/12; Financial Times, 12/14/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Looking for the role of history in Germany's response to the Eurocrisis? "Rather than scour tarnished Weimar," writes Steven Ozment, "we should read much deeper into Germany's incomparably rich history, and in particular the indelible mark left by Martin Luther and the 'mighty fortress' he built with his strain of Protestantism."  (The New York Times, 8/11/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"First the Germans were asked to surrender the mark for what is effectively a softer currency; now they might be asked to bid farewell to what has been the longest-lasting constitution in modern German history. But they might well do so -- if asked nicely and provided with good arguments."  (The Guardian, 8/7/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Now the Ökonomen have a Streit of their own. (Hint: it involves the Euro crisis.) "Not since 1986 have Germany's elites been so spellbound by an argument among academics."  (The Economist, 8/4/12)

Olympics past and present
"One young athlete's personal choices would seem to have little to do with the highest levels of politics, but when that young woman is representing Germany at the Olympics, and her choices involve extreme right-wing politics, it becomes difficult to separate the two."  (The New York Times, 8/6/12; Spiegel Online - International, 8/6/12; The Economist, 8/9/12)

Gentrification strikes again: Berlin's Wilhelmstrasse may soon be losing some of its 1980s-vintage socialist charm.  (Reuters, 7/27/12)

Olympics past and present
On July 21, "6,000 hip Berliners converged on a club in east Berlin for the Hipster Olympics, a series of nine ironic sports events with the ironically unironic aim of finding the city's most 'athletic' hipsters." (The Guardian, 7/24/12)

"A fierce debate over circumcision has been raging in Germany for weeks and has caught Chancellor Merkel's government off guard. Berlin is now hoping to introduce a law regulating the practice, but it is a delicate issue due to the religious passions involved..."  (The Guardian, 7/17/12; Associated Press, 7/22/12; Spiegel Online - International, 7/25/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"Germans have yet to give up on the euro. But as Europe's debt crisis rages on, many are indulging their nostalgia for the abandoned mark by shopping with it again -- and retailers are happily going along."  (The Wall Street Journal, 7/18/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"The particular charm" of Jürgen Habermas' utopian vision for a supranational, democratic Europe, writes Anson Rabinbach, "is its genesis in a passionate and combative engagement with the dispiriting state of today's European Union." Die Verfassung Europas is now available in English translation.  (The Nation, 7/10/12; Los Angeles Review of Books, 9/20/12)

On its 60th birthday, Philip Oltermann reconsiders the scorned -- yet widely read -- tabloid Bild.  (London Review of Books, 7/5/12)   

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Joschka Fischer doesn't mince words: "Rarely is a high-flying country brought back down to earth in a single night, but that is precisely what happened to Germany recently. In both football and politics, the country had come to embody an unseemly mixture of arrogance and denial."  (Project Syndicate, 7/4/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"Can anyone give up the Euro? Does anyone have a plan to return it from whence it came without Europe falling into semi-destruction?" Mark Ronan notices some nifty parallels between the Eurocrisis and Wagner's Ring Cycle.  (History Today, July 2012)

So what if the German national soccer team lost its semi-final match vs. Italy? "This lissom, skilful, unexpectedly fragile Germany, managed by the compelling Joachim Löw, the evil genius Darth Vader father figure you never had, and staffed by a cast of likable, ethnically far-flung Euro dudes" has won admirers worldwide.  (The Wall Street Journal, 6/25/12;  The Guardian, 6/29/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
For the good of the Eurozone, foreign-policy guy Clemens Wergin hopes Germany doesn't win the European soccer championship.  (The New York Times, 6/15/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been cast as Europe’s Scrooge dispensing austerity and discouraging recovery. If Germany would only open its wallet, Europe’s instability and suffering would shrink. Well, maybe. But this seductive theory may be wishful thinking..." Europe, Robert J. Samuelson has some bad news for you.  (The Washington Post, 6/10/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"All the debate about the pros and cons of a Greek exit from the euro area is missing the point: A German exit might be better for all concerned." Red Jahncke explains why.  (Bloomberg, 6/10/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"Countries in a position of leadership must finance and support their distressed neighbors for systemic reasons, or they have no real claim to leadership," writes Charles Maier. "In the 1990s, West Germans committed roughly one trillion euros to give their newly reunited countrymen a common standard of welfare. Two decades later, Germans must extend the same sense of obligation to Europe more broadly."  (The New York Times, 6/9/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"It is up to Germany and France, Merkel and President François Hollande, to decide the future of our continent," writes Joschka Fischer. "Europe's salvation now depends on a fundamental change in Germany's economic-policy stance, and in France's position on political integration and structural reforms."  (Project Syndicate, 5/25/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Alas, Thilo Sarrazin is back and selling more books. You've heard his inflammatory statements about Muslim immigrants (Deutschland schafft sich ab), now it's on to the Euro and Holocaust guilt (Europa braucht den Euro nicht).  (Spiegel Online - International, 5/22/12; The Atlantic, 5/26/12; Financial Times, 5/27/12)

Checkpoint currywurst, anyone? "Nearly 23 years after Communism's collapse and German reunification, Checkpoint Charlie has degenerated into a tacky, Disneyland-version of its former self which attracts four million visitors a year."  (The Independent, 5/20/12; The Washington Post, 7/12/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"The tragedy for the Germans is that they viewed the euro as their great, healing gift to the rest of Europe, an act of self-denial in which they cashed in their totemic Deutschmark for the continent's greater good...The nature of Greek indebtedness and the euro's structure meant decisions which lie at the heart of sovereignty fell exclusively in the hands of Frankfurt and Berlin. Quite by accident, and without an ounce of intent or malice by Berlin, Greece has (like Ireland) become a German colony -- and it is not a colony which has a future."  (The Independent, 5/18/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"Americans often like to think of themselves as pragmatists: If there is a bad crisis, you need to do what it takes to solve it. But the legacy of the postwar remaking of Germany was a deep commitment to legal rules -- that a crisis is precisely when you need to create a workable system." Harold James considers Germany's status as "the new European Überpower."  (The New Republic, 5/15/12)

So Europe is dis-integrating, and Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union earned only 26% of the vote in Nordrhein-Westfalen. But on Twitter, @Queen_Europe still reigns.  (Deutsche Welle, 5/14/12)

Soho House Berlin has had quite a history -- although it's not readily apparent to guests who frequent the elite private club.  (Tablet, 5/10/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"Although Germany is now more powerful within the EU than it has ever been, it is far from being a hegemon -- and not because of its 'reluctance' to lead, but rather because it is not able or willing to make the sacrifices that hegemony entails."  (IP Journal, 5/4/12)

The Land of Berlin is considering proposals for the future of Tempelhof airport. "Crappy capitalist luxury projects" need not apply.
 (The Economist, 4/26/12)

"Hitler? There's an app for that.
Developers are creating Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini iPhone apps that offer little more than propaganda. And Apple's gatekeepers approve them."  (Tablet, 4/23/12)

200 years of Grimms' Fairy Tales
Once upon a time, 200 years after the Brothers Grimm first published their famed story collection, two journalists set off along Germany's Fairy Tale Road.  (Financial Times, 4/21/12; The Guardian, 10/19/12)

"Headbangers and high Kultur: A new breed of artists is changing British tastes in German culture."
 (The Economist, 4/14/12)

In the U.S., German language study "is on the defensive."
40% of German teachers are more than 50 years old; few minority students learn the language.  (The New York Times, 4/13/12)

Günter Grass, Israel, and Iran: What was said
Günter Grass responds to his critics.  (Spiegel Online - International, 4/5/12; Deutsche Welle, 4/6/12; The Guardian, 4/12/12)

Günter Grass, Israel, and Iran: What was said
Wait, there's more: what Jeffrey Herf, Lily Gardner Feldman, Robert Sharp, Josef Joffe, and Mara Delius said about Günter Grass' Was gesagt werden muss.  (The New Republic, 4/5/12; AICGS, 4/10/12; New Statesman, 4/13/12; The Wall Street Journal, 4/17/12; Standpoint, May 2012; AICGS, 5/3/12)

Günter
Grass, Israel, and Iran: What was said
What Hans Kundnani, Michael Wolffsohn, Tom Segev, Anshel Pfeffer, Gideon Levy, and others said about Günter Grass' controversial poem.  (The Guardian, 4/5/12, Spiegel Online - International, 4/5/12; Spiegel Online - International, 4/5/12; Haaretz, 4/6/12; Haaretz, 4/8/12; The New York Times, 4/13/12)

Günter
Grass, Israel, and Iran: What was said
"Rarely, if ever, have a few lines of modern German poetry created so much anger, confusion and controversy." Günter Grass' nine-stanza poem Was gesagt werden muss, published on April 4 by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, has sparked international debate about Israeli and Iranian nuclear policy, German anti-semitism, and Grass' own moral culpability.  (Spiegel Online - International, 4/4/12; The Guardian, 4/5/12; The New York Times, 4/6/12; Financial Times, 4/10/12; The Guardian, 4/10/12)

Airport design wasn't always driven by high-tech security measures and the need for acres of retail space. Flughafen Berlin-Tegel, "with its short distances and central location, was convenient for passengers and, in almost four decades of operation, won hearts." The new Berlin Brandenburg Airport will open in June 2012.  (The New York Times, 4/4/12)

Kultur, no thank you! The authors of Der Kulturinfarkt argue that the cultural scene in Germany is "vain, swimming in subsidies, and not all it's cracked up to be." Their modest proposal? Close half of the institutions now receiving state funding.  (YouTube, 3/31/12; The Art Newspaper, 4/19/12) 

Joachim Gauck and the German presidency
"On the scale of genuine political novelty, Mr. Gauck being given the job of becoming Germany's official gadfly, conscience and consensual voice rates a 10-plus."  (The New York Times, 3/26/12)

"Can Berlin be rich and sexy?" Germany's capital is "wrestling hard with how to combine new money with old bohemian values -- and the fight is producing flash points of tension all over the city." (CNN, 3/12/12; Spiegel Online - International, 3/21/12;The Guardian, 3/24/12; BBC News, 3/28/12; The Guardian, 3/29/12; Spiegel Online - International, 3/30/12; Spiegel Online - International, 4/4/12)

Joachim Gauck and the German presidency
Joachim Gauck has become the 11th president of the Federal Republic of Germany. "Mr. Gauck joins Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in one of the most astonishing developments of all: only two decades after West Germany effectively swallowed the bankrupt East, two East Germans will be running the country."  (Spiegel Online - International, 3/13/12; The Guardian, 3/16/12; The New York Times, 3/17/12

Germany and the Eurocrisis
"Germany is reshaping Europe in its own image to a degree that would have been unthinkable not that long ago." OK. "And incredibly, its actions appear to have the support of most Europeans." Hmm -- really? "That may be partly because its current leaders -- a woman, a disabled elderly man, a Vietnamese immigrant and an openly gay man -- don't project raw Teutonic power." What?!?  (The Wall Street Journal, 3/6/12)  

Germany and the Eurocrisis
It's lonely presiding over a 130 billion bailout. "As long as the global villain was America," recalls Jan Fleischhauer, "the Germans joined in when it came to feeling good at the expense of others." Alas, now Germans "have become the Americans of Europe." (Spiegel Online - International, 2/27/12)

Joachim Gauck and the German presidency
Third time's the charm? "Almost everyone looks like a winner after the hurried decision to name Joachim Gauck, a former East German dissident, as Germany's next president." (The Economist, 2/20/12; The New York Times, 2/20/12; Spiegel Online - International, 2/20/12; The Economist, 2/25/12)

Evan Kaufmann plays for Düsseldorf's DEG Metro Stars and Germany's national ice hockey team. He is also "one of the few Jews to represent Germany in elite international sports since World War II, the first in ice hockey since the 1930s and perhaps the most visible to have had family members murdered in the Holocaust."  (The New York Times, 2/18/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
The fiscal austerity measures of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning (1930-32) hastened the economic and political downfall of the Weimar Republic. Richard Evans warns against drawing simplistic parallels with Germany today: "Merkel is not Brüning and 2012 is not 1930, let alone 1933."  (New Statesman, 2/12/12)

"What makes Germans laugh -- and why is it so different from what amuses the British? Hint: it has something to do with "Dinner For One"... (The Guardian, 2/12/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Chancellor Angela Merkel "still goes out of her way to give the impression that the Franco-German 'Merkozy' partnership is still in joint command...but with France's economy losing its AAA-credit rating, it is clear who is in the driving seat."  Germany has become the reluctant "quasi-hegemon" of European economic policy.  (Reuters, 2/8/12; Los Angeles Times, 2/9/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
The Eurocrisis "is really a test of large-scale democratic capitalism," writes Timothy Snyder, and its resolution depends on Germany's willingness to support a European constitution. Alas, "Germans are now behaving a bit in European politics as red staters do in American politics: they profit from the larger union they think they want to undermine."  (The New York Review of Books, 2/7/12)

Just a few months ago, David Wnendt's Kriegerin (English title: Combat Girls) "would have been dismissed by many as an exaggerated if not fanciful depiction of the far-right skinhead problem...in eastern Germany...But recent events have led critics to declare the film an example of how fiction sometimes matches reality."  (Deutsche Welle, 1/24/12; The Independent, 1/30/12; Spiegel Online - International, 2/8/12; The New York Times, 2/8/12)

Armin Mueller-Stahl "raced through life for years, forever heading westward." Read a moving account of his return -- after a 73-year absence -- to his birthplace in Sovetsk, Russia (formerly the East Prussian town of Tilsit). (Spiegel Online - International, 1/20/12)

"I was adamant that Hitler should not have the last word on German-Jewish history." Rafael Seligmann has launched Jewish Voice from Germany, a new English-language newspaper.  (The Independent, 1/18/12)

Germany and the Eurocrisis
Not quite the same procedure as every year: Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy star in a digitally doctored version of that inexplicably beloved New Year's Eve comedy sketch, "Dinner for One" -- retitled "The 90th Rescue Summit or Euros for No One."  (Spiegel Online - International, 1/2/12)

"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)

Joachim Gauck and the German presidency
Weary of pondering the eurozone's future? The turmoil surrounding Christian Wulff offers an interesting distraction. Jackson Janes and René Pfister consider the office of the German Presidency: still "an important source of inspiration"...or rather "the most superfluous office in the republic"? (AICGS, 1/1/12; Spiegel Online - International, 1/18/12)