kulturplease.com archive 2015

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Music

In memoriam: Kurt Masur (1927-2015), "musician, humanist and a symbol of transformation in the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall." He led the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and the New York Philharmonic. (Deutsche Welle, 12/19/15; The New York Times, 12/19/15; The Guardian, 12/20/15; The Boston Globe, 1/2/2016)

In memoriam: Heinz Fricke (1927-2015), "East German conductor who had an unlikely late-career renaissance as the beloved music director of the Washington National Opera and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra."  (The Washington Post, 12/8/15)

For two days, Xavier Naidoo was Germany's contestant for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest—two days too long.  (Deutsche Welle, 11/23/15)

Alex Diehl's "kleines Lied", a heartfelt response to the Parisian terrorist attacks, has gone viral. (The Local, 11/17/15)

"A Beethoven cycle? Again? Yes, a Beethoven cycle, a mere 1,1017 days after the last one" at Carnegie Hall...  (The New York Times, 11/16/15; The New York Times, 11/22/15; NPR, 11/23/15)

If only we all had 1st-grade music classes this cool! Watch these elementary school students in Mainz perform Kraftwerk's "Roboter".  (Electronic Beats, 10/31/15)

"Ist das noch der Diwan, auf dem sich dein Vater verblutet hat?
" The artists behind the Met's new production of Lulu consider one of the opera's most pivotal passages.  (The New York Times, 10/29/15)

"Berlin’s three opera houses united to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall and open their seasons with a trio of new productions by Wagner, Offenbach and Meyerbeer."  (The Guardian, 10/8/15)

#RefugeesWelcome

"Deine Gewalt ist nur ein stummer Schrei nach Liebe..."  A 1993 rock anthem against right-wing extremism makes a resounding comeback.  (The Washington Post, 9/4/15)

Just in case you're not sure Christian Thielemann was the right man for that new job opening in Bayreuth—read My Life With Wagner.  (The Independent, 8/13/15; The Economist, 8/15/15; The Spectator, 8/15/15; Standpoint, 10/2015)

Heiner Goebbels and the Ensemble Musikfabrik would like to introduce you to the alternate musical universe of Harry Partch, onstage at Lincoln Center.  (The New York Times, 7/21/15; New York Classical Review, 7/24/15; The New York Times, 7/24/15)

In memoriam: Dieter Moebius (1944-2015), experimental music pioneer, co-founder of Cluster and Harmonia.  (The Guardian, 7/21/15; The Guardian, 7/22/15)

In the summer of 1970, a young Conny Plank captured the sounds of Duke Ellington and his orchestra at the Rhenus Studio in Cologne. Now you can hear for yourself!  (The Economist, 7/3/15; Electronic Beats, 7/9/15)

"With gaudy costumes and 80s-style dance routines, Helene Fischer has become one of the most successful German artists of all time—and polarized the country."  (Deutsche Welle, 7/3/15)

"It’s that time of year again: the balmy nights of late spring are the augurs of the annual ritual of blood-letting in northern Bavaria, when the remaining Wagners do their best to tear each other apart in public on the eve of the Bayreuth festival."  (The Guardian, 6/11/15; Slipped Disc, 6/12/15)

Get right in the middle of a symphonic performance at the Konzerthaus Berlin.  (The New York Times, 5/27/15)

"Cassettes never really died in Germany, a country that still houses a flourishing tape scene."  (Electronic Beats, 5/14/15)

Who will succeed Simon Rattle as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2018? Kirill Petrenko! (The New York Times, 5/6/15; The New York Times, 5/11/15; Deutsche Welle, 5/12/15; The New Yorker, 5/13/15; Deutsche Welle, 6/22/15; The New York Times, 6/22/15; The Spectator, 6/23/15; NPR, 7/7/15)

Berlin and its discontents
"No one had the intention to destroy the Wall. After all, it was the life insurance for West Berlin." B-Movie recalls the mid-1980s counterculture of a divided city.  (Dazed, 3/18/15; Deutsche Welle, 5/20/15)

After 265 years, Elias Gottlob Haussmann's renowned portrait of J.S. Bach has come back to Leipzig.  (The Guardian, 4/29/15; Deutsche Welle, 6/15/15)

"If there’s one thing about which I feel confidentdespite the radical contingencies that typify our worldit’s that there will be no rioting or disruption whatsoever at the Royal Opera’s production of Mahagonny." Good call, Will Self.  (The Guardian, 3/13/15)

The Berliner Staatsoper celebrates Alban Berg, "one of the 20th century’s most innovative composers, a man who is paradoxically also one of its most nostalgic Romantics."  (The Economist, 3/11/15)

Better start warming up to "Black Smoke": There was a surprise twist at the end of Germany's Eurovision finals.  (The Local Germany, 3/6/15)

"It's like a historical recovery project, with Schoenberg’s ‘voice’ and dissonant material being deployed by utility carts.” (USC News, 2/26/15)

"The tradition of Beethoven and Wagner is ignored by today’s academic composers, but over-the-top Romanticism thrives in first-person-shooter video games."  (The Daily Beast, 2/21/15)

Germany's baroque opera houses: still stimulating the local economy after all these years.  (Bloomberg, 2/12/15)

No new concert hall for Munich, Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer has announced, angering Mariss Jansons, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and many more.  (Forbes, 2/4/15; Deutsche Welle, 2/9/15; Forbes, 3/4/15)

"By the time Richard Strauss died in 1949, many musicians and critics considered him an embarrassing fossil." Don't listen to them, writes Tim Page. Instead, listen to the "significant and beautiful music" that Strauss composed throughout his long career.  (The New York Review of Books, 1/31/15) 

In memoriam: Edgar Froese (1944-2015), leader of Tangerine Dream—"first an improvising avant-garde rock band, then an ambient electronic-music project, and finally an arena-filling machine of smooth and heroic synthesizer pulsations."  (The Guardian, 1/23/15; Los Angeles Times, 1/26/15; The New York Times, 1/26/15)

Forty-five years since they started out, Kraftwerk’s influence is everywhere, in every pop genre you can think of – and quite a few you can’t...Kraftwerk’s mechanical cadences have become the soundtrack of our lives."  (The Spectator, 1/19/15; The Conversation, 2/4/15)

"Beethoven is a singularity in the history of art—a phenomenon of dazzling and disconcerting force."  (The New Yorker, 10/20/14; New Statesman, 1/15/15)

Go back to the musical future in Röbel, Germany, home of the largest vinyl pressing factory in Europe.  (The Guardian, 1/7/15)

"Why, within a year, is the Universal Music Group...putting out two new versions of Brahms’s symphonies, played by orchestras based 70 miles apart in the former East Germany?"  (The New York Times, 1/2/15)




Art & Design

"Adolph Menzel chronicled Berlin’s transformation from a royal seat of 260,000 inhabitants into a booming, industrialized metropolis of two million people." See his work at two Berlin exhibitions commemorating his 200th birthday.  (Handelsblatt - Global Edition, 12/30/15)

Giant mushrooms inscribed with the names of Dichter and Denker, an eerie forest, and a "military-style bed of lead and sheet metal made for Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist Ulrike Meinhof"—welcome to the Anselm Kiefer retrospective at the Centre Pompidou.  (Handelsblatt - Global Edition, 12/28/15; The New York Times, 12/30/15)

Here's the backstory on how those monumental, Nazi-era horse sculptures were smuggled out of East Germany in 1989.  (Spiegel Online - International, 10/22/15)

In memoriam: Hilla Becher (1934-2015). Together with her husband Bernd, she produced "not only the most scrupulously photographed, encyclopedic documentation of industrial structures in the western world...but also arguably the most extraordinarily beautiful photography of our times."  (CityLab, 10/14/15; The New York Times, 10/14/15; The Guardian, 10/15/15)

The Humboldt Forum and its skeptics
What will it be, Berlin—"a cardboard Schloss or the whimsical, environmentally friendly Flussbad-for-the-people" as your 21st-century soul?  (The New York Times, 10/11/15)

Why we love Weimar culture
"Berlin Metropolis 1918-1933" at New York's Neue Galerie represents the "spectrum of human innovation and aspiration" in the capital of Weimar Germany, along with its "undercurrent of mounting dread."  (The New York Times, 10/1/15; The New York Review of Books, 10/15/15)

"There is a serious market for porcelain made by slave labour in the Dachau concentration camp."  (The Guardian, 9/19/15)

Photographer Michael von Hassel turns Oktoberfest's cavernous beer tents into exquisite cathedrals.  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/16/15)

Why we love Weimar culture
"Suddenly, it's Weimar time again..."  (The Economist, 9/15/15; The Daily Beast, 10/17/15)

Why we love Weimar culture
"New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919-1933" is now showing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, but not for the faint-hearted. "After you see it, you may need a stiff drink and a soft chair."  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/4/15; Los Angeles Times, 10/5/15)

Why we love Weimar culture
Book cover artists in the Weimar Republic "produced work that remains startling in its vision and creativity...more lively than most anything on bookstore shelves in 2015." (The Paris Review, 8/24/15; The New York Times, 12/1/15)

Heinrich Zille's photographs provide a fascinating glimpse of working-class Berlin at the turn of the 20th century.  (Slow Travel Berlin, 8/10/15)

In Landsleute 1977-1987: Two Germanys, photographer Rudi Meisel captures ten years in the life of a divided country.  (The New York Times, 8/21/15; Deutsche Welle, 8/24/15)

Heftig! West German paintings from the 1980s, now at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.  (The Economist, 8/18/15)

Summer 2015: Love Berlin's museums, or love them not
Could a new museum of modern art transform Berlin's Kulturforum into a more cohesive whole?  (The New York Times, 8/13/15)

Why we love Weimar culture
AKTION! At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, see how German artists got political in the revolutionary years of 1918-19.  (The New York Times, 7/22/15; Crave, 8/25/15)

This might just be the most baffling bit of Kultur I've seen. Enjoy!  (The Guardian, 7/19/15; PRI, 8/27/15)

Summer 2015: Love Berlin's museums, or love them not
So many cultural treasures, so poorly exhibited. It's as though Berlin's museums "go out of their way to keep people from visiting."  (Spiegel Online - International, 7/16/15)

Here's an inspired way of dealing with the "disgraced statues" of Germany's political past.  (Deutsche Welle, 7/9/15; The Local Germany, 7/23/15; Deutsche Welle, 9/10/15; Deutsche Welle, 4/28/16; The Art Newspaper, 5/5/16)

Summer 2015: Love Berlin's museums, or love them not
Radically modern architectural designs of the 1960s! See them now through October 26, at the Berlinische Galerie.  (Deutsche Welle, 6/24/15)

In memoriam: Hermann Zapf (1918-2015). "He created around 200 typefaces in numerous alphabets...spanning the eras of metal typesetting, phototypesetting and digital typesetting."  (FontShop, 6/9/15; The New York Times, 6/9/15)

All 619 photographic prints from August Sander's "People of the Twentieth Century" are coming to the Museum of Modern Art.  (The New York Times, 6/4/15; The Guardian, 6/18/15)

Appreciate the "vacant majesty" of Candida Höfer's photographs of opera house interiors around the world.  (The New York Times, 5/29/15)

Summer 2015: Love Berlin's museums, or love them not
Now at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, through September 20: "the first time Impressionists and Expressionists have been exhibited side by side in a big show," revealing surprising similarities and shared influences.  (The New York Times, 5/26/15; The Economist, 5/28/15)

German police have seized prominent Nazi artworks that were missing for decades, including the horses that once stood in front of Hitler's Chancellery. Now, what to do with them?  (Deutsche Welle, 5/22/15; Spiegel Online - International, 5/26/15; The New York Times, 6/9/15; The New York Times, 6/25/15)

"Georg Baselitz has spent his life shocking the public, and the opera-lovers of Glyndebourne are his next target."  (The Guardian, 5/19/15)

The Humboldt Forum and its skeptics
Summer 2015: Love Berlin's museums, or love them not
"In the traditional centre of Berlin, a new and former castle is rising." Neil MacGregor will chair the Humboldt Forum, now under construction on Unter den Linden.  (Standpoint, 5/2015; The Guardian, 5/18/15; The Economist, 6/13/15; The New York Times, 10/16/15)

Thanks to photographer Heiner Müller-Elsner, here's a new perspective on historic monuments of epic proportions.  (Deutsche Welle, 5/6/15)

After 265 years, Elias Gottlob Haussmann's renowned portrait of J.S. Bach has come back to Leipzig.  (The Guardian, 4/29/15; Deutsche Welle, 6/15/15)

Sounds like a terrific book waiting to be written: "A History of Berlin Told Through U-Bahn Typography".  (The Guardian, 3/11/15)

In memoriam: Frei Otto (1925-2015). His groundbreaking lightweight architecture was inspired by postwar shortage.  (The New York Times, 3/10/15; The Guardian, 3/11/15; ArchDaily, 3/11/15; The Economist, 3/11/15)

"Here's a brilliant visual history of the Bauhaus school."  (The Daily Beast, 3/4/15)

Who is the rightful owner of the Guelph treasure? The heirs to Jewish art dealers, who sold the collection of medieval artifacts to Germany in 1935, have filed suit in US court.  (The Wall Street Journal, 2/24/15; Deutsche Welle, 2/25/15; Deutsche Welle, 3/3/15)

"Is a painting in the background of two photographs by Helmut Newton a missing masterpiece by Arnold Böcklin?"  (The Art Newspaper, 2/15/15)

See Wim Wendersand more than twenty of his filmsat the Museum of Modern Art, now through March 17.  (This Week in Germany, 2/14/15; Financial Times, 2/27/15; The Wall Street Journal, 3/1/15)

Glass! Love!! Perpetual motion!!! Paul Scheerbart "wrote prolifically on science, urban planning and design, space travel, and gender politics, often in the course of a single text."  (The Paris Review, 2/9/15)

Now is a great time to see "Drawn With Spirit," an exhibition of Pennsylvania German Fraktur, at the Philadelphia Museum Art.  (The Philadelphia Tribune, 2/7/15)

What to give the aficionado of East German visual culture on your holiday list? Here are two inspired suggestions.  (The New York Times, 12/5/14; Metropolis, 2/2015; The Atlantic, 2/19/15)


Thomas Struth's photographs "catch the history of a place the way a reservoir catches rainwater. He just gets up early, sets up his tripod, and stands very still."  (The New York Review of Books, 1/26/15)

Designer Wilhelm Deffke was a master in the "precisionist art of graphic reductionism, influencing subsequent generations to transform literal objects and characters into stark, symbolic, sometimes comical logos."  (The Atlantic, 1/15/15)

"US museum professionals have largely accepted the mantra that 'less is more.' Designers often prevail on curators to shorten exhibit labels, refine story lines and let artifacts breathe. In Germany, by contrast, thoroughness remains the summum bonum."  (The Nation, 1/13/15)

There's still time to take in 600 years of German history, from Gutenberg to Gerhard Richter, at the British Museum. "Germany: Memories of a Nation" is on display until January 25. (The Telegraph, 10/14/14; The Guardian, 11/7/14; The New Criterion, 12/15/14; Financial Times, 1/7/15; The New York Times, 1/14/15)

"Some designs are simply timelesssuch as Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s Bauhaus classic WG24 table lamp from 1924."  (Deutsche Welle, 1/6/15)

Berlin and its discontents
"In the hierarchy-averse scene that Berlin still purports to maintain, authenticity is code for information; the authentic artist...is defined by her ability to navigate the scene that money can’t buy. Ironically, this proves to be highly marketable."  (The Paris Review, 1/5/15)



 
Books & Ideas

Ismar Schorsch traces the emergence of a new historical study of Judaism in 19th-century Germany.  (Tablet, 12/28/15)

Martin Kitchen dismantles "the myth of the good Nazi" in Speer: Hitler's Architect.  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/23/15; The New Criterion, 3/2016; History Today, 3/3/16)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
It's 2016, and (a 2,000-page, heavily annotated) Mein Kampf will be on sale in German bookstores for the first time in 70 years. (The Economist, 12/19/15; Deutsche Welle, 12/29/15; The New Yorker, 12/30/15; The Guardian, 1/1/16; The New Yorker, 1/12/16; Spiegel Online - International, 1/15/16)

In All for Nothing (trans. by Anthea Bell), set around an East Prussian manor house in January 1945, novelist Walter Kempowski summons "unforgettable characters who are shocking, even heartbreaking, in their human responses."  (The Irish Times, 10/31/15; The Economist, 11/14/15)

Peruse an excerpt of Kate Evans's Red Rosa, graphic novelization of the life and legacy of socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.  (The Nation, 10/26/15)

"Now, what could two children possibly do to deserve getting baked into a loaf of bread? Quite a lot, it turns out." Happy 150th birthday, Max and Moritz!  (The Local, 10/21/15; Deutsche Welle, 10/27/15)

Dietrich and Riefenstahl "is the story of two glamorous women whose achievements in another time might have been no more substantial than the images on a screen but who assumed real-life roles with the highest historical stakes."  (The New Yorker, 10/19/15; The Guardian, 10/24/15; The New York Times, 12/4/15; The Telegraph, 12/5/15)

"Now, in the era of unabashed and unprecedented mass surveillance, is the time to read East German literature." English readers, meet Wolfgang Hilbig.  (Exberliner, 10/15/15; Boston Review, 3/15/16; Los Angeles Review of Books, 4/11/16)

"Philosophy today...navigates between religion and the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, culture and art, in order to learn and to dissolve illusions. No more, but also no less than this." Jürgen Habermas shares these insights, and much more, in a long interview with Michaël Fœssel.  (Eurozine, 10/16/15)

Germany: Memories of a Nation is a great read, and beautifully illustrated, too. But does it successfully resolve the “painful difficulty of constructing a German history"?  (The Guardian, 12/23/14; The Wall Street Journal, 10/16/15)

Frank Witzel has won the 2015 German Book Prize. Here's more on Die Erfindung der Rote Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969 and the other five novels that made the short list for the prize.  (New Books in German, Autumn 2015; Deutsche Welle, 10/3/15; Deutsche Welle, 10/13/15; love german books, 10/13/15)

In memoriam: Hellmuth Karasek (1934-2015), "one of Germany's most celebrated commentators for literature and culture."  (Deutsche Welle, 9/30/15)

"While many of Jarosinski’s individual aphorisms are triumphs of stand-alone wit, they are also intricately interrelated in ways that few internet humorists can match." We regret to inform you, @NeinQuarterly, that your manifesto is now a critical success.  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 9/28/15)

In The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-45, Nicholas Stargardt "puts flesh on the bone of familiar stereotypes," providing new insights into "a society so full of both perpetrators and victims."  (The Economist, 9/26/15; The New York Times, 11/13/15; The Guardian, 12/10/15)

"It is rare that a contemporary political state of affairs perfectly corresponds with a classical literary one." Check out Tom McCarthy's reading of "the economic imbroglio between Germany and Greece."  (The New York Times, 9/25/15)

"In Hitler's world, the law of the jungle was the only law...nature was the singular, brutal, and overwhelming truth, and the whole history of attempting to think otherwise was an illusion."  (The New York Review of Books, 9/24/15)

The House by the Lake is "a story of Germany," and of Thomas Harding's quest to save his family's home, built in 1927 in Gross Glienicke, just outside Berlin.  (The Guardian, 9/19/15; The Spectator, 9/19/15)

Tim Blanning has written a new biography of Prussian king Frederick II.  (Literary Review, 9/2015; The Economist, 9/12/15)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
Mark Mazower reviews four new historical studies of the Holocaust and its perpetrators.  (Financial Times, 9/11/15)

"Lost hero of science" no more: a new biography reminds 21st-century readers of Alexander von Humboldt's spectacular accomplishments.  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/4/15; New Scientist, 9/5/15; National Geographic, 9/13/15; The New York Review of Books, 10/22/15)

The reviews keep coming in for Timothy Snyder's provocative Black Earth: The Holocaust as History.  (The New York Times, 9/3/15; The Guardian, 9/10/15; Times Higher Education, 9/10/15; The New Yorker, 9/21/15; The Daily Beast, 9/27/15; The New York Review of Books, 10/8/15; The Chronicle Review, 3/6/16)

"We want to have the knowledge, as if it were a static object, but we don’t want to do the work of claiming it," laments Maria Popova. Here's a taste of what G.W.F. Hegel has to say about our impatience, from The Phenomenology of Mind.  (Brain Pickings, 8/27/15)

Why we love Weimar culture
Book cover artists in the Weimar Republic "produced work that remains startling in its vision and creativity...more lively than most anything on bookstore shelves in 2015." (The Paris Review, 8/24/15; The New York Times, 12/1/15)

"It is basically a scandal that the world’s most widely distributed book, with a print run of an astounding 220 million copies, has never been properly reviewed." Hellmuth Karasek critiques the 2016 Ikea catalog. (German Pulse, 8/24/15)

In Landsleute 1977-1987: Two Germanys, photographer Rudi Meisel captures ten years in the life of a divided country.  (The New York Times, 8/21/15; Deutsche Welle, 8/24/15)

Just in case you're not sure Christian Thielemann was the right man for that new job opening in Bayreuth—read My Life With Wagner. (The Independent, 8/13/15; The Economist, 8/15/15; The Spectator, 8/15/15)

Heinrich Zille's photographs provide a fascinating glimpse of working-class Berlin at the turn of the 20th century.  (Slow Travel Berlin, 8/10/15)

Christian Kracht's Imperiuma fictional account of August Engelhardt's misbegotten mission to found a tropical empire of nudist cocovoreshas now been published in English.  (The New York Times, 7/24/15; The Arts Fuse, 8/10/15)

Take a tour through the wonderful, shivery world of the folk and fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm.  (The New York Review of Books, 7/9/15)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
Richard J. Evans reviews six new historical studies of Nazi concentration camps and the post-WWII trials of Nazi perpetrators.  (The New York Review of Books, 7/9/15)

No "frowning white men in suits" here! The latest issue of Words Without Borders is dedicated to the emerging German writers of 2015.  (Words Without Borders, July 2015)

Looking for "abstruse gastroenterological research" turned into "breezy, entertaining prose"? Giulia Enders has written the book for you!  (The New York Times, 6/19/15)

Jenny Erpenbeck, winner of the 2015 Independent foreign fiction prize, "talks about pretending to be a teen, life in the GDR and the what-ifs in women’s lives."  (The Guardian, 6/6/15)

Peter Longerich's definitive biography of Joseph Goebbels is the first to draw from a complete version of the Nazi propagandist's diaries. Will its publisher be compelled to pay royalties to the Goebbels estate?  (The New York Times, 5/13/15; Prospect, 5/21/15; New Statesman, 6/30/15; The Guardian, 7/9/15)

Franz Kafka wrote The Metamorphosis one century ago. "Numerous translations have re-shaped it into English, but which is the most successful?"  (The Guardian, 5/13/15)

In memoriam: Peter Gay (1923-2015). He escaped from Nazi Germany and became one of the most distinguished American scholars of European intellectual history.  (The New York Times, 5/12/15)

In Germany, W.E.B. Du Bois "became more human." Kwame Anthony Appiah explains how Du Bois's time at the University of Berlin played a formative role in his understanding of racial identity.  (Dissent, 5/7/15)

Ever wonder what it would be like to walk for 600 miles in Werner Herzog's shoes? Of Walking in Ice has been reissued by the University of Minnesota Press. (Slate, 5/5/15; The Nation, 1/7/16)

John Röhl brings you everything you wanted to know (and more) about the last 41 years in the life of Kaiser Wilhelm II.  (The Wall Street Journal, 5/2/14; The Spectator, 8/2/14; London Review of Books, 4/23/15)

"Max Planck’s life was bounded on all sides by both incomprehensible intellectual pursuits and incomprehensible personal tragedies." In a new biography, Brandon Brown brings us closer to the Nobel prizewinning physicist.  (Open Letters Monthly, 4/30/15; The New York Review of Books, 10/22/15)

Look who's been translated into English.  (The Independent, 4/2/14; The Guardian, 4/30/14; Financial Times, 5/2/14; The New York Times, 4/26/15; The New York Times, 5/10/15)

In memoriam: Günter Grass (1927-2015)
"World War II left Germany without a moral compass; writers like [Günter] Grass, Heinrich Böll and Siegfried Lenz provided it. The country needed intellectual leaders who epitomized certainty, however vain they came across." But times change, writes Jochen Bittner.  (The New York Times, 4/14/15)

In memoriam: Günter Grass (1927-2015)
Salman Rushdie remembers Günter Grass, "the great dancer of German literature, dancing across history’s horrors toward literature’s beauty, surviving evil because of his personal grace, and his comedian’s sense of the ridiculous as well."  (The New Yorker, 4/13/15)

In memoriam: Günter Grass (1927-2015)
In memoriam: Günter Grass (1927-2015). "As a writer, he helped define postwar German literature. As a political activist, he helped shape the nation's conscience. For some 60 years, Günter Grass was one of the most influential figures in Germany."  (The Guardian, 4/13/15; The New York Times, 4/13/15; Spiegel Online - International, 4/13/15; World Literature Today, 4/14/15)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
"In popular memory,' writes Nikolaus Wachsmann, 'the concentration camps, Auschwitz, and the Holocaust have merged into one.' In our confusion, we have narrowed the horror of Nazi practice."  (The New Yorker, 4/6/15; Tablet, 4/16/15; The Wall Street Journal, 4/24/15; The New York Times, 7/7/15)

"The stories the Brothers Grimm first collected are brusque, blunt, absurd, comical, and tragic, and are not, strictly speaking, 'fairy tales'"...rather, their first collection was shaped as an "archaeological excavation" and intended for adult readers.  (Humanities, March/April 2015)

The Legacy is back! Sybille Bedford's 1956 novel about elite Imperial German society features "Prussian pride, political scandal, anti-Semitism, and moral negligence, which is the legacy, in a word, of the twentieth century." (The New York Review of Books, 3/5/15; The Quarterly Conversation, 3/16/15; The Wall Street Journal, 3/20/15)

"In the late 19th century, the German postal service was considered one of the great wonders of the modern world."  (Financial Times, 3/6/15)

Sixteen years after her death, Untergetaucht tells the remarkable story of Marie Jalowicz Simon, who survived as a "U-boat" in Nazi Berlin—now translated into English by Anthea Bell.  (The Observer, 3/15/14; The Independent, 2/26/15; Smithsonian, 9/8/15)

Leaving Berlin, set in the earliest days of the Cold War, is "an enjoyable thriller, high-class entertainment, one that moves fast enough to allow you to suspend disbelief as Kanon skates elegantly over the improbabilities of his plot."  (The Scotsman, 11/29/14; The Wall Street Journal, 2/27/15; The New York Times, 3/24/15)

Yes, "there is more to German food than sausage, sauerkraut and schnitzel." Get a copy of New German Cooking and enjoy!  (The Washington Post, 2/17/15; The Splendid Table, 4/10/15)

"My novel is about how man survives in a hostile environment." Read Uwe Tellkamp's The Tower: Tales From A Lost Country, translated by Mike Mitchell.  (Standpoint, 11/2014; The Telegraph, 11/5/14; The Mookse and the Gripes, 2/17/15)

Whatever happened to Ernst Haffner? His 1932 novel Jugend auf der Landstrasse Berlin (republished as Blutsbrüder) became the German literary rediscovery of 2013. Now there's a new English translation by Michael Hofmann.  (love german books, 9/2/13; The Guardian, 10/3/13; The New York Times, 2/13/15; Public Books, 10/15/15)

Glass! Love!! Perpetual motion!!! Paul Scheerbart "wrote prolifically on science, urban planning and design, space travel, and gender politics, often in the course of a single text."  (The Paris Review, 2/9/15)

Jonathan Petropoulos investigates the careers of ten prominent artists in Nazi Germany: Gropius, Hindemith, Benn, Barlach, Nolde, Strauss, Gründgens, Riefenstahl, Breker, and Speer.  (The Daily Beast, 11/30/14; Open Letters Monthly, 12/1/14; The Jewish Daily Forward, 12/5/14; Los Angeles Review of Books, 2/8/15)

Jennifer Teege, a black German woman, discovered that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the brutal commander of the Plaszow concentration camp who was depicted in Schindler's List.  (Haaretz, 2/6/15)

What to give the aficionado of East German visual culture on your holiday list? Here are two inspired suggestions.  (The New York Times, 12/5/14; Metropolis, 2/2015; The Atlantic, 2/19/15)

Find out more about the "engaged democrats" of the immediate postwar era who helped lay the foundations of Germany's political culture today.  (New Books in History, 1/30/15)


In Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity, Robert Beachy shows "how nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century German thought and culture helped to shape the way we think about homosexuality and sexual identity."  (The New York Times, 10/31/14; The Barnes and Noble Review, 11/17/14; NPR, 12/17/14; The New Yorker, 1/26/15)

Designer Wilhelm Deffke was a master in the "precisionist art of graphic reductionism, influencing subsequent generations to transform literal objects and characters into stark, symbolic, sometimes comical logos."  (The Atlantic, 1/15/15)

Walter Benjamin: "apocalyptic Marxist theorist and literary critic, student of mystical Judaism and Kabbalah, mentor and friend to Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, and Herman Hesse, and children’s radio host." Thank you, Lecia Rosenthal and Verso Books, for publishing Radio Benjamin.  (Open Culture, 11/1/14; berfrois, 12/18/14; The Irish Times, 1/10/15)

In memoriam: Ulrich Beck (1944-2015), "a sociologist who became one of Germany’s most prominent public intellectuals by exploring the ways technology has created a new, riskier society."  (The New York Times, 1/4/15; Financial Times, 1/5/15; The Guardian, 1/6/15)

During his confinement in a state psychiatric prison in the fall of 1944, Hans Fallada secretly recorded his reflections on life under National Socialism. Now A Stranger in My Own Country: The 1944 Prison Diary has been published in English.  (The Brooklyn Rail, 10/3/14; The Economist, 1/3/15)

"When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed right there in his bed into some sort of monstrous insect.” Thanks to translator Susan Bernofsky, you'll want to (re)read The Metamorphosis.  (Slate, 1/7/14; The New Yorker, 1/15/14; World Literature Today, 1/2015)

"In her relatively short life, of only 48 years, she saw, delved, experienced, felt, and roused more than most people with much longer life spans." Axel Fair-Schulz reconsiders Rosa Luxemburg for the 21st century.  (Logos, Winter 2015)

Here is Jenny Erpenbeck's autobiographical tale about a lost country, translated by Susan Bernofsky.  (The Hudson Review, Winter 2015)




Film

"When hunting for ratings, it's always springtime for Hitler."
Don't expect a break from those gratuitous TV programs about Nazis anytime soon.  (Variety, 11/12/15)

Yes, the hills are still alive...A new film version of the Trapp family story is coming your way.  (Deutsche Welle, 11/3/15)

Dietrich and Riefenstahl "is the story of two glamorous women whose achievements in another time might have been no more substantial than the images on a screen but who assumed real-life roles with the highest historical stakes."  (The New Yorker, 10/19/15; The Guardian, 10/24/15; The New York Times, 12/4/15; The Telegraph, 12/5/15)

Germany's selection for the best foreign-language film Oscar, Labyrinth of Lies, tackles its subject with "the dogged tone of an honorable, well-made television movie from the late 1950s or early ’60s."  (The Guardian, 9/29/15; Los Angeles Times, 9/29/15; The New York Times, 9/29/15)

Richard Brody explains where Wim Wenders went wrong, becoming "the exemplary art-house filmmaker of the age of Reagan." Ouch!  (The New Yorker, 9/3/15)

"No one else has taken a specific animation technique and made it so utterly her own.” Here's a brief introduction to the work of silhouette animator Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981).  (Open Culture, 9/1/15)

Nina Hoss and Christian Petzold: "the greatest actor-director duo today"?  (The Daily Beast, 7/25/15)

"You are up against something more than tourist scenery. You are up against German history. It isn't good."  (Open Culture, 6/29/15)

New on DVD: vintage Cold War dramas from 1962/63, produced on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall.  (The New York Times, 6/26/15)

Do we really need a reboot of Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen's 1981 classic?  (The Guardian, 6/25/15) 

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
In 1945, the British Ministry of Information produced a "German Concentration Camps Factual Survey." The newly restored film "is as unadorned as its title, a document shot in the moment to capture forever evidence of the unimaginable."  (The New York Times, 5/21/15)

Der Schuh des Manitu and Traumschiff Surprise: "They're the most popular modern German films within Germany. But are they any good? (Spoiler alert: no.)"  (This Week in Germany, 5/10/15)

Christian Petzold's "post-Second World War film noir Phoenix is surely in contention to be in any top five list of the best Hitchcockian thrillers ever made."  (The Independent, 5/7/15; The Telegraph, 5/8/15; The New York Times, 7/23/15)

Berlin and its discontents
"No one had the intention to destroy the Wall. After all, it was the life insurance for West Berlin." B-Movie recalls the mid-1980s counterculture of a divided city.  (Dazed, 3/18/15; Deutsche Welle, 5/20/15)

"Blatantly stagy and inventively cinematic," The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a Fassbenderian concoction you won't forget.  (The New York Times, 3/6/15)

See Wim Wendersand more than twenty of his filmsat the Museum of Modern Art, now through March 17.  (This Week in Germany, 2/14/15; Financial Times, 2/27/15; The Wall Street Journal, 3/1/15)

What if Georg Elser had succeeded in his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1939? Oliver Hirschbiegel's 13 Minutes is "a meticulous contextualization of the increments by which an ordinary man may come to commit an extraordinary act." (Indiewire, 2/12/15; The Guardian, 2/15/15; The Economist, 2/18/15)

Deutschland 83: "Love is a battlefield for the undercover spy kids in the 1980s-set Eurodrama, soon to become the first German-language TV series ever to air on a US network."  (The Hollywood Reporter, 2/11/15; The Guardian, 2/14/15; The Economist, 5/7/15; Time, 6/16/15)

Sebastian Schipper's Victoria is "a bravura experiment and a kinetic, frenetic, sense-swamping rollercoaster ride." It swept the German film awards, and soon it may win over international audiences, too.  (The Hollywood Reporter, 2/7/15; Deutsche Welle, 6/19/15; The New York Times, 10/2/15; The Daily Beast, 10/8/15)

"There is not, as yet, any prize given for 'best supporting location' at the Academy Awards. But Görlitz, 60 miles east of Dresden on the German-Polish border, has a history of doing well at the Oscars."  (The Guardian, 1/19/15; YouTube, 2/22/15)

Forty films made during the Nazi era remain banned in Germany today. Felix Moeller has put (parts of) them together in one new documentary.  (j.b. spins, 1/18/15; The New Yorker, 1/22/15; The New York Times, 5/7/15; Tablet, 5/12/15)

"An amateur is a force of nature, which is why a satisfying performance by an amateur is overwhelming and awe-inspiring, as seen in the 1930 silent film 'People on Sunday'" (Menschen am Sonntag).  (The New Yorker, 1/14/15)

"German soldiers of fortune, fugitives and propagandists" found lucrative professional opportunities in the post-WWII Middle East, as depicted by filmmaker Géraldine Schwarz in The Nazi Exiles: The Promise of the Orient.  (The New York Times, 1/10/15)

Beloved Sisters, Germany's candidate for the best foreign-language Oscar, depicts poet Friedrich Schiller "and the two sisters who agree to share him, body and soul." Spoiler alert: it's more about the sharing than the poetry.  (The L Magazine, 12/31/14; The New York Times, 1/8/15; Los Angeles Times, 1/8/15)

Filmmaker Yael Reuveny's great-uncle Feiv'ke Schwarz "survived Buchenwald only to change his name to Peter and settle in Soviet-occupied Germany — a stone’s throw from the satellite camp where he had been imprisoned." She explores her family's history in Farewell Herr Schwarz.  (The Dissolve, 1/7/15; The Jewish Daily Forward, 1/7/15; The New York Times, 1/8/15)




Theater

Sein oder Nichtsein, that is the question you'll hear especially often on German stages. (New Statesman, 11/30/15)

Nearly a century after Frank Wedekind's death, his influence on the stages of New York City lives on.  (The New Yorker, 11/23/15)

"Ist das noch der Diwan, auf dem sich dein Vater verblutet hat?" The artists behind the Met's new production of Lulu consider one of the opera's most pivotal passages.  (The New York Times, 10/29/15)

Anyone up for "a dance of death in eight scenes"? The American Ballet Theatre is performing Kurt Jooss's classic antiwar ballet, "The Green Table," now through November 1.  (The New York Times, 10/25/15; The New Yorker, 10/26/15)

"Berlin’s three opera houses
united to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall and open their seasons with a trio of new productions by Wagner, Offenbach and Meyerbeer."  (The Guardian, 10/8/15)

In memoriam: Barbara Brecht-Schall (1930-2015)
. Actress, daughter of Bertolt Brecht, guardian of his literary legacy.  (The New York Times, 9/2/2015)

In memoriam: Nikolaus Lehnhoff (1939-2015).
"Lavishly cultured and innately musical, Lehnhoff occupied a middle ground between traditional and radical approaches to directing opera."  (The Rest is Noise, 8/28/15; The Guardian, 9/2/15; The New York Times, 9/1/15)

Heiner Goebbels and the Ensemble Musikfabrik
would like to introduce you to the alternate musical universe of Harry Partch, onstage at Lincoln Center.  (The New York Times, 7/21/15; New York Classical Review, 7/24/15; The New York Times, 7/24/15)

"It’s that time of year again: the balmy nights of late spring are the augurs of the annual ritual of blood-letting in northern Bavaria, when the remaining Wagners do their best to tear each other apart in public on the eve of the Bayreuth festival."  (The Guardian, 6/11/15; Slipped Disc, 6/12/15)

Q: What do you get when Robert Wilson and Herbert Grönemeyer stage Faust at the Berliner Ensemble?  A: "A frenetic fever dream, a funhouse rock opera that’s more Rocky Horror than reverent recapitulation of Goethe’s tragic masterpiece, with a Mephistopheles who’s beyond irresistible."  (Exberliner, 5/5/15; Deutsche Welle, 5/30/15)

"A graphic story that kicks off with sex, progresses to a full-blown orgy and then torture, and ends with a gruesome mass slaughter replete with horrifying detail"—I'm guessing Die 120 Tage von Sodom won't be heading to Broadway anytime soon.  (Deutsche Welle, 5/28/15)

"Superficially, the main difference between 'British theatre' and 'German theatre' is widely understood to be the difference between a 'writer-led' culture and a 'director-led' one. But that simple formulation leaves plenty of room for misunderstanding..."  (The Guardian, 5/21/15)

"If there’s one thing about which I feel confidentdespite the radical contingencies that typify our worldit’s that there will be no rioting or disruption whatsoever at the Royal Opera’s production of Mahagonny." Good call, Will Self.  (The Guardian, 3/13/15)

The Berliner Staatsoper celebrates Alban Berg, "one of the 20th century’s most innovative composers, a man who is paradoxically also one of its most nostalgic Romantics."  (The Economist, 3/11/15)

Germany's baroque opera houses: still stimulating the local economy after all these years.  (Bloomberg, 2/12/15)

"The frontcloth to ENO's new production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg features a collage of 103 of the most famous cultural figures from the German-speaking world. How many can you name?"  (The Guardian, 2/5/15)

"Compared to other countries, copyright rows on German stages are all part of the show." Grab some popcorn and watch the dispute over Frank Castorf's new staging of Baal at Munich's Residenztheater unfold.  (Deutsche Welle, 2/4/15; Deutsche Welle, 2/19/15; love german books, 2/23/15)

"For reasons difficult to fathom, Weber’s 'Der Freischütz' has rarely caught on outside Germany." Michael Thalheimer's new production at the Berlin State Opera probably won't be the one to spark new interest abroad.  (The New York Times, 1/22/15; Deutsche Welle, 1/24/15)

Decades before Lennon and McCartney, Brecht and Weill had an opposites-attract partnership that transformed musical theater.  (Los Angeles Times, 1/2/15; The New York Times, 1/5/15)




History

Ismar Schorsch traces the emergence of a new historical study of Judaism in 19th-century Germany.  (Tablet, 12/28/15)

Martin Kitchen dismantles "the myth of the good Nazi" in Speer: Hitler's Architect.  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/23/15; The New Criterion, 3/2016; History Today, 3/3/16)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
It's 2016, and (a 2,000-page, heavily annotated) Mein Kampf will be on sale in German bookstores for the first time in 70 years. (The Economist, 12/19/15; Deutsche Welle, 12/29/15; The New Yorker, 12/30/15; The Guardian, 1/1/16; The New Yorker, 1/12/16; Spiegel Online - International, 1/15/16)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's interpretation of the Christmas story remains as relevant as ever today.  (The Washington Post, 12/24/15)

Martin Niemöller's words continue to resonate. As a voice of moral conscience, his "strength may come because of his flaws. He indeed was complicit."  (PRI, 12/9/15; The Atlantic, 1/29/17)

The Federal Chancellor they grew up with became their colleague at Die Zeit: Jochen Bittner and Wolfgang Blau share their deep appreciation for Helmut Schmidt.  (The Guardian, 11/11/15; The New York Times, 11/11/15)

In memoriam: Helmut Schmidt (1918-2015), West German chancellor between 1974-1982. Later, respected elder statesman and publisher of Die Zeit.  (The Guardian, 11/10/15; The New York Times, 11/10/15; Spiegel Online - International, 11/10/15; Spiegel Online - International, 11/12/15)

In memoriam: Hans Mommsen (1930-2015), renowned historian of Nazi Germany.  (Financial Times, 11/6/15; The Guardian, 11/12/15)

In Nuremberg, what is to be done with "the largest piece of real estate bequeathed by the Nazis, and a burden only increasing with time"?  (The New York Times, 11/2/15)

In memoriam: Günter Schabowski (1929-2015). On November 9, 1989, he "became a world-historical figure by accident."  (Financial Times, 11/1/15; The New York Times, 11/1/15; The New York Times, 11/6/15)

Peruse an excerpt of Kate Evans's Red Rosa, graphic novelization of the life and legacy of socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.  (The Nation, 10/26/15)

Dietrich and Riefenstahl "is the story of two glamorous women whose achievements in another time might have been no more substantial than the images on a screen but who assumed real-life roles with the highest historical stakes."  (The New Yorker, 10/19/15; The Guardian, 10/24/15; The New York Times, 12/4/15; The Telegraph, 12/5/15)

Germany: Memories of a Nation is a great read, and beautifully illustrated, too. But does it successfully resolve the “painful difficulty of constructing a German history"?  (The Guardian, 12/23/14; The Wall Street Journal, 10/16/15)

"During the 1930s, 100,000 refugees fled to Britain from the Third Reich
...This wave of immigrants wasn’t just another huddled mass — it was the cultural élite of Central Europe, the best and brightest from every avenue of academia and the arts."  (The Spectator, 10/3/15)

25 years of German unity, 10 scholarly essays, 1 national holiday.
  (AICGS, 10/3/15) 

Compare these reflections on German reunification, then and and now.
 (The New York Times, 10/4/90; The New York Times, 10/2/15)

Germany's selection for the best foreign-language film Oscar, Labyrinth of Lies
, tackles its subject with "the dogged tone of an honorable, well-made television movie from the late 1950s or early ’60s."  (The Guardian, 9/29/15; Los Angeles Times, 9/29/15; The New York Times, 9/29/15)

In The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-45, Nicholas Stargardt "puts flesh on the bone of familiar stereotypes," providing new insights into "a society so full of both perpetrators and victims."  (The Economist, 9/26/15; The New York Times, 11/13/15; The Guardian, 12/10/15)

"In Hitler's world, the law of the jungle was the only law
...nature was the singular, brutal, and overwhelming truth, and the whole history of attempting to think otherwise was an illusion."  (The New York Review of Books, 9/24/15)

"Indeed, aside from Oktoberfest, German culture has largely disappeared from the American landscape. What happened?"  (The New York Times, 9/23/15)

The House by the Lake is "a story of Germany," and of Thomas Harding's quest to save his family's home, built in 1927 in Gross Glienicke, just outside Berlin.  (The Guardian, 9/19/15; The Spectator, 9/19/15)

"There is a serious market for porcelain made by slave labour in the Dachau concentration camp."  (The Guardian, 9/19/15)

In memoriam: Carl Schorske (1915-2015): "famous historian, Princeton University's Dayton-Stockton professor emeritus, amateur musician, friend, and matchless Mensch." (The New York Times, 9/17/15; Senior Correspondent, 9/17/15; The Washington Post, 9/17/15; The New Yorker, 9/28/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
"Substantial though today’s exodus from the Middle East may be, it pales in comparison to the situation Germany faced and surmounted" after the Second World War.  (The Conversation, 9/16/15)

The reviews keep coming in for Timothy Snyder's provocative Black Earth: The Holocaust as History.  (The New York Times, 9/3/15; The Guardian, 9/10/15; Times Higher Education, 9/10/15; The New Yorker, 9/21/15; The Daily Beast, 9/27/15; The New York Review of Books, 10/8/15; The Chronicle Review, 3/6/16)

Tim Blanning has written a new biography of Prussian king Frederick II.  (Literary Review, 9/2015; The Economist, 9/12/15)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
Mark Mazower reviews four new historical studies of the Holocaust and its perpetrators.  (Financial Times, 9/11/15)

"Lost hero of science" no more: a new biography reminds 21st-century readers of Alexander von Humboldt's spectacular accomplishments.  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/4/15; New Scientist, 9/5/15; National Geographic, 9/13/15; The New York Review of Books, 10/22/15)

In memoriam: Egon Bahr (1922-2015)
, architect of West Germany's Ostpolitik. He laid the groundwork for German reunification and gave us the phrase Wandel durch Annäherung.  (Deutsche Welle, 8/20/15; The New York Times, 8/20/15; The Guardian, 8/27/15)

Heinrich Zille's photographs provide a fascinating glimpse of working-class Berlin at the turn of the 20th century.  (Slow Travel Berlin, 8/10/15)

I'm not sure if it ever left, but yes, the German Question is back. (The New York Times, 7/13/15; The Economist, 8/8/15)

Here's an inspired way of dealing with the "disgraced statues" of Germany's political past.  (Deutsche Welle, 7/9/15; The Local Germany, 7/23/15; Deutsche Welle, 9/10/15; Deutsche Welle, 4/28/16; The Art Newspaper, 5/5/16)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
Richard J. Evans reviews six new historical studies of Nazi concentration camps and the post-WWII trials of Nazi perpetrators.  (The New York Review of Books, 7/9/15)

"You are up against something more than tourist scenery. You are up against German history. It isn't good."  (Open Culture, 6/29/15)

Germany is still waiting for full marriage equality. Explore the past 150 years of gay history, politics, and culture in a new exhibition at the German Historical Museum.  (AP, 6/24/15; Deutsche Welle, 6/26/15)

"Can the American South, still grappling with the legacy of slavery and segregation, learn something from Germany’s grappling with Nazism?" (The Washington Post, 6/24/15; The New York Times, 7/7/15)

"As the crimes of the Nazi regime retreat further into the past, there seems to be an increasing desperation in the race to get hold of mementos of the darkest chapter of the 20th century." Kevin Wheatcroft is winning the dubious race to the bottom.  (The Guardian, 6/24/15)

In Munich's newest museum, learn the history of National Socialism through carefully chosen words and images—but no period artifacts.  (The Daily Beast, 6/14/15)

"For all its historic significance, Wolf's Lair, which is owned by the Polish government, is rustic and poorly documented, and in some respects gives the uncomfortable impression of being a memorial to Nazi memorabilia lovers." (Handelsblatt, 6/12/15)

The Landwehr Canal isn't what it used to be. "Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to be reminded that politics was the business of the 20th century and Berlin the epicenter of an ideological struggle that involved two world wars and the prolonged division of Europe."  (The New York Times, 6/1/15)

That bomb uncovered near the Berlin Hauptbahnhof wasn't an anomaly. "Across Germany, an estimated 20,000 tons of WWII material everything from bombs to rusty rifles and the wreckage of trucks and tanksis recovered annually."  (National Geographic Daily News, 4/4/13; The New York Times, 5/27/15)

Can an unfinished Strength Through Joy resort on the Baltic Sea become a luxury vacation destination today?  (The Washington Post, 12/15/14; The Daily Beast, 5/24/15)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
In 1945, the British Ministry of Information produced a "German Concentration Camps Factual Survey." The newly restored film "is as unadorned as its title, a document shot in the moment to capture forever evidence of the unimaginable."  (The New York Times, 5/21/15)

Berlin, city of hacktivism: here's how a little-known subculture became "a powerful and highly visible arm of the city’s activist left." (Los Angeles Review of Books, 5/15/15)

Ingeborg Rapoport submitted her doctoral thesis at the University of Hamburg in 1938, but for "racial reasons" she wasn't permitted to defend it. This year, after a long and successful medical career, she finally did. Congratulations to the world's oldest doctoral recipient!  (The Wall Street Journal, 5/14/15)

Peter Longerich's definitive biography of Joseph Goebbels is the first to draw from a complete version of the Nazi propagandist's diaries. Will its publisher be compelled to pay royalties to the Goebbels estate?  (The New York Times, 5/13/15; Prospect, 5/21/15; New Statesman, 6/30/15; The Guardian, 7/9/15)

In memoriam: Peter Gay (1923-2015). He escaped from Nazi Germany and became one of the most distinguished American scholars of European intellectual history.  (The New York Times, 5/12/15; The Guardian, 5/24/15)

In Germany, W.E.B. Du Bois "became more human." Kwame Anthony Appiah explains how Du Bois's time at the University of Berlin played a formative role in his understanding of racial identity.  (Dissent, 5/7/15)

Summer 2015: Love Berlin's museums, or love them not
"In the traditional centre of Berlin, a new and former castle is rising." Neil MacGregor will chair the Humboldt Forum, now under construction on Unter den Linden.  (Standpoint, 5/2015; The Guardian, 5/18/15; The Economist, 6/13/15; The New York Times, 10/16/15)


On May 8, 1945, Germany's unconditional surrender ended the Second World War within Europe.  (Berliner Morgenpost, 4/30/15; Deutsche Welle, 5/4/15; Open Culture, 5/5/15; Spiegel Online - International)

John Röhl brings you everything you wanted to know (and more) about the last 41 years in the life of Kaiser Wilhelm II.  (The Wall Street Journal, 5/2/14; The Spectator, 8/2/14; London Review of Books, 4/23/15)

"Max Planck’s life was bounded on all sides by both incomprehensible intellectual pursuits and incomprehensible personal tragedies." In a new biography, Brandon Brown brings us closer to the Nobel prizewinning physicist.  (Open Letters Monthly, 4/30/15; The New York Review of Books, 10/22/15)

It's beer garden season! Here's a short refresher on how "one of the world’s most hallowed warm-weather institutions" got its start in 16th-century Bavaria.  (The Atlantic, 4/23/15)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
"In popular memory,' writes Nikolaus Wachsmann, 'the concentration camps, Auschwitz, and the Holocaust have merged into one.' In our confusion, we have narrowed the horror of Nazi practice."  (The New Yorker, 4/6/15; Tablet, 4/16/15; The Wall Street Journal, 4/24/15; The New York Times, 7/7/15)

"In the late 19th century, the German postal service was considered one of the great wonders of the modern world."  (Financial Times, 3/6/15)

Sixteen years after her death, Untergetaucht tells the remarkable story of Marie Jalowicz Simon, who survived as a "U-boat" in Nazi Berlin—now translated into English by Anthea Bell.  (The Observer, 3/15/14; The Independent, 2/26/15; Smithsonian, 9/8/15)

"More than a century after being commissioned by Germany's last Kaiser, Wilhelm II, the passenger and freight ship 'Götzen' is still in service in Tanzania, one of the last working steamships of its era."  (Handelsblatt - Global Edition, 2/24/15)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
Elizabeth Kolbert on the Stolpersteine and the upcoming trial of Auschwitz bookkeeper Oskar Gröning: both are a "kind of public art on the theme of its inadequacy."  (The New Yorker, 2/16/15)

"We thought Dresden was invincible." A survivor recalls the February 13, 1945 bombing of his childhood home.  (The Guardian, 2/13/15)

Jonathan Petropoulos investigates the careers of ten prominent artists in Nazi Germany: Gropius, Hindemith, Benn, Barlach, Nolde, Strauss, Gründgens, Riefenstahl, Breker, and Speer.  (The Daily Beast, 11/30/14; Open Letters Monthly, 12/1/14; The Jewish Daily Forward, 12/5/14; Los Angeles Review of Books, 2/8/15)

What if Georg Elser had succeeded in his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1939? Oliver Hirschbiegel's 13 Minutes is "a meticulous contextualization of the increments by which an ordinary man may come to commit an extraordinary act." (Indiewire, 2/12/15; The Guardian, 2/15/15; The Economist, 2/18/15)

"Hundreds of thousands of war refugees from Eastern Europeincluding many top Nazi collaborators—gained entry to the United States in the first few years after the war," writes Eric Lichtblau, "but visas were scarce for those left in the camps."  (The New York Times, 2/7/15; H-German, 2/22/15; H-German, 2/22/15) 

"Nazism, the society it created, the world of the Third Reich and the people who lived through it all appear as a kind of moral drama where the issues are laid out starkly before us," writes Richard J. Evans. "Yet we have not always approached the history of Nazism in this way..."  (The Guardian, 2/6/15)

Jennifer Teege, a black German woman, discovered that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the brutal commander of the Plaszow concentration camp who was depicted in Schindler's List.  (Haaretz, 2/6/15)

"Today, the construction and demolition of the Berlin Wall feels like a parenthesis in a text— whatever is written in between can be removed without fundamentally altering the course of the narrative," laments Reinier de Graaf.  (Metropolis, 2/2015)

In memoriam: Richard von Weizsäcker (1920-2015). He "brought a moral authority to the German presidency and sought to reconcile his compatriots with the legacy of their country’s history."  (Financial Times, 1/31/15; The New York Times, 1/31/15; The Economist, 2/3/15)

Find out more about the "engaged democrats" of the immediate postwar era who helped lay the foundations of Germany's political culture today.  (New Books in History, 1/30/15)

In Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity, Robert Beachy shows "how nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century German thought and culture helped to shape the way we think about homosexuality and sexual identity."  (The New York Times, 10/31/14; The Barnes and Noble Review, 11/17/14; NPR, 12/17/14; The New Yorker, 1/26/15)

Frank Cieszynski fled the GDR on November 7, 1989. Two days later, he was "struggling back East, against a tide of people, to salvage belongings from his apartment before they closed again, as he assumed they inevitably would."  (The Independent, 1/24/15)

New investigations of Nazi concentration camps
Sarah Helm has written a thorough, moving history of the Ravensbrück concentration camp, a center of National Socialist crimes against women.  (The Guardian, 1/18/15; The Economist, 3/14/15; The Guardian, 4/1/15; The New Yorker, 4/6/15; The New York Times, 4/7/15)

"US museum professionals have largely accepted the mantra that 'less is more.' Designers often prevail on curators to shorten exhibit labels, refine story lines and let artifacts breathe. In Germany, by contrast, thoroughness remains the summum bonum."  (The Nation, 1/13/15)

"German soldiers of fortune, fugitives and propagandists" found lucrative professional opportunities in the post-WWII Middle East, as depicted by filmmaker Géraldine Schwarz in The Nazi Exiles: The Promise of the Orient.  (The New York Times, 1/10/15)

Filmmaker Yael Reuveny's great-uncle Feiv'ke Schwarz "survived Buchenwald only to change his name to Peter and settle in Soviet-occupied Germany — a stone’s throw from the satellite camp where he had been imprisoned." She explores her family's history in Farewell Herr Schwarz.  (The Dissolve, 1/7/15; The Jewish Daily Forward, 1/7/15; The New York Times, 1/8/15)

Do you long for the days when RIAS ruled the airwaves, and West Berlin was the place to be for avoiding military service? It could be a case of Westalgie.  (Deutsche Welle, 1/7/15)

There's still time to take in 600 years of German history, from Gutenberg to Gerhard Richter, at the British Museum. "Germany: Memories of a Nation" is on display until January 25. (The Telegraph, 10/14/14; The Guardian, 11/7/14; The New Criterion, 12/15/14; Financial Times, 1/7/15; The New York Times, 1/14/15)

During his confinement in a state psychiatric prison in the fall of 1944, Hans Fallada secretly recorded his reflections on life under National Socialism. Now A Stranger in My Own Country: The 1944 Prison Diary has been published in English.  (The Brooklyn Rail, 10/3/14; The Economist, 1/3/15)




Et Cetera

Just in case there was any doubt...the Berlin U-Bahn is OK with you being weird (and now there's a fun video featuring Kazim Akboga to prove it).  (The Local, 12/11/15)

"At a moment when much of the world is once more engaged in a furious debate about the balance between safety and freedom, the Chancellor is asking a great deal of the German people, and by their example, the rest of us as well."  (TIME, 12/9/15)

Welcome to Germany, "where pork sausage is a national dish; where the leader is a woman; where even the smallest derogatory reference about Jews is taboo; and, well, where very occasionally men have sex in a gay nightclub."  (The New York Times, 11/18/15)

"It is absurd to be protecting the Berlin Wall, of all things, with a fence.”  (The Guardian, 11/5/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
Months into the worst refugee crisis since WWII, how is Angela Merkel faring?  (Financial Times, 10/26/15; The Spectator, 10/29/15; Spiegel Online - International, 11/2/15; The Washington Post, 11/6/15; The Economist, 11/7/15)


As Frank-Walter Steinmeier and others have noted: "Waiting at a red light is something of a German cultural trait."  (The Wall Street Journal, 10/26/15)

Jochen Bittner and Roger Cohen exchange thoughts on Germany's role in Europe and the world today.  (Die Zeit,10/14/15)

What will it be, Berlin—"a cardboard Schloss or the whimsical, environmentally friendly Flussbad-for-the-people" as your 21st-century soul?  (The New York Times, 10/11/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
"Can this country make new Germans out of refugees if it doesn’t know what defines native Germans?" Germany needs to work out its own Hausordnung, writes Derek Scally.  (Berlin Policy Journal, 10/5/15)

"More than just a tale of corporate misdeeds," the VW scandal has wounded Germany's self-image "as an orderly nation and tarnished its claim to moral leadership of the Continent."  (The New York Times, 9/23/15; The New York Times, 9/28/15)

"It is rare that a contemporary political state of affairs perfectly corresponds with a classical literary one." Check out Tom McCarthy's reading of "the economic imbroglio between Germany and Greece."  (The New York Times, 9/25/15)

"Indeed, aside from Oktoberfest, German culture has largely disappeared from the American landscape. What happened?"  (The New York Times, 9/23/15)

"Germany has changed, but maybe it changed in 2005 and it took the country and the rest of the world 10 years to notice." Philip Oltermann assesses the Merkel era.  (The Guardian, 9/18/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
Maximilian Popp explains why Germany's asylum law is "organized hypocrisy" that ought to be reformed or abolished.  (Spiegel Online - International, 9/17/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
"Substantial though today’s exodus from the Middle East may be, it pales in comparison to the situation Germany faced and surmounted" after the Second World War.  (The Conversation, 9/16/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
Heather Horn sets "the staggering scale of Germany's refugee project" in perspective for U.S. readers.  (The Atlantic, 9/12/15)

"No other nationality triggers such strong emotions and associations in Germany." Rick Noack explores Germans' love-hate relationship with the United States.  (The Washington Post, 9/6/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
Thank you, Angela Merkel. "Few other European politicians have had the courage to make such a clear link between Europe’s values, its collective self-interest and bold action on refugees."  (The Economist, 9/5/15; The Washington Post, 9/14/15)

"Some 15.5m people now study German, 4% more than five years ago."  (The Economist, 9/5/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
"Germany is experiencing an unprecedented influx of immigrants who will fundamentally change the country. They represent a burden, but also a chance to create a New Germany, one that is more cosmopolitan and generous." (Spiegel Online - International, 8/31/15; The New York Times, 9/2/15; Spiegel Online - International, 9/11/15)

#RefugeesWelcome
Here are five important lessons from Angela Merkel's unscripted encounter with fourteen-year-old Reem Sahwil.  (The New Yorker, 7/21/15)

Germany's Greek Crisis
You say "austerity," the Germans say "Sparpolitik."  (The Economist, 7/18/15)

"Ich erinnere das nicht" and "Ich rufe Sie zurück"signs that the impact of English on the German language might be even deeper than you thought.  (The Economist, 7/16/15)

Germany's Greek Crisis
I'm not sure if it ever left, but yes, the German Question is back. (The New York Times, 7/13/15)

Germany's Greek Crisis
"Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt," says Thomas Piketty.  (Die Zeit, 6/27/15;  Medium, 7/4/15; Slate, 7/6/15; The Washington Post, 7/7/15)

Germany's Greek Crisis
How are editorialists unhappy with Germany's handling of the Greek crisis? Let us count the ways.  (Spiegel Online - International, 7/3/15; The New York Times, 7/9/15; The New York Times, 7/12/15; The Conversation, 7/14/15; The New York Times, 7/15/15; The Guardian, 7/16/15; The Washington Post, 7/16/15; The World Post, 7/24/15; The Guardian, 7/27/15)

Germany, global leader?
"Today, German barely exists outside Europe’s 100-million-person Germansphere. It’s almost nobody’s second language...Perversely, while the German language has been shedding global status, Germany has only gained it."  (Financial Times, 6/19/15)

Germany, global leader?
"Europe can’t look to Germany for long-term leadership," writes Jochen Bittner, "at least not now. Germany can only provide interim stability; it cannot resolve the dizzying chaos itself."  (The New York Times, 6/16/15)

Gluckschmerz (Glückschmerz?): it's not a German word yet, but it ought to be.  (The Wall Street Journal, 6/12/15)

Germany, global leader?
"Germany has thus largely succeeded in boosting its international image as a benign and competent country," writes Parke Nicholson, "but it is difficult to see how its soft power has led to actual outcomes."  (Foreign Affairs, 6/1/15)

"Anti-Americanism today," writes Tobias Jaecker, "is a cheap means to a new German nationalism with a good conscience."  (The Wall Street Journal, 6/1/15)

"The paternoster is the VW-beetle of elevators. Not many people use it, but many love it.” (Notes of Nomads, 3/7/14; The Washington Post, 6/1/15; The Wall Street Journal, 6/25/15)

Ingeborg Rapoport submitted her doctoral thesis at the University of Hamburg in 1938, but for "racial reasons" she wasn't permitted to defend it. This year, after a long and successful medical career, she finally did. Congratulations to the world's oldest doctoral recipient!  (The Wall Street Journal, 5/14/15)

Is "soft power" the new Kulturpolitik? (AICGS, 5/11/15)

Germany, global leader?
"Allies, take note: with German leadership you get, and we do apologize for this, the deutsche Sprache – not to mention German thinking, which tends to be, well, complicated..."  (Berlin Policy Journal, 4/27/15)

"Orthopedic footwear is to Germany what furniture design is to Sweden."  (The New Yorker, 3/23/15)

"The level of debate between Germany and Greece, protagonists in a drama that could make or break the euro zone, could hardly be called edifying."  (The New York Times, 3/19/15; The Economist, 3/21/15)

Berlin and its discontents
Berlin still isn't as cool as it used to bebut now we can blame it on the "post-tourists".  (New York, 3/17/15)

Hooray for the Tempelhof airfield! "Berlin will ultimately not further develop a hugely valuable piece of real estate, all because the people decided they didn’t trust big business not to mess up the park they loved."  (The Guardian, 3/5/15)

Germany, global leader?
"Germany is emerging, faster than it wanted, as a global diplomatic force."  (The Economist, 2/28/15; The New York Times, 2/28/15; The Guardian, 3/6/15)

Germany, global leader?
Strange new world: nobody ever imagined "Germany would be negotiating directly with Russia—or that France would be too weak, Britain too inward-looking, and the United States too uninterested to object."  (Slate, 2/20/15)

Yes, "there is more to German food than sausage, sauerkraut and schnitzel." Get a copy of New German Cooking and enjoy!  (The Washington Post, 2/17/15; The Splendid Table, 4/10/15)

"Neat brown bob, sweet little floppy hat, hands like C-clamps." Meet Martin Luther, fastest-selling Playmobil figure ever.  (Deutsche Welle, 2/11/15; The Guardian, 2/18/15)

"America's largest ethnic group has assimilated so well that people barely notice it."  (The Economist, 2/5/15)

Pegida, Nogida, and Charlie Hebdo
"What’s holding Pegida together now is the media and political attention and the feeling of cohesion during the demonstrations. The movement’s future won’t be decided by its leaders, but by the way the rest of us deal with this misguided protest."  (The Guardian, 2/1/15)

"To be sure, Germany's liberal political culture, a result of its Western integration is here to stay. But it remains to be seen whether Germany will continue to align itself with its Western partners and stand up for Western norms as it becomes more dependent on non-Western countries for its economic growth."  (Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2015; Foreign Affairs, March/April 2015)

Pegida, Nogida, and Charlie Hebdo
"Germany has come a long way since even the early ’90s. And rather than causing violence, Pegida has set off a public debate on Germany’s national identity. This is long overdue."  (The New York Times, 1/22/15)

Pegida, Nogida, and Charlie Hebdo
"Germany's anti-Islamic movement Pegida is a vampire we must slay," writes Timothy Garton Ash.  (The Guardian, 1/18/15)

Pegida, Nogida, and Charlie Hebdo
And the Unwort des Jahres 2014 is....Lügenpresse. (The Atlantic, 1/14/15)

Pegida, Nogida, and Charlie Hebdo
"Anti-Muslim sentiment in Germany was already roiling. The Paris terrorist attack will make it much worse."  (Slate, 1/9/15; Spiegel Online - International, 1/12/15; Foreign Affairs, 1/13/15; The New Yorker, 1/14/15)

Pegida, Nogida, and Charlie Hebdo
"Without a clear programme, Pegida has managed to create a sense of community: a mix of fear of foreigners, hatred against politics and the media, anger over both imagined and real social grievances."  (The Guardian, 1/3/15; The Guardian, 1/3/15; The New York Times, 1/6/15)

Berlin and its discontents
Berlin isn't as cool as it used to be, 2015 edition.  (The Economist, 1/3/15)

Berlin and its discontents
Berliner Ali Akdeniz, on the other hand, is way cool.  (NPR, 1/2/15)

Germany, global leader?
"The world's most powerful leader isn't Obama or Putin—it's Angela Merkel." (The New Yorker, 12/1/14; The Guardian, 12/22/14; Vanity Fair, 1/2015; The Guardian, 1/7/15; The Globe and Mail, 2/12/15; The Guardian, 2/15/15)

"In her relatively short life, of only 48 years, she saw, delved, experienced, felt, and roused more than most people with much longer life spans." Axel Fair-Schulz reconsiders Rosa Luxemburg for the 21st century.  (Logos, Winter 2015)