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History

The Protestant Reformation turns 500
"Luther lived in that historical sweet spot between the invention of the printing press and the invention of the telegraph, when communication was not too fast nor quite too slow."  (The Washington Post, 10/26/17)

The Germans have helpful experience in dealing with neo-Nazis, too.  (The New York Times, 8/17/17; The Conversation, 8/21/17; The New York Times, 8/23/17)

"Countries without Holocausts on their history books can also learn from Germany's grown-up, vigilant and dutiful culture of remembrance."  (The Economist, 8/13/17; NPR, 8/16/17; Politico, 8/20/17)

A glass of block-ade, anyone? In January 1949, the American Women's Club of Berlin published a cheerful cookbook called Operation Vittles.  (Slate, 8/4/17)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie revisits Albert Speer's Inside the Third Reich(The New Yorker, 8/1/17)

The Protestant Reformation turns 500
"Reconciling the confusing, often paradoxical origins of Protestantism in Luther and his successors seems like a good project for a half-millennium retrospective." (The Nation, 7/12/17)

Historian Rolf Peter Sieferle continues to spark debate with his essay collection Finis Germania, published after his death.  (The New York Times, 7/8/17)

Caroline of Ansbach, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz get their due in a new exhibition at Kensington Palace.  (The Economist, 6/29/17)

Decades of criminal convictions under Paragraph 175 have been overturned, "a milestone in Germany’s long-running effort to come to terms with the Nazi past."  (The New York Times, 6/23/17)

Germany's imperial government knew a thing or two about meddling in their enemy's domestic affairs.  (The New York Times, 6/19/07; The New York Times, 7/17/17)

In memoriam: Helmut Kohl (1930-2017), postwar Germany's longest-serving chancellor and architect of reunification.  (The Guardian, 6/16/17; Handelsblatt Global, 6/16/17; The New York Times, 6/16/17; Spiegel Online - International, 6/16/17; Foreign Policy, 6/18/17)

Scientist and activist Magnus Hirschfeld "founded what’s considered to be the first gay rights organization and established the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin." (PRI, 6/14/17)

"The myth of Nazi occultism is more than an amusing curiosity, a testament to the power of cinematic suggestion. It actively detracts from a historical understanding of the very themes it highlights."  (Aeon, 6/9/17)

Here's a double dose of book recommendations about 20th-century Germany, from Hester Vaizey and Chris Petit. (Five Books, 5/25/17; The Guardian, 5/31/17)

The Protestant Reformation turns 500
"Through his hymns, Luther is grandfather of a musical revolution that shared and adapted, united in stomping change on the world through rousing melodies and simple words."  (BBC, 5/24/17)

The "two Germanys" theory is back (with an extra helping of water metaphors!) to explain German attitudes towards Brexit. (New Statesman, 5/15/17)  

"Within the space of six years," Henry Kissinger recalls, "Adenauer had moved his country from an outcast to an equal member in political and security arrangements unprecedented in European history."  (The Wall Street Journal, 4/28/17)

It's the Shortest History of Germany, if not the best informed. "No doubt many true scholars of German history will take issue with Hawes's book."  (The Observer, 4/24/17; The Oldie, 6/2017)

"Hitler and the Nazis still, for many obvious reasons, provide the grim benchmark for the worst of what politics and humanity can become. But the temptation to invoke him to score a political point is one best left alone."  (The Washington Post, 4/12/17)

"In Donald Trump we may have another Wilhelm II on our hands — someone who poses a danger, not because he is intent on evil, but because he is erratic, unpredictable, and totally oblivious to how others may interpret his words and deeds."  (The Spectator, 4/8/17; The Washington Post, 5/2/17; Handelsblatt Global, 7/10/17)

In the United States, "World War I inspired an outbreak of nativism and xenophobia that targeted German immigrants, Americans of German descent and even the German language."  (NPR, 4/7/17)

"The easy times of postfeminism are over," says Alice Schwarzer.  Her feminist magazine EMMA just turned 40.  (The New York Times, 3/31/17)

"Since 1991, with an interval between 1999 and 2006, photographer Herlinde Koelbl has met the German chancellor once every year, taken a portrait and interviewed her, often asking the exact same questions as the year before."  (The Washington Post, 3/29/17; The Guardian, 4/5/17)

"Shot in evocative black and white, 'Karl Marx City' is a sleek, absorbing detective story, a fascinating primer on mass surveillance in the pre-Snowden era, and a roving memoir of East German life."  (The New York Times, 3/28/17; NPR, 3/30/17; Los Angeles Times, 4/20/17)

"My grandmother heard what she wanted from a leader who promised simple answers to complicated questions. She chose not to hear and see the monstrous sum those answers added up to."  (The New York Times, 3/24/17)

Happy (?) 60th birthday, united Europe.  The Frankfurt School (via @NeinQuarterly) offers you "the necessity and urgency of critique and self-critique — with little to no assurance of making any difference."  (Foreign Policy, 3/24/17)

The city of Trier agrees to accept a giant Karl Marx statue as a gift from China—but not without controversy.  (Deutsche Welle, 3/15/17; The Local, 3/15/17; NPR, 3/21/17; The New York Times, 5/21/17)

"Up until the 1930s, there were some 400 human zoos in Germany." Theodor Wonja Michael, author of Deutsch sein und schwarz dazu, recalls the the pain of being put on display.  (Deutsche Welle, 3/10/17)

"Early 20th-century America was the global leader in race law," writes James Q. Whitman in Hitler's American Model, reminding us that the National Socialists found much to admire in the United States' discriminatory legal traditions.  (Inside Higher Ed, 3/8/17; Tablet, 3/20/17; The New York Times, 5/22/17)

Sabine Heinlein revisits the Jewish legacy and antisemitic past of Baiersdorf, her Bavarian hometown.  (Longreads, 3/2017)

Welcome to Heligoland, "an apt location from where to rethink the Anglo-German past."  (The Economist, 2/18/17)

"The dead are haunting We Were So Beloved, Manfred Kirchheimer’s personal documentary, from 1986, about the Washington Heights community of German Jewish people who escaped or survived Nazi Germany."  (The New Yorker, 2/13/17)

"Raised in East Germany, Jack Barsky abandoned his mother, brother, wife and son to spy for the KGB. In America, he started a second family. And then it all came crashing down..."  (The Guardian, 2/11/17)

In The Political Orchestra, Fritz Trümpi examines the experiences of the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras under National Socialism.  (Times Higher Education, 2/9/17; Literary Review, 3/2017; Commentary, 6/14/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
"West Germans of Senfft’s generation knew how fragile democracy was, and did the daily work of strengthening it."  (Financial Times, 2/8/17)

"On the Firing Line With the Germans" gives us a rare glimpse of the Kaiser's army in 1915— through the eyes of American filmmakers.  (The Washington Post, 2/7/17)

How, and why, should Britain memorialize the Holocaust? Rowan Moore raises important questions about the proposed designs for a new memorial.  (The Observer, 2/5/17; 1843, 2/9/17)

What did Heidelberg's castle look like before it was destroyed by lightning, war, and fire? Take a look for yourself.  (International Business Times, 2/2/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
What does the decline of democracy look like? Ask a German historian.  (Die Zeit, 2/1/17; Los Angeles Review of Books, 2/5/17; Gothamist, 2/6/17; Slate, 2/10/17; The New York Review of Books, 2/26/17; The Nation, 2/28/17; The New York Review of Books, 4/20/17; The Globe and Mail, 7/6/17; The Guardian, 7/15/17)


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." His words (PRI, 12/9/15; The Atlantic, 1/29/17)

In 1920s Berlin, "modernists favored flat roofs, while conservatives preferred them pitched." Jeff Reubens recalls the roof war that divided a suburban neighborhood.  (Atlas Obscura, 1/19/17)

Ciarán Fahey pays a visit to Wünsdorf, once the largest Soviet military compound outside the USSR.  (The Guardian, 1/11/17)

The Protestant Reformation turns 500
If you need a single explanation for every possible German national stereotype, Martin Luther is (still) the man.  (The Economist, 1/7/17) 

Daniel Johnson traces the descent from integrity to ideology within the German university system of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  (The New Criterion, 1/2017)