What’s New

“Gabriele Tergit wrote Käsebier in 1931, but its depictions of fake news, sudden stardom, and bitter culture wars between left and right feel unnervingly contemporary.” So it’s very good news that translator Sophie Duvernoy has brought us Käsebier Takes Berlin in 2019. (The Paris Review, 7/30/19)

Empty Hearts by Juli Zeh (translated by John Cullen) “has the veneer of a thriller but it’s more accurate to call it a chiller: chilling in the accuracy of its satire and chilling in its diagnosis of our modern malaise.”  (The New York Times, 7/26/19)

Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself, Florian Huber’s history of the suicide epidemic that accompanied the end of Nazi Germany, has now been published in English, in a translation by Imogen Taylor.  (The Guardian, 6/20/19; The Economist, 7/11/19)

Else Ury’s ‘Nesthäkchen’ books for young readers “sold millions of copies from 1918 to 1933. Then, with the Nazis in power, she was barred as a Jew for publishing her work, even though her last book featured Adolf Hitler as a hero.” She died at Auschwitz in 1943.  (The New York Times, 7/10/19)

German ambassadors in Buenos Aires almost got to live in a “house in the trees” designed by Walter Gropius and his colleagues at The Architects Collaborative. Alas, the late-1960s project never came to fruition.  (Deutsche Welle, 7/2/19)

Here’s a friendly reminder from the Bauhaus Archive that the art and design school was not all about clean lines, white houses and tubular chairs. Exhibit A: the eccentric Landhaus Ilse, constructed in 1924.  (The Economist, 8/3/19)

Arts

“With luck, the swimmers will get their way, and the gleaming acropolis will live up to its intention of being a truly welcoming civic space.” The James Simon Gallery on Berlin’s Museum Island is now open to visitors.  (The Guardian, 7/8/19; The Economist, 7/12/19)

An exhibition at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn aims to show us how Johann Wolfgang von Goethe transformed the world. (The Art Newspaper, 5/29/19; Art Critique, 6/12/19)

“Though her painting style harks back to the 19th century, Laserstein’s portraits look astonishingly modern.” See Lotte Laserstein’s work for yourself at the Berlinische Galerie, now through August 12.  (Art & Object, 6/10/19; Apollo, 6/20/19)

Practical and philosophical problems continue to plague the Humboldt Forum in Berlin’s city center. Its opening has been now been delayed until 2020.  (The New York Times, 6/13/19; The Guardian, 6/16/19)

Pioneering photojournalist Gerda Taro was killed in 1937, just days before her 27th birthday, while documenting the carnage of the Spanish Civil War.  (Open Culture, 6/11/19)

A new exhibition at the Kunsthalle Rostock recalls the Palast der Republik as “a kind of microcosm of the GDR as one would have wished it to be.”  (The Art Newspaper, 5/31/19; The New York Times, 6/7/19)

Berlin has become a go-to destination for Chinese artists, writers, performers, and filmmakers who are “up to no good by the standards of Beijing’s morality police.”  (The Atlantic, 5/25/19)

“Around 30 ‘Judensau’ (Jewish Sow) images still exist in medieval churches around Europe, primarily in Germany…Their intention was to dehumanize Jewish people, provoking scorn and ridicule by associating them with a beast considered impure and dirty.”  (The Art Newspaper, 5/30/19)

One down, two to go—the first of Germany’s new Bauhaus museums opens in Weimar.  (artnet, 4/8/19; The Guardian, 4/17/19)

The exhibition “Emil Nolde. A German Legend: The Artist During the Nazi Regime,” now showing at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, reveals that “while his art was persecuted, the artist himself was not.”  (The New York Times, 4/10/19)

What’s not to love about Bauhausmädels: A Tribute to Pioneering Women Artists, a new Taschen book by Patrick Rössler?!  (Afar, 4/18/19; Creative Boom, 4/30/19)

The historic Clayallee building that briefly housed the Nazi-era Luftwaffe—and then, until 1994, headquarters for the U.S. occupation forces—is now home to Fluentum, a showcase for contemporary video art.  (The Art Newspaper, 5/2/19)

“Poor no more, but still sexy? Berlin seeks its art world niche.”  (The New York Times, 4/29/19)

“By both rejecting style when it could be reduced to fashion, and embracing an aesthetic that was too easily reduced by followers and commentators to exactly that, the Bauhaus ensured that its legacy would be universally embraced and almost as widely misunderstood.”  (The New York Times, 4/30/19)

In a new biography, Fiona MacCarthy transforms Walter Gropius “from a dull institutionalist…into a stylistic rebel who lived and loved in an exuberant community of artist outcasts that would be scattered across the world after Weimar Germany became the Third Reich.”  (The New Republic, 4/2/19; The Guardian, 4/25/19)

The culture ministers from all 16 German states have agreed on a set of guidelines for the restitution of colonial-era artifacts.  (artnet, 3/14/19; The New York Times, 3/15/19)

“Dozens of men, and a handful of women, glare mirthlessly from the walls of New York’s Neue Galerie, their urgent eyes and pensive frowns demanding that we pause and return their gaze.”  (Financial Times, 3/7/19)

Four descendants and students of the Bauhaus artists remember the individuals behind the movement.  (Financial Times, 4/5/19)

“The Whole World a Bauhaus,” at the Elmhurst Art Museum through April 20, is a “solid deep-dive primer even if it doesn’t take on the big question: How should we view the Bauhaus today?”  (Chicago Tribune, 3/8/19; CityLab, 3/13/19)

Forget the boxy architecture—the real legacy of the Bauhaus, writes Edwin Heathcote, is its “magical weirdness . . . the gothic fashion, the extreme pretentiousness, the learning of craft, the exuberant hope, the tolerance for the different, the dark and the downright strange.”  (Financial Times, 3/1/19; CityLab, 3/13/19)

“Forging Hitler’s art is a time-honoured tradition.”  (The Art Newspaper, 2/26/19; The New York Times, 3/6/19; Prospect, 4/2/19)

Ali Fitzgerald’s graphic memoir, Drawn to Berlin: Comic Workshops in Refugee Shelters and Other Stories from a New Europe depicts “a city and the refugees who’ve tried to adopt it as their own, as well as the medium of comics as a tool for self-knowledge.”  (The Atlantic, 11/7/18; Los Angeles Review of Books, 2/9/19)

The Magic Flute meets Weimar Berlin: “The sheer inventiveness of the staging, its fantastical mix of animation and live action, is hard to resist.”  (The New York Times, 7/18/19)

Rammstein was “a tough proposition for many people to get their heads around. But like most things relating to this deceptively enigmatic and frequently misunderstood band, there’s a method to the madness in everything they do.”  (The New Yorker, 5/20/19;  Louder, 7/4/19)

Brexit party MEPs turned their backs during the EU anthem at the opening of the European Parliament. Politicians of all stripes have happily associated themselves with Beethoven’s Ninth and “Ode to Joy” for nearly 200 years. But rejecting Beethoven? Not so much.  (The Guardian, 7/3/19)

In 1917, the Boston Symphony declined to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” in concert— ushering in a brouhaha that led to the internment of its Swiss German music director, Karl Muck. Now Melissa D. Burrage has written a comprehensive history of the scandal.  (The New Yorker, 7/2/19)

“In the case of Stockhausen,” writes Alex Ross, “only the colossal will suffice. ‘Aus Licht’ turned out to be the kind of inexplicable marvel that one waits half a lifetime to see.”  (The New York Times, 6/4/19; The New Yorker, 6/17/19)

“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator,” Kraftwerk sang in 1981. That same year, the band commissioned a special version of Casio’s VL-80 that doubled as a musical synthesizer.  (Open Culture, 6/6/19)

“‘Sound’ doesn’t come close to describing the experience. What the band produces penetrates to the bone marrow.” Classical music writer Rick Fulker attends his first Rammstein concert.  (Deutsche Welle, 5/28/19)

Stockhausen “is the ultimate conundrum for those of us who believe keenly in shifting classical music culture away from its alpha-male genius complex—but are still enthralled by the music.” Kate Molleson considers “the cult of Karlheinz.”  (The Guardian, 5/21/19; The New York Times, 5/24/19)

Headphones on! Here’s a handy introduction to the leitmotifs of Wagner’s Ring cycle.  (The New York Times, 4/23/19)

Alex Ross considers the quality, and the moral quandary, of the Berlin Philharmonic’s new 22-CD box set of Wilhelm Furtwängler’s radio recordings from 1939–1945.  (The New Yorker, 5/2/19)

“4 new operas in 4 months? Only in Berlin.”  (The New York Times, 4/24/19)

What makes the scene between Wotan and Brünnhilde in Act II of Die Walküre the heart of the Ring Cycle, and also “one of the most profound depictions of a father-daughter relationship in all the arts”? Anthony Tommasini breaks it down.  (The New York Times, 3/19/19)

Nearly two centuries after Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel composed her Easter Sonata, she’s finally getting her due.  (OUPblog, 3/28/19)

In memoriam: Michael Gielen (1927-2019). He was a champion of 20th-century art music and one of the most distinguished conductors of the postwar era.  (Classical Iconoclast, 3/8/19; The New York Times, 3/13/19)

 

 

The Magic Flute meets Weimar Berlin: “The sheer inventiveness of the staging, its fantastical mix of animation and live action, is hard to resist.”  (The New York Times, 7/18/19)

It’s time for that strange, centuries-old tradition of passing on the Iffland Ring to the “most worthy” actor who performs in German. The new recipient is Jens Harzer.  (The New York Times, 6/12/19)

There’s just a few days left to see Anna at London’s National Theatre. Set in 1968 East Berlin, Ella Hickson’s play asks its audience to put on headphones and “spy on the lives of a nation gripped by revolutionary promise.”  (The Guardian, 5/16/19; The Arts Desk, 5/22/19)

A rare performance of The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken, a 1927 operetta by Kurt Weill and Georg Kaiser, took place in London.  (The Guardian, 4/27/19; The Times of Israel, 5/19/19)

“When it comes to cutting-edge drama, more is more” at Theatertreffen Berlin.  (The New York Times, 5/16/19; Hyperallergic, 5/18/19)

Headphones on! Here’s a handy introduction to the leitmotifs of Wagner’s Ring cycle.  (The New York Times, 4/23/19)

“This is a play about the care that people, and nations, owe to the weakest among them.” The off-Broadway production All Our Children takes on the euthanizing of the disabled in Nazi Germany.  (The Broadway Blog, 4/14/19; The New York Times, 4/17/19)

Maggie Smith returns to the London stage as Joseph Goebbels’s secretary Brunhilde Pomsel in a one-woman show based on the 2016 film documentary A German Life.  (The Guardian, 4/12/19; Financial Times, 4/15/19)

“4 new operas in 4 months? Only in Berlin.”  (The New York Times, 4/24/19)

What makes the scene between Wotan and Brünnhilde in Act II of Die Walküre the heart of the Ring Cycle, and also “one of the most profound depictions of a father-daughter relationship in all the arts”? Anthony Tommasini breaks it down.  (The New York Times, 3/19/19)

Wow! Three remarkable one-man shows in the German-speaking theater world—based on the career of conductor Karl Böhm, and also the novels Submission (Houellebecq) and The Tin Drum (Grass).  (The New York Times, 2/22/19)

 

 

“Quick! There’s been a death on the dullest border in Europe!” Reviews of the new Austro-German thriller Der Pass may be more entertaining than the series itself.  (The Guardian, 7/31/19; The Telegraph, 7/31/19)

In memoriam: Artur Brauner (1918-2019), prolific film producer whose work ranged from the Winnetou films to Europa, Europa. “He did much to keep Germans entertained through the decades after the second world war—and also made sure that they did not ignore the dark realities of their history that he had experienced firsthand.”  (AP, 7/7/19; Financial Times, 7/11/19)

Did we really need a prestige TV reboot of Das Boot?  (The New York Times, 6/16/19; The New Republic, 6/19/19)

In All is Well (Alles Ist Gut) Eva Trobisch “has made a drama of tragic accommodation—limited not to one woman’s sexual assault, but to the everyday interactions that all women must navigate carefully.”  (The New York Times, 6/6/19)

Thomas Stuber’s In the Aisles (In den Gängen) “finds beauty and glimmers of hope in the drab and mind-numbingly symmetrical corridors of a German wholesale supermarket.”  (RogerEbert.com, 6/14/19; Los Angeles Times, 6/20/19)

The history of African-Germans in the Third Reich deserves greater attention—too bad the 2018 film Where Hands Touch seems to have missed the mark so widely.  (The Telegraph, 5/9/19; BBC, 5/21/19)

J. Hoberman recalls the NYC reception of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Fox and His Friends in 1975.  (The New York Times, 5/31/19)

“The Blue Angel is as fierce as ever.” Josef von Sternberg’s classic film, starring Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings, is in theaters again.  (The Guardian, 5/30/19)

In memoriam: Hannelore Elsner (1942–2019), celebrated actress “who moved easily between art house cinema and mainstream television without losing her edge.”  (The Hollywood Reporter, 4/23/19; The New York Times, 5/10/19)

Wolfgang Fischer’s Styx, starring Susanne Wolff, “begins as a high-seas adventure in isolationism” and “ends as a confronting portrait of the thin towline connecting us all as humans—but not connecting us all equally.”  (The Washington Post, 3/13/19; Little White Lies, 4/23/19)

At last we have Berlin Bouncer, a documentary about the “regular people that stand between clubbers and a weekend of debauchery.”  (The Guardian, 4/16/19)

Christian Petzold’s adaptation of Anna Seghers’s 1944 novel Transit is “unstuck in history. . . unfolding like a remake of ‘Casablanca’ as written by Franz Kafka.”  (Indiewire, 2/17/18; The New York Times, 2/28/19)

Here’s the long 1972 interview with director Fritz Lang you didn’t know you were missing.  (MUBI Notebook, 12/4/18)

The Invisibles is “two movies spliced into one” — a set of interviews with four German Jews who survived in hiding in Nazi Berlin, and a scripted drama that reimagines their stories.  (The New York Times, 1/24/19; NPR, 1/29/19)

 

 

 

History

Welcome to Oldenburg, Indiana, “where people are deeply proud of their German immigrant heritage and deeply conflicted about how to think about immigration today.”  (The New York Times, 8/1/19)

“German pacifism is here to stay, and there’s no use asking the country to be what it isn’t.”  (The New York Times, 7/23/19)

At first glance, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “rejection of ‘analogies between the Holocaust and other events’ might seem like a laudable attempt to affirm the unprecedented character of the mass murder of the Jews of Europe. In fact, it makes conveying the weight of that atrocity impossible, and it releases us from any obligation, as a nation, to self-criticism.”  (The Washington Post, 6/19/19;  The New York Review of Books, 7/1/19; Slate, 7/12/19)

The “house by the lake” in Gross Glienicke has been beautifully restored. It’s now a center for education and reconciliation called the Alexander Haus.  (The Guardian, 6/16/19)

“The story of Ms. Landecker, whose Jewish father was murdered by the Nazis, and Mr. Reimann, whose fervent Nazism and abuse of forced laborers did not stop his family from attaining colossal wealth after the war, is a tale of death and devotion and human contradictions. It is also a tale of modern-day corporate atonement.”  (The New York Times, 6/14/19; The New York Times, 6/14/19)

“We’re witnessing a new intensity of discussions with our visitors”: Present-day anxieties are changing how visitors experience National Socialist concentration camp memorials.  (The Washington Post, 6/26/19)

“We won’t rebuild, we won’t restore, but we will conserve”: the city of Nuremberg has developed a plan for maintaining the ruins of infamous National Socialist rally grounds.  (The Art Newspaper, 5/20/19)

The history of African-Germans in the Third Reich deserves greater attention—too bad the 2018 film Where Hands Touch seems to have missed the mark so widely.  (The Telegraph, 5/9/19; BBC, 5/21/19)

Pioneering photojournalist Gerda Taro was killed in 1937, just days before her 27th birthday, while documenting the carnage of the Spanish Civil War.  (Open Culture, 6/11/19)

“Four elements—the U.S. security guarantee, the international free-trade regime, the democratic wave, and the suppression of nationalism,” writes Robert Kagan, “have together kept the old German question buried deep under the soil.” Ominously, all four are now up in the air.  (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2019)

A new exhibition at the Kunsthalle Rostock recalls the Palast der Republik as “a kind of microcosm of the GDR as one would have wished it to be.”  (The Art Newspaper, 5/31/19; The New York Times, 6/7/19)

A century has passed, and the Weimar Republic is as compelling as ever.  (The Guardian,  5/25/19)

Tim Bouverie’s new history of the road to World War II depicts the evolution of appeasement “from a reactive, fearful policy to an enthusiastic, idealistic project to what can only be deemed a strenuous exercise in willful denial.”  (The Guardian, 4/14/19; The New York Times, 6/4/19)

“Around 30 ‘Judensau’ (Jewish Sow) images still exist in medieval churches around Europe, primarily in Germany…Their intention was to dehumanize Jewish people, provoking scorn and ridicule by associating them with a beast considered impure and dirty.”  (The Art Newspaper, 5/30/19)

“Weimar bureaucrats began exerting ever greater state supervision over radio content to try to depoliticize it.” In News from Germany, Heidi Tworek shows how these attempts to regulate new media didn’t turn out as planned.  (The Washington Post, 4/19/19; The Atlantic, 5/26/19)

A special exhibition at Berlin’s German Historical Museum “is not just about how democracy unraveled in the decade that followed the first Weimar elections in 1919. It is also about whether something like that may again be happening across Europe in 2019.”  (The Guardian, 5/16/19)

“Like the historian Tacitus, Trevor-Roper chronicled the death of a tyranny; and, like the satirist Juvenal, he skewered his victims by making them ludicrous.”  (Spectator, 3/29/19)

“Seventy years in, the success of a united Germany is a story so big that it can be hard to see except at a distance.”  (The Atlantic, 5/8/19)

Tony Rehagen explains how rural German-Americans “somehow forgot what it meant to be immigrants.”  (The Boston Globe, 4/12/19)

The culture ministers from all 16 German states have agreed on a set of guidelines for the restitution of colonial-era artifacts.  (artnet, 3/14/19; The New York Times, 3/15/19)

East Germany was “one of the first countries to allow gay men into its military, an achievement that the United States took twenty-three years to match.” Samuel Clowes Huneke takes a closer look at the pro-gay reforms of the GDR in its final years.  (Boston Review, 4/18/19)

In The Fourth Reich: The Specter of Nazism from World War II to the Present, Gavriel Rosenfeld has written a compelling history of something that never happened.  (New Statesman, 3/13/19; Los Angeles Review of Books, 4/1/19)

The state apartments of the Residenzschloss in Dresden, reconstructed in all their Baroque splendor, will open to visitors in September.  (The New York Times, 3/14/19)

“Why didn’t the correspondents in the thirties see Hitler? Because they thought he was a German Mussolini,” says Daniel Schneidermann, author of Berlin 1933.  (The New Yorker, 3/14/19)

In Time and Power, Christopher Clark examines how Prussian and German leaders “learnt to bend the past to suit the present” in four different centuries.  (New Statesman, 2/13/19; Standpoint, 3/2019)

“Ernst Jünger’s Second World War was less dramatic than his first; it could hardly be otherwise.” Find out more from his journals as an officer in occupied Paris, newly translated by Thomas and Abby Hansen.  (The Washington Post, 1/16/19; New Statesman, 2/20/19)

“Together, the Stolpersteine now constitute the largest decentralized monument in the world.”  (The Guardian, 2/18/19)

 

 

 

Books & Ideas

Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself, Florian Huber’s history of the suicide epidemic that accompanied the end of Nazi Germany, has now been published in English, in a translation by Imogen Taylor.  (The Guardian, 6/20/19; The Economist, 7/11/19)

Dystopian fiction about Brexit Britain has become a German literary trend.  (The Guardian, 6/30/19)

Audre Lorde, the black feminist lesbian poet who “played a pivotal role in the birth of the Afro-German identity movement,” spent formative years in Berlin during the 1980s and early 90s, before her untimely death.  (The New York Times, 7/19/19)

“When people discuss together, in conditions free of domination, there is an assumption that it is possible to reach a consensus, by what Habermas calls ‘the pressureless pressure of the better argument.‘ That almost no arguments in real life are actually like this is part of Habermas’s point.”  (New Statesman, 6/26/19)

Fake news! In 1963, Hans Traxler concocted an elaborate literary hoax about the real Hansel and Gretel.  (Atlas Obscura,  7/3/19)

“Bachmann’s vision is so original that the effect is like having a new letter of the alphabet.” Ingeborg Bachmann’s 1971 novel Malina has a fresh translation by Philip Boehm.  (The Nation, 6/18/19; The Guardian, 6/29/19)

“In Elvia Wilk’s ‘Oval,’ Berlin is where the late capitalist apocalypse finally happens.”  (The Nation, 6/4/19; NPR, 6/7/19)

“Tell me who your enemy is, and I will tell you who you are”: The anti-liberalism of legal theorist Carl Schmitt is making a comeback.  (Financial Times, 1/11/19; New Statesman, 4/10/19)

Tim Bouverie’s new history of the road to World War II depicts the evolution of appeasement “from a reactive, fearful policy to an enthusiastic, idealistic project to what can only be deemed a strenuous exercise in willful denial.”  (The Guardian, 4/14/19; The New York Times, 6/4/19)

“Weimar bureaucrats began exerting ever greater state supervision over radio content to try to depoliticize it.” In News from Germany, Heidi Tworek shows how these attempts to regulate new media didn’t turn out as planned.  (The Washington Post, 4/19/19; The Atlantic, 5/26/19)

“The Great American Novel that came from Germany”: Here’s a lovely introduction to Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl, newly translated by Damion Searls.  (The Baffler, 5/2019)

What’s not to love about Bauhausmädels: A Tribute to Pioneering Women Artists, a new Taschen book by Patrick Rössler?!  (Afar, 4/18/19; Creative Boom, 4/30/19)

Martin Buber “had preached the importance of saying ‘You,’ but the Holocaust represented the ultimate triumph of the ‘It’,’ reducing human beings to mere things.”  (The New Yorker, 4/29/19)

Now you, too, can hike vicariously with Nietzsche and philosophy professor John Kaag.  (The Atlantic, 10/2018; The Guardian, 4/10/19)

In The Fourth Reich: The Specter of Nazism from World War II to the Present, Gavriel Rosenfeld has written a compelling history of something that never happened.  (New Statesman, 3/13/19; Los Angeles Review of Books, 4/1/19)

Now you can read Metropolis, Philip Kerr’s last Bernie Gunther story: “Wonderfully plotted, with elegant prose, witty dialogue, homages to German Expressionism and a strong emotional charge, this is a bittersweet ending to a superb series.”  (The Guardian, 4/4/19; The Washington Post, 4/9/19)

Christian Petzold’s adaptation of Anna Seghers’s 1944 novel Transit is “unstuck in history. . . unfolding like a remake of ‘Casablanca’ as written by Franz Kafka.”  (Indiewire, 2/17/18; The New York Times, 2/28/19)

“The story is fictional, and the ink is true.” Benedict Wells’s fourth novel, Vom Ende der Einsamkeit, has been translated into English by Charlotte Collins (The End of Loneliness).  (The New York Times, 1/24/19; The Guardian, 3/20/19)

Kurt Vonnegut grappled with his traumatic memories of the firebombing of Dresden for more than two decades before publishing Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969.  (The New York Times, 3/21/19)

In Time and Power, Christopher Clark examines how Prussian and German leaders “learnt to bend the past to suit the present” in four different centuries.  (New Statesman, 2/13/19; Standpoint, 3/2019)

Just in time for anguished end-stage Brexit negotiations, Robert Menasse’s “unexpectedly delightful book about Brussels” (translated by Jamie Bulloch as The Capital) has at last made it to English bookstores.  (The Economist, 2/16/19; The Arts Desk, 3/10/19)

Wolfgang J. Fuchs shares a few words on the art of comic book translation—he’s been working in the field since 1965.  (Deutsche Welle, 3/13/19)

“Ernst Jünger’s Second World War was less dramatic than his first; it could hardly be otherwise.” Find out more from his journals as an officer in occupied Paris, newly translated by Thomas and Abby Hansen.  (The Washington Post, 1/16/19; New Statesman, 2/20/19)

“‘Faust’ was the original viral content, and it’s still relevant today.” Olivia Giovetti looks back at retellings of the 400-year-old story, from Christopher Marlowe to The Americans.  (Electric Literature, 2/19/19)

“When a refugee flees to another country and claims asylum, she is, in effect, petitioning the state to listen to her story . . .  Where the state has failed to meet its moral obligation to listen, writers like Jenny Erpenbeck have stepped in.”  (Longreads, 2/2019)

Ali Fitzgerald’s graphic memoir, Drawn to Berlin: Comic Workshops in Refugee Shelters and Other Stories from a New Europe depicts “a city and the refugees who’ve tried to adopt it as their own, as well as the medium of comics as a tool for self-knowledge.”  (The Atlantic, 11/7/18; Los Angeles Review of Books, 2/9/19)

We can read Christa Wolf’s journals, writes Becca Rothfeld, “not as the sum of her worst lapses and most public mistakes, not as a political symbol or a work of history, but as a testament to her haltingly singular self.”  (The Nation, 2/22/19)

 

 

Et Cetera

Welcome to Oldenburg, Indiana, “where people are deeply proud of their German immigrant heritage and deeply conflicted about how to think about immigration today.”  (The New York Times, 8/1/19)

Luxury renovation has become a tool for displacement in Germany’s capital city, but Berliners aren’t giving up without a fight.  (The New Yorker, 7/12/19; CityLab, 7/16/19)

“German pacifism is here to stay, and there’s no use asking the country to be what it isn’t.”  (The New York Times, 7/23/19)

The “house by the lake” in Gross Glienicke has been beautifully restored. It’s now a center for education and reconciliation called the Alexander Haus.  (The Guardian, 6/16/19)

“But, of course, honesty is only synonymous with Germany if you don’t know much about its storied history of prevarication.” No worries! Here’s Rebecca Schuman’s hilarious hot take on Otto IV, Luther, Nietzsche, Volkswagen, and the Miracle of Bern.  (Longreads, 6/2019)

Resettled refugees in Germany are participating in apprenticeship programs and filling needed jobs, and the benefits are mutual.  (The Washington Post, 5/5/19; Al Jazeera, 6/20/19; The Washington Post, 7/17/19)

“It’s only in Ms. Merkel’s absence that Germans realize how different she is from her party—an easy mistake, because she has led the center right since taking office 14 years ago. But Ms. Merkel did not stand for conservatism. In fact, she was the greenest chancellor Germany has ever had…”  (The New York Times, 6/19/19)

“Four elements—the U.S. security guarantee, the international free-trade regime, the democratic wave, and the suppression of nationalism,” writes Robert Kagan, “have together kept the old German question buried deep under the soil.” Ominously, all four are now up in the air.  (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2019)

Environmental issues are only part of the story. Here’s how the German Green Party has become more successful than ever.  (The Local, 5/27/19; The Conversation, 5/29/19)

“Some 200,000 Jews live in Germany, a nation of 82 million people, and many are increasingly fearful.”  (The New York Times, 5/21/19; The Washington Post, 5/28/19; The Guardian, 5/31/19)

An EU hoodie has become the “it-garment” of German politicians. At the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger’s hoodie “got more attention than his dire warnings about the collapse of the post-World War II global order.”  (The Local, 5/23/19)

Giles Macdonogh attempts to show us that German humor is underrated.  (Standpoint, 4/30/19)

Hello, Dackelmuseum! “The world’s first and only museum in honour of the dachshund” is the new pride of Passau.  (1843, 5/15/19)

“When Karsten Hilse, an eastern lawmaker for the anti-immigrant, anti-wolf Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, talks about wolves, it sounds a lot as if he is talking about immigrants. And sometimes he is.”  (The New York Times, 4/23/19)

“One by one, the fixed stars that have guided German foreign policy for generations have started to dim.”  (Financial Times, 4/23/19)

In other words: current political trends are just as troubling in Germany as nearly everywhere else.  (The Washington Post, 4/12/19; The New York Times, 4/15/19)

Sadly, it’s the end of the road for Handelsblatt Today. But you can still appreciate Andreas Kluth’s observations on the “deep-seated differences between German and Anglo-Saxon storytelling.”  (Handelsblatt Today, 2/27/19)

“When a refugee flees to another country and claims asylum, she is, in effect, petitioning the state to listen to her story . . .  Where the state has failed to meet its moral obligation to listen, writers like Jenny Erpenbeck have stepped in.”  (Longreads, 2/2019)

It’s Grünkohl season in northern Germany, where kale is a beloved — if not exactly vegetarian — culinary specialty.  (The New York Times, 2/26/19)

About me

 

I’m a German-English translator with years of professional experience as a writer, teacher, and historian. To learn more about my work, please visit translatorplease.com.

I started kulturplease.com in 2009, when I was in between careers and craving a little more Kultur in my daily life. My life—and the world at large—has changed a lot since then. But I’m just as enthusiastic about following the latest developments in the German arts and culture, and celebrating the talented people who write about them.

I aspire to keep this site as up-to-date as possible, but sometimes life intervenes. If it looks like I haven’t updated things in awhile, stay tuned! I’ll be back. You can also look for me on Twitter.

Elizabeth Janik