Music

 

 


Art & Design

 

 


Books & Ideas

 

 


Film

 

 


Theater

 

 


History

 

 


Et Cetera

 

Music

 


Art & Design

 


Books & Ideas

 

 

 


Film

 


Theater

 

 

 


History

 

 


Et Cetera

 

Please note that archived hyperlinks may no longer be functional.

Music

A newly rediscovered song by Kurt Weill!  Listen to the Lied vom weissen Käse here.  (The New York Times, 11/6/17)

Blockflöte über alles: “Indeed, Germans have a different view of both national identity and patriotism than we do, and Kazim’s video manages to be a perfect demonstration of both.”  (The Awl, 11/2/17)

The Berlin Staatsoper is reopening after a seven-year renovation.  (The New York Times, 9/3/17; The New York Times, 12/8/17)

Wagner and Ludwig were many things to each other: provocateur and protector, composer and patron, wily old showman and deep-pocketed fanboy.”  (Lapham’s Quarterly, Fall 2017)

“But the Stasi were on to something. Even if they didn’t understand Zappa, they understood that people who liked Zappa were trouble.”  (PRI, 8/9/17)

“In 1960, four years after the venerable Blue Note Records signed pianist Jutta Hipp, she stopped performing entirely.” Here’s a look back at the too-short career of Europe’s “First Lady of Jazz.”  (Longreads, 8/4/17)

At this year’s Bayreuth Festival, Barrie Kosky presents a high-concept Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg that stars Richard Wagner himself.  (The Guardian, 7/27/17; The New York Times, 8/1/17; The New York Review of Books, 8/8/17)

The world’s most powerful leaders just attended a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth. How well did they listen?  (Los Angeles Times, 7/8/17;The New York Times, 7/9/17; The New Yorker, 7/12/17)

Wim Wenders, Daniel Barenboim and Georges Bizet: when giants meet, the outcome should be huge.” Alas, The Pearl Fishers earns only mixed reviews at the Berlin Staatsoper.  (The New York Times, 6/20/17; Financial Times, 6/26/17)

Beginning in September 1965, Beat Club brought the youth rock revolution to German television viewers. (Open Culture, 5/25/17)

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 Guardian, 8/8/17 The New York Times, 11/23/17)

Brahms’s A German Requiem “has become something of an anthem for our time, with grand social and political reverberations.”  (The New York Times, 5/12/17)

“Slowly but surely, Germany has played catch-up with Weill’s music — in particular through the Kurt Weill festival in Dessau, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary.”  (The New York Times, 3/9/17)

“The Elbphilharmonie is the concert hall that Hamburg needs. The Pierre Boulez Saal is what the world needs.”  (The New York Times, 3/3/17; Los Angeles Times, 3/5/17; The New Yorker, 5/22/17)

The conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler was “naïve, vain, fatherly, occasionally high-handed and unstintingly devoted to his art.”  (Gramophone, 3/1/17)

If I Think of Germany at Night, a new documentary by Romuald Karmukar, is an intimate portrait of techno DJs at work. (The Hollywood Reporter, 2/14/17; The Economist, 5/22/17)

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)

Ute Lemper brings “Songs of Eternity” and an important message for today to Washington DC.  (The Washington Post, 2/3/17)

In memoriam: Jaki Liebezeit (1938-2017), “the rigorously minimal and quietly influential drummer for the 1970s German experimental rock band Can.”  (The Guardian, 1/23/17; Rolling Stone, 1/23/17; The New York Times, 1/25/17)

Take a tour of Germany’s grandest pipe organs with Akhil Sharma.  (Financial Times, 1/19/17)

The Konzerthausorchester Berlin pays homage to “the sweet sound of currywurst.”  (The Local, 1/17/17)

“The €789m Elbphilharmonie is an astonishing building: unpredictable, unforgiving and not entirely beautiful, but also generous, open and profound in its relationship with the docks, the city and the sky.”  (Financial Times, 12/2/16; Deutsche Welle, 1/9/17; The New York Times, 1/10/17;Los Angeles Times, 3/23/17)


Art & Design

Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt delves into its own cultural history with an exhibition on “Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom and the Cold War.”  (The Guardian, 12/4/17)

You know her notorious nephew, but Expressionist artist Cornelia Gurlitt appears to have been the real talent in the family.  (artnet, 11/13/17)

Jens Müller’s Pioneers of German Graphic Design deserves a place of honor on your coffee table.  (The Verge, 11/12/17; Third Coast Review, 11/13/17)

ArtReview names Hito Steyerl the most influential person in contemporary art.  (The Guardian, 11/2/17; The New York Times, 12/15/17)

Four years after their rediscovery, works from the Gurlitt art trove are at last on display in Bern and Bonn—but questions of provenance remain.  (The New York Times, 11/1/17; artnet, 11/3/17; The New York Times, 11/19/17)

Election 2017
Oh, how I love German election posters!  (Deutsche Welle, 8/9/17; The Awl, 9/7/17; Buzzfeed, 9/20/17)

Don’t worry about Betroffenheitskitsch, and take another look at the work of Käthe Kollwitz.  (artnet, 7/18/17)

Six caves in southwestern Germany, “home to some of the world’s oldest art,” have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.  (artnet, 7/11/17)

“A horde of zombies overtook Hamburg ahead of the G20 summit, for art’s sake.”  (Deutsche Welle, 7/5/17; artnet, 7/6/17)

“There is no difference between the beautiful sex and the strong sex,'” Bauhaus director Walter Gropius “once insisted in a somewhat self-defeating pronouncement.”  (Open Culture, 6/29/17)

In Portraying a Nation: Germany 1919-1933, Tate Liverpool gives us the brilliant pairing of August Sander and Otto Dix, delivering “an evocation of a time and place that will stop you in your tracks.”  (The Telegraph, 6/23/17; The Observer, 6/25/17; The Quietus, 7/2/17)

There’s billowing smoke, horizontal piping, and an impressive Parthenon of banned books at Kassel’s Documenta 14.  (Apollo, 6/19/17; The New York Times, 6/23/17; Deutsche Welle, 7/28/17)

Hello, Marlene Dietrich! “One of the most glamorous creatures ever to grace the silver screen is back in pictures at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.”  (CNN, 6/19/17; NPR, 6/19/17; The Washington Post, 8/5/17)

Meet Gerhard Steidl, printer extraordinare. His superlative craftsmanship has earned the regard of the world’s best photographers and fashion houses.  (The New Yorker, 5/22/17)

Markus Lüpertz gets a double retrospective, at Washington DC’s Phillips Collection and Hirshhorn Museum, opening in May.  (Apollo, 5/20/17;The Washington Post, 5/25/17; The Washington Post, 6/2/17)

In memoriam: A.R. Penck, “a leader in the German Neo-Expressionist movement of the 1970s and ’80s, which brought a new sense of historical and political drama to figurative painting.”  (ARTnews, 5/3/17; The Guardian, 5/5/17; The New York Times, 5/5/17)

Kassel’s famed quinquennial has moved to Athens. “This Hellenized Documenta is sometimes forceful, often obscure, and in places exhaustingly proud of itself.”  (The New York Times, 4/9/17; Hyperallergic, 4/10/17; Politico, 4/14/17)

Built as “an unmissable nomument to Communism’s soaring future,” the Berliner Fernsehturm “is still the tallest structure in Germany and the only European TV tower located in a metropolitan center.”  (The New York Times, 4/6/17)

Congratulations to Wolf Erlbruch, winner of the Astrid Lindgren memorial award for children’s literature.  (Deutsche Welle, 4/4/17; The Guardian, 4/4/17)

“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)

Subway architect Rainer Rummler “could actually be one of the great unsung heroes of partitioned West Berlin.” His stations from the early 1980s have just been named historical monuments.  (CityLab, 3/29/17)

Paul Scheerbart’s “drawings, airy nothings composed of dotted ink, are as well-ventilated as his utopian novels.”  (The New York Review of Books, 3/19/17)

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)

“The Elbphilharmonie is the concert hall that Hamburg needs. The Pierre Boulez Saal is what the world needs.”  (The New York Times, 3/3/17; Los Angeles Times, 3/5/17; The New Yorker, 5/22/17)

There’s a lot of Vergangenheitsbewältigung going on in the top auction houses for contemporary art.  (The Guardian, 2/13/17)

In a new exhibition at the Tate Modern, Wolfgang Tillmans shows us the “dazzle and the muddle of our overloaded modern lives.”  (The Economist, 2/9/17; The Guardian, 2/13/17; The Telegraph, 2/14/17)

Manaf Halbouni has erected a striking, 12-meter-tall memorial to the residents of Aleppo in the heart of historic Dresden.  (Deutsche Welle, 2/7/17; The Guardian, 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)

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)

Katharina Grosse’s colorful canvases will brighten your day. They’re on display at NYC’s Gagosian Gallery through March 11.  (Architectural Digest, 1/8/17)

Looking for a visual aid to illustrate Germany’s “obsessive preoccupation with its past,” Thomas die Maizière turns to Gerhard Richter’s Betty.  (artnet, 1/10/17)

“The €789m Elbphilharmonie is an astonishing building: unpredictable, unforgiving and not entirely beautiful, but also generous, open and profound in its relationship with the docks, the city and the sky.”  (Financial Times, 12/2/16; Deutsche Welle, 1/9/17; The New York Times, 1/10/17;Los Angeles Times, 3/23/17)

Terror attack in Berlin
Michael Kimmelman and Thomas de Monchaus unpack the layers of meaning at Breitscheidplatz, heart of western Berlin’s city center and site of the December 19 terror attack.  (The New York Times, 12/20/16; The New Yorker, 1/5/17)


Books & Ideas

German is “a language that likes to invade from all sides. This means that Germans read and speak differently; we scan to the end of the sentence, then we go back and parse it….English speakers make it up as they go along; German speakers have to know where they’re going.”  (Literary Hub, 11/17/17)

Jens Müller’s Pioneers of German Graphic Design deserves a place of honor on your coffee table.  (The Verge, 11/12/17; Third Coast Review, 11/13/17)

“Compromises compromise—they weaken your handshake,” says the narrator of Sieben Nächte. “The only desire that counts is that for a beating heart.” Simon Strauss is at the fore of a new, ultra-romantic literary movement.  (The Guardian, 11/10/17)

Happy birthday, little yellow books! The Reclam Universal-Bibliothek was founded 150 years ago, on November 10, 1867.  (Deutsche Welle, 11/10/17)

“The German novels to be excited about right now have no comedy moustaches and no young men wearing horn-rimmed spectacles. Instead, they’re experimental and full of empathy.”  (The Skinny, 9/18/17)

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

“Can German philosophy be consumed at a common, everyday level without being dumbed down or having its ideas stripped of their complexity?”  (Foreign Policy, 7/24/17)

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)

“Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther solves crimes for Nazi Germany. Why do we like him so much?” If Jane Kramer doesn’t persuade you to readPrussian Blue, nothing will.  (The New Yorker, 7/10/17)

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; The Guardian, 7/28/17)

John le Carré makes an eloquent case for studying German. “Those who teach language, those who cherish its accuracy and meaning and beauty, are the custodians of truth in a dangerous age.”   (The Guardian, 7/1/17)

Alone in Berlin has a complicated backstory: “Historians in Germany allege that Fallada’s fictionalised depiction of resistance to the Nazis has only helped to cover up a true story of collaboration with the communist regime that followed in East Germany.”  (The Guardian, 6/17/17)

“Sebald’s work can put you in mind of Diderot selling his library to Catherine the Great: he seems to be downloading everything he has ever read.”  (The New Yorker, 6/5/17)

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)

Meet Gerhard Steidl, printer extraordinare. His superlative craftsmanship has earned the regard of the world’s best photographers and fashion houses.  (The New Yorker, 5/22/17)

Rüdiger Safranski’s Goethe: Life as a Work of Art, translated by David Dollenmayer, “is aimed squarely at a German readership of Bildungsbürger, educated and tolerant of abstractions and paraphrases.”  (The Washington Post, 5/17/17; Literary Review, 6/2017; The New York Times, 6/6/17; The Economist, 6/15/17; The New York Review of Books, 12/21/17)

“The fake anecdotes are just as good as the real ones, and sometimes a little bit better.” Before he wrote Effi Briest, Theodor Fontane earned a living by concocting fake news.  (Ozy, 5/16/17)

Get ready to start hearing a lot about Martin Luther…” In advance of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Lyndal Roper has written a thought-provoking biography of a difficult hero. (Literary Review, 6/2016; The Spectator, 6/11/16; The Weekly Standard, 5/5/17)

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)

Congratulations to Wolf Erlbruch, winner of the Astrid Lindgren memorial award for children’s literature.  (Deutsche Welle, 4/4/17; The Guardian, 4/4/17)

Walking in Berlin by Franz Hessel (first published in 1929 and newly translated by Amanda DeMarco) presents “a portrait of a city on the brink of irrevocable change.”  (The Independent, 12/14/16; The Guardian, 3/26/17; Los Angeles Review of Books, 5/5/17)

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)

Dive into Stuart Jeffries’ Grand Hotel Abyss, the witty history of the Frankfurt School that we’ve all been waiting for.  (The Washington Post, 9/28/16; The Guardian, 11/3/16; The New York Review of Books, 3/23/17)

The extent of narcotic consumption by Nazi soldiers and Hitler has surprised even those who have spent decades researching this era.” (The New York Times, 12/9/16; The New York Review of Books, 3/9/17; The Guardian, 5/2/17)

“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)

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

Danke, Rebecca Schuman, for bringing us Schadenfreude: A Love Story, a bildungsroman channeling “the weltschmerz of a former wunderkind rejected by the professoriat and exiled to the creative lumpenproletariat.” The freude is ours!  (Slate, 2/16/17; Open Letters Monthly, 6/1/17)

Remember the girl who played with matches instead of listening to her cats? Here’s a fun new translation of the classic Struwwelpeter poem. (The Paris Review, 2/15/17)

What better time to reacquaint yourself with the life and work of Jürgen Habermas? A new biography is here to help. (The Nation, 9/14/16; The Guardian, 2/15/17; The New York Review of Books, 3/23/17; Boston Review, 4/12/17)

Another Marx biography? Gareth Stedman Jones demonstrates an impressive command of his subject in Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion.  (Financial Times, 8/5/16; The New York Times, 10/21/16; The Nation, 2/8/17)

George Prochnik and Maria Schrader discuss the relevance of Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday today.  (The New Yorker, 2/6/17; Los Angeles Review of Books, 2/17/17)

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)

You’ll hear echoes of Robinson Crusoe and The Magic Mountain in Lutz Seiler’s award-winning novel Kruso, now in English translation.  (The Irish Times, 2/4/17; The Guardian, 2/7/17; The Economist, 3/2/17)

“Germany has a soccer team made up entirely of writers.”  (PRI, 1/24/17)

Skip Vincent Perez’s new film Alone in Berlin and read Hans Fallada’s novel instead.  (The Guardian, 2/15/16; Variety, 2/15/16; NPR, 1/12/17)


Film

“The problem is that Germans aren’t really big with suspension of disbelief,” says Jantje Friese, co-creator of Dark, Netflix’s first original German-language series.  (The New York Times, 11/23/17)

A closer look at the history of German film dubbing: “It’s a story of control, denial, a commitment to craft and the discovery of a German funny bone.”  (PRI, 10/11/17)

On August 25, 1967, Willy Brandt introduced West Germans to color TV.  (Deutsche Welle, 8/25/17)

“There was nothing special about the Germans that predisposed them to become killers or, more often, to look away when the killings were done….A quiet-spoken young architect can end up with more blood on his hands than a Jew-baiting thug.” Ian Buruma reviews Marcel Ophuls’s The Memory of Justice.  (The New York Review of Books, 8/17/17)

Hello, Marlene Dietrich! “One of the most glamorous creatures ever to grace the silver screen is back in pictures at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.”  (CNN, 6/19/17; NPR, 6/19/17; The Washington Post, 8/5/17)

In Cate Shortland’s new thriller, Berlin Syndrome, handsome German stranger meets cute with Australian tourist—and then he imprisons her.  (The Guardian, 4/19/17; The New York Times, 5/25/17)

In memoriam: Michael Ballhaus (1935-2017), “cinematographer who brought lyricism and light to films by Martin Scorsese, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and a string of other eminent directors.”  (The Guardian, 4/13/17; The New York Times, 4/14/17; Goethe Institut, 4/2017)

“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)

Greg Gerke takes a closer look at Toni Erdmann‘s “anti-Hollywood ending.”  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 3/17/17)

If I Think of Germany at Night, a new documentary by Romuald Karmukar, is an intimate portrait of techno DJs at work. (The Hollywood Reporter, 2/14/17; The Economist, 5/22/17)

“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)

“Marx and Engels meet cute” in The Young Karl Marx, an intelligent communist bromance directed by Raoul Peck.  (The Guardian, 2/12/17)

“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)

George Prochnik and Maria Schrader discuss the relevance of Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday today.  (The New Yorker, 2/6/17; Los Angeles Review of Books, 2/17/17)

Skip Vincent Perez’s new film Alone in Berlin and read Hans Fallada’s novel instead.  (The Guardian, 2/15/16; Variety, 2/15/16; NPR, 1/12/17)


Theater

Young Marx, “a screwball comedy about socialism’s founding father,” is the opening production at London’s brand-new Bridge Theatre.  (The Guardian, 10/26/17; Variety, 10/27/17; The Economist, 11/3/17)

“What does a dance company do when its sole choreographer and leader, a figure as charismatic and intense as Pina Bausch, dies, leaving her dancers without a clear path forward?” It keeps performing, of course.  (The New York Times, 9/12/17; The New York Times, 9/12/17; The New York Times, 9/15/17)

The Berlin Staatsoper is reopening after a seven-year renovation.  (The New York Times, 9/3/17; The New York Times, 12/8/17)

At this year’s Bayreuth Festival, Barrie Kosky presents a high-concept Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg that stars Richard Wagner himself.  (The Guardian, 7/27/17; The New York Times, 8/1/17; The New York Review of Books, 8/8/17)

Lucie Pohl introduces us to her not quite German, not quite American existence in her one-woman show, Hi, Hitler.  (The New York Times, 7/16/17; The Broadway Blog, 7/17/17)

Wim Wenders, Daniel Barenboim and Georges Bizet: when giants meet, the outcome should be huge.” Alas, The Pearl Fishers earns only mixed reviews at the Berlin Staatsoper.  (The New York Times, 6/20/17; Financial Times, 6/26/17)

Berlin’s Volksbühne has a new artistic director (farewell, Frank Castorf)—but Chris Dercon is unlikely to get a standing ovation from the local theater community anytime soon.  (dispositio, 5/20/17; Deutsche Welle, 5/17/17; Financial Times, 5/26/17; The New York Times, 9/12/17)

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Donmar Warehouse: “Any suggestion of a correlation between the leader of a certain nation and the homicidal gangsters we depict is something that the management must strictly disavow.”  (The Guardian, 5/2/17; Financial Times, 5/3/17; The Independent, 5/3/17)

NYC’s Segal Center hosted a preview of Elfriede Jelinek’s new play, On the Royal Road: The Burgher King (“a provocative European perspective on Donald Trump’s persona”), and you, too, can watch online.  (The New York Times, 3/24/17; Deutsche Welle, 3/28/17; YouTube, 3/29/17)


History

“Physical reminders of the crimes of Hitler and the Nazis confront Germans every day, and while a small minority may not like this, they have no choice but to put up with it. When it comes to accepting the sins of the past, there is, in the end, no alternative for Germany.”  (Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2018)

Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt delves into its own cultural history with an exhibition on “Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom and the Cold War.”  (The Guardian, 12/4/17)

In memoriam: Georg Iggers (1926-2017): distinguished scholar and author of The German Conception of History
—also a refugee from National Socialist Germany himself, and a passionate advocate for civil rights.  (The Buffalo News, 11/26/17)

In Germany, “new arrivals from Syria have awakened old memories about what it means to flee.”  (BBC, 11/19/17)

Prora was constructed (but never used) as a Strength Through Joy holiday resort. Now the nearly three-mile-long compound on the Baltic Sea hopes to attract a luxury clientele. (The Guardian, 11/6/17)

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)

Wagner and Ludwig were many things to each other: provocateur and protector, composer and patron, wily old showman and deep-pocketed fanboy.”  (Lapham’s Quarterly, Fall 2017)

“There was nothing special about the Germans that predisposed them to become killers or, more often, to look away when the killings were done….A quiet-spoken young architect can end up with more blood on his hands than a Jew-baiting thug.” Ian Buruma reviews Marcel Ophuls’s The Memory of Justice.  (The New York Review of Books, 8/17/17)

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; The Guardian, 7/28/17)

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 Guardian, 8/8/17 The New York Times, 11/23/17)

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

The Protestant Reformation turns 500
Get ready to start hearing a lot about Martin Luther…” In advance of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Lyndal Roper has written a thought-provoking biography of a difficult hero. (Literary Review, 6/2016; The Spectator, 6/11/16; The Weekly Standard, 5/5/17)

“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)

The extent of narcotic consumption by Nazi soldiers and Hitler has surprised even those who have spent decades researching this era.” (The New York Times, 12/9/16; The New York Review of Books, 3/9/17; The Guardian, 5/2/17)

“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)

Another Marx biography? Gareth Stedman Jones demonstrates an impressive command of his subject in Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion.  (Financial Times, 8/5/16; The New York Times, 10/21/16; The Nation, 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)

The massacre of the Herero and Nama people is widely recognized as the first genocide of the 20th century. How should Germans today work to heal this “colonial-era wound”?  (The Guardian, 12/25/16; The New York Times, 1/21/17)

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)

Terror attack in Berlin
Michael Kimmelman and Thomas de Monchaus unpack the layers of meaning at Breitscheidplatz, heart of western Berlin’s city center and site of the December 19 terror attack.  (The New York Times, 12/20/16; The New Yorker, 1/5/17)

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)


Et Cetera

“It could still be awhile before Angela Merkel cedes power, but it’s clear that we’ve entered the late phase of Merkelism.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 12/15/17)

“It’s the economy, stupid’ simply does not apply to Germany’s populist voters. Rather, it’s the Kultur.”  (The New York Review of Books, 12/7/17)

Election 2017
“The collapse of coalition talks bodes badly for Angela Merkel, and for democratic governments everywhere.”  (The Economist, 11/20/17;German Marshall Fund, 11/20/17; The New Yorker, 11/20/17; Slate, 11/20/17)

“Kinder Eggs have finally arrived in America”—sort of. Kinder Joy eggs aren’t the classic surprise eggs we’ve all been waiting for, but at least it’s a start.  (Food & Wine, 11/13/2017)

Election 2017
Suddenly, German politics is all about Jamaica. There’s nothing like a Caribbean island to make “stultifying governing coalition talks” a little more interesting.  (The Washington Post, 11/8/17)

Prora was constructed (but never used) as a Strength Through Joy holiday resort. Now the nearly three-mile-long compound on the Baltic Sea hopes to attract a luxury clientele. (The Guardian, 11/6/17)

Blockflöte über alles: “Indeed, Germans have a different view of both national identity and patriotism than we do, and Kazim’s video manages to be a perfect demonstration of both.”  (The Awl, 11/2/17)

Election 2017
“Perhaps it’s a useful dose of realism: As it turns out, Germany is not so exceptional after all.”  (Slate, 9/24/17; The Washington Post, 9/24/17;The Economist, 9/25/17; Spiegel Online – International, 9/25/17)

Election 2017
“Raw emotion, anger, last-minute legal skirmishes, plenty of controversy and a highly uncertain outcome”—the Tegel airport referendum has everything the general election lacks.  (Financial Times, 9/21/17)

Election 2017
Aufgeschoben ist nicht aufgehoben.” Yascha Mounk explains why Germany’s upcoming election is actually not a meaningless snooze-fest.  (Slate, 9/13/17)

Election 2017

From Genderwahn to merkeln, Simon Kuper brings us a helpful vocabulary guide for the German election.  (Financial Times, 8/31/17)

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

Election 2017
Oh, how I love German election posters!  (Deutsche Welle, 8/9/17; The Awl, 9/7/17; Buzzfeed, 9/20/17)

“Vorsprung durch Cheating
“? It seems that Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen have been secretly coordinated technical standards, pricing, and other matters for years.  (Politico, 7/25/17; Spiegel Online – International, 7/27/17; Financial Times, 8/1/17)

Election 2017
“Suddenly Merkel’s astonishing trajectory—from the ash heap of the failed Soviet Empire to becoming the West’s best hope—makes perfect sense: Endure, observe, listen, keep your own counsel, and work twice as hard as the men.”  (Vogue, 7/18/17; The New York Times, 7/23/17; Handelsblatt Global, 8/4/17; Financial Times, 9/14/17)

Yes, there is a German Spelling Council, and it gets to create new letters and tell us how to use them. SCHEIẞE!  (The Awl, 7/5/17; The Local, 7/11/17; Quartz, 7/20/17)

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)

A chance comment by Angela Merkel became her very own “Schabowski moment,” leading to the legalization of same-sex marriage less than one week later.  (Politico, 6/30/17; The Washington Post, 6/30/17; The Economist, 7/1/17)

Business at the port is down, but spirits at the Elbphilharmonie are up. After the G20 summit is over, what will Hamburg’s future look like? (Spiegel Online – International, 6/26/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
“The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over.”  (The Economist, 5/28/17; The New York Times, 5/28/17; The Washington Post, 5/28/17; The American Interest, 5/29/17; The Berlin Policy Journal, 5/30/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
“The Germans are bad, very bad.”  (Slate, 5/25/17; Bloomberg, 5/26/17; Handelsblatt Global, 5/26/17; Spiegel Online – International, 5/26/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
“So, in conclusion, Der Spiegel is hella good at headlines that mine the multivalence of the German language, and Barack Obama is somehow still supposed to save us all from an eternal fiery hell-scape where candidates for elected office can beat journalists up on camera and it helps their chances to win.”  (The Awl, 5/25/17)

“Good institutions thwart radicalism”: in praise of boring German politics.  (Foreign Affairs, 5/17/17)

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

Handshakes, not burqas? Thomas de Maizière reignites the German Leitkultur debate.  (The Guardian, 5/5/17; The New York Times, 5/10/17;German Joys, 5/11/17)

“What if a city”—let’s say Berlin— allowed a huge regeneration project to be led, not by the wealthiest property developer, but by the club owners who put on the best parties in town?”  (The Guardian, 4/30/17)

German citizenship has gotten a lot more appealing for the U.K. and U.S. descendants of those who were once persecuted and fled Hitler’s Germany.  (Handelsblatt Global, 4/28/17; NPR, 5/9/17)

“The storied city of Weimar, Germany (population 65,000) absorbed 900 refugees in a year.”  Here’s a compelling investigation of the new stories that are currently unfolding there.  (The New York Times, 4/28/17; The New York Times, 5/2/17)

“But it’s increasingly clear that one country’s allegedly evidence-based Besserwisserei is another country’s intolerable smugness.”  (Foreign Policy, 4/27/17)

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)

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

Berlin, of course: “Nowhere else outside Moscow and St Petersburg boasts so many Russian painters, musicians, composers and writers,drawn by the city’s cheap rents and alternative vibe.”  (Financial Times, 3/24/17)

Yes, parts of SPD candidate Martin Schulz’s “tune might sound like nationalism. But it might just be Social Democracy taken out of the freezer,where it had been placed by the neoliberal left in the 1990s.”  (The New York Times, 3/23/17)

Are Germany’s cybersecurity experts ready for the inevitable onslaught ahead?  (Politico, 3/21/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
When Merkel met Trump . . . low expectations were duly met.  (The Economist, 3/18/17; The New York Times, 3/18/17; AICGS, 3/22/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
Welcome to “the old German nightmare: the fear of being a large, isolated power at the centre of Europe.” But this time “Germany’s current loneliness has very little to do with the country’s own malign behaviour.”  (Financial Times, 3/6/17)

“While others saw refugees, this German professor saw human potential.”  (NPR, 2/9/17)

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)

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)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
“For Germany, Trump poses a threat with no clear solution.”  (Foreign Affairs, 1/29/17; German Marshall Fund, 2/3/17; Spiegel Online – International, 2/5/17; The New York Times, 2/6/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
Angela Merkel has been “outfoxing, outlasting, and outmaneuvering full-of-themselves male rivals” for a very long time.  (Foreign Policy, 1/31/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
“Sometimes,” writes Malte Lehming, “being aware of the tragedy is enough to prevent the farce from happening. Thanks, Trump voters!”  (The Washington Post, 1/26/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
In Germany, it’s no longer illegal to insult foreign heads of state.  (The Washington Post, 1/25/17)

“Germany has a soccer team made up entirely of writers.”  (PRI, 1/24/17)

Germany, the United States, and the new world disorder
“The best anyone can say about German-American relations these days is that, for the time being, they are dangerously lost in translation.”  (The New York Times, 1/20/17)

Just in time for an anxious election season, Germany’s political fringe showcases its own charismatic xenophobe.  (The New York Times, 1/18/17)

Terror attack in Berlin
Michael Kimmelman and Thomas de Monchaus unpack the layers of meaning at Breitscheidplatz, heart of western Berlin’s city center and site of the December 19 terror attack.  (The New York Times, 12/20/16; The New Yorker, 1/5/17)

From the vantage point of a small town on the Starnberger See, Renata Adler contemplates the prospects for Germany’s unprecedented experiment in welcoming refugees.  (Lapham’s Quarterly, Winter 2017)

Please note that archived hyperlinks may no longer be functional.   

                
Music

The €789m Elbphilharmonie is an astonishing building: unpredictable, unforgiving and not entirely beautiful, but also generous, open and profound in its relationship with the docks, the city and the sky.”  (Financial Times, 12/2/16; Deutsche Welle, 1/9/17; The New York Times, 1/10/17;Los Angeles Times, 3/23/17)

“Tonight at six I will listen to the Furtwängler concert on the radio,” Hermann da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote to his wife Käthe, while imprisoned at Buchenwald. “Why don’t you, too, turn on the radio on Sundays, so we can think of each other fervently.”  (The New York Times, 5/4/16)

From the land of “long entertainment,” Wagner’s Ring Cycle is the original binge-watching experience.  (The Washington Post, 4/14/16)

“Once again, if you have a little time for Nena, she’ll sing a song for you.” Genau jetzt!  (Slate, 4/13/16)

In memoriam: Roger Cicero (1970-2016), popular jazz vocalist who represented Germany in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest.  (Deutsche Welle, 3/29/16)

Ready for “a mind-melting 24 hours”? Run, don’t walk, to one of the Met’s three NYC campuses to hear Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klang.  (The Guardian, 3/18/16; The New York Times, 3/27/16)

“Nerd’s musical ensemble” Geekchester welcomes you to the wonderful world of German engineering.  (The Local, 3/11/16)

“Megaloh is a true product of the digital music age. Praised by his peers and listened to by millions of fans on YouTube and streaming services, the 35-year-old still has to work as a warehouseman to make ends meet.”  (Handelblatt – Global Edition, 3/8/16)

See and hear how Wagner’s “Ring” was forged, in a new exhibition at NYC’s Morgan Library & Museum.  (The New York Times, 1/28/16; The New York Review of Books, 2/25/16)

“In the nineteen-seventies, the German supergroup Harmonia made music that sounds as though it could have been made this morning.”  (The New Yorker, 1/20/16)

Here’s how “a song about a cold-blooded serial murderer written by a Marxist playwright and a leftwing composer for a musical that aimed to lay bare the hypocrisies of bourgeois morality went on to become a huge commercial success.”  (Financial Times, 1/15/16)

“In many respects David Bowie was like Berlin: sometimes over-hyped and overrated, but undeniably one-of-a-kind….Berlin is mourning one of its favorite adoptive sons.”  (Deutsche Welle, 1/11/16)

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)


Art & Design

Terror attack in Berlin
Michael Kimmelman and Thomas de Monchaus unpack the layers of meaning at Breitscheidplatz, heart of western Berlin’s city center and site of the December 19 terror attack.  (The New York Times, 12/20/16; The New Yorker, 1/5/17)

How did the Protestant Reformation influence visual arts? 2017 offers numerous opportunities for you to see for yourself.  (Financial Times, 12/26/16)

Director Christian Schwochow has made a new film about the life of painter Paula Modersohn-Becker. (Deutsche Welle, 12/15/16)

Hanne Darboven’s monumental installation “Kulturgeschichte 1880-1983” is on display now at the Dia Art Foundation. (The New York Times, 12/8/16)

“The €789m Elbphilharmonie is an astonishing building: unpredictable, unforgiving and not entirely beautiful, but also generous, open and profound in its relationship with the docks, the city and the sky.”  (Financial Times, 12/2/16; Deutsche Welle, 1/9/17; The New York Times, 1/10/17;Los Angeles Times, 3/23/17)

“Making Heimat: Germany, Arrival Country” knocks down walls at the Venice Architecture Biennale. (Metropolis, 5/25/16; The New York Times, 5/26/16)

Since the Pergamon Altar on Berlin’s Museum Island will be under renovation until 2019, here’s the next best thing.  (Deutsche Welle, 5/25/15)

Consider the short but fruitful history of Black Mountain College, where Bildung met Erziehung in rural North Carolina.  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 5/16/16)

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)

GDR design groupies, the Kulturbrauerei has an exhibition for you!  (Deutsche Welle, 4/12/16)

“Does my family own a painting looted by Nazis?” Despite researchers’ best efforts, it’s often impossible to say for sure.  (The New York Times, 4/5/16)

Looking for Berlin’s best street? Hans Kollhof makes the case for Karl-Marx-Allee, “the only example of German urban planning and architecture that continues the great tradition of the 19th century.”  (CityLab, 3/31/16)

On display at the Robert Mann Gallery in NYC: vintage photos by Elisabeth Hase. She “began to photograph as the New Vision took hold, the visual language of modernism that has never disappeared from sight as completely as she did.”  (The New York Times, 3/31/16)

Here’s another Taschen book to covet: Germany Around 1900, featuring 800 photochrom postcard images “drenched in a kind of enchanted Romanticism.”  (Hyperallergic, 3/8/16)

Thanks to artist-activists Nora al-Badri and and Jan Nikolai Nelles, you too can create your own copy of the bust of Queen Nefertiti.  (The New York Times, 3/1/16; Hyperallergic, 3/9/16)

Anke Feuchtenberger “pushed German comics into a new realm, redefining the medium in cultural, political, and aesthetic terms.”  (World Literature Today, 3/2016)

The Humboldt Forum and its skeptics
Moving Berlin’s collections of non-western art from suburban Dahlem to the new Humboldt Forum “is not driven by the needs of the collection; instead it is being used for a different purpose: to create another Berlin spectacle.”  (The New York Review of Books, 2/29/16)

The Italian Renaissance loomed large in 19th- and early 20th-century Germans’ historical imagination (explains a new study by Martin Ruehl).  (The Art Newspaper, 2/25/16)

“An exhibition of Paula Modersohn-Becker’s art is almost by definition a bittersweet event. It’s thrilling to watch this pioneering German painter restlessly experiment with color and surface in the form of portraits, landscapes, still lifes and scenes of peasant women and children she made during her short time on earth.”  (The New York Times, 2/25/16)

Germany’s newest subway line, the Wehrhahn in Düsseldorf, transforms “commuter drudgery into art appreciation.”  (The New York Times, 2/19/16)

“Art from the Holocaust,” featuring 100 works from the collection of Yad Vashem, is now on display at the German Historical Museum in Berlin.  (The New York Times, 1/22/16; Deutsche Welle, 1/25/16)

Meet Maria Sibylla Merian, gifted artist and naturalist whose work expanded “the male-dominated scientific world of the late seventeenth century.”  (The Atlantic, 1/19/16)

“Promoted in his time (1674-1739) as ‘The Greatest German Living’,” Matthias Buchinger was an astonishingly talented calligrapher as well as performer.  (The New York Times, 1/14/16)


Books & Ideas

“This is without a doubt the WORST writing I ever laid eyes on”: Marlene Dietrich’s final performance space may have been the pages of her books.  (The New Yorker, 12/26/16)

Walking in Berlin by Franz Hessel (first published in 1929 and newly translated by Amanda DeMarco) presents “a portrait of a city on the brink of irrevocable change.”  (The Independent, 12/14/16; The Guardian, 3/26/17; Los Angeles Review of Books, 5/5/17)

“The extent of narcotic consumption by Nazi soldiers and Hitler has surprised even those who have spent decades researching this era.” (The New York Times, 12/9/16; The New York Review of Books, 3/9/17; The Guardian, 5/2/17)

Introducing Germany’s 2016 Word of the Year….postfaktisch (post-truth).  (Deutsche Welle, 12/9/16)

“The Frankfurt School knew Trump was coming.”  (The New Yorker, 12/5/16)

Günter Grass’s “greatest regret seems not to have been that life per se is finite but that creativity is too, and the loss of his earlier deftness grieved him.” Vonne Endlichkeit is now available in English (Of All That Ends, trans. Breon Mitchell). (The Arts Desk, 12/4/16; The Spectator, 12/31/16)

“Mr. Ullrich offers a fascinating Shakespearean parable about how the confluence of circumstance, chance, a ruthless individual and the willful blindness of others can transform a country.” (The New York Times, 9/27/16; The Washington Post, 9/28/16; Deutsche Welle, 9/30/16)

Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, translated by Susan Bernofsky, “hums with beautiful strangeness”—and now it’s won the inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.  (Granta, 9/22/2016; The New York Times, 11/25/16; Words Without Borders, 12/2016)

What better time to reacquaint yourself with the life and work of Jürgen Habermas? A new biography is here to help. (The Nation, 9/14/16; The Guardian, 2/15/17; The New York Review of Books, 3/23/17; Boston Review, 4/12/17)

Another Marx biography? Gareth Stedman Jones demonstrates an impressive command of his subject in Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion.  (Financial Times, 8/5/16; The New York Times, 10/21/16; The Nation, 2/8/17)

Historian and journalist Volker Ullrich’s well-crafted biography of Adolf Hitler is now available in English, translated by Jefferson Chase.  (London Review of Books, 6/2/16; The Wall Street Journal, 9/23/16; The New York Times, 10/14/16)

Dive into Stuart Jeffries’ Grand Hotel Abyss, the witty history of the Frankfurt School that we’ve all been waiting for.  (The Washington Post, 9/28/16; The Guardian, 11/3/16; The New York Review of Books, 3/23/17)

The Protestant Reformation turns 500
“Get ready to start hearing a lot about Martin Luther…” In advance of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Lyndal Roper has written a thought-provoking biography of a difficult hero. (Literary Review, 6/2016; The Spectator, 6/11/16; The Weekly Standard, 5/5/17)

Vicki Baum’s bestselling Grand Hotel (originally published as Menschen im Hotel in 1929) “spoke to the anxieties of Weimar society—and of the world at large—about modern life.”  (The New York Review of Books, 5/9/16)

Author Thomas Bernhard “is a gleeful butcher who makes the best charcuterie from the most forlorn and desiccated roadkill.” ReadGoethe Dies (translated by James Reidel) and find out more.  (The Nation, 5/5/16)

Daniel Blue’s The Making of Friedrich Nietzsche gives us a portrait of the artist as a (very) young man.  (The Spectator, 4/30/16; Literary Review, 6/2016)

“But is it really vital for the understanding of the darkest chapter of German history to know what Hitler had for lunch before shooting himself in the head in the Führerbunker with his Walther PPK pistol in 1945 (spaghetti with a light tomato sauce)? Probably not.”  (The Washington Post, 4/27/16)

Oh, the power of poetry: Jan Böhmermann sparks debate about the legal boundaries of freedom of expression, confirms Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inability to take a joke, and creates a major diplomatic headache for Angela Merkel. (Deutsche Welle, 4/8/16; Deutsche Welle, 4/11/16;Exberliner, 4/11/16; The Guardian, 4/11/16; The Washington Post, 4/12/16; Spiegel Online – International, 4/12/16)

Alfred Rosenberg’s diary was lost for nearly six decades—and then it reemerged in a small publishing house in upstate New York.  (The New York Times, 3/30/16; The Guardian, 5/5/16)

Not up for reading three magisterial volumes on Kafka’s life? Biographer Reiner Stach has thoughtfully assembled Is that Kafka? 99 Finds for us instead.  (The New Republic, 3/22/16; The New Yorker, 3/22/16; The Washington Post, 3/23/16)

Don’t believe the hype—Berlin isn’t “all sex, all the time,” and Katy Derbyshire has the literary examples to prove it!  (Literary Hub, 3/17/16)

“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)

Here’s another Taschen book to covet: Germany Around 1900, featuring 800 photochrom postcard images “drenched in a kind of enchanted Romanticism.”  (Hyperallergic, 3/8/16)

Klaus Mann—”writer, lecturer, provocateur, world traveler, anti-Nazi militant”—is the subject of a new biography by Frederic Spotts.  (The Guardian, 3/6/16; The Weekly Standard, 3/28/16; The Irish Times, 4/16/16; The Barnes and Noble Review, 6/6/16)

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)

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)

Anke Feuchtenberger “pushed German comics into a new realm, redefining the medium in cultural, political, and aesthetic terms.”  (World Literature Today, 3/2016)

Skip Vincent Perez’s new film Alone in Berlin and read Hans Fallada’s novel instead.  (The Guardian, 2/15/16; Variety, 2/15/16; NPR, 1/12/17)

For the protagonist of Darryl Pinckney’s novel Black Deutschland, “Berlin meant white boys who wanted to atone for Germany’s crimes by loving a black boy like me.”  (The New York Times, 1/28/16; The New York Times, 2/5/16; The Atlantic, 2/15/16)

“What’s great about Goethe?” So very glad you asked!  (Open Culture, 1/28/16; The New Yorker, 2/1/16)

Summer Before the Dark, by Volker Weidermann (translated by Carol Brown Janeway), is a novel about Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth, “men who were expelled from history by the Nazis and had to watch helplessly as it steamrollered them into oblivion.”  (New Statesman, 1/25/16)

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)

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)


Film

Director Christian Schwochow has made a new film about the life of painter Paula Modersohn-Becker. (Deutsche Welle, 12/15/16)

In memoriam: Götz George (1938-2016), award-winning film and TV actor best known as Tatort Kommissar Horst Schimanski.  (Deutsche Welle, 6/26/16; The Hollywood Reporter, 6/27/16)

Maren Ade captivated Cannes—and then Oscar voters—with her new film, Toni Erdmann, “the world’s first genuinely funny, 162-minute German comedy of embarrassment.”  (The Hollywood Reporter, 5/13/16; The New York Times, 5/22/16; The New York Times, 12/28/16)

Look Who’s Back (Er ist wieder da): “yes, this movie exists, and despite (or perhaps because of) its genre-defying weirdness, you won’t be able to look away.”  (Slate, 5/13/16)

Christian Braad Thomsen brings us a “confused, partial, awkwardly constructed tribute” to the ever-fascinating Rainer Werner Fassbinder.  (Artforum, 4/25/16; Film Comment, 4/27/16; The New York Times, 4/28/16)

“In Germany, The Jungle Book (1967) is the biggest movie of all time.”  (The Hollywood Reporter, 4/22/16)

Deutschland 83 wasn’t a hit at home, but its success abroad is nonetheless opening “the floodgate for a German TV renaissance.”  (The Guardian, 2/23/16)

Skip Vincent Perez’s new film Alone in Berlin and read Hans Fallada’s novel instead.  (The Guardian, 2/15/16; Variety, 2/15/16; NPR, 1/12/17)

No hiking the Pacific Crest Trail here: Nicolette Krebitz’s Wild “tells a visceral tale of a young urban woman drawn to nature in a way that will shock mere tree-huggers.”  (The Hollywood Reporter, 1/23/16)

Why do we find ourselves rooting for the “bad guys” in recent on-screen depictions of East Germany?  (New Statesman, 1/15/16)


Theater

From the land of “long entertainment,” Wagner’s Ring Cycle is the original binge-watching experience.  (The Washington Post, 4/14/16)

See a recreation of the Lichtburg rehearsal space and much more, in a Bonn exhibition devoted to the work of Pina Bausch.  (Deutsche Welle, 3/4/16)

See and hear how Wagner’s “Ring” was forged, in a new exhibition at NYC’s Morgan Library & Museum.  (The New York Times, 1/28/16; The New York Review of Books, 2/25/16)


History

There’s hardly a shortage of memorials that reflect on Berlin’s National Socialist past—but that didn’t stop local entrepreneurs from recreating Hitler’s bunker and offering paid tours.  (The New York Times, 12/28/16)

The massacre of the Herero and Nama people is widely recognized as the first genocide of the 20th century. How should Germans today work to heal this “colonial-era wound”?  (The Guardian, 12/25/16; The New York Times, 1/21/17)

Terror attack in Berlin
Michael Kimmelman and Thomas de Monchaus unpack the layers of meaning at Breitscheidplatz, heart of western Berlin’s city center and site of the December 19 terror attack.  (The New York Times, 12/20/16; The New Yorker, 1/5/17)

“No people ever recognize their dictator in advance,” Dorothy Thompson wrote in 1935. “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” (PRI, 12/13/16)

Lügenpresse, Volksverräter, and Umvolkung are back. Germany’s radical right has revived terms once fatally associated with National Socialism.  (The Washington Post, 12/9/16)

“The extent of narcotic consumption by Nazi soldiers and Hitler has surprised even those who have spent decades researching this era.” (The New York Times, 12/9/16; The New York Review of Books, 3/9/17; The Guardian, 5/2/17)

“The Frankfurt School knew Trump was coming.”  (The New Yorker, 12/5/16)

Dive into Stuart Jeffries’ Grand Hotel Abyss, the witty history of the Frankfurt School that we’ve all been waiting for.  (The Washington Post, 9/28/16; The Guardian, 11/3/16)

“Mr. Ullrich offers a fascinating Shakespearean parable about how the confluence of circumstance, chance, a ruthless individual and the willful blindness of others can transform a country.” (The New York Times, 9/27/16; The Washington Post, 9/28/16; Deutsche Welle, 9/30/16)

Another Marx biography? Gareth Stedman Jones demonstrates an impressive command of his subject in Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion.  (Financial Times, 8/5/16; The New York Times, 10/21/16; The Nation, 2/8/17)

Historian and journalist Volker Ullrich’s well-crafted biography of Adolf Hitler is now available in English, translated by Jefferson Chase.  (London Review of Books, 6/2/16; The Wall Street Journal, 9/23/16; The New York Times, 10/14/16)

The Protestant Reformation turns 500
“Get ready to start hearing a lot about Martin Luther…” In advance of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Lyndal Roper has written a thought-provoking biography of a difficult hero. (Literary Review, 6/2016; The Spectator, 6/11/16; The Weekly Standard, 5/5/17)

In memoriam: Fritz Stern (1926-2016): historian of modern Germany, long-serving professor at Columbia University, trusted advisor to policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic.  (The New York Times, 5/18/16; Deutsche Welle, 5/19/16; The Guardian, 5/23/16; The Economist, 5/25/16)

Consider the short but fruitful history of Black Mountain College, where Bildung met Erziehung in rural North Carolina.  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 5/16/16)

“Altenwerder had to die so that Hamburg could live”: how a historic fishing village became an automatic container port.  (The Guardian, 5/11/16)

“Tonight at six I will listen to the Furtwängler concert on the radio,” Hermann da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote to his wife Käthe, while imprisoned at Buchenwald. “Why don’t you, too, turn on the radio on Sundays, so we can think of each other fervently.”  (The New York Times, 5/4/16)

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)

“But is it really vital for the understanding of the darkest chapter of German history to know what Hitler had for lunch before shooting himself in the head in the Führerbunker with his Walther PPK pistol in 1945 (spaghetti with a light tomato sauce)? Probably not.”  (The Washington Post, 4/27/16)

“The thing I continue to find striking,” says Neil MacGregor, “is that in the centre of Berlin you keep coming across monuments to national shame. I think that is unique in the world.”  (The Guardian, 4/17/16)

In memoriam: Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1927-2016), long-serving foreign minister, architect of German reunification, respected elder statesman.  (Deutsche Welle, 4/1/16; Financial Times, 4/1/16; The New York Times, 4/1/16; The Washington Post, 4/1/16; AICGS, 4/8/16)

Alfred Rosenberg’s diary was lost for nearly six decades—and then it reemerged in a small publishing house in upstate New York.  (The New York Times, 3/30/16; The Guardian, 5/5/16)

“What does Ulrike Meinhof’s legacy reveal about perceptions of radical women?”  (Latterly, 3/18/16)

Here’s another Taschen book to covet: Germany Around 1900, featuring 800 photochrom postcard images “drenched in a kind of enchanted Romanticism.”  (Hyperallergic, 3/8/16)

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)

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)

The Italian Renaissance loomed large in 19th- and early 20th-century Germans’ historical imagination (explains a new study by Martin Ruehl).  (The Art Newspaper, 2/25/16)

“The year 1907 was a pivotal one for German noise.”  (BBC, 1/4/16)

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)


Et Cetera

Terror attack in Berlin
“Out of the bloody carnage of violence and hate of Berlin on the Monday before Christmas comes the enviable impression of a country that is true to the values of liberal Europe.”  (The Guardian, 12/21/16)

Terror attack in Berlin
“It is difficult to think of an image that evokes the things worth defending more beautifully than a warm Christmas market beckoning all comers—locals and tourists, Christians, Muslims, and atheists—to spend an hour or two strolling among brightly lit stalls and drinking hot tea or mulled wine with a newfound friend.”  (Slate, 12/20/16)

Terror attack in Berlin
Michael Kimmelman and Thomas de Monchaus unpack the layers of meaning at Breitscheidplatz, heart of western Berlin’s city center and site of the December 19 terror attack.  (The New York Times, 12/20/16; The New Yorker, 1/5/17)

“Germany is a secular country, but the German legal framework approves of institutionalized religions in a biased way.” Alexander Görlach explains why Islam gets second-class status within Germany.  (The New York Times, 12/15/16)

“In Europe right now, there is one prediction that everyone is happy to make: In 2017, the Russian government will mount an open campaign to sway the German elections.”  (The Washington Post, 12/12/16)

Lügenpresse, Volksverräter, and Umvolkung are back. Germany’s radical right has revived terms once fatally associated with National Socialism.  (The Washington Post, 12/9/16)

Charles Lane has a lesson in Realpolitik for Angela Merkel: “No government can do more good than it can sustain politically.”  (The Washington Post, 12/7/16)

“The Frankfurt School knew Trump was coming.”  (The New Yorker, 12/5/16)

Pity the Brits: “A people admired by many Germans as essentially cautious, sceptical, small-c conservatives had flamboyantly gambled their economic future.”  (The Guardian, 6/28/16)

What is (organic) German? The migration crisis has intensified an age-old debate.  (The New York Times, 5/26/16; The Economist, 5/28/16)

Böhmermann, Erdogan, and the politics of satire
Jan Böhmermann chats with the editorial board of The New York Times.  (The New York Times, 5/4/16)

Q: What do Christopher Clark, Timothy Garton Ash, and Neil MacGregor have in common? A: Anglosplaining for Germans.  (1843, 5/3/16)

“The most German of traits, he said, is this need to correct people, no matter how trivial the point.”  (1843, 5/3/16)

“It isn’t easy to be creative and imaginative with a product that contains four ingredients…” Is 500 years enough for the Reinheitsgebot (Spiegel Online – International, 4/21/16; The Economist, 4/23/16)

In Dresden, “one of Germany’s most rarefied art and cultural scenes” coexists uncomfortably with the country’s “most notorious populist movement.”  (The Wall Street Journal, 4/20/16)

Böhmermann, Erdogan, and the politics of satire
“Instead of holding up a mirror to the country, which is allegedly the function of cabaret, Böhmermann has sent the country into a hall of mirrorsand has provoked all kinds of strange reactions.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 4/15/16)

Berlin isn’t as cool as it used to be—or maybe it’s just too cool?, 2016 edition.  (Slate, 4/15/16)

Böhmermann, Erdogan, and the politics of satire
Oh, the power of poetry: Jan Böhmermann sparks debate about the legal boundaries of freedom of expression, confirms Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inability to take a joke, and creates a major diplomatic headache for Angela Merkel. (Deutsche Welle, 4/8/16; Deutsche Welle, 4/11/16;Exberliner, 4/11/16; The Guardian, 4/11/16; The Washington Post, 4/12/16; Spiegel Online – International, 4/12/16)

#RefugeesWelcome
“Whether the nation deals successfully with the migration challenge or succumbs to fear and nationalism will largely be determined by how communities like Siegsdorf — those directly charged with welcoming the migrants — confront the challenges ahead.” (The New York Times, 4/6/16)

Böhmermann, Erdogan, and the politics of satire
“Achtung! Germans on the rise, but this time we are fucking nice!”  (The Local, 4/1/16)

In memoriam: Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1927-2016), long-serving foreign minister, architect of German reunification, respected elder statesman.  (Deutsche Welle, 4/1/16; Financial Times, 4/1/16; The New York Times, 4/1/16; The Washington Post, 4/1/16; AICGS, 4/8/16)

#RefugeesWelcome
Angela Merkel’s “impractical humanism will likely cost her the chancellorship,” writes Daniel Kehlmann. “But, at the same time, her actions saved the soul of Europe.”  (The New York Times, 4/1/16)

“Danger comes especially from those who perhaps should know better, but make anti-democratic, radical conservatives salonfähig. That is the real lesson to be taken from Weimar Germany.” (Moyers & Company, 3/19/16)

In memoriam: Guido Westerwelle (1961-2016), former foreign minister and FDP leader. “He stood for liberalism in politics and his private life, a liberalism that was focused on only one thing: freedom.”  (Deutsche Welle, 3/18/16; The Guardian, 3/18/16; The New York Times, 3/18/16)

“A good night for incumbents and xenophobes”: reflections on the March 13 elections in Baden-Württemberg, Sachsen-Anhalt, and Rheinland-Pfalz.  (Bloomberg, 3/131/6; The Economist, 3/13/16; The New York Times, 3/14/16; Spiegel Online – International, 3/14/16)

Backpfeifengesicht, Verschlimmbesserung and more—here’s “why the German language has so many great words.”  (The Conversation, 3/7/16)

Tried a Spezi lately? “It gives you the feeling of a Bavarian holiday without the alcohol.”  (The Wall Street Journal, 3/9/16)

Auf Wiedersehen, heile Welt? “It is not clear what kind of world will replace the wholesome one the Germans once dreamed up. But it will be a rougher one.”  (The Economist, 3/5/16; Spiegel Online – International, 3/8/16)

#RefugeesWelcome
Are refugees still welcome? “The screenplay for Merkel’s downfall hasn’t yet been written, but an initial rough draft already exists.”  (The Economist, 1/23/15; The Atlantic, 1/25/16; Spiegel Online – International, 1/25/16)

“Germany reacts to being named world’s best country in the most German way.”  (The Washington Post, 1/21/16)

#RefugeesWelcome
“New Year’s Eve in Cologne rapidly descended into a chaotic free-for-all involving sexual assault and theft, most of it apparently committed by foreigners. It has launched a bitter debate over immigration and refugees in Germany—one that could change the country.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 1/8/16; The New York Times, 1/9/16; The New Yorker, 1/10/16; The New York Times, 1/15/16)

#RefugeesWelcome
“Will asylum seekers revitalize the crumbling housing projects of eastern Germany—or turn them into ghettos?” And how are immigrants faring in the “hipster ghetto” of Neukölln?  (Foreign Policy, 1/6/16; Foreign Policy, 1/18/16)

Please note that archived hyperlinks may no longer be functional.
              

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 materialeverything 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 nichtand Ich rufe Sie zurücksigns 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)

Please note that archived hyperlinks may no longer be functional.         
                

Music

In memoriam: Udo Jürgens (1934-2014). The immensely popular singer and songwriter “helped define postwar popular music in the German-speaking world.” (Deutsche Welle, 12/21/14; The New York Times, 12/22/14)

“Not quite a narrative, not quite a concept album, and not quite performance art but a theatrical mélange of the three”: Einstürzende Neubauten’sLament commemorates the WWI centenary as you’ve never heard it done before.  (The Quietus, 11/20/14; Financial Times, 11/21/14)

“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)

“For those of you, ladies and gentlemen, who aren’t so fond of beat music, we ask for your understanding – this is a live show made by young people, for young people. Let’s go!”  (Deutsche Welle, 9/7/14)

Jeremy Eichler peers into “the dense fog of history, politics, biography, and musical fashion that has always clouded the fascinating, enigmatic career of Erich Korngold.”  (The Boston Globe, 9/6/14)

“This is not just Beethoven revealed, but Beethoven hyped — the great anecdotes related and embellished by an enthusiastic raconteur.”  (The Weekly Standard, 6/2/14)

Free the Karlheinz Stockhausen recordings! “For the past thirty years, most of Stockhausen’s music has been all but impossible to hear, and a generation or more has come of age without the slightest understanding of what he once meant to young composers and musicians…”  (The New York Review of Books, 5/23/14)

The Welsh National Opera is taking on Arnold Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron — the first staged production in Britain since 1976.  (The Guardian, 5/15/14;The Arts Desk, 5/25/14)

They paved the site of Bach’s house in Weimar and put up a parking lot. With the Hotel Elephant.  (Spiegel Online – International, 4/3/14)

In memoriam: Gert “Kralle” Krawinkel (1947-2014), Trio’s guitarist and songwriter, composer of “Da Da Da”.  (The Independent, 3/9/14)

In memoriam: Alice Herz-Sommer (1903-2014): classical pianist, Holocaust survivor, subject of the Oscar-winning short documentary The Lady in Number 6.  (The New Yorker, 11/26/13; The Guardian, 2/23/14; Slate, 2/28/14)

Berlin and its discontents
Berlin isn’t as cool as it used to be, 2014 edition.  (Rolling Stone, 2/6/14; The New York Times, 2/21/14; Gawker, 2/24/14; The Atlantic Cities, 3/7/14)

Mix together the influences of krautrock, Motown, and techno, and what do you get? The “kraut-groovy” sounds of Circuit Diagram — listen here!  (The Guardian, 2/10/14)

“In Berlin, Bowie made his journey from addiction to independence, from celebrity paranoia to radical, unmasked messenger…”  (Financial Times, 1/31/14; The Economist, 5/22/14)

Composer Richard Strauss was born 150 years ago, in 1864. As a senior citizen, he “was wooed, rejected and then hounded by the Nazis.”How should we regard his musical and political choices today?  (New Statesman, 1/23/14; Standpoint, 4/2014)

Too much of a good thing? “Today, cycles of Beethoven’s quartets, symphonies, and piano sonatas are ubiquitous.” (The New Yorker, 1/17/14)

In Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, John Eliot Gardiner “has done a masterly, monumental job of taking the measure of Bach the man and the musician.”  (The Guardian, 10/30/13; The New York Times, 12/3/13; On Point, 1/7/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/20/14)


Art & Design

The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt goes pop! Gain a new appreciation for German pop art of the 1960s and 1970s, now through February 8. (BBC Arts; The Economist, 12/12/14)

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)

“For German national identity, winter is a metaphor that keeps on giving.”  (History Today, 11/14/14)

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)

“For over 40 years, Bernd and Hilla Becher photographed the architecture of industrialisation: water towers, coal bunkers, blast furnaces, gas tanks and factory facades.” See their work at Sprüth Magers London, now through October 3.  (The Guardian, 9/3/14)

Resurrecting Königsberg: An ambitious urban renewal project emphasizes Kaliningrad’s German past (and European future?).  (Spiegel Online – International, 7/25/14)

The looting of art and antiquities in Germany didn’t end in 1945. In the GDR, “officials systematically stole from the country’s art collectors and sold their possessions to raise hard currency.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 7/24/14; The New York Times, 11/27/14)

In memoriam: Otto Piene (1928-2014), “known for his experiments in kinetic art and for working at the junction of art, nature and technology.”  (The New York Times, 7/18/14; The Huffington Post, 7/22/14; The Guardian, 7/24/14)

World Cup Champions
The World Cup of Modern Art? Germany would win that too, writes Jonathan Jones.  (The Guardian, 7/14/14)

The Nazi-era catalogues of auctioneer Adolf Weinmüller are now available online. “In some cities, the artworks seized from Jewish owners after 1938 were auctioned by his house, nearly without exception.”  (The Art Newspaper, 5/29/14; Deutsche Welle, 6/4/14)

The Bauhaus Meisterhäuser are back — in Dessau, the homes of Walter Gropius and László Moholy-Nagy have been newly reconstructed. (The Guardian, 5/15/14; ArchDaily, 5/23/14)

Rounded forms, brilliant colors, hard edges — check out Georg Karl Pfahler’s Tex Series, on display at Berlin’s Galerie Crone. (artnet, 5/13/14)

Looted art from the Nazi era: new discoveries and new questions
In memoriam: Cornelius Gurlitt (1932-2014): reclusive art collector whose holdings astonished the world — and created an ethical and legal thicket — in the final months of life.  (The Guardian, 5/6/14; The New York Times, 5/6/14; Financial Times, 5/9/14)

“He was the catalytic director of potentially explosive situations in conventional theaters and in nontraditional settings.” Check out the Christoph Schlingensief retrospective at MoMA PS1, now through September 1.  (The New York Times, 5/1/14; The New York Times, 7/25/14)

“Six years in the making, filling a dozen galleries, drawing on nearly all the museum’s departments, Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963-2010 — which travels to Tate Modern in London this October — is one of the largest shows” ever mounted at MoMA.  (The Guardian, 4/17/14; The New Republic, 6/12/14; The New York Review of Books, 6/19/14)

“Art flourishes in 21st-century Berlin, but does it matter as much as it did when the city was a cold-war danger zone? Thierry Noir reminds us of Berlin’s faded lipstick traces of dissent.”  (The Guardian, 4/3/14; The Guardian, 4/3/14)

Question your assumptions about “degenerate art” at NYC’s Neue Galerie
, now through September 1.
(The New York Times, 3/13/14; The New Yorker, 3/24/14; The Washington Post, 5/23/14; The New York Review of Books, 6/19/14)

“Two versions of Dürer’s Hare are emerging, quite by chance, at the same moment — although only one is the real thing. For over four centuries, two watercolours have shared the limelight, each regarded as an original by Dürer at different times.”  (The Art Newspaper, 3/13/14)

Who could have guessed — controversy and technical difficulties are delaying the construction of historic memorials in Leipzig and Berlin. (Spiegel Online — International, 3/6/14)

Strange beauty: It’s taken awhile, but German Renaissance art gets its due at London’s National Gallery.  (The Guardian, 2/18/14; Financial Times, 2/21/14; The Observer, 2/22/14; The Arts Desk, 2/26/14; The Spectator, 3/22/14)

Beautiful — the photographs in Kilian Schönberger’s series Brothers Grimm Homeland “look like they were smuggled out of a dream.”  (Wired, 2/5/14)

“Germany Divided: Baselitz and his Generation” showcases the work of six artists who were born in eastern Germany and later moved west. Now showing at the British Museum!  (Financial Times, 1/31/14; Deutsche Welle, 2/6/14; The Spectator, 3/22/14)

Looted art from the Nazi era: new discoveries and new questions
There’s only one full surviving copy of the Nazis’ “degenerate art” inventory of 1941-42.  Thanks to the Victoria and Albert Museum, you’ll soon be able to examine it online.  (The Art Newspaper, 1/16/14; Deutsche Welle, 1/17/14)

At London’s Whitechapel Gallery, “a new exhibition reveals Hannah Höch as a pioneer of photomontage and a feminist icon who took a kitchen knife to the glass ceiling.”  (The Guardian, 1/9/14; The Telegraph, 1/14/14)

In the decade after he left the Bauhaus in 1928, Herbert Bayer “produced posters, brochures and other promotional material for a succession of government projects.” A new exhibit in Berlin takes a closer look at the years Bayer called his “advertising purgatory”. (The New York Times, 1/7/14)

Now the Bauhaus can be your house (for €35 a night)!  (The Guardian, 1/5/14)

Looted art from the Nazi era: new discoveries and new questions
Before you see the Hollywood movie, read up on the real “Monuments Men” who saved European cultural treasures from looting and destruction at the end of the Second World War.  (Spiegel Online – International, 12/5/13; Smithsonian, Jan. 2014)

“Rolf Sachs’ mother is French, his father is German, his wife is Iranian, and he lives in England.” Typisch deutsch? Und wie! Savor the stereotypes at the Museum of Applied Art in Cologne, now through June 9.  (Monocle, Jan. 2014; Financial Times, 1/15/14; Deutsche Welle, 3/24/14)


Books & Ideas

Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand “was keenly aware of the grievous failures of Christians under Nazism. Yet he never wavered in his conviction that Christianity was the only spiritual force powerful enough to contend with humanity’s capacity for evil.”  (The Daily Beast, 12/26/14)

Remember the fairy tales that were rediscovered in a Regensburg archive in 2012? A collection is soon to be published in English translation. Sample “The Turnip Princess” here.  (The Guardian, 12/26/14)

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)

Ten notable books by German authors, published in English translation in 2014.
Have you read them all?  (Deutsche Welle, 12/16/14)

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)

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)

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)

Stay cool, Frankfurt School
Fifty years after Herbert Marcuse tried to warn us, we’re still one-dimensional: “There is no meaningful opposition in the political, social, and media worlds; all new forms of opposition become paralyzed before being formed; cynicism infects all politics; even imagining an alternative seems futile.” (Boston Review, 11/17/14)

“After their return to the homeland that had expelled them, Jewish emigrants became irreplaceable teachers for a younger generation.” Jürgen Habermas recalls the exiled Jewish scholars who returned to the Federal Republic of Germany.  (Tablet, 11/12/14)

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)

“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)

“Since the fall of the Berlin wall, a rich literary culture has emerged that grapples not only with Germany’s past but also the multilayered experiences of the present and struggles over German identity.”  (World Literature Today, 11/2014)

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)

Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann: “bound by a shared commitment to humanism and an unflinching belief in the integrity of the individual, they stood by one another’s work, both privately and publicly, through war and exile, through harsh criticism, even through their own philosophical disagreements.” (Brain Pickings, 10/8/14)

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)

“Some death or other will eventually be her death.” In The End of Days, author Jenny Erpenbeck tries out five different endings for her protagonist’s life, spanning the tumultuous history of 20th-century Europe.  (Bookforum, 9/15/14; NPR, 11/9/14; The New Republic, 12/1/14; Los Angeles Review of Books, 12/5/14; The Quarterly Conversation, 12/15/14)

Alex Ross takes on Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and their critique of pop culture.  (The New Yorker, 9/15/14)

You know Theodor Adorno, the legendary sociologist, philosopher, musicologist, and media critic. But have you read his 1956 essay on punctuation marks?  (Brain Pickings, 9/11/14)

In Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer, Bettina Stangneth sheds new light on the “banality of evil” and Eichmann’s undeterred ideological convictions.  (Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2014; The New York Times, 9/4/14; The New York Times, 9/21/14;The Atlantic, 10/8/14; The Guardian, 10/17/14)

“There are no more issues in the warehouse.” It’s the end of an era for the Brockhaus encyclopedia — now available only online.  (Deutsche Welle, 8/17/14)

Rainer Maria Rilke’s “question is basically this: Can we exist without the aid of angels, gods, myths, or spirits?”  (The American Reader, Aug. 2014)

Fifteen more years of explaining Hitler: Ron Rosenbaum on the Downfall parodies, Godwin’s Law, and how functionalism “has been cast into the dustbin of history along with ‘the banality of evil.'”  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 7/10/14; The Daily Beast, 7/26/14)

Listen in on the poetry of a complicated relationship — Brecht & Steffin: Love in a Time of Exile and War, at London’s Southbank Centre on July 19. (The Guardian, 7/10/14)

Attention, U.S. readers: now you can catch up with Andrea Maria Schenkel’s best-selling thriller Tannöd (translated as The Murder Farm by Anthea Bell).  (The New York Times, 6/10/14)

Kurt Tucholsky — brilliant, prolific, witty, and newly available in English, too. Thank you, Berlinica!  (The New York Times, 6/6/14)

“This is not just Beethoven revealed, but Beethoven hyped — the great anecdotes related and embellished by an enthusiastic raconteur.”  (The Weekly Standard, 6/2/14)

One more thing East and West Germans disagreed about: Mao’s Little Red Book.  (Imperial and Global Forum, 5/27/14)

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)

Heil Heidegger? A new round of debate on the philosopher and his politics
The Black Notebooks “make it harder to care about — and, therefore, to really know — Heidegger’s ideas. Even if his philosophy isn’t contaminated by Nazism, our relationship with him is.”  (The New Yorker, 4/28/14)

In Red Love: The Story of an East German Family, Maxim Leo “honours the complicated motivations of real people, resulting in a humane, enlightening history of a collapsed country and a lost home.”  (New Statesman, 9/26/13; The New York Times, 4/13/14; The Guardian, 4/25/14; Publishing Perspectives, 5/22/14)

‘Who, for instance, is exercised by the absence in their iBooks library of the German poet Gottfried Benn? And yet Benn — along with Brecht, Celan, and Rilke — is one of the great German poets of the twentieth century, the equal of Eliot or Montale. And the reason for this absence, as usual, is not the work but the life.”  (The New Republic, 4/5/14)

Look who’s been translated into English.  (The Independent, 4/2/14; The Guardian, 4/30/14; Financial Times, 5/2/14)

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) “strove to unify his kaleidoscopic interests into a single whole that deeply integrated faith and science, philosophy and politics, and shaped both his public and private life.”  (The New Atlantis, Spring 2014)

“We don’t do proofreading.” Meet VDM Publishing Group, which would be happy to publish your academic thesis, blog, Wikipedia article, or anything else. (Slate, 3/23/14)

“To imitate another person’s style is like wearing a mask,” wrote Arthur Schopenhauer. “However fine the mask, it soon becomes insipid and intolerable because it is without life; so that even the ugliest living face is better.”  (Brain Pickings, 3/20/14)

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)

It’s probably time for the Karl May Museum to rethink what it’s obliged to “preserve and protect.”  (The Guardian, 3/10/14; The New York Times, 8/21/14)

Heil Heidegger? A new round of debate on the philosopher and his politics
We hardly need the Black Notebooks to tell us that Heidegger was anti-Semitic, says Jonathan Rée. But, “like the best of what Heidegger wrote — indeed the best of philosophy in general — they are full of sharp observations: observations that we should respond to not as opinions we might like to fall in with, but as incentives to think again, and to think more thoughtfully.”  (Prospect, 3/12/14; The Guardian, 3/19/14)

“‘August’ is a story about August, the boy as he was and the man as Christa Wolf imagined him; it’s a story about childhood and aging and a calm kind of love that lasts a long time.” — Katy Derbyshire on the translation of one of Christa Wolf’s final stories.  (The Quarterly Conversation, 3/10/14)

It’s probably time for the Karl May Museum to rethink what it’s obliged to “preserve and protect.”  (The Guardian, 3/10/14; The New York Times, 8/21/14)

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)

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)

Author interviews in Der Tagesspiegel just got a lot more interesting! Katy Derbyshire goes Dutch with Felicitas Hoppe, Thomas Meinecke, Eugen Ruge, and more.  (Der Tagespiegel, 3/7/14)

Find out what Sally Bowles, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Frank Lehmann, and Timothy Garton Ash all have in common.  (The Guardian, 2/26/14)

“This is a good year for those interested in Brecht,” beginning with the publication of a new biography by Stephen Parker.  (The Independent, 2/14/14; The Washington Post, 5/16/14; The Times Literary Supplement, 8/13/14)

“Admirers of the late WG Sebald’s inimitable blend of essay, memoir, novel and found images…will be grateful for A Place in the Country,” a collection of six essays on artists whom Sebald himself admired.  (The Guardian, 4/20/13; Financial Times, 4/26/13; The Guardian, 4/27/13; Slate, 2/5/14; The Quarterly Conversation, 3/10/14; The New York Times, 3/21/14; Bookforum, Apr/May 2014)

Heil Heidegger? A new round of debate on the philosopher and his politics
“The upcoming publication of the Black Notebooks — three never-before-seen volumes by the legendary German philosopher Martin Heidegger — may reveal a direct link between Heidegger’s lengthy dalliance with Nazism and his landmark treatise Being and Time.”  (Prospect, 1/28/14; The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/24/14; Slate, 3/10/14; The New York Times, 3/30/14)

Calm down, Internet — Adam Kirsch explains why you should be wary of all those reports about Mein Kampf‘s bestseller status.  (New Statesman, 1/27/14)

There’s no shortage of WWI histories to choose from in 2014. “Intensive mining of the sources (by the authors and sometimes their amanuenses) has unearthed nuggets of new information, but mainly they sift through the existing store of knowledge.”  (The Times Literary Supplement, 11/13/13; Financial Times, 1/17/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/6/14)

“The university is simply not the place to study,” wrote Walter Benjamin in 1914. One hundred years later, everyone at the university is studying him. (The Smart Set, 1/13/14; The Chronicle Review, 3/17/14; Mosaic Magazine, 4/3/14; Los Angeles Review of Books, 5/14/14; The Guardian, 8/7/14; City Journal, Summer 2014)

Here’s why there’s a lot to love about Why We Took the Car, Wolfgang Herrndorf’s last novel.  (The Washington Post, 12/31/13; Kirkus, 1/9/14;The Guardian, 5/23/14)

Looking for critically acclaimed foreign fiction, full of anguish and brutality? Julia Franck’s Back to Back, translated by Anthea Bell, is the novel for you.  (Vogue, 12/9/13; Washington Independent Review of Books, 1/8/14; Words Without Borders, 2/2014; The Independent, 3/7/14)

In Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, John Eliot Gardiner “has done a masterly, monumental job of taking the measure of Bach the man and the musician.”  (The Guardian, 10/30/13; The New York Times, 12/3/13; On Point, 1/7/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/20/14)

“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)

“German, Jewish, and Neither.” Born in (West) Germany in 1982, Yascha Mounk explains why he decided to leave: “If there was one thing that made me feel I would never truly belong, it wasn’t hostility: It was benevolence.” (The New York Times, 1/3/14; Tablet, 1/9/14; The New York Times, 1/14/14; The Atlantic, 1/22/14; Boston Review, 1/24/14)


Film

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)

Ten classic German expressionist films at your fingertips—what’s not to love about that?  (Open Culture, 12/11/14)

Cinematically strong, if historically flawed: “In his new film Diplomacy, Volker Schlöndorff has expertly created the creepy, almost surreal atmosphere of two men discussing the ruination of Paris while sitting in Louis XVI chairs, a fine claret readily at hand…”  (The New York Times, 10/14/14; The New York Review of Books, 10/15/14; Los Angeles Times, 11/6/14)

Rüdiger Suchsland’s documentary From Caligari to Hitler: German Cinema in the Age of the Masses may not be groundbreaking, but its vintage film clips “look glorious.”  (Deutsche Welle, 9/4/14; Variety, 9/5/14)

A complete retrospective of Fritz Lang’s silent and talking feature films! At the Harvard Film Archive, now through September 1.  (WBUR, 7/16/14; Harvard Gazette, 7/17/14)

“The nineteen-twenties were a time of unrestrained cinematic audacity.” See F. W. Murnau’s Faust, among the decade’s audacious best.  (The New Yorker, 6/24/14)

In memoriam: Karlheinz Böhm (1928-2014).  He played Emperor Franz Joseph, Beethoven, and a creepy serial killer on film. In real life, he helped to raise millions for a country in need. (Deutsche Welle, 5/30/14; The Guardian, 5/30/2014; The Washington Post, 5/30/2014)

In Christian Petzold’s “Ghosts” trilogy, money “is the fuel that keeps the narrative of the engine running and the obstruction that makes it stall, an object that corrupts those who have it and cripples those who don’t.”  (Film Comment, 2/25/14)

In memoriam: Alice Herz-Sommer (1903-2014): classical pianist, Holocaust survivor, subject of the Oscar-winning short documentary The Lady in Number 6.  (The New Yorker, 11/26/13; The Guardian, 2/23/14; Slate, 2/28/14)

Writer-director Feo Aladag takes on the German military in Afghanistan in Inbetween Worlds.  (Variety, 2/11/14; ScreenDaily.com, 2/12/14;The Economist, 2/21/14)

In memoriam: Maximilian Schell (1930-2014). “Austrian by birth, Swiss by circumstance and international by reputation…a distinguished actor, director, writer and producer.”  (The New York Times, 2/1/14; The Guardian, 2/2/14; The Smart Set, 3/15/14)

The first English-language reviews are in for the film adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s Wetlands: “Director David Wnendt and breakout star Carla Juri leave no bodily orifice unexplored in this spiky, smartly packaged commercial enterprise.”  (Screen, 8/11/13; Indiewire, 8/15/13; Variety, 8/19/13; The Daily Beast, 1/17/14; Slate, 8/20/14)

Billed in the U.S. as “a German Band of Brothers,” Generation War receives mixed reviews.  (The New York Times, 1/14/14; NPR, 1/14/14;The Village Voice, 1/15/15; The New Yorker, 2/3/14; The New Republic, 2/3/14; The New York Times, 2/4/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/19/14)

Oh Boy, Jan Ole Gerster’s “black-and-white indie film about late-twentysomething urban ennui has touched a nerve in Germany, where it won six German Film Awards.” Now it’s in limited release in the UK.  (The Arts Desk, 1/13/14; Electric Sheep, 1/16/14)

“Terrible and brilliant at the same time.” Memory of the Camps, a rarely seen 1945 documentary from the British Army Film Unit, is being restored for release later this year.  (The Independent, 1/8/14; The New Yorker, 1/10/14)

The Book Thief “tries so hard to warm our hearts amid grotesque suffering, it goes a bit mad under the strain. It relays an uplifting story that, ill-advisedly, is not so much Holocaust-era as Holocaust-adjacent, determined to steer clear of too much discomfort.”  (Chicago Tribune, 11/14/13; The Atlantic, 11/15/13; Boston Review, 1/6/14; The Guardian, 2/7/14)


Theater

“Anti-Brechtians charge Mother Courage and its creator with being irritatingly didactic, insufferably self-important, and full of maddening contradictions. It’s all true, of course. And it’s this very spirit — irascible, indomitable — that makes the play (and Mother C.) so irresistible.”  (The Daily Beast, 9/10/14)

The latest productions at Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theater “stick out a playfully defiant tongue at German assimilationism’s wagging white finger.” (n+1, 8/29/14)

Tanztheater Wuppertal is alive and well, reports Roslyn Sulcas, with an ambitious 40th anniversary season.  (The New York Times, 5/15/14)

The Welsh National Opera is taking on Arnold Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron — the first staged production in Britain since 1976.  (The Guardian, 5/15/14;The Arts Desk, 5/25/14)

“This is a good year for those interested in Brecht,” beginning with the publication of a new biography by Stephen Parker.  (The Independent, 2/14/14; The Washington Post, 5/16/14; The Times Literary Supplement, 8/13/14)

1980 is the talk of 2014: “Pina Bausch’s classic collage of dance, spoken monologue and theatrical vignette is shot through with sadness, but also delicious comedy.”  (The Guardian, 2/7/14; The Arts Desk, 2/9/14; The Guardian, 2/9/14; The New York Times, 2/17/14)


History

Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand “was keenly aware of the grievous failures of Christians under Nazism. Yet he never wavered in his conviction that Christianity was the only spiritual force powerful enough to contend with humanity’s capacity for evil.”  (The Daily Beast, 12/26/14)

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)

One century later, here’s how we remember the Christmas Truce of 1914.  (OUPblog, 12/17/14; The Guardian, 12/23/14; The Nation, 12/23/14; Deutsche Welle, 12/24/14; NPR, 12/25/14)

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)

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)

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)

“For German national identity, winter is a metaphor that keeps on giving.”  (History Today, 11/14/14)

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)

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)

Cinematically strong, if historically flawed: “In his new film Diplomacy, Volker Schlöndorff has expertly created the creepy, almost surreal atmosphere of two men discussing the ruination of Paris while sitting in Louis XVI chairs, a fine claret readily at hand…”  (The New York Times, 10/14/14; The New York Review of Books, 10/15/14; Los Angeles Times, 11/6/14)

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)

“The first to be singled out for systematic murder by the Nazis were the mentally ill and intellectually disabled…Now, they are among the last to have their suffering publicly acknowledged.”  (The New York Times, 9/2/14)

In Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer, Bettina Stangneth sheds new light on the “banality of evil” and Eichmann’s undeterred ideological convictions.  (Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2014; The New York Times, 9/4/14; The New York Times, 9/21/14;The Atlantic, 10/8/14; The Guardian, 10/17/14)

Behold the Schmiedhammer Fritz, weighty symbol of Prussia’s burgeoning industrial and military might. (History Today, 9/2014)

Schlössernacht in Potsdam: “the magic of Disney, seasoned by the pomp and circumstance of imperial Prussia.”  (The Economist, 8/22/14)

Resurrecting Königsberg: An ambitious urban renewal project emphasizes Kaliningrad’s German past (and European future?).  (Spiegel Online – International, 7/25/14)

In memoriam: Hans-Ulrich Wehler (1931-2014). He sought the roots of Nazism in failed 19th-century modernization. “Few historians of any era have written so much, of such high quality, about so many different subjects.”  (The Guardian, 7/18/14; H-Net, 7/21/14)

Fifteen more years of explaining Hitler: Ron Rosenbaum on the Downfall parodies, Godwin’s Law, and how functionalism “has been cast into the dustbin of history along with ‘the banality of evil.'”  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 7/10/14; The Daily Beast, 7/26/14)

One more thing East and West Germans disagreed about: Mao’s Little Red Book.  (Imperial and Global Forum, 5/27/14)

In memoriam: Friedel Nussbaum (1916-2014), among the very few “native German Jews born before the Hitler era and still living in Germany in the year 2014.”  (The Daily Beast, 5/25/14)

For all the differences between the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, Nicholas Kulish “found the echoes impossible to ignore.”  (The New York Times, 5/9/14)

“Conspiracy theories aren’t necessarily wrong, and in some cases there is compelling evidence that conspiracies did lie behind major historical events. But not this one.” Richard Evans makes the case that Marinus van der Lubbe acted alone.  (London Review of Books, 5/8/14)

Revisiting the origins of the First World War
“Clearly we had a longing for a more ideal history,” says historian Gerd Krumreich, “and Christopher Clark has satisfied this longing with bravura.” The Sleepwalkers is Germany’s top-selling WWI history in 2014.  (The Irish Times, 5/7/14)

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)

In Red Love: The Story of an East German Family, Maxim Leo “honours the complicated motivations of real people, resulting in a humane, enlightening history of a collapsed country and a lost home.”  (New Statesman, 9/26/13; The New York Times, 4/13/14; The Guardian, 4/25/14; Publishing Perspectives, 5/22/14)

In January 1945, German prisoners of war constructed a brick chimney in Charleston, South Carolina. Should it be preserved or torn down? (The New York Times, 4/1/14)

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)

It’s probably time for the Karl May Museum to rethink what it’s obliged to “preserve and protect.”  (The Guardian, 3/10/14; The New York Times, 8/21/14)

Revisiting the origins of the First World War
What’s the most apt historic parallel to today’s crisis in Ukraine? Alec MacGillis explains why “Germany looks at Russia and Ukraine and sees 1914.”  (New Republic, 3/13/14; Spiegel Online – International, 3/14/14)

It’s probably time for the Karl May Museum to rethink what it’s obliged to “preserve and protect.”  (The Guardian, 3/10/14; The New York Times, 8/21/14)

Who could have guessed — controversy and technical difficulties are delaying the construction of historic memorials in Leipzig and Berlin. (Spiegel Online — International, 3/6/14)

A new round of war crimes investigations against suspected accomplices to murder at Auschwitz: “It might provide some with a sense of satisfaction, but it will likely be small and it comes very late.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 2/21/14; The New York Times, 5/5/14; Spiegel Online – International, 8/28/14; Spiegel Online – International, 8/28/14)

Revisiting the origins of the First World War
“History is not just history, but also a part of the present. This is especially true of Germany.”  Dirk Kurbjuweit revisits the Fischer controversy and the Historikerstreit with Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Ernst Nolte, and other key actors.  (Spiegel Online – International, 2/14/14)

Paula Kirby remembers the GDR, “where, it is true, there were few luxuries and many frustrations, and where non-conformity could be dangerous, but where people also tried to get on in their careers, raised families, had friends round for supper, built sandcastles, swept the front path and baked cakes…”  (The View East, 2/14/14)

“A century before there was the drone, there was the zeppelin.” Bertrand Patenaude looks back at how Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s innovation helped usher in a new era of total war.  (Hoover Digest, 2/2014)

We get to choose what stories we tell, and how, points out Robinson Meyer. “And we are captivated, again and again, by a mass-murderer’s toilet.”  (The Atlantic, 1/23/14)

Revisiting the origins of the First World War
There’s no shortage of WWI histories to choose from in 2014. “Intensive mining of the sources (by the authors and sometimes their amanuenses) has unearthed nuggets of new information, but mainly they sift through the existing store of knowledge.”  (The Times Literary Supplement, 11/13/13; Financial Times, 1/17/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/6/14; Commonweal, 4/19/14)

“Terrible and brilliant at the same time.” Memory of the Camps, a rarely seen 1945 documentary from the British Army Film Unit, is being restored for release later this year.  (The Independent, 1/8/14; The New Yorker, 1/10/14)

Revisiting the origins of the First World War
German war aims, British patriotism, Blackadder, and more: Are you caught up on the year’s first “intellectual battle over the myths of the First World War”?  (H-Net, 1/6/14)

“German, Jewish, and Neither.” Born in (West) Germany in 1982, Yascha Mounk explains why he decided to leave: “If there was one thing that made me feel I would never truly belong, it wasn’t hostility: It was benevolence.” (The New York Times, 1/3/14; Tablet, 1/9/14; The New York Times, 1/14/14; The Atlantic, 1/22/14; Boston Review, 1/24/14)

Revisiting the origins of the First World War
It’s 2014 — let the commemorations of milestones in 20th-century German history begin!  (The Guardian, 1/2/14; AICGS, 1/6/14)

Looted art from the Nazi era: new discoveries and new questions
Before you see the Hollywood movie, read up on the real “Monuments Men” who saved European cultural treasures from looting and destruction at the end of the Second World War.  (Spiegel Online – International, 12/5/13; Smithsonian, Jan. 2014)


Et Cetera

“For almost 70 years, people in Herzogenaurach, Germany, have been fighting a civil war over Adidas and Puma shoes. But peace may be at hand.”  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/30/14)

“A humble German fruit cake, which first emerged in the 14th century, became a formidable cultural and political force—and conquered the world.”  (The Daily Beast, 12/24/14)

“Has Britain revised the postwar image of Germany, its favorite enemy, as that nation’s dozen years of Nazi rule recede in the collective memory?”  (The New York Times, 12/23/14)

“In Bavaria, a centuries-old tradition is being revived. There are no reindeer. No elves. Just terrifying creatures called Krampus.”  (National Geographic, 12/17/13; The New York Times, 12/21/14)

In appreciation of Jakob Maria Mierscheid, “guided by a consistent moral compass and yet open to compromise. Through his very being he has humanised and enlivened German democracy.”  (The Economist, 12/12/14)

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)

“‘Uber’ has traveled a long way in English, starting with Nietzsche and along the way touching Superman, the outsize ambitions of the 1980s, and online gaming.”  (The Boston Globe, 7/27/14)

World Cup Champions
“Whatever its roots, German success is important and instructive.”  (The New York Times, 7/17/14; Newsweek, 7/17/14)

World Cup Champions
“Germany has a habit of winning the World Cup at symbolic moments.” Gideon Rachmann explores 2014’s golden moment (and why it may not last).  Financial Times, 7/14/14

Can this relationship be saved? On Germany, the U.S., and mismatched expectations in the post-Cold War era.  (The Daily Beast, 7/9/14;Spiegel Online – International, 7/10/14; Los Angeles Times, 7/10/14; The New York Times, 7/10/14; The New York Times, 7/13/14; The Daily Show, 8/29/14)

World Cup Champions
7:1!  Time to start casting Das Wunder von Belo Horizonte.  (Slate, 7/8/14; The Guardian, 7/9/14; The New York Times, 7/9/14; Spiegel Online – International, 7/9/14)

“Does Germany need a new flag?” No, but Jochen Bittner says the German flag could use some hipper branding.  (The New York Times, 6/19/14)

World Cup Champions
This could be the only World Cup article you read that features Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog.  (Slate, 6/11/14)

Ampelmann seeks self-assured Ampelfrau — candidates with miniskirts and ponytails need not apply.  (The Local, 5/16/14; Deutsche Welle, 5/30/14)

“You thought that Germans were the champions of international law and a rules-based world order?” Look at German-Russian relations and think again, writes Clemens Wergin.  (The New York Times, 5/5/14; The Economist, 5/10/14)

Business is picking up at the Berlin Brandenburg airport!…Sort of.  (The New York Times, 4/9/14)

Alas, poor “Wetten, dass…?”! If you’ve watched German TV in the last 33 years, you knew it well.  (The Local, 4/7/14)

“How do you know when to go naked in Germany?” Nathan Englander poses a timeless question. (The New York Times, 3/28/14)

Das Bundeskanzler? Der Professorin? “Germans try to get their tongues around gender-neutral language.”  (The Guardian, 3/24/14)

“Trust is the basis for peace and friendship between peoples. Even more, trust is the basis for the cooperation of allied nations. When we proceed as if the ends justify the means, when we do everything that is technologically possible, we damage trust; we sow mistrust. In the end there is less, not more, security.”  (The New York Review of Books, 3/20/14)

“Sogh-ee,” language purists, the Americanization of the German language marches on.  (NPR, 3/14/14)

“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)

Supergeil!  If this doesn’t make you want to shop at Edeka, what will?  (Slate, 2/24/14; The New York Times, 7/25/14)

“First as tragedy, then as farce, then as interview” with Eric Jarosinski, the man behind the monocle of @NeinQuarterly.  (Strollology, 6/27/13;Little Utopia, 8/6/13; The Wall Street Journal, 9/16/13; The New Yorker, 2/12/14)

Berlin and its discontents
Berlin isn’t as cool as it used to be, 2014 edition.  (Rolling Stone, 2/6/14; The New York Times, 2/21/14; Gawker, 2/24/14; The Atlantic Cities, 3/7/14; The New Republic, 9/12/14; CityLab, 12/16/14; The Guardian, 12/19/14)

“‘Yes, she’s a cliché, but much more than a cliché,’ says Winfried Kretschmann with some pride, because ‘the Swabian housewife represents the starting point’ in German thinking on the euro and fiscal management.”  (The Economist, 2/1/14)

President Joachim Gauck at the Munich Security Conference: “This is a good Germany, the best we’ve ever known…However, it’s precisely because these are good times for Germany that we have to consider what we have to change today to protect what is important to us.”  (Bundespräsidialamt, 1/31/14; The New York Times, 2/1/14; Reuters, 2/4/14; The Economist, 2/8/14)

“Every time a Volkswagen hits 100,000 miles, a German engineer gets his wings.”  (German Pulse, 1/30/14)

“German beer is facing an existential crisis,” reports Michael Filtz.  (The New Yorker, 1/14/14)

“Lebensraum in reverse” — one of the 20th century’s most contested borders, between Germany and Poland, is disappearing faster than you might think.  (Newsweek, 1/10/14)

“Does the world need the idea of ‘bad’ Germans?” (The Wilson Quarterly, 2014)

Please note that archived hyperlinks may no longer be functional.         
                

Music

“A newly discovered letter suggests Johann Sebastian Bach severely neglected his duties in the years leading up to his death. Now scholars are asking: Was that due to burn-out, seeing problems or clever time management?”  (Deutsche Welle, 12/27/13)

In Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, John Eliot Gardiner “has done a masterly, monumental job of taking the measure of Bach the man and the musician.”  (The Guardian, 10/30/13; The New York Times, 12/3/13; On Point, 1/7/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/20/14)

Happy 50th anniversary to the Philharmonie!  Hans Scharoun’s architecture is as impressive as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra itself.  (The Atlantic, 10/30/13)

Catch up on the musical contributions of Germany’s migrant workers with two new CD compilations, Songs of Gastarbeiter andHeimatlieder aus Deutschland. (The Guardian, 10/25/13)

It’s the end of era: Lou Reed has passed away, and Berlin’s underground nightlife has become a coffee table book. (Spiegel Online – International, 10/18/13; The Local, 10/28/13)

“He just did what he thought was right.” Christoph von Dohnanyi recalls the acts of moral courage that led to his father’s execution in April 1945. Read more about Hans von Dohnanyi and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the double biography No Ordinary Men, by Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern.  (The Boston Globe, 10/12/13)

More than 100 versions of Schubert’s Winterreise are available on CD and DVD; here’s a short list of the very best, by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and others.  (Financial Times, 8/28/13)

Notable now is that the current rap scenes, gangsta versus mainstream, exist side-by-side with neither group threatening to pull out their sawed-off shotgun.”  (Deutsche Welle, 8/27/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
Richard Wagner at 200: “It would be good to report that the anniversary year has yielded a raft of fresh insights. Alas, outside of scholarly precincts, discussion of Wagner is stuck in a Nazi rut. His multifarious influence on artistic, intellectual, and political life has been largely forgotten; in the media, it is practically obligatory to identify him as ‘Hitler’s favorite composer.’”  (The New Yorker, 8/26/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
Bayreuth 2013: “If this Ring had a theme, it was unintentional and only occurred to me after the performance. Castorf seems like a living embodiment of the Ring’s villain, Alberich, who steals the gold, renounces love and wants to rule the world.”  (The New York Times, 8/1/13; Financial Times, 8/2/13;  The Guardian, 8/2/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
When Castorf meets Wagner… The Bayreuth Ring begins on July 26, and it’s not going to be boring. Stay tuned!  (Gramophone, 7/22/13; Spiegel Online – International, 7/25/13)

Stockhausen “boomlet” in NYC! “Over the course of his prominent career, the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen took on myriad guises…Now, just over five years after his death…Stockhausen appears to have assumed his least-likely status of all: surefire box-office hit.”  (The New York Times, 7/12/13; The New York Times, 7/19/13)

“It’s great to be in East Berlin,” Bruce Springsteen told a GDR audience of 300,000 in July 1988. “I came here to play rock ‘n’ roll for you, in the hope that one day all barriers will be torn down.” Erik Kirschbaum’s new book shows how The Boss rocked the Berlin Wall.  (BBC, 6/26/13; Reuters, 6/26/13; The Guardian, 7/5/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
The British Library has placed its collection of Richard Wagner’s manuscripts online. Take a look!  (The Public Domain Review, 5/22/13)

Zachary Woolfe explores conductor Christian Thielemann’s “nostalgia-trip” appeal and that Germanic reputation. (The New York Times, 5/17/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
One less Wagnerian music drama onstage in 2013. (Dear Deutsche Oper am Rhein, what were you thinking?!)  (Deutsche Welle, 5/9/13; The Guardian, 5/9/13; Spiegel Online – International, 5/9/13; Spiegel Online – International, 5/13/13)

“Karlheinz Stockhausen has arguably done more to transform 20th- and 21st-century music than any other single composer: from serialism to electronic music, from consciousness-expanding musical happenings to cycles of pieces for every day of the week and every hour of the day…”  (The Guardian, 5/7/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
Wagnerians, free up some room on those bookshelves. Upcoming releases include The Wagner Experience and its Meaning to Us, Friedelind Wagner: Richard Wagner’s Rebellious Granddaughter, and Richard Wagner: The Lighter Side.  (The Wagnerian, 4/28/13)

Don’t miss the Jasper String Quartet’s tribute to “master and prankster” Paul Hindemith! Surely you’ve always wanted to hear the “Overture to the ‘Flying Dutchman’ as Played on Sight by a Bad Spa Orchestra by the Village Well at 7 in the Morning.”  (The New York Times, 4/19/13)

Christian Thielemann and the Dresden Staatskapelle came to Washington with an all-Brahms musical program, “trailing a cloud of Deutschtum.” Not exactly sure what that means…  (The Washington Post, 4/17/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
200 years after Richard Wagner’s birth, he’s still the composer we hate to love, and love to hate. Reflections from Ed Smith, Nicholas Spice, Dirk Kurbjuweit, Michael Tanner, and Anne Midgette.  (New Statesman, 4/9/13; London Review of Books, 4/11/13; Spiegel Online – International, 4/12/13; The Spectator, 4/13/13; The Washington Post, 5/24/13)

Alex Ross recreates a bit of musical Dada first engineered by Stefan Wolpe in 1920: eight Victrolas playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at eight different speeds. “No one can deny that it provides a fresh perspective on a familiar work.”  (The New Yorker, 4/2/13)

Who knew? Stanley Kubrick wanted to film the story of Dietrich Schulz-Koehn, “a swing-loving Luftwaffe officer who wrote about the music scenes in Nazi-occupied cities using the pen name ‘Dr. Jazz.'”  (The Atlantic, 3/25/13)

David Hasselhoff — yes, he’s part of the Kultur
Don’t be too quick to mock David Hasselhoff’s latest appearance in Berlin, writes Marc Young. “He has showed a lot more passion and sense of history than many of the city’s politicians of late.”  (The Local, 3/19/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
It’s the bicentenary of Richard Wagner’s birth — and that means a lot of Wagnerian music drama on German stages. Watch for these five outstanding productions.  (The Wall Street Journal, 3/15/13)

David Hasselhoff — yes, he’s part of the Kultur
Saving the Wall….or saving his career? “He once sang about freedom as the Berlin Wall was torn down — now he’s returning to the German capital to save what is left of it. US entertainer David Hasselhoff plans to join protests to save the East Side Gallery on Sunday.” (The Local, 3/13/13; The Guardian, 3/17/13; The Local, 3/17/13; The Guardian, 3/19/13)

Vergangenheitsbewältigung at the Vienna Philharmonic: “A startlingly frank new report posted on the orchestra’s website (in German only, for now) makes it clear that when the Germans swept into Vienna, they found an orchestra that was a ready, even eager tool of Nazi propaganda.”  (Bloomberg, 3/10/13; The Guardian, 3/11/13; The Guardian, 3/11/13; Reuters, 3/11/13; Vulture, 3/12/13)

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

Have 4 minutes, 52 seconds to spare? The new video from Brandt Brauer Frick, “Plastic Like Your Mother,” won’t disappoint you.  (The Guardian, 3/7/13)

One of the few places you won’t hear Richard Wagner in 2013-14: the Metropolitan Opera, which has announced its first Wagner-free season since 1918-19.  (Associated Press, 2/26/13)

In memoriam: Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013), who “embodied the German type of the ‘Kapellmeister’ in the best sense…a supportive accompanist as well as an informed interpreter and who understood how to train, develop and lead an orchestra.”  (The Guardian, 2/24/13; The New York Times, 2/24/13; Slipped Disc, 2/24/13)

We’re shocked, shocked to find that Germany’s Eurovision song entry is not an original work of creative genius. (Spiegel Online – International, 2/18/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
The most celebrated recording of Wagner’s bicentennial year? No controversy there — it’s Jonas Kaufmann’s Wagner, featuring six operatic excerpts and the lovely Wesendonck-Lieder too.  (Entartete Musik, 2/10/13; NPR, 2/16/13; The Guardian, 3/6/13; Opera Today, 4/16/13)

Karl Bartos goes on the record about Off the Record, his new album mined from years of rich material from the Kraftwerk era and after.  (Financial Times, 2/8/13; The Quietus, 3/4/13)

Heino’s Mit Freundlichen Grüßen — “Never before has an album by a German artist been legally downloaded as many times in the first three days.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 2/7/13; The Guardian, 2/24/13)

“Kraftwerk tickets pass you by? Take a Krautrock tour of the Tate Modern instead. From Richter’s Cage paintings to Heartfield’s photomontages, recreate the band’s robo-Dada visionary landscape for free.”  (The Guardian, 2/7/13)

By labeling certain works of art as ‘Holocaust music,’ writes James Loeffler, “we risk creating a genre that turns the details of history and the complex meanings of music into one saccharine lesson in universalist tolerance.”  (NPR, 1/25/13; Tablet, 7/11/13; The Washington Post, 7/26/13)

The Emperor of Atlantis and The Last Cyclist: Theatrical satires created by prisoners of the Theresienstadt concentration camp, onstage today.  (Deutsche Welle, 1/25/13; The Guardian, 5/24/13; Associated Press, 5/30/13; The New York Times, 6/2/13)

“But children are the same / In Paris or in Göttingen…” On the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, Stephan Evans recalls the French chanteuse Barbara’s musical contribution to Franco-German rapprochement.  (BBC Magazine, 1/21/13)

“Where are we now?” David Bowie revisits Berlin in his first new song since 2003. (The Guardian, 1/8/13; The Guardian, 1/8/12; Evening Standard, 1/9/13; Spiegel Online – International, 1/10/13; The Guardian, 1/12/13)

Want to see the Rolling Stones perform on the roof of the former Stasi headquarters? Of course you do — and so does Stasi archive director Roland Jahn.  (The Independent, 1/7/13)

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

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


Art & Design

Looted art from the Nazi era: new discoveries and new questions
Hildebrand Gurlitt, the man who assembled the astounding art collection recently discovered in a Munich apartment, was more deeply involved in the trade of looted artworks than had been previously assumed. He also profited from Nazi injustices after the war.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 12/23/13)

“In a city that prides itself on unblinking confrontation with its traumatic history,” how has the East Side Gallery “come to feel perennially threatened, poised for its next inevitable challenger?” Esther Yi considers the most vulnerable of all Berlin monuments.  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 12/19/13)

Looted art from the Nazi era: new discoveries and new questions
Before you see the Hollywood movie, read up on the real “Monuments Men” who saved European cultural treasures from looting and destruction at the end of the Second World War.  (Spiegel Online – International, 12/5/13; Smithsonian, Jan. 2014)

Yet another Taschen volume you’ll wish you owned: Fritz Kahn, celebrating the life’s work of the infographic pioneer behind the iconic 1926 poster “Man as Industrial Palace” (and much more).  (Brain Pickings, 11/20/13)

Looted art from the Nazi era: new discoveries and new questions
“About 1,500 modernist masterpieces — thought to have been looted by the Nazis — have been confiscated from the flat of an 80-year-old man from Munich, in what is being described as the biggest artistic find of the postwar era.”  (The Guardian, 11/3/13; Spiegel Online – International, 11/4/13; The New York Times, 11/5/13; Spiegel Online – International, 11/21/13)

Happy 50th anniversary to the Philharmonie!  Hans Scharoun’s architecture is as impressive as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra itself.  (The Atlantic, 10/30/13)

An inspired resolution for 2014: visit the Isa Genzken retrospective in New York (right now), Chicago or Dallas (later this year).  (Spiegel Online – International, 10/25/13; The New York Times, 11/21/13; The New York Times, 11/21/13; Tablet, 11/21/13; The New Yorker, 11/27/13)

Paul Klee is the artist Philip Hensher loves best, for “his modesty and resourcefulness, and his willingness to combat oppression and violence with laughter.” See for yourself at the Tate Modern, now through March 9.  (The Guardian, 10/4/13; The Economist, 10/5/13; The Arts Desk, 10/15/13)

“The Big Apple goes bananas for German art,” reports Deutsche Welle. “Major retrospectives of greats like Sigmar Polke are on deck, while numerous German expats are immersed in the struggle to create beauty in an impossible city.”  (Deutsche Welle, 9/25/13)

George Grosz’s Berlin: “perpetually leaning over its inhabitants like a roaring drunk about to vomit down a bystander’s neck.” See Grosz’s prostitutes, politicians, and profiteers at the Richard Nagy gallery, now through November 2.  (Prospect, 9/23/13; The Independent, 10/1/13;The Guardian, 10/3/13)

“Good Bausünden make an impression on your memory,” says architectural historian Turit Fröbe. “They’re original, they have their own distinctive character and they’re easily recognized.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 8/23/13)

Prepare to add one more museum to your Berlin travel itinerary — 20th-century art is getting a home of its own (and the Old Masters are staying put). (Bloomberg, 8/21/13)

Will the modernist parking garage on Berlin’s Kantstrasse be saved?  (The New York Times, 8/19/13)

“East Germany’s feared secret police had a bit of a sartorial flair, photos found by artist Simon Menner in the Stasi archive reveal. The images, which offer a glimpse into the clandestine world of phony facial hair and the all-important hat, are set to be published in a book this fall.”  (The Daily Mail, 7/30/13; Spiegel Online – International, 9/4/13; The Verge, 9/18/13)

Bronze Age: Europe without Borders “was supposed to mark the culmination of a Year in Germany in Russia after three years of co-operation between German and Russian curators.” Instead, the exhibition reopened old wounds about the looting of treasures during and after WWII. (Financial Times, 6/21/13; Bloomberg, 6/22/13; Judy Dempsey’s Strategic Europe, 6/24/13; The Art Newspaper, 6/27/13)

Stuttgart’s train station, Hamburg’s concert house, Berlin’s airport: what would the “starchitects” behind Germany’s greatest construction headaches say if they got together to discuss? Read on!  (Spiegel Online – International, 6/14/13)

In memoriam: Willi Sitte (1921-2013), “one of the few visual artists of the GDR to achieve international renown.”  (Goethe-Institut, 6/2013;Deutsche Welle, 6/8/13)

Going to see the Lenbachhaus in Munich? Don’t forget the Münter-Haus in Murnau — here’s why.  (The Economist, 5/24/13)

Seven decades later, Anselm Kiefer realizes his own Morgenthau Plan, at the Gagosian Gallery in NYC.  (T Magazine, 5/3/18; Hyperallergic, 5/18/13)

Bad news for Joseph Beuys fans: the artist’s legacy has gotten more complicated.  (Spiegel Online – International, 5/17/13; Spiegel Online – International, 7/12/13)

The latest addition to Munich’s Kunstareal looks something like a “swish nightclub or luxury department store.” It’s really Norman Foster’s addition to the Lenbachhaus, home to a stunning collection of works from the Blue Rider group.  (Bloomberg, 5/7/13; The Economist, 5/25/13;The Wall Street Journal, 7/24/13)

Last call to encounter the experimental films, paintings, and other creative work of Hans Richter at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art! The Richter retrospective is on display through September 2.  (The Wall Street Journal, 5/22/13; JewishJournal.com, 7/2/13; Los Angeles Times, 8/16/13)

“I want to inspire pedestrians to think about Karl Marx in a different way,” explains artist Ottmar Hörl. Done! Now visitors and residents of Trier can experience Marx as a garden gnome in four different shades of red.  (Spiegel Online – International, 5/3/13)

De l’Allemagne
, 1800-1939: German Thought and Painting from Friedrich to Beckmann” is now showing at the Louvre. (The Art Newspaper;Deutsche Welle, 4/22/13)

“Admirers of the late WG Sebald’s inimitable blend of essay, memoir, novel and found images…will be grateful for A Place in the Country,” a collection of essays on artists that Sebald himself admired.  (The Guardian, 4/20/13; Financial Times, 4/26/13; The Guardian, 4/27/13)

Is it “permissable to find beauty in an art that served to legitimize an abhorrent regime?” What if the artist later became that regime’s armaments minister? Léon Krier attempts to rehabilitate the architect Albert Speer.  (The Wall Street Journal, 4/12/13)

See a glimpse of “the birth of German expressionist sculpture” in the work of Wilhelm Lehmbruck — on display now at the Michael Werner Gallery in London.  (Financial Times, 3/29/13)

The special exhibition of works by Albrecht Dürer now showing at the National Gallery of Art “is so good and so absorbing, you’ll want to walk home alone, avoid crowds, and preserve the fragile sense of awe and melancholy it inspires for as long as possible.”  (The Washington Post, 3/22/13; Los Angeles Times, 3/31/13; The New York Review of Books, 5/20/13)

Christo is back! His Big Air Package, installed within Oberhausen’s landmark, 117-meter high Gasometer, “is meant to be the largest inflatable object of all time.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 3/14/13; Deutsche Welle, 3/15/13; Need Supply Co., 3/31/13)

“The Porsche, the distinctive, aerodynamic, lightweight, low-slung, and undeniably sexy feat of German engineering, is considered by many to be a work of art.” The North Carolina Museum of Art agrees — look for its Porsche special exhibition next fall.  (ARTnews, 3/14/13)

Good news for Joseph Beuys fans: two Rhineland museums — Museum Kurhaus Kleve and Schloss Moyland — “have undergone makeovers with the artist’s legacy in mind.”  (The Wall Street Journal, 3/7/13)

The artists of the troubled Berlin Brandenburg Airport appear to have been much more efficient than its engineers. (Spiegel Online – International, 2/27/13; Spiegel Online – International, 2/28/13)

What?! Iconic paintings from the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, have been removed to make way for high-rise luxury apartments.  (The Local, 2/26/13; The Guardian, 2/27/12; The Atlantic Cities, 3/1/13; Spiegel Online – International, 3/4/13; Spiegel Online – International, 3/27/13; The Washington Post, 3/30/13)

No image “in the history of Western painting is more brutal than the crucifixion scene in the Isenheim Altarpiece.” But Renaissance artistMathias Grünewald intended his work to console, not to disgust. “His belief in the ameliorating capacity of the violent image was profound.”  (Los Angeles Times, 2/15/13)

“Anti-bourgeois, anti-industrial and anti-imperial, German Expressionism started at the dawn of the century and ended, in an official, nationalist sense, with the Nazis’ ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition of 1937.” See an overview of the movement at New York’s Neue Galerie, now through April 22.  (Bloomberg, 2/7/13; The New York Times, 2/7/13; The Wall Street Journal, 3/18/13)

“Kraftwerk tickets pass you by? Take a Krautrock tour of the Tate Modern instead. From Richter’s Cage paintings to Heartfield’s photomontages, recreate the band’s robo-Dada visionary landscape for free.”  (The Guardian, 2/7/13)

The Federal Republic of Germany still holds thousands of artworks and other collectibles that were amassed by high-ranking Nazis. “For almost 68 years now, those in charge of the art — no matter their political persuasion — have done little to investigate the provenance of the valuable pieces that make up this poisonous legacy and return them to their rightful owners.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 1/30/13)

Georg Baselitz complains about the German media, museums, and the museum-going public. He’s not a fan of Günter Grass, Peter Sloterdijk, or most women painters, either.  (Spiegel Online – International, 1/25/13)

Since 1977, artist Wolfgang Laib has collected “pollen from the forests and meadows surrounding his home in a small village in southern Germany.” Check out his largest pollen installation yet, in the 18 x 21 foot “womb” of the MoMA.  (The Huffington Post, 1/13/13; The Wall Street Journal, 1/24/13)

Dadaist Kurt Schwitters “lived out his final years in postwar Cumbria, working feverishly in a draughty old barn, poor, hungry and ignored.” Now his late work is getting its due — the exhibition Schwitters in Britain opens at Tate Britain on January 30.  (The Observer, 1/5/13; The Guardian, 1/18/13; The Independent, 1/20/13)

Tired of “edgy” Berlin? Munich has culture too! (Financial Times, 1/11/13)

New approaches to understanding the Holocaust
“From the beginning, creating art that honors the suffering of Holocaust victims while admonishing the world not to forget has been a mission that — necessarily, some might argue — pushes at the boundaries of taste.” Robin Cembalest shows some of the latest ways these boundaries have been pushed.  (ARTnews, 1/10/13)


Books & Ideas

Here’s why there’s a lot to love about Why We Took the Car, Wolfgang Herrndorf’s last novel.  (The Washington Post, 12/31/13; Kirkus, 1/9/14)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
Work proceeds on the Institute of Contemporary History’s scholarly edition of Mein Kampf — but not with Bavarian support.  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/12/13; The Guardian, 12/18/13)

Looking for critically acclaimed foreign fiction, full of anguish and brutality? Julia Franck’s Back to Back, translated by Anthea Bell, is the novel for you.  (Vogue, 12/9/13; Washington Independent Review of Books, 1/8/14; Words Without Borders, 2/2014; The Independent, 3/7/14)

Yet another Taschen volume you’ll wish you owned: Fritz Kahn, celebrating the life’s work of the infographic pioneer behind the iconic 1926 poster “Man as Industrial Palace” (and much more).  (Brain Pickings, 11/20/13)

There’s no shortage of WWI histories to choose from in 2014. “Intensive mining of the sources (by the authors and sometimes their amanuenses) has unearthed nuggets of new information, but mainly they sift through the existing store of knowledge.”  (The Times Literary Supplement, 11/13/13; Financial Times, 1/17/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/6/14)

In Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, John Eliot Gardiner “has done a masterly, monumental job of taking the measure of Bach the man and the musician.”  (The Guardian, 10/30/13; The New York Times, 12/3/13; On Point, 1/7/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/20/14)

November is German Literature Month — it’s not too late to sign up!  (German Literature Month, 10/27/13)

Ordinary women? Hitler’s Furies, by Wendy Lower, “brings German women’s history eastward into the Nazi empire and warfare, in the open-air landscape of the Holocaust, at mass shootings, ghetto liquidations, death marches and deportations of Jews and Soviet POWs.”  (The New York Times, 10/8/13; The New York Times, 10/14/13; The Washington Post, 12/13/13)

“On Sept. 30, the German author Ilija Trojanov was checking in for an American Airlines flight from Salvado de Bahia, Brazil to Miami, en route to Denver, when he ran into trouble.” Did the NSA prevent the surveillance-critical author from getting to the GSA? (Eurozine, 10/3/13; Slate, 10/4/13)

Jakob Arjouni “was the first writer to put a self-confident, aggressive, individual and charming German Turk on the national stage as a character in popular culture.” His last novel, Brother Kemal, has just been published in English.  (The New York Times, 10/2/13)

It’s just like the Oscars! (Sort of.) Catch up on the nominees — I mean, the shortlist — for this year’s German Book Prize, to be awarded on October 7.  (New Books in German; Germany.info, 10/1/13)

In Red Love: The Story of an East German Family, Maxim Leo “honours the complicated motivations of real people, resulting in a humane, enlightening history of a collapsed country and a lost home.”  (New Statesman, 9/26/13; The New York Times, 4/13/14; The Guardian, 4/25/14)

In praise of “digital natives,” “Zeitgenossen,” and other fine examples of linguistic cosmopolitanism.  (The New York Times, 9/25/13)

In memoriam: Marcel Reich-Ranicki (1920-2013)
. He survived the Warsaw ghetto and became “Germany’s leading literary arbiter.”  (Bloomberg, 9/18/13; The Guardian, 9/18/13; The New York Times, 9/18/13; love german books, 9/19/13; Dialog International, 9/20/13; The New Yorker, 9/24/13)

Hitler and Hollywood, historical hot topic in 2013

Ben Urwand overstates his case in The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler.  (The Daily Beast, 9/9/13; The New Yorker, 9/16/13; Self-Styled Siren, 9/16/13; The Nation, 9/30/13)

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)

In memoriam: Wolfgang Herrndorf (1965-2013), award-winning author of Tschick (Why We Took the Car) and Sand.  (Goethe-Institut, 8/27/13)

“Good Bausünden make an impression on your memory,” says architectural historian Turit Fröbe. “They’re original, they have their own distinctive character and they’re easily recognized.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 8/23/13)

Walter Laqueur shares his observations on the small but not insignificant cohort of Germans of Jewish descent who in one way or another are portrayed by latter-day historians as having served Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.” Laqueur tells you what he thinks about those “latter-day historians,” too.  (Tablet, 8/21/13)

“Of course German literature has worth,” asserts Rebecca Schuman. ‘But how can I prove that when I can’t teach it, because the discipline is being drowned in a forest pond, like Gretchen’s poor infant in Faust?” (The Chronicle Review, 8/21/13)

Denglisch 101: how English is gradually transforming the German language, from abgefuckt to der Zoom.  (The Economist, 8/15/13)

The first English-language reviews are in for the film adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s Wetlands: “Director David Wnendt and breakout star Carla Juri leave no bodily orifice unexplored in this spiky, smartly packaged commercial enterprise.”  (Screen, 8/11/13; Indiewire, 8/15/13; Variety, 8/19/13)

Reflections on the Suhrkamp bankruptcy: “What’s in a book? Everything, it would seem in Germany…The idea that Kultur is an asset deriving from written words still forms the national narrative.” (Standpoint, July/August 2013)

It was as though the left-Hegelian World Spirit had briefly descended on the Central European Department of the OSS.” Read the analyses of Franz Neumann and team in Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort.  (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2013; New Statesman, 8/22/13; Standpoint, 9/13)

“East Germany’s feared secret police had a bit of a sartorial flair, photos found by artist Simon Menner in the Stasi archive reveal. The images, which offer a glimpse into the clandestine world of phony facial hair and the all-important hat, are set to be published in a book this fall.”  (The Daily Mail, 7/30/13; Spiegel Online – International, 9/4/13; The Verge, 9/18/13)

In July, the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked Germany to shut down Der Landser, a right-wing adventure magazine with an idealized take on the heroism of German soldiers in WWII. In September, Bauer Media Group made the right call.  (The New York Times, 7/29/13; The Guardian, 7/30/13; Deutsche Welle, 7/31/13; History Extra, 9/16/13)

Leopold Schreyer fled Berlin in 1939, leaving a precious book collection and nearly everything else behind. 72 years later, Karin Andert and Niko Kohls found one of his books. A fascinating story — both depressing and hopeful — about postwar restitution.  (Boston Review, 7/29/13)

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

“I am a continent that one day soon will sink without a sound into the sea.” The poet Gertrud Kolmar is rediscovered in a new biography by Dieter Kühn (translated by Linda Marianello).  (The Wall Street Journal, 7/7/13)

Eugen Ruge’s prize-winning novel In Times of Fading Light is “the story of a family” and the story of a country — a sensitive, gripping portrayal of four generations’ experience of the German Democratic Republic. Now available in English!  (Barnes and Noble Review, 7/2/13; The Guardian, 7/5/13; Financial Times, 7/12/13; The New York Times, 8/13/13)

In memoriam: Walter Jens (1923-2013), “noted author and literary historian who campaigned for tolerant debate in post-war Germany.”(Deutsche Welle, 6/10/13)

Here’s the story behind the girlhood friendship that inspired Fazit (Account Rendered), Melita Maschmann’s 1963 memoir of her years as a committed activist in the Bund Deutscher Mädel.  (The New Yorker, 5/29/13)

In memoriam: Sarah Kirsch (1935-2013)
. German literature has lost “one of its most important, headstrong and poeticallly powerful voices.”  (Deutsche Welle, 5/22/13; PN Review, 5/28/13)

“Goethe in translation is a radically diminished author.” (The Best American Poetry, 5/13/13)

80 years ago, university students across Germany coordinated the burning of books by Jewish, socialist, and other “degenerate” authors. (Deutsche Welle, 5/10/13; The Huffington Post – United Kingdom, 5/10/13)

Explore the Berlin of Erich Kästner children’s classic Emil and the Detectives with Michael Rosen and Kate Connolly.  (The Guardian, 5/1/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
Wagnerians, free up some room on those bookshelves. Upcoming releases include The Wagner Experience and its Meaning to Us, Friedelind Wagner: Richard Wagner’s Rebellious Granddaughter, and Richard Wagner: The Lighter Side.  (The Wagnerian, 4/28/13)

“Admirers of the late WG Sebald’s inimitable blend of essay, memoir, novel and found images…will be grateful for A Place in the Country,” a collection of six essays on artists whom Sebald himself admired.  (The Guardian, 4/20/13; Financial Times, 4/26/13; The Guardian, 4/27/13; The New York Times, 3/21/14)

Travel reporters don’t have to dig very deep to find “Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin.” Have a drink at the Sally Bowles cocktail bar, or sign up for an “Isherwood’s Neighborhood” walking tour…  (The New York Times, 4/12/13)

Looking for the “world’s most prolific publisher of German literature in English”? It’s Seagull Books in Kolkata, India.  (Deutsche Welle, 4/11/13)

“There is no official estimate for how many Nazi-looted books remain in German libraries. Tracing their owners and returning them is a task that librarians say will take decades.”  (Bloomberg, 4/7/13)

Much deeper than four shades of red — In Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life, Jonathan Sperber brings Marx down from the ideological heavens.  (The New York Times, 3/29/13; The Daily Show, 4/2/13; The New York Review of Books, 5/9/13; The Nation, 10/8/13)

Brush up your Adorno (and your Horkheimer, Marcuse, and Benjamin too)!
A brief introduction to the Frankfurt School that will leave you wanting more. (The Guardian, 3/25/13; The Guardian, 4/1/13; The Guardian, 4/8/13; The Guardian, 4/15/13)

“Life and death, honor and shame in the turbulent sixteenth century”: Joel F. Harrington illuminates the dark world of Nuremberg executioner Frantz Schmidt. (New Republic, 3/19/13; The Wall Street Journal, 4/7/13; The Chronicle Review, 4/8/13; Barnes and Noble Review, 4/16/13; The Times Literary Supplement, 9/4/13)

“It’s in the deepest dungeons that the most beautiful dreams of freedom are dreamt.” Michael Lipkin considers Friedrich Schiller’s traumatic education at the Hohe Carlsschule.  (The Paris Review Daily, 3/13/13)

In memoriam: Otfried Preussler (1923-2013), author of The Robber Hotzenplotz and other classic children’s stories.  (Deutsche Welle, 2/20/13;The Local, 2/20/13; The New York Times, 2/25/13)

Reviews are plentiful but mixed for Hitler’s Philosophers, Yvonne Sherratt’s study of “the thinkers admired, corrupted and oppressed by the Nazis.”  (Financial Times, 2/15/13; Times Higher Education, 2/21/13; The Independent, 2/22/13;  The Chronicle Review, 3/18/13)

Er ist wieder da — atop German best-seller lists since mid-December, and about to be translated into 17 — make that 32! — different languages. Author Timor Vernes “tries to show up the Hitler-fixated media industry….but he himself profits from this fixation to the highest degree.”  (Presseurop, 2/1/13; Bloomberg, 2/3/13; Deutsche Welle, 2/4/13; The Guardian, 2/5/13; The Economist, 6/25/13)

American critics come to terms with Christa Wolf’s coming to terms in City of Angels, or The Overcoat of Dr. Freud.  (Dialog International, 1/12/12; Los Angeles Times, 1/31/13; The California Report, 2/1/13; The Wall Street Journal, 2/15/13; The New Republic, 3/7/13)

So much Kultur, so little cultural sensitivity
A new edition of Otfried Preussler’s Die kleine Hexe sparks “heated discussion over how to handle outdated, controversial language in classic children’s books.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 1/16/13; The Local, 1/24/13; Spiegel Online – International, 1/25/13; The Guardian,1/29/13; The New Yorker, 1/31/13)

In memoriam: Hans Massaquoi (1926-2013), longtime managing editor of Ebony magazine. His memoir, Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany, appeared in 1999.  (Los Angeles Times, 1/22/13; NPR, 1/25/13)

The setting of Erich Kästner’s Going to the Dogs is still Weimar Berlin…but the similarities with Emil and the Detectives end there. Newly reissued by NYRB Classics!  (Bookforum, 1/10/13; The Literateur, 1/15/13; Spiegel Online – International, 4/18/13)

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

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

In 1918, Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West “hit the German consciousness like a boulder tossed upon an anthill.” 21st-century Americans, take heed: Robert W. Merry shows how many of Spengler’s ominous prophecies remain relevant today.  (The National Interest, 1/2/13)

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


Film

The Book Thief “tries so hard to warm our hearts amid grotesque suffering, it goes a bit mad under the strain. It relays an uplifting story that, ill-advisedly, is not so much Holocaust-era as Holocaust-adjacent, determined to steer clear of too much discomfort.”  (Chicago Tribune, 11/14/13; The Atlantic, 11/15/13; Boston Review, 1/6/14)

Hitler and Hollywood, historical hot topic in 2013
See the 1930s rarities Hitler’s Reign of Terror and I Was a Captive of Nazi Germany at MoMA’s 11th International Festival of Film Preservation.  (The New York Times, 10/9/13)

“German filmmaker Edgar Reitz, renowned for his ‘Heimat’ television series, has created a prequel that is likely to polarize viewers. An experiment in slow motion, it forces the audience to confront the contrast with fast-paced modern life.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 10/4/13)

Hitler and Hollywood, historical hot topic in 2013
Ben Urwand overstates his case in The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler.  (The Daily Beast, 9/9/13; The New Yorker, 9/16/13; Self-Styled Siren, 9/16/13; The Nation, 9/30/13)

Five early films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in a DVD box set! Check out why “Fassbinder’s sleazy gangsters and slackers are worth watching today.”  (Cinespect, 8/27/13; The Same Cinema Every Night, 8/28/13)

A student project from the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, featuring a young Adolf Hitler and a C-class Mercedes, goes viral.  (The Independent, 8/23/13; Indiewire, 8/26/13)

The first English-language reviews are in for the film adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s Wetlands: “Director David Wnendt and breakout star Carla Juri leave no bodily orifice unexplored in this spiky, smartly packaged commercial enterprise.”  (Screen, 8/11/13; Indiewire, 8/15/13; Variety, 8/19/13; The Daily Beast, 1/17/14)

Hitler and Hollywood, historical hot topic in 2013
American movie moguls didn’t just ignore the Nazis, they were willing collaborators! The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler, by Ben Urwand, will be published in September — but is getting plenty of press now.  (Tablet, 6/10/13; The New York Times, 6/25/13; The Chronicle Review, 7/10/13; The Hollywood Reporter, 7/31/13)

In Hannah Arendt, Margarethe von Trotta takes on one of the great — and greatly debated — lives of the 20th century.  (Tablet, 5/24/13; The New York Times, 5/28/13; The New Yorker, 5/31/13; The New York Times, 7/7/13; The New York Review of Books, 11/21/13)

Hitler and Hollywood, historical hot topic in 2013
Hitler and his followers have always been Hollywood’s villains of choice, right? Ironically, no, explains Thomas Doherty in Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939. “Nazis were all but invisible in American movies at the time when depicting their savagery might have done the most good.”(The New York Times, 5/23/13; The Wall Street Journal, 5/24/13)

Hitler and Hollywood, historical hot topic in 2013
Watch a clip from Hitler’s Reign of Terror, a 1934 documentary by Cornelius Vanderbilt IV: “It is an oddball production to our modern eyes and sensibilities, but remarkable all the same: it appears to be the first-ever American anti-Nazi film.”  (The New Yorker, 5/21/13)

The TV miniseries Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter will be released in U.S. movie theaters as Generation War(New Republic, 5/7/13)

Budd Schulberg and Leni Riefenstahl, “fleeting and unlikely collaborators.” The 1945 film that he helped assemble “with, he claimed, her assistance as an involuntary consultant…remains a key document of the twentieth century and helped send ten war criminals to the gallows.” (Tin House, Spring 2013)

Who knew? Stanley Kubrick wanted to film the story of Dietrich Schulz-Koehn, “a swing-loving Luftwaffe officer who wrote about the music scenes in Nazi-occupied cities using the pen name ‘Dr. Jazz.'”  (The Atlantic, 3/25/13)

Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter shows that a TV miniseries can still spark passionate discussion about the experiences of World War II and the Holocaust.  (AICGS, 3/18/13; Associated Press, 3/28/13; Spiegel Online – International, 3/28/13; The Economist, 3/30/13; Spiegel Online – International, 4/10/13)

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

“Christoph Waltz’s second Academy Award has once again launched a very serious debate in Europe – is he Austrian or German?”  (The Wall Street Journal, 2/25/13)

See Casablanca, Hangmen Also Die!, Some Like it Hot, and 30 other films with “the Weimar touch” at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival…or at the MoMA!  (Deutsche Welle, 2/8/13; GlobalPost, 2/14/13; The Wall Street Journal, 3/4/13)

“You may be thinking you don’t have the emotional and psychological space for yet another movie about childhood in wartime or the legacy of the Holocaust” — but critic Andrew O’Hehir promises that Cate Shortland’s Lore “offers a vision of the costs of war at an individual level, along with a challenging moral parable, that’s not like anything you’ve seen before.”  (j.b. spins, 2/4/13; The New York Times, 2/7/13; Salon, 2/8/13)

In the spring of 1972, Lutz Becker discovered Eva Braun’s home movies among a stash of uncatalogued film canisters in a National Archives vault. Becker’s find transformed visual historical memory of Adolf Hitler and his inner circle.  (The Guardian, 1/26/13)

Looking forward to Hannah Arendt — Margarethe von Trotta has created “an extremely vivid cinematic essay, thrilling in its every minute, deeply moving in its seriousness and suitably unsettling.” (Spiegel Online – International, 1/11/13)

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

How do the descendants of Goering and Himmler grapple with the atrocities in their families’ past? In Hitler’s Children, “the Israeli documentarian Chanoch Ze’evi talks to five people who bear the names of particularly infamous Nazis.”  (The Boston Globe, 1/1/13; The Atlantic, 2/15/13; Los Angeles Times, 2/17/13)


Theater

Marianna Salzmann’s Muttersprache Mameloschn impressed audiences at the 2013 Mülheimer Theatertage.  Now the tale of three generations of Jewish women in contemporary Germany has crossed the Atlantic.  (PRI, 12/23/13)

Forget A Christmas Carol and The Nutcrackertake the kids to see Emil and the Detectives instead!  Onstage now at the National Theatre. (The Guardian, 12/4/13; The Arts Desk, 12/5/13; Financial Times, 12/5/13)

Been to the theater much in Berlin? Chances are, you’ve seen something risky (or self-indulgent) that you won’t see anywhere else. Even so, explains J. Kelly Nestruck, the Berlin theater scene is more like its North American counterparts than you might expect. (The Globe and Mail, 10/11/13)

Bertolt Brecht, out of fashion? “His legacy is all around us,” writes theater critic Michael Billington.  (The Guardian, 9/18/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
Bayreuth 2013: “If this Ring had a theme, it was unintentional and only occurred to me after the performance. Castorf seems like a living embodiment of the Ring’s villain, Alberich, who steals the gold, renounces love and wants to rule the world.”  (The New York Times, 8/1/13; Financial Times, 8/2/13;  The Guardian, 8/2/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
When Castorf meets Wagner… The Bayreuth Ring begins on July 26, and it’s not going to be boring. Stay tuned!  (Gramophone, 7/22/13; Spiegel Online – International, 7/25/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
One less Wagnerian music drama onstage in 2013. (Dear Deutsche Oper am Rhein, what were you thinking?!)  (Deutsche Welle, 5/9/13; The Guardian, 5/9/13; Spiegel Online – International, 5/9/13; Spiegel Online – International, 5/13/13)

Schiller with a twist of Brecht: Robert Pinsky reinterprets the 18th-century epic Wallenstein — now playing at Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theatre through early June. (The Washington Post, 4/12/13; The Washington Post, 4/18/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
200 years after Richard Wagner’s birth, he’s still the composer we hate to love, and love to hate. Reflections from Ed Smith, Nicholas Spice, Dirk Kurbjuweit, Michael Tanner, and Anne Midgette.  (New Statesman, 4/9/13; London Review of Books, 4/11/13; Spiegel Online – International, 4/12/13; The Spectator, 4/13/13; The Washington Post, 5/24/13)

Richard Wagner at 200
It’s the bicentenary of Richard Wagner’s birth — and that means a lot of Wagnerian music drama on German stages. Watch for these five outstanding productions.  (The Wall Street Journal, 3/15/13)

One of the few places you won’t hear Richard Wagner in 2013-14: the Metropolitan Opera, which has announced its first Wagner-free season since 1918-19.  (Associated Press, 2/26/13)

Andres Veiel’s Das Himbeerreich at Berlin’s Deutsches Theater “is a brave attempt to bring derivatives, ratings agencies, subprime mortgages, state bailouts and banking bonuses to the theater-going public.”  (Bloomberg, 2/25/13)

At London’s National Theatre, The Captain of Köpenick, Carl Zuckmayer’s “gentle, if sprawling, satire on bureaucracy and respect for uniform is…transformed into a huge theatrical mural depicting the Kaiser’s Germany: we get marching bands, military balls, a distorted expressionist Berlin backdrop, even occasional nods to the hectic changes of silent movies.”  (The Arts Desk, 2/6/13; Financial Times, 2/6/13; The Guardian, 2/6/13; The Economist, 2/14/13)

The Emperor of Atlantis and The Last Cyclist: Theatrical satires created by prisoners of the Theresienstadt concentration camp, onstage today.  (Deutsche Welle, 1/25/13; The Guardian, 5/24/13; Associated Press, 5/30/13; The New York Times, 6/2/13)


History

“When he was born, World War I had just ended. He was German chancellor for eight years, roughly as long as he served in Hitler’s Wehrmacht.” Helmut Schmidt speaks with the international press on the occasion of his 95th birthday.  (The Guardian, 12/22/13; The New York Times, 12/23/13)

“Many of the longest-held traditions celebrated at Christmas have their origins in German-speaking Europe, from the Christmas tree to the rituals of decoration to Advent calendars and gingerbread houses. Today, it is the Christmas market that is spreading…”  (The Christian Science Monitor, 12/21/13)

Tempelhof Airport: “a masterpiece of adaptive reuse and a powerful rebuke to the demons of Germany’s past.”  And possibly the site of a new central public library too?!  (The Guardian, 12/19/03; The Atlantic, 12/23/13)

“In a city that prides itself on unblinking confrontation with its traumatic history,” how has the East Side Gallery “come to feel perennially threatened, poised for its next inevitable challenger?” Esther Yi considers the most vulnerable of all Berlin monuments.  (Los Angeles Review of Books, 12/19/13)

To publish or not? Mein Kampf in the Internet age
Work proceeds on the Institute of Contemporary History’s scholarly edition of Mein Kampf — but not with Bavarian support.  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/12/13; The Guardian, 12/18/13)

Looted art from the Nazi era: new discoveries and new questions
Before you see the Hollywood movie, read up on the real “Monuments Men” who saved European cultural treasures from looting and destruction at the end of the Second World War.  (Spiegel Online – International, 12/5/13; Smithsonian, Jan. 2014)

There’s no shortage of WWI histories to choose from in 2014. “Intensive mining of the sources (by the authors and sometimes their amanuenses) has unearthed nuggets of new information, but mainly they sift through the existing store of knowledge.”  (The Times Literary Supplement, 11/13/13; Financial Times, 1/17/14; The New York Review of Books, 2/6/14)

Marking the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a new exhibition at Berlin’s Centrum Judaicum examines the foreign diplomatic response (or lack thereof) to the events of November 9, 1938.  (Spiegel Online – International, 11/5/13)

Who first paved the way for today’s “politics and religion of ego”? Martin Luther, says author Thomas Cahill, for citing “his own little conscience (surely a negligible phenomenon to the majority of his listeners) as the reason for his absolute, unnuanced, unhedged rebellion.”  (The Daily Beast, 11/3/13)

What should be done with war criminals’ bodies after death? “No country wants Erich Priebke’s body,” writes Malte Herwig, “because it reminds us of the failure to achieve justice when he was alive.”  (The Guardian, 10/24/13)

It’s the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Nations. For the first time, some 6000 would-be soldiers gathered near Leipzig to reenact “one of the biggest and bloodiest battles in the history of mankind.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 10/18/13; BBC News, 10/20/13; IP Journal, 10/21/13; Spiegel Online – International, 10/21/13)

“He just did what he thought was right.” Christoph von Dohnanyi recalls the acts of moral courage that led to his father’s execution in April 1945. Read more about Hans von Dohnanyi and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the double biography No Ordinary Men, by Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern.  (The Boston Globe, 10/12/13)

Ordinary women? Hitler’s Furies, by Wendy Lower, “brings German women’s history eastward into the Nazi empire and warfare, in the open-air landscape of the Holocaust, at mass shootings, ghetto liquidations, death marches and deportations of Jews and Soviet POWs.”  (The New York Times, 10/8/13; The New York Times, 10/14/13; The Washington Post, 12/13/13)

In Red Love: The Story of an East German Family, Maxim Leo “honours the complicated motivations of real people, resulting in a humane, enlightening history of a collapsed country and a lost home.”  (New Statesman, 9/26/13; The New York Times, 4/13/14; The Guardian, 4/25/14)

Trading of Nazi relics has gone global, with people buying and selling in the United States, Europe, Russia and the Far East.” Just because you can earn a lot of money with this endeavor, Alexander Historical Auctions, doesn’t mean you should.  (The Washington Post, 9/11/13)

“It’s best not to remember all those things.” Thomas Harding interviews the 80 year-old daughter of Rudolf Höss, now resident in northern Virginia.  (The Washington Post, 9/7/13)

“For years following reunification, those from the communist east saw themselves as ‘eastern Germans.’ Now, more than two decades after the Berlin Wall fell, that identity is rapidly disappearing. East Germany is almost completely gone.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 8/30/13)

Walter Laqueur shares his observations on the small but not insignificant cohort of Germans of Jewish descent who in one way or another are portrayed by latter-day historians as having served Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.” Laqueur tells you what he thinks about those “latter-day historians,” too.  (Tablet, 8/21/13)

“America’s museums of Native American and African American history embody a quintessentially American quality: we have always been inclined to look to the future instead of the past, and our museums follow suit. It’s impossible to compare what’s on display in our national showcase with what you can find in Germany without feeling that America’s national history retains its whitewash — and that a sane and sound future requires a more direct confrontation with our past.”  (Aeon, 8/12/13)

“It was as though the left-Hegelian World Spirit had briefly descended on the Central European Department of the OSS.” Read the analyses of Franz Neumann and team in Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort.  (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2013; New Statesman, 8/22/13; Standpoint, 9/13)

“East Germany’s feared secret police had a bit of a sartorial flair, photos found by artist Simon Menner in the Stasi archive reveal. The images, which offer a glimpse into the clandestine world of phony facial hair and the all-important hat, are set to be published in a book this fall.”  (The Daily Mail, 7/30/13; Spiegel Online – International, 9/4/13; The Verge, 9/18/13)

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

In July, the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked Germany to shut down Der Landser, a right-wing adventure magazine with an idealized take on the heroism of German soldiers in WWII. In September, Bauer Media Group made the right call.  (The New York Times, 7/29/13; The Guardian, 7/30/13; Deutsche Welle, 7/31/13; History Extra, 9/16/13)

Leopold Schreyer fled Berlin in 1939, leaving a precious book collection and nearly everything else behind. 72 years later, Karin Andert and Niko Kohls found one of his books. A fascinating story — both depressing and hopeful — about postwar restitution.  (Boston Review, 7/29/13)

Late but not too late? A push to bring the last surviving perpetrators of the Holocaust to justice raises difficult legal and ethical questions.  (Los Angeles Times, 7/23/13; The Telegraph, 9/4/13; Spiegel Online – International, 9/30/13)

Writing that dissertation just got a little bit easier! All issues of Neues Deutschland, Neue Zeit, and the Berliner Zeitung between 1945-1990 are now available for free online.  (Spiegel Online – International, 6/27/13)

“It’s great to be in East Berlin,” Bruce Springsteen told a GDR audience of 300,000 in July 1988. “I came here to play rock ‘n’ roll for you, in the hope that one day all barriers will be torn down.” Erik Kirschbaum’s new book shows how The Boss rocked the Berlin Wall.  (BBC, 6/26/13; Reuters, 6/26/13; The Guardian, 7/5/13)

Forget the “jelly donut” thing — John F. Kennedy’s Berlin moment was brilliant.  (BBC News, 6/24/13; The Globe and Mail, 6/25/13; AFP, 6/26/13)

Bronze Age: Europe without Borders “was supposed to mark the culmination of a Year in Germany in Russia after three years of co-operation between German and Russian curators.” Instead, the exhibition reopened old wounds about the looting of treasures during and after WWII.  (Financial Times, 6/21/13; Bloomberg, 6/22/13; Judy Dempsey’s Strategic Europe, 6/24/13)

Here’s the story behind the girlhood friendship that inspired Fazit (Account Rendered), Melita Maschmann’s 1963 memoir of her years as a committed activist in the Bund Deutscher Mädel.  (The New Yorker, 5/29/13)

In Hannah Arendt, Margarethe von Trotta takes on one of the great — and greatly debated — lives of the 20th century.  (Tablet, 5/24/13; The New York Times, 5/28/13; The New Yorker, 5/31/13; The New York Times, 7/7/13; The New York Review of Books, 11/21/13)

Watch a clip from Hitler’s Reign of Terror, a 1934 documentary by Cornelius Vanderbilt IV: “It is an oddball production to our modern eyes and sensibilities, but remarkable all the same: it appears to be the first-ever American anti-Nazi film.”  (The New Yorker, 5/21/13)

“Over the years, Leibniz refined his ideas about the systematization and formalization of knowledge, imagining a whole architecture for how knowledge would—in modern terms—be made computational.” Stephen Wolfram pays a visit to the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek in Hannover. Fascinating!  (Stephen Wolfram Blog, 5/14/13)

80 years ago, university students across Germany coordinated the burning of books by Jewish, socialist, and other “degenerate” authors. (Deutsche Welle, 5/10/13; The Huffington Post – United Kingdom, 5/10/13)

The TV miniseries Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter will be released in U.S. movie theaters as Generation War(New Republic, 5/7/13)

“The year was 1887 when two of the best-known German anti-Semites of the time put down stakes here in Paraguay’s remote jungle with 14 German families screened for their racial purity.” Simon Romero visits Nueva Germania today.  (The New York Times, 5/5/13)

“Goodbye to the Nazi’s”: Richard Overy speaks his mind about the overuse and abuse of that shorthand term for the National Socialist German Workers Party.  (History Today, 5/2013)

Is it “permissable to find beauty in an art that served to legitimize an abhorrent regime?” What if the artist later became that regime’s armaments minister? Léon Krier attempts to rehabilitate the architect Albert Speer.  (The Wall Street Journal, 4/12/13)

The “Hitler Diaries” that weren’t — back in the news, and heading to the German Federal Archives.  (Spiegel Online – International, 4/9/13;The New York Times, 4/23/13; The New Yorker, 4/25/13)

“There is no official estimate for how many Nazi-looted books remain in German libraries. Tracing their owners and returning them is a task that librarians say will take decades.”  (Bloomberg, 4/7/13)

That bomb uncovered near the Berlin Hauptbahnhof wasn’t an anomaly. “Across Germany, an estimated 20,000 tons of WWII materialeverything 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)

Much deeper than four shades of red — In Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life, Jonathan Sperber brings Marx down from the ideological heavens.  (The New York Times, 3/29/13; The Daily Show, 4/2/13; The New York Review of Books, 5/9/13; The Nation, 10/8/13)

“Life and death, honor and shame in the turbulent sixteenth century”: Joel F. Harrington illuminates the dark world of Nuremberg executioner Frantz Schmidt. (New Republic, 3/19/13; The Wall Street Journal, 4/7/13; The Chronicle Review, 4/8/13; Barnes and Noble Review, 4/16/13)

Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter shows that a TV miniseries can still spark passionate discussion about the experiences of World War II and the Holocaust.  (AICGS, 3/18/13; Associated Press, 3/28/13; Spiegel Online – International, 3/28/13; The Economist, 3/30/13; Spiegel Online – International, 4/10/13)

Since the mid-15th century, explains Brendan Simms, Germany has either been too weak or too strong.  Now it’s both at the same time. “One way or the other, the German question persists and will always be with us.”  (New Statesman, 3/14/13; The Guardian, 3/26/13)

In memoriam: Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist (1922-2013), last surviving conspirator in the Wehrmacht officers’ plot to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944.  (The New York Times, 3/12/13; Deutsche Welle, 3/13/13; The Telegraph, 3/13/13; Financial Times, 3/15/13)

John Feffer explores the split personality of Berlin’s GDR Museum: “Everyday life in the GDR comes across as quaint, inefficient, boring, comical, and worthy of a varying degree of derision.” But the museum’s restaurant tells a different story — that “there was something good about East German life, something worth praising, saving, and even serving to people today.”  (Slow Travel Berlin, 3/12/13; Guernica, 5/14/13)

Vergangenheitsbewältigung at the Vienna Philharmonic: “A startlingly frank new report posted on the orchestra’s website (in German only, for now) makes it clear that when the Germans swept into Vienna, they found an orchestra that was a ready, even eager tool of Nazi propaganda.”  (Bloomberg, 3/10/13; The Guardian, 3/11/13; The Guardian, 3/11/13; Reuters, 3/11/13; Vulture, 3/12/13)

You know the script: “Every few months some politico runs his mouth off, comparing the policies of the other party to those of Nazi Germany.” The comparison: typically uninformed and inappropriate. “But the righteous backlash against insensitivity should not overshadow the greater danger: that frivolous analogizing bludgeons the public into cynicism about historical lessons altogether.”  (First Things, 3/5/13)

New approaches to understanding the Holocaust
“Thirteen years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.” So far they’ve cataloged 42,500 sites — many more than once expected.  (The New York Times, 3/1/13)

“Nothing is so unworthy of a civilised nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct.” 70 years ago, three members of the White Rose group were executed for their anti-Nazi expression.  (BBC News Magazine, 2/21/13; Atlantic Review, 2/22/13)

Reviews are plentiful but mixed for Hitler’s Philosophers, Yvonne Sherratt’s study of “the thinkers admired, corrupted and oppressed by the Nazis.”  (Financial Times, 2/15/13; Times Higher Education, 2/21/13; The Independent, 2/22/13;  The Chronicle Review, 3/18/13)

Neither Soviet spies nor Marxist saints — historical interpretations of the anti-Nazi resistance movement once known as the “Red Orchestra” have shifted in the post-Cold War era.  (The New York Times, 2/15/13)

New approaches to understanding the Holocaust
Fifty years after Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews and Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, David Cesarani looks back at the evolution of Holocaust studies.  (New Statesman, 2/14/13)

When Jean-Paul Sartre met RAF leader Andreas Baader in a Stammheim prison cell…the two left-wing icons didn’t agree on much, according to a newly released transcript from the Landeskriminalamt Baden-Württemberg.  (Spiegel Online – International, 2/6/13)

In the spring of 1972, Lutz Becker discovered Eva Braun’s home movies among a stash of uncatalogued film canisters in a National Archives vault. Becker’s find transformed visual historical memory of Adolf Hitler and his inner circle.  (The Guardian, 1/26/13)

“In the decades from 1770 to 1820, German writers changed the way we think about ethics, the theory of knowledge, religion, law, language, music, art and aesthetics, work and vocation, humans and the natural world, and — not least — history.”  (The Globalist, 1/18/13;The Globalist, 1/19/13)

Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Eighty years later, consider these reflections on this fateful turning point.  (The Guardian, 1/30/13; Spiegel Online – International, 1/30/13)

In memoriam: Hans Massaquoi (1926-2013), longtime managing editor of Ebony magazine. His memoir, Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany, appeared in 1999.  (Los Angeles Times, 1/22/13; NPR, 1/25/13)

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

Looking forward to Hannah Arendt — Margarethe von Trotta has created “an extremely vivid cinematic essay, thrilling in its every minute, deeply moving in its seriousness and suitably unsettling.” (Spiegel Online – International, 1/11/13)

In memoriam: Klemens von Klemperer (1916-2012), “one of a generation of refugee historians who helped lay the groundwork for modern German and European studies in the United States.”  (The New York Times, 1/7/13)

In 1918, Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West “hit the German consciousness like a boulder tossed upon an anthill.” 21st-century Americans, take heed: Robert W. Merry shows how many of Spengler’s ominous prophecies remain relevant today.  (The National Interest, 1/2/13)

How do the descendants of Goering and Himmler grapple with the atrocities in their families’ past? In Hitler’s Children, “the Israeli documentarian Chanoch Ze’evi talks to five people who bear the names of particularly infamous Nazis.”  (The Boston Globe, 1/1/13; The Atlantic, 2/15/13; Los Angeles Times, 2/17/13)


Et Cetera

Same procedure as every year, James. It just wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without another look at that most baffling of all German holiday traditions, “Dinner for One.”  (The Wall Street Journal, 12/26/13)

“When he was born, World War I had just ended. He was German chancellor for eight years, roughly as long as he served in Hitler’s Wehrmacht.” Helmut Schmidt speaks with the international press on the occasion of his 95th birthday.  (The Guardian, 12/22/13; The New York Times, 12/23/13)

“Many of the longest-held traditions celebrated at Christmas have their origins in German-speaking Europe, from the Christmas tree to the rituals of decoration to Advent calendars and gingerbread houses. Today, it is the Christmas market that is spreading…”  (The Christian Science Monitor, 12/21/13)

Tempelhof Airport: “a masterpiece of adaptive reuse and a powerful rebuke to the demons of Germany’s past.”  And possibly the site of a new central public library too?!  (The Guardian, 12/19/03; The Atlantic, 12/23/13)

“In Bavaria, a centuries-old tradition is being revived. There are no reindeer. No elves. Just terrifying creatures called Krampus.”  (National Geographic, 12/17/13; The New York Times, 12/21/14)

Anne Applebaum explains why Angela Merkel’s cellphone isn’t worth tapping.  (Slate, 10/31/13)

Saul Austerlitz investigates “Germany’s Hip New Jew-Pop Revival” — how a new generation is rethinking the Holocaust, Israelis, and shtetl stereotypes.  (Tablet, 10/21/13)

Kudos to John Crutchfield for a lovely “work of remembering” — about Kultur, friendship, and the city of Leipzig before it was hip.  (berfrois, 10/15/13)

Herbstlaubtrittvergnügen, Tageslichtspielschock, and 14 other inspired suggestions for Duden’s next edition.  (The New York Times, 10/11/13)

The 2013 general election
“Long time, no see: the DDR resurfaces — on a 2013 electoral map.” (Big Think, 10/7/13)

“On Sept. 30, the German author Ilija Trojanov was checking in for an American Airlines flight from Salvado de Bahia, Brazil to Miami, en route to Denver, when he ran into trouble.” Did the NSA prevent the surveillance-critical author from getting to the GSA? (Eurozine, 10/3/13; Slate, 10/4/13)

Berlin and its discontents
Berlin’s golden age is really over this time, write Quinn Slobodian and Michelle Sterling. “The town’s whimsy and play have been branded by the SPD, sold to venture capital, and dangled before its residents via the Yummie Net.”  (The Baffler, 23)

“Are Germans now more American than we are?” asks E.J. Dionne. “We’d do well to study how postwar Germany — yes, encouraged by the United States — has embraced the sort of consensual, problem-solving politics for which we were once famous.”  (The Washington Post, 9/29/13)

In praise of “digital natives,” “Zeitgenossen,” and other fine examples of linguistic cosmopolitanism.  (The New York Times, 9/25/13)

“So there you have the EU for the foreseeable future: a giant, weary tortoise, with chancellor Merkel sitting astride its shell, trying to steer its woozy head and coax its bleeding underbelly across stony ground.” Ouch!  (The Guardian, 9/25/13)

“Germany has had a kick-me sign on its back for comedians at least since Kaiser Wilhelm donned a spiked helmet more than a century ago.” Now, German stand-up comedians are mining the stereotypes for laughs, too.  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/24/13)

The 2013 general election
The day after: Post-election analysis of Angela Merkel’s “resounding,” “stunning,” “depressing” victory.  (Bloomberg, 9/23/13; Financial Times, 9/23/13; The New York Times, 9/23/13; Spiegel Online – International, 9/23/13)

The 2013 general election
Coalition building made easy: check out this handy Koalitionsautomat.  (The Wall Street Journal, 9/16/13)

The 2013 general election
The German election made easy: check out this 2-minute animated introduction.  (BBC, 9/13/13)

The 2013 general election
So much
Kultur, so little cultural sensitivity

Philip Rösler looks different than Germany’s other leading politicians. “For the overwhelming majority of Germans that is either uninteresting or a plus, because they are proud that Germany is nowadays an immigrant-friendly country where every opportunity is open to all ethnicities. But for a regrettable minority, the Asian face seems to be a topic of conversation.” (The Economist, 9/11/13)

The 2013 general election
Hoping for an end to Germany’s political stasis after September 22? Sorry, says Wolfgang Münchau: “On the basis of the polls, even allowing for plenty of statistical wiggle room, it is hard to conceive of a scenario in which Germany could end up with a stable government for four years.”  (Financial Times, 9/8/13)

The 2013 general election
“As world leaders debate the Syrian crisis, Europe’s dominant power is conspicuous for its silence,” writes Roger Cohen. “Germany is the ghost of international relations.”  (The New York Times, 9/5/13; Financial Times, 9/9/13; Foreign Affairs, 9/19/13)

The 2013 general election
Election 2013 — who says that the Germans aren’t focusing on substantive issues?  (Spiegel Online – International, 9/2/13; The Guardian, 9/3/13; Spiegel Online – International, 9/3/13; Reuters, 9/8/13; The New York Times, 9/13/13; The Guardian, 9/17/13; The Guardian, 9/20/13)

At Oktoberfest, dirndls are back — but they’re not the ones your Oma wore.  (The Guardian, 9/1/13; The New York Times, 9/28/13)

“For years following reunification, those from the communist east saw themselves as ‘eastern Germans.’ Now, more than two decades after the Berlin Wall fell, that identity is rapidly disappearing. East Germany is almost completely gone.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 8/30/13)

The 2013 general election
Away from Germany during campaign season? No worries — Michael Steen has rounded up “some of the more notable ads hitting the airwaves” for you. Bonus points to the Greens for creativity of presentation!  (Financial Times, 8/23/13)

We already knew the East German Ampelmännchen was cuter than his western counterparts. Now researchers at the University of Bremen have determined that he’s more effective, too.  (Deutsche Welle, 8/14/13; The Independent, 8/20/13)

Denglisch 101: how English is gradually transforming the German language, from abgefuckt to der Zoom.  (The Economist, 8/15/13)

“There is a new German question. It is this: Can Europe’s most powerful country lead the way in building both a sustainable, internationally competitive eurozone and a strong, internationally credible European Union?” (The New York Review of Books, 8/15/13)

“Like an episode of Wife Swap where Angela Merkel got to set the rules,” “Make Me a German” premiered August 6 on BBC 2. (The Telegraph, 7/27/13; The Guardian, 8/6/13; The Telegraph, 8/7/13)

“First as tragedy, then as farce, then as interview” with Eric Jarosinski, the man behind the monocle of @NeinQuarterly.  (Strollology, 6/27/13;Little Utopia, 8/6/13; The Wall Street Journal, 9/16/13; The New Yorker, 2/12/14)

Obama in Berlin: “What was scripted as a celebration of U.S.-German bonds on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech has turned into a charged presidential visit underlining how two nations…now think differently about global threats and how to balance security and freedom in confronting them.”  (The New York Times, 6/17/13; Yahoo! News, 6/18/13; Spiegel Online – International, 6/19/13; The New York Times, 6/29/13)

“The Social Democrats, the heavy, rusty anchor of German democracy, are 150 years old this year. Still honest, still fearful of taking a risk, still prone to the ghastly blunders which used to make people cover their faces and say: ‘Scheisse! Trotzdem, SPD!’” Neil Ascherson’s observations on German politics are spot-on.  (London Review of Books, 6/6/3)

“What could an umlaut do for you? From sex appeal to heavy metal credibility and connotations of European design excellence, those two little dots above a vowel do more work than you’d think.” (The Guardian, 5/27/13)

Occupy the Barbie Dreamhouse!  (It’s Berlin — what did you think was going to happen, Mattel?)  (The Guardian, 5/15/13; The Wall Street Journal, 5/16/13; Spiegel Online – International, 5/17/13)

Europe’s equivalent of the Super Bowl does not kick off for more than two weeks, but in a development that feels all too fitting under the current circumstances here, Germany has already won.”  (The New York Times, 5/7/13; The Economist, 5/25/13)

Journalistic icons Die Zeit and Der Spiegel: “Their diverging fortunes underscore different approaches to news publishing in the digital era.”  (Wolfgang Blau, 4/27/13; The New York Times, 4/28/13)

A “compromise not devoid of a certain ridiculousness” — how the square next to the Jewish Museum Berlin’s new education center came to be named Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz.  (The New York Times, 4/26/13)

The Wall is long gone, but Berlin’s east-west division is still apparent from outer space.  (The Guardian, 4/21/13)

Travel reporters don’t have to dig very deep to find “Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin.” Have a drink at the Sally Bowles cocktail bar, or sign up for an “Isherwood’s Neighborhood” walking tour…  (The New York Times, 4/12/13)

That bomb recently 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 tanks — is recovered annually.”  (National Geographic Daily News, 4/4/13)

Ironic meta-commentary, anyone? The Jewish Museum Berlin is raising eyebrows with its latest exhibition, “The Whole Truth,” featuring the controversial installation, “Jews in a showcase.”  (The Guardian, 3/27/13; The New York Times, 4/4/13; Tablet, 4/4/13)

“Germany’s failure to expunge the arrests of victims of a legal system that kept a Nazi-era ban on homosexuality on the books for decades after World War II is indicative of the slow pace of reforms on gay equality, despite a generally liberal populace.”  (The New York Times, 3/4/13)

It’s been decades since the Federal Republic’s guest worker program ended. Millions of foreign “guests” have become permanent German residents — but their successful integration remains elusive.  (The Economist, 3/2/13; Associated Press, 3/28/13)

“My Foreign-Exchange Family, the Nudists”: an American teenager’s introduction to FKK in 1980s West Berlin. “It left me with an acute sense of the absurd — one I still cherish.”  (The Wall Street Journal, 3/1/13)

The artists of the troubled Berlin Brandenburg Airport appear to have been much more efficient than its engineers. (Spiegel Online – International, 2/27/13; Spiegel Online – International, 2/28/13)

What?! Iconic paintings from the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, have been removed to make way for high-rise luxury apartments.  (The Local, 2/26/13; The Guardian, 2/27/12; The Atlantic Cities, 3/1/13; Spiegel Online – International, 3/4/13; Spiegel Online – International, 3/27/13; The Washington Post, 3/30/13)

“In the homeland of schadenfreude, the zeal for unmasking academic frauds” has claimed its latest victim: Education Minister Annette Schavan, who resigned her cabinet post over a 33-year-old, plagiarized dissertation.  (Dialog International, 2/9/13; The New York Times, 2/9/13;The New York Times, 2/12/13; The Guardian, 2/11/13)

“A century ago, more than 100,000 people in a large swathe of south central Texas” spoke German regularly. Here are two opportunities to hear the disappearing dialect of Texas German.  (GlobalPost, 2/7/13; BBC News, 5/14/13)

Print media is dead? Long live Der Spiegel! Germany’s respected news magazine has thrived by telling “good, factually correct, society-serving stories” — and by not treating “readers like illiterate idiots.”  (The Global Mail, 1/30/13)

“Some people say that if anything could survive a nuclear strike, it would be cockroaches and ‘Wetten dass…?'” Others say that the long-running TV show’s “stupid German tricks” have long since worn thin.  (The New York Times, 1/30/13)

Berlin and its discontents
Feargus O’Sullivan on travel writing gone wrong: “The same slightly mistaken images of Berlin are so often reheated and served up as fresh, usually some sort of mash-up of Cabaret, The Lives of Others, and The 120 Days of Sodom.”  (The Atlantic Cities, 1/18/13)

Green party supporters aren’t the only ones who like their produce grown locally and pesticide-free. Meet Germany’s “brown environmentalists”: “right-wing extremists championing environmental causes and engaging in organic farming, particularly in the depopulated, rural former east.”  (The New Yorker, 1/11/13)

Tired of “edgy” Berlin? Munich has culture too! (Financial Times, 1/11/13)

Should journalist Jakob Augstein — together with Louis Farrakhan, the Iranian regime, and European soccer fans — be included among those guilty of the “Top 10 Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs” of 2012?  (IHT Rendezvous, 1/9/13; Spiegel Online – International, 1/16/13; Tablet, 1/22/13)

Sie or du? Andreas Kluth reports that Germans “are increasingly dispensing with the formal second person, on the assumption that this will make things easy, cuddly and bubbly.” But not without some friction along the way…  (More Intelligent Life, 1/4/13)

Berlin and its discontents
Welcome to Schwabylon — that is, Prenzlauer Berg. Wolfgang Thierse airs his frustrations with the influx of well-heeled Swabians in his once working-class East Berlin neighorhood.  (Spiegel Online – International, 1/3/13; The New York Times, 1/18/13)

In 1918, Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West “hit the German consciousness like a boulder tossed upon an anthill.” 21st-century Americans, take heed: Robert W. Merry shows how many of Spengler’s ominous prophecies remain relevant today.  (The National Interest, 1/2/13)

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

Please note that archived hyperlinks may no longer be functional.   

Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Art & Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Books & Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Film

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Theater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Et Cetera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Germany and the Eurocrisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please note that archived hyperlinks may no longer be functional.         
                

Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Art & Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Books & Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New investigations in the life of SS leader Heinrich Himmler

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

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

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

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

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

19th- and early 20th-century diaries, new to 21st-century readers
The young Helga Weiss witnessed the Nazi occupation of Prague, and she survived the Terezín and Auschwitz concentration camps. Her journal will be published for the first time next year.  (The Observer, 10/15/11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Film

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Theater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The spectre o