No, the pickle ornament is not a beloved German holiday tradition. But “somewhat ironically, the Christmas Pickle has made its way across the pond and has recently started to rise in popularity in Germany.”  (The Local, 12/16/19)

Ever wondered about what happens to items left behind on German trains? This story is for you.  (The New York Times, 12/23/19)

“My country was no longer the land of religious tolerance that it likely felt like to my grandparents upon their arrival,” writes Rachel Leventhal. “Continuing to hold a grudge against Germany for the sins of its past felt completely out of touch with the reality of this terrifying new America.”  (Tablet, 11/1/19)

“Merkeling along has not served the country poorly (not for nothing is the chancellor still its most popular politician) . . . But the practice of deferring many difficult decisions, taking others at the last-minute and wrapping the whole package in a soothingly apolitical vagueness has left behind a trail of unresolved tensions and challenges.”  (New Statesman, 11/21/19; The Guardian, 11/22/19)

“German unification was shaped by both the East and the West, and Helmut Kohl’s political skill and the trust he enjoyed with the allies played a significant role. But the peaceful revolution and Nov. 9, 1989, was the work of the citizens of the GDR.” (Spiegel Online – International, 11/7/19)

It’s November 2019. Germans are celebrating three decades of reunification with each other—and mourning three years of estrangement with the U.S.  (Bloomberg, 11/7/19)

Neues Deutschland, once the party newspaper of the SED, is now published by Die Linke. “Despite brutal circulation decline, heavy financial losses and massive job cuts, the paper survived the transition to capitalism and democracy.”  (Financial Times, 11/1/19)

“Germany’s Jews are increasingly a target of violence and aggression. Germany, of all countries, needs to protect them.”  (The Atlantic, 10/9/19; The New York Times, 10/10/19)

Walzwerk, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District that specializes in East German cuisine, “is a portal to life behind the Iron Curtain and to a state that no longer exists.”  (Atlas Obscura, 9/17/19)

“It feels like more books about race have been published in the past two years in Germany than in the past two decades,” writes Mithu Sanyal. “Reading about all this can create the impression there is more racism than ever in Germany. Actually, the opposite is true. What’s happened is we are finally starting to talk about it.”  (The Guardian, 9/18/19)

Germans “have been getting naked in public for over a hundred years.” Katrin Bennhold investigates!  (The New York Times, 8/31/19; The New York Times, 8/31/19)

Nearly thirty years after German reunification, divisions between the country’s eastern and western voters are growing wider.  (Berlin Policy Journal, 8/29/19; Financial Times, 8/29/19; The New York Times, 8/29/19)

“In the summer of 2019, the political scene in Berlin is in greater flux than at any time since the Second World War.” Adam Tooze retraces the key turning points that brought Germany’s political parties to their current volatile alignment.  (London Review of Books, 7/18/19)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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