A “steady drumbeat” of canceled cultural events threatens Germany’s “reputation as a haven for free expression and risks isolating international artists whose views on Israel don’t line up with Germany’s unqualified support.”  (The New York Review of Books, 10/19/23; The New York Times, 12/7/23)

Berlin’s best indoor swimming pools “are veritable cathedrals of late 19th- and early 20th-century design.”  (BBC, 11/17/23)


Bratwurst on the grill, energy in the air: A U.S. sportswriter has an unforgettable experience at a FC Union game at the Stadion an der alten Försterei in Berlin-Köpenick.  (The Virginian-Pilot, 11/23/23)

“People are coming because they’re looking for an island of peace.” Berlin’s Israeli-Palestinian restaurant Kanaan reopened its doors six days after the Hamas attacks on Israel.  (The Guardian, 11/8/23)

Eight years ago, Ryyan Alshebl “was part of the historic influx of refugees who crossed the Mediterranean Sea by dinghy and trekked the continent on foot . . . Now he is the new mayor of Ostelsheim, a village of 2,700 people and tidily kept streets nestled in the rolling hills near the Black Forest in southwestern Germany.”  (The New York Times, 5/28/23)

“On days I don’t spend fretting over the soul of both German and my native tongue,” (Wahlberliner) Alexander Wells writes, “I can find great pleasure in Denglish—in seeing, that is, my own language made camp. . . . It can even be re-enchanting.”  (The European Review of Books, 4/19/23)

“For a region of 8 million people that is widely mocked for being boring, Lower Saxony has over the past three decades generated power networks that play a central role in German politics.”  (Foreign Policy, 1/29/23)

No longer the “roadblock at the heart of Europe”: After much hand-wringing and delay, Germany has finally agreed to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.  (The New Statesman, 1/25/23)

“Whatever the case may be, the Berliner Schnauze strikes without warning, usually unprovoked, delivering a brutal level of honesty you never asked for.”  (BBC, 12/5/22)

What’s better than a model train around the Christmas tree? A visit to Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland, with its 53,000 feet of track, the world’s largest model airport, and detailed tiny replicas of the world’s landmarks, “bursting with whimsy and humor.”  (The New York Times, 12/21/22)

An early-morning raid swept up more than more than two dozen co-conspirators—including Prince Heinrich XIII and a former Bundestag delegate for the AfD. It turns out they’re among the ringleaders of the Reichsbürger movement, “citizens of the Empire” who believe that the Federal Republic is a sham and sundry other conspiracy theories.  (The Guardian, 12/10/22; The New York Times, 12/11/22)

“Let’s face it: sometimes to sum up a concept in English (or Spanish or Slovenian or whatever our language) we need a word in German, even it doesn’t exist yet”: An English-language article about Freudenfreude evoked Schadenfreude for some German readers, and Freudenfreudefreude for others.  (The New York Times, 11/25/22; The Local, 12/2/22)

Onkel Toms Hütte is one of Berlin’s most distinctive U-Bahn stations, with a name that references Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, a long-gone Biergarten, and a modernist housing development designed by Bruno Taut. Once a flashpoint in the great “roof war” of 1928, it’s now the center of a 21st-century controversy about the anti-Black slur that “Uncle Tom” has become. NPR, (7/30/08; Atlas Obscura, 1/19/17; The Washington Post, 11/27/22)

The newly renamed Manga-Bell-Platz and Cornelius-Fredericks-Straße in Berlin’s “African Quarter” now honor African resisters, not German colonizers.  (The Guardian, 12/2/22)

Look who’s back: “Global even before globalisation, Blue Nun was once the biggest name in the mass market wine business, selling a staggering 35 million bottles in 1985 alone.” (The Irish Times, 11/26/22)

Germany’s fight over which weapons to give Ukraine, says Anne Applebaum, is really a fight over the lessons of 1945. Which is more important: preventing another genocide in Europe, “even if that means a military engagement,” or preventing “war at all costs by refusing to engage in one”?  (The Atlantic,  10/20/22)

“What is Berlin afraid of that Kyiv is not?” Germany’s reluctance to send battle tanks to Ukraine is costing lives and frustrating allies.   (Financial Times, 9/14/22; Bloomberg, 9/15/22)

“German pillows are oddly huge.”  (The Wall Street Journal, 7/17/22)

The term Rasse is taboo in a way that “race” isn’t. This has consequences for German constitutional law and data collection, and for the lived reality of people in marginalized groups.  (Wired, 7/13/22)

The watershed that wasn’t? Germany’s support for the Ukrainian war effort has been maddeningly indecisive.  (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 4/29/22; Bloomberg, 5/22/22; The New York Times, 6/14/22; Tablet, 6/26/22; The Telegraph, 6/26/22; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 6/27/22)

Katrin Bennhold scores quite an interview with former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, “the most prominent face” in a long era of miscalculated relations with Russia, “not only because he expresses no regret, but because he also profited handsomely from it, earning millions while promoting Russian energy interests.”  (The New York Times, 4/23/22; The New York Times, 5/1/22)

Harsh words for Germany from Volodymyr Zelensky (and other observers): “Every year politicians repeat ‘never again.’ And now, we see that these words simply mean nothing.”  (The Washington Post, 3/17/22; The New Statesman, 4/5/22; The New York Times, 4/7/22)

A Zeitenwende in German foreign policy: It was the “political cataclysm that no one saw coming—not from a novice chancellor known for his caution, not from a coalition of German parties with pacifist roots, and certainly not from a government led by the Social Democrats, with their history of close ties to Russia.”  (Bloomberg, 2/27/22; Foreign Policy, 2/27/22; German Marshall Fund, 2/28/22; The Atlantic, 3/1/22; The Washington Post, 3/1/22)

Kultur? No thank you, says Ulf Poschardt: “German pop culture is—apart from Kraftwerk and Christoph Waltz—boring, soporific, moralistic crap produced and financed by people who (always) aim for a common denominator in a society where morals and morality are more important than punch lines and success.” (Politico, 2/19/22)

“Germany’s much-vaunted memory culture,” writes Eric Langenbacher, “is no longer producing the progressive effects that were always a key justification behind it.” Instead, it’s leading to inaction and “providing moralistic cover for anti-democratic, autocratic threats.”  (The New York Times, 1/25/22; AICGS, 2/14/22)

“The underlying Ostpolitik gambit of Egon Bahr, Brandt’s adviser, was a judo throw: entice your heavy, slow-moving opponent, the Soviet Union, to lean so far into your embrace that with a skilful twist you can throw him over your shoulder. Now it is Putin, a judo black belt, who is trying to throw heavy, slow-moving Germany over his shoulder.”  (Financial Times, 2/9/22)

“The vision of foreign policy set out in Berlin’s new coalition agreement,” writes Rachel Tausendfreund, “is thus, on the whole, the right kind of feminist. It is inclusive, broad, and progressive without being binary or reactionary. It recognizes serious threats to Germany and the global order that more pacifism will not solve.”  (German Marshall Fund, 11/20/21)

Years after his lunch with a Holocaust denier and rising star of the far right, Jay Rayner “went looking to see what had become of the man who hated me because I was a Jew.” He had hoped to meet a changed man, “but real lives are murkier than that.”  (The Observer, 1/23/22)