“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)

Robert Habeck, “the man who will spend the next four years trying to bring about a green transformation of Germany’s coal-hungry industry once faced another daunting challenge in a previous, less publicly exposed career: translating the most controversial poems in recent British history into German.”  (The Guardian, 12/6/21)

As her 16 years in office draw to a close, how should we interpret the legacy of Chancellor Angela Merkel? Here’s a collection of answers from some of the brightest Merkel-watchers in the English-language media.  (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2021; Bloomberg, 6/9/21; The New York Times, 6/12/21; The Washington Post, 7/15/21; The Irish Times, 7/24/21; The Guardian, 8/31/21; The New Statesman, 9/13/21; The New Statesman, 9/15/21; The New York Times, 9/25/21)

“In the summer of 1971, a young German couple set off on a trip that would take them farther from home than any of their journeys before.” Their daughter Edda Schlager, born one year later, has curated a remarkable collection of photos of Uzbekistan then and now.  (The Calvert Journal,  8/12/21)

“What lessons can Americans concerned about the current state and future of their democracy take from the German experience?” Political scientist Stephen Szabo has suggestions.  (Foreign Policy, 10/17/21)

Merkel-Raute, Muttivation, asymmetrische Demobilisierung, and more: Here are 16 terms that Angela Merkel’s 16-year chancellorship helped usher into the German language.  (The Guardian, 9/22/21)

“Angela, Angie and sometimes Merkel: For some refugee families who traveled to Germany during the migrant crisis of 2015 and 2016, gratitude for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to welcome them comes via a namesake.”  (The New York Times, 9/19/21)

“It’s a nail-biter, German-style: Who can most effectively channel stability and continuity? Or put another way: Who can channel Ms. Merkel?” Voters will elect a new chancellor and governing coalition on September 26. (The New York Times, 9/1/21)

The Greens and the CDU/CSU will settle on their chancellor candidates soon. “With both choices imminent, and an unusually competitive election looming, the focus is on the individual rivalries. but the contest also deserves to be seen as a broader one, on the character and location of Germany’s post-Merkel political centre.”  (New Statesman, 4/14/21)

Why Märklin is thriving: “For many people, the chance to create a separate, better world in the living room—with stunning mountains, tiny chugging locomotives and communities of inch-high people where no one needs a mask—is hard to resist.”  (The New York Times, 3/18/21)

Abstandsbier, Coronaangst, overzoomed, and more: more than 1,000 new German words are here to help us describe pandemic life.  (The Guardian, 2/23/21; Slate, 2/24/21)

A dilapidated Boeing 707 with an unusual history is the last plane at Berlin’s Tegel airport. It’s slated to be removed by the end of April 2021.  (Atlas Obscura, 2/17/21)

Confused about German politics? “Keep squinting at the overall hue of the national palette,” Andreas Kluth advises. “It’ll always tend toward mud-brown. But a black-green pattern is also becoming discernable.”  (Bloomberg, 2/17/21)

There’s a new political leader on Germany’s national stage. By a narrow majority, the CDU elected the “Catholic, moderate, consensus-oriented, no-experiments” Armin Laschet to be its new leader. But will he represent the party in the September election?  (New Statesman, 1/16/21; The Economist, 1/23/21)

In Germany, “the virus is not an ‘enemy,’ and the process of containing it is not a war.” In response to the pandemic, German politicians tend to forego martial imagery and opt for expressions like “challenge,” “crisis,” “task,” and even “long-distance run.”  (The Conversation, 5/22/20)

“Whatever the question, the answer is Germany”—it seems Britain and the U.S. could use some help.  (The New York Times,  7/19/20; The Guardian, 8/22/20; The New York Times, 8/25/20; The Economist, 8/29/20; The Irish Times, 8/31/20; New Statesman, 9/2/20)


One hundred years after the redrawing of the German-Danish border, a once “bloody European frontier” has become “one of the world’s most successfully integrated and multilingual border regions.”  (The Economist, 8/22/20)

“Merkel has been chancellor since 2005, when her fellow world leaders included Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and George W Bush. It is hard to imagine Germany, and the continent, without her.” Here’s a useful overview of what might come next in Germany’s political landscape.  (New Statesman, 8/7/20)

Germans, socks, and sandals—here’s all you need to know.  (Deutsche Welle, 7/29/20)

“For postwar Germany, the United States was savior, protector and liberal democratic model. Now, Germans, in shock, speak of the ‘American catastrophe.'”  (The Guardian,  7/23/20; The New York Times, 7/24/20)

“Available at train stations, supermarkets, bakeries, kiosks, factories, Portuguese beach resorts, online, and everywhere else Germans buy things, Bild Zeitung squats like a large toad on German life.” Thomas Meaney examines the history and persistent influence of Germany’s largest tabloid newspaper.  (The Guardian, 7/16/20)

Through the Darkest of Times and Attentat 1942 are among a new breed of video games that seek to portray the historical experience of National Socialism, and the difficult moral choices that accompanied it, in a more nuanced way.  (The New York Times, 3/20/20; The Washington Post, 7/6/20)

“Germany has a problem . . . Cases of far-right extremists in the military and the police, some hoarding weapons and explosives, have multiplied alarmingly.”  (The New York Times, 7/3/20)

“Confronted with a pandemic that has cratered Europe’s economy, Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron, who have often found themselves at odds over the years, dragged the rusty Franco-German motor out of the garage and got it running again.”  (The New York Times, 5/19/20; Bloomberg, 5/20/20)

“The leader of the free world gives a speech, and she nails it.”  (Intelligencer, 3/18/20; The Atlantic, 4/20/20)

What do CDU leaders Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz, and Norbert Röttgen all have in common? They studied law with Constanze Stelzenmüller in 1980s Bonn, and she has a thing or two to say about that.  (Financial Times, 3/5/20)

Philip Oltermann casts Angela Merkel as the “anti-hero Arthur Dent: an everywoman who remains bewildered by—rather than in charge of—the strange alien universe she has landed in.”  (The Spectator, 1/29/20)

Thomas Kemmerich’s sudden rise—and fall—as minister president of Thüringen “displayed the disastrous state of Germany’s political center—and how far the country now stands from the anti-fascist consensus it proclaims to maintain.”  (Foreign Policy, 2/7/20; The New York Times, 2/7/20; Bloomberg, 2/10/20)

Berlin’s clubs are dying? Long live Berlin’s clubs!  (The New York Times, 1/24/20; The Economist, 1/30/20; The Irish Times, 2/1/20; The Guardian, 2/12/20)