Fatma Aydemir explains that, in Germany, her “name provokes assumptions that don’t necessarily play out in my favor. Fatma is not very likely to get a reservation for an outside table at a fancy restaurant. Fatma’s email regarding the apartment rental will not even get an answer if she doesn’t happen to be rich. . . . Fatma’s used couch might look just as awesome and well-kept as Anja’s—but it will probably be worth half the price.”  (The Guardian, 1/12/24)

Tens of thousands of protestors and Chancellor Olaf Scholz are sounding an alarm: The far-right AfD is currently polling at 22 percent nationwide, and at more than 30 percent in some eastern states. It “actively courts militants, trades in antisemitic tropes, and toys with the proposition of Germany exiting NATO and the European Union.”  (The New York Times, 1/20/24; Foreign Policy, 1/26/24; Bloomberg, 1/27/24)

“At times, as someone of African heritage”—writes Musa Okwonga, who moved to Berlin in 2014—”it is hard to avoid a very specific despair: the knowledge that, as wonderful as life in Europe can be, its joys were not intended for us.” Okwonga detects a frightening increase in racist sentiment over the past several months.  (Zeit Online, 10/13/23)

Masha Gessen “walked from the haunting video of Kibbutz Be’eri to the clanking iron faces” of the artist Menashe Kadishman’s installation “Fallen Leaves” in Berlin’s Jewish Museum, and, Gessen writes, “I thought of the thousands of residents of Gaza killed in retaliation for the lives of Jews killed by Hamas. Then I thought that, if I were to state this publicly in Germany, I might get in trouble.”  (The New Yorker, 12/9/23; The Washington Post, 12/14/23; Literary Hub, 12/15/23; The New Statesman, 12/18/23)

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)