• National Anthems in Germany

    The debate about the US anthem echoes a debate about the German anthem.  The “Deutschland über alles” text goes back to 1841 but its meaning has been and still is easily misused.  When East Germany was annexed in 1990 many suggested adopting the GDR anthem, written in 1949 by the anti-Nazi poet (and minister of […]

  • Who Is to Blame?

    Back in 1963 Bob Dylan (soon to be 75) wrote a bitter song; Pete Seeger also sang it often.  It asks, after the death of a young boxer: “Who killed Davey Moore?  How come he died, and what’s the reason for?”  Then came the alibis of all those responsible, from the manager and media to […]

  • Germany: Icy Times and Rays of Hope

      2016 began here with an icy chill, not only with the weather but far worse, with human relations.  It also offered some, like myself, at least a few warm rays of hope. First the larger scene.  The huge influx of immigrants and asylum seekers, over a million in 2015, saw Germany effectively split in […]

  • A Wonderful Parade Against TTIP

    It was a day to remember, a date for the record books!  It marked a surprising development in German politics!  And who said Germans don’t like protest marches or demonstrations?  The organizers counted 250,000, a quarter of a million.  Of course the police scaled that down — to 150,000.  But who’s counting?  It was definitely […]

  • Immigrants, Welcome and Unwelcome

    A silent three-year-old, lying drowned on a Turkish beach; the tearful protest of a Syrian man as he, his wife and baby are torn from the tracks next to a locomotive by Hungarian police; desperate families jammed into tiny, leaky boats, hoping to reach Europe alive or, if they do, facing ever new obstacles from […]

  • German Know-Nothings Today

    “I don’t know.”  Those words, often repeated 160-odd years ago in the USA, earned the gang of those using them the nickname “Know-Nothing Party.”  Those were no expressions of intellectual modesty; party doings were secret, so members were not supposed to disclose anything about them, but just say, “I don’t know.”   Their patriotic title was […]

  • Berlin, July 1, 1990 — Athens, July 1, 2015

    In a recent news video I watched people pushing and shoving at a bank entrance.  I immediately recalled another scene, also with people pushing at a bank entrance.  In the older scene people looked eager and gleeful, pushing so hard, I believe, that one man’s rib was broken.  In the recent pictures they looked very […]

  • ΟΧΙ!

    For some in other lands and continents Greece may seem distant and marginal, a few narrow peninsulas and scattered archipelagos jutting out of the sea.  Some may vaguely recall school knowledge about it.  “Didn’t some fellow named Prometheus steal fire from the gods?  Or was it Alexander the Great untying some “Gordian knot”?  Or a […]

  • A Doctor’s Degree at 102

    102-year-old Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport receives diploma 77-years after Nazis denied it http://t.co/KBB4iyTPfo — Ruptly (@Ruptly) June 9, 2015 The frail, white-haired little lady stepping slowly up onto the stage of the Babylon cinema theater in Berlin — to giant applause — was not wearing a collegiate cap and gown.  But she had undoubtedly made academic history. […]

  • Changing Captains on the Left

    Wealthy, powerful heads of state and other bosses high up in the Bavarian Alps, and the vigorous protests from opposing crowds kept out of earshot downhill, largely stole media thunder this past weekend.  Far lower in altitude and attention, with almost no thunder from the media or otherwise, another meeting was held in less scenic […]

  • Blockupy the ECB, Blockupy the NATO

    I defied my advanced age to board a special train, with a thousand mostly young people, and join in the big “Blockupy” demonstration in Frankfurt am Main, Germany’s big banking city.  The trip, though not the usual four and a half but seven hours, retained till well into the night a spirit of happy anticipation. […]

  • After the Carnival

    Tsipras-Schleuder #Rosenmontag #Helau #Düsseldorf #Merkel pic.twitter.com/EiRvyRvf7k — Christoph Ullrich (@ullrich001) February 16, 2015 Every year the Rhine region and southern Germany go crazy.  Carnival or Fasching, a cousin of Mardi Gras, officially beginning at 11:11 AM on 11/11 and ending with the Lent period, has been celebrated in Catholic areas since the 1820s — with […]

  • Europe Between the Pit and the Pendulum

    If you have ever read Edgar Allen Poe‘s gruesome stories you may recall feelings of horror like those which made me, still a youngster, cringe and shudder.  I have similar feelings when I hear of bloodthirsty, barely-hidden “concerts” by German Neo-Nazis, which too often lead to violence against subjects of their hatred: hippy-type leftist youngsters […]

  • PEGIDA, SYRIZA, and the Future of Europe

    Recent events here in Germany remind me of a playground seesaw, with constant ups and downs of one side and the other. All autumn we watched the upward swing of PEGIDA, “Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West,” most rapidly but not only in Saxony’s capital Dresden.  Its main features were a fast-talking, shady leader […]

  • Je Suis Charlie — But I Have Other Names as Well!

    Monday evening I had planned to write about the PEGIDA movement in Germany.  Although in Dresden, their city of origin, the number of bitter marchers protesting the “Islamization” of the West had increased stubbornly to 18,000, I began to report happily that everywhere else in Germany they had been greatly outnumbered.  In Berlin, only 300 […]

  • Dresden and Its Dangerous Demonstrators

    Dresden, Saxony’s beautiful capital, has a distinguished history.  One ruler, August the Strong, could bend horseshoes with his bare hands and, so legend has it, sired 354 children.  In 1697 he pushed and bribed his way onto the royal throne of neighboring Poland, made possible by his quick conversion to Catholicism.  (His wife, refusing the […]

  • The Red-Red-Green Victory in Thuringia

    Yes, “red-red-green” squeezed through to victory — by one single wavering vote. Political parties in the USA have animal symbols, donkey and elephant.  In Germany they have colors: the Christian-Democrats (CDU), due to clerical ties, are black, the Greens of course green, the Social Democrats (SPD) traditionally red.  When the redder Linke (Left) party came […]

  • Cops, Hooligans, and Neo-Nazis in Germany

    Confrontations with the police in Germany have not been quite the same as in Ferguson and other USA cities.  But some were dramatic enough.  Back in September 2010 mass protests in Stuttgart against a huge underground railroad station at the cost of a prized old building and a central park were hit hard by cops […]

  • Democracy, Hypocrisy, and President Gauck

    In the USA Republicans are jubilant.  Jubilation here in Germany is about an event twenty-five years ago: “We beat those red SOBs!”  But is there not, hidden behind the confetti, helium balloons, and crowing of the victors in both Germany and the USA, an occasional jarring note of anxiety? A man with good reason for […]

  • On Taking Risks and Eating Crow

    A long, warm, coatless autumn made some wonder whether climate change might cancel winter this year in a reverse of the canceled summer two centuries ago in a year called “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.”  But no, I now read that the weather will change after all.  Northern blasts may soon be here. Perhaps […]