• The Story of a Ring

    A small but moving episode marked the regular annual meeting of the German organization Fighters and Friends of the Spanish Republic 1936-1939 (Kämpfer und Freunde der Spanischen Republik 1936-1939).  It was the first such meeting without a single veteran; the last volunteer in Germany, Fritz Teppich, died last winter, and none of the tiny, decreasing […]

  • A Little-Known Film Master, Kurt Maetzig

    An extraordinary mensch, an extraordinary filmmaker who made extraordinary films and lived to the extraordinary age of 101, Kurt Maetzig, who died last week, was virtually unknown in the United States, indeed, in the western world generally.  The reason: he lived and worked in East Germany, the German Democratic Republic, whose films — many mediocre […]

  • No Deutschland Über Alles — and No Bris

    Germany suffered two losses last week and underwent one very intimate decision.  Whether the latter was a win or a loss depends on your (point of) view — about male circumcision. Most important to most Germans was probably their hope to win the European soccer championship, held this year in Poland and the Ukraine.  Germany […]

  • Germany’s Left Party Survives a Cliffhanger

    The media were keen for a real wide split in the Left Party.  In truth, a lot of the members feared the same.  The long-standing quarrel between the two wings — often called the reformers versus the fundamentalists — had crippled activities in the party far too long.  It seemed very possible that all the […]

  • Can Germany’s Left Party Be Saved?

    What is the matter with Germany’s Left Party?  Or, more bluntly, can it be saved?  What is the truth about the charismatic leader Oskar Lafontaine, from West German Saarland, who suddenly, surprisingly withdrew from the fight for party leadership?  Is he really out of the running?  And is that good or bad?  What are the […]

  • Some Good News, and Lots of Bad News, from Germany

    Here’s “good news” and “bad news” from Germany.  The good news: the Christian Democratic Union of Angela Merkel took a real whipping in the election in North Rhine-Westphalia (usually abbreviated to NRW), the largest German state in terms of population.  Her smiling, almost benign mien, with little bluster or braggadocio, disguises less and less her […]

  • Germany: Presidents Come and Presidents Go

    Berlin and its surroundings have had plenty to keep it occupied: an airline strike, a short strike of the bus, streetcar, and subway lines, the euro crisis, and price increases.  Or, on the happier side, warmer weather and the film Berlinale, with visits by many stars and an interesting, international mix of films often by […]

  • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wulff?

    Americans wonder who will be president next January; Germans are still uncertain who will live in Berlin’s presidential mansion this February.  Its current resident, Christian Wulff, has been under strong pressure to do just the same as his predecessor did — and resign! For weeks the media have attacked Wulff with angry charges of corruption […]

  • Tough on Euros, Weak on Nazis

    Hurray!  Merkel won the day!  It took a long night of backroom bargaining, but except for that Tory, David Cameron, all European Union members agreed to save the euro, save the economy, save the world!  It had been on the brink of disaster, Sarkozy warned on the eve of the meeting: unless we reach agreement […]

  • The Mystery of Invisible Terrorists

    “Ten murders traced to neo-Nazi terrorists!”  More and more ugly facts splashed through the German media, with echoes around the world.  Politicians from the “respectable” parties expressed shock and surprise.  In 2007 a German policewoman had been shot to death and her colleague badly wounded.  The murder weapon was now found in a partly burned-out […]

  • Good News from Germany (Finally)

    Once in a while there’s good news from Europe — yes, even from here in Germany.  And because Germany is so central in Europe and so strong, even minor good news from this country can be important. But, till now, there hasn’t been much good news for quite some time! The party called Die Linke, […]

  • The Jolly Roger Flies in the Berlin Elections

    Berlin voted on Sunday.  Mayor Klaus Wowereit, a Social Democrat, retains his office but his government needs reshuffling.  The only real surprise was a hefty 9 percent vote for an unusual new party, the Pirates, whose fifteen delegates in the new city parliament will be their first anywhere in Germany. With Pirates in parliament (though […]

  • German Leopards for Saudi Arabia

    Merkel just wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag.  In the first days after the arms sale scandal began, her front seat in the Bundestag was conspicuously empty.  When she finally did show up she wore a sour look but said not a word.  The decision made and any reasoning behind it were highly […]

  • The German Left Party Adopts Another Resolution on Israel and Anti-Semitism

    The debate within the Left party, and outside it too, was hot and heavy.  It took a dramatic turn on June 28th when its Bundestag members, in caucus, modified their controversial position of June 7th. Ever since its formation in 2007 this party has been under savage attack from all four other major parties.  But […]

  • Easter Peace March in Berlin

    The Easter holiday in Germany lasts from Good Friday to Easter Monday, four days.  It arrived very late this year, at the end of April, and amazing summer weather drew multitudes to lakes or the seaside.  Some, it was hoped — if not exactly multitudes — would be drawn by their consciences to a rather […]

  • Winners Still Undecided, in Germany and the Middle East

    Which way to look?  So much was happening inside and outside Germany!  Most dramatic were the revolutionary events on the southern shores of the Mediterranean.  Aside from amazement that those decade-long dictators could be forced out by the will of the people, there were some worries among sun-seeking German vacationers who annually flee the icy […]

  • Germany: Yet Another Vote for War in Afghanistan, Amidst Guttenberg Scandals

    “Guttenberg trotz Ansehensverlust beliebtester Politiker” [Guttenberg, Germany’s Most Popular Politician, Despite Scandals] (AFP, 28 January 2011). The German man of the hour is Baron Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg.  Actually he has eight other given names, which modestly prohibits him from using, but the title shows that his family traces back to 1158.  He is […]

  • The C-word in Germany

    Once again it was the annual big weekend for German leftists of every conceivable persuasion.  It was also a weekend with tons of slush, the result of weeks of cold and snow now ending in thaw weather, but, in the eyes of most participants, also provided by most of the media. As every year, Sunday […]

  • To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal

    Who would demonstrate on a day like this?  Weatherwise it was the nastiest day of the year.  Berlin had been covered in snow for a week but on Saturday it thawed, the snow turned to slush and water, flooding sidewalks so that almost every step landed in a puddle, with more rain coming down to […]

  • Unquiet on the Western Front

    On December 5th one or two hundred people left a movie theater in Berlin, mostly silent and deeply moved though the film they had seen was first released in 1930.  This American-made epic had lost none of its extremely emotional appeal.  It was All Quiet on the Western Front and the date of its showing […]