Tag Archives | Berlin Bulletin

  • Dresden Beats the Nazis

    The Berlin anti-fascists waiting near the Spree River at 4:30 AM for the buses to Dresden were sleepy, cold, and nervous.  Not without reason.  Some had faced the Nazis a year earlier.  Every year these latter-day storm troopers try to misuse the emotions of Dresdeners mourning the loss of 25,000 to 35 000 people in […]

  • Oskar Lafontaine and the Troubled German Left

    While German politicians stared at the calendar, wondering nervously what the May 9th elections will bring in the biggest state, North Rhine-Westphalia, with its 18 million people, media attention suddenly switched to a personal drama within the party called Die Linke (The Left).  A few years ago this party or its predecessors were getting laughed […]

  • Rosa Luxemburg Weekend in Berlin

    It was the Rosa Luxemburg weekend again in Berlin, like every January, this time with an unusual highlight.  Despite the transportation delays caused by big snowstorms, two conferences and the traditional memorial march kept leftists from all over Germany and guests from other countries very busy. The emotional peak occurred during the main conference on […]

  • An Answer to Security Problems

    It would be so simple to solve the security crisis for travelers to the USA.  Why not take a lesson from East Germany where, before the more modest West German vacationers came and objected, beaches along the Baltic and most big lakes were always crowded with nudist bathers and campers?  Everybody flying to the USA […]

  • A Scandal about Afghanistan Shakes Berlin

    Like the peaks of the Hindu Kusch dominating much of Afghanistan, the war in that unhappy country increasingly overshadows the political scenery in Germany.  Parallels with the situation in the USA are unmistakable. On December 3rd the Bundestag voted on prolonging the use of German troops in Afghanistan for another year.  But before the delegates […]

  • The Swiss and the Muslims

    The Swiss, known for cheese, Alps, watches, chocolate, and secret bank accounts, at least two of which are full of holes, have now added a sixth important product: intolerance.  57.5 percent of its 8 million population, or of those who went to the polls, voted to forbid minarets next to Muslim mosques. As nearly everyone […]

  • SPD — Buridan’s Ass?

    It recalled ancient Greek tragedies.  The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), founded in the 19th Century, is the country’s oldest party, and now its saddest one.  On September 27th it suffered its worst election defeat since 1897, losing six million former voters and ending up with only 23 percent of the vote.  It had […]

  • The Fall of the Wall

    I hate to sound like the grouchy Grinch.  Here in Berlin radio and TV are celebrating the Fall of the Wall twenty years ago so intensively there’s hardly a moment for the weather report, which, unfortunately for all the planned events, turned out nasty and rainy.  From my window I just watched the fireworks’ brave […]

  • A Nazi March Near My Home

    Today, close to my Berlin home, I saw a frightening march of Nazis, calling themselves the Nationale Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands — leaving out only the word Arbeiter (Worker) from the name Hitler used.  Several thousands of them, almost all in black, many skinheads but also many all too normal-looking youngsters (and a smattering of very […]

  • Germany: Turn Left or Right?

    October 7th marked the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the German Democratic Republic, and the media let no one forget it!  Sarcasm prevailed, the attacks were all-embracing and almost interrupted, the only GDR relics spared in the attacks were the TV Sandman broadcasts for children, the jolly green and red figures on traffic lights […]

  • Germany: The Chancellor Wins; So Do the Ragamuffins

    Much of the media complained that the German election campaign was dull; after all, the two main opponents had worked together in a coalition for four years and generally agreed or compromised on most issues.  Dull or not, however, it had three important results. Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) will remain in […]

  • PRO RELI versus PRO ETHIK

    The religious struggle in Berlin which ended Sunday with joy for some and great disappointment for others was primarily a political battle, even though it dealt with schools and religious lessons.  Many Berliners never did understand the complicated issue.  For an outsider to even try, a few German peculiarities need explaining. First of all, church […]

  • Kaiser’s Class Justice

    She’s called Emmely; her real name is Barbara E. — with the family name omiited in line with legal practice here.  All over Germany people are talking about her, most frequently with anger in their voices.  For Emmely, a cashier in East Berlin, was fired by her discount store employer for allegedly filching 1.30 euro […]

  • Dresden and the Nazis

    A large-scale anti-fascist action in Dresden last weekend ended with brutal violence.  February 13th has for years been a day of solemn ceremonies in this city on the Elbe, the capital of Saxony.  It marks the date in 1945 when British and American planes destroyed the heart of Dresden, a treasure chest of baroque architecture […]

  • Elections in Hesse

    Sunday’s special elections in the German state of Hesse were the first in a year jammed full of state and national votes.  The two main results: the right-wing incumbent Ronald Koch won again; and the young party, the Left, again overcame the 5 percent barrier to win six seats in the state legislature. In the […]

  • In Crisis, Germans Remember Das Kapital and GDR

    Yes, the big economic crisis is hitting Germany, too.  The evidence includes the hasty meetings of top politicians and the decision by the government coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats to save the suffering banks with 500 billion Euros in credit. Another piece of evidence: Karl Marx’s famous book Das Kapital is selling better […]

  • How the Crisis Saved the German Railroads

    The rolling stock of the German railroads, due to be peddled off to the highest stock market bidders on October 27th, has been saved, at least temporarily, and is still nationally owned.  That seems to be the one possible bit of good news in the present economic crisis.  All the rest is bad. The railroad […]

  • Austria, Bavaria, and Brandenburg Go to the Polls

    Bavaria, Germany’s largest state, borders on Austria: both have countless Alpine peaks, lots of men in lederhosen, and many right-wing Roman Catholic traditions.  Both had elections on Sunday.  Before nightfall many an otherwise happy yodeler showed tightly compressed lips and a grim look. In Austria the main parties, the conservative Austrian People’s Party and the […]

  • Crisis in Germany’s Social Democratic Party

    The big weekend blowout in Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) demonstrates how to cut off your nose to spite your face.  In a series of small, smaller, and smallest secret gatherings, the party leaders — facing a disastrous seepage of members and voters because of their switch rightwards in recent years — got rid of […]

  • An Antisocial Social Democrat

    A former top leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has been saved from expulsion and possible disgrace, and Germany’s oldest party, founded in 1863, has huffed and puffed its way out of one more pothole.  Wolfgang Clement, 68, once the powerful economics minister in the cabinet of Gerhard Schroeder, now on the board of […]