Posts tagged ‘Germany’

November 19, 2010

Berlin’s terror alert: What goes around comes around

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT HAS issued a terror warning for the country and especially for Berlin, where a major terrorist attack is expected “before the end of the month.” Security fences have gone up around the Reichstag building, machine-gun toting policeman with sixteen kilo bullet-proof vests are patrolling public spaces, security has been doubled outside the city’s Jewish institutions, the BVG public transit authority has proclaimed its second highest security level, and Berlin’s senator for interior affairs (i.e. for police and public safety), Ehrhart Körting, has asked all citizens to report “strange-looking” people and activities to the authorities. According to American security officials, up to four al-Qaeda operatives are already in or near Berlin, where they can rely on over 400 Islamist allies in the capital itself and 3,000 nationwide, many of them fresh from terrorist…

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November 10, 2010

“Degenerate art” on display again in Berlin after 69 years

WE TYPICALLY ASSOCIATE BURIED treasure with desert islands and remote monasteries, but sometimes it’s lying right beneath your nose. That’s what Berlin workers discovered earlier this year when they came across a lost trove of so-called degenerate art that had been eliminated from the city’s collections during the Third Reich. “Degenerate art,” of course, was the Nazi term for any kind of modern non-representational or else all-too realistic painting or sculpture that did not fit into the regime’s conception of a heroic Aryan…

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October 29, 2010

Reenacting the Holocaust: A Polish town remembers

REP. JOHN BOEHNER IS out campaigning for Ohio Congressional candidate Rich Iott, and why shouldn’t he be? The upcoming national election may be tight, and if Boehner wants to become Speaker of the House he’s going to need all the Republican backing he can get. And yet, Iott may prove to be a tough sell, largely due to the consternation he caused when he admitted that he regularly plays the role of an SS officer in World War II reenactments, proudly posing for cameras in an SS uniform. While Iott claims a certain admiration for the Third Reich’s military prowess, he protests that he dons the uniform not out of any genocidal impulses but solely “to keep the public aware of what happened.” In a piece on Salon.com today, Joan Walsh writes: “What’s next: Re-enacting cross-burnings while denying fealty to the Ku Klux Klan, just because…

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October 27, 2010

The Hitler icon: How Mount Athos honored the Führer

THERE IS A PIOUS notion out there that organized religion, if practiced devoutly enough, can preserve human beings from immoral thoughts and actions, particularly those stemming from the seductions of supposedly secular political ideologies. The Protestants have their “mighty fortress” of Lutheran song and liturgy, the Catholics have their eternal Vatican, and the Greek Orthodox Church preserves its theological purity in the twenty monasteries of Mount Athos, “the Garden of the Virgins,” on a peninsula in northern Greece, where all females – including dogs and cats – are banished from the premises so as to protect the monks from any impure sensations.* However, even the most cursory glance at the historical record reveals that the devout are not only as likely as anyone else to fall for a totalitarian…

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October 14, 2010

At the Kremlin banquet hall, it’s the Diet of Worms redux

FOR GENERATIONS, SCHOOL CHILDREN and college students throughout the English-speaking countries have tittered over the implausibly named “Diet of Worms” of 1521, where the great reformer Martin Luther was called onto the carpet by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at a meeting of the Imperial Diet, was the assembly of the Imperial Estates. Luther barely escaped with his life, although there is no record that he was actually fed night crawlers with his black bread and cheese (the German term for the Diet of Worms is der Wormser Reichstag, which has no comical overtones). This week, though, a worm-inspired “tweet” may well cost a Russian provincial governor his job…

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October 13, 2010

New report finds Germany swinging towards the right

FOR MONTHS IN THIS SPACE I have been writing about the resurgence of anti-immigrant sentiment and “respectable” far-right parties in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. While such feelings and parties come and go and have rarely amounted to much since 1945, a new report being presented in Berlin today shows that right wing ideas are becoming increasingly acceptable in Germany and have, in fact, moved into “the center of society.” The Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s new 180-page report The Center in Crisis: Far Right Attitudes in Germany in 2010 finds that “in 2010 there was a significant increase in anti-democratic and racist…

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October 4, 2010

The Berlin Wall returns – as a “serious” computer game

JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY WHO’S tried them derives pleasure from computer games or simulations of one kind or another, and of course we all need to brush up on our recent history, so why not combine the two? That’s what a computer design student in the German town of Karlsruhe thought. But the product of his labours, 1378 km, which was to be unveiled on Sunday to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of German reunification, has elicited nothing but horror and disgust from one end of the country to the other. Why? The game simulates the former inner-German border, and allows players to slip into the role of border guards and blow prospective “republic escapees,” as the communist regime used to call its refugees, to kingdom come…

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October 1, 2010

The last installment: Germany to repay WWI debt on birthday

UNITED GERMANY IS CELEBRATING its twentieth anniversary on Sunday, and the happy occasion cannot help but focus attention back on the many bizarre and dramatic events that led to unification in the first place: the peaceful revolution in East Germany in 1989, the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the founding of two German states in 1949, and the partition of the German Reich into four occupation zones at the end of the Second World War. Yes, nothing occurs in a historical vacuum, and thus it is perhaps fitting that on the same day as the country marks its anniversary it will also be paying the final installment on the reparations bill imposed on it in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919…

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September 29, 2010

New terror threats encourage Europe’s new New Right

JUST AFTER NORWEGIAN POLICE uncovered a further plot to blow up the headquarters of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, new reports have come out revealing a broad-based conspiracy to stage massive urban terror attacks across Europe. Britain’s Sky News told viewers yesterday that a group linked to a Pakistan-based al-Qaeda network is planning to stage armed assaults in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks on London as well as on cities in France and Germany. All three countries have sizeable ISAF forces operating in Afghanistan. The current surge in American drone attacks on targets in Pakistan is apparently aimed at disrupting the plot, which is at an “advanced but not immanent stage.” Ironically, the acts appear to be motivated by revenge against the drone attacks, which regularly violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and have killed…

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September 27, 2010

Shock and awe: Understanding the Lörrach massacre

NOBODY EVER THOUGHT IT COULD happen here – but then again, nobody ever does. Lörrach is one of Germany’s most picturesque towns, located as it is in the extreme southwestern corner of the former Grand Duchy of Baden on the hilly Swiss and French borders. It is known for its ruined castles, fine wines, spectacular scenery – and, since last weekend, for a particularly bloody and senseless triple murder…

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