In the first decade of the 20th Century, a German Chief Justice was asked to hear the case of a man who had recently been found guilty according to a law code enacted in the last years of Napoleon's short-lived empire. No state in Europe still used that exact set of laws, but in one small part of the continent, there was an 850 acre plot of land which no state had claimed since the final defeat of Napoleon: Neutral Moresnet, also known as Kelmis, La Calamine or Amikejo. In To Govern, or Not to Govern: Prussia, Neutral Moresnet [pdf, click 'Download This Paper'] Steven Michael Press explains how Neutral Moresnet came to be, and how the Chief Justice ruled in the case. For more information, visit the Neutral Moresnet website. For an account by a visitor, read Unvisited Places of Old Europe by American travel writer Robert Shackleton [starts on page 157]. Finally, here's a podcast lecture by journalist and historian Neal Ascherson called Memories of Amikejo [iTunes link] reflecting on Neutral Moresnet's short existence and whether it tells us something about modern Europe. [Neutral Moresnet previously on MetaFilter]
You're a Monk, I'm a Monk, We're All Monks is a short video introduction to The Monks, a band founded in 1964 by five American soldiers in Germany. They put out only one album, the abrasive, noisy, minimalistic Black Monk Time in 1965, that sounded like nothing else at the time. They also dressed in all-black, shaved monkish tonsures in their hair and wore bits of rope as neckties. In 1966 they appeared on German TV shows Beat-Club and Beat, Beat, Beat, and played three songs on each, Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice, Monk Chant, Oh, How to Do Now, Complication, I Can't Get Over You and Cuckoo. Aaron Poehler interviewed The Monks and wrote about their history back in 1999. That same year they got back together to play at the Cavestomp festival. And here The Monks are being interviewed by a hand-puppet on public access television in Chicago. [The Monks previously on MetaFilter]
The Thirty Years War is a website covers that ginormous kerfuffle that consumed Europe in the first half of the 17th Century from the Second Defenestration of Prague to the Peace of Westphalia. It has a handy map with a place locator which will help you tell your Schweidnitz from your Schweinfurt. Here are some other maps, The Religious Situation in Central Europe about 1618, Principal Seats of War, 1618-1660 and Europe in 1648 - Peace of Westphalia.
The BBC World Service has put together a special report on the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe (they also have a simpler portal). There is a wealth of material, including TV reports on key events from the BBC archives, interviews, a map timeline, a report on Catholicism's role in the 1989 revolutions, a first-hand report of what it was like to gather news in East Germany during that time and much more.
This year's Nobel Laureate in Literature is Romanian born author Herta Müller, who writes in German, as predicted yesterday by M. A. Orthofer of The Complete Review and Literary Saloon. Here's an interview with Herta Müller and a short bio.