When do you know the cupcake fad is dead? When Germans start selling them at McDonald's with names inspired by New York City neighborhoods.
Due to population decline, Detroit plans on bulldozing roughly a quarter of the 139-square-mile city into semi-rural farmland. It is a worst case scenario in America, but pales to the problem of Eastern Germany, where demographic collapse in some towns is so severe, urban-wolves and neo-Nazis are the new order of the day. The mayor of one town says: "You can't go into the forest without a knife anymore." [more inside]
In Germany, a Tradition Falls, and Women Rise. The half-day school system survived feudalism, the rise and demise of Hitler’s mother cult, the women’s movement of the 1970s and reunification with East Germany. Now, in the face of economic necessity, it is crumbling: one of the lowest birthrates in the world, the specter of labor shortages and slipping education standards have prompted a rethink.
China Overtakes Germany as the worlds greatest exporter, but China is not a superpower and won't be anytime soon.
China's Not a Superpower, and won't be anytime soon. Or is it closer to that status than ever, having just overtaken Germany as the world's number one exporter? [more inside]
Freya von Moltke died on New Year’s Day at age 98. She and her husband led the Kreisau Circle, an intellectual salon which became an important part of the German resistance in WWII. They planned a coup, one of over forty-two separate plots to kill Hitler and overthrow the Nazi regime. Freya von Molte was not portrayed in Valkyrie, the 2008 film that depicted the assassination attempt, but she, along with the other members of the resistance (Deutscher Widerstand), "did not bear the shame."
Metafilter's own JF Ptak has an interesting post on the Life magazine issue of March 2nd, 1942, readers of which were confronted by some startling maps detailing possible Axis invasion strategies for North America. There was invasion down the St. Lawrence valley, there was invasion via Trinidad, via Bermuda, full frontal west coast, and down the west coast as well - note the mapping of the large "fifth columns". As Ptak notes, maps such as these with huge arrows pointed menancingly at the American homeland were very much not the norm of the day. [more inside]
A digital clock made of wood and operated by 70 workers for one continuous 24-hour period. "Even though the workers are trying hard to construct every single minute, they are constantly on the verge of failing."
Sure, we all know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is broadcast every year in the US as a Christmas tradition, and that Sweden basically closes every year from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. on December 24th to watch Donald Duck, but what about other countries? [more inside]
"Heads were skinned and muscles removed from the brain case in order to remove the skullcap. Incisions and scrapes on jaws indicate that tongues were cut out." "Scrape marks inside the broken ends of limb bones indicate that marrow was removed." "Whatever actually happened at Herxheim, facial bones were smashed beyond recognition." - Neolithic mass canibalism in southern Germany.
Germany is, for the first time, trying a non-citizen for crimes committed as part of the Holocaust. John Demjanjuk, originally from Ukraine, is an 89-year-old man, retired US auto factory worker, and former US citizen who has been deported and charged with 27,900 murders for the part he may have played in World War II. This is the second time Demjanjuk has been tried. [more inside]
"In hindsight, it’s often seen as inevitable that the two Germanys would reunite. But this, too, is a somewhat revisionist view. " Tim Mohr writes about the "awkward twist" about the fall of the wall, many of the protestors did not seek unification.
Twenty years ago this month, the nearly 700 mile border between East and West Germany started to disappear. "The fence is long gone, and the no-man's land where it stood now is part of Europe's biggest nature preserve. The once-deadly border area is alive with songbirds nesting in crumbling watchtowers, foxes hiding in weedy fortifications and animals not seen here for years, such as elk and lynx. But one species is boycotting the reunified animal kingdom: red deer." According to the Bavarian National Forest Park Service, scientists [link in German] have recorded nearly 11,000 GPS locations for 'Ahornia," a red deer who appears to never enter the Czech Republic.
The capture of Adolf Eichmann is one of the more daring spy operations in the post WWII era. The story spans 17 years, beginning with Eichmann's clandestine escape from the Allied forces and the Nuremberg trial, and ending with his hanging in Israel. [more inside]
Perhaps you have seen the recent video of flies zooming around a "German trade show" like little banner planes? That "German Trade Show" was the Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse)—the most important event in the book publishing world. It's international; all the major US publishers go, as do many agents, to meet their foreign counterparts and to buy and sell projects amid publishing's eternal and ever-present air of fatalism. This year's fair had some interesting subplots, the most visible of which was the complicated dance the organizers did with this year's guest of honor, China, as accusations of censorship (on the part of China) and of brown-nosing (on the part of the fair's organizers) flew. [more inside]
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.
While some might believe that Walt Disney had the first feature-length animated film with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937, the Disney film is the fourth animated feature-length film, and was two decades late for first place. The first two animated feature-length films were directed by an Italian in Argentia in 1917 and 1918, though all prints of those films are presumed lost or destroyed. The third animated full-length feature, Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed), came out the same year that the first two were lost to fire. This third animated film was a silhouette animation made by a German artist named Lotte Reiniger. The original negatives are considered lost, but a supposedly first-generation positive (from the camera negative) remains and the film has been restored from this stock (full film with limited subtitles, 5 minute preview with English subtitles and the full film viewable with Veoh plug-in). More information and videos inside. [more inside]
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.
On September 10th, to celebrate their initiation week, 172 communications students at the University of Quebec at Montreal decided to put on a show. After weeks of preparation, the costumed and prop-wielding crowd enacted an exuberant, complex, and flawlessly-choreographed performance of the Black Eyed Peas song "I Gotta Feeling" that sprawled through the campus's multi-story Judith Jasmin Pavilion... and they did it all in one continuous take (on their second try). The feat is just the most recent example of "lipdubbing" -- a video phenomenon where a single camera moves through a crowd of highly coordinated lip-syncers in a single seamless take, with the original recording dubbed over the finished product. [more inside]
September 22, 1939: In the Polish city of Brest-Litovsk (now Brest, in Belarus), "a monumental military parade took place.... What is unusual is that the parade was held not by the Polish army, but by the soviet Red Army and the Nazi German Wehrmacht – together." The excellent blog Poemas del río Wang (which usually features gorgeous illustrations from books) provides historical context, many photos, posters, and cartoons, even a five-minute official German newsreel (the parade takes up the first half). The event itself is a historical footnote, but in Russia, with the "cult of the victory of Soviet people and of the Soviet state in WWII," the very idea of it was anathema and it was denied until last year. [more inside]
Rammstein's Pussy (video, really NSFW, SLnYT) gets right to the point. Youtube has taken down uploads. Facebook has taken down links (though not Links). Here's a fan-created censored version (NSFW lyrics). [more inside]
Hitchcock's first in 1925. Kubrick in 1957. Sturges in 1963. Bergman, Huston, Ophüls, and Wilder. Sound of Music in 1965. Willy Wonka in 1971. Also, Monty Python made their Fliegender Zirkus specials there in 1971 and 1972. Film history and all that. Sure. But to my mind, the best part of the Bavarian Film Studios is being able to go inside the actual submarine from Das Boot. Or you can ride on that flying dog thing from Neverending Story... if that's how you roll.
Suvorov’s argument is simple. Stalin cleverly lured Hitler into war by offering to divide Poland. This act, Stalin knew, would prompt Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Stalin expected to pick up the pieces. - Eric Margolis [more inside]
Net Hoax Convinces Germany of Fake U.S. Suicide Bombing Attempt All of Germany was bamboozled Thursday by a bizarre scheme that tricked the country’s main wire service into reporting an attempted suicide bombing in a California town — an attack supposedly perpetrated by a non-existent rap group called the “Berlin Boys.” [more inside]
"Two hundred and fifty men were taken one day, another 250 the next, and a layer of earth was thrown in between," a policeman told a parliamentary inquiry in 1947. "They weren't all executed in a single night, but rather in stages." Often enough the condemned men were given a pick and shovel, and made to dig their own graves. The perpetrators didn't have many scruples. After all, they were sure they had high-level military backing...."The general told us, 'The fewer of them that remain, the fewer enemies we'll have.'"Czech Town Divided over How to Commemorate 1945 Massacre [more inside]
The day after Kristallnacht, Hitler said: "It was necessary not to make propaganda for violence as such, but to explain certain matters of foreign policy to the German people in such a way, that the inner voice of the people all by itself gradually would call for violence." Towards that end, Goebbels commissioned and closely supervised the production of a propaganda documentary titled Der ewige Jude - "The Eternal Jew". Few if any of the inhabitants of the Łódź Ghetto who appear in its footage survived the war. [more inside]
Photos recreating vintage video games and some other stuff.
The economy is abjectly terrible, right? It's so bad that nowadays, a picture is only worth 200 words. On the other hand, the recession is over in Germany and France, and in the United States, the unemployment rate dropped just a smidgen last month. [more inside]
The Guardian ran a series of articles looking at the state of high-speed rail travel today. France intends to double its length of track over the next decade, and China is planning a massive rail-building programme, including a high-speed line which will halve the travel time between Beijing and Shanghai to 4 hours. In Germany, domestic air travel is rapidly going extinct, and Spain's network has made day trips between Madrid and Barcelona a possibility. The USA, which has long neglected its rail network, is planning up to 10 high-speed lines. Meanwhile, Britain's only high-speed line goes to France, but there is talk of a 250mph line from London to Birmingham and beyond, possibly by the early 2020s. Meanwhile, the CEO of France's rail operator, SNCF, weighs in on what the UK should do.
Used as postcards and for advertising, phono postcards were a single-sided phonograph record stuck on a card with a hole punched through. The Weco cards stand out with their use of photography (with the clothes sometimes painted on) and see-through vinyl.
Escape and other tools made by inmates in German prisons, from the photographer Marc Steinmetz. My favorite is the functional battery-powered shotgun, although the hand-made toaster is a testament to the love of a decent breakfast. via.
Though the B-2 Spirit is perhaps the best-known of the flying wing designs, its creation came almost 50 years after the earliest attempts at creating fixed-wing aircraft with no definite fuselage. The first prototypes of Frenchman Charles Fauvel's flying wings followed the patent on his formula for the flying wing in 1929. Jack Northrop's newly formed Northrop Aircraft Co. created the first flying wing for the United States in 1940, dubbed Northrom N-1M "Jeep". But it was the Horten Brothers, German aircraft pilots and enthusiasts, who created the first fully-functional stealth flying wing: the Horten Ho IX. [more inside]
As of tomorrow a law will be in effect in Germany that allows the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation to block websites without any judicial approval. Both big parties voted favorably today - even in the face of protest and the most successful online petition in Germany so far. And while the original law states that only child pornography can be censored this way, politicians and music industry execs are already calling for the blocking of first person shooters and copyright-infringing content. (Last two links in German) [more inside]
On May 29, 2009, Stuttgart took home the Golden Bowling Shoe at the first Deutscher Eisfusßball Pokal (that's "German Ice Football Cup" for the English speaking folks). Yes, that's right - those are grown men playing soccer, on ice, in bowling shoes. [more inside]
DFG Science TV is back. Researchers documenting their work. If you missed the first series, it is still available for viewing.
Karl Junker House is just one of the locations on Atlas Obscura from Curious Expeditions. [more inside]
Heroes and Gay Nazis is a german documentary by Rosa von Praunheim that looks at gay men with hard-core right wing views. Part One. [more inside]
Moments in Time 1989/1990 - The Fall of the Wall and reunification. Films and photos from private collections. With woodpeckers.
NRW 1946—2006. Short articles chronicling North Rhine-Westphalia. The site has one rather large shortcoming though, the video clips cannot be accessed (only available on VHS within the State!).
Indeed, all three of Hitler’s prized leather whips were presents from high society ladies. : Christopher Clark reviews High Society in the Third Reich by Fabrice d’Almeida in the London Review Of Books.
Papaya is an... indescribable video by Alexander Marcus. Is it satire? Is he even a real person? [more inside]
Monopoly killer - how The Settlers of Catan redefined board games.
A German researcher accidentally jabbed her finger with a hypodermic loaded with the deadly Ebola virus. 48 hours later, she was injected with an untested, experimental vaccine, developed by an international team of virologists and biologists. Though she may never have been infected, she was certainly in danger; in 2004, a similar incident caused the death of a Russian scientist at a former Soviet biological weapons lab.
Thor Steinar, a German fashion brand, has run into heavy criticism recently due to the fact that their clothing was adopted by a number of far-right Neo-Nazi types. Much of the debate revolves around the question of whether or not founder Axel Kopelke intentionally designed the company's original logo to attract this particular demographic, leading to protests and vandalism at retail stores selling the brand. But will skinheads feel the need to change brands now that the company has been bought out by a Dubai-based Arab investor?
Inventor of the Döner has died. As anybody who has been drunk at 2 a.m. in Germany knows, the Döner is a staple of German fast-food cuisine. Although similar dishes have been around for a while, the modern version is believed to be invented in 1971 in West Berlin by Mahmut Aygün. From there it spread to many other cities and countries in Europe and beyond. Mahmut Aygün died at the age of 87 last month in Berlin. [more inside]
The manuscripts of David Kaufmann, Jewish scholar extraordinaire. Wonderful illuminations, inventive typography and even a little bit of naughtiness.
Cat wanders on stage during live weather broadcast. Judging from the reaction, this happens all the time in Germany.