Friday, November 9, 2018

Herr Wendriner Under the Dictatorship / 80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Today is the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or, as it is also called, Pogromnacht that happened on November 9 1938 in Nazi Germany. The famed Weimar writer Kurt Tucholsky gives you an early glimpse of these times in this piece from 1930, printed in Die Weltbühne.

Didn’t I tell you not to talk so loud? There are storm troopers outside the cinema… can’t you see? Get out now. How much is it? I guess it’s not going to rain, it’ll hold up. Come on in. And shut your mouth now! Oh, I beg your pardon… Be quiet now. Where are our seats… ? First row… wonderful. All right—put your coat down over there, now your… give it to me.
“Previews. That’s only a preview. We’ve seen that one anyway—it’s… Regierer! Say, that’s a good one! What are you doing here? What, in the boxes? Oh, well, the upper crust. hee, hee.… Oh, on passes. No kidding? Say, Regierer has two extra tickets he couldn’t use. Welsch is coming too. Let’s join them in the box. Wait, we’ll come and join you… here… take your coat for a second… . Ah! Here we can talk at least.
“That was the newsreel. Parade in Mecklenburg. Big crowd, huh? Plenty of militia in here—you know, it actually feels like something is missing when they’re not around. It does. You get so used to them. Fine looking fellows, some of them. Hell, I think it’s kind of nice, come to think of it. Isn’t it, Hannah? There’s something festive about it. Sure there is. Well, Regierer, what’s with you? What do you say? We’ll see? That’s what I always say. You know, things don’t look so bad to me. When did I see you last? Two months ago… in September… . Well, there you are. Remember what a panic that was? You can’t help feeling relieved because it’s over… now at least you know what’s what. Some atmosphere we had then… my wife put me to bed for four days, that’s how run-down I was. Who would have thunked? Here on the Kurfürstendamm there wasn’t a sign of anything. Say, look—that’s Gebühr, Otto Gebühr. They say he had an offer from France a while back; they wanted him to do Napoleon. He wouldn’t do it. He says the only part he’ll take is Dr. Goebbels or perhaps Frederick the Great. Good actor. Real big right now. Big time for me, too! I… I voted Staatspartei that time because somebody had to take responsibility… and the party had the right outlook. That’s right. Did Welsch really vote Centre? Meshuggeh. I’ll ask him later. Anyway, things aren’t so bad. I‘ve been talking to a businessman from Rome and he says, compared to Rome, this country is positively free. You’ve got your yellow pass, haven’t you? Sure, we’ve got our yellow pass. Ten years? I’ve been living in Berlin for over twenty years, so they gave it to me right away. Intermission now. Shush! Say, take a look at that dark-skinned fellow down there! Some Polish Jew, I’ll bet… lemme tell you something, with kikes like that there’s a reason for anti-Semitism. Take a good look at him. Disgusting fellow. What surprises me is that he’s still around; why don’t they kick him out?… Well. I can’t complain. On our street everything’s in perfect order. We’ve got a very nice storm trooper on the corner, a real nice fellow. When I go to work in the morning, I slip him a cigarette—he salutes as soon as he sees me coming; salutes my wife too. What did they do to you? What is Regierer saying? They knocked his hat off? How’d that happen? Well, in that case, my good friend, you’d better raise your arm! The way I feel about it is, if that flag’s our national symbol you’ve got to salute it. Shush! Powder keg? I guess so. Do you think I feel quite safe? Every morning my wife rings me up at the office to see if anything is wrong. So far nothing has happened. Say, that was good just now, did you see it? The fellow pretended to be blind when he’s actually deaf. Well, lemme tell you something… you shouldn’t speak his name out loud… I’ll tell you. About this H.—even if he does come from Czechoslovakia—he sure knows the German mind. At any rate, we have order. That’s one thing we’ve got. As long as you’re a citizen and got your yellow pass, nothing happens to you… you’re under the protection of the state… they’re very logical about these things. One thing you’ve got to admit: they know how to put on a show. Fantastic! What? Like the other day on Wittenbergplatz. The way they came marching up with their flags and all that music. Under the Kaiser it was no bett… . Welsch! You’re a little late! Half the picture is over. Sit over here. No, not on my hat! Sit on Regierer’s hat… it’s not so new.
“Nu, Welsch, what’s what? Let’s have a look… now I can see you better. You look fine. Say, is it true you voted Centre? Here come two from Security. Shush!… It is true that you voted Centre? Meshuggeh. Sure, the Centre did have Karewski on its list, but that’s Jewish business. We… not so loud! Keep your voice down, that’s all I ask. Don’t get me into trouble—times are too serious for that. After all, they’re perfectly right in expecting us to maintain a certain decorum in public. Perfectly right. It’s starting again. That’s Kortner—see, they let him act. I’m telling you, it’s really not so bad. Don’t you agree? Of course you do. Cute little number—take a look! We were just talking about H. With him at least you know he isn’t going to break into your safe. With the Communists I don’t know. Or rather… I know too damn well. Yes, right now they can’t move a muscle; they’re out flat. Serves them right, too. My dear Welsch, a politician’s business is to be successful; otherwise he’s no politician. The same goes for a businessman. That’s realpolitik. Let one handle politics and the other the realities. Am I right?
“Newsreel again? Well, why not? Shush! When they’re showing those pictures, you shouldn’t talk. Let them have their fun—it’s not so bad. Anyway, it’s good camera work; the other day we saw him from quite close; he was standing there with his lieutenants… No! Goebbels is out… Didn’t you know that? Yes, sure he’s very popular. Maybe that’s why. H. keeps his eyes open. Goebbels wanted to speak in the Wintergarten… but they wouldn’t give him a permit.
“Today it was a little weaker. A little weaker. Why? With the stock exchange, it’s no use asking. The stock exchange has a nose… don’t ask why. Those fellows have a flair; when things go well they don’t say a word and make money, and when things go wrong they drive everybody meshuggeh. Afterward they’ll tell you they knew what was going to happen all along. Charming picture, take a look! Say, did you see that? Those French soldiers running in all directions… ? No, that couldn’t happen in Germany. What was I saying? Well, even if some people are beefing, if you ask me, the thing has its good side. How so? What do you mean? What has that got to do with the war? What has the Young Plan got to do with the war? Go on! Did we start the war? All we did was cheer. And when it was over we didn’t have any butter. Aw, don’t tell me. Since when does a nation have to pay for losing a war? It’s bad enough we lost it; the other side won, let them pay for it! My dear Welsch… I have… I am… shush!
“I expected… my dear Welsch… I expected certain things just the same as you did. All right. And now that I see it isn’t the way I expected, I’ve got to admit that this system has its good side too. I mean, it has its historical justification—go on! You can’t deny that. It has its… that is, I mean, the city does look different. And the foreigners will be back soon enough, out of curiosity. You’ve got to hand it to them: those boys have something. I don’t know what it is, but they sure have got it.
“That’s the end. So let’s go home. Oh yes… the Horst Wessel song first. What are you gonna do—you’ve got to take part in it. The English sing their national anthem after the theatre, too, so we Germans sing a different song… . Marschiern im Geist in unsern Reihen mit.… Oh well.
“Beg your pardon… tsk, tsk, tsk… it’s raining. So, it’s raining after all.
“Wait a while… maybe a taxi will come along. You wait under the marquee; I’ll watch for a taxi. That’s not a Sturmtruppführer, it’s a Gauführer… .
“I know the insignia. Get out of the rain. When it rains you should take shelter. Do we have to get wet? Let other people get wet. Here comes a taxi.
“Shush! Get in.”

Germany? Germany!
Satirical Writings:The Kurt Tucholsky Reader.

By Kurt Tucholsky
Translated by Harry Zohn
Foreword by Ralph Blumenthal

Friday, October 5, 2018

Kurt Tucholsky and His Adventures in Heaven

Very exciting news: We will have a new book out by famed Weimar writer Kurt Tucholsky; Hereafter. We Were Sitting on the Cloud, Dangling Our Legs. It is a charming little hardcover about how Kurt Tucholsky, then living in Paris, imagined heaven, debating philosophy with his fellow angels, watching meteors, flying to the mountain of laughter, meeting Gandhi at God's parties, and thinking about what he left on earth. The preface is by esteemed author William Grimes.

So, the book is near-finished, but not quite, and this is how you come in! We have two sets of headlines, and we are not sure which one is the best. If you want to participate in a poll, email us at info (at) berlinica (dot) com, and we will send you both versions to judge. In addition, we will send all volunteers a free ebook as soon as it is available. Let your voice be heard!

Your publisher, Eva C. Schweitzer

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

70 Years of the Berlin Airlift

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and 1949, which is widely considered a turning point in the German-American relationship.
After the end of the Second World War, Germany was divided into the American, British, French and Soviet occupation zones. Although Berlin lay within the Soviet occupation zone, the city itself was also divided into four sectors. In 1948, the Allied nations created a single new currency – the Deutsche Mark – for their occupation zones. The Soviets were displeased with this move, fearing that this new currency would devalue the Reichsmark they were using in the East. As a result, they began a blockade of West Berlin, hoping to starve the western powers out of the city. Without the intervention of the Allies, there would have been a humanitarian disaster and many people would have starved to death.
In response to the blockade, the Western Allies had to come up with a plan to provide food and supplies to the people of West Berlin. They launched the Berlin Airlift – an initiative consisting of more than 270,000 flights that brought up to 8,893 tons of supplies to West Berliners each day. After several months, the Soviets lifted the blockade in May of 1949.
This airlift saved many lives and was the start of a long-lasting friendship between Germany and the US. The German people are eternally grateful for the help they received from the US and the Western Allies during the blockade.
This past week, the German Embassy in Washington held several events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, including an event at the Air Force Memorial that featured a flyby of the C-54 Skymaster (the type of plane used in the Airlift), the A400M of the German Air Force and a C-17 of the US Air Force.
Our special guest was Colonel Gail Halverson, a veteran of the Berlin Airlift who was often called “Uncle Wiggly Wings” for dropping chocolate bars from his “candy bomber” plane.
“Colonel Halverson, we owe you and your comrades a great deal – the German people will always be grateful!” said German Ambassador Emily Haber at the Air Force Memorial on Sunday. In addition to attending the commemorative event, Halverson also spoke to school groups on Monday at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
“The airlift was a turning point in the relations between our countries,” Ambassador Haber continued. It also “marked a strategic battle in the beginning of the Cold War. The United States and its allies won this battle. They saved the freedom of Berlin. And they won the hearts and minds of the German people.”
This is a contribution of Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

If you want to know more about the Airlift, read:
Berlin in the Cold War. The Battle For The Divided City, by Thomas Flemming.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Annual Steuben Parade on September 15!

The annual Steuben Parade is just around the corner!  On September 15, we will be participating in the parade along New York City’s Fifth Avenue. And it’s one we definitely can’t miss: the Steuben Parade is one of the largest gatherings of German- Americans in the world!
Thousands of participants and spectators attend the annual parade, and we can’t wait to be among them! Let's take a look at who this large event is named after:
Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730-1794) has long been a symbol of German-American friendship. The Prussian-born military officer fought in two major wars, but is best known for his contributions on American soil. His experience gained during the Seven Years' War equipped him with a wealth of military knowledge that helped the young man rise in the ranks. When he was in his thirties, he found himself in debt, and hoped to find employment in a foreign army to gather funds. In 1777, the young baron was introduced to General George Washington by means of a letter. Soon thereafter, he was on his way to the United States, where he offered to volunteer his services without pay. Arrangements were made so that Steuben would be paid for his services after the war, based on his contributions.
And he did not fail to impress: Von Steuben became inspector general and major general of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and he is often credited as being one of the founders of the Continental Army. In the final years of the war, the Prussian-born military officer even served as General Washington's chief of staff. Finally, in 1784, he became an American citizen.
Today, there are celebrations throughout the US that are named after Von Steuben, including the German-American Steuben Parades in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. There is also a Steuben Society, an educational and fraternal organization that was founded in 1919 to help organize the German-American community. We even have a statue of Von Steuben at the German Embassy in Washington!
As we celebrate German-American friendship, culture and heritage, Von Steuben is a name that we will always remember.

This is a contribution from Nicole Glass at The Week in Germany

Happy Steuben Day Parade from Eva at Berlinica!  

Route and locations.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Happy Easter! And Happy Passover!

For those of you who grew up celebrating Easter, you're surely familiar with the Easter Bunny. Perhaps you woke up to find your backyard filled with hidden Easter Eggs during your childhood!

But did you know that the origins of the Easter Bunny can be at least partially traced to Germany? There are various theories on how exactly the concept of the Easter Bunny arose, but we do know that it came from Medieval Europe and that Germans introduced the concept to the United States. During the Middle Ages, families consumed eggs and www.berlinica.comhares, which were in no short supply in the springtime. At some point in the 17th century, parents began to tell their children that the eggs came from the Easter Bunnies.

When German immigrants came to the United States in the 1700s, they settled in Pennsylvania and brought the concept of the egg laying Osterhase ("Easter Bunny") with them. Hoping to receive eggs on Easter, children would create nests for the eggs to be laid in. Traditions have evolved over time, but today, both German and American families will celebrate Easter with colorful eggs.

On this note, we'd like to wish our readers a Happy Easter! And for those celebrating Passover, we wish you a joyful celebration as well!

This is a contribution from Nicole Glass at The Week in Germany
Happy Easter and Happy Passover from Eva at Berlinica!

Bildquelle:, Lizenz: CC BY-SA 4.0 international


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