Friday, May 31, 2019

Angela Merkel in Harvard

This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered the 368th commencement speech at Harvard University, inspiring graduates with her stories and experiences, encouraging them to take risks, make thoughtful decisions and hold onto their core values.

Surrounded by the Class of 2019, Merkel told her own story of growing up behind the Berlin Wall. As a young scientist in the GDR, Merkel‘s opportunities were limited. She did, however, become involved in politics after the fall of the wall - and against all odds, rise through the ranks to become Germany’s first female chancellor.

“The Berlin Wall limited my opportunities,” she told the graduates. “It quite literally stood in my way. However, there was one thing which this wall couldn’t do through all those years: It couldn’t impose limits on my inner thoughts, my personality, my imagination, my dreams and desires.”
Merkel encouraged graduates that they can all make a difference in the world, no matter how difficult it might seem. “Anything that seems to be set in stone and unalterable, can be changed,” she said. “Every change begins in the mind.”

In today’s world, there are “walls in people’s minds, walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness,” she said, encouraging graduates to go out into the world and “tear down walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness, for nothing has to stay as it is.”

Ahead of her commencement address, Chancellor Merkel was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard University. Harvard President Larry Bacow called the German leader one of the most “influential statespeople of our time.”

Chancellor Merkel is the fourth German leader to give a commencement speech, following Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1955), President Richard Weizsäcker (1987) and Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1990). Be sure to check out our top stories in TWIG to watch Chancellor Merkel’s full speech and read more about her visit to Harvard.

Nicole Glass, Editor, The Week in Germany

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Germans in Texas

Many of you know that the US has a strong military presence in Germany. But did you know that Germany also has a military presence in the US?  More than 1,000 German service members are currently stationed in the US – and a large number of them are in El Paso, Texas.

Eleven years after the end of World War II, the first German soldiers arrived in El Paso in 1956 and started air-defense training with the US Army in Fort Bliss. In just over 60 years, more than 60,000 German students have been trained in El Paso in a variety of weapon systems. El Paso is home to the German Air Force Air Defense Center at Fort Bliss, where trainees can learn every aspect of the PATRIOT air defense system. At its peak in the 1980s, the Air Defense Center had about 2,000 German soldiers, civilians and students. Today, the German Air Force has approximately 80 soldiers stationed in El Paso.

“Most of them have fallen in love with El Paso and some of them found their love in El Paso, got married and founded families. And some even stayed and enjoy their retirement here,” Ingo Scharschmidt, Lieutenant Colonel and Commander of the German Air Force Air Defense Center says in a statement. “The feeling of being an integral part of the El Paso community is priceless. This becomes particularly clear when my soldiers or I are approached and told: ‘Thank you for your service.’”

The German-American friendship is strong in El Paso, and this week, we celebrated this friendship at a Chihuahuas baseball game at the Southwest University Ballpark. Make sure to check out this week’s TWIG articles to see how we are Wunderbar Together – not just in Washington, but beyond!

Nicole Glass, Editor, The Week in Germany

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Dresden Music Festival

This week marks the launch of the Dresden Music Festival, one of the most prestigious festivals for classical music in Europe. From May 16 to June 10, more than 60 concerts will take place at famous venues around the city, including the Frauenkirche, the summer palace and grounds of the Großer Garten and Semperoper opera house. By bringing music to the city’s most renowned sites, the festival comes directly to its audience, according to festival director Jan Vogler. “The open air concert is a gift to the audience that is not only invited to enjoy music in front of the historic city center of Dresden, but also to join the performance by participating in the concert,” he states.

The Dresden Music Festival is a cultural event that attracts not only Germans, but people from around the world. The festival was first held in 1978 as a result of a government decree. Back then, the city was part of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). After reunification, the event continued to be held, but it encompassed a broader range of music and continues to expand every year.
This year, two of the headliners include guitar legend Eric Clapton and singer Rene Pape, a native of Dresden. The theme of this year’s festival is the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus art movement.

Speaking of music, did you know that Germany is the largest music market in Europe and the third-largest in the world? Some of the most recognized German music are classical compositions by notable composers such as Bach, Händel, Beethoven and Wagner – but Germany is also home to countless rock festivals and a notable electro and techno scene. So if you’re heading to Germany this year, be sure to check out one of the country’s many music festivals – we’re sure there’s something for you!

Nicole Glass, Editor, The Week in Germany


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