Archives for category: German culture

A skateboarding culture in the former East Germany? This Ain’t California is a documentary film celebrating the hidden East German skateboarding culture. Even if you’re not a skateboarding enthusiast, this movie is a fascinating look at three young men driven to excel. There are breathtaking displays of nose wheelies and ollies, including entertaining sequences filmed in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz during the mid-1980’s. It’s worth a view just to see how Berlin has changed since reunification.

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Das Kloster Mariense

Urlaub im Kloster liegt im Trend in Deutschland. Ein Ort ohne TV, ohne Fernsehen, ohne Internet, ohne Handy, und dann noch früh aufstehen. Für einige Menschen schon. Sie tauchen ein in die ruhige Welt der Klöster, um neue Kraft zu schöpfen. Es fällt dort leichter als in anderen Orten, den Lärm und die Hektik des Alltags hinter sich zu lassen.

Das Kloster Mariensee wurde in 1207 gegründet und liegt in nordwestlich von Hannover. Es bietet zahlreiche Möglichkeiten für Menschen, die eine Auszeit nehmen wollen: Tage der Stille, Seminare, und Kurse in alter Schrift. Die Preise dafür sind günstig. Eine Übernachtung mit Verpflegung kostet nur 50 Euro! 

Vacationing in a medieval cloister is the newest trend in Germany. A place without TV, without internet, without cell phones, and an early rising. For some people it’s a place to find peace and a place to recharge. 

The Mariensee Cloister was founded in 1207 and is open to the public for overnight stays. It’s northwest of Hannover and is an easy drive from Berlin. There’s something for everyone including seminars and courses. Of course, you can do nothing at all. The cost is right too: only 50 Euros per night, including meals!

Das Kloster Mariense

Urlaub im Kloster liegt im Trend in Deutschland. Ein Ort ohne TV, ohne Fernsehen, ohne Internet, ohne Handy, und dann noch früh aufstehen. Für einige Menschen schon. Sie tauchen ein in die ruhige Welt der Klöster, um neue Kraft zu schöpfen. Es fällt dort leichter als in anderen Orten, den Lärm und die Hektik des Alltags hinter sich zu lassen.

Das Kloster Mariensee wurde in 1207 gegründet und liegt in nordwestlich von Hannover. Es bietet zahlreiche Möglichkeiten für Menschen, die eine Auszeit nehmen wollen: Tage der Stille, Seminare, und Kurse in alter Schrift. Die Preise dafür sind günstig. Eine Übernachtung mit Verpflegung kostet nur 50 Euro! 

Vacationing in a medieval cloister is the newest trend in Germany. A place without TV, without internet, without cell phones, and an early rising. For some people it’s a place to find peace and a place to recharge. 

The Mariensee Cloister was founded in 1207 and is open to the public for overnight stays. It’s northwest of Hannover and is an easy drive from Berlin. There’s something for everyone including seminars and courses. Of course, you can do nothing at all. The cost is right too: only 50 Euros per night, including meals!

Monuments to Gorbachev, Bush, and Kohl
“United Enemies”
Thomas Schütte
Courtyard of the Berggruen Museum

Ravaged by two world wars and divided during the cold war, Berlin’s public art is a 20th century lesson in political science. Here are a few examples.  

Located on Leipzigerstr., this mural adorns
the former Reich Ministry of
Aviation. Built in 1935/36, the building
is a great example of Fascist architecture.
The mural was added in 1950 and
depicts the “ideal” socialist state under the DDR. 

Reflecting the ideals
of the DDR, this
mural is located near Alexanderplatz
Statute Willy Brandt.
Located at the Headquarters of
Social Democratic Party in Berlin
“Tindaro” 1997
Igor Mitoraj
Located at the Foreign Ministry
Monuments to Gorbachev, Bush, and Kohl
“United Enemies”
Thomas Schütte
Courtyard of the Berggruen Museum

Ravaged by two world wars and divided during the cold war, Berlin’s public art is a 20th century lesson in political science. Here are a few examples.  

Located on Leipzigerstr., this mural adorns
the former Reich Ministry of
Aviation. Built in 1935/36, the building
is a great example of Fascist architecture.
The mural was added in 1950 and
depicts the “ideal” socialist state under the DDR. 

Reflecting the ideals
of the DDR, this
mural is located near Alexanderplatz
Statute Willy Brandt.
Located at the Headquarters of
Social Democratic Party in Berlin
“Tindaro” 1997
Igor Mitoraj
Located at the Foreign Ministry


In a victory for the right to breath fresh air, a Düsseldorf court has ordered a heavy smoker to vacate his apartment after tenant complaints that the unhealthy air emanating from his dwelling poses a serious health risk. Friedhelm Adolfs had lived in his home for 40 years, but no more.

The Düsseldorf court found that Aldofs had unreasonably harassed his neighbors with smoke. Instead of venting his apartment through the windows, he had closed the blinds and let the stench flow into the stairwell.  

The recent revelations that the USA spied on many of its allies may have an impact on the upcoming German election. Chancellor Merkel has closely aligned herself with President Obama and many of his foreign policy positions. At one time, the President was the most popular person in Germany, and Frau Merkel’s close association with him was a political plus. No longer. The German love affair with the President has faded.

Shortly after the USA spy program became public, Regierungssprecher (Government spokesman) Steffen Seibert stated, “Wir sind nicht mehr im Kalten Krieg.” (“We are no longer in the Cold War.”) He expressed, what many in Germany were beginning to think: The United States is again imposing its might on the rest of the world. 

Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Syria, and now the NSA leaks have all dented the President’s image. In the German capital, there are weekly demonstrations against the USA, and there’s a general feeling of sympathy for the plight of Edward Snowden. Up till now, the opposition has tried to make this a major election issue but without much success. Frau Merkel is still relatively popular, but popularity can wane. Just look at what happened to President Obama. 
Anna Lehnkering

Anna Lehnkering’s story is not unusual. It’s just one among many that documents the Nazi’s so called “euthanasia” program of the 1930/40s. Anna was a normal young girl who had difficulty with reading and writing in school. Today, she would likely be diagnosed as dyslexic, but to the Nazis, she was considered “unworthy of life,” a “useless eater.”

At the end of 1935, the Hereditary Health Court ordered that Anna be taken from her home, sterilized, and transferred to a mental institution. At the institution, Anna suffered from neglect and malnutrition. She was described in medical documents as “longing to go home” and “sad.” Ultimately, she was sent to Berlin’s “T4” euthanasia facility where she was murdered  She was 24 years old.


According to the law, anyone who suffered from a mental or physical disability, or labeled as “anti-social,” was not allowed to procreate and deemed “eligible” for institutionalization. It was all part of a systematic eugenics program that was administered with stereotypical German precision and efficiency. 

As many as 300,000 people fell victim to one of history’s first planned mass exterminations. There were six euthanasia facilities in Germany and Austria. The best known was “Tiergartenstraße 4” or “T4” in Berlin, which extinguished the lives of 70,000 people. In nearly all the cases, the inmates were killed with drugs or starved to death. 

Located where the Berlin Philharmonic stands today, the T4 facility was demolished after the war and its past nearly forgotten. Last week, construction began on a monument to commemorate those who perished at Tiergartenstraße 4. The monument is scheduled to be completed in 2014, and will join existing Berlin monuments commemorating Jewish, Homosexual, and Gypsy victims who died at the hands of the Nazis.


For more information about Anna’s fate and the fate of other T4 inmates, visit the Tiergatenstraße 4 Open Air Exhibition. It’s located behind the Philharmonic and across the street from the Tiergarten Park. The Exhibition runs until November 17, 2013.

Anna Lehnkering

Anna Lehnkering’s story is not unusual. It’s just one among many that documents the Nazi’s so called “euthanasia” program of the 1930/40s. Anna was a normal young girl who had difficulty with reading and writing in school. Today, she would likely be diagnosed as dyslexic, but to the Nazis, she was considered “unworthy of life,” a “useless eater.”

At the end of 1935, the Hereditary Health Court ordered that Anna be taken from her home, sterilized, and transferred to a mental institution. At the institution, Anna suffered from neglect and malnutrition. She was described in medical documents as “longing to go home” and “sad.” Ultimately, she was sent to Berlin’s “T4” euthanasia facility where she was murdered  She was 24 years old.


According to the law, anyone who suffered from a mental or physical disability, or labeled as “anti-social,” was not allowed to procreate and deemed “eligible” for institutionalization. It was all part of a systematic eugenics program that was administered with stereotypical German precision and efficiency. 

As many as 300,000 people fell victim to one of history’s first planned mass exterminations. There were six euthanasia facilities in Germany and Austria. The best known was “Tiergartenstraße 4” or “T4” in Berlin, which extinguished the lives of 70,000 people. In nearly all the cases, the inmates were killed with drugs or starved to death. 

Located where the Berlin Philharmonic stands today, the T4 facility was demolished after the war and its past nearly forgotten. Last week, construction began on a monument to commemorate those who perished at Tiergartenstraße 4. The monument is scheduled to be completed in 2014, and will join existing Berlin monuments commemorating Jewish, Homosexual, and Gypsy victims who died at the hands of the Nazis.


For more information about Anna’s fate and the fate of other T4 inmates, visit the Tiergatenstraße 4 Open Air Exhibition. It’s located behind the Philharmonic and across the street from the Tiergarten Park. The Exhibition runs until November 17, 2013.

Tanja Krakowski and Lea Brumsack
Culinary Misfits

In the Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius stumble upon the “Island of Misfit Toys” where unwanted playthings with cosmetic or physical flaws go to live until a home can be found for them.

In Berlin, two enterprising young women have created a similar haven for unwanted fruits and vegetables such as carrots with two legs, crooked cucumbers, or overly bulbous strawberries and potatoes. Tanja Krakowski and Lea Brumsack are the founders of Culinary Misfits, a culinary service that sell dishes cooked with abnormally shaped fruits and vegetables, food that would otherwise be destroyed, fed to animals, or used as compost. They see beauty in imperfection. Some of their unusual dishes include Schräge Pastinakensuppe” (weird parsnip soup), “Krumme Gurkensuppe” (crooked cucumber soup) and “Gekrümmten Gugelhupf” (curved ring cake).

One of the goals of Culinary Misfits is to point out the wasteful use of food in our throwaway society. Today, official marketing standards and customer demand for flawless produce have created an environment where food is selected accordingly to optical criteria alone. According to a United Nations study, approximately 40 percent of all the fruits and vegetables that are grown never make it to market. It’s the sad price we pay to live in our perfect world. 

Although Culinary Misfits primarily operates as catering service, it does occasionally have a food stall at Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg where they find homes (tummies) for all these unwanted fruits and veggies. In any case, you should check out their Facebook page to get a taste of their awesome food creations.