More Like A Stepfather

Who beat you like a red-headed stepchild.

For Germans, Losing the U.S. to Trump Is Like Losing a Father – The 30th-anniversary celebration of the Berlin Wall’s collapse comes with grief over the end of a special relationship.

Trump

I don’t know if I can hold back the tears but give me a second or two. There. I’m much better now. Thanks. But this massive output of cheap emotion has a heavy taste of déjà-vu in it for me, folks. The Germans already had their hearts broken and lost their special relationship back with W., didn’t they? And we don’t even want to talk about how heartbroken they were with Ronald Reagan HIMSELF. They don’t even want to have to think about him today. Some thirty years later. You know, thirty years after he made possible the fall of the Berlin Wall? Wait a minute. I’m chocking up again…

Berlin gets unwanted Ronald Reagan statue – Ronald Reagan is already an honorary citizen of Berlin, so city authorities have always deemed a statue inappropriate. Nonetheless, a bronze replica of the former president is set to be inaugurated at the US Embassy.

Reagan

German Of The Day: Disneyfizierung

That means Disneyfication.

Checkpoint

Just stop by Checkpoint Charlie sometime and see for yourself.

Authorities in Germany’s capital Berlin have banned local performers from wearing US army uniforms at Checkpoint Charlie, the iconic Cold War crossing between the east and west of the city.

They said the actors exploited tourists by demanding money for photos at the attraction…

People impersonating US soldiers have been at Checkpoint Charlie for nearly 20 years, working in rotation to pose with tourists.

But many Berliners are unhappy about the “Disneyfication” of the site, where fake Soviet Red Army fur hats, gas masks and pieces of the Berlin Wall can be found for sale.

Virtual Socialist Reality

Last call for boarding to Cold War Berlin. Don’t forget your VR goggles.

Berlin

Who says time travel isn’t possible?

30 years later, Berlin Wall comes back to life with virtual reality – German startup offering visitors and history buffs an ‘authentic’ and immersive Cold War-era tour of the divided capital.

A packed bus approaches Checkpoint Charlie, the Cold War’s most famous border crossing, as grim-faced East German guards whisper among themselves about whether to hold you for questioning.

After a few heart-stopping minutes, you and your fellow passengers are free to pass into the smog, soot and shadowy intrigue of 1980s East Berlin.

Das Ost-Berlin vor dem Mauerfall ersteht für Touristen wieder auf. Mit VR-Brille kann man eine Stadtrundfahrt vom Checkpoint Charlie zum Palast der Republik unternehmen, vorbei an Gendarmenmarkt und „Ahornblatt”.

BMW: Bring Me West

German engineering at its best.

Talk about a mother of invention…

In 1963, a man named Klaus-Günter Jacobi decided to help his best friend escape East Berlin and before being forced to report for duty in the East German army. To do so, he decided to modify his BMW Isetta to be able to hide a body.

Now, if you’re not especially familiar with the Isetta, it’s a tiny bubble car with a motorcycle engine at the back and barely enough room for two people to sit in the bench seat behind the front opening door. Space is at a premium, but Jacobi — who had trained as a mechanic — found that there was a dead space behind his seat and next to the Isetta’s tiny engine that could be used to smuggle a person.

The Small Escape

German Of The Day: Rosinenbomber

That means raisin bomber. Or candy bomber, if you prefer.

Raisin Bomber

Dignitaries from around the world have gathered in Berlin to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Berlin airlift.

The Soviet Union entirely blockaded the western parts of the German capital in June 1948, when the country and the city were divided into US, UK, French and Soviet occupation sectors after World War Two.

“I did not ask permission.” – Gen. Lucius D. Clay, the U.S. commander in Berlin who started the airlift without clearance from Washington.

Can We Keep Schönefeld Open, Too?

Tegel was only voted 8th worst airport in the world recently, after all. Schönefeld was numero uno. But now another vote is in.

Tegel

Berliners voted to keep the historic Tegel airport open even after a new international hub is completed, creating a headache for the German capital’s government, which wanted it closed.

Tegel sprang up in just 90 days in 1948 to support the Berlin Airlift, a huge operation to ship supplies and thwart a Cold War Soviet blockade. It is much-loved by many Berliners and business travellers for its proximity to the city center.

Berlin’s government will now have to rethink its plans to close Tegel after some 56 percent of voters supported the non-binding referendum on Sunday, the same day as Germany’s federal election, to reconsider the proposal.

“The result has created a very, difficult situation that could be legally and financially challenging.” Another chance for the Berlin Senat to excel, I say.

The Land Of Wishful Thinking

Das Land der frommen Wünsche, that’s what Reinhard Veser from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung calls it. And he means by this the place were what remains of Germany’s Social Democratic Party is now living when it comes to Putin’s Russia.

Putin

That the SPD would want to go back to the old days of SPD Ostpolitik (“change through rapprochement”), a time when twice as many voters voted for them as do today, is quite understandable. There is just one slight but fundamental difference here: During that cold war (they called it The Cold War back then), the Soviet Union wanted to keep the status quo and the Federal Republic of Germany’s recognition of East Germany contributed to this, benefiting the West, as well. Putin’s Russia wants territory, however, not the status quo.

By bending over backwards with the most absurd compilation of contortions to “understand” a Russia they clearly do not understand (see Germany’s current SPD foreign minister), the SPD shows us that it already has plans to move from the Land of Wishful Thinking to the Pays of Appeasement. Or is it living there already? How unimaginative political policy can be. And how delusional.

Die sozialdemokratischen Ostpolitiker haben es schon einmal nicht bemerkt, als die Voraussetzungen für ihren Ansatz im Osten Europas weggefallen sind – das war, als Solidarność in den achtziger Jahren die kommunistische Diktatur ins Wanken brachte. Damals hat das nur ihrem Ruf in Ostmitteleuropa geschadet. Wenn ihre alten Illusionen heute wieder in die Russland-Politik einfließen, droht ein weit größerer Schaden.

Secret Swagger Or Bausünde?

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that but I think I’ll still go with Bausünde here.

Bausünde

Berlin’s post-war high rises were built with practicality, not beauty, in mind. The hulking buildings were designed to house as many families as possible, and though they were once desirable, today they aren’t generally considered great places to live. But photographer Malte Brandenburg casts them in a new light with his series Stacked

The photographer started the project late last year, and shot over a dozen high rises throughout Berlin. He lives in Copenhagen and scouts locations whenever he visits Berlin, seeking out buildings set against an uncluttered skyline. Brandenburg shoots from nearby buildings, parking garages, and other elevated spots so he can capture the towers as directly as possible, using a telephoto lens to help correct the perspective. “I would ring the doorbells of the tower buildings across the street and ask the people to let me in so I could shoot from the stairways,” he says.

German Of The Day: RIAS

That stands for Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor and means radio (or broadcasting) in the American Sector – of a place they used to call “West Berlin.”

Now Father Time has managed to take care of something that the East German jamming stations were never able to do back then in the good old bad old days: Shut this broadcasting tower down. With explosives, in this case.

Von Britz aus ging 1946 der Rundfunk im Amerikanischen Sektor (Rias) auf Sendung. Später entstand dort Europas damals leistungsstärkster Mittelwellensender, mit dem jahrelang auch die Störsender aus Ost-Berlin überwunden werden mussten. Heute gilt die Übertragung per Mittelwelle als veraltet.

Forget The Ploughshares

We’re going to turn our old Cold War military bases into wildlife preserves.

Peace

The German government has announced plans to convert 62 disused military bases just west of the Iron Curtain into nature reserves for eagles, woodpeckers, bats, and beetles (personally, I wouldn’t trust a woodpecker as far as I could throw one).

Jeepers. It’s not like Germany has a need for a military presence anymore or anything.

We are fortunate that we can now give these places back to nature,” says German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. Whatever that is. Nature, I mean.