November 10, 2014 |
The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is a good time to reflect on the dimming regard for democratic government - at home and abroad. Nov. 9, 1989, the day that East Berliners scaled the wall and embraced their fellow Germans from the West, marked the zenith of global faith in democracy's promise, shortly before the communist empire collapsed. I was lucky enough to witness East Europe's democratic uprisings firsthand. In November 1989, in East Germany, I watched tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators in Leipzig roar for a united, democratic Germany, in a series of Monday protests that helped seal East Germany's fate.
November 12, 2013 |
Do you like your biographies historically accurate, or delivered with artistic license? Your preference - and judgment - will matter much in how you respond to Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife , now receiving a sharply performed, thought-provoking production at Theatre Horizon. Wright's one-person play centers on interviews he conducted in 1992-93 with Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (Charlie DelMarcelle), an East German transvestite and antiquarian who ran the Gründerzeit Museum and provided a haven for gays and lesbians under East German repression.
June 17, 2013
By John Rodden D er 17. Juni. Throughout the Cold War, that day - June 17, 1953 - was famous in the German-speaking world, as well known as Dec. 7 or Sept. 11 have become to different generations of Americans. June 17 is a date for Germans that needed no year to identify it: Everyone of a certain age regarded it as a symbol of moral courage and brave dissent. It was a testament to German working-class heroism, a mark of communist treachery and Stalinist tyranny. Sixty Junes ago, the world witnessed the first postwar rebellion - a "workers' uprising" - against communism.
June 12, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Revelations over U.S. spying programs have raised such outrage in Germany that Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman says she will raise the issue with President Obama when he visits Berlin next week for a trip that was supposed to celebrate 50 years of U.S.-German friendship since John F. Kennedy "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Merkel's pledge reflects anger not just among German citizens but government officials as well. The justice minister wrote an op-ed for Der Spiegel's website suggesting that the United States was backsliding on basic freedoms and calling the program so "alarming" that Germany has a responsibility to address it. "The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is," she wrote.
June 10, 2013
Willi Sitte, 92, one of East Germany's most eminent artists and a key representative of Communism's preferred socialist realism painting style, has died in Berlin. The head of the Willi Sitte Foundation, Hans-Hubert Werner, told news agency DPA that Mr. Sitte died Saturday morning after a long illness. Mr. Sitte's paintings depicted factory workers or farmers as glamorized ideals of Communist heroes. Among his famous works are voluptuous, often nude women. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and Germany's unification, Mr. Sitte was seen in a more controversial light because of his closeness to the Communist regime.
April 22, 2013 |
The "German Problem" has returned. Cartoons of Angela Merkel in Nazi uniform appear at anti-austerity demonstrations from Dublin to Málaga. Once again, a German chancellor decides on the economic future of the largest economy in the world. Just as the Germany that Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor, first unified in 1870 dominated the Europe of its time, so, too, the unified Germany of today under the "Gray Mouse" dominates the European Union. The two chancellors held office nearly a century and a half apart.
April 14, 2013 |
BERLIN - For nearly 30 years, the Berlin Wall was the hated symbol of the division of Europe, a gray, concrete mass that snaked through neighborhoods, separating families and friends. One morning last month, it took hundreds of police to guarantee the safe removal of 15 feet of what's left of the wall. Construction crews, protected by about 250 police, hauled down part of the three-quarter-mile strip of the wall to provide access to a planned luxury apartment complex overlooking the Spree River.
November 14, 2012 |
BERLIN - Ikea will release a report this week addressing claims that it benefited from forced labor in the former communist East Germany, the company and victims groups said Monday. The report by independent auditors Ernst & Young looks into allegations that Ikea, whose U.S. headquarters is in Conshohocken, used East German suppliers who employed prisoners - some of them political dissidents - to manufacture goods for its stores from the 1960s to 1980s. "We hope this will be a first step toward a broader investigation into the use of forced labor in East Germany," Rainer Wagner, chairman of the victims' group UOKG, told the Associated Press.
September 5, 2012
Kurt Maetzig, 101, a pioneering figure in East Germany's socialist film industry after World War II who became one of the country's most respected directors, not least for compelling Germans to acknowledge their Nazi past, died Aug. 8 at his home in Germany. News organizations said he died in the village of Wildkuhl in the former East German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. He was a founder of East Germany's main film studio at the close of World War II, and in a three-decade career he directed about 30 feature films and documentaries.
July 30, 2012 |
ETON, England - Don't ever try to pull a fast one on Susan Francia. She'll track you down and, likely, have you prosecuted to the full extent of the law. A criminology major in her years at Penn (Class of 2004), Francia, from Abington High School, is busy doing another kind of tracking at the Olympic Games. Rowing the No. 2 oar on the U.S. women's eight-oared crew, she and her teammates are hot on the trail of a second consecutive gold-medal performance. An impressive, open-water 6-minute, 14.68-second victory over Australia (6:20.89)