The lounge of the train station in the town of Zeitz, located in Saxony-Anhalt. Its charm resembles the German Democratic Republic, yet it has seen its better days with peeling wall paper, empty platforms and even the lounge that is empty, with the exception of two people talking about the better days before the Wall fell. Yet despite its emptiness, the trains are still running- ableit privately.
Two rail lines are owned by two different train companies with no affiliation with the German Railways (Dt.: Die Bahn), one connecting Weissenfels and Zeitz (via Burgerland Bahn) and another between Leipzig and Saalfeld via Gera (via Erfurter Bahn). Private railways, like the buses, are becoming more and more competitive because of their attractiveness and the ability to get passengers to their destinations in a timely manner. With the German Railways striking again, it will become obvious that once an agreement is finally made, they will lose more customers and most likely, more rail lines will become privatized.
As this goes to the press, the train drivers (or engineers) who are operating the trains are on strike for the seventh time. 60% of the long-distance InterCity and ICE trains have slashed their services until Thursday evening, the regional trains by 50%. This is the second time since November that the state-owned rail service is on strike. The latest strike is starting to resemble the scenes from an American film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, which was filmed in 1993. For those who don’t know the plot of the film, the sneak preview below will help you:
The German public TV station NDR, based in Hamburg produced a parody of Groundhog Day in connection with the strike in 2008. While it has been awhile, the latest strike is becoming like the film that has found a place in American culture, used in the classroom to refresh one’s English skills and provide a whiff of what American life is like:
If you want to learn German, this is the place to do it.
The main question lingering everybody right now is: How many more strikes like this will we have before an agreement between the worker’s union GDL and Die Bahn is finally made and sticks like concrete. Will the workers be happy with their new contract, or will we have more strikes? If the latter, we will see more privatized rail lines and buses going through communities in Germany and less of Die Bahn, resulting in (near) empty train stations and platforms like this:
Think about it……
Saxony- considered one of the largest regions in Germany. Featuring a cluster of former kingdoms extending from the far north in Frisia to the mountains in the far east, the region makes up almost half the land mass in Germany. Yet the region is split up into three different states: Upper Saxony (or just simply Saxony), Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony. This split-up was part of the plan to redesign Germany after World War II with the first two becoming part of East Germany and the third being part of West Germany. They maintained their borders when Germany reunited in 1990 and with that, their unique features.
One of which will be presented in this quiz on Lower Saxony. The state is one of the most populous in the Bundesrepublik and one that prides itself on history, tradition, sports and even its landscape. There is so much to see and do in the state, whose capital is Hannover, but this Quiz will provide you with a starting point as to where to go for visiting and other activities of interest. The rest will have to be taken care of by you as the tourist.
So let’s provide you with a good whiff of what you can find in Lower Saxony. It has been broken down into three parts, but will provide you with a good challenge for yourself and those around you. Good luck!
Variety Pack Questions:
- Eight German States and the Baltic Sea border Lower Saxony, making it the most bordered state in Germany. True of False?
2a. Lower Saxony was officially established after World War II in ________ and consisted of the mergers of four former kingdoms. Name two of the four kingdoms.
2b. Of the four kingdoms, which one was the largest?
- Put the following cities in order based on population from largest to smallest:
Oldenburg Brunswick (Braunschweig) Stade Wolfsburg Hannover Lüneburg Uelzen Emden Osnabrück
- Lower Saxony is ranked ____________ in size behind Bavaria and ____________ in population behind Bavaria, North Rhine Westphalia and Hesse, but is the state that is the most dense population of Germany. True or False (just the points in cursive and bold print)
Which rivers flow through and/or in Lower Saxony? Name three of them.
Braunkohl is a German vegetable that is well known in Lower Saxony and can be served with a local sausage. True or false?
At Steinhuder Lake,located west of Osnabrück, you will find eels. True or false?
Das Alte Land, located in the vicinity of the Elbe River north and west of Hamburg is Germany’s fruit garden. Name three fruits that grow there annually.
Multiple Choice: Choose only one city that has a unique feature.
- Which city is home of one of the three automobile manufacturers in Germany. Choose the city and fill in the blank regarding the car brand. (Hint: Fahrvergnügend is still the most popular car brand in the world.)
a. Wilhelmshaven b. Wolfsburg c. Celle d. Lüneburg e. Hannover
The car brand? ___________________________
- Which city in Lower Saxony does not have a college or university? How many colleges and universities does the state have? ______________
a. Hildesheim b. Göttingen c. Hannover d. Cuxhaven e. Emden
f. Vechta g. Bremervörde
- In this town (A), you can try a drink with a spoon (B), but don’t forget to say your blessings first.
a. Bad Zwischenahn b. Bad Brahmburg c. Leer d. Norden
e. Bad Oldesloe f. Brunswick
a. Braunschweiger Mumme b. Löffeltee c. Ammerländer Löffeltrunk
d. Angler Muck e. Toter Bruder
- Which city in Lower Saxony is not located in the Harz Mountains? (!: There are two different answers)
a. Goslar b. Clausthal c. Wenigerode d. Osterode e. Salzgitter f. Braunlage
- Which city does not have a premier league sports team?
a. Buxtehude b. Hannover c. Brunswick d. Emden e. Oldenburg
- The New York Lions in the German American Football League is actually located in which city?
a. Hannover b. Bremen c. Brunswick d. Göttingen e. Celle
- Germany has the only true transporter bridge in left the country. It is located in Lower Saxony in which community?
a. Ostende b. Hannover c. Wilhelmshaven d. Stade e. Brunswick
- The only combination cantilever-suspension-swing bridge left in Germany (and perhaps on European soil) is located in Lower Saxony. Where exactly is this bridge?
a. Göttingen b. Wilhelmshaven c. Lauenburg d. Stadland e. Hannover f. Wattenscheid
- Which town in Lower Saxony will you most likely find in the US?
a. Emden b. Bergen c. Hannover d. Oldenburg e. Berne f. Uelzen
Celebrities and Birth Places: Determine whether these statements are true or false. If false, correct the statements
- Maria Furtwängler, an actress who plays Charlotte Lindholm in the Tatort-Hannover series originates from Hannover.
Heiner Brandt, head coach of the German National Handball Team, was born and raised in Brunswick.
In the film the Inglorious Bastards by Quentin Tarrantino, there were no German actors/actresses.
Gerhard Schröder, the successor of Chancellor Angela Merkel, was born in Mecklenburg-Pommerania but grew up in Lower Saxony.
Herbert Grönemeyer calls Göttingen home. No wonder because he was born there.
The band The Scorpions was established in Hannover with the lead singer originating from there.
The Creator of English for Runaways originally came from Emden.
Chris Barrie, a Hannoverer who starred in the Tomb Raider movie, grew up in Northern Ireland.
Prince Augustus of Hannover was born in Hannover.
Viel Spaß beim Quizzen. The answers to the Lower Saxony Quiz will come out on May 5th. At the same time, another quiz on Mecklenburg Pommerania will come out, providing you with just as much of a challenge as this one will give you. Good luck!
This week’s Literature/Genre of the Week takes us back to World War II and many failed attempts to avoid it- in particular, many failed attempts to keep a tyrant from conducting one of (if not the) most heinous crimes against humanities to date. There are a lot of interesting facts that have appeared recently about Adolf Hitler, who ruled Germany from 1933 until his suicide in 1945. This includes the top 10 from a news source in India (see article here.) He was one of the greatest orators of all time, but one who was obsessed with strategies of how to conquer Europe and the rest of the world. He was the most feared in the eyes of many politicians in other countries, who tried to appease him at any cost, pleading with him not to start the war machine at a time when the majority of the world was in the worst economic depression of all time. Many letters were written to him asking him to reconsider.
This included the one written by a peace activitist.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (known throughout the world as Mahatma Gandhi) was a peace activist who first led a movement to ease restrictions the British Empire had imposed on its colonial state, India, but later led a non-violent movement called “Quit India,” demanding Indian independence from the British Commonwealth and rejecting Indian involvement in World War II, both of which were successful. India obtained its independence in 1947 in spite the violence that accompanied it, setting the stage for the break-up of the empire that occurred in Africa and Asia over the course of 35 years. Known as “The Father of India,” a national holiday in India, combined with the international day of non-violence, takes place every year on October 2nd, Gandhi’s birthday.
Gandhi was known for his non-violence movements and his staunch criticism of World War II, arguing against the use of force to put down the regimes of Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Italy, claiming that if so and through self-sacrifice, the death toll would not have been as high as it was. Although this was met with heavy criticism among western nations and the Jewish community, some of the points made were worth considering for World War II was one of the most destructive wars on record, with up to 75% of the cities destroyed and as many German lives being lost as those from the Holocaust This does not include the loss of life among soldiers outside Germany. The war is still considered by many in Germany a delicate topic to discuss because it eventually reshaped Germany and the rest of the European landscape, veering away from empires and tyrannies and embracing the principles of democracy initiated by the United States as the new superpower and its allies when the war ended in 1945.
Yet Gandhi was also aware of the actions of Hitler and attempted to persuade him to change his mind with a letter he wrote to the dictator, explaining the effects of starting the war in Europe. This was what he wrote, as read by Clarke Peters at the BBC Studios in London:
Written in 1939, the letter never arrived in Berlin and subsequentially, World War II started with the German invasion of Poland on 2 September, 1939. It lasted until 7 May, 1945 but not before leaving a scar that will never go away, but will always be remembered for years to come. Gandhi never lived to see a new German democratic state and a socialist state, for he was assasinated on 30 January, 1948. West Germany was created out of the regions occupied by the US, Great Britain and France on 23 May, 1949. The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was formed on 7 October, 1949. It would be another 41 years until Germany was reunited in 1990. Yet the question still remains: what would have happened, had Gandhi’s letter arrived in Berlin and Hitler had a chance to read it? Would he have reconsidered or would he have ignored it? While history scholars will refute over one claim or another, the answer remains the same: we will never know.
After having a look at the questions and doing some research about Bremen and Bremerhaven, here are the answers to the questions posted two and a half weeks ago. You can download the Guessing Quiz here and encourage others to give it try, providing them with an incentive to visit this rather unique German city-state.
Here are the answers (all in cursive and bold print):
Freebee Questions: Guestimate the answers to the following questions below:
- Bremen is the smallest of the German states and city-states. It has a total of 670,000 (548,000-Bremen and 122,000-Bremerhaven) inhabitants.
- In comparison with the universities/colleges in Berlin and Hamburg, Bremen (and Bremerhaven) has only five: University of Bremen, Bremen University of Applied Sciences, Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences, Jacobs University, Bremen University of the Arts.
- How many German immigrants leaving their marks on American history came from Bremen? (Hint: research in Wikipedia for the answer) Five: Henry Bohlen, Charles Henry Nimitz, Carl Runge, Edward Voigt, and Frederick Charles Winkler- two of these men served in the Civil War
True or False?
- The Plot of the Bremen Town Musicians originated from Bremerhaven. False. The animals wanted to go to Bremen but never did. More here.
- Bremen was once occupied by the Swedes. True, from 1653 to 1667
- Beck’s brewery did not originate from Bremen, but from Hamburg. False, Becks was founded in 1873 in Bremen
- Bremen was once occupied by the Americans after World War II. True. From 1947 until the establishment of West Germany in 1949, the Americans created the free city-state of Bremen being enclaved by the British Zone
- Bremen is located along the Weser River. True- both Bremen and Bremerhaven
- Bremen has the lowest land above sea level of all of Germany. False, Bremen has the lowest high level of land of all of Germany with the highest point being only 32 meters above sea level.
- The soccer team SV Werder Bremen has won more soccer titles than Bayern Munich. False. Adding up the titles on the national and internation levels, Bayern Munich far outpaces Bremen 62-18. This is between 1960 and 2014.
- The Schnoor features houses dating back to the _____A___ and sells goods from the Medieval Ages.
- The Schlachte features a combination of a promenade of shops (hint: sight seeing) and eateries and bars (hint: beer and food) along the Weser River.
The Bremen Houses (Bremer Häuser) features a three-story family house built between the 1880s and the 1930s.
The ______A__________ is the oldest church in Bremen. It was built in the ______B________ but has glass murals dating to the _______C______.
- Peter’s Cathedral
- The Church of Our Lady
- Nicholas Church
- A famous dish for Bremen is the Gruenkohl and Pinkel. It features Sausage, Potatoes, bacon, spiced green cabbage and onions.
The most common vegetable found in Bremen is (in German): ___________________.
The Bremerhaven Sail International Festival takes place in August every 4-5 years and features many varieties of sailing vessels. It was founded in 1986.
Das Deutsche Auswanderhaus in Bremerhaven was founded in 1852 and its function was to assist in allowing 1.3 million Germans to do what? Emigrate to America
Note: 1.3 million Germans emigrated to the New World by 1890; 7.2 million by 1950.
- Bremerhaven was founded by Johann _____________
Head Coach of German Soccer Team Borussia Dortmund to step down after the end of the season
DORTMUND- The 2014/15 soccer team in the German Bundesliga has, so far, been a season full of surprises- both in terms of Cinderella teams as well as major disappointments. Of these extremes, there is one major surprise that will be talked about in the coming months. Jürgen Klopp, the man with the hairdo and the colorful personality as head coach of the Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund will step down from his post effective on 30th June, the official end of the 2014/15 season. Klopp came to Dortmund in 2008 after coaching for seven years in Mainz, the same team where he spent his career playing soccer. After taking the team to the top level of soccer, Klopp took over the black and gold team, leading them to the Seasonal Championships in 2011 and 2012, the German Cup in 2012 and the Super Cup in 2008, 2013 and 2014. He was named Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2012. However, despite his successes, his popularity waned and conflicts between him and the management escalated after finishing second in the Champions League last year, for Dortmund has spent all of this season in the bottom half of the standings, at times being in last place. While the team is no longer in danger of being relegated to the second tier of the Bundesliga, Klopp felt in the press conference today that it was time to call it quits and step aside. While there is speculation that he will join an English Premier League Team in the future, his plan after the season is taking a hiatus to spend time with his family before making the next move in his career.
Klopp will be remembered for bringing Dortmund to greatest, especially after winning the championships in 2011 and 12 on the German level, as well as taking the team to the Champions League Finals against Bayern Munich, which won the trophy 2-0. But even more so, he will be remembered for his fiery personality on the field, bringing the fans to their feet and putting the referees on their toes if they make a controversial call. The most famous blow-up came in the Champions League game against Napoli (as seen in the video) which became famous among social networks. What will make Klopp bolt for England is his usage of English during his press conferences, with many expressions producing some humor among the audience, even if his comment of “the result was so s**t,” after the loss in the Champions League Finals was deemed inappropriate among American media standards. While many coaches in American sports are known for their emotional behavior both on the field as well as off (please see the example in a previous post), on the international level, Klopp will most likely end up in the Top 10 of the most emotional but dedicated coach both in soccer as well as in sports in general. And there is enough evidence to prove it, as you will see in the example videos below.
And while Klopp prepares his exit from the stadium stage right, and ride off in the sunset, he will leave a legacy behind in Dortmund, something that the next coach will have to match. To close the article, here’s a question for the forum: What will you miss from Klopp as head coach of Dortmund?
Leave your comments below as well as in the Files’ facebook page.
Here are the videos of Jürgen Klopp’s Greatest Hits during his days in Dortmund for you to enjoy:
This week’s Genre of the Week, presented by the Files that is in connection with English and life in Germany, had to take a moment of pause- and for a good reason. Germany lost a literary great yesterday (13 April, 2015)- a controversial one but one of the key pillars representing literature in modern German history after 1945, and one who will have his place in the top 20 of all German writing greats. In its place, the Files would like to pay homage to this particular writer, who passed away peacefully in Lübeck at the age of 87.
Günter Grass was one of the very first literary greats I was introduced to in my college German classes at my alma mater, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, when I studied German in the late 1990s. At that time I was taken aback because I had expected the teachers to introduce more popular German literary greats that we could associate ourselves with German culture and history, such as Erich Kästner, the Grimm brothers, and Wolfgang Goethe. But on hindsight, the decision of bringing him in the limelight was perhaps the best ones the teachers ever made, for Mr. Grass represented one of the children rising from the ashes of the fallen National Socialist Reich, one of many who engineered the reinvention of the Bundesrepublik through his writing and participation in discussions on the political and literary platforms, and one of many who through his experiences in his youth during the Nazi era and subsequentially, World War II, as well as a young man who was part of the reconstruction process in Germany, brought forth many lessons from Germany’s past that we, as the majority of a fast-moving society- have remembered some but forgotten the rest.
This includes the establishment and reestablishment of a nation and its effects on its people, as he described in his Danzig Trilogy, a set of novels built from 1959 to 1963 and whose book Tin Drum was converted into a film in 1979. Danzig was his place of birth and childhood, and Grass’ books looked at how the rise and fall of the Third Reich and Hitler’s tyranny brought out the worst among his people, splitting families into two (pro-Nazi vs pro-Slavic) and persecuting the minority, thus producing the scar of guilt that still lingers today, years after he wrote his works. Grass himself was initially opposed to German reunification fearing that a unified country would dominate the European landscape, thus rekindling German fears that he had experienced while growing up in Danzig.
Yet when talking about the reestablishment of the country, it does not come with obstacles that the people faced during this phase, as Grass wrote about in his books on My Century and Crabwalk. There, he described the persecutions that happened to the Germans after World War II as the country was being rebuilt. The historic fiction written in the two books were based on Grass’ experience and spurned discussions on the German question, where people were split up between those wanting to leave Germany behind and those who want to rebuild Germany and reinvent the country’s image, walking away from the nightmares of the past that happened during the Third Reich. This platform on the reinvention and recreation of Germany was later used in several films whose plot took place after 1945. Among them include a German film released in 2013 entitled Schicksaljahre, a story about a family torn apart by The Third Reich and World War II, and was forced to rebuild after the war ended.
But despite all the stories he wrote about Germany, especially after the war, Grass left us with an important question worth considering: How can we cope with the past while ensuring that the mistakes we made in life will never happen again- both from the same individual as well as by passing it on to others to repeat them? This is a question that will never be answered in its entirety for our lives are based on our raw talents and abilities. We keep making changes in order to make something as perfect as possible, only to find that once the finished product is completed, it still contains the imperfections that will surface and never change. Being raw has its advantages, where we find a way to create and make perfect but we never reach this perfection. This was something Grass mentions about in his interview conducted in 2013 (which you can see below as well), as he talks about how his literary works were considered raw and how he rigorously made changes, big and small, even when the manuscript was about to go to the press. The same mentality applied to his artwork, for he was a painter and produced many paintings and drawings on the side, some of which received many accolades for the work.
In the end, despite the controversies he had, especially with regards to his role as a Nazi soldier in his youth and his frigid relations with Israel, Günter Grass was considered a protocol of his time, showing the readers life in Germany during the darkest times and afterwards, but also showing them that Germany was anything but a savage state, as many people considered the country after the war and for many years prior to 1989. Germany, in his view, was a country like any other country- a raw state going through the developments after the war in order for it to be like the other states. At the same time, he saw that even though Germans affected by the tyranny of Hitler and the affects of the war felt the guilt of their country and what happened during the war and with the Holocaust, they had a chance to rebuild from the ground up and over time, walked away and embraced the future. Germany’s past will not be forgotten, but its development into the state it is today is still being remembered and admired by many. And with that I must say, Grass will be missed as one of the founding fathers of modern German literature, with a Nobel Peace Prize in his hand and definitely a standing ovation from the other literary greats awaiting him above. That is after getting honored by many who knew him through his works here.
In honoring Günter Grass, the Files has a collection of videos for you to watch, many of which are in German, except the interview has English subtitles. The interview includes his views on social networking versus talking to people, which is worth interesting to watch and think about. The aforementioned example films Der Blechtrommel (read by the author) and Schicksaljahre (starring Maria Furtwängler) are included as well:
Interview in 2013:
Der Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) Listening (in German)
Günter Grass and his Distaste towards Facebook and Technology:
Schicksaljahre (EN: The Years of Mystery)
SAALFELD, GERMANY- How do you decorate for Easter? Do you have an Easter tree or is there a traditional way of decorating for this holiday? Contrary to Christmas, where we plaster our Tannenbaum and house with lights, decorations and even a Santa or Snowman (or two), Easter in the US varies from household to household, where the majority do not decorate as much as at Christmas time. In Germany, Easter celebrations varies from region to region, yet the signature for a great celebration is seeing almost every tree decorated with colorful eggs and every city center seeing a colorful Easter fountain and statues of the Easter bunny made of straw. A nice way to celebrate the beginning of spring!
In a small community of Saalfeld, located two hours south of Leipzig in central Thuringia, an Easter tradition that spanned 50 years came to end yesterday. Every year since 1965, a married couple, Volker and Christa Kraft have decorated their apple tree with up to 10,000 eggs- all of them homemade and handcrafted. Impressive as they are, as you can see in the links below, more impressive is how they converted an ordinary apple tree into a work of art for tens of thousands of visitors to see, as you will see in the videos below. And while they are calling it quits after so many years, perhaps people like you can pick up where they left off. After all, Easter trees are becoming a thing of the past, but like them, perhaps you yourself can keep this tradition alive and as popular as the Easter bunny. Just saying….
Links and videos:
GALLERY OF PHOTOS (USA TODAY): http://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/news/world/2015/04/06/apple-tree-decorated-with-10000-easter-eggs/25358513/
SENDUNG MIT DER MAUS: http://www.wdrmaus.de/aktuelle-sendung/index.php5
HISTORY BEHIND THE TREE: http://www.ifitshipitshere.com/2015-volker-kraft-easter-egg-tree/
HOW TO MAKE THAT SPECIAL TREE:
After examining some interesting facts about Hamburg, we will now travel two hours by train going west to another German City-State, the Hanseatic Free City of Bremen. Consisting of Bremen and Bremerhaven, the city state is the lone one that has two separate districts located kilometers apart from each other but are governed by one entity. That means that Bremerhaven, located at the North Sea at the mouth of one of the key rivers is governed by Bremen, located 70 km south of there. With a combined population of 680,000 inhabitants, Bremen is the smallest of the German City-States as well as the German states, behind Saarland and Saxony-Anhalt. However, don’t let the size and population fool you, as Bremen prides itself on its own heritage. The city has been conquered by as many as six countries during its 1,000 years of existence, but has an identity of its own, priding itself on its food, architecture, science and technology, marina, and even literature. The Bremen Town Musicians (Bremer Stadtmusikaner) was created by the Grimm brothers and is one of the most popular literary pieces in Germany as well as on the international level.
But what do we really know about Bremen (and Bremerhaven)? Try out this quiz and find out about it. Some of the answers to be presented on 19 April will take you by surprise, perhaps giving you an incentive to visit the city-state on your next vacation. Viel Spaß beim Quizzen!
Freebee Questions: Guestimate the answers to the following questions below:
- Bremen is the smallest of the German states and city-states. It has a total of _______________ inhabitants.
- In comparison with the universities/colleges in Berlin and Hamburg, Bremen (and Bremerhaven) has only __________.
- How many German immigrants leaving their marks on American history came from Bremen? (Hint: research in Wikipedia for the answer)
True or False?
- The Plot of the Bremen Town Musicians originated from Bremerhaven.
- Bremen was once occupied by the Swedes.
- Beck’s brewery did not originate from Bremen, but from Hamburg.
- Bremen was once occupied by the Americans after World War II.
- Bremen is located along the Weser River.
- Bremen has the lowest land above sea level of all of Germany.
- The soccer team SV Werder Bremen has won more soccer titles than Bayern Munich.
The Schnoor features houses dating back to the _____A___ and sells goods from the __________B___________.
The Schlachte features a combination of __________________ (hint: sight seeing) and _________________ (hint: beer and food) along the Weser River.
The Bremen Houses (Bremer Häuser) features _________-story family house built between ___________ and ____________.
The ______A__________ is the oldest church in Bremen. It was built in the ______B________ but has glass murals dating to the _______C______.
- Peter’s Cathedral
- The Church of Our Lady
- Nicholas Church
A famous dish for Bremen is the Gruenkohl and Pinkel. It features _______________, _________________, and _______________.
The most common vegetable found in Bremen is (in German): ___________________.
The Bremerhaven Sail International Festival takes place in _____________ and features many varieties of _______________. It was founded in _______________.
Das Deutsche Auswanderhaus in Bremerhaven was founded in 18___ and its function was to assist in allowing 1.3 million Germans to do what?
Bremerhaven was founded by Johann _____________
And now the moment you all have been waiting for: the answers to the Quiz on the German City-State of Hamburg. To access the quiz (if you have not tried it yet), click here. For those who have yet to visit the city, there are many opportunities to visit the sites, participate in many events in the fine arts sector or just enjoy the daily life as a Hamburger. The answers to the quiz should serve as a small whiff of what you should see in the hanseatic city. The Files will have some additional links to some other sites and sounds at the end of this article. Some other highlighted words in the answers also have links to their sources that will show you some more information about them, so check those out as well.
Let’s get a whiff of what you know about Hamburg, or rephrasing it, what you want to know more about the city :
Click on the logo for the answers:
Normally I would not use the Flensburg Files as a podium to express my political views or opinions about a political theme. In fact, the last time I grilled a politician because of a scandal was back in 2011, when Karl-Theodor zu Gutenberg had to relinquish his post as defense minister and leave the Christian Socialist Party in Bavaria amid a plagiarism scandal involving a doctorate he wrote while at the University of Bayreuth. However in the past 24 hours, this author, after having read two articles involving the Germanwings tragedy a week ago, had to put on his boxing gloves and put in his mouth guard because of the content of the articles that were just out of this world.
We’ll start off with the column written by a student of the Joseph König Gymnasium (German for our American high school) in Haltern, located in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This was the school where 16 students and two teachers, plus some Spanish foreign exchange students from Barcelona lost their lives in the plane crash. While I will not go into detail describing the events that happened in response to the plane tragedy, I will sum it up in two sentences: School was let out early when students were informed that their teachers and friends were not coming back because of the crash. Then the media came hoarding in, ruthlessly and with no regard to the feelings of the community affected, just to squeeze out the information possible for the sake of reporting it to the news channel that is striving for better media viewing ratings, even if the information is distorted. This made me feel disgusted and reminded me of the Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy and his tirade on the media for falsifying information about one of his players in 2007, as seen in the video clip below:
While the first article was published by the Guardian in the UK and pretty much sums up the incident that is comparable to the swarm of media encircling the estate of Michael Landon, who died of cancer in 1991 (Landon, as you know, played Charles Ingalls in Little House and Jonathan in Highway to Heaven), second article published by the Star Tribune from my home state of Minnesota got my blood boiling, my hair raising as high as the skyscrapers of Dubai and my head tingling with rage. In this article, former Minnesota senator Michelle Bachmann compared US President Obama with the deranged pilot who brought down the Germanwings plane, crashing it in the Alps near Nice in France! This comment, stated by a deranged dame with no regard to the feelings of those affected by the Germanwings disaster, let alone the President of the US! With comments as barbaric as this one, you would think she would be locked up in the psychiatric ward of a mental hospital, diagnosing her as suffering from dementia or schizophrenia, right?
Well the point behind the two articles is this: We are living in a barbaric world, where everyone is fighting to get the recognition needed, gratifying himself and those he is serving. This even means using a tragedy like that of the Germanwings disaster as a weapon to defame someone, which is a crime in itself. There are times I am happy to be a teacher of English and not a journalist because I feel for the people affected right now, because they are getting the brunt from both sides. If there was a chance to go in front of the media to express my disdain towards the media in response to the events unfolded, it would be this:
“If you are trying to get the attention that you have been craving, be prepared for the biggest disappointment in your lives because you will never (ever) get it. My parents tried to get me to become successful just by getting me to correct their mistakes (by playing American football in high school instead of singing in choir) and restore the family reputation. Do you know what happened? It failed miserably. I quit because what I did was NOT me. I wanted the microphone and play my tune for my benefit, which is the happiness that trumps any amount of money and recognition others are striving for. So stop your harassment of my students and colleagues for the sake of money and fame, and let them be. We have to work this problem out ourselves and do not need your camera and microphones in our faces. We will do that job ourselves, and when we are good and ready to do so. Thank you!”
With as much fire as what Mike Gundy did, it would get the message across to everyone who shamefully used this tragedy for their benefit. It is time we start reintroducing common sense in our society, because we have hurt too many people and at the same time, lost our own identity to a machine that is invisible but is eating us alive by the minute. We need to look at the people out there whom we are affecting by our actions and decide, with some thinking and efforts, whether the things we’re doing will be helpful or harmful to them. 90% of the time, what we are doing because we think it is the right thing to do is, in reality, not what the others want. We sometimes misinterpret the feelings of others and assume or even classify people without even sitting down to talk to them, and even help them. Sometimes our assumptions are done because we too are unhappy with what we want in life. It is time we put an end to this senseless act and start listening to others, thinking about their feelings and putting the others in front of our needs. If they do not want to be interviewed about a disaster and the loss of their own people, then you respect their wish. If they do not want to be followed for the sake of getting a news story, then you respect their wish. If they want to be left alone, then you respect their wish.
I hope, for the sake of the people affected by the Germanwings disaster, that the people, who have ruthlessly tried squeezing the information out of the victims’ families and friends, who have used this disaster an an analogy to name and shame politicians, and who have debatted about the causes of the disaster on the social networks, that this message is made clearly and in a language we both understand. It is time to sensitize ourselves to situations like this one and look and listen to others instead of shutting ourselves inside our bodies, treating it like we’re drivers in a car battling other drivers for a share of the highway. It’s time to know when to take action and when to stay out. Only then will the people affected have time to digest what is going on by themselves, let alone decide when it is right to talk about it, and with whom.
Thank you for respecting this wish.