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German journeymen meeting in Bayern
German journeymen meeting in Bayern
Oliver Hollenstein

HANNOVER - It’s 2 p.m. on an early summer Wednesday at an Autobahn rest stop near Hannover, in north-central Germany. Robert, starting out on the last big stage of his journey, plans to hitch a ride to Cologne. He’s making an unusual exception to journeymen rules on this one — letting a non-journeyman like me tag along. Robert wears a broad-brimmed black hat and old fashioned bell-bottomed trousers, black vest and black jacket over a white shirt — required dress for members of the Fremder Freiheitsschacht, a brotherhood of independent wood craftsmen. He also carries the mandatory walking stick.

Robert’s Tippelei or Walz — names for the mandatory travel that journeymen must complete — has been going on for nearly four years. Journeymen must travel for a minimum of three years and a day without money. The main point of this is to perfect different craft techniques, but many journeymen are marked for life by the self-denial associated with going out into the world without a home, without a plan — and no cell phone.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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