Bethany Wright

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A woman with a "Techno" tattoo in front of the famous Berghain​
Society

Germany's Legendary Clubbing Culture Crashes Museum Space

The exhibition “Electro” in Düsseldorf is an unlikely tribute to a joyful and uninhibited club culture, with curators forced to contend with limits of a museum setting ... and another COVID lockdown.

DÜSSELDORF — The last party at the Berghain nightclub in Berlin lasted from Saturday evening until Monday morning. On the first weekend of December, some clubbers lined up for nine hours outside the former power plant – and still didn’t make it past the doormen. A friend said that dancing in the most famous techno club in the world on its last evening was like landing a spot in the last lifeboat to leave the sinking Titanic on 14 April 1912.

It is surely a coincidence that the first comprehensive exhibition charting the 100-year history of electronic music in Germany opened in the same week that nightclubs across the country were forced to close. It wasn’t planned that way, but it’s like opening an exhibition about the cultural history of alcohol the day after the introduction of prohibition.

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 senior citizen is being administered with a third booster dose ''precautionary dose'' of coronavirus vaccine at Madhyamgram Rural Hospital
Coronavirus

Lift The Patents, Round 2: Omicron Proves Current Vaccine System Won't Work

Germany boasted recently that it donated 100 million vaccines to poor countries, but this approach will simply not work to halt the pandemic from spreading again and again. Calls for the mRNA vaccines’ patents to be lifted are growing louder.

-Analysis-
BERLIN — Positive headlines about the pandemic are thin on the ground at the moment, so the latest announcement from the German government was welcome news: the country has donated 103 million vaccine doses to more than 30 countries – three million more than planned.

Only the U.S. has donated more – 364 million vaccines. Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze’s pride in the achievement was clear when she announced the numbers, with plans to donate around 75 million of the 338 million vaccines the German government has ordered.

Still Professor Anna Holzscheiter, an expert in global health policy at Dresden University of Technology, says Germany, and the rest of the West, have little to be proud about. “The distribution of vaccines across the world is still grossly unfair," she said. "The pandemic will only be over when it is over everywhere. We need a new strategy in 2022.”

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A man in black walks through baggage claim
Economy

The German Dream Is Alive And Well

Economic stagnation, a polarized society, politicians losing the plot – German citizens’ opinion of their country seems to be going downhill, and we're warned that many are planning to emigrate. However, the facts paint a very different picture.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — In Germany, debates over the state of the nation are heating up. Yet again. Those who see their homeland as an attractive country, who praise its society and government or admire its strong economy find themselves criticized, vilified and straight-out attacked on social media and in real life.

A growing section of the population believes that Germany’s politicians can do nothing right, that society is polarized and deeply divided, that we are on the precipice of years worth of stagnation and inflation. Predictions of an economic decline, perhaps even a collapse, are everywhere.

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When The Nazis Stole Christmas
Society

When The Nazis Stole Christmas

Both the Nazis and East German Communist Party tried to use Christmas for their own ends, and distance it from its Christian meaning. Writer and historian Karl-Heinz Göttert looks at the attempts to hijack Christmas throughout German history, and why it matters today.

BERLIN — As far back as the Romantic era, there has been an abundance of theories about the Germanic precursor to Christmas, Yuletide. After the First World War, when Germany was searching for a new sense of identity, these ideas were hijacked by youth organizations and reform movements with nationalist leanings. They sought to replace Christmas with solstice celebrations or combine the Christian festival with the Germanic festival of light, sometimes as an attack on Christianity, sometimes as an attempt at symbiosis. They looked back to earlier national roots, to popular traditions, in a reaction against international modernity.

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Not All Immigrant Politicians Think Alike — About Immigration
Ideas

Not All Immigrant Politicians Think Alike — About Immigration

Migrant associations and activists are saying there are not enough politicians of migrant origin in the new German Bundestag. But are such politicians guaranteed to support policies that benefit migrants? There are prominent examples that suggest otherwise.

BERLIN — No sooner than the twentieth German Bundestag had been elected in September, activists were examining how diverse its members were. The result: compared to wider German society, women and people of migrant origin — either those who immigrated themselves or who have at least one parent not born in Germany — are underrepresented. For the third time in a row, the number of members of parliament of migrant origin has risen, but it still stands at only 11%, whereas in Germany as a whole, 25% of people come from a migrant background.

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Why An Iconic Pharmacy Is Turning Into A Sex Toy Museum
Society

Why An Iconic Pharmacy Is Turning Into A Sex Toy Museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg thanks to its industrious owner. Now, her daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop.

The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner, who is sitting next to her at the table. Genger and Müllner are surrounded by heavy wooden drawers and antique glass vessels labelled with the Latin names of their contents, as is often found in old pharmacies.

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​A wooden coffin with a deceased with the inscription ''Covid 19'' in Dülmen:
Coronavirus

Pandemic Omens Revisited: Undertakers Prep For Germany's Fourth Wave

Funeral homes are getting ready to deal with more infectious bodies this winter as Germany has become a COVID-19 hotspot. They require more time and money for safety measures — the cost of which is passed on to relatives. But the true cost for friends and family lies elsewhere.

ROSENHEIM — In a storeroom in Rosenheim, Michael Hartl's stockpile of supplies is carefully stacked: he has ordered 75 white plastic body bags and plenty of disinfectant, gloves and protective clothing for himself and his colleagues. In the COVID-19 hotspot of Upper Bavaria, the undertaker is preparing for what may come his way over the next few days, when the fourth wave washes up on his doorstep.

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A Wall At The Poland-Belarus Border? Europe Must Make Hard Choices
Migrant Lives

A Wall At The Poland-Belarus Border? Europe Must Make Hard Choices

Hundreds of migrants arrive in Germany every day from Poland, which makes the Belarus border a national issue for Germany. It's long past time that Europe acknowledge that tough measures are needed — maybe even walls...

-OpEd-

BERLIN — In May I spent a night by the border fence in Ceuta, the Spanish autonomous city on the north coast of Africa. I watched as every few seconds someone swam across the border into European Union territory. Spain's Guardia Civil seized people, dragged them along the ground, opened the gate in the border fence and shoved them back into Moroccan territory. In the space of a few hours, thousands of people came across an apparently endless stream. Then the army turned up.

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"My Body, My Choice" Counts For Vaccines — Not Just Abortion And Euthanasia
Coronavirus

"My Body, My Choice" Counts For Vaccines — Not Just Abortion And Euthanasia

The decision not to get vaccinated against coronavirus is a personal one, a matter of individual freedom. But the fact that not everyone sees it this way shows the extent to which the pandemic has politicized the private sphere.

-Essay-

BERLIN — I don't know about you, but for the libertarian in me, at least, the past few weeks in Germany have been very difficult. Although I have long since reconciled myself to the idea that we need a certain measure of law, order and solidarity to enable us to live together in society, I strongly believe that we should keep state intervention in the lives of citizens to a minimum.

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Photo of a man wearing a kippah with a Star of David, standing in front of Berlin Brandenburg Gate during a rally against anti-semitism Berlin
Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

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Photo of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shaking hands as they meet in New York on September 20, 2021
Geopolitics

Erdogan And Boris Johnson: A New Global Power Duo?

As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. The agreement covers billions of euros' worth of military equipment, and the two countries have committed to come to each other's aid if they are attacked.

Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey.
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Ghosts Of Defeat Inside Deserted NATO Base In Afghanistan
Geopolitics

Ghosts Of Defeat Inside Deserted NATO Base In Afghanistan

The new Taliban commander shows reporters from Die Welt around the deserted Camp Marmal, the German army's former headquarters in Afghanistan.

Fries, beer and barbecued meat. That's what was on the menu every year when the German troops stationed at Camp Marmal celebrated German Unity Day. "That was always a special day," remembers Mohammed Sayed (names have been changed to protect identities), who worked as an interpreter for the German army.

"It was a big celebration," he says, with a wistful look. "Ambassadors from other countries came to visit, as well as governors from various provinces in Afghanistan." This year, at Camp Marmal near the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, there was no Oct. 3 holiday celebration in sight.

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