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Bethany Wright

See more by Bethany Wright

Photo of a four dogs, including two dalmatians, on leashes

Purebreds To "Rasse" Theory: A German Critique Of Dog Breeding

Just like ideas about racial theory, the notion of seeking purebred dogs is a relatively recent human invention. This animal eugenics project came from a fantasy of recreating a glorious past and has done irreparable harm to canines.

BERLIN — Some words always seem to find a way to sneak through. We have created a whole raft of embargoes and decrees about the term race: We prefer to say ethnicity, although that isn’t always much better. In Germany, we sometimes use the English word race rather than our mother tongue’s Rasse.

But Rasse crops up in places where English native speakers might not expect to find it. If, on a walk through the woods, the park or around town, a German meets a dog that doesn’t clearly fit into a neat category of Labrador, dachshund or Dalmatian, they forget all their misgivings about the term and may well ask the person holding the lead what race of dog it is.

Although we have turned our back on the shameful racial theories of the 19th and 20th centuries, the idea of an “encyclopedia of purebred dogs” or a dog handler who promises an overview of almost “all breeds” (in German, “all races”) has somehow remained inoffensive.

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Image of the famous statue Pillar Of Shame marking the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Pillar Of Shame, Symbol Of Freedom: Tiananmen To Hong Kong To Berlin

The “Pillar of Shame” in Hong Kong, a memorial to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre, was a symbol of freedom and democracy. Beijing has taken it down, but a replica is being built in Berlin. Activist Samuel Chu explains why that means so much to him.


HONG KONG — On Dec. 22, 2021, shortly before midnight, masked workers removed the original “Pillar of Shame” statue from the campus of the University of Hong Kong, where it had stood for more than 24 years. The sculpture was dismantled into three pieces and wrapped in white sheets that were reminiscent of the shrouds used to wrap dead bodies.

The pillar has a very personal meaning for me. Its arrival in Hong Kong in 1997 marked the start of a friendship between the artist Jens Galschiøt and my father, the minister Chu Yiu-ming, a founding member of the Hong Kong Alliance.

The Alliance was founded to support the protest movement in Tiananmen Square in Beijing (Tiananmen meaning the Gate of Heavenly Peace). After the protests were brutally suppressed, the Alliance became the most important voice working to ensure that the victims were not forgotten, and for 30 years it organized annual candlelight vigils on June 4 in Hong Kong.

When the pillar was removed from Hong Kong in 2021, I traveled to Jens’s workshop in Odense, Denmark to start work on our new plan. We wanted to ensure that the pillar, as a memorial to the murdered of Tiananmen Square, as well as to those who kept these forbidden memories alive in Hong Kong, did not disappear. To understand how it came to this, you need to understand the history and the idea behind the pillar in Hong Kong.

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German air forces conducting exercises.

China Is Recruiting Former NATO Pilots — Is That OK?

A Parliamentary committee that oversees German intelligence services is questioning Beijing increasing recruitment activities of those who know Western weaponry best. This raises a fundamental strategic question as China-West tensions grow .

BERLIN — The German Bundestag’s Parliamentary Supervisory Committee meets in private. It is rare for any details of the discussions between delegates, who oversee the activities of the German intelligence services, to leak to the outside world.

But in the past week, the Committee very deliberately broke its usual vow of silence. In a public statement, delegates called for stricter regulations for government employees whose jobs relate to matters of security, when they make the move to the private sector.

Above all, the committee said that engaging in work for a foreign power should “automatically qualify as a breach of the obligation to secrecy for civil servants with jobs related to matters of security."

One reason for the unusual announcement: growing concerns about Chinese efforts to recruit former German military and intelligence officers.

In security circles, the word is that the Beijing regime is showing a marked interest in operational and tactical information from the West. Beijing is looking to recruit NATO pilots, with the aim of honing fighting techniques against Western military planes and helicopters. This recruitment often happens via foreign flying schools.

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Novelist Dmitry Glukhovsky stands in a metro station in Barcelona
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

"The Idiot Has Started A War" — A Secret Meeting With Exiled Russian Author Dmitry Glukhovsky

Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Russian author of Metro 2033, is currently standing trial in absentia in Moscow for speaking out against Putin. He has gone into hiding in Europe, where Die Welt has met up with him in a secret location in Berlin.

BERLIN — "It’s happened, the idiot has started a war..."

Founded in 1909 by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the Ballets Russes had been traveling all around Europe to perform. Fokine and Balanchine choreographed pieces for the company, Nijinsky danced for them, Satie composed music, as did Stravinsky – the ballet company performed his masterpiece The Rite of Spring – Cocteau wrote libretti, while Bakst, Matisse and Picasso designed the sets.

It was an explosion of the avant-garde. In 1917 the artists were caught off guard by the October Revolution. They were cut off from returning home. They stayed in Europe, in most cases for the rest of their lives. Diaghilev died in Venice in 1929.

In hindsight, this episode seems like an ominous foreshadowing of the reality facing many Russians today.

In the nondescript lobby of a Berlin hotel, the author Dmitry Glukhovsky reflects on this history as he speaks about his own forced exile in Europe. He is currently on trial in Moscow, accused of “knowingly spreading false information about the Russian army.” The likely sentence will be 15 years in a penal camp.

So he has gone into hiding, and is cautious about meeting strangers. In the lead-up to our meeting, we exchanged messages on an encrypted app.

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On a shopping street, a white humanoid robot stands infront of a store

The AI Capitalists Don't Realize They're About To Kill Capitalism

The threats posed by advanced AI are serious and varied. It will change capitalism so much that in the end we will be faced with a choice between two systems: a new form of communism or unchecked chaos.


BERLIN — An open letter published by the Future of Life Institute at the end of March called for all labs working on artificial intelligence systems more powerful than GPT-4 to “immediately pause” their work for at least six months. The idea was that humanity should use this time to take stock of the risks posed by these advanced systems.

Thousands of people have already signed the letter, including big names such as Elon Musk, who is an advisor to the Future of Life Institute. The organization's stated aim is to reduce the existential risks to humankind posed by such technologies.

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Image of someone looking at an eye rolling emoji on an ipad.

Yeah, Whatever: In Defense Of The Passive Aggressive

Passive aggression gets a bad rap. It was once even classified as a personality disorder. But in today's world, it can serve a distinct purpose.

BERLIN — Passive aggression is the disease of our times — even if it hasn't been listed as a personality disorder for quite some time. You can recognize passive aggressive behavior from patterns, ways of speaking, gestures and even emojis. But a mild case is no cause for concern. In fact, quite the opposite.

It’s one of those debates that seem to break out every so often on social media. A user on the platform Reddit said that he found it passive-aggressive when someone used a thumbs-up emoji in a text conversation. He received a flood of responses agreeing with him, saying it was a habit among older people who simply didn’t understand that, for millennials, a thumbs-up could be just as hurtful as a condescending “yeah whatever”.

Many media outlets immediately seized on this as proof of a lack of resilience among the younger generation. Journalists are always ready to comment on this kind of situation, especially when it allows them to write articles that pit the generations against each other while pretending to be objective.

Great — thumbs up.

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Image of Vladimir Putin taking part in baptismal bathing on Lake Seliger.

Why Putin’s Public Acts Of Religious Piety Make Him Even More Dangerous

Geopolitical analysts who view Russia as an unpredictable force tend to understand Moscow’s actions in purely worldly, political terms. German Professor of Theology Hubertus Lutterbach has uncovered a different message hidden in Putin’s religiosity — an implicit threat to his neighbors and the world.


BERLIN — The recent image of Vladimir Putin holding an Easter candle was seen around the world — as was the picture of him praying in front of an iconostasis, the screen decorated with icons that separates the space around the altar from the main body of an Orthodox church.

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A black and white A.I. generated picture of Goethe using a laptop.

The "Ruin Of Art" — How Goethe Predicted Our Current AI Nightmare 220 Years Ago

Goethe was eerily prescient in his predictions about the “unstoppable force” of mechanization. But he didn’t call for a pause in technological advances. More than 200 years ago, he predicted with surprising accuracy how technological and industrial developments would change our world.

BERLIN — What did Johann Wolfgang von Goethe know about computers, algorithms and artificial intelligence? Nothing, of course. But the legendary German writer (1749-1832) possessed the kind of observational gifts that enabled him to foresee where the early days of industrial development would lead – and the changes he predicted are now coming to fruition.

Among Goethe's most currently palpable predictions was the idea of an “art factory,” which would cheaply, quickly and accurately recreate “any painting using entirely mechanical means," by a process that “any child” could be taught to follow. Mass-produced art created by machines – that was the great writer’s nightmarish vision in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.

Goethe wrote his essay in 1797, but never published it. The steam engine was invented in 1765 and the mechanical loom in 1784, just 13 years before Goethe wrote his essay. These inventions accelerated a process that had already begun, as the world of work was undergoing a wave of mechanization. The 48-year-old Goethe predicted that the “unstoppable force” of this revolution would fundamentally change the status of art and artists.

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Image of a hand ​holding a bunch of grapes in a vineyard.
food / travel

A Female Winemaking Revolution Breathes New Life Into Hungary's Historic Vineyards

For centuries, the region of Tokaj in Hungary was known for its intensely sweet dessert wines. Now female winemakers are making waves in what was formerly a man’s world, producing more elegant wines that appeal to a European palate.

BODROGKERESZTUR — In centuries past, the story went that the best wines in the world were made in France, Germany and Hungary. Then, in the 20th century, two brutal world wars redrew the map of Europe. Of the three traditional winemaking nations, only one remained: France, now joined by Italy and Spain.

The world order of wine was shaken up, and so locals here in Tokaj, Hungary’s best-known winemaking region, had to find a new approach to make a place for itself on the international market. The region in the northeast of the country was traditionally famous for its intensely sweet, expensive dessert wines.

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Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting in Kremlin in Moscow, holding a piece of paper
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Two Big Obstacles To Peace: The Russian And Ukrainian Constitutions

Even if Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky were willing to find a compromise on territory, their respective constitutions explicitly forbid signing off on such a deal.


STOCKHOLM — Debates about how to bring an end to the Russian war in Ukraine are growing more intense as the months go by. Regardless of whether they believe it is desirable, or even possible, to end this war around the negotiating table, all those involved in the debate must acknowledge the difficulties associated with that approach. Moscow’s track record of neo-imperialist interventions in the affairs of other countries over the last three decades gives much cause for scepticism.

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There are a whole host of reasons why negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow are unlikely to take place, or to achieve any significant results if they do — let alone reach a lasting peace deal.

The main reason lies in the contradictory claims of the Ukrainian and Russian constitutions. Russia’s most recent unlawful annexation of four regions in south-eastern Ukraine, in September 2022, represents a huge obstacle to peace.

It is an intensification of the problem first created by Russia’s scandalous, illegal military annexation of the Crimean peninsula over eight years ago. Since March 2014, the situation in Crimea has been an almost insurmountable obstacle to productive discussions between Ukraine and Russia.

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Image of  Mallam Bana Musa'id, a former terrorist and number four in Boko Haram's hierarchy.

Inside Boko Haram, How A Cosmetics Salesman Became A Mass Murderer

Boko Haram is one of the most brutal terrorist groups in the world. In Nigeria, Die Welt reporter Christian Putsch got unprecedented access to the group’s former leaders, who describe unlikely beginnings and a litany of atrocities – and now fear for their lives.

MAIDUGURI — The man who is jointly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people and who has terrorized millions more for years, now fears for his own life. He can't rest, he says: Knowing there is a bounty on his head keeps this former terrorist from sleeping.

Mallam Bana Musaid spends the nights in prayer. The former No. 4 man in the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram is deaf in his right ear, after surviving a grenade attack. With his left ear, he listens intently to the sounds outside his tent in the dark camp, where he has been undergoing deradicalization for the past six months.

Have the hundreds of others in this government-run camp on the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri really all renounced the terror group, like him? Or is someone planning to kill him?

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Image of ​Ukrainian military in combat gear holding  rifles, weapons.
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Rare Look At Ukraine's Casualties — And The New Drive To Replenish Its Ranks

For a long time, Kyiv didn’t have to resort to mass conscription, because so many people were enlisting. But as the war drags on, and casualties continue, Ukrainian recruitment becomes an urgent necessity. From the capital to the frontline of Bakhmut, Die Welt traces the current state of Kyiv's fighting power.

KYIV — Since the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian secret service (the SBU) has been hunting down Vladimir Putin’s spies across the country. In early March, it also targeted traitors in its own ranks. Cyber specialists shut down 26 telegram channels that were sharing tips on how men fit for military service could avoid being called up.

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In the groups, users warned each other about the army’s plans and published the locations of recruitment posts to avoid. Those responsible for running the channels were arrested by special forces and may face up to 10 years in prison.

The raids are a warning to all those hoping to sit out the war against Putin’s troops. They show that the Ukrainian government is starting to crack down when it comes to mobilization, with the situation on the battlefield at a turning point.

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