I don't get no respect: Baron Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg   (Source: wiki commons)

POOR BARON GUTTENBERG JUST can’t get an even break these days. When the high-flying German defense minister and apparent chancellor-in-waiting got busted in 2011 for having plagiarRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 22, 2013 5:20PM

"Ticking bomb" showcases a murderous legacy of World War II

World War II bomb

Bitter harvest: Experts defuse a World War II aerial bomb in Koblenz, Germany, in 2011, requiring the evacuation of 45,000 residents (Source: wiki) 

A PARTICULARLY MESSY BUREAUCRATIC tangle in the western German town of Duisburg is giving a new meaning to the famous “ticking bomb sRead full post »

 Stephan Ackermann
"A spirituality of crime":
Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier

(Source: wiki)



REGULAR READERS OF MY blog know that I am an outspoken critic of the German Catholic Church’s handling of its ongoing pedophile abuse scandal. As horrific as the crime is, the coverup is much wRead full post »

St. Hedwig Cathedral, seat
of the Archdiocese of Berlin
(Source: wiki)

AS OF LAST YEAR, the “Red List” of the International Union of the Conservation of Nature identified 3,947 species as “critically endangered.” May I modestly propose that Berlin’s CatholicsRead full post »

 Bowie Schoeneberg

Memory lane: The apartment house at Hauptstraße 155, Berlin-Schöneberg, the former home of Davie Bowie and Iggy Pop. Bowie wrote his Berlin-themed song "Heroes" during this period.

A PRESENT-DAY VISITOR to Berlin, who had previously known the city only as the divided dream c… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 8, 2013 4:54PM

German bishops sabotage pedophile sex abuse investigation

 Walter Mixa

One down, twenty-six to go: Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg was forced to resign in 2010 following accusations of child beating and embezzlement  

WHEN I FIRST STARTED blogging about the German Catholic sexual abuse scandal in this space a few years back, I did so with a feeliRead full post »

Are you ready for a "power vacation"?



The "Sea Resort of the 20,000":

Model of the Prora holiday complex with Great Hall at the top


THE GERMANS HAVE AN expression for it: “ripe for the island.” And around this time last year, stressed from weeks of exhau

Read full post »

An interview with Alexander Fromm 

Third Generation Tour

The Third Generation East bus in Schwedt/Oder

THE BERLIN WALL FELL twenty-three years ago and the Germans who once lived behind it have been struggling to fill the void it left behind ever since. Systemic underdevelopment, unemployment, crime, xenophob

Read full post »
DECEMBER 26, 2012 11:51AM

The goblins in my basement




I DON'T RECALL ANYONE ever telling me there were goblins in our basement, but I knew they were there. Not that knowing this caused me any worry as long as the sun was shining. Our goblins only came out at night, and I doubt I ever went

Read full post »

Truce cigarette 1914

A German and British soldier share a cigarette, Christmas 1914 

ON CHRISTMAS EVE, 1914, the guns of war fell silent along many sections of the Western Front. Over one long night – and even into early January in some places – the German, French, and British soldiers spontaneo

Read full post »

Woman of Glass

Franz Tschakert and his "Woman of Glass" (1936)

SAY WHAT YOU LIKE about SS leader Heinrich Himmler, he sure had the well-being of his soldiers at heart. More than anything else, their physical happiness and sexual hygiene cost the bespectacled Reichsführer countless hours of precious sl

Read full post »

FINDING BURIED TREASURE ALWAYS entails an element of luck. But while modern metal-detecting and imaging technologies are revealing more and more lost wonders, sometimes simply heading to the library and getting some ink on your hands is all it takes.

That was the experience of a Danish schol

Read full post »



Driving the devil out of the Palatines... (Source: HR)

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS been ascribed many attributes over the centuries, but “has a sense of humor” has rarely been among them. This has been born out once again in the case of German soccer player Tim Heubach fRead full post »

The burning New Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse,
Berlin. Contrary to popular perceptions, the synagogue wasn't 
torched by the Nazis but rather by Allied bombers in 1943.
(Source: Museum of Tolerance) 

THEY SAY A PICTURE is worth a thousand words, but sometimes

Read full post »



Many people regard the German Democratic Republic as something
of a joke today, but that nation's rich joke culture masked a bleak reality

POLITICAL JOKES JUST HAVEN’T been the same since the demise of the old Soviet Union and its eastern European satellites. In totalitaria

Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 19, 2012 12:07PM

Show 'em! A Berlin photo exhibit goes "over the top"


 Berlin taxi

Berlin, where taxis sometimes double as erotic photo studios

PHOTOGRAPHY IS THE ART of the obvious. The trick is to come up with this obvious idea in the first place.

Sixty-seven year-old Berlin taxi driver and self-styled “woman whisperer” Hans-Jürgen Watzlawek

Read full post »

 Souk in Aleppo

In the great souk of Aleppo. Sadly, this was the only photo we took inside the now destroyed market complex.

WHEN FOLLOWING THE NEWS in recent months about the slow agony of the Syrian people as they are being sliced to shawarma between the dual onslaughts of President BasharRead full post »

Bundeswehr in Afghanistan 
"Defending our freedom at the Hindu Kush." A German soldier does his part in Afghanistan. (Source: Bundeswehr) 

IF YOU HAVE BEEN suspecting that the Western governments’ prognoses for the ongoing armed occupation of Afghanistan are somewhat too rosy for belief, new confirRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 5:53PM

Germany poised to legalize male circumcision this fall

 David Goldberg

Rabbi David Goldberg of Bavaria, displaying the tools of his trade. The southern German state's sole mohel was reported for "unlawful bodily harm" by a German physician in August of 2012. (Source:

THERE MAY BE SOME movement coming into the German male circumcision coRead full post »

A Sunday meditation 

 Jaffa Gate

The Jaffa Gate, c. 1880

WHAT IS WISDOM, AND how can religion support and sustain us in finding it? When wrestling with existential questions of this kind, it sometimes makes sense to travel to the source of all wisdom and drink from its waters. TheRead full post »

Ecce Homo of Borja
Ecce Homo or monkey's uncle?
El Pais)



IT’S AN AGE-OLD TRUTH: There’s no accounting for artistic taste, but pretty much everyone understands the value of money. This is the experience of the Spanish town of Borja, which hit global headlines this past su/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 19, 2012 10:29AM

France braces for latest Muslim-baiting crisis

 Charlie Hebdo
"You shouldn't make fun of us": A billion Muslims would likely agree

YOU REALLY GOT TO hand it to the French: They genuinely believe in Liberté, even if they aren’t as good at Égalité and Fraternité. Just when you thought you might one day be able to ree/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 18, 2012 7:14AM

Anti-Muslim moviemakers get boost from German far right

 Pro Germany

"Pro Germany" taunting Muslims in front of a Berlin mosque last month (Source: Die Welt)

IT MUST BE A real drag to be German Chancellor Angela Merkel these days. As if she didn’t have enough on her plate, what with the collapse of the Euro and the entire EuropeanRead full post »

Or: Tom Swift and me. How an argument over adverbs killed my new novel


Reposted from September 16, 2011.

Empty Shelf 
Empty shelf syndrome:
While I'm prohibited from exhibiting the cover art for my
aborted novel, if you click on the above image fast enough you might
still catch a glimpse of
Read full post »


 Brit Milah

A traditional Brit Milah, with surgical instruments and a bottle of sweet wine

FEW EVENTS HAVE SHOCKED Germany’s Jewish community more since the end of World War II than a recent state court decision banning the practice of circumcising underage boys for religious purposes.Read full post »