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You may remember Dwight Schrute, the quirky top paper salesman from NBC’s “The Office” (by the way, there is a German spin-off, called Stromberg). While the sitcom celebrated its finale back in May 2013, it is still one of the most watched shows today. And Mr Schrute is one of the audience’s favorite characters. Not only his dorky, freaky personality makes him uniquely popular, but also the emphasis on German stereotypes. From his strict sense of law and order to his upkeep of old Schrute family traditions, he proudly lives his German (Pennsylvania Dutch) heritage. Let’s take a deeper dive into all of Dwight’s Germanness throughout ALL 9 seasons of The Office. From his word use to nods to German culture and traditions. Today, we check out Dwight’s “German” words and phrases he dropped throughout all seasons!

Image by author, picture of Dwight’s bobblehead by Justiny8s at Flickr.com under license CC BY 2.0.

The “German” or “Pennsylvania Dutch” words Dwight uses are pretty much all completely made up. While most words are definitely not German, they could be Pennsylvania Dutch – which is quite a different dialect originating from immigrants speaking a 18/19th century version of early Palatine German (also check this out if you want to read some Pennsylvania Dutch!). After all, Dwight claimed his German is “pre-industrial and mostly religious” (S5E19). But let’s see what of Dwight’s German words make sense (if any) and how!

WIKITONGUES: Dale speaking Pennsylvania German and English - YouTube

If you want any idea of what Dwight’s ancestry sounds like, listen to the gentleman above.

Let’s begin!

Grandmutter

S2E18 “Take Your Daughter To Work Day”

The Office: Dwight the story teller xD - YouTube

Dwight: [plays the recorder] That was Greensleeves. A traditional English Ballad about the beheaded Anne Boleyn. And now, a very special treat… a book my Grandmutter used to read me when I was a kid.

https://blogs.transparent.com/german/files/2019/04/Großmutter.mp3

On the Bring Your Daughter To Work Day, Dwight decides to tell all the kids scary stories, something he went through during his own childhood. He uses the word Grandmutter. But is that actual German?

Grandmutter is a combination of the English “grandmother” and the German Großmutter, with the same meaning. Groossmudder is the Pennsylvania Dutch word for “grandmother”.

So Grandmutter is not an official German or Pennsylvania Dutch word. However, just like many non-Dwight Americans, people give their grandparents all kinds of names. And grandmutter is one of them.

Guten Tag. Auf Wiedersehen.

S4E4 “Money”

Dwight Has a Side Job - The Office US - YouTube

Dwight: [picks up phone] Dunder Mifflin, Dwight Schrute. Please hold. [opens book, then picks up phone] Schrute Farms, guten Tag. How can I help you? Yes, we have availability on those nights. How many in your party? Oh no, I’m sorry, no king beds. No queen either. Well, we make our own mattresses that don’t conform to the traditional sizes. Closest would be twin. Thank you so much for calling. Call back again. Auf Wiedersehen!

https://blogs.transparent.com/german/files/2019/04/Guten-Tag-Auf-Wiedersehen.mp3

In order to sell his Bed & Breakfast Schrute Farms, Dwight uses German to get across that authentic Pennsylvania Dutch flair. To say hello, he uses Guten Tag (“Good day”). And to say bye, he uses Auf Wiedersehen (“Good bye! or “See you again!”). Yes. This is perfect German!

Apparently no Pennsylvania Dutch, by the way.

Konrad, fangen Sie an

S5E9 “Frame Toby”

Dwight & Angela Fake Wedding - YouTube

Dwight: Although born just minutes from here, he speaks only German. Closed society. So, now, after the readings by all of your sisters, we will arrive at the vows. So, Konrad, fangen Sie an… [minister begins speaking in German] And away we go. This is a little taste of the ceremony, if you will. He’s explaining why we’re here, what we’re doing here, making introductions, blah blah blah… Then he’s gonna have Andy repeat a bunch of stuff. He’s gonna ask Andy to produce a ring. I have uh, now just uh… just some twine for our purposes, and you will put the ring on her finger. Yadda yadda, then he’s going to ask Andy, uh, if he would like to marry Angela. And you will reply, “I do.” [Andy mouths, “I do” silently] And then he’s going to ask Angela if she would like to marry Andy, to which you will reply…
Angela: I do.
Dwight: And there we go. Okay, and that’s just about it. Man and wife.

When Dwight shows Andy and Angela what their wedding on his farm would be like, he also shows the Pfarrer (minister) that would conduct the Hochzeit (wedding). To signal the only German-speaking Pfarrer, named Konrad (a very German name!), to begin, Dwight says: Konrad, fangen Sie an (Konrad, begin).

It is pretty much impossible to understand what exactly the Pfarrer says, because Dwight loudly talks over him. To hide that he was actually marrying himself to Angela!

Fangen Sie an is the formal way of giving the imperative “begin”. Fang an is the informal one. Using Fangen Sie an, depending on how close they are, would be appropriate. So good German here!

Umlauts

S6E16 “The Delivery”

Dwight wants a child with Angela for business reasons, as it would increase his sales, so he claims. So he is making a contract with Angela for her to carry his child, and he has all kinds of rules. Then this phone interaction happens:

Dwight: [on the phone] Hey, what’s up, kid?
Angela: Have you had a chance to look over the revisions on the contract I’ve prepared for you?
Dwight: Nothing left to do except dot the I’s, the J’s, and the umlauts. Why don’t you meet me here at exactly mid-late afternoon?
Angela: I look forward to it.
Dwight: Very well.
Angela: Goodbye.

https://blogs.transparent.com/german/files/2019/04/Umlaut.mp3

Adding the dots on the Is, Js and umlauts? Umlauts? What are those?

To read all about them, definitely read our post about Umlauts.

They are the dots on German special characters: ü, ö and ä. They change the sound of the letters u, o and a. However, they are not used in English, and the contract is written up in English. So it makes no sense, unless Dwight threw in some German words. Nice nod to German language here!

Guten Tag, Herr Michael

S6E21 “Body Language”

Michael Scott Learns Spanish - The Office US - YouTube

Michael: Buenos dias, Jaime.
Jim: Buenos dias, Miguel. Como estas? Bien? Claro que si! Yo estoy fantastico. Que pasa?
Michael: Ha ha! Buenos dias, Dwight!
Dwight: Guten Tag, Herr Michael.
Dwight: I don’t understand why Michael is wasting his time with Spanish. I have it on very good authority that within 20 years, everyone will be speaking German. Or a Chinese-German hybrid.
Michael tries to learn Spanish. But Dwight won’t have any of it. He believes German is the future. So he responds with Guten Tag, Herr Michael (Good day, mister Michael). Which is perfect German! However, you would not use Herr with a first name. It is like the English “Mister”, so really, he should have said Guten Tag, Herr Scott. But not the same comedic effect, so not a big deal.
Also, yes, Michael sounds very different in German!
Nein! Sitz! Gut.

S8E03 “Lotto”

The Office - Dog Rescue (Episode Highlight) - YouTube

In the cold open of this episode, the Scranton-based DM employees try to get a dog out of the car, as it is trapped inside. Oscar figures out a way to remove the window, but now the dog wants to jump out! With his magical German, Dwight saves the day and calms the dog down. But what does he say?

Jim: What if he jumps out the window and runs away?
Oscar: Jim, he’s not gonna star- [Dog lunges for open window and barks]
Meredith: Whoa!
Oscar: Shh! Shh! Stay there, stay.
Dwight: Nein! Sitz! [snaps as dog calms] Gut. 
Jim: Oscar, what do you wanna do, this is kinda your deal. You wanna dog?
Oscar: [Oscar pokes holes in cardboard now taped over window] There we go. That should do it.

https://blogs.transparent.com/german/files/2019/04/Nein-Sitz-Gut..mp3

Nein! Sitz! Gut. Simply means “No! Sit! Good.”

This is true to actual German, and the exact way Germans speak to their Hund (dog)!

Sitz – so klappt’s beim Hund | Tierversteher TV | WDR - YouTube

Perfektenschlag

Dwight - Perfektenschlag - YouTube

S8E14 “Special Project”

Dwight: The Schrutes have a word for when everything comes together in a man’s life perfectly: Perfektenschlag. Hmm. Right now, I am in it. I finally get a chance to prove myself to corporate, I am assembling a competent team, I am likely a father, I am so deep inside of perfektenschlag right now. And just to be clear, there is a second definition, “perfect pork anus” which I don’t mean.

[…]

Dwight: I have been given the responsibility to manage Stanley, a solid player, Ryan, who is capable of surprises, Erin, an excellent follower and Kathy, a probably not totally useless enigma. And, well, Jim. Under the right manager, that’s not a bad team. Perfektenschlag.

Perfektenschlag Perfekter Schlag

Perfektenschlag. Ah. You probably remember that one! But I am going to have to disappoint you. It does not mean what Dwight claims it means. It is a completely made up word, but perfekt (perfect) and Schlag (blow, punch, hit) separately are words!

So, with some imagination, combining those two words would mean things get perfect all at once. And that fits Dwight’s definition nicely!

Do you really want to make one word out of that? Perfektschlag would be more correct. Perfekten Schlag could also work, with the space, if used as an object in the sentence. As subject in the sentence, it becomes der perfekte Schlag, or perfekter Schlag.

The second meaning, “perfect pork anus”, is nonsense. However, Schlag also refers to a sub-species in animal species, including Schweine (pigs). So a “perfect species” could also be a definition of perfekter Schlag.

Great “word” regardless.

Bildenkinder

S9E4 “Work Bus”

The Fat People Have Spoken - The Office US - YouTube

Jim: Did you ever think that because you own the building, everyone in it, we’re all kinda like your children?
Dwight: You know there’s a phrase about that in German. Bildenkinder. It is used almost exclusively by childless landlords to console themselves. But now? I really understand it.
Jim: Well, now you have a bus full of real..bilden..kin..
Dwight: Bildenkinder.
Jim: OK. And they’re all dangerously close to not getting pie. And there’s only one guy who can save them. It’s not me.

Bildenkinder Bildungskinder Gebäudekinder

No. Bildenkinder is not a German word, either. Though bilden (to form, shape, build) and Kinder (children) are separate words, Bildenkinder does not make sense. Again, it is not how you would put the two together, as you would use two nouns to put together, not a verb and a full noun, as used here.

With these two words, putting them together would become Bildungskinder (“formation children”). Which does not make much sense.

I personally think it is put together from the English “building” and the German Kinder – which also comes back in English in, for example, Kindergarten. Buildingkinder would mean “building children”. That would work!

If you wanted to use the German word for building, you couldn’t get that close – it is Gebäude, turning this into Gebäudekinder.

Kinder
S9E9 “Dwight Christmas”

Belsnickel the office - YouTube

Dwight: Oscar Martinez, cheer or fear? Belsnickel is here! I judge your year [looks over at Angela, then back to Oscar]…as impish! [Smacks Oscar with a stick]
[Angela smiles smugly]
Oscar: Ow! You hit people with that thing?
Dwight: No, I’m carrying around the stick in order to look cool. For the Kinder [puts a mouse trap in Pam’s bowl]
Jim: Ooh.
Pam: [Holds the mouse trap up] Mouse trap.
In this episode, Dwight finally gets his way and holds Christmas the way he wants to. In two weeks, we will take a deep dive into Dwight’s Christmas, as there are many references. Here, he uses the German word Kinder. Simple to explain:
“For the Kinder” just means “for the children”.
Bestisch Mensch and Guten Pranken

S9E23 “Finale”

Bestisch Mensch - YouTube

Jim: Dwight has made me his bestisch Mensch. Which is Schrute for best man. He’s putting himself entirely in my hands tonight. And I know for over 12 years I’ve done nothing but trick and prank him but tonight…only good surprises. “Guten Pranken”. [chuckles]

Bestisch Mensch Trauzeuge Gute Pranken Guten Pranken Guter Streich

Jim acknowledges here that bestisch Mensch is not German or Pennsylvania Dutch, but “Schrute” – Dwight’s family language. Regardless, this one is fun to look at!

Mensch means “person, human, man”, and bestisch does not exist. Bester exists, meaning “the best”. Though interestingly, in Pennsylvania Dutch, it is bescht! Closer to the Schrute version too. So in a broken way, yes, you get to the literal “best man”!

What is the actual word? Trauzeuge (“wedding witness”). Not as fun.

Then, Jim makes a joke of the Schrute way of talking, too, with Guten Pranken. Obviously, just using the German word gut and the English word “prank”, and conjugating them in German. Funny enough, if you remove the n, you actually get to something correct in German. Gute Pranken are “good paws” or “good large hands”.

If you want to say “good prank”, you would say guter Streich. However, the verb pranken is becoming more common in German everyday language, too.

This episode also had one of the best moments of the entire show:

Jim & Dwight: The Best of FRENEMIES - The Office US - YouTube

Next week, we will look at German traditions Dwight smuggled into Dunder Mifflin! Subscribe to our blog to never miss a post!

Thanks to The Office for uploading many of the fragments that include the content of this post, and a huge thanks to officequotes.net, where volunteers wrote up transcripts of every single episode. It made this task much easier!

What is your favorite word Dwight used, and why? Did I miss any words? Please let me know in the comments below!

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Guten Tag! It can be fascinating to learn the history behind seemingly ordinary buildings and places. Today we’ll look at one such place, namely the Olympiapark in Munich.

Olympiapark

Olympiapark from above. image via pixabay.

The Olympiapark München (Olympic Park, Munich) is a huge venue in Oberwiesenfeld. Originally created for die Olympische Sommerspiele 1972 (1972 Summer Olympic Games), it is used today for Konzerte (concerts) and sporting events, and has a public Schwimmbad (swimming pool) and Eisbahn (ice rink). The Olympiapark’s unique roof was designed to imitate die Alpen (the Alps) – you can even climb it, if you want to! There are Flohmärkte (flea markets) held here, and it is one of the locations for Munich’s Tollwood festival. Aside from the multitude of events held here, the Olympiapark is also a great place to simply go for der Spaziergang (a walk).

The roof design was inspired by the Alps. Image via pixabay.

But the Olympiapark has a tragic history. Built for the 1972 Olympic Games, it is probably better-known for der Terroranschlag (terrorist attack) that happened during the games themselves. A Palestinian group called Black September held members of the Israeli team hostage in their accommodation, sneaking in at night wearing tracksuits, to make people think they were fellow Sportler (athletes). They did this because they wanted 234 Palestinian Gefangene (prisoners) jailed in Israel to be freed. As a result of this attack, eleven of the Israeli team, as well as one German police officer, were killed. This attack is often referred to in English as the ‘Munich Massacre’.

The apartment building in which the terror attack took place, today. ProhibitOnions [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

What made this all the more tragic was that the Olympiapark was designed to represent a new, free and welcoming Germany. Germany saw it as a huge honour to be able to host the Olympic games; it was the first time they had hosted them since 1936, when the country was under Nazi rule. In fact, the Motto (motto) for the 1972 games was “Die Heiteren Spiele” – “The Cheerful Games”.

Following the terror attack, one German newspaper wrote, “Die Welt trauert. München weint.” (“The world mourns. Munich weeps.”)

For those who’d like to read more on this subject, I personally recommend the book ‘One Day In September’ by Simon Reeve.

The Olympic Village

author’s own photo.

The Olympisches Dorf (Olympic Village), situated next to the Olympiapark, was built to house the Sportler (athletes) of the 1972 Olympic games. Today the former female quarter is still in use, but as Studentenunterkunft (student accommodation). The apartment where the hostages were held in 1972 (Connollystraße 31) is not part of this accommodation, but is used as a guest house by the Max Planck Society.

As you walk through the Studentendorf (Student Village), as it is now known, you will notice the majority of buildings are painted in bright colours and designs. This is because the Studentenwerk (Student Association) allows each new student to paint their house when they move in.

author’s own photo.

The Studentendorf (Student Village) is also known as Studentenviertel Oberwiesenfeld (Oberwiesenfeld student quarters) and, simply, Olydorf. Olydorf is a shortened version of Olympisches Dorf, an affectionate nod to the village’s original use.

Vocabulary from text (singular, with articles)

Der Olympiapark – Olympic park

die Olympische Sommerspiele 1972 – 1972 summer Olympic games

das Konzert – concert

das Schwimmbad – swimming pool

die Eisbahn – ice rink

die Alpen – the Alps

der Flohmarkt – flea market

der Spaziergang – walk, stroll

der Terroranschlag – terror attack

der Sportler – athlete

der Gefangene – prisoner

das Motto – motto

“Die Heiteren Spiele” – “The Cheerful Games”

das Olympisches Dorf – Olympic Village

“Olydorf” – nickname used by students to refer to the village

die Studentenunterkunft – student accomodation

das Studentendorf – student village

das Studentenwerk – student association

das Studentenviertel Oberwiesenfeld – Oberwiesenfeld student quarter

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You may remember Dwight Schrute, the quirky top paper salesman from NBC’s “The Office” (by the way, there is a German spin-off, called Stromberg). While the sitcom celebrated its finale back in May 2013, it is still one of the most watched shows today. And Mr Schrute is one of the audience’s favorite characters. Not only his dorky, freaky personality makes him uniquely popular, but also the emphasis on German stereotypes. From his strict sense of law and order to his upkeep of old Schrute family traditions, he proudly lives his German (Pennsylvania Dutch) heritage. Let’s take a deeper dive into all of Dwight’s Germanness throughout ALL 9 seasons of The Office. From his word use to nods to German culture and traditions. Today, we check out who the Schrutes are by what hints Dwight dropped throughout the years – from Nazi ancestors fleeing to Argentina to adhering to strict rules. Let’s dive in!

Image by author, picture of Dwight’s bobblehead by Justiny8s at Flickr.com under license CC BY 2.0.

Dwight makes many offensive remarks and jokes. His background and beliefs are darker than they seem on a comedy show. It can be forgiven, as he is a blatant caricature with childish and naive responses – and obviously, a comedy character. He even describes himself as “merciless” and a “jackhammer”. But there is truth behind the jokes and stereotypes, and it is related to German culture.

What’s in a name?

That Baby is a Schrute! - The Office US - YouTube

Starting off this series, let’s look at the Schrute name. What does it mean?

https://blogs.transparent.com/german/files/2019/04/Westplein-50-2.mp3

Schrute sounds rather weird in German. In fact, it is not, to my knowledge, a German last name at all. The letter combination, with a long u and an e at the end is quite rare already. Add to that the less common schr-, and you have yourself quite an odd name.

However, upon einwandern (immigrating) to the United States, Germans often got their names changed. Part because the clerks just wrote what they heard, or because the name was difficult to pronounce in English. There are plenty records of German names like Schute, Schuth and Schrut. All these forms have a long u. It could be that the -e was added at the end for clarity, to avoid pronunciations with a short u, like in “hut”.

However, it can also be that his name came from a different name entirely. In episode 20 of season 2, Dwight says that his father and grandfather had the exact same name as he did, but that is great grandfather’s name was Amish: Dwide Schrude. Schrude is also not a German last name, but the origins of the name, how it ended up being Schrude in America, is not that clear.

Oh, and the name Dwight is as un-German as it gets. Also Dwide is far from it.

Thoughts on Jews

S1E2 “Diversity Day”

Michael Scotts School of Management - The Office US - YouTube

Dwight: Lots of cultures eat rice, doesn’t help me.
Dwight: Um… Shalom. I’d like to apply for a loan.
Pam: That’s nice, Dwight.
Dwight: OK, do me. Something stereotypical so I can get it really quick.
Pam: OK, I like your food.
Dwight: Outback steakhouse. [Australian accent] I’m Australian, mate!
Michael: Pam, come on. “I like your food.” Come on stir the pot. Stir the melting pot, Pam! Let’s do it. Let’s get ugly. Let’s get real.
Pam: OK. If I have to do this, based on stereotypes that are totally untrue, that I do not agree with, you would maybe not be a very good driver.

Besides Dwight’s obvious sexism, he also really sticks to stereotypes of different cultures. In this scene of the second ever episode, Michael begins a game where everybody wears a card on their forehead representing a culture or race. Everybody is supposed to act like they are talking to the people not as if they were their actual race, but as if they were the race on the card. Obviously a racist game to begin with, and a terrible idea. Pam shows that with her awkward, very general conversation, avoiding hurtful stereotypes.

But not so Dwight. He has a moment where he talks to Pam, who has “Jewish” slapped on her forehead. His first reaction is: “I’d like to apply for a loan”, based on the stereotype that Jews are rich bankers.

This is a first, loose hint to the anti-semitic roots of his family. Partly why people scapegoated the Jews for economic misery before World War II was that, stereotypically, they were rich, and were doing fine for themselves.

Superior Genes

S1E3 “Health Care”

The Office - Health Care - Dwight Has Superior Genes - YouTube

About picking a healthcare plan, which Dwight thinks is nonsense:

Jim: OK, well, if you’ve never been sick, then you don’t have any antibodies.

Dwight: I don’t need them. Superior genes. I’m a Schrute. And superior brain power. Through concentration, I can raise and lower my cholesterol at will.

The Nazis believed in a concept that put a certain race above others, as being the only one able to have culture. This is known as the Herrenrasse or Herrenvolk (master race), more specifically the germanische or arische Herrenrasse (Germanic or Aryan master race). Hitler claimed that the Germans were destined to create a new world, with a new, superior race. According to the execution of this ideology in the Third Reich, Dwight fits this race. It is likely that he holds the belief that Schrutes have superior genes due to that Nazi heritage.

Dwight’s Grandfather fought on the German side

S2E6 “The Fight”

The Office Dwight's maternal Grandfather was really tuff - YouTube

Dwight: I come from a long line of fighters. My maternal grandfather was the toughest guy I ever knew. World War II veteran. Killed 20 men then spent the rest of the war in an Allied Prison Camp. My father battled blood pressure and obesity all his life. Different kind of fight.

Dwight speaks with pride of his grandfather, who killed 20 and then spent the rest of the war in a prison camp of the Allies. This implies that his grandfather was a German soldier, fighting for the Nazis.

Obviously, this does not automatically make his grandfather a Nazi. Many of the millions that fought in the war were forced into military service, or did not fight for the ideology, but simply to survive.

However, the way Dwight speaks about him shows that he is proud to have him in the family, like he “fought the right fight”. This appears to be what he grew up with – German soldiers with little remorse for their terrible actions during the war. Instead of seeing killing 20 men as cruel, he sees it as tough. Such callous bloodlust was not unique to the Nazis, but the extent of it makes them stand out.

Mannheim Family Cut and Run

S3E3 “The Coup”

Best of Dwight K. Schrute - The Office US - YouTube

Dwight: The Schrutes are a very loyal breed. But I also have Mannheim blood from my German grandmother. And the Mannheims knew when to cut and run. No sense going down with a losing regime. But the Schrute blood… It’s amazing that when these two bloods mix, the whole thing didn’t explode.

In this short interview section, Dwight confirms the points above. The Schrutes are loyal, which he follows up by talking about the actions of the Mannheim (a city in the southwest of Germany) part of the family in the war. He refers to how they knew when to cut and run, instead of going down with a losing regime, i.e. Nazi Germany. It confirms that his ancestors were not fighting for the Germans under force, but because they believed and supported the ideology.

Furthermore, he talks about how it is amazing that mixing bloods turned out fine, referring to the Schrute blood. It goes back to the “superior genes”, and the Nazi ideology of the Ethnische Säuberung (ethnic cleansing), meaning that you should keep the bloodline pure. Dwight is surprised by the fact that the incestuous procreation in his family did not lead to any “explosions”. This ideology was predominantly the motivation for the Völkermord (genocide) of the Jewish people by the Nazis. I told you, it gets pretty dark.

Brightening up a bit: His ancestors being from Mannheim makes sense with the origins of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Mannheim is a city in Baden-Württemberg, a Bundesland (German federal state) in the southwest of Germany, where most Einwanderer (immigrants) from Germany came from. This accuracy is a nice touch!

Grandpa Mannheim in Argentina

S4E2 “Fun Run Part 2”

Michael's Tutorial on Avoiding Ageism - The Office US - YouTube

Dwight: I’m gonna live for a very long time. My grandma Schrute lived to be 101. My grandpa Mannheim is 103, and still puttering around in Argentina. I tried to go visit him once, but my travel visa was protested by the Shoah Foundation.

As stated above, Dwight’s grandfather from Mannheim was a convinced Nazi, something that is further confirmed here. When his Mannheim family “cut and ran”, they moved to South America, apparently.

When the war was lost, many high-ranking Nazis fled via Spain and Italy to South America, particularly to Argentina, via so called “rat lines”. Argentina was preferred because Italy had a Einwanderungsabkommen (immigration treaty) with Argentina, making emigrating through Italy easier.

Another hint that Dwight’s maternal grandfather was a convinced Nazi is by the fact that Dwight’s travel visa was protested by the Shoah Foundation.

Dwight’s Grandfather is a member of the Bund
S9E3 “Andy’s Ancestry”

The Office - Dwight's grandfather - YouTube

Andy: Dwight’s grandfather was a—[is interrupted by Dwight].
Dwight: Was a member of the Bund. Which is not technically the same thing as the Nazi party. So…[clears throat]
Andy: I was gonna say he was a tax evader.
Dwight: Oh. I was joking about that whole Bund thing. Oh ho, the look on your faces! Hahhahahahahah! Hahahahahah!

The Bund refers to the German American Bund, an organisation that was openly pro-Nazi. It consisted only of Americans of German descent, and organised pro-Nazi propaganda and “training camps”, as well as a trip to the Olympics of 1936 in Berlin.
This must refer to Dwight’s paternal grandfather, as his maternal grandfather fought as a German soldier in the war, who appeared to be fighting out of ideology. So both Dwight’s maternal and paternal sides had Nazis in them.
Like Germany and Italy in the World War
S9E22 “A.A.R.M.”
Dwight: Behind every great regional manager is a great assistant to the regional manager, and I have chosen one of the best.
Jim: Aw, thanks, man.
Dwight: Once upon a time we were natural enemies, but we’ve overcome our differences. Much like Germany and Italy in World War
Jim: No.
Dwight: Good call. Together we run a no-nonsense office.
Germany and Italy became allies in World War II, fighting against the allied forces. This explains how Jim really does not want Dwight to draw this comparison – they were the bad guys! Dwight does not mind the comparison – another hint at that ancestry.

Next week, we will look at all of Dwight’s German vocabulary on the show! Subscribe to our blog to never miss a post!

Thanks to The Office for uploading many of the fragments that include the content of this post, and a huge thanks to officequotes.net, where volunteers wrote up transcripts of every single episode. It made this task much easier!

What is your favorite part about Dwight’s German/Pennsylvania Dutch background, and why? Did I miss anything? Please let me know in the comments below!

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Guten Tag! Today’s post is about die Geisterbahnhöfe – ‘ghost train stations’. This is a term you may already be familiar with, but in German, this word has a significant and interesting history. So, let’s delve right into it!

Throughout this post I may refer to the word in its singular or plural form, so to avoid confusion, here are the forms for both:

der Geisterbahnhof – ghost train station (singular)
die Geisterbahnhöfe – ghost train stations (plural)

A ghost station is a station that has been permanently closed and thus has an eerie, haunted feel to it. In German, the term Geisterbahnhof was used during the Cold War. When Germany was divided into Bundesrepublik Deutschland (West Germany) and Deutsche Demokratische Republic (East Germany), the city of Berlin, too, divided into East and West. This led to the Berlin Verkehrsverbund (public transit network) splitting as well, as freedom of movement between East and West was no longer permitted. As a result, a number of stations were closed.

Unter den Linden – one of the ‘ghost stations’ during the Cold War. By Deror avi – Own work, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2569054

However, a handful of S-Bahn (Stadtschnellbahn, ‘overground’) and U-Bahn (Untergrundbahn, ‘underground’) trains from the West had to pass through East Berlin (they did not stop there). These stations that were passed through were guarded, with barbed wire on the platform to prevent people from trying to escape. These are the stations West Berliners came to call die Geisterbahnhöfe – ‘ghost stations’ (note: it was never an official term). The entrances to these Geisterbahnhöfe were walled up, and any external signs that described them as train stations were removed.

And whilst West Berlin train maps showed these ‘ghost stations’ on them, the ones in East Berlin did not.

Map showing Geisterbahnhöfe. Ericmetro [CC0]

The exception to this rule was Friedrichstraße, a stop that was located in East Berlin, but was only used by West Berlin trains. For this reason, Friedrichstraße became a main border crossing between East and West. West Berliners could enter East Berlin here with a visa, so Friedrichstraße came to be known as der Tränenpalast – “the palace of tears”, as it was the place where so many sad goodbyes took place when visitors inevitably had to leave. Friedrichstraße is also where the famous Checkpoint Charlie was located. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, thousands of East Berliners used Friedrichstraße train station to cross over to the West, as shown in this photo:

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1110-044 / Settnik, Bernd / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5424818

Former S-Bahn Geisterbahnhöfe include Bornholmer Straße, Potsdamer Platz and Unter den Linden, while former U-bahn Geisterbahnhöfe include Stadtmitte, Nordbahnhof, Alexanderplatz and Rosenthaler Platz.

There are also several Geisterbahnhöfe in Germany that are unrelated to the Cold War period. One example is Olympiastadion in Munich, which was built to create extra transport for the 1972 Summer Olympic Games. Officially closed in 1988, the remains of this station are still there today. Others can be found in Hanover, Köln, and Düsseldorf.

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As some of you may have heard, it is hard work trying to find somewhere to live in Munich. Munich is a very popular city and because of this the Mietpreise (rental prices) keep on increasing.

The average price at the moment to rent is about 17€ per square meter in Munich. Berlin, the capital of Germany, on the other hand is on average only 12€ per square meter. As the rental prices increase it is harder and harder for people to find a flat to live in. It is very common to live in Wohngemeinschaften – this is where you live with flatmates so you can split the cost of the rent. Some contracts already include a Staffelmiete. This is when the rent automatically increases by a certain percentage every year.

Photo from Pixabay

There is now a Volksbegehren (petition) from the Mieterverein (tenant association) to try and stop the continious increase of rental prices. They want to freeze prices for at least the next five years. The “frozen” price would be netto and not include heat and electricity. This would help the rental market become affordable again. This wouldn’t effect newly built buildings as they still want to encourage Investors to build new flats.

At the moment if you renovate a building you can increase the rent by 3 euros per square meter. They would like to reduce this by 2 euros. They can’t stop rental prices increasing completely, but they want to try and slow it down. As of yet the political party SPD is supporting this petition and it is expected that more will follow.

To begin with they need 25,000 signatures to make this petition work. If they succeed they would then need 10% of the bavarian population to sign again. This means about 1 million people would need to sign in order for the petition to win.

The petition would first begin later in the year just after Oktoberfest. I think it will be easy for the Mieterverein to get that amount of signatures as everyone in Munich has experienced trying to find a flat here and knows how hard it is. I am one of the lucky ones and managed to find a flat that was big enough and also affordable!

Here is a vocabulary list for this post:

Mietpreise                                                                      rental prices
Wohngemeinschaften (also known as WG)             commune living
Staffelmiete                                                                  annual rent increase
Volksbegehren                                                             petition
Mieterverein                                                                 tenant association
Investoren                                                                     investors
bayerischen Wahlbevölkerung                                 the bavarian voting population

What is the renting situation like in the city or town that you live in?

Thanks for reading,

Larissa

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Guten Tag! Today we’re going to talk about die Umwelt (the environment). Each year on April 22nd, the world celebrates der Tag der Erde (Earth Day). This is a day where events are held and awareness is raised about protecting unser Planet (our planet) and the environment. This post will provide you with plenty of vocabulary on the environment, and related posts from this blog about Germany and the environment.

all images: pixabay

Earth Day – der Tag der Erde

Earth – die Erde

environment – die Umwelt

environmentally-friendly – umweltfreundlich

pollution – die Umweltverschmutzung (sometimes shortened to die Verschmutzung)

climate change – der Klimawandel

global warming – die globale Erwärmung

greenhouse effect – der Treibhauseffekt

renewable energy – die erneuerbare Energie

solar panel – der Sonnenkollektor (‘sun collector’!)

recycling – das Recycling / die Wiederverwertung

to recycle – recyceln / wieder verwerten

to reduce – reduzieren

to reuse – wieder verwenden

waste – der Abfall / der Müll

to waste – verschwenden

zero waste – null-Abfall / null-Müll

extreme weather – das extremes Wetter (also called ‘das Unwetter’)

eco-system – das Ökosystem

deforestation – die Abholzung

over-fishing – die Überfischung

agriculture – die Landwirtschaft

meat consumption – der Fleischkonsum

plastic – das Plastik / der Kunststoff

straw – der Strohhalm

plastic bag – die Plastiktüte

paper bag – die Papiertüte

sea – das Meer

ocean – der Ozean

lake – der See

forest – der Wald

volcano – der Vulkan

iceberg — der Eisberg

fresh air – die frische Luft

Here is a selection of posts on this blog that talk about environmental topics in Germany:

Rettet die Bienen!
This post discusses attempts in Germany to save the bees.

Diesel-Fahrverbot
The first section of this post talks about the banning of diesel cars in Germany.

Der Blaue Engel
This post talks about a German stamp that signifies a product is environmentally friendly.

Mülltrennung
This post talks about how waste gets separated in Germany.

Bottle deposits (Pfand)
The second part of this post talks about the bottle deposit (Pfand) system in Germany.

Heißzeit
This post talks about the 2018 German ‘Word Of The Year’, which references the extremely hot weather Germany had that year.

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Guten Tag! As you may know from previous posts, each year the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (GfdS) – The German Language Association – picks a word as their Wort des Jahres – Word of the Year. They also publish the top 10 most voted for out of all of the words submitted. You can read about the 2018 winner, plus the two runners up, in this blog post here. But what about the other seven words that made the top 10? Surely they have interesting stories behind them, too. Today we’ll look briefly words 7-10. Not only is this a good way to see the creativity of German language in action, but it gives a great insight into what kinds of political and cultural topics were being discussed at the time. If any of these interest you, I hope this gives you a base to do further reading on them.

Here are the words in places 7-10. For places 4-6, click here.

Diesel-Fahrverbot

All images: Pixabay

In 7. Platz (7th place) is the word das Diesel-Fahrverbot (also sometimes written without the hyphen: Dieselfahrverbot) – ‘diesel driving ban’. In 2018 it was announced that several cities would start to ban diesel cars from being driven in them. This relates to older diesel cars who do not meet the current environmental standards. The ‘diesel-driving-ban’ is a way of being more umweltfreundlich (environmentally friendly). Hamburg and Stuttgart have already enforced the ban.

Handelskrieg

In 8. Platz (8th place) is Handelskrieg – ‘trade war’. This is made up of the words der Handel (trade) and der Krieg (war). This is not a new word, but it was used in 2018 to talk about the US/German trade issues under President Trump.

Brexit-Chaos

In 9. Platz (9th place) is the fairly self-explanatory Brexit-Chaos. One thing to note here is that, although it looks like an English word, das Chaos is the German word, too. It is pronounced like ‘CAR-oss’ rather than the English ‘KAY-oss’.

die Mutter aller Probleme

And in 10. Platz (10th place) is die Mutter aller Probleme – ‘the mother of all problems’, which is the controversial statement politician Horst Seehofer made to describe die Migration (migration) in Germany today. In response, Angela Merkel said,

‘Ich sage, die Migrationsfrage stellt uns vor Herausvorderungen. Und dabei gibt es auch Probleme.’
‘I say, migration presents us with challenges. And with those also come problems.’

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Guten Tag! As you may know from previous posts, each year the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (GfdS) – The German Language Association – picks a word as their ‘Wort des Jahres’ – ‘Word of the Year’. They also publish the top 10 most voted for out of all of the words submitted. You can read about the 2018 winner, plus the two runners up, in this blog post here. But what about the other seven words that made the top 10? Surely they have interesting stories behind them, too. Today we’ll look briefly words 4-6 in turn. Not only is this a good way to see the creativity of German language in action, but it gives a great insight into what kinds of political and cultural topics were being discussed at the time. If any of these interest you, I hope this gives you a base to do further reading on them.

Here are the words in places 4-6.

Wir sind mehr

In 4. Platz (4th place) is the phrase Wir sind mehr. This was the social media hashtag that started trending during an anti-racism concert in Chemnitz in late 2018. This concert was organised spontaneously in response to several far-right protests in the city, and featured many German punk bands including Die Toten Hosen (‘the dead trousers’!). Wir sind mehr means ‘We are more’.

Strafbelobigt

In 5. Platz (5th place) is the word strafbelobigt. Made up of the words die Strafe (punishment) and belobigen (to commend/praise), this word is connected to the same Chemnitz far-right protests mentioned above. In November 2018, Hans-Georg Maaßen was fired from his role in the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) for claiming there was no evidence to suggest the racist events in Chemnitz happened the way they were reported. This caused great problems within government. Following this, Innenminister (Interior Minister) Horst Seehofer wanted to appoint him Staatssekretär (State Secretary), a move that was ridiculed because it would effectively have been a promotion. This is where the word strafbelobigt (punish-praised) came into play, for it was said that Maaßen was being praised for punishable actions. This move was eventually scrapped and he was put into early retirement, instead.

Pflegeroboter

In 6. Platz (6th place) is the word Pflegeroboter – ‘care robots’. In 2018 there were several concerns raised over the lack of carers in Germany, and how the older German generation will be cared for in the future. Could Pepper the robot be the answer? With headlines such as ‘Pflegeroboter: Die neuen Helferlein kommen’ (‘Care robots: The new little helpers are coming’), this was certainly a hot topic in Germany in 2018.

Stay tuned for the words in places 7-10.

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