Getting married in Germany involves going to the magistrate’s office (Standesamt) because only marriages performed in the Standesamt are legally valid. Many people stop at just this: however, there are some traditions, especially if you are of the Christian faith, related to weddings. If a religious ceremony is being held, the ceremony is held after the marriage at the magistrate’s office.
Wedding traditions – first Things first!
The bride often wears white, and in addition, the gown can be a heirloom gown passed down via an older sister or her mother. If she does not have one, of course, she can purchase a new gown. Not all brides today do this, but this tradition is similar to traditions in the UK and in the US.
Second – the Church!
If a Christian wedding ceremony at a church is held, because the couple is already legally married (remember, only marriages performed at the Standesamt are legally valid), the couple enters the church together and exits together. This is a bit different from some wedding traditions, but remember: the religious ceremonies now are held after the civil ceremony, and so the couple is already married in the eyes of the law.
Speaking of the wedding ceremony, it’s customary for the wedding party to throw rice at the couple when the couple exits the church. The rice is from an old tradition believing that the woman will have as many children as the rice is stuck in her hair.
Third – Wedding Traditions before the actual Wedding
There is also an evening roughly one week earlier than the official marriage associated with weddings called the Polterabend – the “evening of broken crockery”. From what we can trace, the German proverb Scherben bringen Glück (“broken crockery brings you luck”) comes from this practice. The idea is that the new couple clean up the broken dishes and kitchenware, implying that nothing will be broken in their new home.
Fourth – the Rings
Engagement rings are traditionally worn on the LEFT hand (and were often just simple gold bands). After the wedding, the same ring is worn on the RIGHT hand. Men also wear their wedding rings on the right hand. This might be different from your traditions! In the U.S., wedding rings are worn on the ring finger of the left hand, from an ancient thought that there was a vein there that led directly to the heart. In Germany and Austria, though, it’s more common to wear the rings on the right hand.
Fifth – The first Obstacle for the newly wedded Couple!
After the ceremony, as part of the post-ceremony festivities, there is a log-cutting ceremony in some areas of Germany. This represents the first obstacle that the wedded couple meets – they must work together to successfully saw a log through using a rather blunt long saw with two handles, demonstrating teamwork and their willingness to face obstacles together.
What are your favorite wedding traditions? Are they different from these?
When you ask German expats what they are missing most since they have left their country, they will sooner or later mention bread. Germans tend to have a special relationship not only to bread but bakery produce in general. When visiting Germany, you will soon realize that there are bakeries all over the place, from big franchise chains to small, family-owned businesses. The vast range of goods might confuse someone, but almost everything is at least worth a try.
The Basics of German Bakeries
There are more than 300 varieties of bread known in Germany, not to mention the various styles of bread rolls. Over 1.200 types of those so called Brötchen are known, but nobody can accurately proof because almost every bakery has its style, recipe or unique product. To end the confusion about German bakery produce, let’s start with some basics: There are dark and light styles of breads and rolls available. The typical style of German bread is usually dark whereas the ordinary roll is light, but there are of course many exceptions. You will also find many styles from other countries or cultures in German bakeries such as French Baguettes, Italian Ciabatta or Turkish Flatbread. Toast is also typical – not at bakeries but in the supermarket as a packed product. For Germans, toast is just toast and not real bread – real bread has to have a brown crust and a soft, brown or gray crumb. This kind of bread called Graubrot is like the holy grail of German bread culture. You will find it in many different varieties, but all of them have in common that they are dense and very satisfying. That is why it’s a fundamental part of the traditional Abendbrot – a German dinner containing bread and numerous variations of cheese, ham, sausages and vegetables like pickles or tomatoes. It is also one of three ingredients to the basic lunch that probably every German child has had in his or her lunchbox, the Butterbrot: Bread, Butter and a topping like cheese or Wurst.
German bread – a fitness Food?
German bread tends to be heavy and healthy. That’s why you can often find whole grains inside it or even on top of the crust. Many varieties refer to the used kind of seed. There is Kürbiskernbrot (bread with pumpkin seeds), Haferbrot (bread with oats), Dinkelvollkornbrot (bread with whole seeds of spelt) and so on and so on. You can also find this with rolls: There are some with poppy seeds on or in it, with sesame, with nuts, with carrots or just different types of flour. A special one is the Weltmeisterbrötchen (“world champion bread roll”) with a bottom covered with whole grains. But there are also just the “regular” ones you can compare with a Baguette, just smaller. It comes in two basic variants: The “Kaiserbrötchen” is round and more like a bun and the “normal” one which is longish and has different names, depending on the region. For example, Berliners call them Schrippen, Bavarians Semmel, Franconians Weck or Kipf, in northern Germany, they are often called Rundstück – you can see, the terms are just as diverse as the bakery produces themselves.
Germany does not have a tradition of sandwich shops, but bakeries do the job rather good as well. Almost all of them are also selling prepared sandwiches with cheese or sliced meat on it or also regional specialties like Leberkäs in the south of the country. You will sure find something that suits your taste in one of the thousands of bakeries of Germany.
Munich has a wealth of superb museums, of which three stand out as particularly spectacular jewels in an inspiring cultural crown. The three are inextricably linked by their roots, mingled as they are with one another, with the Wittelsbach family collection, and, especially, with King Ludwig I of Bavaria (25 August 1786–29 February 1868). While the three museums ostensibly restrict their respective collections to specific time periods, there is certainly some understandable and justified overlap, so take the time frames as rough guides rather than hard-and-fast boundaries.
First: The Alte Pinakothek Museum
The first is the Alte Pinakothek museum, one of the foremost European repositories of the so-called old masters, i.e., painters whose careers developed and peaked before the 18th century, as well as those 18th-century painters whose oeuvres are rooted in pre-18th-century styles, e.g., Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, François Boucher, Francesco Guardi, Nicolas Lancret, Giovanni Antonio Canal, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Maurice Quentin de La Tour, and Claude Joseph Vernet. The Alte Pinakothek has thousands of paintings from the 13th through the 18th centuries (many of which it displays in a rotating schedule). German artists are certainly well represented, but there are significant, even enviable, examples of Dutch, Netherlandish, Flemish, Italian, French, and Spanish paintings. (The difference between Dutch and Netherlandish is too obscure and too complex for me to try to explain!) If you’re pressed for time, your short list of what to view at the Alte Pinakothek should include Rubens’s Last Judgment, one of the largest canvas paintings in the world.
Second: The Neue Pinakothek Museum
The second is the Neue Pinakothek museum. It focuses on paintings and sculptures from the 18th and 19th centuries (more than 3,000 altogether) and regularly displays at least 450 objets d’art. The collection comprises works that include German art of many movements, styles, and forms as well as robust English and several prestigious international holdings. Initially, the museum’s collection focused on Romanticism, paintings that usually included “. . . images of the transitoriness of human life and the premonition of death” (Painting and Sculpture in Europe, 1780–1880 by Fritz Novotny, Yale University Press, 2nd edition, 1971) and the Munich School (naturalistic style and dark chiaroscuro whose typical subjects are landscape, portraits, genre, still-life, and history painting). After the turn of the century, the collection received the Tschudi Contribution which added superb Impressionist and post-Impressionist works. The museum’s collection includes works by such titans of the art world as Francisco de Goya, Thomas Gainsborough, Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Honoré Daumier, Lovis Corinth, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch, Auguste Rodin, and Pablo Picasso.
Third: The Pinakothek der Moderne Museum
The third is the Pinakothek der Moderne museum. The Pinakothek der Moderne—locally known as “Dritte,” i.e., the third—specializes in 20th- and 21st-century art in four broad categories, each of which is presented as a museum, a so-called sub-museum, if you will, in its own right. The first is the museum’s “Collection of Modern Art” which includes art of all genres from classical modern through the post-war period to contemporary art, including Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, New Objectivity, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimal Art. These movements include such artists as Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Georges Braque, René Magritte, Wassily Kandinsky, Andy Warhol, Henry Moore, Willem de Kooning, as well as video, photo, and news media.
The second is the museum’s “Graphical Collection” which includes drawings and prints from the 15th century to contemporary exemplars, starting with the so-called print-room collection of Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria, to which it has added old German, Dutch, and Italian drawings. Artists represented in this section include such greats as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci to Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, and David Hockney. To call this a mere “graphical” collection is like calling the the Andromeda Galaxy a “bunch of sparkly lights.”
The third, based in great part on the Technical University of Munich’s largesse, is the museum’s “Architectural Collection” comprising probably the most extensive collection of historical and current architectural drawings in Germany—again through an initial donation from King Ludwig I—and the works of such notables as Günther Behnisch, Gottfried Semper, François de Cuvilliés, Balthasar Neumann, and Le Corbusier whose photographs, drawings, blueprints and models anchor a collection that includes contemporary computer animations and photographs.
The fourth is the museum’s so-called New Collection embracing the Munich International Design Museum, begun in 1925 and now includes more that 70,000 pieces, among which are objects of industrial design, graphic design, and the arts and crafts of so-called applied art, e.g., furniture, jewelry, appliances, motor vehicles—in other words, designs intended to capture the minds and hearts of consumers of pieces as mundane as a potato peeler to as grandiose as a skyscraper.
These museums share a common web site. Contact the Alte Pinakothek, Barer Straße 27, 80333 München; telephone 49.(0)89.23805-216; the Neue Pinakothek, Barer Straße 29, 80799 München; telephone 49.(0)89.23805-195; and the Pinakothek der Moderne, Barer Straße 40, 80333 München; 49.(0)89.23805-360.
Somewhat 72 years after the end of World War II, hundreds of Jewish British citizens are applying for a German passport and have a realistic chance of getting one. As that would absolutely be unthinkable in many Jewish communities around the globe, you’d have to be inclined to ask: why? Plus, how is that even possible?
But, let’s take a step back to the second biggest surprise of 2016, only trumped by the US-President, the Brexit. A year and a half later, the future of Great Britain is still very much unclear, but many people suspect that it won’t be too bright. Consequently, people think hard about what they can do to safeguard their situation. There are legitimate fears that the economic situation in the United Kingdom will deteriorate once Britain has effectively left the European Union. One thing that definitely is in danger, is the freedom to move about in Europe without having to worry about visa, enabling you to take a job anywhere without too much trouble. And for Jewish citizens of the UK, this is where it gets interesting.
The constitutional base for the Applications for German Citizenship
The German Grundgesetz, our constitution that was issued in 1949, includes an article (No 116) that allows for descendants of Jewish refugees in World War II to obtain the German citizenship. The law is related to rescinding of the German citizenship for all German Jews leaving the country, which came into effect in 1941. While the German Embassy in London received approximately 25 applications for citizenship per annum in recent years, there have been more than 500 new inquiries about the application process since the Brexit Referendum. Now, 500 people aren’t the world, but in relation to the specific group and its history, the development is quite remarkable. The German Embassy is not the only one with increased application numbers. The same goes for the Embassies of Austria and Poland.
Still, for many Jewish People taking up German citizenship is unthinkable. Germany is after all the scene of the worst slaughter of Jews ever witnessed. And when you’re parents or grandparents have been its victims, 72 years is actually not that long ago. Even if a German passport wouldn’t mean that people would actually have to or want to live in Germany, for a lot of Jewish people the idea must be somewhat befuddling. But for some of the Jewish people applying for a German passport, it’s about more than keeping their personal options open. It’s also about Europe – a structure that was at least in part created to make war in Europe impossible, which it does, within limits. To some, it is even about reconciliation.
German Jewish Communities are growing and could be welcoming new Members
Interestingly enough, there are growing Jewish communities in Germany. Especially Berlin and other larger cities have had an influx of Jewish people from Eastern Europe and other parts of the world. In recent years, particularly the capital has seen a rising number of young Israeli moving in. There are a couple of Jewish organizations from the different streams, counting more than 100.000 members, a number which has rapidly grown from roughly 30.000 in 1989. The last 60 years witnessed the building of more than a hundred Synagogues and Jewish community centers. One can certainly say that there has been a return of Jewish life to Germany to some extent. Thus, British Jews actually coming to Germany would not even be early adapters.
So, whether it might be for practical reasons or to reconcile with their own and with our German past, there is a strong possibility that we’re able to welcome a few more Jewish Germans in the near future. As an advocate of transculturality, I think that’s amazing.
Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of West Germany between May, 1974, and October, 1982, died 10 November 2015. Yesterday would have been his 99th birthday. Schmidt also served as West Germany’s Minister for Finance, Minister for Economics, and Minister for Defense. He worked for and with such illustrious German public figures as Georg Leber, Gerhard Schröder, Willy Brandt, Hans Friderichs, Karl Schiller, and Hans Apel. In other words, Schmidt was a mover and a shaker in West Germany and on the world stage, on a par with Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Helmut Schmidt was a statesman.
The Style of Leadership of Helmut Schmidt
In 1976, Schmidt wrote in The New York Times that West Germany’s political and social stability were rooted in many things, primarily in social security, union and commercial autonomy, and the weight given not only to fiscal and economic policy, but also in social policy, particularly in the “education and career training of our young people.” He also emphasized West Germany’s persistent “humanization of work conditions” all within the framework of collective bargaining between labor and management. “The government and parliament would not even dream of changing this. In our experience, there exists no better solution.” This steady, guiding hand unquestionably had a more effective and more reliable role in the eventual disintegration of the so-called Communist Bloc than did the weaponry and saber-rattling of the Cold War. That’s what statesmen do: they engage their nation’s people and they shape government policies to the benefit of those people, almost always to the envy of onlookers and rivals.
Schmidt’s strong reliance on collective bargaining paid off magnificently for West Germany’s economy—West Germany’s middle class is probably the largest and healthiest in Europe and West Germany’s business community is the envy of all Europe. “I am profoundly convinced of the fundamental social and political necessity of broad codetermination,” Helmut Schmidt wrote. Labor and management dealt so intimately with one another that the problems of one inevitably became the problems of both and guided both—usually wary and mistrustful on one another—toward seeking common solutions. “This, I believe, creates a climate in which Labor refrains from excessive demands and generally asks for only what is reasonable.”
Schmidt’s Influence on Germany in the 80s
As reported by The New York Times’s correspondent John Vinocur in 1980, one of Schmidt’s (unnamed) political colleagues in Hamburg described his positive attributes as “lightning intelligence, vast technical expertise, pragmatism, and tirelessness,” his negative attributes as “permanent irritability, a tendency to depression, know-it-allism, and arrogance,” topped off, as it were, with the ultimately liability at the time of “being German.” The summer of 1980 was a turning point for West Germany and it was launched by Schmidt, who, earlier in the summer, had progressed from the earlier, self-effacing German line “that West Germany really was not an economic giant,” to the robust assertion that, second only to the United States, West Germany’s “. . . financial and commercial strength is the greatest in the world.” Bear in mind that not only was this true, but also that it was true only 35 years after the dust and the rubble of World War II.
To call West Germany’s rise a miracle does a disservice to the intelligence, education, experience, common sense, and persistence of West Germany’s post-war leaders, of whom Helmut Schmidt was probably one of the most inspiring at home and abroad. Schmidt’s savvy Weltanschauung gave him the vision to see further into the world’s political and economic future than could almost all his contemporaries.
The Policy of Helmut Schmidt
Schmidt’s policy was to try to set himself above the fray, i.e., to assess political and economic events and problems objectively and pragmatically—a stance often criticized by his supporters as being unemotional, and by his prickly critics as being downright insensitive. Schmidt knew, as do all insightful individuals, that, when confronted by a problem, emotion is a fatal flaw. Regrettably, he did not factor in voters’ emotions. Once he had triggered their doubt in his effectiveness, he realized that his political future would rapidly wind down. In an unguarded moment, Schmidt asserted that the Palestinians’ pursuit of self-determination vis-à-via Israel was no less valid than West Germany’s pursuit self-determination for all Germans—both in West Germany and in East Germany. Then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin denounced Schmidt’s motives and comments. Begin focused particularly on Schmidt’s failure to mention Jews in his earlier apology for the misery and harm Germany had caused other nations in World War II. Schmidt privately told colleagues that Germany could no longer allow its domestic or foreign policy to be hobbled by the guilt of World War II.
The slur that Schmidt was unemotional, even icy, was no more than a handy criticism for those who could not find true fault in his policies or procedures, but his assessment of the world more than 30 years ago is as valid today as it was then. He visited Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A., for a week in April, 1985, during which time he said that the West lacked “a common grand strategy,” implying, rightfully, that the petty and vicious infighting, both political and commercial, of the so-called western allies sapped their moral strength and handicapped their political and economic strengths.
Schmidt’s four Yale University lectures were to be held in a hall intended for no more than 300 attendees. More than 1,000 showed up for the first lecture. The venue had to be changed at the last minute—for all the lectures—to the Yale Law School’s auditorium. That is a measure of the respect, even awe, in which Yale University students and faculty held Schmidt.
Schmidt was recognized and revered as a strong leader because he routinely disdained the posturing of politicians, both domestic and foreign. He knew what the world was about and he had the confidence to be blunt about how things were and how the West should proceed. He fell victim, as have so many great leaders, to the inability of those he led to keep the faith. Schmidt’s leadership was the leadership Havelock Ellis described when he wrote “To be a leader of men, one must turn one’s back on men.”
Germans will be obliged to take integration test – Re-education upon failure
(c) EvgeniT via Pixabay
Today, the German office for migration and refugees (BAMF) published a report which admitted a partial failure of their current approach of teaching migrants and refugees the German language and culture via so-called Integration Courses (Integrationskurs). Yet the problem doesn’t lie on the side of the migrants, but rather on the side of the culture they seek to integrate in.
90% of Germans would fail an integration test
“Those who have created these integration courses especially the part where participants are supposed to learn about the German culture, social life, history and politics must have lived in a different Germany that anyone we interviewed. We asked about 2000 Germans the same questions course participants have to answer and 90% would have failed that same test,” said the head of intercultural studies at Viadrina University Frankfurt Oder, Prof. Dr. Hans Deutschendorf. “It almost sounds like an April Fool’s Joke,” he continues, “but we simply can’t ignore the evidence any longer.”
Ironically about 92% of the migrants pass that test (see official statistics of the BAMF here).
As a consequence the BAMF in cooperation with the ESF (European Social Fund) have worked out a new approach to optimize the integration process: All Germans citizens (18 and above) will be obliged to take the same integration test migrants have to take.
“We can’t have a situations where migrants end up to be the better Germans,” states Dr. Willer Nixsagsehör of the BAMF. It’s time the citizens of this country brush up their knowledge about the culture they expect others to learn about.
Political and Social Re-Education of Native Germans
Those who fail the test, will be obliged to spend 100 hours in so-called re-integration processes (Re-Integrationsprozess or short: RIP). That’s how many classroom-hours current integration course participants have to spend to learn everything relevant about the German culture therefore it should be more than enough for native Germans. Those courses can be taken in the evenings or on the weekends after work hours and will last between 3-6 months.
Proper Language trainings
It has become also blatantly obvious that High German, the language that is being taught in current integration courses and that ironically is even being used to teach German in those courses, is only spoken by about 3,14% of the German population (that’s pretty exactly the exact number of citizens of Hannover the capital of Lower Saxony). Though through some miraculous circumstance most Germans understand each other even in extreme situations (check this seemingly miraculous example of inter-dialectal communication) it would be humanly impossible for anyone to learn all 250 remaining German dialects. The new initiative therefore aims at making regular High German training obligatory for those who fail their High German oral exam which will be conducted via various institutions like the Goethe Institut or the Volkshochschulen over the coming ten years with all German citizens born after 1945. Participants will be randomly assigned to their exams so some Germans might still have a couple of years before they will have to face re-education. “We hope that everyone will take matters into their own hands and start brushing up on their language skills voluntarily.”
Heavy support from the EU
While the budget of approximately 600 billion EUR (that’s approximately 1000 EUR per German citizen) for the next ten years might seem steep at first glance, the economical benefit of a better integration on both sides and of fewer language related issues among Germans themselves will soon make up for this investment. The European Union is also heavily funding this project with 75% of the costs which is no surprise as Germany is the EU’s strongest link.
Similar consequences as for migrants
Those who fail their re-integration process, will have to face grave consequences e.g. loss of voting rights and continuous re-education until passing the test. “In a democracy we can’t have people vote, who have no clue why and what they actually vote for.”, says Prof. Deutschendorf. He continues: “We also think that the Germans will become more empathetic with migrants that had and still have to go through the same experience, especially when they realize how irrelevant this kind of knowledge actually is and when they are subsequently threatened with harsh consequences.”
Currently integration course participants might face shortenings of their already rather limited state welfare or non-prolongation of their right to stay.
Merkel welcomes new approach
Woman chancellor Merkel welcomes this initiative and, setting a good example, is already participating in one of the first model re-integration courses herself together with her favorite party member Horst Seehofer of the CSU, hoping to pass her test by the end of her current term. “I wouldn’t bet my house on Horst passing though”, Merkel said only half-jokingly.
Beam of hope for German citizens
We at smarterGerman are already developing a course for German natives to help them pass their Integrationstest with flying colors and to become better citizens of this beautiful Merkelocracy. How is your German today? Can you already answer the following questions from the final test of current integration courses? Give it a try. The questions are in German of course.
While this superb boutiquey museum was established in Baden-Baden eight years ago (2009) to honor the renowned Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé, it houses much, much more than examples of and information about Fabergé’s spectacular creations between 1885 and 1917 for Tsar Alexander III (1845-1894) and Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1917). Of course, Fabergé is best known for his bespoke Easter eggs, but his artistic expertise extended well beyond those unique annual bespoke creations.
Various Works on Display
The museum also proudly includes some distinctive and unique works of 19th-century competitors and colleagues of Fabergé, including Carl Edvard Bolin, who joined Andreas Roempler as a full partner upon marrying Roempler’s daughter Ernestine Catherina. In the late 1900s, Fabergé’s creations eventually surpassed Bolin’s in imagination, creativity, and popularity; Frederic Boucheron, whose mid-19th-century founding in Paris prompted Boucheron’s spectacular creative successes in the early years, especially the corsage he created in 1878 for Russian Prince Felix Youssoupoff which led to Boucheron’s establishing a branch in Moscow in 1893. The Youssoupoff corsage included six detachable diamond bows; Louis-François Cartier, who held his first exhibition and sale at the Grand Hotel Europe in Saint Petersburg in 1907. Shortly thereafter, Tsar Nicholas II appointed Cartier an official purveyor to the House of Romanov; Pavel Akimovich Ovchinnikov, who founded his firm in Moscow in 1853. Ovchinnikov, preceding Fabergé by almost 20 years, was named a purveyor to the Tsar’s court in 1868. Ovchinnikov combined traditional shapes with cloisonné enamel and with the then-modern shaded-enamel technique in which colors and tints were blended naturalistically, with no metal separating the colors; Ignaty Sazikov, established as a court supplier by the Tsar in 1846, specialized as a silversmith and his works included silverware, cast silver, and cloisonné enameled silver pieces. Of particular interest is the magnificent 27-piece Sazikov punch set, created in 1874-75 by command of Tsar Alexander III and weighing 12.45 kilograms; Ivan Khlebnikov bought the Sazikov firm from his heirs in 1887. Khlebnikov was a world-renowned specialist in enameled silver as well as in silver chasing, trompe-l’oeil imitative castings, and cloisonné and plique-à-jour enameling.
The most popular features of the Fabergé collection
Among the most popular features of the Fabergé collection, be sure to see the chameleon fashioned in bowenite, a pale-green, semi-precious stone traditionally identified with the Māori of New Zealand, who used it for tools, weapons, and jewelry. This unique piece once belonged to King George V of Greece. The chameleon’s eyes are delicate Siberian rubies ringed with gold. The collection also includes a marvelously detailed rabbit family with a large doe and six kits. All are in silver with inset eyes of rubies. In addition, there is a beautiful horse-race trophy, a cloisonné cup created by Fabergé in 1911 on behalf of Tsar Nicholas II for the World Exhibition in Rome. It is primarily turquoise-colored enamel and gilt on silver. Be on the lookout also for a brooch designed specifically for Tsarina Alexandra in 1913 (part of a larger brooch collection). It is the imperial Russian eagle in full wingspread fashioned of gold and platinum with numerous diamond and ruby accents. There is a late-19th-century figure of Buddha created by Fabergé from bowenite, gold, brilliant-cut diamonds, Siberian rubies, and Guilloche-Emaille, i.e., a mechanical technique employed to apply a delicate, meticulous, elaborate, and duplicative design on a metal base. Fabergé perfected this technique with his bespoke Easter Eggs and applied it as he deemed appropriate to other creations as the opportunity arose. A lovely Guilloche-Emaille, gilded desk clock of silver from the early 20th century (after 1903) fashioned by one of Fabergé’s chief workmasters, Henrik Immanuel Wigström, under Fabergé’s aegis. There is a small stemmed bowl created by Michael Evlampievich Perchin, perhaps Fabergé’s premier workmaster until replaced by Wigström following Perchin’s death in 1903. The bowl incorporates topaz, gold, diamonds, and enamel in its formation with a snake winding around the stem from its base to beneath the bowl proper. One of the most significant collections within the overall Fabergé collection is that of the more than two dozen brooches commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty (1613-1913) fashioned of amethysts, rose-colored diamonds, brilliant diamonds, and gold.
The Fabergé egg in the Collection
The museum comprises more than 700 items whose display are rotated regularly on a so-called mix-and-match basis and includes a regrettably unfinished Easter Egg with the working title Blue Constellation Easter Egg made for the Tsarina Alexandra in 1917, but never presented due to the Communist Revolution. There is also an extensive assortment of luxurious cigarette cases with humorous animal miniatures in precious and semi-precious stones. The collection is a superb representation of the abundant wealth that furthered the artistic creativity and imaginations of jewelers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, and associated artisans from the mid 19th century to the very early 20th century.
Directions and opening Hours
The museum is at Sophienstraße 30 in Baden-Baden, between Stephanienstraße and Vincentistraße, where Sophienstraße bears off north as an undivided side street. Sophienstraße is a wide shopping boulevard, commencing at Leopoldsplatz, with a wide, tree-rich landscaped median strip that enhances the charm of the area. The museum’s normal hours are from 1000 until 1800 daily; however, it’s closed on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The telephone is 49 (0) 7221 970890—call ahead to confirm the hours and to ask the time of the next exhibition change.
English is the language of advertisement and marketing and it is also often used by German companies to address international customers (or at least to pretend to do so). In the early past, German companies advertised their products with German phrases. The reasons were simple: It was the language of the customers. But with globalization and internationalization, they did not only become more global, but the companies and marketers also thought that the ads must be international. When TV advertisement became more and more common in the 1980s and 1990s, it was almost unthinkable for advertisers to use the German language. It just had the stigma to be stale and not cool. The times luckily have changed: German has become rather common in public advertisement – not only in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Advertisement in the past
In many cases in the past, the public relation agencies did not only use the English language but sometimes even abuse it. They mixed it with German words, made new English words up or just translated German phrases into English. The result was often just embarrassing. The reasons why a wrong English term would be better than a right German one have been common sense for a long time: The awful German language – like Mark Twain would say – has not only a harsh sound but also some very long words.
The Times are changing in Advertisement
But what has once been the reason why it was considered as unsuitable for advertising products for young and modern customers, it has become a symbol for reliability, efficiency and, especially in the last years, ecological thinking. Not only the so-called Energiewende has lead to the last mentioned, but also the fact that many new German products came up that see themselves as the counterpart to the established, often American companies. That’s why you would rather have a Club Mate or a Fritz Kola in a stylish bar in Berlin than a regular Coke. With that development, also the advertisers view on Germany and the German language has changed and also the Germans seem to have become more and more at peace with themselves over the last decade. Also, others see the country in a new light: Just take a look at Berlin as the new place to be for all the creative young people from New York to Tel Aviv. Besides all that: Puns and jokes are just much funnier and also understandable when you tell them in your own tongue.
The new Selfperception of German Companies
But not only in matters of consumption, (self-) perception changed. Particularly in one of Germany’s biggest industry – the automotive industry – companies like BWM or Volkswagen realized what makes their products attractive to foreign drivers: Reliability, quality and technology. Those attributes are also a common cliché about Germany itself and that’s why they also started to rethink their public appearance as German companies by displaying it also by language. The well-known slogan by Audi “Vorsprung durch Technik” just was the beginning. Other companies followed, often also with ironically portraying the cliché of the “boring” German (like VW did in those ads).
German nowadays is not the unpleasant sound of clicking heels anymore, but has become a symbol of progress and reliability – and in some cases even of self-mockery.
The market of printed books might still be strong and the rise of e-books might be slower than many expected. But printed papers and magazines already feel the heavy burden of the digital age increasing the more electronic mobile devices spread around the globe. As we still are in the early stages of this new – maybe the digital – century, this could be the adequate time to look back on an earlier transformation of the means we convey written information. A transformation that helped to shape the last 550 years: printing.
Cultural Reading Habits…
Even when we read books or magazines on our digital devices, most of the time, they still mirror pages and printed structures. May the digital age be one of enormous pace, some cultural practices still take longer to change than others. With your tablet computer, your costly designed hardcover, and your paperback novel in mind, imagine that 600 years ago, a book was usually made from animal skin (both cover and pages) and had to be hand written. Picture, it would be your job to copy, say, the Bible, maybe ten times, and others should be able to read it. And even though books and written products were more widespread than we usually think, try to conceive of the sheer explosion of written language throughout Europe that must have occurred after the invention of the printing press.
And how Gutenberg changed them!
The time is around 1450, and on to the stage steps Johannes Gutenberg. To relieve you of your strenuous duties as a copier of Bibles, he, of course, made his breakthrough with printing and selling of Bibles. But, while created using a brand new technology, the books themselves were designed to pretty much look like a Bible the customers were used to. To be able to print series of different books, Gutenberg not only had to invent a moveable set of type, he also had to find a new kind of ink, as traditional water-based ink would not work in the printing press. What he eventually used was actually not ink, but varnish. In his inventions, Johannes Gutenberg drew inspiration and even borrowed techniques from the arts and crafts that surrounded him and his resident city of Mainz was fertile grounds for his undertaking.
Not to take away from his well-deserved fame, but Gutenberg did, of course, not actually invent printing itself. There had been other forms before, but as his predecessors did not use moveable type, any mistakes made could not be corrected. Gutenberg came up with moveable metal letters, that would be pressed onto the paper with the exact same pressure, resulting in a text that would be much clearer and even than handwritten words could ever be. This is another brilliant feature of Gutenberg’s idea of using a press. To use his invention he even had to overcome such hurdles as creating a multitude of absolutely identical copies of each letter of the alphabet, meaning: the different letters as well as all the copies had to have the same height if you didn’t want to risk damaging the paper. Further, using the printing press, one could make sure that the text would be printed in the exact same place on both sides of a page.
Being a talented entrepreneur and salesman, as well as a great inventor and craftsman, Gutenberg not only helped to create the basis of our written communication, he also spread his works and thus the technology. What he sold were actually not bound books, but packets of loose pages. That is why most of the early printed books do not look alike.
Referring to itself as “the museum in the river,” the Weserburg is being unnecessarily and endearingly modest as well as delightfully symbolic. This superb museum contains one of Germany’s—and the world’s—most significant assemblages of modern art and, as such, is certainly the jewel in the crown as far as the City of Bremen is concerned. As for the symbolism, it’s true that the museum is smack dab in the center of the Weser River, like the prow of an indomitable ship, at the westernmost tip of a 6.5-kilometer spit of land (the Teerburg Peninsula) jutting westwards.
The History of the Weserburg
The Weserburg Museum of Modern Art is a natural extension of an idea that began almost three decades after World War II, when the building complex lay in ruins because of numerous air raids. Following the war, the building complex was rebuilt and, in 1949, the Schilling Brothers, who had owned the building complex and had operated there as a coffee importer and roaster since 1923, opened again for business—a business which lasted until 1973, when the Schilling Brothers closed the business permanently and sold the building complex to the City of Bremen.
Over the next 18 years, numerous artistic studios of all sorts apportioned and used the building complex’s spaces for cultural, artistic, and social events. In 1980, in response to many casual suggestions from various social, artistic, and cultural advocates, a semi-organized movement, anchored by the City of Bremen, to dedicate the building complex’s use to develop a so-called collector’s museum gained momentum. The organization officially established the museum in November, 1988, and officially opened it less than three years later in September, 1991. Go to this site for a superb history of the Weserburg Museum and the building complex.
The Concept of the Museum
In a nutshell, a collector’s museum displays works owned by collectors. From that simple idea, the Weserburg has developed a reputation for assembling breathtakingly broad and thorough exhibits comprising works lent by collectors worldwide. In a 2015 telephone interview with the New York Times journalist Scott Ruben, Marta Gnyp, a Berlin art advisor, said that “. . . public museums have financial restraints, . . . [b]ut they are still attractive to private collectors. Public institutions give a quality stamp and visibility to collections.”
In other words, private collectors, for the most part, want the general public to be able to enjoy what they themselves enjoy, but the private collectors simply don’t have the facilities to permit the general public regular access to their collections. Enter the notion of collector’s museums. Private collectors lend works to collector’s museums so that the general public can enjoy the works and, in return for this public service, the collectors bask in the reflected glory of their possessions.
The museum’s web site is http://www.weserburg.de/index.php?id=78&L=1. The museum is closed Mondays and open Tuesdays through Sundays from 1100-1800, except Thursdays until 2000. The contact information is Teerhof 20; Bremen 28199; telefon 49–(0)421–59 83 9-0; and eMail is email@example.com. Admission prices vary with age and group, but normally adults are €8, with special pricing for families, students & pupils, groups, classes, soldiers, the unemployed, the severely disabled, etc.