How Concentration Camp Prisoners Found Comfort in Imaginary Feasts

From Ravensbrück to Mao's Labor Camps, Inmates Recited Family Recipes to Preserve Their Humanity

When the Soviet Union sent Dmitri Likhachev to an offshore detention camp in February 1928, the Russian scholar was crammed onto a train car with other prisoners and handed a large cake. His five-year sentence without the benefit of a trial was a gift of the government. The cake came from the university library where he had worked before his arrest. It held no hacksaw to free him, but he would remember the goodbye present for seven decades.

Likhachev was not the only person who recalled gifts of food during detention. …

When Does a Garden-Variety Demagogue Become Dangerous?

In 1923, Adolf Hitler Created a Fictional Persona to Recast Himself as Germany's Savior

In the summer of 1923, Adolf Hitler realized he had a problem. Germany was in the midst of an extreme economic crisis that inspired widespread feelings of disaffection, worries about …

Why “Brexpat” Brits Like Me Are on the Road to Germany

My Family Is Fleeing Our Car-Wreck of a Homeland. But Will the EU Kick Us Out Next Year?

I’m standing in front of my car: a white, British-built Nissan. I have to put stickers on it.

In an epic act of self-harm, Britain has voted to leave the …

The Delicious Transparency of the Hamburgers

If California Really Wants Open Government, a Northern German City Has a Model That Works

California could use a concert hall like Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie.

The signature structure of 21st century Germany sits atop an old pier above a dramatic bend in the Elbe River. Its …

No One Wants to Wear the “Fascist” Label, Even If It Fits

Why Hitler's Brownshirts and Mussolini's Blackshirts Rile up Today's Politics

Western democracy may be facing its biggest challenge since 1945. It’s easy to find parallels between Donald Trump, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the French National Front, the Alternativ für …

Did Hamburg’s Olympic Bid Destroy Its Local Democracy?

How the Failed Effort to Bring the 2024 Games to Germany Restricted Voters' Democratic Rights

Democracy killed a bid to bring the Olympics to Hamburg, Germany, where I live. But in the process, the Olympics dealt a big blow to our local democracy.

I’ve worked on …