A Letter From Bonn, Where Quiet Calm Meets COVID

A Powerful and Transparent Health System—And a Confident Chancellor—Counteract a Crisis

As a resident of Bonn, a small college city that once served as West Germany’s capital, I know something about calm and its connection to health.

I live a brisk walk away from the home of our most famous native son, Ludwig van Beethoven. In 1812, the composer, who had health problems that might have made him vulnerable in this pandemic, headed off to a retreat ordered by his doctor. While there, he wrote to an unnamed woman, in one of his famous “Immortal Beloved” love letters:

Be calm my …

Waltzing With Polar Bears | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Waltzing With Polar Bears

The Unexpected Joy of Viewing Photos From a Forgotten German Fad

Combing through photographs at flea markets brings its own particular thrill. The act carries a voyeuristic delight, akin to reading a stranger’s diary or listening in on someone else’s confession.

Every …

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 …

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 …