Berlin opens highly awaited bridge to Museum Island

If you’ve ever been to Berlin, you know that the city is filled with art, monuments and interesting buildings. The city is rich with history; in fact, Berlin is home to 170 different museums, which is more than you could ever see in just one trip!

And for art and history buffs, a new building has just opened: the James Simon Gallery. Located on the fringe of the Museum Island along the Spree River, the gallery will serve as the central visitor center between the Neues Museum and Museum Island, orienting and directing visitors to the island. But the gallery is not just an assembly space; it also features an auditorium and a changing exhibition space, giving visitors plenty to do and see between its own walls.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the opening ceremony of the gallery on Friday, stating that the building complements the existing museums on the island – a “universal museum of human history.”
The building was designed by British architect David Chipperfield and is named after James Simon (1851-1932), a German-Jewish art collector who has contributed many items to Museum Island, including the Nefertiti bust.

If you’re in Berlin this summer, you’re right in time to see this long-anticipated building, which is now open to the public!

©dpa / picture alliance

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

Work hard, play hard.

School’s out, the sun is shining and summer has arrived! That means many German families are preparing their long-awaited vacations.

For those of you who have worked in Germany, you may know that Germans strive to have a good work life balance – and that means taking well deserved vacations. In Germany, each worker is entitled to a minimum of 20 vacation days per year, but 25 to 30 days is common practice.

According to an OECD study, Germans worked 1,363 hours per year, which is overall less than most other countries. However, German productivity was higher than in many countries. The average GDP per head, divided by the hours worked, was valued at $105.70 in Germany, which is $4 more than in the US. Meanwhile, Americans worked 400 hours more than Germans each year, according to the same study.

So what does this mean? Maybe it’s time to pack your bags and spend a few days in the sunshine so you can come back more creative and more productive.

Work hard, play hard.

Celebrating pride in the US and Germany

A Berlin Pride participant waves a rainbow pride flag during the 40th Christopher Street Day in Berlin. © picture alliance/ZUMA Press

Here in the United States, the month of June is LGBTQ Pride Month – the month chosen to coincide with the Stonewall riots of 1969. During this month, many pride events are held throughout the country. Last week marked Washington, D.C.’s annual Pride Parade, bringing thousands of people together in support of equality and human rights. Meanwhile, Berlin is preparing for its own parade in July, known as Christopher Street Day Berlin or simply “Berlin Pride.”

Berlin’s Pride Parade is one of the largest in all of Europe and also one of the oldest. The annual event was first held in June 30, 1979 in commemoration of the Stonewall riots in New York, which was an uprising of the LGBTQ community against police assaults in June 1969. These assaults took place on Christopher Street in New York, which is why many European pride events today are referred to as “Christopher Street Day”.

The 40th Christopher Street Day in Berlin. © picture alliance/ZUMA Press

Although Germany’s first Christopher Street Day was held in Berlin, many other German cities followed in the city’s footsteps, creating their own CSD parades. Hamburg and Cologne are well known for their large pride parades, but Berlin still holds the record: in 2012, approximately 700,000 people attended Berlin’s Pride Parade, making it one of the largest pride events in the entire world.

The US legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 and Germany legalized it in 2017. Pride parades on both side of the Atlantic demonstrate the importance of inclusion for both the US and Germany.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

The benefits of learning German

Have you ever thought about learning German? Reaching a level of fluency will take time and dedication, but it will pay off in the end.

German is one of the most useful languages to learn – and that’s because it is the most common native language in the European Union. There are more than 100 million native German speakers in the EU and German is an official language in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium – that’s 7 countries! Plus, a few other countries speak German in certain provinces.

Globally, German is the 11th most-spoken language in the world and it is the third most commonly taught foreign language in the US, following Spanish and French.

It’s no doubt that learning German is useful, but is it difficult? Well, German is famous for its long and extensive use of compound words and its case system may not be the easiest to remember. However, English and German share a large percentage of their vocabulary. In fact, one survey found the origin of English words is 25% derived from Germanic languages.

If you’re in the process of learning German, be sure to check out our quirky, weird and unusual Word of the Weeks!

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

What is the German Embassy’s Adoption Program?

During 2018-19, the German Embassy in Washington continued its longstanding tradition of involvement with the Embassy Adoption Program (EAP), a cooperative endeavor of the DC Public Schools and Washington Performing Arts. Since its founding in 1974 by Fulbright Scholarship recipient Susan Deerin, EAP has expanded to include over 100 embassies. Having received accolades including the U.S. Department of Education Award for Outstanding International Education Program, EAP is considered a paragon in educating for global competence.

Over the past year partnering with Ms. Octavia Wolf’s 5th grade class at West Education Campus in Columbia Heights, volunteer teachers drawn from the German diplomatic families presented aspects of culture, traditions and life of their home country. We are grateful to Maren Sanio, Eda Graf und Kerstin Mahnicke for taking the time to develop lesson plans on topics including German Christmas traditions and the importance of avoiding plastic for environmental protection.

This year’s EAP engagement with West Education Campus also included excursions, for example to the German Christmas Village in Baltimore and a visit to the German International School Washington. On June 6, at a festive ceremony at the German-American Heritage Museum capping off the school year, the students presented what they had learned about cultural similarities and differences between Germany and the United States. From the students’ enthusiasm it was clear that a new generation of young Americans is excited to take part in the German-U.S. relationship.

By Melanie Knaetsch & Jacob Comenetz, German Embassy

Word of the Week: Mettigel

© dpa / Markus Scholz

The Mettigel isn’t quite as unappetizing as it sounds. Mett is ground meat, usually pork, and an Igel means “hedgehog”. And while a Mettigel definitely isn’t made of hedgehog itself, it is shaped to look like one, hence the name. With this dish, pretzel sticks or sliced onions are often used to form the spines of the edible hedgehog.

© dpa / Andrea Warnecke

The Mettigel was quite popular in the 1950s in Germany, often showing up on appetizer trays at parties and served with toothpicks for easy consumption. It seems like what old is new again, because these strange German appetizers are enjoying a sort of renaissance and are once again popular in the hipster scene in Berlin and Hamburg.

In Northern and Eastern Germany, the Mettigel is often called a Hackepeterigel instead. In these regions, Hackepeter means “minced meat”. Have you tasted a Mettigel before?

By Bradford Elder, German Embassy

Word of the Week: Spinnefeind

If you have a spinnefeind relationship with someone, the other person may be toxic and scare you away. But even though though this German word translates to “spider-inimical”, it describes a relationship with someone who has two legs and not eight!

The word Spinne means “spider” and Feind means “enemy” – or, in this case, it is used as “inimical”. Despite what it sounds like, this term does not refer to the hairy little buggers that crawl up your walls at night and hide in the corners of your house – even though you might consider them your enemies. Instead, this word is an adjective – and it describes the relationship you have with an enemy – someone that you cannot stand to be around and whose intentions toward you are not good.

In a spinnefeind relationship, your enemy wants the worst for you (and you want the worse for him or her). Adding the word Spinne to the word Feind (“inimical”) creates an adjective that emphasizes just how bad that relationship is.

In German, you might say, Sie waren einander spinnefeind. (“They were spinnefeind towards one another.”)

Just like a spider might cause you to run in the other direction, seeing your someone with whom you have a spinnefeind relationship could cause you to walk the other way. But it may be better to confront your fears than to run from them. You may realize that they’re not as bad as they may seem, and that they look scarier than they truly are.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

Celebrating German-American Friendship Day at a baseball game in El Paso, Texas

Germans and Americans gathered at the Southwest University Ballpark in El Paso to celebrate German-American Night on May 21. The event, which was organized by the German Air Force Air Defense Center, is part of Wunderbar Together.

Before the baseball game began, singer Morgan Bailey performed the German and American national anthems. The game also featured color guards from both countries, a video introducing the German presence in El Paso and a first pitch by Holger Mahnicke, Head of the Communications and Culture Department at the German Embassy.

The American and German color guards at the Southwest University Ballpark.

The Mayor and Council of El Paso also proclaimed May 21 to be known as German-American Friendship Day.

Lt. Col. Henri Neubert holds the proclamation of German-American Friendship Day in the city of El Paso.

“The City of El Paso appreciates and values our German partners and the cultural and defense alliances they bring to Sun City,” the proclamation reads.

The German military has had a strong presence in El Paso since 1956. Today, there are approximately 80 Germans stationed in El Paso at the German Air Force Air Defense Center in Fort Bliss, which trains service members on the PATRIOT air defense system.

Just hours before the game, eight graduates completed their training at the German Air Defense Center. One of the graduates, Captain Philipp Schönbeck, had the opportunity to be in the color guard.

“It was an honor to be a part of it,” he says. “Not only just for me, but for my whole platoon it was an honor and totally awesome to be a part of.”

While the baseball game was in play, Germans and Americans gathered on the rooftop of the stadium and shared laughter and conversation as the sun set behind the stadium.

Germans and Americans gathered on the rooftop of the Southwest University Ballpark in the spirit of Wunderbar Together.

“What a wonderful opportunity it is to be part of the German-American friendship this evening,” said American Brigadier General Johnny Davis. “This event shows that we have an enduring relationship that is timeless. Having the Germans here at Fort Bliss is just a wonderful experience to meet and greet them each and every single day.”

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy


5 summertime destinations in Berlin

Berlin is a lively city with vibrant nightlife and countless daytime activities. With summer around the corner, here are 5 awesome ways to spend the season’s most beautiful days!

1) Soak in the Badeschiff

When the sun comes out and the temperatures heat up, head over to Berlin’s Badeschiff (“bathing ship”) to enjoy the day on the Spree. This swimming pool floats in the River Spree – and the views of the city are fantastic! Plus, it’s next to a riverside beach where you can sip on a cocktail and soak up the sun.

© dpa / picture-alliance

2) Have a drink at the Club der Visionaere

The Club der Visionaere is a picturesque summertime spot between Kreuzberg and Treptower Park. It is a club along the water that hosts live electronic music concerts at night. Weeping willows surround the terrace, making it a beautiful venue to spend a summertime evening with friends.

© dpa / picture-alliance

Continue reading “5 summertime destinations in Berlin”

Courage & Commitment – A Salute to Women in the Military

The Norfolk NATO Festival takes place annually in Norfolk, Virginia, in conjunction with the Parade of Nations and the International Village, at which the 29 NATO member nations present themselves.

Every year, the soldiers of the German delegation and their families organize a theme float and a stand for the event, presenting the German Armed Forces and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Continue reading “Courage & Commitment – A Salute to Women in the Military”