Looking back at 2018

The year 2018 has been eventful and rewarding. Let’s reflect on a few highlights!

Early in the year, Germany participated in the Winter Olympics, coming in second with a total of 31 medals! In March, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was sworn in for a fourth term, along with a new government. In April, the Chancellor visited Washington, D.C. for meetings with US President Donald Trump. In June, we welcomed our new Ambassador, Emily Haber, to Washington, where she serves as the German Embassy’s first female ambassador! Throughout the year, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift – a turning point in the German-American relationship. In October, we launched the start of Wunderbar Together, a year-long celebration of German-American friendship with over 1,000 events across the US. A highlight of this initiative was a stunt by a German slackliner from One Inch Dreams, who walked across a highline between two hot air balloons over Monument Valley.

We know next year will be just as busy, with hundreds more events taking place across the US for Wunderbar Together. Next year, we will celebrate 100 years of Bauhaus, the famous art school that opened in Weimar in 1919. We will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – a monumental day in German history.

We wish you a Happy New Year and a great start to 2019!

“Better than Berghain”: German Embassy hosts “Wunderbar Goes Underground” alumni dance party

What do you get when you mix DC’s coolest underground venue, the graffiti-covered abandoned trolley station/arts space Dupont Underground, with one of Berlin’s hottest DJs, psychedelic video projections, and hundreds of dancing friends of transatlantic exchange?

An instant-legend, Berlin-meets-DC club event that was “better than Berghain” in the words of one enthusiastic attendee.

It was only fitting that the German Embassy would “go big” with its annual alumni dance party during the Year of German-American Friendship, better known by its motto “Wunderbar Together”.

With Berlin native DJ Cooper at the turntables, the Urban Artistry dance crew’s hip-hop moves got the crowd into the groove. Attendees relished the chance to revive the exchange experience, capturing the spirit of making new friends, breaking down borders and coming together!

By Jacob Comenetz, German Embassy

Find Wunderbar Together events near you!

You may have heard about Wunderbar Together, a year-long campaign celebrating German-American friendship. With more than 1,000 events in all 50 states, Wunderbar Together  may be coming to a town near you!

You can now search for Wunderbar Together events by location, topic or date! Visit www.WunderbarTogether.org to see what’s happening!

Building bridges with German at the 2018 ACTFL conference

German language education and New Orleans? Wunderbar together!
The German Embassy and German language education community in North America was well represented at the 2018 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Annual Convention and World Languages Expo in Louisiana.

Of the 8,000 ACTFL convention attendees, around 400 are members of the German language education community. These include members of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), as well as representatives of the Mexican and Canadian partner organizations; representatives of the Goethe-Institut in the U.S. and Germany; international scholars of German language pedagogy; and German government representatives, among others. Such a large-scale gathering of DaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache—German as a foreign language) devotees ensures a lively discussion of the pressing issues in the field.

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2018 Campus Weeks “Homestory: Deutschland” at Morgan State University

Pieces of the “Homestory: Deutschland” exhibition as shown at Morgan State University

Students and faculty of Morgan State University filed into the auditorium of the university’s new Behaviorial and Social Science Center on October 16 for the first of several events associated with the 2018 Campus Weeks Homestory: Deutschland exhibit. The small but powerful exhibit, produced by the Initiative of Black Germans (Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland e.V. – ISD-Bund e.V. by its German acronym), chronicles experiences of people of color in Germany from the early 19th century to recent years. It is being shown at Historically Black College and Universities this fall as part of the 2018 Campus Weeks project.

Dr. Fatima El-Tayeb, Professor of African-American Literature and Culture and Director of Critical Gender Studies and on the affiliated faculty for the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of CA at San Diego, gave a lecture titled “Homestory Deutschland: On the (Im)possibility of being Black and German.”

Dagmar Schulz’s film, “Audre Lorde: the Berlin Years,” was followed by a lively discussion led by Morgan State professors, Dr. Sandra Skene (Gender Studies) and Dr. Jewel Debnam (History). High school students from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute joined Morgan students for a round table discussion on “The African-American Scholar in Germany: a Morgan Perspective.” Dr. Zekeh Gbotokuma from the Department of Philosophy moderated the panel, which included four Morgan students who had studied in Berlin. 

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Building bridges, celebrating friendship

What symbolizes the friendship of two nations better than a bridge between them? A slackliner walking across a highline between two hot air balloons, one featuring the German flag and the other the American flag.

This crazy idea — that may cause many to shudder just thinking about — was made possible last week over the mountains of Monument Valley along the Arizona-Utah border. Niklas Winter, a German athlete for slacklining group One Inch Dreams, braved the 33-foot walk at 1,640 feet in the air, looking down at the red desert sand of the Navajo Nation Reservation. After days of unpredictable and difficult weather conditions that delayed the stunt, the forecast finally cooperated, making the feat possible on October 25. With the help of a dedicated team — including Utah State Senator and balloon pilot Curt Bramble — and local support on the ground, Winter successfully walked across the highline.

The stunt is a testament to the strong ties between our two countries. Many new bonds have been forged during this project, and friendships developed in new areas and with new communities in the U.S. The project evinces the heights we can reach together. As we face shared challenges, we must build more and stronger bridges between our people.

This venture is part of Wunderbar Together. For an entire year, we are celebrating the German-American friendship with over 1,000 events throughout the U.S. We will paint a picture of everything our relations stand for in an array of topics including science, the arts, culture, language, business and of course sports. We’re excited for what other thrilling events are yet to come. Stay tuned!

By Alina Burkholder, German Embassy

Breakdance meets Bach: The Flying Steps perform at the Lincoln Memorial

Four-time break-dance world champions the Flying Steps held a special performance at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to kick-start our year-long campaign, Wunderbar Together – a celebration of the German-American friendship.

The B-Boy crew, which has been around since 1993, combined break-dancing with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach for a one-of-a-kind performance in the nation’s capital.

The Flying Steps combined break-dancing with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. © Nicole Glass / German Embassy

The show took place during the opening week of our Wunderbar Together campaign, which celebrates the transatlantic partnership between the US and Germany through dialogue, experience and exchange.

Crowds at the Lincoln Memorial cheer for the Flying Steps. © Nicole Glass / German Embassy

The Flying Steps crew was formed by Vartan Bassil and Kadir „Amigo” Memis in Berlin, Germany. Currently the group consists of nine members. In 2007, the group established the Flying Steps Academy, which is the largest urban dance school in Germany. The group is currently on tour in the US.

The Flying Steps take a group photo with members of the “Wunderbar Together” team. © Nicole Glass / German Embassy

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift

An American aircraft drops food and supplies near a crowd of Berliners during the blockade of Berlin. © dpa / picture-alliance

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and 1949, which is widely considered a turning point in the German-American relationship.

After the end of the Second World War, Germany was divided into the American, British, French and Soviet occupation zones. Although Berlin lay within the Soviet occupation zone, the city itself was also divided into four sectors. In 1948, the Allied nations created a single new currency – the Deutsche Mark – for their occupation zones. The Soviets were displeased with this move, fearing that this new currency would devalue the Reichsmark they were using in the East. As a result, they began a blockade of West Berlin, hoping to starve the western powers out of the city. Without the intervention of the Allies, there would have been a humanitarian disaster and many people would have starved to death.

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Delaware’s Enzian Volkstanzgruppe celebrates 50 years

Anke Popper of the German Embassy Washington presents the German-American Friendship Award to Brian Schulz, President of the EVTG (second from left), and Tommy Keith, Vorplattler of the EVTG (fourth from left). Also present are Edeltraut Gilgenast of the Culture Committee of the Delaware Sängerbund, and Dr. Carl Renner, President of the Delaware Sängerbund.

“Sitt’ und Brauch der Alten Wollen Wir erhalten.”

If it’s an authentic experience of the Bavarian mountain culture you seek, you needn’t head for the foothills of the Alps south of Munich.

Rather, if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, a more convenient—and less mountainous—destination lies at hand.

Head to the “Deutsche Halle” of the Delaware Sängerbund in Newark, DE (that’s Delaware, not Deutschland!) for a festive dance performance by the Enzian Volkstanzgruppe—the traditional Alpine dance ensemble of the Sängerbund—founded 1853, making it one of the oldest German social clubs in the country.

The Enzian Volkstanzgruppe, or EVTG, founded in 1968, has been keeping the German mountain traditions alive for 50 years now. On Saturday, September 15, 2018, the dance troupe members along with many friends and guests from the Gauverband Nordamerika—the association of 72 member Vereine dedicated to preserving Alpine traditions—gathered to celebrate the 50th “Stiftungsfest” or founding, of the EVTG.

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The 61st annual Steuben Parade celebrates German culture and heritage

The 61st annual German-American Steuben Parade was held in New York City over the weekend, once again bringing out thousands of spectators to celebrate German-American friendship, culture, history and heritage.

Germans and Americans lined the parade route, wearing traditional German clothing (including the famous Dirndl and Lederhosen), waving German flags and cheering on those who marched in the parade. The parade featured many different marching divisions and even showcased old German cars. The German Embassy featured a float that promoted the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift – a mission in which the United States and the United Kingdom airlifted food and fuel to the people of Berlin after the Soviets blockaded the city in 1948 and 1949. The Airlift is considered a turning point after the Second World War for the German-American friendship.

At the end of the parade route, the Steuben Parade Oktoberfest served thousands of hungry people in Central Park. Featuring German food and live bands, the afternoon of September 15 once again marked an important occasion for the German-American community in New York.

The parade is one of the largest German-American events in the world and is named in honor of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730-1793), a Prussian general who came to the United States to support General George Washington in the American Revolution. Similar parades and festivities are also held annually in Philadelphia and Chicago.

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