Hamburg Journal





Memorial in Berlin (October 01, 2005)
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was opened in Berlin on May 10, 2005. It covers 19,000 square meters in the heart of the city very close to the Brandenburg Gate and just across the street from the US Embassy whose new building is now under construction. The photos here were taken on May 15th, a Sunday... To read more and to see the pictures, click here.


Stefan Aust, Editor-in-Chief of Der Spiegel
Read about Stefan Aust's June 2nd speech at the American Club of Hamburg.


Air Bus
The maiden flight of Airbus A 380 last week was perfectly timed to the arrival of spring... [Read more]


Der Spiegel

Der Spiegel, one of Germany's leading news magazines (and weighing in at about three times the size of Time or Newsweek) now has an English language on-line look at Germany and the world, Spiegel International service.spiegel.de/cache/international. In order to access the site which has news, features and opinion pieces, a one time registration process needs to be filled out. The site is free and international archives are available.

Der Spiegel is, of course, available on line in German at www.spiegel.de.


Hamburg's Harley Days

25,000 Harley-Davidson bikers and 300,000 on-lookers attended this past weekend's Harley Days. The highlight was the late Sunday morning parade of Harleys through the city of Hamburg. The youngest biker was a 4 year old from Berlin whose relatives spent 1,000 euros and half a year putting the one meter long machine together. Named NemoStyle, it can run six kilometers an hour. The oldest couple who took part in the Ride-in-Bike Show are 78 and 77 years old respectively.

German TV and an American Parody

Weltspiegel, a 40 minute foreign affairs journal which is aired every Sunday evening on Das Erste (ARD) a public TV station, showed the animation This Land – a parody on the Woody Guthrie song. It reported it is one of the hottest websites being sent around the U.S. on the eve of the Democratic Party Convention which convenes in Boston. www.jibjab.com.

Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 opens in Hamburg theaters on Thursday, July 29th.


Queen Mary in Hamburg (July 19, 2004)



The Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship in the world, is on a brief visit to Hamburg. It looks pretty big - awesome, actually - and there's a steady stream of onlookers walking around Baumwall and the promenade. She's docked directly behind the first buildings in the Speicherstadt, the warehouses built well over 100 years ago, and a main attraction in Hamburg. Unfortunately, The Queen Mary will only be here for 24 hours.


Soccer, Hamburg and Europe (July 5, 2004)

The 7,640 Greeks living in Hamburg went wild last night when Greece won its first European Championship Cup ever on July 4th. Cars displaying flying Greek flags, horns blaring, caroused the streets celebrating victory. The Portuguese community in Hamburg mourned its loss in Little Portugal, an area very close to the city's famous harbor. The 9,703 Portuguese here represent an old community dating back to the Middle Ages when a Portuguese King's marriage to a Spanish princess brought the Inquisition to Portugal thus forcing the Jewish population there to flee in large numbers to Hamburg.

Who were the Germans rooting for in the final game? It all depended on politics and points of view. The real hero was the coach of the Greek team, Otto Rehagel, a very well-known, highly successful former coach of today's number one German team, Werder Bremen. Rehagel, who can't speak a word of Greek but who is assisted by a Greek who was born in Stuttgart and raised in Germany and the one doing the translating, shook the Greek team into shape. Newspaper articles claim Greek baby boys are now being named Otto. The Portuguese team whose soccer uniforms are in red and green were the favorite team of the present Red/Green coalition in Berlin, the Social Democrats and the Green Party. Indeed, Otto Schilly, the Secretary of the Interior and the one responsible for all national German athletic teams, travelled to Lisbon to watch the game, representing Germany. Of course, add to this the fact that the coach of the German National Team, Rudi Voeller, graciously resigned after Germany's loss to the Czech Republic in one of the championship's most boring games. Voeller is a much loved and respected figure and in his own playing days one of Germany's best soccer players is relished for being soft-spoken and very honest. Commentaries in the media and on the street draw parallels between Voeller's honesty and openness, and how present day politicians are, well, politicians. Wouldn't it be refreshing to have someone of his stature in political life? The real buzz and speculation is if Rehagel can return to Germany and help whip this nation's team into shape.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung spoke of the German team's "plodding, spiritless, unimaginative performance. The team was just like the country's political and business communities, sluggishly going through the motions." Their elimination in Portugal "did not cause any sort of collective mourning across Germany, which has been doleful for years and seems to have simply gotten used to today's bad times." Perhaps. Then again it just might be part of a truly "new" Germany, one whose pacifistic tendencies do wear well. It's a country that no longer broods at losing and can be happy and rejoice when another wins and particularly when the others are part of a greater European family. The so-called "big" countries of the European Union all lost to the "little" ones. Hands on heart, the Greeks can hardly be called "little" in historic dimensions any more than the Portuguese can. As for Old and New Europe, well that is a completely other story. Hamburg had enough reasons to celebrate these last two weeks and now life returns to normal. Well, almost, until the Tour de France is over with Lance Armstrong vs Jens Ulrich or whatever surprise the race has in store for viewers.


European Parliament Elections

The Green Party is the big winner in Hamburg in elections for the European Parliament. It received an astounding 24.5%, a plus of 12.5% over the 1999 results. The conservative CDU, the present governing party in Hamburg, received 36.8%, down 3.4%. The SPD barely managed second place at 25.3%, down 12% and the liberal FDP cleared the 5% hurdle necessary and clocked in at 5.5%, a plus of 2%. A record low turn-out of 35%, down 2%, does not necessarily show any lack of enthusiasm for the European Union, but more a sign of boredom and good weather as a local newspaper put it. Less than half of the citizens in the newly enlarged Europe Union, 44.6% of the 342 million eligible voters, cast their ballots. In Germany 43.5% decided to vote, down from 45.2%. Hamburg has two members in the EP. Vural Öger, a Turkish born German citizen, for the SPD and Georg Jarzembowski for the CDU. The European Parliament sits in Stassbourg.


Soccer Fever

You suddenly pull into the parking lot of a normally busy mall only to find all the parking you ever dreamed of, the mall totally empty, the salespeople more unavailable than usual and you know instantly that a two year cycle is completed. This time round it is the European Championship in Soccer, Euro 2004, and not the World Championship Games of 2002. Every European's most loved sport is intensely, devotedly, slavishly followed here. Serious businessmen carry TV sets to the office, waiters at your local Italian restaurant show signs of mourning when their team loses; in short, life literally comes to a standstill when the national team plays. Some things can only be learned in childhood, for example, an accent and certain illogical grammatical rules, or a bond with a comfort food that would make a stranger ill, or a total, complete emotional tie to a sport. That's it. That's Germany and soccer.

Of course, on the heels of these championship games comes the Tour de France. Drahtesel, unprofessionally translated as Wire Donkey, but in real terms "a bike" is every citizen's favorite mode of transportation. The ultimate in biking, the Tour de France is followed, somewhat less intensely, but with an admiration that leads to people spending up to six hours in blistering sunshine or a downpour to watch the men, unfortunately, only men till now, whiz past in about three seconds. It's not unusual to have evening conversations with friends on their biking trips along the Elbe from Hamburg to Prague or Hamburg to Dresden (for the less confident).

The world champions in women's soccer are the Germans and most sportscasters on public German TV, the two main stations here, are women.


Stolpersteine

Stolpersteine are 4-by-4-inch brass-plated cobblestones that are set into the sidewalks outside of the former homes of persons deported by the Nazi regime. The inscriptions on the stones include the names, birth, death and deportation dates of the victims. The stones are embedded to cause those walking over them to trip and take notice. A ceremony in the St. Michaelis Church on April 19 honored the 600 sponsors who support this action in Hamburg. Together they received a prize of 15,000 Euros which will be used to publish a map of where these stones are in this city and to document this action in an academic study. Miriam Gillis-Carlebach, the third eldest daughter of a former head rabbi of Hamburg, Joseph Carlebach, was present as the initiator and sculptor Gunter Demning placed eleven such stones in front of the house she grew up in on Hallerstrasse. To date Demning has placed 3400 of these stones in Germany.

Jefferson Chase, a writer living in Berlin, wrote Stumbling Over the Holocaust, a report about Demning and his project for the Boston Globe Sunday Idea Section on April 11, 2004. This article can be found in the archive section at www.boston.com.

"stumbling_over_the_holocaust" (at the Boston Globe's Website)


Local Election in Hamburg

Hamburg held an earlier than expected election on February 29th. The previous election in October 2001 shifted the political landscape from the SPD to a coalition of CDU and a new party headed by a former judge with a reputation as a law-and-order advocate. The SPD had been the dominate party in the post WW II years. The new coalition broke ranks in late 2003 and the election gave the CDU with Ole von Buest as its leading candidate a clear mandate with 47.2% of the vote.

The citizens of Hamburg did not use electronic voting, butterfly ballots, chad-producing punch cards or paper ballots that are fed into an optical scanner. Voters use a simple ballpoint pen and a paper ballot which has to be folded by the voter and put into a ballot box. Six volunteers count the ballots by hand immediately following the election. The counting is open to the public and journalists are often present and report on the procedure. Citizens have to bring their registration cards which are automatically sent to them weeks before the election with precise information on where their polling stations are (or detailed information on how to obtain an absentee ballot) and the number of registration cards has to agree with the number of votes counted. The ballots are counted again, independently, by local authorities later in the evening.

Special notice was taken when banks were used as a polling station and the video cameras were tuned off during the election. Up till now there has been no public discussion about any need for machines to replace people when counting ballots in any election, either local or federal.


For more information on electronic voting in the U.S. see:

www.verifiedvoting.org
www.workingforchange.com
www.mediafordemocracy.us/campaign/evote
www.truemajority.org
www.action.eff.org


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