The next few posts will be about my visits with people in Kella, population plus minus 500. When Germany was divided after WWII, Kella ended up in the 500-meter Schutzstreifen (“protective zone”) right next to the border strip, which meant that its residents had to put up with considerable restrictions on everyday life, imposed by… Read more Visiting
One of my favorite places on my border expedition was the German Unity Sculpture Park in the Rhön Mountains. The park sits directly in the former border strip between East and West Germany and was created by the artist and engineer Jimmy Fell. I found the installations – among them “Expulsion”, the “Miracle of Leipzig”,… Read more News from the German Unity Sculpture Park
(…which, of course, did not just fall… it was brought down by a Peaceful Revolution!). My hometown newspaper, Weser Kurier, asked far-away readers to share their memories of that day. My piece is the third one down.
How do you reconnect with your home country after living an ocean away for more than half your life? If the country is Germany and you like to travel by bicycle, you embark on a border journey. At least that’s what I did… You are invited to a presentation about my expedition at the Fletcher Free Library next… Read more Border Journey: Public talk at the Fletcher Free Library
Today is the 29th anniversary of German Reunification. What actually took place on that day in 1990 is slightly more complicated. For one, East Germany formally “acceded” to the territory and constitution of West Germany, rather than two states uniting on equal terms. Whether the latter could actually have happened we will probably never know.… Read more Day of German Unity
Today’s excerpt from Chapter 8 also takes place in Rüterberg, the little village on the German-German border that was doubly fenced-in. If you missed last week’s posting on why, you can catch up here. In today’s excerpt, find out about the border violation committed by the former mayor and his wife, and what it was like to… Read more A border violation
Germany is fast approaching the 30thanniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which took the country and the world by surprise on November 9, 1989 (for more on how this actually came about, stay tuned for the book!) Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, for a tiny East German village 130 miles northwest… Read more The Villagers’ Rebellion
Syrian architect Mohamad Hafez was at the Fleming Museum recently to speak about how as a college student in Iowa back in 2004, he began to build miniature scenes of his native city, Damascus, to work through his homesickness. I’ve been thinking about his work a lot, so I finally wrote a commentary about it.
More contemplations from the borderland: Excerpts from Chapter 7 In the Middle Ages, Heimat was a legal term that meant someone had the right to settle, live, and follow their trade in a particular location. The word still has the meaning of home place, or the place a person is from. But most of the… Read more “This is my country”
(Click on the heading to get to the video link) An excellent little video showing what a ‘hard border’ would mean to the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland.