Philip Oltermann

Philip Oltermann’s Keeping Up with the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters came out earlier this year.

In Berlin

Philip Oltermann, 5 July 2012

The day before the latest elections in Athens, the German tabloid Bild published an open letter. ‘Dear Greeks,’ it read, ‘Please don’t do anything stupid … The only reason that you are able to get euros out of your cash machines is that we, the Germans, and other euro states have put them there … Tomorrow you have a choice. But it isn’t really a...

The cow, the shoe, then you: Hans Fallada

Philip Oltermann, 8 March 2012

On Tuesday, 17 October 1911, 18-year-old Rudolf Ditzen, the future Hans Fallada, got up before dawn to meet his schoolfriend Hanns Dietrich von Necker at a tourist spot outside Rudolstadt in Thuringia. Some weeks beforehand, they had agreed to take each other’s lives in a double suicide, though they hadn’t been able to decide how to do it. Fallada was carrying a Tesching gun,...

From The Blog
8 December 2010

Those who should hear, they hear no more,Destroyed is the army that went to war,With thirteen thousand their trek began,Only one came back from Afghanistan. These lines weren’t written by Andrew Motion or Carol Ann Duffy but by the 19th-century German novelist and poet Theodor Fontane. Between 1855 and 1859 he was the Prussian ministry’s foreign correspondent in London: he found himself increasingly frustrated by the local fondness for drinking and dancing (‘Music, as many have pointed out, is England’s Achilles heel’) and the class system (‘England and Germany relate to one another like form and content’).

I and I: Thomas Glavinic

Philip Oltermann, 14 August 2008

The opening scene of Night Work, Thomas Glavinic’s Viennese novel, recalls something Karl Kraus said about the city in 1914: Vienna was a ‘Versuchsstation des Weltuntergangs’, an experimental station for the apocalypse. Jonas, Glavinic’s protagonist, gets up one morning and switches on the TV. There is no picture, only snow. He checks the post, but the paper...

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