Adam Bisno by cuiliqing


									Student Reports
                                                  Second World War, provided a rich
Adam Bisno                                        background to the overwhelmingly
                                                  positive reception of Obama in Europe.
History, Johns Hopkins University                 An       American      president        as
                                                  “Hoffnungsträger” is, after all, an old
               This summer’s German               notion. The weight of that precedent
               Summer Studies Program             seemed to anchor the discussion, and it
               (SAIS) opened my eyes to           certainly    bolstered   Dr.    Guerot’s
               different ways of thinking         arguments about the cultural and political
               about Germany’s present            importance to Europeans of Obama’s
               and past. As a graduate            election. A discussion ostensibly about
               student of German history          hopes for the future came to revolve, in
at Johns Hopkins, I spend a lot of time           some part, around apparitions from the
thinking about nineteenth- and early              past.
twentieth-century Germany.
                                                    Discussions with leaders of industry
When it comes to contemporary                       and government, conversations with
Germany, however, I have felt myself to            colleagues and academics, reflections
be on shakier ground. The German                     on experiences in Berlin, Frankfurt
Summer Studies Program helped me right             (Oder), and Leipzig––all provided new
this imbalance.                                        perspectives on contemporary
Particularly fascinating was the dialogue
between past and present that underlay            The past was of more direct and
(and sometimes undercut) much of what I           sustained concern for Ms. Salamon,
heard those two weeks in Germany. This            director of the Archiv der Zentralstelle der
relationship of the German present to the         Stasi-Unterlagen-Behörde, the final resting
German past became for me the theme of            place of much of the Stasi’s data.
the Program, and thus the theme of this
reflective essay on my time in Germany            Her sense of responsibility to a recent
this spring.                                      past, during which thousands of Germans
                                                  suffered under GDR’s security apparatus,
The panel discussion (“Obama als                  showed almost immediately. Her staff, a
Hoffnungsträger?”) at the Freie Universität       few of whom we met during our tour of
Berlin was what got me thinking about             the building complex, shared this sense of
the relationship between past and                 responsibility.
present in German political discourse. Dr.        A sense of responsibility also ran through
Ulrike Guerot’s comments about the                Dr. Magirius’s remarks during our
particularity of the U.S.-European                discussion at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig,
relationship, predicated on a shared              of which he was Pastor during the famous
experience and historical memory of               sit-ins at the end of the GDR-era. Magirius
liberation and occupation after the               told us an anecdote about the Holocaust --

or its aftermath, at any rate. A Jewish           His or not, however, the views he offered
cemetery in Berlin lay in ruins,                  were fascinating and caused me to
overgrown, after the war. A group of              question again the extent to which the
Christians under Magirius went to the site        historian is influenced by audience and
and put it in order: pathways were                bias when she feels she must lay blame on
cleared, grave markers cleaned, and a             one side or another.
prayer recited. This was work on the
past, in its way, though altogether               Blame was not part of the deep,
different from the work that Salamon              enlightening discussion we had with Dr.
undertakes at the archives. Where she             Klausmeier at the Wall Memorial
seeks to preserve, Magirius wanted to             Foundation.     His approach to the
make good. These two different kinds of           construction of a people’s history of the
dealing with two very different pasts left        wall was nuanced and extremely careful.
me with several questions about the
myriad ways that Germans feel                      But just as thought-provoking as Dr.
responsible for the past, for legacies of          Klausmeier’s talk, and the talks of all
different epochs and different events. I            the others we attended in our two
became aware, as often happens, of my                  weeks in Germany, were the
own subjectivity in viewing German                conversations I had with my colleagues
history from my external vantage point.                       and Dr. Führich.

One of the historians we met, this one just       One story he related, this one about the
across the Oder in Slubice, had his own,          controversy around portraying felled
very different and possibly peculiar sense        border guards as victims of the wall and
of responsibility about the past. Having          GDR terror, raised for me several
perhaps misjudged his audience to be less         interesting   questions     about    the
informed about the history of the Second          relationship between the act of
World War than we were, Dr.                       remembering and the act of blaming
Wojciechowski engaged in an analysis of           when it comes to a regime as oppressive
the bad blood between Germany and                 and as recent as that of (former) East
Poland.                                           Germany.

A great friend of Germans and proponent           But just as thought-provoking as Dr.
of reconciliation and integration, Dr.            Klausmeier’s talk, and the talks of all the
Wojciechowski nonetheless painted a               others we attended in our two weeks in
picture of his people as the ultimate             Germany, were the conversations I had
victims, of the Germans as ultimate               with my colleagues and Dr. Führich.
perpetrators. Ignoring in his speech
much about the extent to which some               Conducted formally at our breakfast
Poles willingly participated in the German        meetings or informally over a late evening
war     effort    and      genocide,    Dr.       beer at the corner bar, these discussions
Wojciechowski           might          have       kept me on my toes.
misrepresented his own views; he might            There were students of public policy and
have judged his audience unready for the          international relations, of contemporary
complicated, tangled history of Polish            German literature and Weimar women
victimization in the Second World War.            writers, of physical geography and Middle

East politics; we argued in good spirits,          the trip for me from a political
sampled several varieties of German cuisine,       perspective. Speaking openly with
and even read Faust aloud at Auerbachs             students, with Americans sitting on his
Keller.    This   temporary,     peripatetic       home turf, his approach was convivial and
community yielded the best memories of all.        frank when discussing German and
                                                   European foreign policy perspectives.

                                                   The openness with which he answered
                                                   our questions, which ran the gamut from
Julia Friedlander                                  European Security and Defense Policy,
                                                   Iran and Russia, and of course the
Energy, Resources & Environment,                   requisite transatlantic relations, I think
SAIS                                               surprised all of us. It was great to receive
                                                   such expert insight.
                 Having lived and worked
                 in Germany for several                  Our meeting with MdB Klose
                 years,    I    had     had           highlighted the trip for me from a
                 experience of working              political perspective. Speaking openly
                 for    various    political        with students, with Americans sitting
                 organizations in Berlin.             on his home turf, his approach was
                                                     convivial and frank when discussing
But the German Summer Studies Program               German and European foreign policy
afforded me the opportunity to engage in                         perspectives.
similar topics and activities, but this time
from the perspective of an American                I especially appreciated our tour of the
student.                                           Berliner Mauermuseum. I had been there
                                                   before, but had not received nearly as
I am extremely grateful to the                     much insight into the micro history of the
contributions of my peers. Joined                  place, the dedication of individuals, and
together from SAIS, Johns Hopkins,                 been able to feel the past of the place so
Georgetown, and George Washington, we              tangibly. Our tour guide was an inspired
all came with unique backgrounds,                  Berliner who saw the history, so he
experiences, and opinions, which we were           professed, as his own, enlightened us with
then able to jostle together during our            every encyclopedic detail, and we were all
frequent discussions, be they around a             impressed. Afterwards, speaking with the
conference table in the Bundestag, over            curator of the museum, who professed
breakfast, or in a bar.                            that as a West German, this history was
                                                   not his own, we discussed the difficult
In each instance, I felt blessed to have           formula of historical preservation,
spent two weeks with a group of such               historical memory, and what is it to
smart and talented individuals who were            memorialize. Every corner of Berlin is a
able to teach me much more than I learn            testament to something, and his academic
in a classroom.                                    approach drew us closer into the
                                                   problematic of the curator in Germany
Our meeting with MdB Klose highlighted             who handles material concerning

dictatorial regimes: how do you criticize          Our trips to the Volksbühne and Deutsche
when it is not appropriate to incriminate,         Staatsoper allowed us to experience
and how to you show respect for a non-             varying German theatrical styles, from
hero?                                              “high art” with Mozart and Die Entführung
                                                   aus dem Serail to a recreated Greek
The Zeitgeschichtliches Forum in Leipzig           “agora” for Brecht’s Die Geschäfte des
was a wonder for our historical and                Herrn Julius Caesar in front of the popular
political minds. Beginning with the                and populist minded Volksbühne on Rosa-
devastation of the postwar Stunde Null             Luxemburg Platz. The group was exposed
and ending with the 2006 World Cup, the            to German theater-making in its
exhibit here tracked two parallel German           traditional and alternative permutations.
histories, clarifying stark differences but        Ironically, however, Brecht’s play is albeit
also noting striking similarities that one         avant-garde interpretation of a very
might normally be all too willing to               classical theme, staged in an ancient style
overlook: the reconstruction of a political        of theater, and the Entführung featured
system, of civil society, of education, and        singers in modern dress hanging off of
of national ethos. Historical museums are          plain white walls inside a very ornate
often problematic. Museums show art, but           opera house. For me, this represented the
historical ones must show artifacts:               play on old and new and the tendency
political posters, clothing, household             towards historical mixing that is so
items. Yet again we were accompanied by            prevalent in German literature, art, and
an enthusiastic student who was able to            theater. The idea is to be daring and
see the greater meaning in some of these           traditional at the same time, which strikes
items for those of us who were not                 an aesthetic cord in me each time.
familiar with some of these ideas and
objects. I am used to my German history               Moving onto the scientific and the
books trailing two separate timelines in           economic, the day our group spent with
their appendices. The attitude of these              the Fraunhofer Institut in Halle was
books is as follows: present West German              fascinating. Presented with solar
history and then the East German state as          technological research, we were able to
a stagnant bloc that eventually falls in on         dive into Germany’s most fashionable
itself and disappears back onto the West            and growing investment in renewable
German timeline. I reveled in this                               technology.
museum for the sheer fact that it did the
opposite.                                          But the outlook was not completely
                                                   positive: we were educated as to pros and
Moving onto the scientific and the                 cons of solar, and guided through the
economic, the day our group spent with             laboratories. Germany’s main problem,
the Fraunhofer Institut in Halle was               besides failing to shore up enough
fascinating.   Presented    with   solar           financing to install major facilities, is that
technological research, we were able to            there is just not enough sun in Germany.
dive into Germany’s most fashionable and           The solution? Cover the Sahara Desert in
growing investment in renewable                    solar panels, perhaps… but then you need
technology.                                        to store the harnessed energy in water
                                                   and ship it to Europe, or built an

extensive electricity network. Such                 of the program had the most impact on
realities made the prospect of a solar-             me.
powered Germany rather fanciful, but the
mode of thinking and creativity presented             The importance of the transatlantic
to us was inspiring. After spending a week            relationship, the effect of President
and a half discussing politics and history,          Obama’s election on this partnership,
which is my bread and butter I won’t                    and the integration reforms that
complain, it was very appropriate and               addresses Germany’s largest immigrant
also a highlight of the program to learn               group were an integral part of the
from a premier German institute how                             overall program.
new energy technologies are financed and
developed.                                          At the core of the program the processes
                                                    and the results of twenty years of
I feel privileged to have been able to              integration was continually highlighted
participate in such a worthy program                and seeing the results and differences
funded by the Transatlantic Program of              firsthand was a vital part of
the Federal Republic of Germany. And I              understanding the significance and
have learned so much more than I had                meaning of the 20 year anniversary.
known before, even after several years on           Barack Obama’s election as President was
my own as a Berlin fanatic and history              not only a historical moment for many
buff.                                               Americans but it also represented an
                                                    important shift in American foreign
                                                    policy. This political shift will prove vital
                                                    in renewing the German-American
                                                    relationship. It was an honor to have the
Janice Johnson                                      opportunity       to      discuss       these
                                                    developments with Hans-Ulrich Klose,
                                                    Vice Chair of the Foreign Relations
International Law & Organizations,
                                                    Committee in the Bundestag. Mr. Klose
The George Washington University
                                                    presented       the      importance        of
                                                    strengthening       the      Euro-American
                As November 9th, 2009
                                                    relationship, as well as the difference
                approaches Germany will
                                                    between the Bush administrations and
                celebrate 20 years of
                                                    that of President Obama’s, as seen from
                reunification. In the last
                                                    Europe. What he found most refreshing
                20 years much has been
                                                    was the new administration’s attitude
                accomplished in Germany
                                                    towards Europe and in particular the
                and in post-cold war
                                                    renewing      of     the     Euro-American
Europe as a whole. The German Studies
                                                    relationship, a vital step in closing the rift
Program “20 Years After The Wall,”
                                                    caused by the Iraq war.
offered by the Johns Hopkins School of
Advanced International Studies, addressed
                                                    Mr. Klose allowed us to see from a
the accomplishments of the last twenty
                                                    European    perspective   a    different
years in the area of integration and also in
                                                    understanding behind President Obama’s
the key relationship between Germany
and the United States. These two aspects

 With President Obama comes the                   Germany struggles to reconcile another
understanding that Europe will be a full          form of integration as it becomes home to
partner with the United States. A promise         many immigrants of Muslim heritage. Our
of multilateral partnerships and a greater        meeting with Burhan Kesici, Chair of the
role for Europe, he hoped would                   Islamic Federation Berlin, brought the
characterize the new American foreign             question of cultural integration of Islam in
policy.                                           modern Germany to light. Mr. Kesici
                                                  addressed some of the key issues facing
   This promise of greater European               many immigrants of Muslim heritage in
 participation was a recurring theme              Germany.
  and was also highlighted by a panel
discussion which took place at the Post-          Many of these children of migrant
Graduate Program in European Studies              workers, born and raised in Germany, still
  at the Free University in Berlin. This          contend to define themselves in the
    panel presented a wide array of               culture of their parents at the same time
      expertise on the future of the              while trying to reconcile their identity as
       transatlantic relationship.                German citizens. This is a reality faced not
                                                  only by members of the Muslim-
Combining the minds of academia and               immigrant community but one that has
professionals in the field, the panel             come to the attention of German
presented a comprehensive look at the             government as well. In the last few years
state of Euro-American relationship and           as Germany as adapted many new laws
the role Obama’s policies will play. The          and reform to improve the integration of
themes addressed at this panel were               new immigrants and as well as grant
clear; America cannot continue to act             rights to second-generation immigrants.
without Europe, especially in the areas of        Although, these steps are important and
security and energy politics. Although,           necessary Mr. Kesici highlighted the
Europe’s power may not lie with military          disparities that are still facing many
might, but instead with its status as a           Muslim immigrants in Germany.
large consumer economy, acting with
instead of against Europe will prove to be        What struck me most was his discussion
in the benefit of the United States.              of second generation German -Muslims
                                                   who sometimes live in two contending
Integration of East and West Germany                             worlds.
was an important discussion throughout
the trip. Travelling from West to East a          Kreuzberg, most noted for its high
clear visual difference can be seen.              concentration of immigrants and second-
                                                  generation immigrants illustrates these
Despite the efforts of the last twenty            inequalities. Foremost of these is rate of
years, there still exists an economic gap         unemployment that tends to be
between East and West. The lost                   disproportionally    higher    in    high
industries of the east are constant               immigrant areas such as Kreuzberg. The
reminders as abandon factories dot the            government has taken steps to remedy
route from Berlin to Frankfurt an der             this disparity, by addressing one of the
Oder.                                             primary reasons denying new immigrants

entrance into the employment market,                combination of both academics and
that of language.         Integration and           professionals was an essential part of
language courses are an essential tool              understanding the main themes of the
implemented to give immigrants the                  program. This comprehensive approach,
necessary tools to increase marketability.          which also included cultural and social
However, it is too soon to garner the total         events in both Berlin and East Germany,
effectiveness of these integration courses.         allowed    participants   a    complete
                                                    immersion in the program.
This of course led to the question facing
both the German government and the                  Unique to this program though is the
immigrant population, but a question that           building of the specific vocabulary that is
may yield different answers for both                vital for the students of German history
groups. What is integration? How is that            and International Relations.
process achieved? It was very interesting
to hear both sides of the argument, both            Whether it was an opera in Berlin or a
from Mr. Kesici and from the various                reading of Faust in the Auerbachs Keller,
lectures on German immigration and                  the German Studies Program not only
migration. Although the debate centers              improved my language skills but also gave
on what exactly needs to be done to foster          me a new appreciation for the levels of
true integration, the ultimate dissention           integration that Germany (between East
between the two camps lies with the                 and West as well as within the field of
meaning of integration.        Despite the          immigration) has achieved thus far and
differences that separate the two sides of          the steps it has taken to improve upon the
the debate, what was made clear is that             last twenty years.
both sides are working toward the same
goals. Closing the wage and economic
disparity in cities like Kreuzberg is at the
forefront of both sides of the debates.
Although the process by which to arrive             Yelena Kashina
at this goal may be different for both sides
the German government’s continued                   International Security &
conversation with entities such as the              Organizations, Georgetown University
Islamic Federation of Berlin will facilitate
a process that will keep integration of                              The     German     Studies
immigrants at the forefront of German                                Summer Program 2009 in
politics.                                                            Berlin has truly proved to
                                                                     be fascinating and eye
Through the meetings with politicians                                opening. I would like to
   and academia, not only did my                                     begin by thanking Dr.
 understanding of the subject matter                                 Angelika Führich for
greatly improve but so did my German                organizing such an intensive and
           language skills.                         informative trip. Truly the most
                                                    significant aspect of this program was its
                                                    interdisciplinary    nature     and     the
The SAIS German Studies Program is a
                                                    opportunity to discuss this with our peers
comprehensive and unique program. The
                                                    in German, as well as with experts.

I enjoyed interacting with the participants        a necessary evil. Mr. Klose also
on this trip, who came from a variety of           underlined that in spite of dwindling
disciplines, including German literature,          public support of the ISAF mission in
history, geology as well as international          Germany, the government remains
relations. Their contributions to our              committed     to    its    NATO     troops
discussions were invaluable in inspiring           contribution. In this way, understanding
thought and considering an issue in a              German-US-EU relations was a timely and
different light.                                   constructive dialogue, especially in
                                                   focusing the transition to the Obama
The aspect of this trip that I found the           Administration and the way that it would
most intriguing was the opportunity to             impact the transatlantic relationship
interact with policy makers, such as Hans-
Ulrich Klose, the Vice-Chair of the Foreign        As part of the program, I found that
Relations Committee at the Deutscher               meeting with students at the Freie
Bundestag. I was afforded the opportunity          Universität Berlin was only the beginning
to ask Mr. Klose questions in German, and          of exploring the German and European
discuss topics that I have covered in my           culture. The optimism of the panelists
German and European Studies program at             regarding the changing administration
Georgetown. In this way, I gained                  exhibited at the discussion, entitled
understanding of Germany’s involvement             “Obama as ‘Promise of Hope? New
in Afghanistan and its perception by the           Chances? New Challenges in the Future
German government and people.                      Transatlantic Relations?”, impressed me.
                                                   In a way, they expressed pessimism at the
 The most striking aspect was realizing            unilateral approach of the Bush
 how differently we discuss EU topics in           Administration to diplomacy and the lack
 the USA and in Europe. The Global War             of involvement in the United Nations. The
on Terrorism in the EU for example, is a           students of the Freie Universität likewise
topic that is free of the war-like rhetoric        expressed optimism in this regards.
  that has characterized US dialogue in
        the Bush Administration.                   The striking difference as perceived by
                                                   Germans and the relevant figures, such as
Furthermore, the transatlantic differences         the higher unemployment rates in the
on battling terrorism were striking. While         former      GDR      territories,    lower
the EU appears to be concerned more                demographics in regards to youth, etc,
with home-grown terrorism, integration             underlined that Germany is not as
of    the    Muslim      population    and         homogenous as may appear. However,
understanding        the     causes      of        this difference is not as detrimental as
radicalization, the US approach differs            may appear. A visit to the Fraunhofer
radically. From this discussion I learned          Center in Halle, revealed that the Eastern
that Germany and the US view their                 region is working hard to find ways for
adversaries     quite differently.     The         renewable energy via solar energy.
adversary seems to be close in some
regards to the European homeland with              A significant aspect of this trip was a
homegrown terrorism, but the war in                chance to see the impact of the Wende on
Afghanistan seems less personal, a sort of         German culture and economy.

Likewise, a glimpse into the similarities           least. Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail was
and contrasts between the “East” and                certainly cast in a new light for me with
“West” culture were demonstrated from a             the modernist interpretation of this
creative   perspective     through    the           timeless classic. The evening that we
evolution of German identity from two               spent in Leipzig at Goethe’s Auerbach
Germanies during the Cold War. The visit            Keller was also fascinating.
to the former Stasi archive revealed that
the degree of surveillance that the GDR             As we sat in the murky Keller, we
citizens were under, which undoubtedly              wondered how Goethe was inspired to
impacted their cultural identity.                   write his timeless classic Faust and the
                                                    way that he portrayed the clash between
  A significant aspect of this trip was a           Faust and Mephisopheles. In this way, a
 chance to see the impact of the Wende              combination of culture and art
    on German culture and economy.                  contributed    significantly    to   my
                                                    understanding of Germany.
Conversations with former dissidents,
such as Mr. Rainer Scheck revealed a                This experience offered a sense of
culture that lived in a reality of suspicion        connection to the past culture of Germany
and suppression of certain types of                 beyond the remaining GDR symbolism on
creativity that went against the political          some official buildings. Visiting Leipzig
order.      However,       Mr.      Scheck’s        showed the roots of German culture as
commentary revealed that the ultimate               well as its roots in the peaceful
purpose in the opposition was to be able            revolution.
to express one self, which is one of the
fundamental          freedoms.          This            In similar vein, the Colloquium
demonstrated the degree to which the                   Polonicum showed the issues that
privacy of the GDR citizens was invaded              cultural memory has imposed on the
compared to today’s standards. In this                relations between Germany and its
way, the political machine was omni-                 most immediate neighbor in the East,
present in the daily lives of the people,                           Poland.
imposing order. Exploring the Friedliche
Revolution at the Alexanderplatz was also           This shed light to Germany’s relations
enlightening, since one saw that art and            with Eastern Europe and how they have
creativity     prospered       underground          evolved in the light of both World War II
through intricate networks and through              and the connection to the former Soviet
the samizdat. Secret meetings in unused             Bloc. What has remained was a profound
churches allowed people to exchange                 sense of national identity, but even as
ideas, which evolved into the prerequisite          Poland and Germany are both part of the
force that was instrumental in the                  EU, there still remain some tensions
Friedliche Revolution and the peaceful              rooted in the cultural memory. One
revolt.                                             example would be of many Poles learning
                                                    German, but not vice versa. However, on
The visit to the Staatsoper in Berlin was           an optimistic note, the countries’ role in
my first ever experience with Opera,                the EU signifies a common link at the
which also was impressive, to say the               supranational level, where both countries

work together both in terms of                    Richard P. Kaufman
development, but also to advocate
peaceful coexistence.                             Middle East Studies, SAIS

    The Europa-Universität Viadrina                              The SAIS German Studies
      showed the culture clash and                               Program       2009    was
   interaction of living on the border,                          comprised        of     an
 literally across the river. The striking                        interdisciplinary group of
  difference of a short walk across the                          students     from    three
    bridge was truly fascinating. The                            universities     in    the
students and the staff of the University                         Washington DC region.
  were gracious in their welcome and
        eager to exchange ideas.                  It combined German language immersion
                                                  with high-level professional and academic
As with the theme of this trip, I was             discourses to create an outstanding
afforded the opportunity to visit not just        opportunity for students of German and
what constituted East Germany as well as          international affairs.
a slight sojourn into Poland, which was
striking because formerly the borders             Through its focus on the transatlantic
were not so porous. Historically, it was          relationship and life in the former East
never as simple as crossing a bridge.             Germany twenty years after the German
However, as evidence of the new Europe,           reunification, the program touched on
our sojourn demonstrated that the                 contemporary issues across European
opening of borders does bring people              culture and highlighted the key role that
together.                                         the German language continues to play on
                                                  the international scene.       The group
In conclusion, I am extremely glad that I         travelled    through    Berlin,    Leipzig,
could participate in this trip and be             Frankfurt (Oder), and Slubice in Poland,
afforded the opportunity to explore               gaining a unique perspective through
Germany to this degree. Not only has this         participation in official visits, lectures,
trip added significantly to my German             podium discussions, and informal
proficiency     and     improved      my          meetings over “Kaffee und Kuchen.”
understanding of international relations,
but being able to explore abstract issues         Furthermore, the right balance of
in situ is a remarkable and a rewarding           structure and free time afforded the
experience.                                       students ample time to prepare for the
                                                  meetings and detailed presentations
                                                  while enabling each to enjoy a
                                                  personalized cultural experience. It was a
                                                  privilege to have had the opportunity to
                                                  take part in such an outstanding program.

                                                  Organized by Professor Angelika Führich,
                                                  the program received generous support
                                                  from SAIS as well as from the

“Transatlantik Programm” of the Federal            NATO is in danger of losing clout as an
Republic of Germany.         Despite the           international force.
complexities involved in arranging
multiple appointments with busy officials          Our next discussion on the transatlantic
in several different cities, the program           relationship was a podium discussion at
was well organized with engaging events              the Freie Universität Berlin focusing
each day, and the logistics of travel and                President Obama’s chances of
coordination went without mishap.                     delivering on the high expectations
                                                       placed on him on both sides of the
  I was impressed by the caliber of the                            Atlantic.
    experts we met with as well as the
contributions of the other students, and            In the discussion, Dr. Guerot, from the
    our German language discussions                European Council on Foreign Relations
 maintained the character of high-level            spoke of a paradigm shift with loss of
    political and academic discourses.             significance    for    NATO     in     the
                                                   contemporary political and strategic
As a Middle East Studies concentrator at           arena.    She also noted the different
SAIS, the most engaging parts of the               stances between the U.S. and the E.U.
program for me were those that focused             regarding Russia, and called for an effort
on the contemporary transatlantic                  to either redefine a unified stance or
relationship and immigration issues in             agree to disagree. Dr. Kraemer, an expert
Germany. Our meeting with Bundestag                in renewable energies, suggested that
member Hans-Ulrich Klose on June 2                 while Obama has always highlighted the
offered a good overview of current                 environment in his rhetoric, it will be
relations between Germany and the                  hard for him to live up to his green
United States.      Although Mr. Klose             reputation. Dr. Kraemer noted emissions
described the relationship in terms of             trading,     atomic      energy,      and
unrestricted solidarity after 9-11, the            implementation of renewable energy as
discussion also covered points of conflict         potential points of contention in
in the relationship, such as the future of         environmental policy.
detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq
war and the ongoing joint military                 The next day provided a unique insider’s
operations in Afghanistan. Mr. Klose               perspective on German-U.S. relations with
emphasized that although the conflict in           a tour of the Bundeskanzleramt, and
Afghanistan began after a NATO member              meeting with Rolf Nikel, Head of the
country was attacked, transatlantic                Department of Global Politics in the
cooperation      in     Afghanistan     is         German Federal Chancellor’s Office.
encumbered by the distinction that is still
made between Operation Enduring                    Having served in the German Embassy in
Freedom (OEF), a U.S. mission and the              Washington D.C., Mr. Nikel was able to
NATO      International    Security   and          offer us personal insight into the
Assistance Force (ISAF). That neither of           relationship.    In his discourse he
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan NATO              embraced goals that are common to both
operations suggests to Mr. Klose that              sides: hindering North Korea and Iran in
                                                   their nuclear ambitions, achieving a 2

state solution for the Israel-Palestinian          Revolution of 1989, the ensuing fall of the
conflict, and creating stability in                Berlin Wall, persistent differences
Afghanistan. Due to time constraints               between the former East and West
however, he was unable to completely               Germanys, Polish-German relations in the
address tough questions on Afghanistan             border region, renewable energy and the
such as whether or not the U.S. and                role of art in processing the German past.
European coalition members see eye to
eye on counternarcotics policy, the role of        After dinner with Mr. Kesici in a Middle
military personnel in development and              Eastern restaurant in Kreuzberg and
whether or not a higher troop presence             Turkish style coffee in a local shisha
can achieve the desired goals in                   parlor, I had the opportunity to query
Afghanistan.                                       some Palestinian immigrants about their
                                                   perspectives on transatlantic politics and
The following day provided another key             integration issues in Germany. Fears of
perspective in terms of the cultural               assimilation did not seem to be as great
perspective of Muslim immigrants in                for the two men I spoke with.
Berlin through our meeting with Burhan
Kesici, Chair of the Islamische Föderation            The trip took us in fascinating new
Berlin.     With many immigrants in                  directions as we explored an array of
Germany coming from Turkey, Iran and               issues including life as a dissident in the
the Arab states, internal political                  former DDR, the Peaceful Revolution,
discourses in Germany now revolve                      the ensuing fall of the Berlin Wall,
around the question of integration or                  persistent differences between the
assimilation. Mr. Kesici started off by            former East and West Germanys, Polish-
pointing out two common falsehoods that              German relations, renewable energy
many people in Germany believe. First,                and the role of art in processing the
that the immigrants in Germany will one                           German past.
day go back to where they came from, and
the second, that Germany is not a country
of immigrants (a statement we had heard            Dr. Bazem, a Palestinian who has been
in our earlier meetings with German                living in Berlin since losing his home to an
politicians). Mr. Kesici suggested that for        Israeli settlement in 1984 explained that
most Germans, integration is not enough,           while he felt accepted in Germany in
and they expect immigrants to assimilate           economic and legal terms, security fears
by giving up their cultural and religious          still dominate the political discourse.
                                                    For them, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Our discussion also afforded the students          was the most pressing issue, and ill
the opportunity to hear differing                  feelings generated during the Bush
perspectives on the topics of Sharia law           administration had not yet been offset by
and gender equality.                               new hopes offered by the new U.S.
The remainder of the trip took us in
fascinating new directions as we explored          We also enjoyed the diversity of German
an array of issues including life as a             theater from the Volksbühne and the
dissident in the former DDR, the Peaceful
Deutsche Staatsoper, in Berlin to the              disparity in the former GDR states
Pfeffermühle cabaret in Leipzig and had            compared to the old West German states.
the chance to explore many of the
historical sites in Berlin, Leipzig, Halle            After benefiting from the numerous
and Frankfurt (Oder).                              perspectives we heard in our two weeks
                                                    in Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, and Frankfurt
To cover all these topics and more that            an der Oder, it became clear how deeply
we experienced during the course of the            the emotionally charged currents from
two-week program would go beyond the                 the past still flow through all levels of
scope of this report, but it is experiences                            society.
like these that build the type of character
necessary to keep the transatlantic                Köhler’s speech further reflects a desire
relationship strong well into the future.          to move on and focus on other, seemingly
                                                   more-pressing challenges facing the
I would like to thank Dr. Angelika Führich         German nation now.
for organizing the program, our experts,
friends and speakers who took the time to          As a PhD student of German literature
meet with us and share their insights, and         and culture researching and writing on
I would also like to thank SAIS and the            contemporary literature by authors who
Transatlantik Programm for making such             live in the GDR, I set out for the 2009 SAIS
an outstanding opportunity possible.               German Studies Summer Program curious
                                                   to see how the continued tensions to
                                                   which Köhler spoke might play out in the
                                                   meetings we would have with, among
Brooke Kreitinger                                  others, politicians, curators of art exhibits
                                                   and memorials, GDR dissidents, scholars,
                                                   and students.
German Literature and             Culture,
Georgetown University
                                                   The Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood,
                                                   which we called home for a week,
               In his 2008 speech
                                                   exemplifies a Kiez that has flourished
               celebrating the Day of
                                                   since the end of Communism.
               German Unity, President
               Horst Köhler pointed out
                                                   Kollwitzplatz is bustling with numerous
               and emphasized numerous
                                                   well-visited restaurants, coffee shops,
               accomplishments      that
                                                   bars, and boutiques; the streets are full of
               have been achieved in the
                                                   strolling families on the weekends; the
former East German states since German
                                                   arts and crafts scene is alive at the
                                                   Wasserturm on Saturdays, and the 12th
                                                   Annual Literaturwoche Prenzlauer Berg
Köhler’s comments address the continued
                                                   offered an abundance of events including
division in post-socialist Germany and
                                                   readings by successful contemporary
reflect an attempt to diminish present day
                                                   authors and the awarding of a literature
dissatisfaction stemming from continued
higher unemployment rates, lower
income levels, and general economic

Strolling down Prenzlauer Allee over to          convincing and “fragile places” must be
the Weltuhr on Alexanderplatz, some of us        documented.
noticed how, ironically, the selection of
stores mirror those at Europaplatz, in           As studies carried out in the past few
turn recognizing that the homogenizing           years have shown, young people in some
forces of globalization and consumerism          of the former GDR states know
have shaped the faces of these famous            surprisingly little about the socialist state
squares,        which       once    stood        that was their grandparents’ and parents’
representatively for the East and West           past, indicating that the communicative
respectively. Yet visiting the open-air          memory (that passed on from generation
exhibit entitled “The Peaceful Revolution        to generation) has eroded more quickly
of 1989/90” located near the Weltuhr was         than the stretch of cement standing along
a clear reminder that behind the store           Bernauer Straße and that the recent past
fronts, this space was shaped by a unique        is not dealt with adequately at home nor
past that cannot be eliminated by the            in the schools.
significance of crowded chain stores it
shares with many other shopping                  Although the socialist past seems to have
districts in capitalist countries.               affected a relatively small percentage of
                                                 the German population, listening to Dr.
A visit to another landscape, this one           Klausmeier      describe    the    difficult
marked by physical reminders of the              conversations that have taken place to
brutalities of the GDR past, the “Berlin         determine who is a victim of the Berlin
Wall Memorial” in the Bernauer Straße,           Wall and who should be remembered by
provided an opportunity to gain insight          name in a memorial at the site, the heart
into the contested spaces of official            of the matter came to the forefront again,
collective memory.                               namely, that the GDR was a violent
                                                 totalitarian state that killed its own
In a highly informative and interesting          people and expected its own citizens to
 discussion, the director of the Stiftung        kill each other if they attempted to leave
  Berliner Mauer, Dr. Axel Klausmeier            the country. Experiencing what seems
shared his expertise and experiences on          typical surreal combination of a place that
    the difficulties in heading up the           witnessed atrocities in the past
     process of determining how to               juxtaposed       to    the     present-day
   remember the past and its victims.            aestheticized and sterilized peacefulness.

As the GDR state collapsed and the people        …I wondered, as I often do, what one
themselves eagerly took part in tearing          really takes away from such a memorial.
down the detested Berlin Wall and all it         The past will not repeat itself in this
represented, it was likely unimaginable          particular way again, but perhaps the
that twenty years later a want and need          main message is best put simply, that
would develop to reconstruct the most-           human rights and democracy cannot be
detested physical witnesses of the GDR           taken for granted.
past. But as Dr. Klausmeier pointed out,
we live in an age of reconstruction,             Our visit to the Stasi Archiv underscored
because that which is authentic is               more directly how actively the
                                                 experiences of the communist past
continue to surface in the present.                  citizens personal lives, as I peered into
Standing in one of the storage rooms                 files made available to us at the archive, it
containing endless files and even                    was nevertheless striking how mundane
experiencing their vast material presence            much of the reported information was.
by the strong scent of paper filling the air,
I found it difficult to grasp the amount of          In a matter of fact tone of voice with
information contained in the Stasi                   occasional traces of varying emotions, the
records. One may even venture to naively             couple talked about the invasion into
raise the question, “Why preserve all of             their private lives and the betrayal by the
this?” In case an answer is needed to this           friend they eventually discovered had
question, looking back to the surprising             been spying on them. Despite having had
discovery made this spring provides a                these extreme experiences shape their
convincing answer. The director of the               daily life for forty years, this couple
archive, Ms. Salamon, described to us how            appeared content and at peace with the
a researcher noticed something unusual               past, despite occasional cynical or
while listening to an audiocassette of an            pessimistic remarks made by the
interview involving the West Berlin police           husband, who is unemployed. They
officer, Karl-Heinz Kurras.                          expressed how glad they were to share
                                                     their stories with an attentive audience –
This detail opened a path to the unknown             something that they do not often have the
records in which it was revealed that                opportunity to do.
Kurras had also been a member of the
SED and working for the Stasi at the time             Then meeting with a dissident couple,
he shot and killed Benno Ohnesorg in                 one of whom had spent three years in a
1967. Such findings legitimate the great             Stasi prison for having passed around
efforts invested into maintaining and                to his friends a couple of records and a
searching through the endless files now              novel, I found myself entranced to hear
twenty years after the Stasi lost its power.          them speak of reading their Stasi files
For me, it was further interesting to                    once they were made available.
observe the reaction of the media as they
speculated about the effect this newly               This brings me back to Köhler’s point
found information might have had on the              regarding the long way reunified
course of German history, in particular              Germany has come over the past twenty
the subsequent events of 1968.                       years, which is certainly true in many
                                                     respects, in particular as I think of our
Then meeting with a dissident couple, one            visit to the Fraunhofer Institute, located
of whom had spent three years in a Stasi             near Halle in the area known as the “Solar
prison for having passed around to his               Valley”, where we heard about the
friends a couple of records and a novel, I           innovative progress being made in the
found myself entranced to hear them                  field of renewable energy. Yet given the
speak of reading their Stasi files once they         increased support of Die Linke and the
were made available.                                 trend of Ostalgie, of painting the GDR past
                                                     rosy because of dissatisfaction with the
Having seen in films or read in literary             present society, it is indeed necessary to
works tales of the extent to which the               point out the successes. But focusing on
Stasi was able to dig into all aspects of its
the accomplishments cannot lead to                   almost like another country.              The
merely dismissing the past to face                   attitudes, interests, and sensibilities of
currently more pressing challenges. The              Berliners are completely different than
GDR past needs to be remembered in a                 those of Bavarians, not to mention the
number of ways, which is of course why               architecture of the city is quite different
enormous amounts of thought and effort               (less traditional). The city is beautiful and
are being invested into infrastructures of           historic, and there are interesting people
collective remembering being created and             from all over.
tended to in Berlin and elsewhere. The
question remains, however, whether the               I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to
importance of this era in German history             tour the Parliament and meet with Dr.
will be remembered beyond milestone                  Hans-Ulrich Klose, the Vice Chair of the
anniversaries and recognized in wider                Committee on Foreign Relations of the
circles than the spaces housing physical             Bundestag. I had heard him talk in
reminders of a communist experiment                  Washington, DC before, and it was
gone terribly awry.                                  interesting to hear how his thinking on
                                                     the current challenges in international
                                                     relations had evolved since the Spring.
                                                     He had interesting insights on German
                                                     politics and his relationships with
Michael Manteris                                     members of Congress in the US.
Energy, Resources & Environment,                     We also toured the Bundeskanzleramt and
SAIS                                                 met with Dr. Rolf Nikel, a foreign policy
                                                     advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel. This
              The SAIS German Studies                was also an edifying experience.
              Summer Program trip was
              a remarkable experience.               It underscored that, despite rhetoric in
              For 14 days, the students              the media about deep divisions between
              who took part in the                   Germany and the US on foreign policy, the
              program      had      the              governments generally share common
opportunity to immerse themselves in                 principles with respect to the major
German language, politics, culture, and              foreign policy challenges of the day.
life. Most of trip was spend in Berlin,
though we visited the former East                    Something I always find fascinating when
German     cities   of   Leipzig    and              visiting foreign countries is observing
Frankfurt/Oder as well.                              how      political    parties    advertise
                                                     themselves. Fortunately, the elections for
I found certain opportunities and                    the European Parliament occurred during
experiences particularly interesting.                our visit, so I was able to see the colors,
First, though I had spent time in Germany            placards, and slogans of all the parties.
before, I had never been to Berlin. Being            The parties’ slogans ranged from the
able to spend a lot of time in Berlin and            bland (“For a strong Germany in Europe”)
really get a feel for the city was great. For        to the bizarre (a party dedicated solely to
those who have spent time elsewhere in               the protection of animals).
Germany, especially Bavaria, Berlin feels

Also, it is interesting to see the                 Polish relations and had a great time
consequences of different electoral                interacting with the German and Polish
systems.      The parliamentary system             students there.
enables splinter groups on the far left and
far right to compete basically on a level            Something I always find fascinating
playing field with the mainstream parties,            when visiting foreign countries is
whereas in the US they would have a very               observing how political parties
hard time getting on the ballot.                   advertise themselves. Fortunately, the
                                                   elections for the European Parliament
Though these parties (like “Die Linke” or          occurred during our visit, so I was able
NDP) do not receive near the votes that            to see the colors, placards, and slogans
the mainstream Volksparteien do, they                          of all the parties.
advertise and promote themselves almost
as much.
                                                   I would be remiss if I did not mention the
Meeting with other university students             food and drink in Germany. I am a huge
 studying international relations was              fan of both German and Turkish food, and
 very fun. The German students were                both are in large supply in Berlin. The
 studying many of the same things we               beer in Germany, in my opinion, is better
were and had fascinating backgrounds               than anywhere else in the world, and it
           and career paths.                       complements the food perfectly. Nothing
                                                   makes me happier than Schnitzel or
Beyond that, they were able to show us             Currywurst with a dunkles Bier. Also, the
places to go in Berlin that we never would         plethora of Turkish kebab stands are a
have known to visit.                               godsend late at night.

In Leipzig, we visited the Fraunhofer              Finally, I should stress what a great job
Institut. As an energy policy concentrator         Professor Führich did in putting this
at SAIS, it was very exciting for me to            program together. It was obvious the
learn     about    these     public-private        amount of planning and effort that went
partnerships that facilitate research and          into the program and made for a smooth
development in new and clean energy                and highly educational experience. Julia
sources. We visited a lab that was                 Friedlander, the student assistant, did a
conducting research on solar energy, and           tremendous job as well, and her
we learned about some of the policy                knowledge of Berlin was invaluable to
mechanisms being employed to stimulate             those of us who had never been there
demand for renewable energy in                     before.

In Frankfurt/Oder, which is located on
the border of Poland and Germany, we
visited a university that attracted
students from both countries. We heard a
fascinating lecture from Polish professor
Wojciechowski on the history of German-

Kevin McCall                                        Universität of Berlin. Speaking about the
                                                    organs of the transatlantic relationship,
European Studies, SAIS                              specifically NATO, Dr. Guerot noted that
                                                    “on Russia we increasingly disagree”.
               The two- week SAIS
               German Studies Summer                In addition to this she argued
               Program provided a solid             convincingly that NATO and EU
               examination of some of the           enlargement must be disentangled.
               core issues that form
               German      national     and         One theme that recurred during several
international policy. These insights came             meetings was the importance of the
in the form of historical, social, political          Russo-German relationship, and by
and      cultural     frameworks       that          extension, the Russo-EU relationship.
characterize not only policy formation in
Germany, but also in the wider context of           Similar views were again echoed during
EU policy formation.                                our visit to the Federal Chancellery,
                                                    where Dr. Nickel reiterated Dr. Klose’s
One theme that recurred during several              point that Russia is indeed a part of
meetings was the importance of the                  Europe as well as a major world player.
Russo-German relationship, and by                   He argued that Russia must be integrated
extension, the Russo-EU relationship.               into the international system, and must
                                                    also accept the rules of that system: civil
The approach to this relationship was               society and a politically aware middle
contrasted to US foreign policy and it was          class are required, and for this, he
interesting to hear a similar view being            believes that much time is needed for
echoed by a number of the delegates we              change to occur.      It would be very
met     with,     irrespective  of    their         interesting to hear what these various
professional domain.        Dr. Klose, for          speakers’ opinions are in the wake of
example, noted that while the security              President Obama’s recent dialogue with
concerns of eastern European countries              Russia, and the idea of “pressing the re-
must be taken seriously, it must be kept in         set button” on US-Russian relations.
mind that Russia is a part of Europe, and
that a heightened European role for                 A second point that tended to recur
Russia must be found. In this respect,              during our discussions was that of
Germany (and Europe) must work to                   Germany as a country of immigration. Dr.
include, not exclude, Russia. Dr. Klose felt        Nickel at the Bundeskanzleramt felt
that this is a crucial first step to allow          strongly that “Deutschland ist kein
Russia to come to the realization that its          Einwanderungsland”,      despite   much
relationship with Europe is one of co-              evidence pointing to the contrary.
dependence, not only in economic but
also in security terms.                             The population of those with Turkish
                                                    heritage is over 3.5 million. Italian guest
Russian relations were again highlighted            workers and refugees from the former
by Dr. Guerot during our visit to the               Yugoslavia are also a sizeable portion of
European Studies Faculty at the Freie               the immigrant population.             Most

significantly, over 4 million people moved          involves: inhibiting patriarchy does not
to Germany after the fall of the Iron               mean that Germany is attempting to
Curtain. Although by no means unique to             enforce assimilation.
Germany, there exists a cultural
idiosyncrasy that discriminates between             Most poignant theme that the Program
these various groups of immigrants.                 centered upon was the twentieth
                                                    anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.
For this reason it was very interesting to
hear the perspective of Mr. Kesici, the               It was very interesting to hear the
chair of the German Islamic Federation in            perspective of Mr. Kesici, the chair of
Berlin. Mr. Kesici believes that after                the German Islamic Federation in
German reunification, in particular,                 Berlin. Mr. Kesici believes that after
Turkish-Germans became second-class                  German reunification, in particular,
citizens.                                           Turkish-Germans became second-class
Discrimination is not present on the
bureaucratic level: it exists in the public         Berlin and the neue Bundesländer have
psyche. With a very high unemployment               undergone huge change in the course of
rate (up to 40% in parts) and low                   the past twenty years and the pre-
educational attainment, frictional issues           unification history is rich and fascinating.
persist to reinforce this negative attitude         Today this history is very much at the
in the public psyche. He felt that what             surface and is something omnipresent,
Germany is looking for is assimilation as           albeit a mere banality in the lives of the
opposed to integration, something not               local population.          To have this
very difficult for non-religious citizens of        anniversary as one of the key points on
Turkish descent, but more difficult for             our agenda offered a unique insight into
those members of the community that are             something that made the Program
religious. While he made a good case                especially interesting. During meetings
outlining the persistent problems faced             with academics, researchers and regular
by immigrants, as well as the failure of the        Berliners, we acquired insights into the
state to effectively deal with these                existence behind the Iron Curtain.
concerns, his views portrayed a lack of
willingness to accept basic tenets of               Indeed some of the greatest insights were
German (and Western) culture and                    offered by ordinary people who had first-
society. His views towards the role of              hand experience of the time.           The
women were patriarchal dressed as well-             document and video curators we spoke
intentioned concern. [“I don’t want my              with at the Stasi Archiv offered a
sister working late because when she                professional and structured depiction of
comes home she’ll have to take care of the          life in the GDR, which was followed by an
house”.] While an argument may be made              intimate and personal account of what
that Germany has not done enough to                 daily life under state scrutiny and control
integrate immigrants, his comments                  was really like.
regarding the role of women in the
workplace reject a willingness to adhere            The personal experiences of ordinary
to the rights and responsibilities of what          people are a cornerstone of what is
being integrated into German society
displayed at the memorial centre on                the cultural underpinnings that played a
Bernauer Strasse, and makes us confront            role in dismantling the old regime.
the cold facts of life in eastern Germany.
The discussion with the curator of the             This is not something that is immediately
centre focused on the difficulties faced in        touched upon in the traditional political
presenting a history that is perceived in          and historic narrative of the fall of the
different ways by the different people             Berlin wall, and serves as a noteworthy
who experienced it, as well as the                 example of how cultural events outside of
perception depending on which side of              the main political sphere can have knock-
the Wall one stood.                                on effects that are often only explained in
                                                   terms of political ideology.
Meeting with the Scheck family in their
home offered a truly personal and                  The two-week program in general was
intimate glance at what life was like for          a perfect complement to classroom
those who swam against the current in              learning of current and recent historic
the former regime. While the entire                issues in modern German and European
experience of the GDR may be, as Herr              politics.
Scheck stated, a “footnote in history”, it
was intriguing to hear how challenging             The frankness that the delegates spoke
adapting to life in the Bundesrepublik was.        with was refreshing and highlighted the
The residual difficulties faced by some of         practical difficulties in dealing with issues
the population today, leading to                   that,     in     theory,      can     appear
phenomena such as Ostalgie, was also               straightforward. The balance of political,
discussed.                                         cultural and economic discourse helped
                                                   form a thorough understanding of the
Indeed some of the greatest insights were          interplay between these spheres, as well
offered by ordinary people who had first-          as placing them in the larger scenario of
hand experience of the time.          The          national and international politics.
document and video curators we spoke
with at the Stasi Archiv offered a
professional and structured depiction of
life in the GDR.
                                                   Chuck Podolak
Meeting with the Scheck family in their
                                                   Geography       &      Environmental
   home offered a truly personal and
                                                   Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
intimate glance at what life was like for
those who swam against the current in
                                                   The German Studies Summer Program
          the former regime.
                                                               2009 was a worthwhile
                                                               experience in terms of
Meetings and visits to exhibitions that                        appreciating the German
portrayed the peaceful revolution, in the                      nation,    people,    and
form of the environmental protection                           culture.     The overall
movement, prayer meetings, and art,                            theme of the trip was
music and fashion movements illustrated

'Germany Revisited: Twenty Years after              of the events over the two-week time
the Fall of the Berlin Wall'.                       period.

This theme was composed of several sub-              However, what I found to be the most
themes including the economic changes in                valuable part of the trip was not
the past 20 years, the cultural effects of a          necessarily the explicit topics of the
divided Germany on a reunified German,              events, but rather how these individual
daily life in the former East Germany,                visits worked together to provide a
German relations with its neighbors                  range of experiences from which one
(specifically Poland) throughout the                   could put together a real 'feel' for
divided and reunified period, and                          Germany on several issues.
immigration in a divided and a unified
Germany.                                             From comments made in other political
                                                    meetings, on television programs, in
There were many meetings, tours, and                political advertisements, and in museums
visits explicitly focused on these themes.          one could gather attitudes by and about
The participants in these events ranged             immigrants in Germany. We had the
from high-ranking government and                    chance to hear the opinions (sometimes
elected officials, to academics, and                just in passing) in both formal and
'ordinary' people. The preparation for              informal settings from Germans, Poles,
each event, the participants, and the               and Americans living in Germany. It was
formal topic were all arranged to present           illustrative to see what role these issues
a range of opinions on a range of topics            played in the Deutsche Welle and in the
relevant to changes in Germany over the             production of various operas.
past twenty years.
                                                     Because of this synergistic effect the
Taken individually, each portion of both            takeaways from this trip on immigration
the program and the preparation over the            were not just from the discussion at the
previous semesters was interesting and              Islamic Federation, but also came from
could lend beneficial insights into a               observing the production decisions of
particular aspect of Germany as it is now.          Die Entführung aus dem Serail (which
However there was a synergistic effect              dealt with northern-European and
when all of the individual events were              Turkish characters). In the Leipzig
seen as part of a whole experience.                 cabaret – die Pfeffermühle – the 'others'
                                                    were the Chinese, and their portrayal
The issue of immigration and the role of            made an unflattering comment about the
'outsiders' – specifically those of Turkish         German view of non-Germans.
descent – in modern Germany is one
example.                                            During the trip there were also several
                                                    election campaigns in progress – both for
While there was a single meeting focused            the EU and for German federal elections.
specifically on "The Culture(s) of Islam in         Campaign coverage was notable for the
Germany – The Perspectives of                       explicit   and    implied    views    on
Immigrants on Unified Germany" at the               immigration. The opportunity to extract
Islamic Federation in Berlin, this theme            these opinions and feelings over
could be found woven throughout many
immigration throughout a range of                    and social activities which allows the
activities, rather than just from the formal         astute graduate student the opportunity
events, was one highlight of the trip.               to synthesize these into both a cerebral
                                                     and a visceral understanding of several
Like immigration, the view of former East            important issues in modern Germany.
German residents toward reunification
was a topic that was not explicitly
covered by any one meeting, but arose
repeatedly throughout the trip. We met
with residents of East Germany who had               Terry Toland
lived in the East for their entire lives and
people who had grown up in the west and              European Studies, SAIS
after reunification had moved east.
                                                                     The     two-week      SAIS
                                                                     German Summer Studies
   The opportunity to extract these
                                                                     Program gave me unique
opinions and feelings over immigration
                                                                     opportunities     that   I
throughout a range of activities, rather
                                                                     would not have been able
 than just from the formal events, was
                                                                     to experience otherwise.
        one highlight of the trip.
                                                                     In reviewing the itinerary
                                                     for the program, I am reminded of the
The celebration of the fall of the wall,
                                                     sheer number of activities that we were
especially when viewed from the other
                                                     able to take part in. In the span of two
side of the Atlantic, is normally seen as
                                                     weeks, we met with a variety of different
unquestionably good for all involved.
                                                     speakers throughout Germany.
During informal discussions with tour
guides or hosts, the point was driven
                                                     Talks tended to focus on contemporary
home that for residents of the East there
                                                     political issues- such as the role of
was great uncertainty during the fall of
                                                     immigration and transatlantic affairs in
the wall. With this in mind it was
                                                     Germany- but included also topics such as
interesting to look at the tone of
                                                     the history of Germany since 1945,
presentations and exhibits on the
                                                     German-Polish Relations, and German
anniversary of the fall of the Wall.
                                                     cultural elements, such as the theater and
                                                     German art. The common thread that
When viewed as a collection of programs
                                                     held these various issues together was the
on an itinerary, the program can boast an
                                                     examination of Germany twenty years
interesting and broad range of content.
                                                     after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
There is certainly a selection of topics in a
variety of forums from the political, to the
                                                     Before examining some of the major
cultural, the bureaucratic, and the
                                                     themes discussed in meetings, it is worth
                                                     noting the additional benefits of going on
                                                     the trip. To begin, all meetings are
However the real strength of the program
                                                     conducted in German.         My listening
lies not primarily in the topics of each
                                                     comprehension       steadily     improved
individual presentation and activity, but
                                                     throughout the trip as I began to develop
in the providing a range of visits, talks,

a better sense of the rhythm of the                 first meeting was with Herr Dr. Klose,
language.                                           MdB of the Bundestag. Mr. Klose spoke
                                                    about a number of issues concerning
Adding to this comprehension was the                transatlantic  affairs,   focusing on
fact that we heard from a variety of                contemporary      issues,    such  as
speakers coming from several different              Guantanamo bay.
parts of Germany- our trips to Leipzig and
the         German/Polish          border           Given his years of experience in the
(Frankfurt/Oder) highlighted nuance in              German government, it was of special
accent and speaking style.                          interest to hear Mr. Klose’s reflections on
                                                    German history during and after the Cold
Besides the inherent language learning              War. Mr. Klose cited US aid during the
benefits (and the interesting content of            Berlin Airlift as a key turning point in the
the talks), I was very pleased with the             course of the Cold War.
diversity within our group of students.
With students in both MA and PhD                    Our meeting in the Bundeskanzleramt
programs coming from different fields               with Dr. Rolf Nikel covered a variety of
and universities, a good variety of                 key transatlantic issues, namely the
perspectives were represented within the            Kampf gegen den Terror, organized crime,
group.                                              Iran, and North Korea.

This was made quite clear during the                We went on to visit the Stasi archive,
question and answer periods that                    where endless reams of information were
followed the presentations made by the              collected during the GDR era. A highlight
speakers. I would feel remiss if I failed to        of the visit included a meeting with the
mention one of my personal highlights of            media archivist, who dealt with a variety
the trip- the food.                                 of audio and video equipment that had
                                                    been used to record and track the
Group dinners at a variety of German                movements of actual and real government
restaurants gave us the opportunity to              dissidents.       Watching footage of
indulge in some of Germany’s finest                 videotaped phone conversations showed
cuisine. The opportunity to recite Faust            the degree to which the culture of spying
at the Auerbachs Keller in Leipzig was a            on one another had penetrated elements
memory that I will not soon forget!                 of the GDR society.

 As a German language learner of three              Given Mr. Nikel’s position as the Head of
   years, it has been difficult to find an          the Global Politics Department at the
opportunity where I could spend several             Chancellor’s Office, his insight was quite
  hours a day entirely immersed in the              valuable, and the question and answer
  German language. This trip provides               session that followed his talk was
    this opportunity over the span of               particularly interesting.
               fourteen days.
                                                    This visit to the Stasi Archiv was a fitting
In writing about the meetings themselves,           introduction, leading up to our visit with
it is difficult to know where to begin. The         Bärbel Reissmann and Rainer Scheck.
                                                    This couple had been dissidents within
the DDR and had a story to tell about             time of the firebombing of the city. This
harassment and even imprisonment at               discussion of German history was
the hands of the communist government.            complimented nicely by our visit to the
Mr. Scheck shared with us his personal            Zeitgeschichtliches Forum, a museum
“Stasi File”. These documents contained           dedicated to German history following
alarming quantities of information-               1945.
including detailed written descriptions of
Mr. Scheck’s body and face “type” (size of        Ultimately, the trip helped to enhance my
nose, ears, shape of eyes, face, etc).            understanding not just of the major issues
                                                  confronting Germany 20 years after the
Given Mr. Nikel’s position as the Head of         fall of the wall, but also my understanding
the Global Politics Department at the             of the German language. Listening to
Chancellor’s Office, his insight was quite        German for several hours a day for two
valuable, and the question and answer             weeks helped to improve my listening
session that followed his talk was                comprehension a great deal. I would
particularly interesting.                         wholeheartedly recommend this trip to
                                                  anyone with an interest in improving
That evening, Mr. Scheck and Mrs.                 their German while learning more about
Reissmann were kind enough to join our            the country, its politics, its history, and its
group as we visited the German Opera              culture.
house for a performance of Die
Entführung aus dem Serail. The opera was
written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
and the music was tremendous. The
chance to see an opera performed in
German in Berlin, was one of the many
highlights of the trip.

Given Mr. Nikel’s position as the Head
  of the Global Politics Department at
the Chancellor’s Office, his insight was
 quite valuable, and the question and
 answer session that followed his talk
      was particularly interesting.

The following day, we departed for
Leipzig, where we met with Dr. Magirius,
former pastor of the Nikolaikirche. Dr.
Magirius spoke to us about the Monday
Demonstrations in Leipzig and the
peaceful revolution that gripped the city
in the days leading up to the fall of the
Berlin Wall. Dr. Magirius also spoke
about his personal history, having been
14 years old and living in Dresden at the


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