do not mention the war

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

A Cup of Tea

In History on November 11, 2018 at 11:11

Upon arriving in his exile home, Kaiser Wilhelm II. asked for nothing in particular.

If it is possible I should like above all a cup of hot English tea.

<em>Note: The quote by Kaiser Wilhelm II. is taken from Peter Vansittart’s book Voices From the Great War</em>


Separated at Birth

In Popular Culture on July 13, 2018 at 14:30

Cillian Murphy has become a star playing Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders.


John Stones has made his mark as one third of England’s back three during the World Cup 2018 in Russia


Dear diary

In Football on July 7, 2018 at 15:48

27 June 1996

A wonderful piece found on twitter, a diary entry from 1996.

Gareth Southgate, Fußballgott

In Football on July 5, 2018 at 09:00

If there ever was an England manager who could end England’s curse of losing penalty shootouts, it had to be Gareth Southgate.

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News from the Front: a visit to Post-Brexit Britain

In Brexit on June 12, 2018 at 10:00

It’s a while that I went to Britain to attend a conference, two years to be precise when I went to speak at the World Cup Symposium organised at Birkbeck to speak about the World Cup Final of 1966 from a German perspective. A lot has happened since, Brexit for instance. Ever since reading the results of the referendum I am shaking my head in disbelief. Two years on and I’m once more in the UK, travelling from Paris to Manchester via London. Plenty of time to have a look at the newspapers of the country.


The choice of papers couldn’t be easier: Daily Heil Mail from Friday 8 June, the New European from Thursday 7 June and the Evening Standard also from Friday. The first two could not be further apart from each other. The Daily Mail never made a secret of its position: Leave EU while the New European was established shortly after the referendum and is distinctly pro-EU, therefore in the Remain Camp. The Evening Standard is a bit in between these two previous papers.

Barrels from Boris

Is how the Mail opens on the front page highlighting the infighting in the Brexit camp within the government. The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson was heavily criticising his colleague, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Phil Hammond for having become a road block en route to Brexit. Moreover, Johnson admits that he is admiring Donald Trump for his approach. Quote Johnson:

I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump. I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness. Imagine Trump doing Brexit. He’d go in bloody hard… There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.

The City Editor of the paper, Alex Brummer (What a name! In Germany a Brummer is a fly that hovers of piles of dog shit) accuses Hammond of being a ‘one-man Brexit road block’ whereas he should be confident as Britain has a historically low unemployment rate and an the public finances are in better shape than they were a few years back. In Brummer’s view Hammond should be praising the ‘entrepreneurial brilliance of British firms and the world-class institutions in the City of London’ but instead he remains pessimistic and reluctant to release money for other departments as they prepare for Brexit. Ironically the same paper is criticising water companies for wasting water and ripping off customers. The so-called entrepreneurial brilliance is described as one of the ‘most moronic acts of corporate largesse in recent memory’ by Dan Hyde, the Mail’s Money Editor. Worse, this behaviour plays into Corbyn’s hands which amounts to an act of national treason.

There is more to watch in this short clip from Twitter:

If you need further evidence that there is no road map, no clarity, this is it.

This very disunity within government is picked upon by the New European and it is indeed quite easy as the government has not come up with a plan for Brexit, neither for the road towards it nor for the path once the deal is done and Brexit is a reality. The editor of the paper, Matt Kelly highlights this by stating that there were

‘Two years of progress-free Westminster shenanigans, and for what?

Power. Nothing so grand as for power within the nation … But merely power within one’s own political party.

How truly pathetic.’

The opposition Labour party is also criticised by almost following the same lines as the government thus betraying their own mantra:

Help the government survive when they say they want to bring it down.

Ignoring members when they say they listen to them.

Mindblowing election-losing staff.

The editor-at-large of the paper, former Labour chief spin doctor Alistair Campbell argues that two years are a long time during which a lot can happen:

Foundations can be built in two years time. My team Burnley FC went from the Championship to qualification for the Europa League in two years. Great things can happen in two years.

Yet the government has failed to record any progress in the period since June 23, 2016, the day of the Brexit referendum. His article is headlined ‘ They won the vote two years ago but have lost the argument ever since.’

Nine Months

Last but not least, the Evening Standard from London. A paper that is free to pick up which I did at St. Pancras International just before boarding the train back to the continent. Led by former chancellor George Osborne there was controversy how he could swap a political office so quickly for a journalistic one, not only because of his lack of experience as a journalist but also because he was the mastermind of Austerity Britain 2.0 from 2010 onwards and is still an MP for Tatton in Cheshire.

The paper however reports that Brussels is warning the UK – again – that time is running out on Brexit. Given that there are only nine months left, this is surely correct to do so. Alistair Campbell stressed that within two years time, one could meet the right person, fall in love and have a baby, which brings me back to the nine months mentioned above. It takes just over nine months for a woman to carry a baby in her womb before giving birth. Given that Brexit is a reality and that the cut off date is approaching fast, it seems that Britannia is further away from even becoming Brexit-pregnant or from giving birth in March 2019, it is surprising that people like Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Moog are so convinced that there will be a baby, i.e. a deal for Brexit in the time remaining.

This is indeed mind-boggling what is happening in the UK with regards to Brexit. No one has an idea what is going to happen in a year’s time, least of all the government who have a responsibility for the country. Even the opposition, Labour, seem to have no idea. They pledge for staying in the single market but do not wish to be member of the European Economic Area. This is cherry picking which Labour have accused the government to do yet they have no better idea themselves.

As we approach the second ‘anniversary’ of this historical referendum I am still in disbelief that a country like the UK where I have lived for five years, where I have come to learn many useful lessons can turn so brutally against any common sense, against itself really, that it hurts. It hurts me.

Bertolt Brecht: Conscription Continues

In History on May 21, 2018 at 08:00

In the little series ‘Voices from the Great War’ comes a quote from the German author Bertolt Brecht.

I was called up in the war and sent to a hospital. I dressed wounds, applied iodine, gave enemas, did blood transfusions. If the doctor ordered ‘Brecht, amputate a leg!’ I would reply, ‘Certainly, Your Excellency!’ and cut off the leg. If I was told, ‘Perform a trepanning’! I opened the man’s skull and messed about with his brains. I saw how they patched fellows up, so as to cart them back to the Front as quickly as they could.

He himself did not serve in a hospital but instead after volunteering served in a plant nursery and also did some administrative work. It allowed him to get his A-Levels, thus him joining the army was not driven by patriotic feelings. His writings during the war can be separated in two periods. The first were reports from the front and poems which were positive about the war but after 1916 this changed and he distanced himself from the war effort. Brecht remained productive throughout from 1914 to 1918 and it is sure that he was an established artist once the war was over in November 1918.

The quote above therefore originates from one of his reports and displays the work of the military doctors towards the end of the conflict. It shows that the will was not diminishing in the least as the title of this little quote demonstrates. In fact, the Kaiser stated only a few months before that those of the German enemies who do not want peace will be destroyed ‘with an iron fist and a flaming sword’. If there was ever more need for assurance of the German morale, the Kaiser delivered it. It demonstrates that there was still believe that Germany may win the war. Indeed, Ludendorff was only stopped in his progress on the Marne in mid-July 1918, only four months before the end of the war.

featured image: Self Portrait via WikiCommons CC BY-SA 3.0

England vs Germany. Podcast

In Football on April 15, 2018 at 13:33

I’ve had the pleasure to speak with Chris of the website Outside Write about the topic that I have studied and researched for my PhD: England vs Germany and its reverberations on and off the pitch, especially on the sports press in England.

Before Germany could play England the game had to come to Germany, something which this podcast also touches upon.

Once football became the most popular sporting pastime in Germany, the development of the game began and in 1930 almost brought rewards: Germany took a 3-0 lead but had to live with a 3-3 draw after England scored late to save their immaculate record against Germany.

The next stop is the World Cup Final of 1966 when England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time. It was the climax for English football. Since then Germany have mostly stood in the way of England, like in 1970 and again in 1982, 1990 and 1996.

The episode also mentions Brexit briefly and the current political climate in which the tone of the press coverage has become once again more aggressive as it had been in the 1980s and 1990s.

Could it happen again? Yes, England and Germany could meet again. Though the latter would be considered favourites, it is not a given that England have no chance to go through. Everything has to click for England if they really want to beat Germany again in a competitive match.

Have a listen to this podcast episode and let me and Chris know what you think.

Short Memory

In Cold War on April 2, 2018 at 07:47

The whole affair of Russia getting involved in or influencing the last US election and Brexit is a discussion led with a short memory. The recent spy affair only adds to that.

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The German Potato

In History on March 7, 2018 at 10:00

During World War I the German press and propaganda machine has attempted every trick in the book to raise morale. This leaflet from 1917 addressed German farmers to produce more potatoes as it was hoped that the German potato could make the difference in the war effort.

The German Potato must defeat England

This is the message the leaflet tries to bring across. In order to increase output of spuds the German government offered financial incentives such as 35 Marks for roughly 2500sqm extra area dedicated to potatoes.

To the left and right the leaflet shows the overall area available to provide the vegetable. In 1914 there were 3.38 million hectares available which has shrunk to 2.41 million hectares in 1917. This is a significant decrease and underlines the urgency which with the German government pleaded with the farmers in order to get more crops out of less soil. The effort was in vain as it turned out. Despite the peace agreement with Russia at the Eastern front the war efforts were futile and finally led to the ceasefire which was signed in 1918 and which led to catastrophic developments in the cause of the 20th. century.

The attempt to turn the odds around with potatoes speaks of the desperation of the German government to mobilise anything in order to win the war. What this possibly has achieved however was prolonged fighting and thus more fatalities on both sides of the Western front.

The Great War (in Britain) or the First World War (in Germany) was not decided by the amount of potatoes grown but was decided by the fact that the German has become untenable which led to the ceasefire from November 11, 1918.

The Munich Air Disaster and the Anglo-German Relations

In Anglo-German Relations on February 12, 2018 at 10:00

Besides the tragedy that has struck Manchester United in Munich in February 1958, there is a chapter that is rarely talked about: The Anglo-German relationship.
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