Category Archives: World War 2

Stolpersteine in Emmerich am Rhein

Today I was visiting Emmerich am Rhein – a town on the border between Germany and the Netherlands.

Emmerich am Rhein

Suspension bridge over the Rhine at Emmerich

While I was walking through the town centre, I came across a group of brass Stolpersteine – small plaques in the pavement reminding passers-by that holocaust victims had once lived in the house they are passing.  Stolpern means to stumble – so these are literally stones that you stumble across.

This set remembers a family of three from Emmerich who fled the national socialist regime and escaped to America.


The Gompertz family fled to America in 1939 and survived the Holocaust.

This was the first time I’ve seen Stolpersteine remembering people who actually survived the war – most of them record death in one of the concentration camps. I hope the Gompertz family settled in America and had a long and happy life after the war.


Filed under german history, Life in Germany, travel in germany, World War 2

The Chimpanzee that played Hitler – Obitury

I was sorry today to learn of the death of Cheetah the Chimpanzee.  As most people know, all elderly Americans retire to Florida at some stage, and the well known actor from the Tarzan films was no exception, living out his twilight years in an old chimps’ home on the panhandle.

What not so many people know is that Cheetah was one of the best impersonators of Hitler in Hollywood. As a fitting obitury to the great actor of the Tarzan films, I’d like to share this clip of Cheetah in his best role.  Enjoy!


Filed under comedy, German video, World War 2

The German military always get such bad film roles…

For those of us who grew up on the output of Pinewood studios, the last role you ever wanted to be cast in was the German soldier. They always ended up being outsmarted by the cunning but underdog allies.  Your last line was always something like “Gott im Himmel!” before you were taken out by a bouncing bomb, or your zeppelin went down in flames or something.

A quick trawl through some of the photo material available at the Bundeschiv suggests that there’s another side to the German military… and I thought I’d share. So next time you get cast as the idiot sleeping sentry, at least you’ll know it wasn’t all the way the script suggests…

Planet Germany

Steve McQueen, eat your heart out!

Planet Germany

Helmut...I think we lost something

Planet Germany

Who stole my pint?

Planet Germany

Rappers, Herr Oberst. Hundreds of them!

Planet Germany

Maybe we could get a role in the Carry On films instead...


Filed under About Germany, german history, World War 2

Alas…poor currywurst…

The latest victim of the dioxin scandal is Germany’s favourite snack of all time.  Readers, a moment’s silence please as we mourn the passing of the currywurst.

As Germans abandon their normal diet of ham, bacon, pork, chicken and eggs for fear of ending up looking like Viktor Yushchenko, the sausage stands lie deserted on our street corners.

The currywurst has to be one of Germany’s oddest inventions. For the uninitiated, I should point out that it bears almost but not entirely no resemblence to curry. It is a sausage, usually cut into slices, covered in a steaming hot ketchup sauce and sprinkled with curry powder. It is served either with chips or with a bread roll.


The currywurst is thought to have been invented in Berlin shortly after the war when the British army imported ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and curry powder. The sausage seller who is credited with creating the first currywurst is Herta Heuwer, on September 4th 1949. The site of her snack bar is marked to this day with a plaque.  I’m surprised the invention-date has not yet been declared a national holiday.

Herta Heuwer

But now that German pork has become contaminated with dioxin, maybe we need to erect a memorial to mark the passing of the currywurst itself. After all, it is already something of a museum-piece…  as well as a rock-legend…



Filed under About Germany, food, Life in Germany, World War 2

Düsseldorf’s fortified church

This evening we went to a concert in the world’s most heavily fortified church.

The Bunkerkirche in Düsseldorf has to be one of the most unique churches in the world. The land was acquired in 1928 with the intention of building a church on the site. Lack of funds during the 1930s depression meant that although plans were drawn up, construction was delayed for over a decade and then in 1940 the land was confiscated by the Nazis.

In 1941 the site which had been intended for the church was used to build an overground air-raid bunker. The building was deliberately constructed to look like a church from the air, in the hope of deterring allied bombers from targeting it.

After the war, the land (complete with fortified bunker) was returned to the Church and the bunker was converted and consecrated in 1949, in a lovely symbol of turning swords into ploughshares.

Interestingly, for a building which was constructed for entirely different purpose, it actually has rather impressive acoustics.

The concert (works by Schütz, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Bach, sung by the excellent choir and the fabulous Stringendo orchestra from Meerbusch) was a real treat… and the experience of being in such a historically unique setting added to the experience.


Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany, World War 2

Hitler meets Volksmusik

This has to be one of the most bizarre spoofs on Youtube…


Filed under comedy, german television, German video, Life in Germany, World War 2

Hitler sings …

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Filed under About Germany, comedy, World War 2

Where did he escape to from the bunker?

You know who I mean…. (courtesy once again of the Monty Python team)

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Filed under comedy, German video, World War 2

The truth about Adolf Hitler

Generally I avoid those Brits who keep on about the second world war as though it were only yesterday. But every now and then, a little piece of history pops up on the radar… and needs to be shared.

In this case, it is the final answer to all those rumours about Adolf Hitler. You know… the ones which formed the basis of scurrilous songs in the school playground.

*Clears throat and sings to the tune of “Good Luck, and the same to you…”*

Hitler has only got one ball

The other is in the Albert Hall

His mother, you’ve gotta love her

She cut it off when he was small…

Here, readers, is the truth of the matter….


Filed under comedy, German language, German video, World War 2

What prejudices do you have about Germany?

This chap – an Irish comedian called Dylan Moran – has quite a few!


Filed under comedy, Life in Germany, World War 2