Category Archive 'Germany'
23 May 2019

Diana and Stag

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Joachim Friess, Diana and Stag automata drinking cup, 1620, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

href=”″>Elizabeth Cleland, 2017:

This object was prized, though not unique; other versions survive, all targeted at the wealthiest clientele. A wind-up mechanism once moved the group forward on hidden wheels, making it vibrate as if with life. Uniting modern technology, precious casework, and visual appeal, automatons were celebrated as a novelty entertainment for guests of the most moneyed classes. Removing the stag’s head reveals a drinking vessel; the diner in front of whom the piece stopped had to drain the cup.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

11 Mar 2019

WWI Aerial Combat Trophy

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Hermann Historica GmbH
March 15, 2019, 1:00 PM CET
Munich, Germany

Lot 1178: First Lieutenant Hermann Kraft – a goblet of honour “Dem Sieger im Luftkampf”

Early silver issue with decorative hammer marks and the engraved dates of his first shootdown “30. Nov. 1915 Macquart b/Lille” underneath a scene of fighting eagles in relief on the obverse. The base ring with inscription “Dem Sieger im Luftkampf” (tr. “To the Victor in Aerial Combat”), the mark of fineness “800” with crescent moon and crown, and four ball feet underneath. The bottom punched with inscription “Chef des Feldflugwesens” (tr. “Chief of Field Aviation”) with Prussian eagle. Height 19.5 cm, weight 382 g. Comes with four photographs of Kraft, two picture postcards, a letter from the 8th Bavarian Reserve Division and a burial ground certificate with a photograph of a visit to the grave. Hermann Kraft (1889 – 1916), in 1915 lieutenant and observer with the Bavarian Field Flying Detachment 5, in 1916 observer of the squadron leader of Fighter Squadron 33, First Lieutenant Oskar Jilling, on 30 July 1916 both were killed in action at Vaux-Verdun. Very rare goblet with engraving of shootdown, in untouched condition, from family possession.

Quite an item! The bidding is already at €6,200.

24 Jan 2019

German Student Corporation Selfie, 1912

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29 Jun 2018

Not Just “Ladies and Gentlemen” Anymore

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Especially amusing in German.

14 May 2018

Small, Wet Farm

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Hallig Habel, a farm in northern Germany on the North Sea, an area of low flatlands and mudflats. This photo was taken during an extreme high tide. Photo by Hans Joachim Kürtz.

07 Mar 2018

World’s Oldest Bottle of Wine

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Looks a trifle oxidized to me.

Atlas Obscura:

For the last hundred years, Germany’s Historical Museum of the Palatinate has housed the world’s oldest unopened bottle of wine. But a century is nothing to the Speyer wine bottle, also known as the Römerwein aus Speyer. Its murky contents have sat undisturbed inside clear glass for 1,693 years.

The 1.5 liter bottle has handles shaped like dolphins and was buried in the tomb of a Roman nobleman and noblewoman near today’s city of Speyer. Researchers estimate that it dates to around 325 C.E. When the tomb was excavated in 1867, other wine bottles were found, long since shattered or empty. In earlier eras, Romans cremated the dead. But by the time of the Speyer bottle, Romans laid corpses to rest in sarcophagi with grave goods, which included everyday items, including wine.

The wine inside the Speyer bottle was likely made from local grapes that were planted during Roman rule. Unknown herbs were added as well, perhaps as flavoring or as a preservative. The residue inside, however, is no longer truly wine. Instead, it consists of a solid, dark mass and a milky liquid. Even the survival of that residue is unprecedented. An unusually well-made bottle that stayed airtight over the millennia, a wax seal, and a thick layer of olive oil preserved its contents from totally evaporating. In fact, more oil than wine was poured into the bottle, creating the dense, solid layer visible through the glass.


28 Nov 2017

Germany, Failing Again?

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James Madison” thinks the same old German flaws are leading once again to the same old disaster.

Germany does one thing exceptionally well. It can harness its natural tendency toward rigor bordering on arrogance, self-preservation, and an abiding need for social conformity to achieve unparalleled economic dominance in the region. But, because it is consumed by fears – fears arising from its exposure lying at the nexus of the east and west along the wide Northern European plain – it cannot control its urge to overcompensate. Whether it is provoking war against France in 1870, baiting Austria into confronting Russia leading to WWI, or allowing a megalomaniac to seize power and neighbors to create buffer states in WWII lest they threaten, Germany keeps repeating the same mistake. It always eventually turns its industrial power into a tool to exploit others in an effort to protect itself.

After WWII, Germany adopted a kind of “never again” mentality driven first by reconstruction and later by contrition. The German Constitution, the Basic Law, was designed to avoid a repeat of Hitler, Weimar, and Hohenzollern rule which led to economic expansion, exploitation, and calamity. It also structured its government to stop communism, avoid religious division, and prevent class warfare.

The Basic Law is designed to be clear and obtuse, central and diffused, and strong but weak. Thus, with no clear Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, or “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” to define itself, everything eventually boiled down to local matters, local politics, and local interests. Economics dominates in Germany – followed by lifestyle. The green movement flourished in Germany when scientists falsely reported the Black Forests were being denuded with acid rain – so there is that too. Green money and green forests or an amorphous concept of social responsibility, therefore, define an undefined social contract, with jobs coming first, vacations second, and social justice and the environment in there somewhere.

By the 1990s, Germany recovered fully from the devastation of WWII and was faced with the enormous cost of integrating the East. Faced with the necessity of converting the low-skill, low-wage East Germans into a productive resource, it developed a political-union-management plan to temper wages in the western side of the country, invest in automation and low-end production in the East, and in the process trim and redesign its production model. The key result was more job flexibility than most Europeans were willing to accept at the time. This led to rapid transformation and a remaking of German production. Germany increased its quality and lowered its relative costs. With the Soviets out of the way, military spending was trimmed and redirected to pay for retraining, social costs, and funding economic efficiencies. This was a win-win politically since reductions in defense spending fed the ever-present anti-war sentiment of a nation that has always struggled to control its fears.

At the same time, the Euro currency entered in 1999 and diluted the relatively high cost of the German Mark and German efficiency. Suddenly, a blending of Germany’s productive workforce with the extremely unproductive, low-skill Mediterranean and growing eastern EU countries in one currency shielded and boosted German competitiveness. The Euro’s arrival meant Germany could hide behind a currency that did not fully value its costs. Its products and companies began to experience better fortune. The timing was perfect. China and the other BRICS needed machine tools, equipment, and technical know-how. Germany would export its way to pay for East-West integration and create itself as a world trade power.

By now the politicians were fully on board – including the left Socialist Democratic Party under Gerhard Schröder. They were delivering a new Reich, one that would dominate in the marketplace with high technology, luxury, and world-class products. German companies dominated segments of China’s, Brazil’s, India’s, and Russia’s auto and fabrication markets. To smooth things out, much talk of green energy, policies, and global accords was tossed about. Germany was in a fugue of green that would eventually lead its politicians to pull the plug on nuclear after the nation hysterically failed to fully understand the Fukushima incident. Nevermind, Germany would pretend to be green while it turned more brown – burning coal to generate power and subsidizing solar and wind everywhere at great cost to the average German. Electricity costs would rise substantially – non-competitively.

Germany’s economic success, however dominant, was not unique. It could be mimicked. In fact, much of its transformation was patterned after Japanese methods. So to address this, German politicians began working to ensure German standards and technology were adopted or imposed by using the growing power they accumulated within the EU. The phony German diesel engine debacle (only German diesel engines could meet the new German-written EU standards) or the German obsession (silly fad) with renewable energy resulted. With over 20 percent of German jobs (over 10 percent due to VW alone), corporate profits, and exports dependent upon creating a global auto footprint, all of Germany rallied around the phony “clean diesel” technology – deceptively and fraudulently represented as cleaner than it actually was. EU skies in Madrid, Milan, and Paris turned gray with diesel pollution that was not possible using the new German clean diesel. In 2015, they got caught. Something was rotten in Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg.

With the promise of a better tomorrow, Germany began to encounter additional bumps. Russia turned revanchist, forcing hard choices about sanctions over Ukraine, choices moralistic Germany belatedly accepted. China did not adopt western democratic ideals with free markets, in fact, it became more repressive. Human rights issues had to be overlooked by Angela Merkel on her trade visits to China. German export markets in Brazil and India were built upon rather primitive economic foundations that eventually caught a downdraft. The rise of Turkish and Hungarian nationalism and authoritarianism presented conflicts between economic interests and a German aversion to authoritarian rule.

Finally, its look-the-other-way tolerance in exchange for the opportunity to “sell, sell, sell” arrived at a beggar-thy-neighbor strategy which eventually sold and banked Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal into near or actual insolvency. There were other cases of German goods being sold to dictators and winding up where they should not be. Germany, rather than being seen as a responsible citizen, a trusted partner, and source of trade and technology, was seen as a ravenous exploiter. Even sales of its military hardware – items it was not purchasing sufficiently to defend itself or Europe – saw an uptick in sales. German might be the leader of Europe – but it was a leader that lacked both the high ground and the high road.

It was clear as far back as 2006 when oil prices were skyrocketing that Russia planned to rearm. Despite this, Germany continued to disarm and unarm. And by 2015, Britain saw the EU for what it was becoming – a Franco-German alliance with deep interests in telling local merchants in Barcelona to do things the way they were done in Bavaria. The EU regulations set how many paper towels could be used in a public bathroom or which diesel cars met EU standards (answer: German). Germany was calling the shots in public and behind the scenes whether you lived in Leyden or Leicester. The EU could not challenge the one nation that generated all the positive export balance for the EU in total. The EU needed Germany and Germany knew it. It alone still manufactured things that could be sold around the world.

Yet, Britain and France paid for the nuclear forces, they alone funded the limited means to project military force, and they alone held some real soft power to influence the United States – the only power that still mattered if the EU was to hold sway. It was evident looking back that even the Clinton and Obama administrations barely deferred to Germany. She was a non-factor.

The great German waltz suffered its last blow when Germany turned away from sincere concerns about social harmony and cohesion and Angela Merkel opened her borders to flocks of young, unskilled males roaming in from the Middle East to enter the country as refugees. This horde was encamped with government cooperation and little national debate or reflection – and they remain in German-funded schools and transition programs to this day. Underlying this somewhat disastrous decision to accept about a million new citizens from Syria, Iraq, etc., is a stark reality that Germany — if it is to continue to be a workshop for VW’s, Airbus’s, and machine tools — needs workers. The population reproduction has lagged behind replacement levels and no one wants to clean sewers, bathrooms, or pick up garbage. Thus, an economic policy driven by a demographic problem led to a rushed rationalization of an immigration policy that quickly became unpopular.

Nationalist sentiments – the vilest and most detested sentiments in post-WWII Germany – have surged forth. And the nation is now locked in a political impasse over forming a new parliamentary coalition to rule – a little over a month ago the Christian Democrats (Angela Merkel’s center-right party) experienced their worst election since 1949! No coalition is forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Germany’s economy is strong. The nation is weak. It is even perhaps unstable. It is in some respects isolated – from Britain (Brexit), France (reluctantly pro-EU expansion), the Mediterranean EU countries, the more demanding, intolerant, and authoritarian Eastern EU, a resurgent Russia, and its old protector, the United States – which is now a political card played to demonstrate moral superiority. Its old fears of exposure on the Northern European plain nestled between nations who do not trust each other or worse, do not trust Germany, will emerge again. That which unites Germany’s regions and people, their natural proclivity toward a kind paranoia and fear, also destroys it. Will it continue to overplay, overextend, overcompensate? Can it pull itself back a bit, realign, and find a national consensus? Can it arm itself, protect itself, and become a trustworthy ally?

The answer is simply that since its creation as a balance of power between imperial Russia and France, Germany is too small, too large, too aggressive, too passive, and too weak to lead. And when others, or Germany itself, attempts to do so, sooner or later she oversteps and things start to spin out of control. Germany is its own, and quite often the world’s, worst enemy.


29 Apr 2017

Sexy Girls… And Carp!

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Design You Trust:

Yes, There Is A ‘Sexy Women Holding Carp’ NSFW Calendar And, Of Course, It’s Gotta Be From Germany

The calendar is the brainchild of a certain Hendrik Pöhler, a native of Germany who sells equipment for carp fishing for a living. To get these priceless pics, photographer Raphael Faraggi runs the shoots in France over four weeks. He is assisted by “two competent caretakers,” who are charged with cleaning and polishing the carps’ scales before they are given to the models for the big pose.

    “The idea for the calendar was to bring two of the greatest hobbies of men, fishing and women together. I remember the day when I was fishing with my friend and at the spot next to us were two hot girls fishing. This was the moment I decided to make this fabulous calendar.”


Hat tip to Vanderleun.

15 Apr 2017

Most German Story Ever

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Michael Burden had the answer on Quora.

The elderly Prussian army captain marched smartly up to a platoon of soldiers on a Berlin street and began to bark orders imperiously. He stopped a bus bound for the outlying Kopenick district and hustled the men abroad. There, as shown in the picture below, he marched them briskly to the office of Kopenick’s mayor and snapped: “You are under arrest !” Intimidated by the authoritative overbearing manner of the army officer, the mayor managed to ask timidly “Where is your warrant ?” “My warrant” roared the captain “is the men I command.” The mayor, himself a reserve officer, was curious about the captain’s appearance at the time, but he kept his curiosity to himself. The captain then ordered the borough treasurer to hand over all of the cash in the treasury, just over 4,000 marks, and issued an “official” receipt. The mayor, his wife, the treasurer and the deputy mayor were then marched outside the town hall and held under guard. The captain ordered his men to stay at their posts for half an hour and marched away with the 4,000 marks.

The captain was in fact Wilhelm Voigt, a cobbler and ex-convict who had exploited the Prussian awe of uniformed authority to rob Kopenick of its petty cash in October 1906. Ten days later, when the police arrived at Voigt’s attic home, they found the uniform wrapped in a bundle. He did not resist arrest but asked only to be allowed to finish his breakfast. Voigt, who explained that he had learnt to mimic the speech and mannerisms of Prussian officers while mending their boots as an apprentice, was jailed for four years.

His exploits had attracted great public sympathy and affection, however, and he was pardoned by the Kaiser after serving half his sentence. Voigt retired in comfort to Luxembourg on a life pension, given to him by a rich Berlin dowager who had been impressed by his sheer audacity.

13 Feb 2017

Not PC At All


The soloist at FED Cup 2017 in Hawaii honors the German team by singing the German National Anthem. Whoops! The wrong one. He actually sings the long-banned pre-1945 German National Anthem.

17 Sep 2016

An Old-School Feldmarschall

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Gottlieb Ferdinand Albert Alexis Graf von Häßler (1836-1919)

“Our civilization must build its temple on mountains of corpses, an ocean of tears, and the groans of innumerable dying men.”

–stated in an address to his troops.

The Literary Digest History of the World War profiles him thusly:

You can just imagine how much Allied propagandists during the Great War must have loved that one!

When the war began the Crown Prince was entrusted with nominal command of the army which invaded France by crossing Luxemburg and reaching France at Longwy. It was his command that made the long and fruitless assault on Verdun in 1916.

Only in a titular sense was he the director of these assaults. The operations were in reality under control of Marshal von Haesler, one of the oldest commanders in the German army, if not the oldest, his age variously stated at from sixty-eight to seventy-nine, reference books not agreeing as to the date of his birth. He was old enough, however, to have been in the war against Denmark in 1864.

Haesler’s rotund form and the severity of his facial expression combined to make him one of the “figures” in militarist Germany. “The old guardian of the Moselle,” Germans often called him. It was Haesler’s business to advise the Crown Prince.

All agreed that the Crown Prince needed him and that he took the advice offered. Gossip said Haesler was the most abstemious war-horse in the empire. For fifty years he had risen every morning at five to drink a glass of milk and swallow two raw eggs. At two in the afternoon he ate a small piece of steak and a cup of broth. Characteristic of him was an anecdote that included Prince Henry, the Kaiser’s brother. At an annual maneuver Prince Henry had been asked to come to Haesler at eight in the evening. “When he arrived, he had to wait until nine, and then found that he and all Haesler’s guests were to sit down to a glass of water and an apple. ‘This,’ said the old man, ‘is set before you as a practical lesson in war conditions, when absolute necessities only can be obtained and appetites, like baggage, must be restricted.” ‘His Highness alone,” added the General, “having a special claim, may eat two apples and drink two glasses of water.’

In his capacity of inspector, Haesler for years was the terror of German soldiers. If he was to inspect a garrison at some place, such as Morhange, he would board a train that did not stop there, and then, just before getting to Morhange, would have the train halted under an emergency signal he had ordered. Fined as he would be for having stopped a train, he would pay the conductor the regular amount of a hundred marks and then rush off to the barracks. On returning to Berlin he would insist on repayment of his hundred marks, turning the administration upside down until he got the money. Haesler was known to think a long time before spending a mark. In the war he sometimes wore a suit of clothes that he had bought thirty years before and a hat that his father wore in another century. Candor was his least liked trait and Emperor William had as much reason as any one to be aware of it.

Soldiers, according to Haesler, should eat very little. Eating he regarded as a bad habit. ‘March a lot, eat a little, and shoot all the time,’ was his motto. He made his own corps a model of efficiency, knowing none of the caste distinctions common among Prussians, and yet maintaining an admirable discipline. His personal ascendancy was absolute, a circumstance the more remarkable because of deformity and invalidism. Once in the saddle he seemed a part of the horse. He was indulgent to men in the ranks, but severe with his staff. Thus he reversed an order usual among Prussian military magnates, being considerate to inferiors, grim to equals, and merciless to superiors, not excepting the Emperor himself, whose “conceptions” he sometimes openly laughed at in conference with the general staff. Not many years before the war, he once ordered maneuvers near the town of Siereck, where many lines of trenches had been dug, and a blue corps was on the defensive theoretically for a whole week living on dry bread. On going his rounds, Haesler saw an improvised table, made from a plank and four sticks, around which several officers sat on boxes, eating sausage. ‘Do you gentlemen think you are in a lady’s boudoir?” roared Haesler, as he forced his horse against and over the table. ‘The Sixteenth Army Corps is not a school of domestic manners,’ he added; ‘it is an institution that teaches trench life.’ Not daring to offer an apology, the offending officers, when the old man disappeared over the brow of a hill, were said to have vented their feelings in a single untranslatable word: ‘Heligkreuzkanonenbombengranathageldonnerwetter-elementnocheinmal!’

Between this old man and the one-time heir to the imperial throne there long existed warm affection. Alone among marshals, Haesler took seriously the conception attributed to the Crown Prince that Verdun was the true German objective in 1914. Stories were current of the fury with which he had received the decision of the General Staff in August, 1914, to make the rush toward Paris through Belgium. The road to Paris, he believed, lay through Verdun. On the basis of a common purpose before Verdun he and the young Prince were in firm alliance. The long and futile drive of 1916 was believed to be an expression of the very soul of Haesler. The grimness of the fray, its implacable continuity, its steady hail of projectiles, its stern unyielding advance, its disdain of all cost as well as the enthusiasm of the attack — these manifested the mood of Haesler in war. In great contrast as a man to the Crown Prince who was gentle, smiling, boyish, and gay, Haesler’s devotion to the Prince illustrated the familiar attraction of opposites. Haesler never read a book, except the manual, and his favorite relaxation was the society of horses.

Graf von Häßler with Kaiser Wilhelm

19 May 2016

Boris Johnson, the Winner

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) and Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is the winner of The Spectator’s President Erdogan Offensive Poetry competition, initiated by the Spectator in response to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attempt to persuade the German government to prosecute a German comedian for Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan,, a March 17th satiric music video mocking the Turkish president’s suppression of free speech.

There was a young fellow from Ankara

Who was a terrific wankerer

Till he sowed his wild oats

With the help of a goat

But he didn’t even stop to thankera.

Congratulations to Boris!

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