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Mauthausen: Life in the Details

Mauthausen: Life in the Details

A bicycle from Poland. Pieces of a Messerschmitt fighter plane from U.S. Air Force archives in Alabama. Camp log books from Caen. An embroidered handkerchief, tossed out a prison window by a woman on her way to execution for helping Allied paratroopers. A rusty watchtower searchlight, unearthed just last year. Wedding rings, watches, and photos […]

Rathkolb: Revisiting Interwar History

Rathkolb: Revisiting Interwar History

For much of early March, it was nearly impossible to get historian Oliver Rathkolb on the phone. He did better with emails, dashing off two-to-five word answers, with links or attachments. Signed characteristically, “herzlichst, OR”. When he was finally able to pry loose for a few minutes, he sounded harassed – but not unhappy. Leading […]

Gallery Run: Subjective Objects

Gallery Run: Subjective Objects

We have a strange relationship to objects: we acquire them, covet them, project meaning onto them. Artists go further, questioning what our relationship is to objects, not taking it for granted, interpreting the objects in unexpected ways. Whether it’s through pop art, found objects, or exotic artifacts, it’s the artist’s job to reinvent, relocate and […]

Central Europe: Retrieving History from Myth and Ideology

Central Europe: Retrieving History from Myth and Ideology

Much ink has been spilt questioning the concept of “Central Europe”. Where is it actually? And as a geopolitical entity, does it exist at all? In an influential article published in Paris in 1983, the Czech writer Milan Kundera located it geographically in the centre of Europe, but culturally in the West, and politically (at […]

Book Review: Christopher McIntosh’s The Swan King

Book Review: Christopher McIntosh’s The Swan King

The Fairy-Tale Life of Mad King Ludwig The Swan King is Christopher McIntosh’s revised biography of the eccentric Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-86), dubbed by poet Paul Verlaine as “the only true king of his century”. Acceding to the throne in 1864 at the age of 18, he made a brief, conscientious effort to learn […]

Book Review: Anna Porter’s The Ghosts of Europe

Book Review: Anna Porter’s The Ghosts of Europe

The Prisoner Syndrome “We now have democracy,” remarked Czechoslovakia’s president Tomas Masaryk in 1918, after the cobbling together of his beloved postwar multinational state, “all we need are some democrats.” Unfortunately, the countries of Central Europe were to endure some ninety-odd years of identity crisis, marred by decades of totalitarian rule – both fascist and […]

Berlin – Crossing Borders

Berlin – Crossing Borders

“Berlin ist nicht Deutschland,” says Kathrin, sitting on the grass. Behind her, a guy spins a diabolo, an hourglass-shaped piece of plastic, on a length of string attached to two wooden sticks. From somewhere out of sight, the sound of bongo drums glides through the air, amplifying the liveliness that the whirl of people bestows […]

In Memorium: Eric Hobsbawm

In Memorium: Eric Hobsbawm

  “History is being invented in vast quantities […]. It’s more important to have historians, especially sceptical historians, than ever before,” said British historian Eric Hobsbawm, describing his life’s work to the daily Observer on 2 Jul. 2002. By that time, the retired professor of Birbeck College in London, and visiting Professor at Stanford and […]

Book Review: Laurent Binet’s HHhH

Book Review: Laurent Binet’s HHhH

Resisting the Gestapo On 27 May 1942, Reinhard Heydrich lay in the Na Bulovce Hospital in Prague with a broken rib, a perforated diaphragm, a damaged thoracic cage and with the fragment of a black Mercedes lodged in his spleen. Or was it a green Mercedes? This kind of detail matters to Binet, and he […]

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