Adjective declension in German

There are many factors to consider when declining German adjectives – But don’t panic! Berlino Schule is here to help you

Gute, guten, gutes, guter… do you ever find yourself wondering why the same adjective comes in so many forms? Adjectives are useful tools in a language since they can enrich a text or a speech. That’s why it’s important to know how to employ them. We are here to explain to you which things you should keep in mind when you use adjectives in German.

When should we decline adjectives?

To begin, adjectives should not always be declined. It depends on their position within the sentence. When they come after the noun (together with a verb), they are used in their basic form. For example:

Die Tasche ist blau. – The bag is blue.

Instead, if the adjective comes before the noun, it must be declined:

Die blaue Tasche. – The blue bag. 

 

How to decline adjectives

To determine which ending the adjective should get, you should consider these factors:

  • gender and number of the noun the adjective refers to
  • case (Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ, Genitiv)
  • what is in front of the adjective (definite article, indefinite article, no article…)

The last point, in particular, determines which one of the three possible declensions we should follow. In the following paragraph, we will show you these three declensions and when to use each one of them.

First declension

We use the first declension with definite articles: Der schwarze Tisch ist sehr schön.

Erste Deklination

This declension is also used with “dies…”, “welch…”, “jed…”, “all…”, “solch…” and “manch…”.

Ich mag diesen deutschen Kuchen.
Welches neue Geschäft liegt hier in der Nähe?
Ich liebe jedes italienische Gericht.
Manche billigen Sofas sind unbequem.
Solche einfachen Übungen sind für Anfänger ideal.

This first declension is pretty easy. In fact, in five cases the ending is E (they are highlighted in orange the table above), while in the remaining cases the ending is EN.

 

Second declension

The second declension is used with indefinite articles, with “kein…” and with possessive adjectives (e.g.: mein, dein, sein…).

Ich habe ein rotes Heft.
Mein rotes Heft ist auf dem Tisch.
Ich habe kein grünes Heft.

Zweite Deklination

Third declension

We use the third declension when there is no article in front of the adjective. This is also used if the adjective comes after a number, “viele”, “einige” or “andere”.

Julia hat lange Haare.
Wir haben zwei junge Töchter.
Ich schreibe viele/einige lange E-Mails.

Dritte Deklination

Let’s practice:

01. Das ist der neu…………….Deutschlehrer.

02. Die neu……………..Deutschlehrerin ist sehr nett.

03. In unserer Klasse ist eine neu………………………Schülerin.

04. Ich finde, gut………………..Freunde sind sehr wichtig.

05. Du musst vorsichtig sein, er ist noch ein klein………………Kind.

06. Er hat ein neu……………………Auto gekauft.

07. Sein neu…………………Auto steht vor der Haustür.

08. Meine klein…………………….Kinder gehen in den Kindergarten.

09. Die Adjektivdeklination mit bestimmt……………………….. Artikel kann ich schon gut.

10. Ich trinke gern deutsch………………….Wein.

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Prepositions of time and place

In this article we will illustrate the most common German prepositions of time and place

German prepositions can be quite confusing when one first approaches them. Practice usually helps grasping the differences among them but, for the moment, we will try to explain this topic as easy as possible, so that you can immediately start learning.

Some German prepositions are always followed by the Akkusativ. These are: bis – durch – für – gegen – ohne – um – entlang.
Other prepositions are always followed by the Dativ: aus – bei – mit – seit – nach – von – zu – gegenüber.
There are also prepositions that can either be followed by the Akkusativ or by the Dativ. These are usually prepositions of place, and they follow this general rule:

Prepositions

Prepositions of time

AN + Dat. It is used with the days of the week (am Montag) and the parts of the day (am Vormittag), except for the night (in der Nacht).

IN + Dat. It is used with months (im Juli), seasons (im Sommer) and years (in 2021, im Jahr 2021). “In” can also be used to say “in a week”, “in a month” and so on: in einer Woche, in einem Monat.

INNERHALB + Gen. (within). E.g.: Ich schreibe dir innerhalb einer Woche. – I’ll write to you within a week.

ZU is used with feast days (zu Ostern, zu Weihnachten) and expressions like “zu dieser Zeit” and “zu jeder Zeit”.

FÜR + Akk. (for) indicates the duration: Für eine Stunde, für einen Monat, für drei Tage

VON + Dat … BIS + Akk. (from…to). E.g.: Von Montag bis Freitag. – From Monday to Friday. 

“Bis” can also be employed in expressions like: Bis bald! / Bis Montag! – See you soon! / See you on Monday!

ZWISCHEN + Dat. (between). E.g.: Zwischen dem 1. Januar und dem 1. Februar. – Between the 1st of January and the 1st of February.

WÄHREND + Gen (during). E.g.: Während dem Sommer habe ich viele Bücher gelesen. – During the summer I read a lot of books.

 

Um vs. Gegen

UM + Akk. (at). It is used to indicate what time it is. E.g.: Wir treffen uns um 19 Uhr. – We are meeting at 19.
GEGEN + Akk. (around). E.g.: Wir beginnen gegen 10 Uhr. – We begin around 10.

 

Vor and Nach

VOR + Dat.  (before). E.g.: Vor dem Deutschkurs habe ich Zeit zum Essen. – I have time to eat before the German course.
NACH + Dat (after). E.g.: Ich komme nach der Schule. – I’m coming after school.

 

Vor, Seit and Ab

VOR also means “ago” (always with Dativ). E.g.: Vor einer Woche hatte ich Fieber. – A week ago I had a temperature.

SEIT + Dat. (since/for). “Seit” is used to talk about an action that started in the past and that is not yet completed. E.g.: Ich lerne Spanisch seit zwei Monate. – I’ve been learning Spanish for two months.

Ich lerne Spanisch seit Januar – I’ve been learning Spanish since January.

AB + Dat. (from). It can also be used with the Akkusativ if it comes with no article. E.g.: Ab dem nächsten Monat/ ab nächsten Monat.

“Ab” is usually used for the future. We can’t say “Ich warte hier ab 15 Uhr” if it is 16.
It can also be employed to refer to the past, but only if the action is completed.

E.g.: Ab 1952 arbeitete er in Berlin. – From 1952 he worked in Berlin (but now he doesn’t).

 

Prepositions of place

The meaning 

IN (inside)

VOR (in front of)

HINTER (behind)

UNTER (under)

ÜBER (on – without contact)

AUF (on – with contact)

NEBEN (close to – without contact)

AN (next to – with contact)

ZWISCHEN (between)

All of these prepositions are used with the Dativ if they give a location (WO?), and with the Akkusativ if they give a direction (WOHIN?).

 

Dativ vs Akkusativ 

As we said before, prepositions of place often depend on whether there is a motion or not. We have to ask ourselves if the sentence answers the question WO? (where?) or WOHIN? (where to?).

IN + AKK Ich gehe in die Stadt. gehen = verb of motion, WOHIN?

IN + DAT Ich bin in der Stadt. sein = stative verb, WO? 

 

Prepositions of place that are always used with the accusative case.

DURCH + Akk. (through). E.g.: Sie wandern durch den Wald. – They’re walking through the woods.

ENTLANG + Akk. (along). E.g.: Wir spazieren diese Straße entlang. – We’re walking along this street.

UM + Akk. (around).

Wir sitzen um den Tisch. – We’re sitting around the table.
Das Restaurant ist um die Ecke. – The restaurant is around the corner.

GEGEN + Akk. (against). E.g.: Gegen die Mauer. – Against the wall.

 

Prepositions of place that are always used with the dative case.

AUS + Dat. (from). E.g.: Ich komme aus Italien. – I come from Italy.

ZU + Dat. (to). We find it in front of persons or professions to indicate a direction.

Ich gehe zu meiner Mutter. – I’m going to my mom’s house.
Er geht zu Lisa. – He’s going to Lisa’s house.
Ich gehe zum Arzt. – I’m going to the doctor’s.

If there is no motion involved (WO?) we use BEI (+ Dativ).

Ich bin bei meiner Mutter. – I’m at my mom’s house.
Er ist bei Lisa. – He is at Lisa’s house.
Ich bin beim Arzt. – I’m at the doctor’s.

ZU is also used with “Haus(e)”. In this case, though, it gives a location, and not a direction: Ich bin zu Hause. – I’m at home.
If we want to say “I’m going home”, we employ NACH instead: Ich gehe nach Hause.
NACH also belongs to the prepositions used with the Dativ. It always refers to a direction (WOHIN?). We employ it with those geographical names that come with no article (cities and towns, most countries, continents).

Ich fahre nach Berlin. – I’m going to Berlin.
Wir fahren nach Spanien. – We’re going to Spain.
Sie fliegen nach Asien. – They’re flying to Asia.

In these same cases, we use IN to give a location.

Ich bin in Rom. – I’m in Rome.
Wir sind in Frankreich. – We’re in France.
Sie sind in Europa. – They’re in Europe.

Prepositions of place that can either be used with the dative or with the accusative case.

Geographical names with article

IN + Akk. gives a direction.

Ich fahre in die Schweiz. – I’m going to Switzerland.
Wir fliegen in die USA. – We’re flying to the USA.
Ich fahre ins Ausland. – I’m going abroad.

IN + Dat. gives a location.

Ich bin in der Schweiz. – I’m in Switzerland.
Wir sind in den USA. – We’re in the USA.
Ich bin im Ausland. – I’m abroad.

 

Islands and open spaces

AUF + Akk. is used to give a direction.

Ich fliege auf die Insel Sylt. – I’m flying to Sylt island.
Wir gehen auf den Markt. – We’re going to the market.

AUF + Akk. is used to give a location.

Ich bin auf der Insel Sylt. – I’m on Sylt island.
Wir sind auf dem Markt. – We’re at the market.

 

Seas, oceans, lakes, rivers and beaches

AN + Akk. gives a direction. E.g. Ich gehe ans Meer. – I’m going to the seaside.

AN + Dat. gives a location. E.g. Ich habe ein Haus am Meer. – I have a house by the sea.

 

Let’s practice

Wohin möchtest du fahren/gehen? – Where would you like to go?

Make a list of the places you would like to visit, using the prepositions seen above.

E.g.: Ich möchte nach Paris fahren.

 

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The German Perfekt (perfect tense)

What is the Perfekt and how do we build it? Here we try to sum up everything you need to know about this tense.

The Perfekt, just like the Präteritum, is used to talk about something that happened in the past. In fact, the Perfekt and the Präteritum are often used interchangeably. You could say “Gestern habe ich ein Buch gekauft” or “Gestern kaufte ich ein Buch”. 
The meaning is always the same: “Yesterday I bought a book“.

However, Germans mainly use the Perfekt in everyday oral language, whereas in the written and formal language they prefer the Präteritum.

How to build the Perfekt

The perfect tense (Perfekt) is formed by an auxiliary verb and a past participle (Partizip II). The auxiliary verb can either be “haben” or “sein”, depending on the main verb, and it must be conjugated in the present tense (Präsens) according to the subject. Remember to put the past participle at the end of the sentence.

Ich habe eine E-Mail geschrieben. – I wrote an e-mail.
Sie ist nach Paris geflogen. – She flew to Paris.

Perfekt_rule

 

Past participle: weak, strong and mixed verbs

Weak verbs (schwache Verben)

Weak (regular) verbs build the Partizip II with the prefix GE and the suffix T. These should be added to the verb’s stem. For instance:

SAGEN – GESAGT
KAUFEN – GEKAUFT
LERNEN – GELERNT

If the stem ends in -T or -D we should add an E between the stem and the suffix T:

ARBEITEN – GEARBEITET
WARTEN – GEWARTET
REDEN – GEREDET

If the verb ends in -IEREN we do not use the prefix GE:

TELEFONIEREN – TELEFONIERT
FUNKTIONIEREN – FUNKTIONIERT

 

Strong verbs (starke Verben)

Moving on to strong verbs, their past participle does not follow a general rule. They add the prefix GE and they end in EN, but the stem often changes. For this reason, it is important to learn these verbs’ past participle by heart. A few examples:

FAHREN – GEFAHREN
GEHEN – GEGANGEN
BLEIBEN – GEBLIEBEN
HELFEN – GEHOLFEN
TRINKEN – GETRUNKEN

 

Mixed verbs (gemischte Verben)

Mixed verbs add the same prefix and suffix as regular verbs, but they change their stem:

BRINGEN – GEBRACHT
DENKEN – GEDACHT
WISSEN – GEWUSST
KENNEN – GEKANNT

 

Certain rules apply to both weak and strong verbs. For instance, when it comes to separable verbs, GE has to be put between the prefix and the root.

AUFRÄUMEN – AUFGERÄUMT (weak verb)
MITNEHMEN – MITGENOMMEN (strong verb)
EINSTEIGEN – EINGESTIEGEN (strong verb)

If the verb is non-separable (meaning that the verb has a prefix that never gets separated from it), we do not put GE:
VERSUCHEN – VERSUCHT (weak verb)
BESUCHEN – BESUCHT (weak verb)
UNTERNEHMEN – UNTERGENOMMEN (strong verb)

 

“Haben” or “sein”? Which auxiliary verb should we use?

In most cases, the Perfekt is built with “haben”. Nevertheless, verbs that indicate movement build the Perfekt with “sein”.

Ich bin nach Paris gefahren. – I went to Paris.
Er ist nach Hause gelaufen. – He walked home.
Wir sind zur Party gekommen. – We came to the party.

The same verbs can be used with “haben” when they have a direct object (Ich habe ein Auto gefahren – I drove my car), as well as when the focus is on the activity and not on the movement itself (Er hat eine Stunde gelaufen – He walked for an hour).

 

All reflexive verbs have “haben” as auxiliary verb.

Sie hat sich angezogen. – She got dressed.
Wir haben uns verirrt. – We got lost.

 

In addition, we should consider the verb’s transitivity. Transitive verbs (with direct object) build the perfect tense with “haben”, whereas intransitive verbs usually build it with “sein”.

Ich habe einen Apfel gegessen. – I ate an apple.
Ich bin geblieben. – I stayed.
Was ist passiert? – What happened?

Please note that the same verb can be used both as a transitive and as an intransitive verb.

Das Glas ist gebrochen. – The glass broke.
Ich habe das Glas gebrochen. – I broke the glass.

 

Was hast du gestern gemacht?

If you want to practice, try to list all the things you did yesterday. We gave you some examples.

  • Ich bin aufgestanden. – I got up.
  • Ich habe Brot mit Honig gegessen. – I ate bread with honey.

 

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Infinitivsätze

Infinitivsätze – how to build infinitive clauses in German

To “zu” or not to “zu”? That is the question – An explanation of German infinitive clauses (Infinitivsätze)

A lot of German learners have some trouble using the infinitive when they build sentences. Either they put “zu” where it is not needed, or they forget to put it in a sentence where it is necessary. We hope this article will help you get a clear picture of Infinitivsätze.

But what does Infinitivsatz mean? The word “Infinitiv”, which is similar to the English word “infinitive”, indicates the base form of a verb. Sagen, schreiben, kommen, gehen… these are all infinitives.
“Satz” means sentence and “Sätze” is its plural form. So basically, we are talking about sentences built with the infinitive. However, not all sentences wich include a verb in its base form are called “Infinitivsätze”. We use this term to refer to those sentences where the infinitive is built with “zu”.

Ich habe vor, meinen Freund zu besuchen. – I am planning to visit my friend.
Ich versuche, einen Job zu finden. – I am trying to find a job.

 

How do we build Infinitivsätze?

An Infinitivsatz is a subordinate clause (Nebensatz). This means that it is always linked to a main clause (Hauptsatz). We usually use a comma to separate the main clause from the subordinate clause.

Ich hoffe, die Prüfung zu bestehen. – I hope I pass the exam.

Infinitivsätze - rule

When it comes to the Infinitivsatz, you have to put “zu + base form” at the end of the sentence. If the verb is separable, “zu” is put between the prefix and the verb.

Ich verspreche, mein Zimmer aufzuräumen. – I promise to tidy up my room.
Ich habe vor, heute Abend auszugehen. – I’m going out this evening./ I’m planning to go out this evening.

Please remember that the Infinitivsatz has no subject. In fact, it generally refers to the subject or object expressed in the main clause.

Ich hoffe, mich morgen besser zu fühlen. – I hope I will feel better tomorrow.
Meine Mutter erlaubt mir, meinen Freund zu treffen. – My mother allows me to meet my friend.
Es ist wichtig, Zeit für sich selbst zu finden. – It is important to find time for yourself.

For this reason, it is not possible to use an Infinitivsatz with “zu” if the subject of the subordinate clause is different from the subject/object of the main clause. In this case, we must build the subordinate sentence with “dass”.

Ich hoffe, dass er sich besser fühlt. – I hope he feels better.
Ich hoffe, sich besser zu fühlen – NOT CORRECT

 

When to use Infinitivsätze – a few examples

Some verbs are often followed by an infinitive clause. Here we list the some key ones:

vorhaben (to plan): Ich habe vor, heute einkaufen zu gehen. – I’m planning to do the shopping today.
versuchen (to try): Ich versuche, mehr Gemüse zu essen. – I’m trying to eat more vegetables.
vorschlagen (to suggest): Ich schlage vor, Chinesisch zu essen. – I suggest eating Chinese food.
versprechen (to promise): Ich verspreche, pünktlich zu sein. – I promise I will be on time.
beginnen und anfangen (to begin): Er fängt an, sich besser zu fühlen. – He’s starting to feel better.
hoffen (to hope): Ich hoffe, Schauspielerin zu werden. – I hope to become an actress.
glauben (to believe): Sie glaubt, fertig für die Prüfung zu sein. – She thinks she’s ready fort he test.

 

In addition, one can find an infinitive clause after these kinds of constructions:

adjective/past participle + sein

Gut sein (to be good): Es ist gut, oft Sport zu machen. – It is good to exercise often.
Wichtig sein (to be important): Es ist wichtig, oft Sport zu machen. – It is important to exercise often.
Bereit sein (to be ready): Er ist bereit, zu heiraten. – He is ready get married.
Erlaubt/verboten sein (to be allowed/forbidden): Es ist verboten, im Park zu grillen. – It is forbidden to have a barbecue in the park.
Richtig/falsch sein (to be right/wrong): Es ist richtig, den Müll zu trennen. – It is right to separate waste.
Leicht sein (to be easy): Es ist leicht, etwas online zu bestellen. – It is easy to order something online.

 

noun + haben

Lust haben (to feel like): Peter hat Lust, Gitarre zu spielen. – Peter feels like playing the guitar.
Zeit haben (to have time): Wir haben Zeit, eine Tasse zu trinken. – We have time to drink a cup of tea.
Angst haben (to be afraid): Ich habe Angst, krank zu sein. – I am afraid to be sick.

 

Infinitivsätze with “um…zu”

Now let us have a look at a particular type of Infinitivsatz, namely the one built with “um…zu”. This structure is used to express the aim of the action. Just like in the normal infinitive clause, we use “zu + base form” at the end of the subordinate clause. In addition to that, we should put “um” right after the comma that separates the main clause from the subordinate clause.

Ich studiere Medizin, um Arzt zu werden. – I study medicine to become a doctor.
Ich brauche Wasser, um meine Pflanzen zu gießen. – I need water to water my plants.

 

Do not use ZU in these cases

There are other cases where we use the infinitive in a sentence. The most common one is with modal verbs:

Ich möchte eine neue Tasche kaufen. – I would like to buy a new bag.
Modal verbs are followed by the base form of the verb, but we do not have to use “zu”.

The infinitive is also to be found after verbs like “bleiben”, “lassen”, “gehen”, “fahren”, “sehen” and “hören”.
Here are a few examples:

Nach der Operation bleibt sie liegen. – She stays in bed after the surgery.
Er geht jeden Tag spazieren. – He goes for a walk every day.
Ich sehe ein Baby weinen – I see a baby crying
Ich höre meine Nachbarin singen. – I hear my neighbour singing.

It would be wrong to use “zu” in these kinds of sentence.

Ich möchte eine neue Tasche zu kaufen – NOT CORRECT

 

A simple exercise to practice

Try to write at least three sentences about your hopes for the future (in the short or long term). Use the Infinitivsätze with “zu”, just like in the examples below.

Ich hoffe, Rechtsanwalt zu werden. – I hope to become a lawyer.
Ich hoffe, dich wieder zu sehen. – I hope I see you again.

 

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Lipsi, when DDR created a new dance to stop rock’n’roll

Listening new rock bands was actually impossible for youngsters who lived in Soviet bloc

All western bands were strongly censored by regime, above all rock’n’roll was not tolerated at all. Although listening to Elvis, Rolling Stones or Beatles was very hard matter, the ban was bypassed and their music albums came into DDR, getting really famous. Soviet party’s chiefs worried about the fact that youngers were listening this music, so they decided to think a new dance up. The newborn dance was created to be catched on them in order to eclipse the success of rock’n’roll: Lipsi was born.

Soviet reply to decandent and vulgar Western rock’n’roll

Soviet leaders felt disconcerted by dances which spread out since the end of 50s. They were the opinion that Elvis’ basin movements were almost pornographic, and besides, a tête-à-tête dancing between teenagers was a not- well-identified danger for social order. In order to prevent that this new kind of music could keep influence on DDR teenagers, Soviet leaders were determined to compose a new music and dance, both were suitable to the (chaste) education of Socialist youngsters. About Lipsi, René Dubianski composed its music, whereas dancing was created by Christa and Helmut Seifert dancers. As reported by J.Elke Ertel in his book entitled “Walled In – A West Berlin girl’s journey to freedom, the name was not choosed by chance. All three authors came from Lipsia which was obviously situated in Soviet bloc. Adapting the latin name of the city, Lipsiens, they created an original name: without good reason, they actually thought that the final “i” would have given an “american” and new-fashioned guise, more fashionable for teenagers. Once music was composed and dance was created, the strict Soviet censorship let pass it: challenge against capitalist West could be begin on the dancing floor too.

A guidelines to dance Lipsi, for perfect party in Eastern German style

Surely, you are now curious to know how to dance Lipsi that is essential to organize a DDR themed party. The lyrics, composed by Dublansky and reported by Anna Funder in C’era una volta la DDRsaid: «These days all the youngsters dance Lipsistep, just it; These days all of them want to learn Lipsistep: it is hip rhythm! Rumba, Boogie and Cha Cha Cha are old-fashioned; out of the blue, a new rhythm has come from nowhere and it is about to be still». The piece is in 6/4, as it was a speedy waltz. The Seiferts created a very simple choreography which is quite similar to a rumba blended with waltz as defined by Ertel, so as the youngs could learn quickly. The most curious aspect was that any kind of basin movements was strictly forbidden, only chest movements were permitted. Dancers almost never moved close to each other, staying at safe distance: all that contributed to create an “innocent” choreography. But even though it was beaten the drum for it, Lipsi didn’t hit the big time. Socialist teenargers continued to prefer Western rock’n’roll with its own unfettered rhythm and, listening to Lipsi, we can’t argue with them. If you want to learn more about history of this questionable dance and everyday life during those years, you could visit DDR Museum in Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse, Berlin.

Cover image: A Lipsi step – Screenshot from Youtube’s video

 

Johann Trollman, the Sinti boxer who challenged the Nazi regime

Who is Johann Trollman?

Johann Trollman was a Sinti boxer who started his career during the Nazi regime. On the ring, he used to wear a pair of shorts on which the tiny word “Gypsy” had been sewed. Trollman was born in 1907 in Hannover, it was also known as “Rukeli,” which means “tree,” due to his prominent figure and his curly hair. Although he was a professional boxer, he has always been branded as “nomad.” Trollman was known for his original way to fight like a dancer. Disparaged by the press because of his approach to competitors, he was exempted from the Olympic team of ’98 beacuse of his gipsy origins.

He stepped into the ring dressed up as a true Arian to mock the regime

When Hitler rose to power, Germany’s boxing clubs were reorganized, and non-Arian fighters were excluded. To obtain the middle weight title, Trollman had to fight against the German Adolf Witte. Even if he won the match, Nazi authorities stripped him of his title eight days later and gave it to Gustav Eder. Trollman took up the challenge and fought against the new champion. However, German authorities forced Trollman to change his original way of fighting. As a response, the gypsy boxer arrived on the ring after having dyed his hair blonde and covered his body with flour, to mock the regime.

The Sinti boxer had to pay up for teasing Nazis

Due to Gustav Eder’s match, Trollman lost both his chance to regain the title and his fighting license. Furthermore, his failure forced him to work as a waiter for a living. After being threatened, the Sinti boxer had to leave his family and underwent a sterilization. In 1942 he was arrested and forced to join the eastern front. Later, he was deported in Neuengamme, a concentration camp where German soldiers forced him to make illegal fights over the night. Trollman was moved again into Wittenberge, where he had his last illegal match. His victory stirred up general unrest among German soldiers, who killed him. Today the German boxing federation recognizes his value and apologizes to the family for what happened during those years. 

Kokeshi75 CC0

Hermannplatz returns to its former beauty thanks to David Chipperfield

The department store located in Hermannplatz (Berlin – Neukölln) will be redesigned by David Chipperfield

The legendary building located in Hermannplatz, which dates back to the 1920s, will be knocked down and rebuilt by David Chipperfield. The palace can be found between Kreuzberg and Neukölln. In 1929 Karstadt wasn’t just a shopping center: it represented also a tourist attraction in the Weimar Republic. After the Second World War, the building was destroyed and later on built up. Today the facility belongs to an Austrian billionaire called Renè Benko. Now the billionaire wants to restore Karstadt’s builing and bring it to its former beauty. 

Karstadt from the 1920s to the 1950s

In the past, the Art Decò building stood on Hermannplatz, extending over 32 meters with 7 floors. The whole palace was made of limestone. Karstadt recalls New Yorkers’s store. During the 1940s the façade was destroyed. In the second half of the 20th century, the building has been refurbished. It didn’t, however, regain its glory.

David Chipperfield’s project

The British architect David Chipperfield will handle Karstadt reconstruction project. His aim is to give a modern interpretation of the building. As planned for the project, two columns will be reactivated. Furthermore, an observation deck will be added. Both in the first and second floor, a day care and a library are to be put up. The new structure will appear smaller than the older one even though gyms, offices and a covered market won’t be missing. On the top of the building, a restaurant and a hotel will be added. Construction works will last 3 years, starting from 2021. 

Photo: © Visualisierungen von der Vision des Projekts am Hermannplatz. Das Copyright der Renderings liegt bei David Chipperfield Architects.

 

How Dresden was rebuilt by its citizens, after being bombed in 1945

Dresden after the Second World War

February 1945. A few months before the end of Second World War, the city of Dresden was bombed. As a result of the conflict, Germany was occupied by Soviets. Just right after the Reunification of Germany and the Fall of the Berlin Wall, a tough work of reconstruction took place over the country. A group of Dresden citizens cleaned the rubble up and a lot of blueprints were drawn up thanks to the work of architects and urban planners. People wondered how the new city could appear and how it could be possible to rebuild it. In 1993, refurbishing works started in Dresden; almost ten years later, in 2005, the Lutheran church called Frauenkirche – which was considered the emblem of the city – returned to its people. Its wreckage has always represented a memoir against the war. Thanks to the citizen’s efforts, several important buildings were restored such as the Zwinger Palace and the Semper Opera House.

What happened during the bombing period

In February 1945, both Britain and U.S. Armies decided to drop two pounds of explosive and a thousand firebombs over Dresden. The air strike lasted two days no stop. The city of Dresden was destroyed by the flames. According to historians, 370000 people passed away during the attacks. The attacks in Dresden were known for their atrocity and then depicted in a novel called “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. 

Women called “Trummer Frauen” rebuilt Germany

The “Trummer Frauen” were a group of women who helped with the reconstruction of German destroyed cities. War reduced men’s workforce: husbands and sons died or never returned home. On their behalf, women took the reins of Germany’s cities restoration, being almost 7 million more than men. With their help, women freed cities from debris. The age of the so-called Trummer Frauen goes from 15 until 50. Moreover, allied powers issued an order for women to help get rid of rubble. A lot of volunteers joined and supported them. In different German cities like Berlin, Leipzig, Magdeburg e Nürnberg set out a plan for rubble removal. In Dresden, almost 492 men and 512 women took part in disposal operations. At the end of the 1946, the number of working women reached 580.

Photo: Wikilmages CC0

Nabokov lived in Berlin for 15 years, but he never integrated in the German society

Vladimir Nabokov moved to Berlin in 1922 and lived there for 15 years

Nabokov’s family moved to Berlin in 1920. In those days, many people left Russia because of the Civil war, and from 1922 to 1923 more than 300.000 Russians reached Berlin. Immigrats was mainly concentrated in Wittenbergplatz and Charlottenburg (this latter was ironically called Charlottengrad). Vladimir Nabokov was among those who arrived in 1922. His arrival was quite tragic: after just a few weeks, his father passed away while trying to save Pavel Miliukovl, a notable Russian politician, during an attack.

Life in Berlin

Nabokov spent his time within the Russian community, as he has never been able to integrate in the German society. In fact, he then admitted he could not stand Berlin. “Upon moving to Berlin I was beset by a panicky fear of somehow flawing my precious layer of Russian by learning to speak German fluently…”, as he wrote in his work Strong opinions, published in 1973. He stayed in Berlin till the late 1930s, when the rise of the Nazi party pushed him to move to the United States.

Literary debut

In Berlin, Nabokov wrote his first works in Russian and published them in some newspapers, which were printed by some Russian immigrants. His first book (Korol Dama Valet) was published by a Russian editor. He also translated in English a great number of books. In fact, the cultural hybridization shines through them: even though, those books belong to the English literature, styles and themes are typical of the Russian culture.

A guide to Berlin

A Guide to Berlin is one of those. This short novel, published in 1925, describes Berlin from the inside perspective, through the eyes of an unidentified character. The novelist believes in how important it is to immortalize everyday life: “So that could be reflect in gentle lens of future times”. The guidebook offers few reference points, which are concretely recognizable: narration is subjective and far away from a guidebook-style.

Here you can download Nabokov’s short novel

Photo: A Pictorial Biography, compiled and edited by Ellendea Proffer (Ann Arbor: Ardis Publishers, c1991).

 

 

 

Muller, Schumacher, Hoffamann: the secrets behind German surnames

The invention of German surnames

The use of German surnames became popular during the Middle Ages (between the 10th and the 11th Century), with the purpose of identifying the social status of people. Surnames were selected – like everywhere else in the world – according to physical, working and family features. Using a surname was very useful for census surveys.

Only rich families could afford a surname                                                                                                                                                                

Originally, the surname was widely used and it was considered as a people’s first name. After that, surnames were used to recognize the families’ origin. Having a family name was a prerogative of rich families, only. During the 12th Century, the use of surnames spread all over Europe, becoming common use everywhere.

How surnames were chosen 

During the Middle Ages, Germany started to use surnames according to people’s professions. Let’s make an exemple: Meyer was first used for rather important and powerful people; it was later adopted with the meaning of “farmer”.

A list of the most famous German surnames and their translations

  • Wagner – a man who deals with means of transit
  • Becker/ Beck – Baker
  • Bauer/ Baumann – Peasant
  • Hoffmann – Farmer
  • Schulz/ Schulze/ Scholz – Mayor
  • Koch – Chef
  • Richter – Notary
  • Klein – Little
  • Wolf/ Wolff– Wolf
  • Schröder – Driver
  • Neumann – Newman
  • Braun – Brown
  • Werner – Defense army
  • Schwarz – Black
  • Schumacher/ Schubert/ Schuster – Shoemaker
  • Zimmermann – Carpenter
  • Weiss – White
  • Krüger – Potter
  • Lange – Long
  • König – King
  • Krause/ Kraus – a man with curly hair
  • Huber – Landowner
  • Frank/ Franke – a man who comes from Franconia
  • Lehmann – Servant
  • Keiser – Emperor
  • Fuchs – Fox
  • Herrmann – Warrior
  • Thomas – Twin
  • Peters – Stone (Greek origin)
  • Stein – Stone
  • Jung – Young
  • Berger – Pastor (French origin)
  • Martin – Belligerent (Latin origin)
  • Friedrich – Peaceful
  • Keller – Basement
  • Gross – Big
  • Hahn – Plumber
  • Roth – Red
  • Günther – Warrior (Scandinavian origin)
  • Vogel – Bird
  • Winkler – Nook
  • Lorenz – Laurentius (Latin origin)
  • Ludwig –Famous
  • Heinrich – A person who belongs to an important House
  • Otto – Heiresses
  • Simon – Simon (Jewish origin)
  • Graf – Lordship
  • Krämer – Trader
  • Böhm – someone from Bohemia
  • Winter – Winter
  • Haas – Rabbits Hunter
  • Sommer – Summer
  • Schreiber – Writer
  • Engel – Angel
  • Brandt – Fire
  • Busch – Bush
  • Horn – Horn
  • Arnold – someone strong like an Eagle
  • Bergmann – Miner
  • Pfeiffer – Piper
  • Sauer – Sour

Photo: Gellinger CC0