Germany, Present & Past | Lavender Magazine (2023)

Frankfurt’s River Main inspired the city’s nickname of Main-hattan.

I’m happy (okay: thrilled) to be back in Germany, eager to tread the cobblestones of cities rich with history, churches ablaze with precious art, and cafes piled with beer and sausages: the Germany of my dreams.

But this time, as my plane lands in Frankfurt, I’m not heading straight for the train station to whisk me straight away to those winsome destinations, without first exploring what this high-energy city has to offer. Skyscrapers punching the clouds line the city’s River Main (thus the nickname Main-hattan). With Brexit looming, it’s rumored to become next London, epicenter of all that matters.

That pretty riverbank is lined with one fascinating museum after another, starting with the Stadl, home to bold-name painters from Rembrandt to Fra Angelico, Renoir to Andy Warhol. The smorgasbord continues with museums celebrating communications, architecture, film, Orthodox icons, and more.

Behind those treasuries lies Sachsenhausen—Main-hattan’s Brooklyn—home to cozy dens serving its famous apple wine (and brats and dumplings) and indie shopping lures. Then climb the bridge to transport you to Old Town (yes, Frankfurt is not all bank towers) and its storybook centerpiece, Romer Square. Applaud wedding parties emerging from City Hall, then trace your way to the nearby Historisches Museum, detailing Frankfurt’s history, told via 100 objects (typewriter to Nazi gas canister). Explore the lacy spires of St. Bartholomew Cathedral via a newly-minted street recreating pre-bombing artisans’ shops, or the futuristic Saalgasse, housing Seuss-like architectural fantasies.

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Circling those skyscrapers, you’ll discover a green ring of parkland blooming where Napoleon destroyed the former city wall. Within it lie icons like the house of homeboy poet Goethe, the effervescent city market, and scads of pedestrian shopping streets, from classy Goethestrasse (Dior, Chanel) to everyman’s Zeil, lively with the likes of Zara.

I surveyed the scene from my room high atop Hotel Jumeirah, owned by the sheik of Dubai, who doesn’t pinch pennies to please guests (think: full-service spa—sauna to massage—whose elite products also resided in my bathroom, bigger than my hometown condo). German artworks shine throughout, along with goodies made from the rooftop’s honeybees.

And fueling Restaurant Max, where breakfasts boast hearty German favorites plus Middle Eastern fare. Evenings, it’s transformed into an elegant retreat, where I relished a creamy chestnut soup mined with smoked duck breast, then more duck, roasted with apple, cabbage and potato dumplings, served with apple-date chutney and lingonberry sauce. Yes, I saved room for dessert, because it celebrated chocolate.

An early-morning train trundled me to Leipzig, called “the music city.” Music came before the Soviets, who ruled this East Germany town after World War II—and we’ll get to that fascinating bit of history in a minute. First, back to Bach.

Admirers’ flowers spill over his gravestone, inside St. Thomas Church, where visitors often may catch a concert. Bach’s statue surveys the scene out front, and across the street beckons the Bach Museum, which relates the story of how he became cantor of this very church in 1723 (not to the entire satisfaction of the building’s elders, whose first two choices turned down the job).

It was his task to train the boys’ choir and oversee their dorms; to publish and sell books; and, by the way, to compose a new cantata for virtually every Sunday service. The museum boasts the organ he played; music in the master’s handwriting; and his many portraits.

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Then head to Mendelssohn Haus, where composer Felix lived, composed, and incidentally, painted the lovely water colors on display, while serving as the famed Gewandhaus Concert Hall’s conductor. Visitors can direct an electronic ‘orchestra’ onsite, choosing variables such as tempo, volume and even venue. (Note to self: My performance on the podium indicates it’s wise to keep the day job.)

That famed Gewandhaus anchors a vast plaza turned by the Soviet GDR (German Democratic Republic) into a cityscape of dismal architecture. The site’s beloved University Church? The Soviets dynamited it on a dark night in 1968. It’s recently been reconstructed—slightly off-center as visual testimony to the tragedy.

St. Nicholas Church remains undamaged, however. During the bleak GDR years, citizens gathered here each Monday in peaceful protest. Then, on a fateful day in 1989, they marched for freedom—70,000 brave folks, with Soviet guns trained on them. It was the beginning of the end: Word spread fast throughout East Germany, and the Berlin Wall tumbled down. Credit Leipzig!

Today the story of those GDR years is remembered in the Forum of Contemporary History, detailing everything from rigged elections and censorship imposed by the Stasi (secret police), to their secret prisons, and what locals called “Socialist queues” while lining up to (maybe) gain a rare pound of coffee.

The MdbK—the city’s art museum—showcases treasures from Cranach’s divine “Adam and Eve” on through Leipzig’s Impressionists, then Max Beckmann and other painters the Nazis deemed “degenerate.”

Dine—you must!—in yesteryear’s Auerbach Keller, where servers in red vests deliver impossible portions of homey classics, from potato soup to pork knuckle and sauerbraten, just as in centuries past to patrons like Martin Luther and Goethe, whose statue testifies his satisfaction. Or whisk yourself to the top floor of the skyscraping Panorama Tower for a vista with modern eats like pork fillet with kale and polenta or fish aside risotto.

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Leipzig, as does most of Germany, boasts a lively GLBT scene. In fact, it hosts Germany’s biggest gay sauna, Stargayte, which includes a cinema and bar, open from Friday straight through to Monday. Or opt for the colorful party series “No, No, No!” melding a children’s birthday party vibe with a big-city gay scene. Queer night at “KissKissBangBang” is held at Club Twenty One every second Friday.

Germany, Present & Past | Lavender Magazine (1)

A statue of Johann Sebastian Bach oversees the square outside the Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig, Germany.

The next morning’s train delivers me to Nurnberg, luring travellers since 1050—renowned for events both festive and somber. It’s where Wagner’s opera “Die Meistersinger” is set, and also served as center of Hitler’s Nazi empire and the ensuing post-war trials. But its Christmas Market, one of Germany’s biggest, is a far happier tradition, with close to 200 stalls overseen—not by Santa, but by a pretty angel, the city’s symbol and bringer of children’s gifts.The rest of the year, a bounteous food market fills the square, punctuated by the Beautiful Fountain—a shimmering spire to touch for good luck. It’s the frontispiece for Frauenkirche Church, where, at noon, tiny figurines of burghers paying homage to the emperor parade under the clock. Nearby 13th-century St. Sebald’s houses an ornate silver shrine under glowing stained glass windows, while also-13th-century St. Laurence hosts an illustrious carving of the Annunciation.

Precious artworks like these were hidden in bunkers beneath the town’s hilltop castle (open to visit) during the war years. Today the German National Museum is home once more to these priceless treasures, including paintings by homeboy Albrecht Durer (whose house tourists can visit), along with those of Cranach, Rembrandt and more. Don’t overlook the smartly modern Neues Museum beside it, with an exhibit devoted to products designed in both East and West Germany of the Fifties: typewriters, sewing machines, kitchenware. Plus a giant sculpted gorilla. And another sculpture of toilet paper rolls.

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The Toy Museum offers a secret indulgence for grown-ups, for Nurnberg was famed for its toy production. On display: battalions of toy soldiers, miniature railroads, dolls almost as old as the town itself, plenty of teddy bears.

Bordering the train station, a Crafts Village showcases artisans at work as well as a coffeehouse and bratwurst ops. Yes, I indulged. But I saved room for dinner at Steichele, serving hearty German specialties since 1892 and a proud promoter of the Slow Food Movement. Glistening goose for me, though it famous carp was sorely tempting.

Another train ride whisked me to Wiesbaden, a genteel spa town hugging the Rhine River. It’s pleasantly “undiscovered” by most American tourists, but the town’s Roman founders knew a good thing when it bubbled from the ground. The city boasts dozens of thermal springs fizzing up from fountains, including those of Kaiser Friedrich Thermal Bath, an Art Nouveau wonder which welcomes visitors.

First, a breakfast stop at Café Maldaner of 1850, whose owner cries “Wilkommen!” to all who pass through the door. Pause to admire the pastry case’s lineup of fancy cakes that augment its coffee menu. “It’s the first Viennese coffeehouse outside of Vienna,” a guest explained as career waitresses in crisp white caps delivered a breakfast mélange of ham, cold cuts, cheese, pickles, tomatoes, sweet breads and eggs.

Well fed (in Germany, that’s simply table stakes), I headed off to peer at the remains of Roman walls and statuary amide the pedestrian-only shopping streets and red-brick churches, on my way to the city’s museum—half natural history and half art. And what art! Art as in Art Nouveau: graceful, curvy furniture, sinuous lamps and chandeliers, and paintings of wistful maidens. But time didn’t halt a hundred years ago. The museum also boasts an exciting showcase of bold, modern German paintings.

Near it glows the Kurhaus of 1907—the city’s landmark and center of its social life. Its elite casino—all polished wood and chandeliers—adjoins a theater and a cozy restaurant, where I enjoyed a wintertime feast of roast goose, potato dumplings, baked apple, chestnuts and red cabbage.

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Wiesbaden’s food scene continues at the summit of Neroburg, a forested hilltop overlooking the city, where a Russian Orthodox chapel bearing five golden onion domes guards a host of precious icons. Along the path lies Wagner in Opelbad, a restaurant since 1869, with unmatched view and menu: creamy chestnut soup, pate and chocolate mousse for me, salmon for my companion. And champagne.

Sekt, rather, as it’s named in Germany—sourced from the nearby cellars of Henkells, open to tour and taste. Then on to Kunder, producer of fancy chocolates since 1889 and said to serve the best hot chocolate in town. Among its tasty wares, choose Teufel (“devil”) chocolates encasing pear liqueur or Venus, harboring chili inside.

So, blame it on Venus, or the Devil: I’m hooked. I’m already planning a return visit. To chart your own, see www.germany.travel.

FAQs

What is Germany's military rank in 2023? ›

For 2023, Germany is ranked 25 of 145 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. The nation holds a PwrIndx* score of 0.3881 (a score of 0.0000 is considered 'perfect').

Is Germany's military still restricted? ›

In conclusion, Germany is allowed to establish armed forces for solely defense but is limited to the German Army, German Soldiers, German Navy, and German Air force but no biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.

Can Germany have an army after ww2? ›

Although a defeated West Germany was forbidden from having a standing army immediately after the end of World War II, the Allies quickly changed that stance as the Cold War began and by 1955 Germany's Bundeswehr came into existence as a NATO member with the chief mission to hold off the threat of a Soviet invasion.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Germany? ›

Usually when one says Germany, among the first things that come to people's mind is Hitler, the Berlin Wall and beer. However, Germany is not all about that.

Who has the strongest military in the world 2023? ›

The latest list of the most powerful military released by the Global Firepower Index for the year 2023 has ranked the United States military as number one globally.

Which is the strongest military in the world? ›

1. United States Of America. US Military has the biggest defence budget in the world. They are known for their most powerful Air Force on the planet, named as United States Air Force (USAF).

Can Germans join the US Army? ›

To join the U.S. military, non-citizens must be living permanently and legally in the United States. Non-citizens must also have permission to work in the United States, possess an I-551 (Permanent Residence Card), have obtained a high school diploma and speak English.

Why is Germany not allowed an army? ›

Germany had been without armed forces since the Wehrmacht was dissolved following World War II. When the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949, it was without a military. Germany remained completely demilitarized and any plans for a German military were forbidden by Allied regulations.

What is the motto of the German military? ›

"Meine Ehre Heisst Treue" is a German phrase that translates roughly to "My Honor Is Loyalty." In Nazi Germany, the Waffen SS (the military wing of the SS) used this phrase as a motto; it is a reference to the organization's loyalty to Adolf Hitler.

Does Germany allow dual citizenship? ›

In Germany, a person with foreign citizenship in addition to his/her German citizenship (a multiple national) has exactly the same rights as all other German citizens. Additional rights may result in relation to the other state whose nationality they have.

Why can Germany have an army but not Japan? ›

The short answer is, Japanese civilian bureaucrats wrote into the constitution a measure to disallow the military as a result of infighting that existed from before the war between the military and civilian bureaucrats.

Is Germany friendly to foreigners? ›

Germany is not considered to be one of the most welcoming countries or the friendliest with foreigners. In fact, the country was ranked as one of the world's worst countries to make friends. This is why it's important to have expert help as you find a place to live and get to know your new home.

Where do most American live in Germany? ›

Berlin is, of course, the number one place to find expats in Germany. For many, many years, Berlin has been home to international artists. But in recent years, the development of the tech industry has seen a growing number of expats move there.

Does the US still have bases in Germany? ›

Ramstein Air Base is located in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate (aka Rheinland-Pfalz) and is part of the Kaiserslautern Military Community -- the largest American community outside of the United States. The 86th Airlift Wing is the host wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

How many American citizens live in Germany? ›

Americans in Germany or American Germans (German: Amerikanische Deutsche or Amerika-Deutsche) refers to the American population in Germany and their German-born descendants. According to Destatis, 300,000 - 400,000 Americans live in Germany. 200,000 of them in Rhineland-Palatinate[1].

Who has the best trained army in the world? ›

United States. The United States of America is a North American nation that is the world's most dominant economic and military power.

Which country has the most firepower in the world? ›

A total of 145 world powers are considered For the 2023 GFP review. The Global Firepower Index, 2023, puts the US at the top, Russia at the second spot, China at No. 3, and India at No. 4. IAS aspirants can also refer to the Global Indices & India's Ranking in the same for the year 2023 at the linked article.

Why is the US military so powerful? ›

The U.S. Armed Forces has significant capabilities in both defense and power projection due to its large budget, resulting in advanced and powerful technologies which enables a widespread deployment of the force around the world, including around 800 military bases outside the United States.

Who has the best Air Force in the world? ›

The United States of America maintains the strongest Air Force in the world by an impressive margin. As of late 2021, the United States Air Force (USAF) is composed of 5217 active aircraft, making it the largest, the most technologically advanced, and the most powerful air fleet in the world.

Who has the strongest Air Force in the world? ›

United States of America

Who is world's best soldier? ›

In a rapidly evolving world, armed forces play a critical role in maintaining national security, projecting power, and safeguarding peace.
...
List of Top 10 Army in the World.
PositionCountryScore
1United States0.0712
2Russia0.0714
3China0.0722
4India0.1025
6 more rows

Who Cannot join the US Army? ›

If you are found trafficking, selling, or distributing narcotics, including marijuana. If you have three or more convictions related to driving while intoxicated, drugged, or impaired in the past five years before joining. If you are convicted for five or more misdemeanors.

Who Cannot join the US military? ›

There are many specific medical conditions that may disqualify you from joining the U.S. Military. These include conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, heart issues, Asperger's, and PTSD.

How many U.S. bases are in Germany? ›

US Military Bases in Germany | 21 Bases | MilitaryBases.com.

What did German soldiers call American soldiers? ›

During World War II, German soldiers called American soldiers ami.

What did German soldiers say about American soldiers? ›

“The American army seems to me as fine a collection of individual physical specimens as I have ever seen. But from the standpoint of military discipline it is a mob, pure and simple. The men appear slouchy, the officers do not stand out from the men in appearance as they do in any European army.”

What did they call German soldiers? ›

German soldiers also called themselves Schweissfussindianer – 'Indians with sweaty feet' – which had an interesting counterpart in a term for British soldiers: 1000 Worte Front-Deutsch (1925) states that after 'Tommy' the main German epithet for British soldiers was Fussballindianer – 'football Indians'.

Can I live in Germany with U.S. citizenship? ›

Citizens of the United States of America may also apply for their residence permit after entering Germany without a visa.

Can you be a U.S. citizen and a citizen of Germany? ›

Retention Permit to keep German citizenship when naturalizing in the US / “Dual citizenship” German citizens who wish to naturalize in the US require a so called Retention Permit to keep German citizenship (“Beibehaltungsgenehmigung”) in order not to lose their German citizenship through naturalization abroad (Sect.

Is a child born in Germany automatically a citizen? ›

Yes. A child born in Germany (on or after 1 January 2000) can acquire German nationality, even if neither of the parents is German. The only precondition is that one of the parents has been legally and habitually resident in Germany for eight years and has a permanent right of residence.

How long did the US occupy Germany? ›

Allied Occupation of Germany, 1945-52.

What part of the military was Germany banned from having? ›

The German army was restricted to 100,000 men; the general staff was eliminated; the manufacture of armoured cars, tanks, submarines, airplanes, and poison gas was forbidden; and only a small number of specified factories could make weapons or munitions.

Why isn t Japan allowed a military? ›

Constitutional limitations

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits Japan from establishing a military or solving international conflicts through violence. However, there has been widespread public debate since 2000 about the possibility of reducing or deleting Article 9 from the constitution.

Is it better to live in Germany or USA? ›

When taking into consideration the cost of living in Germany vs. the U.S., Germany really comes out on top. And not just in comparison to the US. Germany's cost of living remains lower than many other countries at a similar development level.

Is Health Care Free in Germany? ›

Yes, all Germans and legal residents of Germany are entitled to free “medically necessary” public healthcare, which is funded by social security contributions. However, citizens must still have either state or private health insurance, covering at least hospital and outpatient medical treatment and pregnancy.

Can an American retire to Germany? ›

Visas for Retirees in Germany

As an American, you can stay in Germany for up to 90 days without a visa. To stay longer, you'll need to apply for a temporary residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) during your initial 90 days.

What do German eat for breakfast? ›

A German breakfast consists of hearty Brot (breads) and Brötchen (rolls), decorated with butter, sweet jams and local honey, thinly sliced meats, cheese and even some Leberwurst.

What time do Germans eat dinner? ›

But in Germany, the traditional dinner time is much earlier: you'll find many German households having their evening meal between 5 and 7 pm.

What is a typical German dinner? ›

Dinner. In Germany, the evening meal is called Abendessen or Abendbrot – the latter is actually more like a supper, and literally translates to 'evening bread'. Following a hearty lunch, Germans traditionally enjoy a lighter dinner, with breads, hams, sausages, cheeses, and pickles all being very common.

What rank is Germany in military? ›

The 2020 military strength ranking brings the USA in the first place of the list, the Russia second and the China third.
...
Military Strength of Nations, 2020.
RankCountryPower Index
13Germany0.2186
14Iran (Islamic Republic of)0.2191
15Pakistan (Islamic Republic of)0.2364
16Indonesia0.2544
131 more rows
Mar 3, 2020

What rank is Germany's army? ›

Officers are subdivided into Lieutenants (Leutnante), Captains (Hauptleute), Staff Officers (Stabsoffiziere) and Admirals (Admiräle) or Generals (Generäle). NCOs are divided into those with or without a sword knot lanyard (mit / ohne Portepee).

Who has the strongest armies in Europe 2023? ›

PowerIndex of military forces in Europe 2023

Russia had the most powerful military in Europe according to its PowerIndex score, which compares the strength and capability of different countries. According to this ranking, the UK had the second strongest military in Europe, followed by France, and then Italy.

What is the projected military raise for 2023? ›

President Biden has signed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, ensuring military members will receive a 4.6% pay increase in 2023. Both the House and Senate approved the bill, with the Senate finalizing their vote on Dec.

What is the US military ranked in the world? ›

A Global Comparison of Military Strength in 2023. In GFP 2023, the United States is ranked as the top military power in the world with a score of 0.0712 which was 0.0718 in the previous year.

Who is ranking the largest military in the world? ›

People's Republic of China

What are German generals called? ›

Generalleutnant. (German officer rank) General.

What is 1 US Army rank? ›

Private (E-1)

Private (PV1) is the lowest rank in the U.S. Army and is primarily for recruits in basic combat training (BCT). They're typically automatically promoted to private second class after six months TIS. However, soldiers may be demoted to private as part of disciplinary action.

How big will Germany's army be? ›

Germany's defense ministry has plans to expand its force by roughly 20,000 soldiers. That will be difficult. In 2021, 17.5 percent of military posts above the level of enlisted ranks were vacant.

Is USA the strongest country? ›

Overall, the most powerful countries in the world are those with a combination of economic, military, and cultural power. The United States remains the most powerful country in the world, followed by China and Russia.

What is US military strength in Europe? ›

Since February 2022, DoD deployed or extended over 20,000 additional forces to Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis, adding additional air, land, maritime, cyber, and space capabilities, bringing our current total to more than 100,000 service members across Europe.

Which country is trying to leave the European Union? ›

As of 2022, no country other than the United Kingdom has voted on whether to withdraw from the EU.

How much does a retired E7 make? ›

What is the retirement pay for an E7 with 20 years? As of 2022 the pay calculation projection an E7 retiring with exactly 20 years of service would receive $27,827 per year. It's important to note the present value of almost $800,000 for a 40 year old receiving this pension indefinitely.

What will the 2024 military pay raise be? ›

Service members and Defense Department civilian employees would receive a 5.2-percent increase in basic pay, under the Biden administration's proposed $842 billion 2024 defense-spending bill. The proposal also contains provisions that address quality-of-life issues.

How much is military retirement pay going up in 2023? ›

2023 Annual Military Retirement Pay Increase

The cost of living adjustment for 2023 will be 8.7% for Social Security checks, VA disability compensation and other government pension and benefit programs.

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