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Books & Movies
  • Christmas in Germany: A Cultural History by Joe Perry. German Christmas was a product of the winter solstice rituals of pagan "Teutonic" tribes, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and the age-old customs that defined German character. This richly illustrated volume explores the invention, evolution, and politicization of Germany's favorite national holiday.
  • 150 German Christmas Markets - Where to Go and What to Buy by Joy Anderson. Every year, from the first Sunday in Advent until Christmas Eve, virtually every, city, town and village in Germany becomes a veritable Christmas wonderland, attracting thousands of visitors, both local and foreign. In addition to highlighting special Christmas attractions, this book offers detailed descriptions of traditional German-made Christmas items.
  • Culture Shock! Germany: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette by Richard Lord. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, or even relocating abroad, one mistake with customs or etiquette can leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Culture Shock! country and city guides make up the most complete reference series for customs and etiquette you can find.
  • Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor. A novel published just before the outbreak of World War 2, written as a series of letters between a Jewish art dealer living in San Francisco, and his business partner, who had returned to Germany in 1932. It is credited with exposing, early on, the dangers of Nazism to the American public.
  • Of German Ways by Lavern Rippley. Written before the 1972 Munich Olympics, this book provides a wealth of information on German traditions, customs, and as the title suggests, "German Ways." The chapters are divided into areas such as education, sports, food, and drink.  The author also spends a good deal of time covering German influence in America.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. This is probably the most famous anti-war novel ever written. The story is told by a young 'unknown soldier' in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Although there are vividly described incidents which remain in mind, there is no sense of adventure here, only the feeling of youth betrayed and a deceptively simple indictment of war - of any war - told for a whole generation of victims.
  • The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. One of the great novels of the twentieth century, this is the story of Oskar Matzerath, a dwarfish hunchback detained in a mental hospital, convicted of a murder he did not commit.  Oskar's imaginative distortion and exaggeration of history reveals a startlingly true portrayal of the human situation.
  • Christmas in Germany by Josef Ruland. This is a good resource for understanding the traditional and cultural aspects of German Christmas customs. It details the historical significance of the Christmas tree, decorations, and Father Christmas, identifies how the holiday is celebrated in today's Germany, and even includes recipes and music and lyrics to some popular German carols.
  • Germany: A New History by Hagen Schulze. A story two thousand years in the making, it rings with battle, murmurs with intrigue, and hums with the music of everyday life. This richly various legacy, often overshadowed and distorted by the nation's recent past, offers a hopeful answer to the perennial question of what kind of country Germany is and will be.
  • When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do: The Clued-In Guide to German Life, Language, and Culture by Hyde Flippo. This is a fun and intriguing book that teaches you about Germany's culture, language, and people. It features 120 intriguing multiple-choice questions that are cross-referenced to fascinating articles on pop culture, customs, behavior, history, consumer trends, literature, tourist sights, business, language, and more.
  • Germany and the Germans: The United Germany in the Mid-1990s by John Ardagh. This book should suffice in providing you with some serious insights on the country, its people, and their psyche. Written from the perspective of someone who lived there for many years (while doing some intense traveling within Germany) as well as having a German wife, Ardagh proves to be a more than adequate source.
  • Narcissus and Goldmund: A Novel by Hermann Hesse. Narcissus, an instructor at a cloister school, has devoted himself solely to scholarly and spiritual pursuits. His student is the sensual, restless Goldmund, who is drawn to his teacher's fierce intellect and sense of discipline. When Narcissus persuades the young student that he is not meant for a life of self-denial, Goldmund sets off in pursuit of aesthetic and physical pleasures.
  • Peeling the Onion by Gunter Grass. An extraordinary memoir of Grass' boyhood in a cramped two-room apartment in Danzig through the late 1950s, when The Tin Drum was published. Full of the bravado of youth, the rubble of postwar Germany, the thrill of wild love affairs, and the exhilaration of Paris in the early fifties, Peeling the Onion, which caused great controversy when it was published in Germany, reveals Grass at his most intimate.
  • Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann. The story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany facing the advent of modernity.  As Mann charts the Buddenbrooks' decline from prosperity to bankruptcy, from moral and psychic soundness to sickly piety, artistic decadence and madness, he ushers the reader into a world of stunning vitality.
  • Cabaret (1972) by Bob Fosse. A British scribe (Michael York) and his comrades -- including a flamboyant American nightclub entertainer named Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) chronicle the debauchery and turbulence of prewar Berlin in director Bob Fosse's big-screen adaptation of a musical classic. Existing in a morally ambiguous void, the characters doggedly maintain their facades as the world outside the cabaret gears for war.
  • The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978). After her soldier husband is sent to the Russian front during World War II and eventually reported dead, a lovelorn woman (Hanna Schygulla) pines for him, despite half-heartedly taking lovers and eventually amassing her own fortune. A brilliant film from director Rainer Werner Fassbinder that's frequently grouped in a trilogy with Veronika Voss and Lola, due to the shared theme of women's experiences with loss and survival in postwar Germany.
  • Mephisto (1982) by István Szabó. In early 1930s Germany, ambitious actor Hendrik Hofgen (Klaus Maria Brandauer) cares little for politics and lives only for his art. But when the Nazis rise to power, Hofgen seizes the opportunity to perform propaganda plays for the Reich, gaining popularity and fame. But can he survive in a world where the ideology of evil is the ultimate drama? Director Istvan Szabo's political drama won the 1981 Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
  • Amadeus (1984) F. Murray Abraham earned a Best Actor Oscar for his imperious performance as Antonio Salieri, a mediocre composer whose churlish young rival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), wins immortality with his musical genius. Not happy to see his talent eclipsed, Salieri dons a disguise and deviously plots revenge, obsessed with muffling Mozart's maddening laughter. Milos Forman's masterful drama also won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.
  • Wings of Desire (1987) Wim Wenders won the award for Best Director at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival for this captivating vision about an angel (Bruno Ganz) who falls in love with a beautiful circus performer while drifting unnoticed through West Berlin. Overcome by the girl's beauty, the angel decides he wants to become human. Peter Falk also stars, as himself, and aids the angel in his decision-making process.
  • Schindler's List (1993) by Steven Spielberg. Liam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler, a greedy German factory owner made rich by exploiting cheap Jewish labor. But as World War II unfolds, he becomes an unlikely humanitarian, spending his entire fortune to help save 1,100 Jews from Auschwitz. Co-starring Ralph Fiennes, Steven Spielberg's holocaust epic won seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and is an unforgettable testament to the possibility of human goodness.
  • Immortal Beloved (1994) Upon Ludwig van Beethoven's death, his lifelong friend Anton Schindler sets out to learn the identity of the composer's mysterious muse after uncovering heartfelt love letters addressing her only as "immortal beloved."
  • ?Good Bye, Lenin! (2004). Alex's (Daniel Brühl) mother (Katrin Sass) falls into a coma just as the Berlin Wall is about to come down. But when she wakes up eight months later, her heart is too weak to withstand shock, so Alex goes to great lengths to keep the truth about her country's reform a secret. Wolfgang Becker directs this widely praised, Golden Globe-nominated comedy set in East Germany in 1989 that played in festivals around the world.
  • Sophie Scholl - The Final Days (2005) by Marc Rothemund. Arrested for participating in the White Rose resistance movement, anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch) is subjected to a highly charged interrogation by the Gestapo, testing her loyalty to her cause, her family and her convictions. Based on true events, director Marc Rothemund's absorbing Oscar-nominated drama explores maintaining human resolve in the face of intense pressure from a system determined to silence whistle-blowers.
  • The Tin Drum (1980) by Gary Don Rhodes and Volker Schlöndorff Young Oskar Matzerath, who grows up witnessing the rise of Nazism at the eve of World War II, decides at age 3 to stop growing, effectively shutting out the world and communicating only by banging on his tin drum. Volker Schlondorff's epic unfolds with cinematic artistry, psychological insight, political vision and symbolic richness, as Germany falls prey to Nazism while Oskar's protests go unnoticed. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

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