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Jan 24, 2022
What makes a nation that sits in the heart of Europe and is the seat of the presidency of the Council of the European Union garner such attention? This country with a federal eagle as its state symbol, is famous for its exports like beer, events like Oktoberfest and luxury items like BMW and Mercedes. And yet, beyond this limited purview, you’ll find so much to learn, experience and explore in Germany, a country of 83 million people that’s smaller than the state of Montana. By the end of today's Daily Dose, you would have traveled through the past, present and the future of Germany. You have your ticket, so let’s go!
Lay of the Land
1 - States
Germany is made up of 16 states across a host of landscapes: In the north, you’ll find flat, wide plains leading to the North Sea while the rest of Germany is landlocked, with its central and southern regions consisting of forested hills and mountains. Rivers and streams further accent the territories — from the Danube and Elbe to the Rhine.
2 - Cities
The country’s largest cities are Berlin, the capital (northeast), Hamburg (north), Munich (southeast), Cologne (west) and Frankfurt (midwest). For a small country, you might be surprised to learn that Germany shares its borders with nine countries: Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
From no piano-tuning at night to a prohibition against singing the first stanza of the national anthem, Germany has a number of odd rules. Whatever you do, don’t have a pillow fight or you could find yourself facing assault charges...
Politics and Culture
1 - Modern Germany
Thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell after decades of political conflict, and a united Germany rose from the ashes. Ask any German who was there then, and they will likely tell you precisely what they were doing when the wall came down. The artificial divider between communist East Germany and its western democratic half was no more — replaced by a new urgency: How best to unite a war-torn Germany.
As Germany moved on from the initial joy and excitement of reunification, it soon became clear that it would take a lot more to truly heal the country. For generations, the west was shaped differently than the east. Today, many feel that Germany never truly succeeded in creating a united country while others fear that part of the problem is a country that refuses even to admit there is a problem.
Anyone in the sustainability space will tell you that Germany has long been at the forefront of the movement. So much so, in fact, that the country's Green Party is quickly gaining traction across all voting age groups. It started as a fledgling movement 20 years ago and has since grown into Germany’s second biggest party.
4 - Guten Appetit
German dishes can be found around the world — from sauerkraut to sausage. Typical German cuisine besides what we know as sausages (there are over a thousand kinds of wurst) tends to be meat-focused, such as rinderroulade (beef roll), served with potato dumplings (kartoffelklöße) and vegetables like pickled red cabbage. Breaded cutlets (schnitzel) with roasted potatoes are hugely popular too. To drink, Germany is so famous for its beer that it might surprise you that locals’ favorite hot beverage drink is actually coffee (kaffee), and many drink it with little to no cream and most drink it without sugar.
5 - Welcome Signs
When a country experiences a civil war, it can prompt waves of refugees to flee, such as the case with Syria. In 2015, for instance, millions left their homes in search of a safer country — and many headed to Germany, which has one of the most recognized asylum rights programs in the world. While it was not an easy road for Syrians to gain entry in many countries around the world, the German state of Baden-Württemberg was different. Not only was it willing to take many of the displaced Syrians, but the industrial hub also put them to work — and their muscle helped juice the economy.
Business and Economy
1 - Hacking Productivity
Germany is heralded for its work-life balance — and it is also hacking the productivity challenge that leaves others in the dust. What’s the trick? For one, German workers receive comprehensive training. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation, while managers in countries like the U.K. require higher educational qualifications, many often lack the hard skills needed to perform their job efficiently. In Germany, which boasts a tiered education/work system, employers pay for vocational schooling to ensure that workers stay ahead of the curve. What’s more, they’re not afraid to implement technologies from error-identification systems to robotics.
When an entire country are experts at pinching pennies (or rather euros), the effect on a national level can’t be missed. The German government embraced not taking on new debt to balance the national budget (the so-calledSchwarze Null or black zero) approach. The public has quickly followed suit, to the point that being “debt-free” is a clear point of pride and a call for unusual celebrations. There has even been exhibitions depicting German thriftiness at the Historical Museum in Berlin. However, the German state’s refusal to spend money has attracted some blowback as the country’s infrastructure needs to be supported by a steady cash flow. In 2019, Germany’s output fell in the second quarter by 0.1 percent due to export trade tensions. Slowdowns such as this could force Germany to reconsider this policy going forward.
As Germany’s Green Party of eco-politicians merge into the mainstream, they’re embracing new tactics to enhance their staying power via the channels of big business. If this sounds like a 180 from the traditional manifestos, you’re right. But the new pragmatic approach is proving to hold businesses accountable. Essentially a society is being created where the business giants are becoming part of the solution.
Perhaps one of the most surprising shifts is Germany’s lean towards Poland. While Poles once looked to Germany for opportunity, Germans are now placing hopes in their neighbor to the east. These hopes are evidenced even in the educational choices for children. While French and Spanish used to be the go-to languages in early education, many Eastern Germans are now opting for their little ones to learn Polish, hoping it will lead to a stronger economic future. Feeling abandoned by the central government in Berlin and suffering decades of stagnant economic development, increasing numbers of easterners are seeking to leave desolate, aging villages in search of greener grass.
1 - Europe’s Hospital
Germany is a leader on the healthcare frontier. Not only has it led the way in developing a COVID-19 vaccine via the BioNTech/Pfizer collaboration, but it was Germany that financed the development of the vaccine and not the Operation Warp Speed initiative from the US. Nevertheless, it was the U.S. who pledged to purchase millions of vaccines in advance. Prior to the pandemic, Germany had created a booming “medical tourism” industry from all this innovation. Nearly half of all foreigners in Germany’s medical system, came to Germany specifically to receive medical treatment. Germany earned the unofficial nickname as “the hospital of Europe'' due to the increase of medical tourism it experienced over the last decade.
2 - Map of the Stars
Professional athletes from across the globe make Germany their first stop to keep their systems in peak condition. It’s the hottest off-season stop for sports figures from Usain Bolt to Paula Radcliffe as well as celebrities like Bono and even Pope John Paul II. Hit the link to learn why the stars are bypassing the Mayo Clinic and Dana Farber for Düsseldorf, Munich and the University Medical Center in Freiburg staffed by five (yes, five!) Nobel laureates in medicine.
Germany continues to break ground when it comes to new medical techniques. One example: A procedure for sports hernias that used to take 5-6 weeks of recovery now takes just two days thanks to Munich surgeon Ulrike Muschaweck. Berlin doctors pulled off a world first when they permanently cured an HIV/AIDS patient. What about a magic band aid? Swiss-German company Elanix Biotechnologiesis has created bioactive skin dressings armed with progenitor cells that stimulate the patient’s body to heal in record time.
4 - What’s Next?
Companies like ReinHeart are already creating artificial hearts to allow patients more time to wait for human organ donations. Personalized medicine approaches are also on the horizon, ushering in a new wave of potential cures for everything from cancer to diabetes and heart disease. The German government has teamed up with the country’s largest biotech company, Qiagen, with a 5.5 billion Euros medical research initiative along with the city of Munich, which has invested a hundred million euros in this field.
So, what have you learned about Europe's heartbeat? Let's see!
How many states is Germany made up of?
Less than 10
True or false: Germany initially led the way in COVID-19 vaccines.
What has brought Usain Bolt, Bono and the pope to Germany?
The marvels of surgery in Germany have seen the recovery time of a hernia go from 5-6 weeks down to what amount of time?
What language are more German speakers studying instead of English and Spanish:
What are some of the diseases that personalized medicine aims to treat?
Eye and Hand coordination conditions
Sleep apnea and Wakefulness
Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Disease
Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Disease
They Divided the Sky, by Christa Wolf: Published in 1963, this novel reflects on what building a wall means to a country — and personal relationships. The book centers on a love story but in fraught times even love turns political.
Visitation, by Jenny Erpenbeck: A gripping tale of a family spanning generations from the 19th century through the fall of the Berlin Wall. Dramatic, fascinating and filled with upheaval, the story is fascinating — and treats readers to a hundred-year course of German history.
Die letzten Tage/The Final Days: A must-see, this award winning historical film captures the heartwrenching courage of Sophie Scholl and other youths in the White Rose anti-nazi nonviolent student resistance movement.
3 Days in Quiberon: This biopic of film legend Romy Schneider will immerse you into a little window of German arts, journalism and cinema culture rarely captured through the cinema lens.
Dark: The best show on Netflix just may be this arresting German-language time-travel thriller. Dark merges the wildest of Einstein’s theories with German small-town enigmas to create a production that’s more experience than show.
10 podcasts with German-related stories: From a This American Life piece to learning about classical music greats, this collection has something for everyone.
Why the Germans Do It Better: A highly personal and thoroughly researched tour through a country that’s experienced more turbulence and prosperity than many others.
Today on The Carlos Watson Show hear family secrets about former-President Trump from his niece, Mary L. Trump. The best-selling author and psychologist opens up about her mistrust of her family and delves into the “smoke and mirrors” upbringing that defined the character of the 45th president and how “cheating” the system and avoiding taxes has long been a family goal. Now with a new book, The Reckoning, Trump explores how the nation can heal after her uncle’s impact. To listen to the full, unedited conversation between Carlos and Mary L. Trump, subscribe to the podcast version of the show here: http://podcasts.iheartradio.com/s_34Zjdh
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