Germanwings Flight Crashes in France

FF new logoFlFiNewsflyer logo



144 passengers and six crew members dead, German high school class feared part of the group.

MARSEILLE/BERLIN/PARIS- Thoughts and prayers go out to families and friends of the 144 passengers and six crew members of the Germanwings flight that crashed in southern French near the city of Nice this morning. The flight was enroute from Barcelona (Spain) to Düsseldorf (in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia). Among those feared dead were a group of 16 school children and two teachers from a high school in Haltern, located in northwestern North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany. They were returning from an exchange program outing. Many politicians and people  alike have expressed their condolences on the loss of so many people. “It’s a tragedy, a new aerial tragedy, we will also know all the details and the causes of what has happened and we will evidently give them to the authorities concerned, including Spanish and German, and to the families of the victims. This is a mourning period that we need to overcome because it’s a tragedy that has occurred on our land,” said French President Francois Hollande. German chancellor Angela Merkel in an official statement added: “We find ourselves in great saddness and are thinking about the victims, their families, relatives and friends.” She plans to travel to southern France tomorrow to investigate the crash.  

The crash is the first in many years and will trigger an investigation as to what caused the crash. It is known that the crash will affect people from three countries in the EU and beyond, and there will be no stopping the investigation until the cause is found. For the family members, friends, and those who knew the victims, esp. the children on board, the Files would like to express condolences and support in this difficult time. May they be remembered but never forgotten, as we will think of them both now and for all time to come. 😦

Click on the highlighted links for more information in both languages. The Files has a Chain Post on its facebook page where you can follow all the updates posted through many sources. Click here and scroll down to the bookmarked post and read up on all the details.

Germany Quiz 2: What to know about Hamburg

Hamburg City Hall. Photo taken by Daniel Schwen. Link:
Hamburg City Hall. Photo taken by Daniel Schwen. Link:

Located on the Elbe, Hamburg is a metropolis that has garnered a lot of attention in recent years. It has transformed itself from a large shipping port to a city laden with modern architecture, renewable energy sources, entertainment and communication and lastly, a cosmopolitan environment attracting many people from different regions and cultures. The city is recently in the running for the 2024 Olympics and if it wins the right to host the Games, it will serve as a complement to not only the image of the city’s sporting scene, as it prides itself on  storied soccer and handball teams. It would beef up the city’s image even further.

But what do we know about Hamburg? Imagine the author being new to Germany and has never been to Hamburg (admittedly, he has only passed through the city many times without spending at least a couple hours sight-seeing). What is there to see?

Before finding out, a guessing quiz has been provided about Hamburg with 25 questions for you to answer and comment on. Between now and Good Friday (3 April), you will have a chance to take a stab at the questions, with the answers being provided before Easter. The time frame is short because of Easter and therefore the plan to provide the readers with another quiz on another German state, the questions in the guessing quiz is a bit easier and reader friendlier than the first one on Schleswig-Holstein, thus allowing the quiz to be done more quickly- that is if you are beating the deadline. 😉

So without further ado, here are the questions about Hamburg. Best of luck with the questions and the challenge:

True or False?

  1. Hamburg is bordered by Mecklenburg-Pommerania, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Saxony-Anhalt.
  2. The Hamburger is a person born and raised in Hamburg.
  3. The original sandwich Hamburger did NOT originate from the city of Hamburg
  4. The official name of Hamburg is the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg
  5. Hamburg is the third largest city in Germany with 1.8 million inhabitants.
  6. The river passing through the city is the Elbe.
  7. The premier soccer, handball and basketball teams are owned by Hamburger SV
  8. Hamburg has the busiest train station in Europe.
  9. Pauli has the largest island in Europe.
  10. Hamburg has never hosted the Olympics.
  1. Put the following bridges of Hamburg in order beginning with the oldest.

Kersten Miles Bridge                      Hamburg-Harburg Bridge             Lombard Bridge

Freihafen Bridge                             Kohlbrand Bridge                            Feenteichbrücke

  1. The Freihafen Bridge was originally supposed to be a double-decker bridge serving what type of traffic on the upper deck?
  1. There are more than _______ bridges in Hamburg- more than Venice, Pittsburgh and Berlin.

a.   1500          b. 2000                c. 2500                d. 3000                e. 3500

Odd One Out: Which of these celebrities was NOT born in Hamburg?

14. (Actors/ Actresses)  

a. Udo Lindenberg     b. Til Schweiger                c. Evelyn Hamann            d. Caroline Beil

15. (Writers)  

a.Hans Massaquoi           b. Karen Duve                   c. Wolf Biermann             d. Guido Hammesfahr

16. (Athletes)    

a. Maya Lindholm              b. Richard Marx                c. John Jahr                       d. Anita Felguth

  17. (Architects)  

a.  Heinrich Scheel      b. Carl Theodore Sorensen      c. Friedrich Voss  d. Charles Hartage

18. Which of these landmarks do NOT belong to Hamburg?        

a. Hamburger Elbharmonie     b. Hafen City     c. Breathing Bridge           d. St. Nicholas Church

e. City Hall              f. Reeperbahn                        g. All of them exist.

  1. The suburb of Wilhelmsburg was the site of two important events in 2013. Name these two worldly renowned events.
  1. Most of Hamburg’s food specialties uses this important ingredient                                                                                a. fish           b. chicken           c. pork                 d. beef                 e. shrimp
  1. One of the specialties, the Hamburger Labskaus is an entrée that consists of ____________, ________________ and ______________.
  1. Currywurst is a specialty most commonly found in Hamburg. True, false or naja?
  1. The Berenberg Bank is the ___________ bank in Germany and the ____________ oldest in the world. It was founded in _______________.

  24.  Which of the suburbs will you NOT find in Hamburg?  

a. Hafen City      b. Altona             c. Harburg       d. Wilhelmsburg               e. Hamm

f. Horn       g. Elmshorn        h. Pinneberg       i. Lurup           j. All of them exist in HH.

  1. Refer to Nr. 24 and identify which of the suburbs of Hamburg will you most commonly find in the US?

Germany Quiz 1: The Answers to the Questions about Schleswig-Holstein

Sheep grazing along the Eider outside Friedrichstadt with the railroad bridge in the background. Photo taken in 2012
Sheep grazing along the Eider outside Friedrichstadt with the railroad bridge in the background. Photo taken in 2012

And now, the moment you have been waiting for, for two weeks: the answers to the questions about the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Going from north to south the Files is providing readers with a guessing quiz on each of the German states as part of the series on Germany at 25. For the northernmost state in Germany, the area is rich in culture and history, which after looking at the answers to the guessing quiz, you will be motivated enough to spend a few weeks up there.

The answer key is only a complement to the guessing quiz which you can access here and print out for you to try on your own, as well as test your family and friends, especially those originally from the region who might need a refersher. However, you are also free to comment on the answers to the guessing quiz, either in the comment section or directly via e-mail, using the contact info available under About the Flensburg Files header page.

So without further ado, here are the answers to the quiz on Schleswig-Holstein:


  1. What’s the capital of the state of Schleswig-Holstein

 Answer: Kiel


  1. Which of these communities is NOT a community but an island?

Answer: Sylt

Interesting Fact: The Island of Fehmarn is also considered an island featuring several small villages plus the towns of Burg, Burgstaaken and Puttgarden. Yet since 2003, all the communities consolidated to form an Island-Community or City Island. Sylt still remains an island with many small communities run locally by their own governments.


  1. List the communities in order from largest to smallest in terms of population.

Kiel (242,000)

Lübeck (210,000)

Flensburg (89,300)

Neumünster (77,000)

Itzehoe (32,700)

Bad Oldesloe (24,100)

Husum (22,200)

Sylt (21,000)

Heide (20,800)

Quickborn (20,200)

Eutin (17,300)

Bad Seegeberg (15,900)

Fehmarn (13,000)

Plön (12,800)

Friedrichstadt (2,400)


  1. Which community has the highest concentration of Danish people in Germany?

Answer: Flensburg. Of the ca. 90,000 inhabitants that live in this city, 30% are of Danish descent. No wonder that the city has several Danish schools and stores, mostly in the north and west of Nordermarkt.


  1. Which community was established by the Dutch?

Answer: Friedrichstadt. The town was founded by Dutch Protestants in 1643 and is characterized by its houses, canals and even bridges, including its signature double-bascule draw bridge. More on the city’s bridges can be found here through the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.



  1. Which community is famous for its chalk hills and is the site of Karl May’s Cowboys and Indians Show (a.k.a. Winnetou)?

 Answer: Bad Seegeberg.  Every summer in July, Winnetou and his Native American friends make a stop here to challenge the likes of Buffalo Bill and Kit Carson, just to name a few.


  1. You’ll never be a full-fledged international tourist unless you visit this community with its historic city center (a UNESCO site, BTW) and try the world famous marzipan candy. Name this town in Schleswig-Holstein.


Answer: Lübeck. More on why you should visit this city to come in the Files. But if you don’t visit this city, you’re touristic criminal. 😉


  1. “Moinson!” German actor Axel Prahl, who plays Thiel in the ARD mystery series “Tatort” (Crime Scene in EN) is originally a Schleswig-Holsteiner, originating from which community? (Note: It has a fine castle).


 Answer: Eutin, located between Kiel and Lübeck. If you’re not convinced he uses this greeting profusely or if you want to know what he looks like, enjoy this Tatort film below:

Correction: The greeting is spelled “Moins En,” according to local sources.


  1. Which two communities have a premere league handball team and what are their official team names? (Hint: The Files has profiled them in many occasions since its inception in 2010)


Answer: Flensburg and Kiel.  The official name for Flensburg’s team is the SG Flensburg-Handewitt, featuring the acing albatrosses from two Flensburg handball teams and one from neighboring Handewitt that merged to be one team in 1990. The zebras of THW Kiel have been in the handball business for over 100 years (since  1904) and have been kings of the German and international leagues for over 50 years.


  1. Which community is famous for its “Kornschnapps” (EN: grain schnaps)?

Answer: Bad Oldesloe, located between Hamburg and Lübeck.




  1. Which river in Schleswig-Holstein is the longest?

 a. Trave     b. Treene        c. Träne          d. Tine       e. Schwentine      f. Eider

Answer: The Trave. At 124 km in length, the river flows through the eastern part of the state before emptying in the Baltic Sea at Travemünde near Lübeck.     

Note: The Eider River would have been the right answer had it not been for the construction of the Baltic-North Sea Canal. Originally, the river sliced through the state from Tönning to Kiel, thus creating first the border between the Danish and Prussian Kingdoms then later the kingdoms of Schleswig and Holstein. It was 188 km long, however today’s river starts at Rendsburg and continues its route to Tönning, with the total length being cut down to 100 km.


  1. How many castles does Schleswig-Holstein have, and can you name two of them? (Hint: Eutin has one so it does not count)


Answer: seven. They include ones at Eutin, Ploehn (Plön), Salzau, Gottdorf (near Schleswig), Husum, Ahrendsburg and Glücksburg.


  1. The last of the coal-fired steamboat exists in Germany and is still in operation in Flensburg. What’s the name of the ship?

 a. Alexandra     b. Bertha        c. Clara           d. Dora           e. Euphremia    f. Flora

  g. Greta          h. Helena        i. Illonka         j. Johanna

Answer: a. Alexandra. This ship was built in 1908 and still provides tours in the region between Flensburg, Holnis and Kappeln. Rumor has it though that this ship is expected to retire soon.


  1. The Kiel Canal (a.k.a. Grand Canal) is a waterway built in 1895 connecting which two cities and their two seas? Schleswig-Holstein is bordered by these two seas.


Answer: The Baltic Sea and the North Sea.  Hence the name Baltic-North Sea Canal or in German: Nordostseekanal (NOK)


  1. The Grand Canal replaced the canal that followed the Treene River. True or False?

Answer: False. The Grand Canal replaced the Alte Eider Canal, which ran parallel to today’s canal between Kiel and Rendsburg as a canal and as the river Eider from Rendsburg to the mouth of the North Sea at Tönning



  1. Name two of ten bridges over the Grand Canal. One of whom has received many accolades for its engineering wonder. (Hint: Sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a report on this theme)


Click here to get the answers. The Rendsburg Bridge is one of the bridges that received several accolades on the national and international level because of its unique bridge design. More on that here.


17. Uwe Barschel, a Social Democrat, resigned from his post as prime minister amid a scandal on October 2, 1987. Nine days later, his body was found at a luxury hotel in which city?

 a. Munich  b. Berlin          c. Amsterdam             d. Berne          e. Geneva     f. Vienna

g. Budapest    h. Paris      i. Prague         j. New York

Answer:    e. Geneva   Correction: Barschel was a Christian Democrat, not a Social Democrat, according to locals and the history books.


  1. The 1972 Summer Olympics took place in Kiel. True, False, or Naja?

Answer: Naja. While the majority of the events took place in Munich, the yachting portion of the events took place in Kiel.



  1. Which German cartoon character originated from Schleswig-Holstein?
    1. Die Wilde Kerle (The Wild Boys)
    2. Werner
    3. Wallace and Gromit


Answer: b. Werner the wild motorbiker. Interestingly enough, Rötger Hoffmann, the creator of this cartoon character, just recently celebrated his 65th birthday. He founded the series in 1982.


  1. Which annual festival in Schleswig-Holstein does NOT exist?
    1. Apple Festival in Glücksburg (near Flensburg)
    2. The International Yacht Festival in Kiel
    3. International Kite-flying Festival in Travemünde (near Lübeck)
    4. Crocus Flower Pagent in Husum
    5. Tulip Festival in Friedrichstadt


Answer: e. The Tulip Festival does NOT exist in Friedrichstadt, BUT there is a similar festival some 6,000km away in another Dutch city, Pella (Iowa) in the US.


  1. You’re not a true Schleswig-Holsteiner unless you try one of the two local specialties (a.) and a good (b.) beer.


a. Sauerfleisch with broiled potatoes OR any delicacies with fish

b. Flensburger beer


  1. Fehmarn Island is the flattest island in Germany. True or False?

 Answer: False, but the island is the largest in Germany.


  1. The Fehmarn Bridge, built in 1963, was the first bridge in the world to use this design?

Answer: The basket handle tied arch bridge. Since then, many engineers have embraced this design, and another bridge in Schleswig-Holstein will be built at the Levansau crossing using this design.


  1. St. Peter-Ording is a popular health span resort namely because of of the discovery of which mineral in a geyser discovered in 1953?
    1. Salt Petroleum  c. Sulphur       d. Nitrate        e. Hydrogen

Answer:  c. sulphur


  1. How many universities and colleges exist in Schleswig-Holstein? Can you name two of them?

Answer:  12 

They are:        The University of Kiel

                       The University of Applied Sciences of Kiel

                       The Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts in Kiel

                       The Europe University of Flensburg

                       The Flensburg University of Applied Sciences

                       The Lübeck Academy of Music

                       The University of Lübeck

                       The Lübeck University of Applied Sciences

                       The University of Applied Sciences in Wedel

                       The Pinneberg AKAD

                       The Nordakademie of Elmshorn

                       The Westkuste University of Applied Sciences of Heide

And now after getting acquainted with the first of 16 states in Germany, we will now move on to the second state going south. This is one of three city-states and one that was on the news most recently: Hamburg. More in the next article….

FF 25 Logo

The English Corner: Are You Sicher? Bist Du Sure?

Lockbreaker with the locks

How people are not sure how to use the English form of Sicher

To start off my post, I would like to start off with a little word of advice with regards to German-English translations:

When looking up the English equivalent of a German word, never EVER use the first meaning in English without looking at the meaning and context first.

Many people translating documents from German into English have done this, and native speakers of English who are correcting the English documents have tried not to cry while laughing at the translations, especially the English equivalent of the German word used that absolutely did not fit the context. Of some of the blunders I’ve seen over the years, I can list the top five that comes to my mind:

1. Wassereinbruch-   The translated version was water burglary! 😀 Yet the actual meaning is water break-in or leak if referring to an underwater pipe or cable.

2. Landstation-  On the same document about underwater pipes, this person translated it as country station!!  😀  Now if you were a country music fan, you would know what a country radio station sounds like, right?  For a station on land, we keep the English translation as is, just separating the words into two.

3. Nicht auf dem letzten Drucker machen– The English equivalent performed as a pun by one of my students at the university was “Don’t do it to the last printer!”  However, we do have one word to shorten this phrase, which is “to procrastinate.”

4. Ich kann schreien-  In a presentation when asked to speak up, the presenter responded with “I could cry?” Response from a predominantly American audience: “Well, don’t do that.” I could just scream when I hear this. Oh, did I forget that scream was the right equivalent?

5. Sicherstellen- Many students have made this mistake, which is to be discussed here. They always say to make it secure. But are you sure it means to make something safe?

Photo by Rodrigo Souza on


There are many word pairings where one German word has several different English meanings. For the fifth example, we will look at the word Sicher and the English equivalents that features three different words: sure, secure and safe. With these, we also have for each English equivalent, a different meaning.



If we use this word, then it refers to the process of making sure that every promise, fact, statement and proof is doubt-free. In other words with full confidence. 🙂 In other words, you are asking someone whether he is telling the truth or not, thus bringing a famous German statement you will find in many supermarkets selling tobacco and public places that have age restrictions: “Sagen ist gut, Beweis ist besser-” saying something is good, proof and/or evidence is better.


Example sentence:

Judy: Are you sure you can make it to the airport on time?

Jules: Yes my dear, I’ll make it with no problem.

Here, Judy is not sure whether her husband Jules will catch his flight out of the airport because of possible problems with traffic and/or his car.




If we use this word, it has three different meanings. The first one means the same as reserving or claiming something to be yours for a specific purpose.


Example sentence:

Brad secured three places for us for the concert in May.

Here one can replace secure with reserve as they both mean the same- booking a place for an event  so that no one else can take it.


The second meaning of secure is the process of protecting tangible assets from potential theft or damages. Here you can use the noun form security or even the adjective form securely or secured.

Example sentences:

  •  Please make sure the seatbelt is  securely fastened.    This means that the seatbelt in the car must be snug but tight enough to make sure the driver or passenger does not fly out of the car in the event of an accident.
  • This is a secure place. There are over 100 cops in this building. (This in reference to a police station).    
  • This means that the police station has many police officers protecting  the building and its belongings (persons included) from any potential harm, which unless the threat comes from a Terminator, almost never happens.

The third meaning has to do with making a guarantee that it will work or nothing happens. It usually applies to situations involving business and games

Adam’s four touchdown catches were enough to secure the win in American football.

We secured a deal to form a partnership with our neighboring firm.


If we use this word, it means protecting the most important assets in our lives from harm- in particular people.

Example sentences:

(Scene from Dante’s Peak). Harry and Rachel kept the kids safe while exploring the hot springs.  This scene speaks for itsself.

Also to note, safe is used as another equivalent to the aforementioned German quote regarding proof as “Better Safe than Sorry,” meaning taking extra-precautionary measures avoid potential disasters. This was used later in the movie, when Rachel (the mayor) orders a preemptive evacuation of Dante’s Peak on the eve of a volcanic eruption, which Harry predicted would happen, despite opposition from city leaders, an investor and even his own people.


Now for people who really have problems telling the difference, here’s a tip for you to try at home. When you want to use the English equivalent of sicher, write down the equivalents and make a mind map for each word, making a word association with each of the three. Then write a sentence in your native tongue, have a look at the mindmap associated with the three words and choose the word that best fits the sentence and context. Nine times out of ten you will find the right word using this mind map.

There are many cases where one word has many equivalents in another language, as we see here with Sicher versus Safe, Secure and Sure. However one needs to find the equivalent that best makes sense in terms of definition and context. Sometimes even the tiniest doubt in the usage of words can help avoid mistakes based on assumptions. So when coming across a translation of a word you are trying to use both written and orally, look at them carefully- even using the dictionary if necessary, and ask yourself when choosing the right word “Are you sicher, bist du sure?” This expression my wife uses often, and albeit it is funny at first, it has a deeper meaning inside.

Better safe than sorry, eh? 🙂


Exercise 1:

Complete the sentence using the correct word, safe, secure or sure.

  1. Even though the police ____________ the shop, someone still tried successfully to break in.
  2. The children are ______________ thanks to the person who rescued them.
  3. Are you ______________ you want to proceed with the court hearing?
  4. We stored the vintage car in a _________________ place, so that no one can see it or even break in.
  5. The world is a ___________ place, because the murderer was sentenced to life in prison
  6. Make ____________ that you switch off the lights and shut the windows before you leave, OK?
  7. She is too ____________ of herself, even though she is careless.
  8. Put the passports and other documents in a _________ place where you can find it.
  9. His six points in the last minutes of the basketball game _______________ the win.
  10. My company _________________ a trade agreement with Canada that will last five years.
  11. It would be _____________ to wait until the storm rolls over and stay here for the night.
  12. The police blocked the escape alley to make ____________ that the burglars don’t escape.
  13. A: Would you like to go for a coffee? B: ___________. I would love that.
  14. Superheroes make the world ____________ for mankind.
  15. The city center was ________________ by the police because of the Pope’s visit.



Exercise 2- Define:

What is the meaning of the following expressions below?

Please pay attention to verb tenses and active vs. passive voice!

Make sure

Sure thing

To be sure of something

To be sure enough

To be sure of onesself

To be safe and sound

Safe place

To be on the safe side

Better safe than sorry

It’s safe to say that……..

To make a place secure

To make something secure (job position)

To be secure from thieves/ to be secure against theft

To feel secure

To secure a loan/deal

To secure a win

Source where you can find the answers ( to Exercise 2) and other information:

FF new logo









Answers to Exercise 1: 1. secured; 2. safe; 3. sure; 4. secure (or safe); 5. safe; 6. sure; 7. sure; 8. secure (or safe); 9. secured; 10. secured; 11. safe(r); 12. sure; 13. Sure. 14. safe; 15. secured