Snowpocalypse in Germany


Record-setting snowfall in southern and eastern Germany brings life to a standstill;  features 2-meter high drifts



A friend of mine from Minnesota coined a term that many of us had not expected to witness for a long time, especially in light of the problems with global warming, a Snopocalypse! Since the beginning of this week, a storm front Benjamin roared through Germany, providing high winds and vast amount of precipitation- in the low-lying areas, rain and in the mountain regions, snow! With that, the northern and eastern parts of Germany, in particular the coastal areas, had to put up with coastal flooding because of high tides, high winds and rain. Places, like Wismar, Lübeck and Flensburg were flooded in many places, including the city center.

In the mountain areas, massive snowfall, combined with blowing and drifting and sometimes icy rain brought transportation services to a standstill in most places. Hardest hit areas were in the Alps region in southern Bavaria, but also in the mountain areas in northern Bavaria, as well as most of Saxony and Thuringia, where train services were shut down due to snow drifts. On the Harz-Brockenbahn Service route in Saxony-Anhalt, snow drifts buried a train causing rescue crews to work tirelessly around the clock to set it free. Parked cars became little mountains and hills due to the thick snow cover. Heavy, wet and sometimes sticky snow on trees caused many to fall under their own weight and their branches to break. Forests were blocked off in many parts of the Ore and Fichtel Mountains for safety reasons. Schools in Saxony and Bavaria were called off due to the snow, while other facilities were closed for safety reasons- some due to the heavy snow on Roofs; others because People living far away needed time to drive home. Yet with motorways and main roads  blocked with cars and trucks due to accidents, the trip home was for many an Odessy.  A collection of film clips with interviews of those affected will give you an idea how bad the Snowpocalypse is for much of the southern half of Germany.  

Gallery of film and photos:


To give you an idea of how bad, here’s an example of the snow that piled up in the town of Schneeberg in western Saxony. Nearly a half meter of snow fell and drifts were up to a meter in height. Yet Schneeberg normally receives half of what Oberwiesenthal near the Czech Border receives for snow. And as seen in the videos above, the city near the Fichtelberg got three times as much snow, plus drifts of up to 2-3 meters high.

The good news is that milder weather is coming, with temperatures ranging from the freezing point to 8°C in some places. However, it will be short-lived, for another front in the coming week will bring more snow and high winds to Germany, thus excacerbating the situation in the mountain regions. A cold front will then come and drop temperatures to well below freezing.

For those who are tired of the snow already, hang tight, we will be in for a rough ride. The Files will keep you posted on the latest on the Snowpocalypse in Germany. Yet a guide on how to survive a winter like this is in the making and will be posted here. Stay tuned.



Guest Column: 50 Common German Phrases That Are Hilarious in English


Author’s Note: This is a guest column coming from another blog that deals with German language and culture, entitled German Culture, created by Rolf von Ohlsdorf. You can click here for more information. I found one of the pieces that combines foreign language and humor together. After receiving the green light, I’m presenting this as a guest column for you to enjoy. The link to the original can be found here

Enjoy! 🙂


Although the German language may seem harsh and hard at first, it is filled with humorous expressions (many of them food-related). However funny expressions and phrases are at first, it’s definitely worth learning a few. See for yourself!

German Phrase Literal English Translation Meaning
Jetzt geht’s um die Wurst Now it goes around the sausage All or nothing
Du bist auf dem Holzweg There you are on the woodway You are completely wrong
Mir stehen die Haare zu Berge My hair stands up to the mountain I’ve got goosebumps
Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof I understand only train station I have no idea what you are saying
Tut mir leid, aber mein Englisch ist unter aller Sau Sorry but my English is under all pig Sorry, but my English is just the worst
Ich glaube, ich spinne I think I spider I believe I’m dreaming
Den Teufel werd ich tun! The Devil I will do! I will NOT do that!
Komm schon, spring über deinen Schatten Come on, jump over your shadow Get out of your comfort zone
Du gehst mir tierisch auf den Keks You walk me beastly on the cookie You are getting on my nerves, big time
Holla die Waidfee Holla the wood fairy Well, that’s unexpected
Ich seh schwarz für dich I see black for you I don’t see any good news coming your way
Du bist so ein Angsthase You are such a fear-rabbit You are so easily scared
Sie ticken doch ganz nicht richtig You might tick incorrectly You are stupid
Du hast nicht mehr alle Tassen im Schrank You are missing cups in your cupboard You’re crazy
Du hast doch einen Vogel You have a bird You are crazy
Sie hatte einen Kreislaufzusammenbruch She had a circleruntogetherbreak She fainted
Ich falle aus allen Wolken I fall from all clouds I have not expected this
Niemand kann mir das Wasser reichen No one can pass me the water Nobody is better than me
Du bist das Gelbe vom Ei You are the yellow from the egg You are all I’m looking for
Es läuft mir eiskalt den Rücken runter It runs me ice cold down my back My blood runs cold
Ich bin fuchsteufelswild I’m foxdevilswild I’m super mad
Das macht mir so schnell keiner nach That makes me nobody so quickly after No one will copy that so easily
Nun haben wir den Salat Now we have the salad Well, here we have what we deserve
Ich glaube mein Schwein pfeift I think my pig whistles I believe I’m dreaming
Du kannst mir mal den Buckel runterrutschen You can slide my back down Leave me alone / get out of here
Mein lieber Herr Gesangsverein My dear Mr Singing Club Impressive
Das geht ab wie Schmitz Katze That goes off like Schmitz’ cat That escalated quickly
Ich lach mich kaputt I laugh myself broken You got to be kidding me
Du kommst in Teufelsküche You will come in devil’s kitchen You’re in deep trouble
Das Motiv heiligt die Mittel The motive holies the means The end justifies the means
Ich mach mich aus dem Staub I make myself out of the dust I’m leaving
Du hast einen Sprung in der Schüssel You have a crack in your dish You’re crazy
Nun sitzen wir hier in der Tinte Now we sit here in the ink We’re in trouble
Nun ist der Ofen aus Now the oven is out Game over. Nothing else to expect
Ich hab jetzt echt die Nase voll I have now really my nose full Enough of that bullshit
Du Glückspilz You lucky mushroom You lucky man
Ich kriege die Krise I get the crisis I’m going mad
Du bist ein Erbsenzähler You’re a pea counter You are very nitpicky
Totgesagte leben länger Dead said live longer Don’t write it off too early
Ich stehe auf dem Schlauch I stand on the tube I have no idea what is going on
Alles für die Katz’ Everything for the cat All for nothing
Mir fällt ein Stein vom Herzen A stone falls from my heart I’m relieved
Nun schlägt’s aber dreizehn Now it punches thirteen That’s enough
Das geht auf keine Kuhhaut That fits on no cowskin Your lies are unbelievable
Darauf kannst du Gift nehmen You can take poison on that You can bet on it
Du hast mir keinen Meter weitergeholfen You helped me no meter further Your advice was a waste of time
Da guckst du dumm aus der Wäsche There you are looking stupid out of the laundry You didn’t expect that, no?
Da wird der Hund in der Pfanne verrückt There the dog goes crazy in the pan That’s unbelievable
Leg einen Zahn drauf Put a tooth on it Be quicker
Klapp zu, Affe tot Lid down, dead monkey That’s it



From the Attic: Blizzard 1978/79


December 28th of 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the Blizzard that brought the World to a total standstill. It also marked the start of the Long Winter, whose combination of blizzards and high tides created havoc in both sides of Germany. Both of which have broken records and have remained in the top ten ever since.

On 28th December, 1978, a combination of a low pressure system from the Mediterranean Sea, which brought moisture and mild temperatures, and a high pressure system from Scandinavia, which featured frigid temperatures, collided over the Baltic Sea, unleashing what was considered at that time “The Blizzard of the Century!” Winds of up to 160 kph, combined with snow drifts of up to 7 meters (20 feet) and high tides that were half the height, literally brought everything to a standstill beginning on December 28th, 1978 and ending on January 3rd, 1979. An average of 70 centimeters of snow fell in most of the affected regions while 30 centimeters of thick ice were reported! The entire northern half of West Germany and all of East Germany were affected- from Flensburg and Hamburg to Brunswick and Cologne; Rostock and Neu Brandenburg to Leipzig and Erfurt. All were affected. The island of Rügen was cut off from the rest of the world for days until help arrived. Snow blocked transport of coal from the Lausitz region to the burning plants, thus bringing blackouts in electricity to wide areas in East Germany. And motorways were littered with stranded cars from Frankfurt/Main all the way to the Danish border near Flensburg and beyond.  Hundreds of people lost their lives in that storm.

This blizzard was just the beginning of the winter that crippled everything in Germany, for another round of snow and ice of similar proportions fell later on February 18/19, 1979. The total amount of snow that fell during the entire period was over 100 centimeters, double the amount the region receives per year.

And while the government was late in response to the New Year storms and have since improved on providing emergencies in cases like these (and the numbers have increased over the last 10 years), many documentaries have been produced to describe the events in detail from eyewitness accounts. Three of which have been dug out of the attic for you to have a look, to see how powerful the storm really was. It still ranks as one of the ten worst winter storms on record since 1949.  The first documentary looks at what happened in West Germany. The second is how the storm affected the eastern half. The third one looks at the storm from a photographer’s perspective, as he did a series of aerial photos of the regions of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg after the first storm hit the region. Both West German-states, combined with the coastal areas of Mecklenburg-Pommerania (and especially the islands of Usedom and Rügen) were the hardest hit regions by this New Year’s storm.

So sit back, have some hot cocoa and popcorn ready and be prepared to watch how 1979 entered both Germanys with a lot of ice and snow. Enjoy! 🙂


Documentary 1:

Documentary 2:

Documentary 3:

And to point out, the photos presented here were from the Winter storms that pummeled Europe and the US in 2010/11, which was half as bad as what happened here. Nevertheless, especially in the top picture, you can imagine the height and thickness of the snow drifts that left many land regions looking like those under water. Just to point this out. 🙂





Twas the Night Before Christmas in Pittsburghese- Pittsburgh Dad

While another Christmas has come and gone, one cannot resist the highlights that this holiday season has left us, not just in terms of gifts and concerts, but also some parodies and things to laugh with.

This Christmas genre features a mix of Christmas, culture and American football, all in Pittsburgh in the USA.

Based on the work by Clement C. Moore, here is Twas the Night before Christmas, Pittsburgh style, presented by Pittsburgh Dad, Curt Wooten and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. If you love the Steelers and Pittsburgh, you’ll love the city’s dear old Dad.

Love and Friendship in the face of Hate- A FleFi Christmas Address

Luke 6:35-38 New International Version (NIV)
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
The year 2018 can best be summed up as the following: “In the face of hate, greed and power, one cannot afford to live it alone. One needs to reach out to those who deserve the power of friendship and love because of actions that warrant it.”
A few months back, I had written a piece on the power of forgiveness based on some personal experiences that were encountered which led to my belief that not everything is as bad as we have been seeing lately. That piece you can read here.

When Donald Trump took over as President on 20th January, 2017, it marked the beginning of the era of self-righteousness, the era where in order to become successful, one has to become a total asshole and think selfishly. The more narccist you are, the more people will follow you and engage in acts of hatred because according to you, it is ok. More bomb threats, more shootings, more degradations both in person as well as in the social media, more scrutiny in the face of political ideals and views, and more discriminations and in some cases, rounding people up to be transported to detention camps. These were the ingredients of the American Reich, taking every page, every sentence and every word out of another book entitled “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler. Bomb threats against news networks like CNN were never seen 10 years ago but exist today. Alienating people because of different views like we have now, were nonexistent five years ago. And infoprying, bootleg conversations to share the problems the country has was as foreign a word in 2016, as it was “fake news.”
It made me wonder if even the concept of a true friend exist, especially as we see more people who leave their loved ones behind to either pursue their own interests that will bound to fail in the end or follow the leader who will bring them to failure.
With that question, I can answer that one with a resounding yes. While the true meaning of a friend has changed over time, it does have some characteristics that bring people together in the face of hatred and selfishness that we are seeing on an hourly basis. One doesn’t need a political affiliation, religious background, materialistic items, fame and even clothing worn in order to be a friend. Interests have little value. And just because a person is on facebook and in your network doesn’t necessarily mean that person is your friend. A true friend would do the following for you:
1. Respect your rights and opinions by listening and not prying into your own affairs
2. Share stories and experiences with you and have some constructive conversations that last for hours on end, and enjoying it in the end
3. Offering a hand for help in finding peace and bringing stability in a person’s life, no matter how big or small the situation is
4. Work together for a common cause, putting aside differences, pasts that are worth forgetting, and other clichés that can potentially be negative
5. Apologize for all wrong-doing and forgive the other.
6. In the event of a long absence, pick up where it was left off and lastly,
7. When given the chance, let the friendship grow and be stronger.

Many of us do not understand why the US is isolating its friends and neighbors, let alone why people follow Trump and his policies, even though we’re seeing the same happen in places like Turkey, Poland and Brazil. It is just as logical as people in Germany, France and other countries trying to follow the far-right politicians who are corrupt and have no basis to stand on. However, political and religious affiliations are just as meaningless in a friendship as incidents, such as affairs, divorces, people losing their jobs (and sometimes their homes), and other miniscule incidents. What is important is having some common values and ways to make things better.

The concept of Global Ethics, written and preached by theologist Hans Küng, explains this concept in detail, showing the reader that people of different backgrounds in religion, politics, socio-economics, and other forms of status quo do not play a role in cooperating to solve problems on a global scale.
When looking at the current situation, we seem to have veered away from this concept when we need it the most. The environment is falling apart, people are emigrating away from areas no longer arable, many forms of flora and fauna are disappearing from the landscape and we ignore the problem as if they are non-existent.

We just don’t get it!
We just don’t get the fact that our own actions are destroying everything that holds dearly to our heart.
We just don’t get the fact that we are destroying families, relationships and even friends that way.
We just don’t get it!

Yet when looking back at 2018, if there is one lesson to learn from two years of Trump, it is this: there is a way to turn it around. There is a way to reach out for forgiveness and help. There is a way to mend ties with the friends you want to keep. There is a way to start again and make it right.
There is hope in the face of hate, and we’re starting to see this bit by bit.
We have developed a sense of conscious where the scourge of greed, materialism and singling out people needs to stop and we need to start thinking about the people that matter the most. We need to think about the other guy instead of ourselves. If we did harm to the other guy, we reach out to help and for forgiveness. After all, we may learn from the other guy and forge a friendship from this. It doesn’t start at the top in our governments; it starts at the very bottom of the food chain, meaning ourselves.
I had three different experiences this year that support this argument: 1. A bully from high school stepped forward to apologize for his actions, even though it was 25 years ago. 2. A former colleague from college who reached out to me for her actions after a fallout that occurred three years ago. And 3. Two friends from college reunited with my wife and me after a fallout from eight years ago over an incident that sparked a huge argument and then a cessation of communication. In all three instances, the three parties acknowledged that their actions were unjust, and in all three instances they found that by cutting off ties without listening and even finding a solution was more harmful than the conflict themselves. The beauty behind all three incidents was that we found a way to forgive each other and have a long, constructive and very pleasing conversation, one of which lasted into the wee hours of the morning. From each one I learned that we had more in common than we thought before and that we could (re-)forge a friendship if we wanted to. In two of the three cases it was easy, in the other one that one will take a while to do. But in the end we realized that we cannot know the person just by the cover and actions, but by learning his/her past for there is good in every aspect, each one useful for a friendship, one that is needed in times like this.
This can only happen when we ignore those who instill hate and lies, even our leaders, like Trump, Erdogan and others who practice hate and discrimination, and embrace the love of others regardless of background. A country is not a country without a network of friends and family that runs it democratically and in a way that other friends and family can benefit from it. And even in times of conflict, we still find ways to keep our common values in tact and put aside our differences. In times like these, we cannot afford to have our own personal vendettas get in the way of progressivism. Otherwise we will not have much of a planet to live on. What we saw in the Congressional elections in 2018 or in my three examples is a start. We have a lot to do to put an end to this carnage and tackle the issues that we have.

What we need are three Cs that are useful, even if they take time:
Courage- Each of us has the ability to say STOP!
Chance- Each of us deserve a chance to do something for the good of the other.
Consistency- Each of us need to be persistent and learn that what we put in will be received in the end.
And for a friendship, we need this chance to let it grow. Only then will our planet have a chance to grow again.

The Flensburg Files and sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like to wish you and yours the very best this holiday season. Merry Christmas, and a great start into 2019. 🙂

Some additional Christmas market items will be coming to round off a rather busy but exciting 2018 Christmas Market Tour and Tidbits! But for now, time to celebrate with family and friends, just like you should as well! ❤

FlFi Christmas 2018

Christmas Genre: Silent Night


There are countless numbers of Christmas songs that have been with us for a long time; some religious while others deal with Santa Claus and Winter Wonderland. Yet one of the most popular songs sung at Christmas time is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. That song deals with the birth of Jesus Christ and the symbol of peace that He brings to the people.  The song we’re talking about is Silent Night.

Known in German as “Stille Nacht,” this song was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818. The lyrics to the song was originally written by Joseph Mohr that same year.

The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816 at Mariapfarr, the hometown of his father in the Salzburg Lungau region, where Joseph had worked as a co-adjutor.

The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass. It is unknown what inspired Mohr to write the lyrics, or what prompted him to create a new carol. But what we do know is when the song was completed, the melody and the lyrics sounded like in the example that was performed by a choir group in Dresden:


German lyrics:

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

Over the years, the song has been translated into 140 languages. It was first translated into English in 1859 by John Freeman Young of the Trinity Church in New York City, and his translated version has been used ever since. However, variations in other languages, such as the example above in French, have shown a slight difference in both the lyrics translated as well as the melody.

The song was even performed without the use of lyrics, be it by an orchestra, brass band, keyboard, or a combination of one of the two. The excerpt below, performed by the American music group Mannheim Steamroller, consists of a combination of keyboard, bells and strings. This became one of the most popular pieces that was ever produced by the group in its 43+ years of existence……

And here is the example of the English version of Silent Night in its version written by Young. Many colleges, including Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, have used this song every year as one of the key cornerstones of their own Christmas concerts. How they do it depends on the conductor, but in this case presented below, the piece features the college choirs and the orchestra…..

English Lyrics:

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Silent Night has garnered a lot of success and popularity over the years that it was even used in film, the latest having been released in 2014. It was officially nominated as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011. Yet two caveats have appeared lately which have caused a stir of some sorts. The first is that the song itself was credited to Gruber’s name even though part of the credit should have been given to Mohr because of the lyrics. The second is despite its universal usage, a newer German original and English translation was introduced by Bettina Klein in 1998, under commission of the Austrian Silent Night Museum in Salzburg. The new work was mostly the same except with some phrases that replaced the older English with the more modern. This has created some concern from groups wishing to keep the original.

Nonetheless, Silent Night has been played at any type of Christmas festival, big and small over the years and has become the symbol of Christmas but in connection with its religious meaning, which is the birth of Jesus and the coming of peace and good tidings that went along with that. There’s no Christmas without this song being played or performed, and no matter how it is presented, the song brings a lot of emotion out of the people; it is a powerful song that has us reflecting on the importance of Christ in our lives and the joy of Christmas that we bring to others.

And with that joy, we can all sleep in heavenly peace, even 200 years later. 🙂


The Files would like to congratulate Gruber and Mohr for their work, post humous. 200 years and many languages later, we still consider the piece a work of art representing the true meaning of Christmas.  Zum Wohl und Gott segne Sie! ❤ 🙂

FlFi Christmas 2018