Linda Zervakis leaves the anchor post Tageschau for Future Endeavors
HAMBURG- The Greeks never say farewell without a toast- with the famous Ouzo! On her last day as anchor of the ARD network show Tagesschau and Tagesthemen, it was a toast with many thanks. Linda Zervakis was the anchor for the 8:00pm show Tagesschau for eight years but had worked for German public TV’s arm NDR for almost 20 years. Last night, the „lady in red“ took her last bow with a future that is unknown, except the fact that she plans to take another step into the future unknown, as long as she is still young. And with that, a toast with the Ouzo with her former colleague Ingo Zamparoni, with whom she had worked together for 15 years, beginning with the NDR show „Eins Extra Aktuell“ in 2006. Zamparoni is one of three anchors for Tagesthemen and has written two books on his adventures in the USA.
Zervakis has her roots in Hamburg; she born there to Greek immigrants who moved to Germany in 1960s and had owned a kiosk, where she had worked there until she turned 28 years of age. Her career as a journalist started with being a reporter for NDR’s radio station NJOY before covering stories about Schleswig-Holstein in 2004. Two years later she co-hosted the TV news show Eins Extra Aktuell with Zamparoni. Zervakis joined Tagesschau in 2010 as reporter but took over as one of the five main anchors for the 8:00pm show in 2013. She assisted as a news anchor for Tagesthemen at the same time. That show runs in the late night hours after a movie or show. Zervakis was the first person who hosted the show whose parents were immigrants, a first for ARD but one that also was part of the package. She was a straight-forward anchor who presented no-nonsense news stories and caught the attention of much of the audience. On stage, she was known as the lady in red because of her attire, a mixture of poker colors- red, black and white. Poker-face would be one of the names if we look at it from a card-player’s perspective. Yet off-stage, she had a light-hearted sense of humour. which makes a person wonder: Could she have a future as an actress? From this writer’s perspective, that answer is definitely yes.
Zervakis‘ departure comes four months after Jan Hofer, who had been the anchor for Tagesschau for 35 years. He stepped down in December, but is currently working for the network RTL. Yet her departure doesn’t mean she will disappear, riding off into the sunset. While she has her family and her roots in Hamburg, married with two children, Zervakis will definitely reappear somewhere on the set. She still has her podcast on Spotify entitled Linda Zervakis präsentiert: Gute Deutsche, which was launched last year. Yet what her future holds and what she will do next, no one knows. One thing is for sure, the lady in red will reappear again on stage, no matter where and when she will be.
So have the Ouzo ready. Before that, a big round of thanks for the work you did and for the fans you collected over the years. Best of luck wherever you go. And yes, Rock on! 🙂
Eight o’clock Newsman leaves German Public TV Station after 35 years anchoring for Tagesschau.
BERLIN/ HAMBURG- He had many nicknames. He was the King of the 8:00pm News. The Man with many ties, one different one each Tagesschau episode. He was a professional- honest, calming and thorough. He made sure everyone got the information that was expected, which was truthful, monologue and not much emotion. Last night, the King of the Nightly News Hour made his last bow and the timing could not have been any more perfect:
Jan Hofer was known as Mr. Tagesschau, having been at the helm every evening at 8:00pm on German Public TV station ARD (and its affiliates) since 1985. And despite the changes age and appearance over the years, there was one legacy that remained the same throughout his term. That was his informative and professional character.
Hofer has been in the broadcasting business for half a century. Born in Büderich (NRW), he grew up in Wesel and studied business economics in Cologne before entering the TV and radio broadcasting business after graduation. Before being the voice of the 8:00pm news in 1985, Hofer had worked in many TV and radio stations. He became managing editor of Tagesschau in 2004, the post which will now become the care of fellow colleague Jens Riewa, in addition to the coming of two more anchors come 2021, Julia-Niharika Sen and Constantin Schreiber to support the 8:00 news team that features Riewa, Susanne Daubner, Judith Rakers, Torsten Schröder and Linda Zervakis.
Hofer had also done the news for Tagesthemen, a late night news show, and whose last night on the air was December 14 with host Caren Miosga.
The departure of Hofer from Tagesschau comes as symbolic, given the fact that it on this day 30 years ago that the last broadcast of Aktuelle Kamera took place:
It was the former TV newscast of the German Democratic Republic. from 1952 until 1990 and like Tagesschau, AK presented its news with a key figure, Angelika Unterlauf who was known as the Face of the GDR. Its broadcast was objective but had a socialist-leaning taste.
Jan Hofer for ARD is for the three evening news anchors that dominated the American news scene: Tom Brokaw for NBC, Dan Rather for CBS and Peter Jennings for ABC. He was the face of German broadcasting and one who got to every story and addressed it to the public in a way that they understood it and talked about it. For people who (have) learned German, its language and culture, his name has come up many times and his simplicity made watching the news for people learning German easy. Hofer had what the three anchors in America had during their broadcasting days, which was integrity, honesty and objectivity, which made watching Tagesschau a must.
And with that, the tie comes off for the last time. Machen Sie gut! (Take care!). And to Mr. Hofer, a million thanks for your years of contributing to the 8:00 news. You and your many colorful ties will be missed. Take care and happy trails to you and your family! 🙂
Being an American and having lived in Germany for over two decades now, I’ve been amazed at the differences that the US and Germany have had and that the gap between the two countries has widened- to the benefit of the Germans.
However, in light of the upcoming US Elections, and all the dirty laundry that has come about from both sides of the line, there is one thing that Germans love doing, which is talking politics- especially trying to understand why Trump is “loved” by so many when all he is about is being a conman.
If there’s a word of advice to give to all German journalists, I can only give you this: Don’t try to understand him. Don’t try to ask why. Don’t use the topic of Trump for your talk shows and lastly (but most importantly):
Don’t argue with a MAGA.
MAGA stands for Make America Great Again, the slogan that was used in Trump’s successful 2016 Presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton, and it’s being reused again in this campaign, as the Republicans- going without a campaign platform- are trying to keep Trump in his post at the expense of Joe Biden, despite his overall disapproval of over 65% of Americans both in the States and abroad.
The words MAGA and (the German) Macke are similar in pronunciation, yet when looking at a typical person wearing a MAGA hat and behaving like one, one can say that the definition of the two words are the same. “Eine Macke haben” means that the person is insane and has “fallen off his rocker.” He’s illogical, has a short fuse and carries out actions without thinking of the consequences.
The term MAGA is coined as a person who supports President Trump in all aspects. Aside from wearing MAGA apparel, as seen in the picture above, MAGAs are people who are less educated, less exposed to people of different color or background and less aware of the events that are affecting them, such as global warming and our current problem with CoVid-19. These people are not willing to accept change and would rather see the USA go on its own in terms of international policies and commitments. They follow alternative news sources instead of the Big Five as they provide stories that fit their thinking while the big five produces “fake news” The less exposure and education, the more ignorant. And the more ignorant, the more likely they will follow Trump despite his numerous shortcomings:
The most alarming signs that you are entangled with a MAGA is when they say the most absurd comments, including discrediting stories that are happening that harm the image of Trump. Here’s a sample of such bogus remarks:
These are people who really “have a Macke” when it comes to having Trump in power. Evangelicals even perceive Trump as the Lord Himself, even though he has yet to prove that he can walk on water.
And believe me, no one can do that except Jesus. 😉
Going back to the discussion of MAGAs:
One of the key flaws of a MAGA is when they close their eyes to reality and ignore the criticism that is being made by the outside. They counter with claims that it’s not true (and in many cases, ferociously). They can sometimes be violent. With that, they can either retaliate to a comment said by a critic of Trump or they pick a fight with someone who is either a foreigner, dark-skinned, anti-Trump or a combination of the three. When asked about what they see in Trump or the problems he has created, they try to waffle around the question and not answer it- or they answer the question but without critical thinking. Sometimes they point fingers at others just to save themselves.
And this takes us to this documentary released by German public TV station WDR on August 24th. Hart aber Fair (Hard but Fair) is a talkshow that looks at politics from all angles, both in Germany as well as outside the country, with some themes dealing with the US. Created in 2001, Frank Plasberg has been hosting the show and is known for some of his hardest questions on his toughest clientel. His most recent talkshow looks at the US at the crossroads because of the elections that take place on November 3rd. Some of the points brought up in this 75-minute show included the following:
The State of the US during Trump’s four years in the Oval Office
The Problems with Racism in the USA
How the US has handled Covid-19 to date
The Relation between the US and Germany (let alone Europe)
Talks of Manipulating the Elections in 2020
What would happen if Trump was reelected
Would Trump leave quietly if he loses the Elections
The Direction of the US after the Elections, no matter who wins
The guests of the show were diverse, from journalists and political scientists to a stand-up comedian whose new German word “Arschlochigkeit” will surely appear in the Duden Dictionary in the next edition.
Plasberg’s biggest mistake was inviting a MAGA to speak at his talkshow. George Weinberg chairs the Republicans Overseas group, based in Germany. Over nine million Republican Americans live overseas with a small fraction living in Germany. Weinberg matches the typical characteristics of a MAGA:
A white man of 60+ years
A staunch supporter of Trump- and it showed during the whole talk show
Very aggressive in terms of his body language and reactions to the criticism
Evasive to the questions and “gun-happy” regarding deferring blame onto others
And the cherry on the cake was his swipe at Plasberg by telling him not to compare Trump to Adolf Hitler when only 63 million Americans voted for him. That comment in itself had absolutely no relevance and it was a slap in Germany’s face because of its past.
The show was very intense and could best be compared to a standoff between police and rioters where one small action could result in a bloodbath- similar to the nationwide loot and burn protests in connection with George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May. It was one where even the typical American expat voter was close to going through the TV to get at one person or another. That part I will leave as that.
George Weinberg’s reactions during the show is typical of a MAGA. A person who is closed-minded, ignorant, hostile, evasive and one who would stand behind Trump no matter what happens. Seeing the pictures of events and encountering the questions by Plasberg caused his blood pressure to skyrocket without having to think about these themes clear and thoroughly. Yet these are the behaviors that we have been seeing in social media already. Whenever a person posts something critical of Trump or contains scenes in connection with the dire states of the US, at one point or another, a MAGA in the network or a social group attacks it with rage, bashing the person who posted it to begin with. The events spiral out of control with mudslinging and insults, culminating into a person being blocked or worse, attacked in person. In some cases, a MAGA could ask the person to cease and desist on the posting.
Still, threats should not influence you from stating your opinion on such matters. You do have the right to ignore them and tell the person to lay off. I learned of one trick I did to someone who was bashing my posts: “It’s my right to post because it’s my freedom of speech. If you don’t like what you see, either ignore it or leave.” After a couple times, the word got around and those who have been critical have left me be.
And this should apply to dealing with MAGAs. While there may be some people who are tired of Trump’s tirade and would rather see Joe Biden run the country after making the mistake of voting for Trump in 2016 (and I forgive you if you learned your lesson), the majority of MAGAs, both in the USA and abroad are sticking to their poison in 2020 because they believe he is the choice for them. These people are potentially dangerous when talking politics with them and will stop at nothing to ensure they have it their way with Trump. If having MAGAs instill violence during peaceful protests in large cities in the US and having an armed militia storm a state governmental building to force lifting the Corona lockdown is not enough, obviously you haven’t followed the news coverage of CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC and Fox- the big five networks- lately.
And with that, a word of advice to Plasberg, as well as the likes of Susan Link, Anne Will, and all the talkshow hosts of the ARD and ZDF family as well as private channels, like RTL, ProSieben/Sat 1, Vox and all: If you want to talk American politics and specifically Trump, do the world a big favor and do NOT invite a MAGA to your next show. As we saw in the Hart aber Fair show, reasoning with a MAGA and stirring up anger among the guests and the audience is a waste of time and energy- something that can be used for other themes that are constructive and useful to everyone. I’ve stopped talking politics with my father (who is also a MAGA and I’m a Democrat) a long time ago because there was no middle ground on any of the themes. We’ve gotten along well ever since. By not inviting a MAGA and discussing politics with them, you will see that the person’s illogical advice is not welcomed and perhaps, just maybe that person will think about these themes carefully and alone. We can move on without a MAGA and perhaps after Biden wins, the MAGA movement will eventually die off. Who knows, maybe we can have a more constructive conversation at the dinner table someday.
Love: How far can a man go to win the love of the woman of his dreams? Even more so when the woman is not in love with him at the beginning? Sometimes it takes courage to even make the attempts to capture a woman’s heart. In many cases these attempts take time, patience and in the case of this week’s genre profile, a lot of curiosity to get inside a woman’s inner self, find that secret that is revealed, and in the end, the key that will open the gates of love and live happily after after.
The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of over 300 works of literature written by the Grimm Brothers. Between 1812 and 1857, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected and wrote many German folklore tales, most of which have either been adapted to film, used in the classroom or found in many book collections found at a book store or library. One will never get an appreciation of literature, regardless of language, without reading at least three works by Grimm. Some of them were most likely read aloud by the parents without the child knowing who wrote it (click here to see the list).
The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of the first tales written in 1815 and has since been produced in different variants, all of which are structured around the 12 dancing daughters of the king, the soldier who wins the love of the oldest, and Amanda (or Azalea) the oldest of the 12 daughters. The plot is as follows: The king has 12 daughters who have a secret that leaves him perplexed. Each of them has a new pair of shining shoes which mysteriously have holes in them the next morning, The King offers his kingdom and the hand in marriage to the eldest daughter, Amanda, to the person who can discover the secret within three days. A soldier returning from war takes up the king’s offer and is well received. His role varies from variation to variation of the book and film. In the MDR-film version produced in 2011, he was a puppeteer and an actor. In either case, he is offered a glass of wine various times by the eldest, Amanda, which he rejects indirectly by pouring it out when she left. The wine was meant to put him to a deep sleep while the girls go dancing in the night. He later pretended to sleep in order to find out the secret of the 12 princesses. which when he does, he’s due for a surprise that is unexpected. The explanations will not go on further as one should watch the versions below to find out how the story ended. The German versions feature both the shortened cartoon version as well as the longer version produced by MDR. There is an English version featuring Barbie, yet they are rarer to find than in the German version. In either case, enjoy the films but don’t forget to scroll down to the commentary at the end. 🙂
The theme of the 12 Princesses is love and ways to win it, no matter what the cost and the number of rejections the pursuer faces. This was a topic of a recent discussion I had with some students at a private firm, especially as one of them had taken an interest in a student colleague of his during a project- a rather religious girl in her mid-20s living in the eastern part of Germany. When he said that she was not interested in him at all despite his attempts of even befriending her, my response was to give it time, for the worst thing a person can do is to rush into a relationship, only to find that neither partner would be happy in the end. Put love on cruise control and let things unfold. Sometimes women can be coconuts: they need time to soften before they can be opened. I hope he takes this advice seriously, as it appears that the person fits the description of the eldest daughter- not interested in someone lower than her because of differences in personality, and other items unknown. Sometimes by letting things fall into place, love will blossom in more colorful ways than in a shotgun relationship. This was my experience meeting my wife during my days in college in the US, almost 20 years ago. Sometimes it’s better off to leave it and find someone else. And sometimes, maybe that person would rather be a friend than a partner. I had those experiences and it’s also ok. It shows interest but not all the way. Sometimes if you really want to love that person of your dreams and you refuse to give up, you might have to have to play her game in order to find her secret and what you are looking for. In either case, the main character in the story found his way to her heart by revealing more than he thought, but it came at a price, which is what you can expect from love. So in other words, be careful with who you are pursuing to love. As shown in this Grimm piece, you may end up receiving more than you expected. Sometimes the unexpected can be an everlasting one. 🙂
Love was one of the main themes that the Grimm brothers wrote about in their 40+ years of collaboration together. There are other themes that they covered, but these will be discussed later, for more of their work will be profiled in the Files in the near future. In the meantime, have a look at the film and think about the following questions:
Was/Is there a person who you are/were truly interested, yet that person was/is not interested? If so, what attempts did you make to win her love/attention? Were they successful? What could you have done differently?
Think about it and discuss it with others. Perhaps others may have some advice for you. 🙂 ❤
Author’s Note: The photo was taken during the filming of The 12 Dancing Princesses by MDR in 2011. The author would like to thank Nik Konietzny and the public TV station for its use in the article. MDR stands for Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk and is based in Leipzig/Halle, serving east central Germany.
It’s Christmas time and with that come the Christmas Markets, the Glühwein, the Presents, and lots of events that have been going on the last few days, which warrants the Flensburg Files News Flyer- designed to provide the readers with a chance to find out more on what is going on in Germany that is not normally seen in the media mainstream. Themes like this one may be of some interest to you:
Yes to Stuttgart 21
After five years of protests, legal action and campaigns which involved virtually everyone on all levels of government, the citizens of Stuttgart made their point clear at the polls on Sunday: they would like to finally go forward with Stuttgart 21 once and for all. According to the final polls, over 48.2% of the people voted for the project, while 41.8% were against the project. That means the German Railways can proceed with the construction project, consisting of 20km of underground rail line with an underground central railway station located underneath the present-day railway station located above ground. When completed in 2021, the old railroad station, which currently sees 240,000 passengers going through every day, will be converted into residential areas, and thus will help ease the housing crisis the city has been seeing in the last decade. The project started in 2002, but was met with delays due to protests because of increasing costs of the project combined with concerns that the environmental surroundings combined with much of the city’s historic buildings would be destroyed in the process. The project has involved not only the local and state governments but even the federal government in Berlin, whose majority of the politicians favor the underground station. The prime minister of Baden-Wurttemberg Winfried Kretschmann was even against the project but favored a public referendum. While he has accepted the decision, it does not come with no strings attached- the costs for the project must be capped at 4.5 bn Euros ($5.1 bn).
Guttenberg pardoned for plagiarism; eyes comeback in 2013
In a decision which has raised eyebrows of many who question its legitimacy and morality, the prosecution has decided not to press charges against the former defense minister, Karl Theodore zu Guttenberg. While the University of Bayreuth stripped him of his doctorate title in March of this year because of the 23 passages he did not cite in his dissertation, the prosecution considered these counts a misdemeanor. That combined with his donation of 20,000 Euros (more than $26,000) to a charitable organization led to the decision of not starting the legal proceedings against him. Guttenberg is currently residing in the USA with his family, but is eyeing a political comeback in 2013, the same year as the federal elections in Germany. Whether it will help Angela Merkel in her bid to be reelected as German chancellor remains to be seen. But the public seems divided on his decision to return to politics; especially as many of his fellow colleagues from his own party, the Christian Socialist Union have been pursued for similar charges. More on this story will follow.
Dynamo Dresden Mistreated by the German Soccer Federation for Hooligan Incident
Soccer coaches, sports experts and even directors of regional soccer leagues have been heatedly criticizing the DFB, the soccer federation in charge of the top three leagues in German soccer, for harshly punishing the soccer team that is currently playing in the second highest league (Zweitliga). The federation recently sanctioned the team located in eastern Saxony by banning them from next year’s DFB soccer playoffs for allowing hooligans to be out of control during the playoff game against Borussia Dortmund, the game which the team lost. In addition, the team was also fined in the tens of thousands of Euros. Many experts consider the punishment too harsh, yet problems involving hooligans and their actions during the soccer game; especially in the eastern part of Germany has resulted in harsher measures in an attempt to crack down and teach the teams a lesson on sportsmanship among players and fans. While fines and barring fans from attending games have been effective, this sanction, harsh or not, may be one of many measures that could be the norm in the future should the problem with hooligans persist, together with subtracting points off the standings board in soccer and possibly forcing the team to be relegated a league down, the latter of which has not happened just yet.
Jena proving its reputation of being a cosmopolitan city
Located east of Erfurt and Weimar in eastern Thuringia, Jena is not only known for its optical industry (for it is home to Jenoptik and Carl Zeiss) but to the eyes of many foreigners (Americans included) the city of 120,000 inhabitants (20,000 being students) is known as the black hole- once you visit the city tucked away in the Saale River Valley, you do not want to leave. However according to the German public TV station ZDF in a recent documentary, the city is home to right-wing extremists; especially four terrorists who are in custody for 10 counts of murder of several foreigners and a police officer. In an interview with an author from Munich, who wrote a book on this topic, it was concluded that the university city is part of the fear zone, which has plagued the eastern half of the country, and a spawning point for potential neo-Nazis. This reportage has angered the city so much that a petition is being carried out demanding that ZDF retract its comments about Jena and apologize to the city or it is done for them by the German government, which owns the channel together with ARD. Furthermore, a concert to help the city fight right-wing extremism is taking place this Friday with many celebrities taking part, including Peter Maffay and Udo Lindenberg, where tens of thousands are expected to attend. The Flensburg Files will cover the topic of right-wing extremism in 2012 to determine which part of Germany is worse regarding neo-Nazis: the western or eastern parts of the country. While the eastern part of the country has seen its share of attacks committed by neo-Nazis, reports of the rise of neo-Nazis and attacks and parties have been reported in Bavaria and northern parts of the country in the past 2 years. Furthermore from the author’s experience living in Jena, the city has been more open to foreigners than in other cities its size in the eastern part of Germany and has zero tolerance to right-wing extremism. It even chased the neo-Nazis out of the city many times for trying to host the Festival of the People (Dt.: Fest der Völker), at least three times until the decision was made to host the event elsewhere in 2007. And contrary to the pictures shown by the media, there are some bright spots to Jena that others do not see, some of which will be presented in photos when the Flensburg Files does a tour of the Christmas markets this year.
For the second year in a row, we have a German champion in Formula One car racing. Sebastian Vettel took the crown despite his second place finish in the last race of the season in Brazil. Born in Heppenheim (near Frankfurt/Main), Vettel started his career early in 2007, having won his first championship last year, the first German to do that since Michael Schumacher won his last championship in 2001. This year, Vettel smashed many records, among them, having started at pole position 15 times, one greater than Nigel Mansell in 1992, and winning eleven out of 15 in 16 races this season. He also recorded an unprecidented 122 points, putting the competition in the dust. Congratulations to Vettel and may you start another long streak of championships like your former counterpart did.
It is very rare to see a sportsman retire in the mid to late 20s to even early 30s unless you are Randy Moss, the wide receiver who played for five American football teams, including the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots. Perhaps Magdalena Neuner can learn from his example of when to say when, as the biathlete from Garmisch-Partenkirchen (located in the Alps south of Munich) is considering retirement after the 2011-12 season. The reason for this decision is her will to pursue other interests. While the decision is not yet final, the 24-year old, like Randy Moss, has won several championships on the national and international levels, including 24 World-Cup gold medals, finishing in the top three 45 times and won two Gold medals in last year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Yet health issues combined with interest in doing other things in life has gotten her to consider her future beyond this season. Should Neuner decide to call it quits after this season, then it would definitely be on a high note as one of the most successful biathletes in the history of winter sports. Best of luck to you no matter what your decision will be.
Note from the Author: The Christmas Markets have started already throughout all of Germany, and this means a tour of some of the finest towns with the best markets with the goal of attracting many tourist-wannabes to the region the next time they consider a flight to Germany. The Flensburg Files has a couple in mind that are worth visiting and will post Jason’s Pics during the month of September. Where exactly? It’s being kept a secret for now, but you’ll see once they are out in the public open. Stay tuned….