Why History Mustn’t Be Forgotten But Talked About

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“History is History. It’s the Future we should worry about.”  That was a comment one of my students in English class mentioned last year as we talked about the events involving World War II. In a way if the younger generations were not living or haven’t experienced the past of their forefathers, it would be easy to say it’s time to move on and worry about the present.

However, History is History and our history can reshape the future we should worry about- more than ever before.  Germany has had its share of history, which makes it one of the most unique countries to use as reference. It survived two World Wars, 45 years of division with the Wall (or should I say Walls) and with that two different political systems. It went through three revolutions (1848, 1953 and 1989), the third of which resulted in German Reunification and all this time, it went through series of transformation in terms of architecture and infrastructure. It was the forerunner of the Autobahn, it developed the first city underwater canal system, it developed and expanded shipping canals to connect all bodies of water. It even built the finest historic bridges- many of which are still intact despite withstanding war and wear.  It produced the finest writers, like Schiller and Goethe and the best musicians we still listen to, like Bach, Beethoven, Haydn and Mendelsohn. All of these accomplishments but also trials and tribulations were remembered- through the preservation of historic places and the creation of monuments, statues and memorials. Even the Stolperstein- small bricks with memorials of those who perished in the Holocaust, can be seen on German streets today.

Can you imagine pieces of history, like the concentration camps, remnants of the Berlin Wall and the border that used to divide Germany into West and East, statues of controversial figures and the like disappearing from memory?  Many Germans have attempted to try that but the wounds are too deep and the scars still fresh, even though World War II ended 75 years ago and Germany was reunited as a whole 30 years ago. We will never be able to erase history, no matter how we try and do that.

Yet it is happening in the United States right now. Statues of prominent figures who were controversial have fallen, brand names with black people as slogans are being retired, memorials dedicated to the war that had divided the nation are being destroyed. All to protect the black population because they are being considered second class. The paranoia that has come out of the death of George Floyd, who was wrongfully killed by four Minneapolis Police Officers on 25 May, 2020, has brought the issue of racism right up to the forefront. At the same time, the paranoia is destroying the very history that we were taught in schools- how the United States grew up with free states and slave states, that blacks were kidnapped in Africa and shipped to the southern states for use on farms, how they were mistreated. We had a Civil War that put an end to slavery and to a short-lived Confederacy. Still despite being free, the blacks were still being persecuted through segregation and racial profiling. Even the Civil Rights Movement by Martin Luther King didn’t solve the problems of the racial divide. Systemic and systematic racism has been a wound that is bleeding in the United States for centuries. Even when we finally come together to talk about this topic, even in the most uncomfortable way, the scars will never disappear even when the wounds are healed.

It’s July 4th, 2020 and it’s time to think about

The American Question: Who Are We? What have We Done For This Country and The Entire World? How Can We Learn As Americans For The Future?

Based on the German Question that was raised after the end of World War II, we should be raising this question and looking back at our history, not just looking at what we accomplished but looking back at, coping with and lastly, understanding the dark sides. We have had as many dark moments as there are controversial books written about them. The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 is one of those dark events that we never talk about in classroom but is considered a defining moment in the history of racism in the United States. We have controversial figures that also became greats in their times. Some owned slaves but still shaped our country to what it is. Others rounded up Native Americans and put them on reservations and tried assimilating them. We all are guilty of our transgressions but to run away from them and not talk about them is the same as murdering people and then fleeing the country. It’s time we start talking about the most painful parts of the past and come to terms with it. It’s time we teach our generations the real history of our countries and get them to understand why they happened and how we reacted. It’s time to open up to other cultures, whom we’ve persecuted and discriminated for so long and find out who they are and why they suffered all along.

We need to discover all aspects of history and not just the few we preach about in class. History should be a requirement during all of the time in school and history teachers should be well-trained to talk about the hardest of topics, critically, objectively and simplistically, so that we all understand and can think about them. Statues and memorials should be back in their places but talked about in detail- not destroyed or desecrated. We need the Stolpersteins on America’s streets- sidewalk memorials for those whose lives were wrongfully taken- this applies to not only victims of repression and discrimination, but also social tragedies including the school shootings. Books banned from the libraries should be read again so that we all need to understand the history of our country as a whole. And lastly, extremist media- especially those from the far right, should be taken off the air once and for all. In the past four years, there have been too many prominent racists who have stoked hate and division for our country and have degraded all of America’s minorities as well as the country’s neighbors. It’s time to send the likes of Rush Limbaugh and members of One American News Network, Fox News and all of the Trump family packing. In this country, there’s no place for hatred, racism and all kinds of division that has brought the country to the brink of another civil war. Instead of just judging people based on the color of the skin, their socio-economic background and the like, we should be sitting down and talking about the history our country and our identity.

The American Question- Who We Really Are?

And hence, returning to that quote the student said: “History is History. It’s the Future We’re Talking About.”  It’s one that can be interpreted as letting go of the past and looking ahead. Yet with all the problems facing us, we need history more than ever so that we can learn from our past mistakes and use them to shape our future. So in this case, history is history. It’s the history we need to embrace now more than ever before so we can tackle the issues that are important for future generations. It’s one that goes beyond the upcoming elections on November 3rd that will bring change to the country- hopefully for the better. It’s one that will shape our country for years to come.

Enjoy the 4th to my fellow Americans at home and abroad.

 

Yours,

Jason Smith

 

Fl Fi USA

 

American Football: History, Facts and Anything Passive about it.

Photo by Torsten Bolten [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D
American Football: a national past time. Every year in the Fall, we would flock to the football stadiums and watch the two teams, each consisting of 11 men, dressed up in football uniforms and helmets, move the ball to each other’s end zone to score. There are spectacular catches by the wide receivers; just as many deep throws by the quarterbacks or pushing the linemen back by the running backs; just as many as clean tackles by the defensive linemen; but also just as many boos and cussing by penalties that are debateable, just to name a few. 2019 marked the 150th anniversary of the first game of the sport of football. As it developed over the years, rules and regulations were refined and equipment was reshaped to make the game safer for everyone to play. The most popular foot league in the world is the National Football League, which celebrates its 100th year in the 2019/20 football season. The most popular game in the US celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017- the Super Bowl.

Despite all these facts, what do we know about the sport? This is where the Files has a cool activity series  for you to try out. Consisting of a guessing quiz and some exercises in connection with English grammar, this guide will give you a chance to test your history of the sport. At the same time, it will also test your skills involving active and passive verb forms in English.

To better understand how they work, a table below shows you how they function:

Passive voice Table

A more detailed version can be found with some activities involving the history of street lamps, which you can click  here.

So without further ado, have a seat and try these exercises out. Good luck! 🙂

EXERCISE 1: Use the verbs in parenthesis and complete the sentence in the lined blank. In the dotted blank, choose the correct answer in the multiple choice below.

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EXERCISE 2: Look at the following sentences below and determine whether they are active or passive. Mark with an A or a P, respectively. The verbs have been marked in bold print.

  1. In today’s game of football, only 11 players per team are allowed on the football field.
  2. The team that has the ball is given four chances (downs) to gain 10 yards.
  3. The offense (team that has the ball) gets another set of downs if they get 10 or more yards.
  4. The defense tries to stop the offense from getting the downs.
  5. If the offense fails to get 10 yards or more, they are forced to turn the ball over to the opponents. !: Two answers here.
  6. If the offense gets the ball into the end zone of the opponent, it’s a touchdown and they are awarded six points.
  7. Points can also be scored by a field goal (3 points), two-point conversion or an extra point kick after the touchdown, or when the defense stops the offense in their own end zone for a safety (2 points) !: Two answers here.
  8. The team with the most points after four quarters wins the game.

 

EXERCISE 3: HYBRID This task has a combination multiple choice and verb formation. Complete the sentence by: A. choosing the correct word from the multiple choice and B. Formulating the sentence using passive or active. !: Please pay attention to the verb tense that is expected per task.

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EXERCISE 4: GUESSING QUIZ

 

How many states did the original teams represent when the NFL was created in 1920?  a. Four               b. Six              c. Eight

 

 

Which of the cities were NOT the founding fathers of the NFL?

a. Canton, OH        b. Chicago              c. Green Bay            d. Cleveland     e. Pittsburgh

 

Which NFL Team in the present-day is the oldest?

a. Arizona Cardinals      b. Green Bay Packers       

c. Cleveland Browns    d. Chicago Bears               

e. New York Giants             f. Detroit Lions

 

Prior to the first Super Bowl, which NFL team won the most number of championships?  

a. Cleveland Browns        b. Green Bay Packers       

c. New York Giants          d. Chicago Bears             

e. Minnesota Vikings       f. Detroit Lions

 

Between 1920 and 1969, which NFL team did NOT relocate or fold? 

a. Akron Bulldogs             b. Buffalo All-Stars        

c. Green Bay Packers       d. Pittsburgh Steelers      

e. Chicago Bears                f. Cleveland Browns

 

What was the highest number of points scored ever in an NFL championship prior to the first Super Bowl?

 

And since the Super Bowl started?

 

Which NFL Team(s) has made the Super Bowl the most number of times? 

Which NFL Team(s) has won the most number of Super Bowl Championships? 

 

Which NFL Team(s) has attended the Super Bowl the most but has yet to win one?

 

The answer sheet can be found here. Have fun! 🙂

 

Fl Fi USA

Berlin Wall: Keeping the Memory Alive

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FlFi FTA

 

Germany has had some problems keeping the memories of the past alive. This goes back to the end of World War II and the topic involving the German Question: “Who are We?” and “What can History teach us from this ordeal.”  While we struggle to keep the memorials devoted to the Holocaust alive to remind ourselves of what happened during Hitler’s Reign of Terror, others elect to eradicate it- either because it was too traumatizing to even talk about it (the German Population suffered as much as the Jews and Minorities that were persecuted and suffered in concentration camps) or because it is considered  “harmlos”, something that is a typical genocide because other countries have witnessed it and the people who lived through this have long passed.

The same holds true for the time after the War, as two Germanys were divided for another 45 years, 21 of which was through a series of concrete walls, barbed wiring and border guards, ordered to shoot escapees on site, who wanted to flee to the West. During the time of East Germany, the people were under surveillance by the Stasi and tortured if they were suspected of not behaving like a communist.

While many of the people living during that time are beginning to pass, we’re being confronted with keeping the memories of 1989 alive. It was an iconic moment, for the Walls that cut Germany and its capital Berlin into two have come down, yet thanks to the increase of development through urbanization and modernization, much of the memories of the Wall and the Events that led its the Fall are starting to fade, being pushed into the backburner. People born on or after 1989 have little recolection of the events that ushered the new republic of Germany and with that, the new world order, as far as Democracy is concerned.  For many, they have the mentality of “History is History; It’s the Future we’re concerned with.”

In this documentary, Richard Quest of the American news network CNN looks at the Berlin Wall in the present and two generations with different mindsets: those who have experienced it and those who were born afterwards. The goal is to bridge the gap between the two so that this important event is passed down to the next generations in order to understand the significance of the event. This was produced in 2012 as part of the series Future Cities.

Link: https://edition.cnn.com/videos/business/2012/03/26/future-cities-berlin-quest-urban-landscape.cnn

 

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Genre on 1989: The Magic Lantern by Timothy Garton Ash

To understand the magnitude of the Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th of November, 1989 and the implications it had on international politics and the way of life between East and West, there are some key literary pieces one should read before traveling to central and eastern Europe, for the topic on the differences between East and West is still being talked about to this day, which includes discussions on their nostalgia, the differences in development and modernization of the basic infrastructure in both regions and lastly, societal issues including income disparity, unemployment, violence and/or xenophobia and other issues.

The first book that came to mind, and one that I read prior to emigrating to Germany is a key piece by Timothy Garton Ash entitled „The Magic Lantern.“ This piece was written in 1990 and has been rewritten and edited many time since then. The book looks at the revolution of 1989, from the author’s point of view, in the capitals of the four countries behind the Iron Curtain: Poland, Hungary, German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and Czechoslovakia.

One has to keep the background information in mind. Mr. Ash had been behind the Iron Curtain as a student in East Berlin during the early 1980s, studying at Humboldt University, but was also at the Free University in West Berlin on the opposite side of the border. His experiences there can be found in the book „The File,“ which was published in 1997. In that book, he mentioned that he was under surveillance by the State Security Police (Stasi) while in the East.

In the Magic Lantern, Mr. Ash focused on the revolution that started on the grassroots level but later turned into an event that became known as the domino effect. For the grassroot part, the countries found sophisticated ways of pressuring their communist regimes to submit to their demands for peace and democracy. This included rallies by young people leading free democratic organizations, religious organizations and even groups that opposed the brutal regime. They were sophisticated based on lessons learned in the past, that demonstrations outright without creative back-up planning led to army forces of the Warsaw Pact to roll in and quash them, putting many key players behind these protests into prison. Some even died from being tortured by the countries security police forces in their respective countries. After the failures in East Berlin (1953), Budapest (1956), Prague (1968) and Warsaw (1983), the opposition needed time to retreat, replan, reenvision and reenact the movements in an attempt to put enough pressure on the regime until they finally conceded. In some cases, the leaders were pressured by Michail Gorbachev to allow the borders to reopen, thanks to his policies of Gastnost and Peristroika.

The end result of these grassroot movements came with free elections in Poland, the peaceful funeral of Nagy and the opening of the gates between Hungary and Austria, the Magic Lantern movement in Prague under Havel, and of course the peaceful demonstrations in East Germany, which culminated into the Fall of the Wall. Yet with these grassroot movements came the downfall that happened in sequential order. It started in Poland, then worked its way to Hungary. Once Honecker was removed and replaced by Egon Krenz, the Wall fell in East Germany. And lastly, the Czechs had their say and were granted freedom and democracy Velvet style. In each of the countries, it was only possible thanks to the pressure on the dictators to either step in and accept or step aside and resign. Ash, who was following the events live, documented the events through interviews, observations and collecting enough experience to later make him a journalist and later a scholar for Central and Eastern European Politics and History.

The Magic Lantern does answer a lot of questions about the motivations towards the movement to bring down the Berlin Wall and open the gate between East and West Germany, such as how the movement was started to begin with. Like in the other regimes, the SED Government under Erich Honecker was one of the most sophisticated but brutal regimes in history in terms of its infrastructure, law enforcement and education. Those who remained in East Germany had to submit to the policies of Communism, learning Russian and the ideals of Marx and Leninism. Christianity was suppressed as far as it could go. Those opposing Communism were either spied upon, imprisoned or in some cases, expelled by being sent to the West. There was systematic desegregation between those who support Communism and those against thanks in part to the role of the Stasi of documenting every move made by its citizens. Ash was one of those targeted during his visit, according to his book „The File.“ And if they were not killed in an attempt to flee over the border, they convened and found creative ways to „end the war,“ as one person mentioned in the Magic Lantern.

This „war“ was in reference to a perpetual war which started in 1939 with World War II, continued after the War ended in 1945 and Germany being a battlefield between the US and the Soviet Union until 1990.  If this was what one of the residents mentioned in the interview with Mr. Ash, then the war would be considered the longest in modern history. Mr. Ash fought his way back into East Germany in July 1989 and followed the events that unfolded afterwards, both there and beyond, seeing the stalwarth regime of Honecker crack at the foundations, as many East Germans fled to the West via Prague and Budapest going into Austria. It followed with peaceful demonstrations in Leipzig and spreading throughout the country. Gorbachev hinted to the Politburo that „Life punishes those who wait,“ resulting in Honecker’s removal and replacement with Krenz.

And the rest was history. Once the Wall fell, people celebrated and pushed for German Reunification, which happened 11 months later. Once the Wall fell, as Ash stated, the other countries toppled much quicker than thought. It even resulted in the break-up of the Soviet Union, which concluded at the end of 1991.

Ash’s book, The Magic Lantern, traces all of the events that marked that watershed. Once one dam broke, all the others followed, no matter how sturdy the dam was. And when all was finished, it was a fresh clean start for the region, painting it the way it should be. The Magic Lantern provides you some places in the capitals worth visiting, where the demonstrations took place. Many of them have been considered historic sites with tour guides being provided. The book is the best starting point to finding out the past of the countries and how they have been progressing ever since.

Ash’s book does raise one question that is affecting global society at present: Do we have another domino effect in the making and if so how? We did see it with the Trump effect, with Donald Trump winning the 2016 Presidential Elections with his far right stance. This influence has stoked far-right thinking and the strive to break away from international organizations, even with the European Union. Some countries have gone far right in their elections since then while other far-right countries have become stronger in countries still governed by the middle. However, with environmental issues coming to a head, and green movements growing everywhere, inspite denials from the likes of Trump, it makes a person wonder if the Greta Thunberg effect will create a revolution that will not only have a domino effect on the countries, but will set the world straight once and for all, just like in 1989. This question I hope will have answered, regardless of who’s willing to step up to the podium.

Author’s Note: More on Timothy Garton Ash, his life and works can be found here: https://www.timothygartonash.com/

 

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TÜV: Review Exercise

An example of a steam Boiler exploding Prior to the introduction of TÜV. Photo courtesy of Bayerischen Dampfkessel-Revisionsvereins and available via wikiCommons

This Review exercise is in connection with an article written in 2015 about the TÜV, an organization responsible for the inspection of cars, machines and appliances to ensure their functionality and consumer safety. Before doing the quiz, please look at the text in General by clicking here:

 

  1. What does TÜV stand for and how can it be translated into English?

 

 

T/F: Read the following statements and determine whether they are true or false. If false, write in the correct answer in the right column.

Statement True or False Correct Statement
Lightning struck the car of the 58-year old woman once, causing a fire.
A police officer pulled her out of the car before it exploded.
TÜV was created in Mannheim.
There are only five TÜV offices in Germany.
The largest TÜV office in Germany is located in Flensburg.
TÜV has three segments: Certification, Mobility and Industry
Your car must be inspected by TÜV three months after purchase.
You cannot operate your car if you don’t have a TÜV certificate.
A person can pay a hefty fine and receive a Flensburg point if flaws in the car are not fixed.
There is a European guide to functioning cars and devices in addition to the TÜV

 

  • Multiple Choice/ Fill in the Blanks:

 

  • TÜV was established in _______ in response to the high number of boiler accidents in central and western Germany

 

 

  1. 1865          b. 1866            c. 1867                        d. 1868            e. 1869

 

  • There are _A._ TÜV offices in Germany including: ______B._________

 

A:

  1. three                 b. four             c. five              d. six               e. 43

B:

  1. Thuringia and Saarland
  2. Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein/Hamburg
  3. Berlin and TÜV-West
  4. South and North
  5. a & d

 

  • What parts of the car are NOT inspected by TÜV?

 

  1. body                 b. lights                              c. license plate           d. tires            e. steering

 

  • If the car is not inspected after eight months, how much does the car owner have to pay?

 

  • a. 60 Euros     b. 80 Euros      c. 75 Euros                  d. 90 Euros      e. 120 Euros

 

  • Which vehicle does NOT require a TÜV inspection (but should)?

 

  • a. Smart car               b. Combi         c. bicycle         d. motorcycle             e. truck

 

  • Which country has stringent requirements for bikes?

 

  • a. Switzerland            b. Denmark                       c. France         d. England       e. USA

 

  • Which country requires you to have insurance for your bike (in Germany, it’s voluntary)

 

  • a. Czech Republic       b. Switzerland             c. Sweden       d. Iceland        e. EU

 

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From the Attic: Berlin 1959

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Brandenburg Gate- behind the gate stood the Berlin Wall until 9 November 1989

Berlin, 1959. Two years before the erection of the Wall and the closing of the border that would separate East and West Germany until 1989. The city was in the midst of a rebuild 14 years after the end of World War II . People were still able to pass despite the city being occupied in four areas by their respective allies who liberated them from the Nazis: The USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Yet the passage is restricted. Inspite of the rebuilding efforts, there were some differences between what would become East and West Berlin. In this documentary produced by the BBC 60 years ago, the host of Panorama took a walk through Berlin and interviewed several Berliners, showing you the difference in terms of progression and regression. Enjoy the documentary! 🙂

Education Tip: 

Compare Berlin of 60 years ago with today. What has changed and what has remained the same? Do we still have a difference between the former East and West or has Berlin grown together?

You can choose another city in Germany if you wish- whether it is Munich, Hamburg, Erfurt, Dresden, Flensburg, Rostock- regardless of population and size. Do this comparison using this time with a time before 1989 or even before the Wall in 1961. Compare and present to your classmates. Many will be amazed at the difference and will provoke a conversation that will last an entire classroom session.

Useful for any language class, including English and Germany, as well as history, sociology, social studies and political science. For college level, that, plus architecture, engineering and planning. 🙂

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Historic Structures and Glasses: Restore vs. Replacement in Simpler Terms

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Co-written with sister column, bhc-logo-newest1

The discussion about the preservation and reuse of historic places has existed since the 1950s, thanks to the preservation laws that have been in place. The German Preservation Laws were passed in 1958, whereas the Historic Preservation Laws that established the National Park Service and National Register of Historic Places in the USA were enacted in 1966. Both serve the lone purpose of identifying and designating places unique to the cultural identity and history of their respective countries. Furthermore, these places are protected from any sort of modernization that would otherwise alter or destroy the structure in its original form. Protected places often receive tax credits, grants and other amenities that are normally and often not granted if it is not protected or even nominated for listing as a historic site.  This applies to not only buildings and bridges but also to roadways and highways, windmills, towers of any sorts, forts and castles, citadels and educational institutions and even memorials commemorating important events.

Dedicating and designating sites often receive mixed reactions, from overwhelming joy because they can better enjoy the sites and educate the younger generations, to disgruntlement because they want to relieve themselves of a potential liability.

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Since working with a preservation group in western Saxony on saving the Bockau Arch Bridge, a seven-span stone arch bridge that spans the Zwickau Mulde between Bockau and Zschorlau, six kilometers southwest of Aue, the theme involving this structure has been ownership. The bridge has been closed to all traffic since August 2017 while a replacement is being built on a new alignment. Once the new bridge opens, the 150-year old structure will come down unless someone is willing to step in and take over ownership and the responsibilities involved. . Taking the structure means paying for its maintenance and assuming all responsibility for anything that could potentially happen. And this is the key here: Ownership.

Who wants to own a piece of history? To examine this, let’s look at a basic example of a commodity where two thirds of the world’s population wear on a regular basis- the author included as well: glasses.

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The author’s sunglasses: the older model from 2005 on top; the newest pair from 2018 at the bottom.

Ever since Marco Polo’s invention, glasses have been improved, innovated and modernized to not only make the person look great in appearance. It also helps them to better see the environment surrounding them, regardless of whether they are near-sighted or far sighted, have astigmatism or require bi-focals to read, or if they want protect their eyes from the sun in the form of shades. Glasses can be plastic or metal (or even both). And like the historic structures, the materials can be recycled if no one wants them. Yet by the same token, many of us love to keep them for the purpose of memories or give them away to those who need them. For over 30 years, I have worn nine pairs of glasses and two pairs of sunglasses; this does not count the eight years that I primarily wore contact lenses, which was during my time in high school and college. Like our historic structures, glasses have a life span. They are worn until the frames develop rust and corrosion, the vision changes or they are broken.

In some cases, many look for a new frames because they want to “look cool” in front of their peers. The “look cool” mentality has overtaken society to a point where it can be applicable to about everything: cars, clothing, houses and especially historic places and structures of interest. Basically, people just ignore the significance of these structures and things that had been built in the past, which hold memories, contribute to the development of a country, region or even community, or are simply fashionable. Still in spite of all this, one has to do something about the glasses, just as much one has to do something about the historic building.

So let’s take these two pairs of sunglasses, for example. Like in the picture above, the top one I was prescribed by an optometrist in 2005; the bottom one most recently in June 2018. The top one is a combination of plastic and steel- the temples, ends and hinges are made of steel; the eye wires are plastic. The lenses are made with Carl Zeiss branded glass with a sealcoat covering to protect it from scratches.  The bottom ones are plastic- frames, temples and nosepiece; the lenses are plastic but with a sealcoat protectant and dimmers to protect the eyes from the sun. The brand name is generic- no name.  The difference is that the changes in the eyes required new sunglasses for the purpose of driving or doing work outside.  As I wear the new sunglasses, which are not as high quality but is “cool,” according to standards, the question is what to do with the old sunglasses?

There are enough options to go around, even if the sunglasses are not considered significant. One can keep the old pair for memory purposes. Good if you have enough space for them. One can give them away to someone who needs them. If they are non-prescription lenses, that is much easier than those with a prescription. With the prescription lenses, one will need to remove them from the frame before giving them away. Then there is the option of handing them into the glasses provider, who takes the pair apart and allows for the materials to be recycled.  More likely one will return the old pair to the provider to be recycled and reused than it would be to give them away because of the factors of age, quality of the materials and glass parts and especially the questions with the lenses themselves. One can keep the pair, but it would be the same as leaving them out of sight and out of mind.

And this mentality can be implemented to any historic structure. People strive for cooler, more modern buildings, infrastructure or the like, but do not pay attention to the significance of the structure they are replacing in terms of learning about the past and figuring its reuse in the future. While some of  these “oldtimers “ are eventually vacated and abandoned, most of them are eventually torn down with the materials being reused for other purposes; parts of sentimental values, such as finials, statues and plaques, are donated to museums and other associations to be put on display.

The Bridge at Pointer’s Ridge. Built in 1910 by the Western Bridge Company of Omaha, NE. The Big Sioux River crossing was one of five bridges removed after years of abandonment in 2012. Photo taken in 1999 when it was still open.

One of examples that comes to mind when looking at this mentality are the bridges of Minnehaha County in South Dakota. The most populous county in the state whose county seat is Sioux Falls (also the largest city in the state), the county used to have dozens of historic truss bridges that served rail and automobile traffic. As of present, 30 known truss bridges exists in the county, down from 43 in 1990, and half as many as in 1980.  At least six of them are abandoned awaiting reuse. This includes a rails-to-road bridge that was replaced in 1997 but has been sitting alongside a gravel road just outside Dell Rapids ever since.  A big highlight came with the fall of five truss bridges between Dell Rapids and Crooks in 2012, which included three through truss spans- two of which had crossed the Big Sioux. All three were eligible for the National Register. The reasons behind the removal were simple: Abandoned for too long and liability was too much to handle

This leads me to my last point on the glasses principle: what if the structures are protected by law, listed as a historic monument?  Let’s look at the glasses principle again to answer that question. Imagine you have a couple sets of glasses you don’t want to part ways with, even as you clean your room or  flat. What do you do with them? In the case of my old sunglasses, the answer is simple- I keep them for one can reuse them for other purposes. Even if I allow my own daughter to use them for decorating dolls or giant teddy bears, or even for artwork, the old pair is mine, if and only if I want to keep them and allow for use by someone else under my care.  The only way I would not keep the old sunglasses is if I really want to get rid of them and no one wants them.

Big Sioux River Crossing at 255th Street: One of five bridges removed in 2012 after decades of abandonment. Photo taken in 1999.

For historic places, this is where we have somewhat of a grey area. If you treat the historic place as if it is protected and provide great care for it, then there is a guarantee that it will remain in its original, pristine condition. The problem is if you want to get rid of it and your place is protected by law. Here you must find the right person who will take as good care of it as you do with your glasses. And that is not easy because the owner must have the financial security and the willpower just to do that. Then the person taking it over does not automatically do what he/she pleases. If protected under preservation laws you must treat it as if it is yours but it is actually not, just like renting a house.  Half the places that have been torn down despite its designation as a historical site was because of the lack of ownership and their willingness to do something to their liking. Even if there are options for restoration available, if no one wants it, it has to go, even if it means taking it off the historic registry list to do that.  Sometimes properties are reclaimed at the very last second, just like the old glasses, because of the need to save it. While one can easily do that with glasses, it is difficult to do that with historic places, for replacement contracts often include removal clauses for the old structure, something that is very difficult to rescind without taking the matter to court.

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In reference to the project on the Bockau Arch Bridge in Germany, we are actually at that point. Despite its protection as a historic structure, its designation was taken off recently, thus allowing for the contract for the new bridge at the expense of the old structure to proceed. Yet, like with the pair of old glasses, last ditch attempts are being made to stop the process for there are possible suitors willing to take over the old structure and repurpose it for bike and pedestrian use. While neither of the communities have expressed interest, despite convincing arguments that the bridge can be maintained at a price that is 100 times less than the calculated amount, the group working to save the bridge is forming an association which will feature a network of patrons in the region, willing to chip in to own the bridge privately. Despite this, the debate on ownership and the bridge’s future lies in the hands of the state parliament because the bridge carries a federal highway, which is maintained on the state and national levels. Will it become like the old pair of glasses that is saved the last second will be decided upon later this fall.

To summarize briefly on the glasses principle, glasses and buildings each have a short lifespan because of their functionality and appearance. We tend to favor the latter more than the former and therefore, replace them with newer, more modern and stylish things to keep up with the pace. However, the older structures, just like the discarded pair of glasses, are downgraded on the scale, despite its protection under laws and ownership. When listed as a historical site, the proprietor works for and together with the government to ensure its upkeep, just like lending old glasses to someone for use, as long as the person knows he/she is “borrowing” it. When it is not listed , they are either abandoned or torn down, just like storing the glasses in the drawers or even having them recycled. However the decision is final if and only if no one wants it, and this could be a last-second thing.

The Bridge at Iverson Crossing south of Sioux Falls. Built in 1897, added to the National Register in 1996. Now privately owned. Photo taken in 1998.

We cannot plan ahead for things that need to be built, expanded or even replaced, for there may be someone with a strong backbone and staunch support who will step in the last minute to stake their claim. This applies to replacing older, historic structures with modern ones that have less taste and value. In the face of environmental issues we’re seeing globally on a daily basis, we have to use and reuse buildings and other structures to prevent the waste of materials that are becoming rarer to use, the destruction of natural habitats that may never recover but most importantly, remind the younger generations of our history and how we got this far. While some of us have little memories of our old glasses in schools with the exception of school class and party photos, almost all of us have memories of our experiences at, in, or on a historic structure that deserves to be recognized and kept for others to see. It’s just a matter of handling them, like the glasses we are wearing.

 

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Bundesliga Guessing Quiz: The Answers

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After a season of records in 2017/18 and the decisions have been made for the teams winning the relegation playoffs (a heartfelt congrats to the teams that won successfully), let’s have a look at the answers to the quiz dealing with the history of the Bundesliga. As we know, Hamburg was the last founding team to relegate into the second league. But what about the history of the other teams. After doing your homework, let’s check our answers, shall we? 🙂

Guessing Quiz:

1. Who were the founding fathers of the Bundesliga in 1963? There were 18 of them.

Eintracht BraunschweigWerder BremenHamburger SVBorussia Dortmund1. FC KölnMeidericher SV (now MSV Duisburg), Preußen MünsterSchalke 041. FC Kaiserslautern1. FC SaarbrückenEintracht FrankfurtKarlsruher SC1. FC Nürnberg1860 MunichVfB StuttgartHertha BSC

 

2. Bayern Munich entered the top league later on and has been in the Bundesliga ever since. It now holds the title for being in the top league the longest without ever being demoted.

When did the team enter?  1965   When did the team win its first title?  1969

 

 

3. Another team entered the Bundesliga and has yet to also play in the second league after being demoted. It holds the second longest record of its kind. Which team was it and when did it enter the first league for the first time ever?

Bayer Leverkusen entered the Bundesliga in 1979 and has been there ever since. 

 

4. One of the founding fathers actually had to play in the second league only once. After four years it returned to the top league and has been there ever since. It currently holds the title as the second longest tenured team even after it had been demoted before. Which team was that and how many years has it been in the league since its last demotion?

Borussia Dortmund entered the second league in 1972 and  had played there before reentering the top league in 1976, where it has remained there ever since. 

 

5. Prior to HSV’s demotion to the second league, there were two other founding teams that had been in the top league for at least three decades before being demoted for the first time. Which teams were they and when did they get demoted for the first time?

FC Cologne and FC Kaiserslautern

 

6. Which (current) founding team in the Bundesliga has never won any titles since the league’s creation?

Hertha BSC Berlin

 

7. Which two founding members of the Bundesliga has been in the top league the shortest time (and has still yet to return)?

Preussen Münster and FC Saarbrücken

 

8. Which German cities used to host two Bundesliga teams, one of which was a founding member of the team? Which teams are they?

Munich, Hamburg and Stuttgart

 

9. Which German cities used to have two professional teams in the second league competing with each other before one of the two was promoted to the top league?

Berlin and Frankfurt

 

10. Which team would have competed with HSV as the longest tenured Bundesliga team had it not been for the one-year exile in the second league? Hint: This team has been in the second and third tiers since 2006.

FC Kaiserslautern

 

11. Which seven teams have won doubles at least once (meaning the national cup and the Bundesliga title)? Hint: Four were from the former western half and three from the eastern half of Germany.

On the western side, we have Bayern Munich, FC Cologne, Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund.

On the eastern side we had Dynamo Dresden, Dynamo Berlin and Hansa Rostock

 

12. Of the three in the former East German Bundesliga (which dissolved after German reunification in 1990), which of them was the longest tenured team in the Bundesliga?

Hansa Rostock: 1995- 2005

13. Of the three above-mentioned teams, which ones defeated FC Bayern Munich once before 1990 and at least once since then?

Dynamo Dresden

Fast fact: Rostock and Bayern Munich were rivalries before Rostock’s demise beginning in 2005

 

14. Since when has FC Bayern Munich finished no worse than third place? Fifth place?

Bayern Munich has finished no worse than 3rd since 2007 and no worse than 5th since 1995, when they finished 6th. The worst they have finished was 12th in 1978. 

15. The following teams had mascots. What were they?

Eintract Brunswick           Lions

MSV Duisburg                   Zebras

FC Kaiserslautern             Devils

Hertha BSC Berlin            The Iron Ladies

Eintracht Frankfurt          Eagles

Hamburg SV                      Dinosaurs

FC Cologne                        Billy Goats

 

Bonus: Holstein Kiel, whose mascot is the flying stork  has not been in the Bundesliga since 1981.

 

ONE MORE THING: 1899 Hoffenheim still holds the title as the only “small town” team that is in the Bundesliga. The community of only 4,000 people marched through the ranks and entered the league in 2007 and has been there since.  They play at a stadium near Mannheim. 

 

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The Last of the Dinosaurs is Dead: Hamburg SV Demoted After 55 Years in German Soccer Bundesliga- Quiz

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54 years, 261 days, zero hours and 15 minutes. That was how long the German soccer team Hamburg SV lasted in the German Soccer League in the Top Tier. The team was one of the 16 founding fathers that created the Bundesliga in 1963. Its last Bundesliga title came in 1983. Now, the clock that had been keeping track of the time in the Bundesliga has stopped. Despite a 2-1 victory in the last game of the 2017/18 season against Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg sealed HSV’s fate by running over FC Cologne 4-1. Wolfsburg needed to lose in order for HSV to play in the relegation playoffs with third place finisher in the second league Holstein Kiel. As it stands, HSV finished in second to last place in the standings and will play in the second league of the Bundesliga for the first time ever this fall. It will be accompanied by another founding Bundesliga team, last-place Cologne and if Kiel wins playoff series and enters the top league, Wolfsburg.

And while the last dinosaur officially became extinct after many years of being beset by misfortunes in management and sports and barely escaping the relegation series at least twice, it makes a person wonder how many times did the founding fathers have success in winning titles in comparison to being demoted down one league- that is until Bayern Munich’s current run of winning its fifth Bundesliga title in a row, and in cakewalk fashion. But before presenting the facts, why not try out a Guessing Quiz that looks at the founding fathers of the Bundesliga?

There were 18 teams that started play in the 1963/64 season. Since HSV’s official demotion into the second league, there are no more dinosaurs left, who played every season in the top league.

Guessing Quiz:

1. Who were the founding fathers of the Bundesliga in 1963? There were 18 of them.

 

 

2. Bayern Munich entered the top league later on and has been in the Bundesliga ever since. It now holds the title for being in the top league the longest without ever being demoted.

When did the team enter? _____________ When did the team win its first title?

 

 

3. Another team entered the Bundesliga and has yet to also play in the second league after being demoted. It holds the second longest record of its kind. Which team was it and when did it enter the first league for the first time ever?

 

 

4. One of the founding fathers actually had to play in the second league only once. After four years it returned to the top league and has been there ever since. It currently holds the title as the second longest tenured team even after it had been demoted before. Which team was that and how many years has it been in the league since its last demotion?

 

 

5. Prior to HSV’s demotion to the second league, there were two other founding teams that had been in the top league for at least three decades before being demoted for the first time. Which teams were they and when did they get demoted for the first time?

 

 

6. Which (current) founding team in the Bundesliga has never won any titles since the league’s creation?

 

 

7. Which two founding members of the Bundesliga has been in the top league the shortest time (and has still yet to return)?

 

 

8. Which German cities used to host two Bundesliga teams, one of which was a founding member of the team? Which teams are they?

 

 

9. Which German cities used to have two professional teams in the second league competing with each other before one of the two was promoted to the top league?

 

 

10. Which team would have competed with HSV as the longest tenured Bundesliga team had it not been for the one-year exile in the second league? Hint: This team has been in the second and third tiers since 2006.

 

11. Which seven teams have won doubles at least once (meaning the national cup and the Bundesliga title)? Hint: Four were from the former western half and three from the eastern half of Germany.

 

12. Of the three in the former East German Bundesliga (which dissolved after German reunification in 1990), which of them was the longest tenured team in the Bundesliga?

 

13. Of the three above-mentioned teams, which ones defeated FC Bayern Munich once before 1990 and at least once since then?

 

14. Since when has FC Bayern Munich finished no worse than third place? Fifth place?

 

15. The following teams had mascots. What were they?

Eintract Brunswick

MSV Duisburg

FC Kaiserslautern

Hertha BSC Berlin

Eintract Frankfurt

Hamburg SV

FC Cologne

 

Bonus: Holstein Kiel, whose mascot is a ___________ has not been in the Bundesliga since _________.

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In School in Germany: The SWOT Analysis, Nostalgia and Football

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You don’t know how old you really are unless you look at your birthday card and see the hits from the 70s, the time you were born! 😉

Youtube has become the hub when it comes to finding some interesting videos for you to see. There are millions of music videos, episodes of TV series, amateurs performing experiments, and even tour guides that people can find and watch to their amusement. This also includes documentaries on historic events, and even sporting events of the past that we rarely see on TV unless you subscribe to Netflix, Uber, Hulu, or cable channels provided by networks charging people high monthly rates.

A couple weeks ago, as events in the United States with Donald Trump as President was beginning to unfold (which has to do with my silence from writing columns), I stumbled across full-length American football games dating back to the 1970s, featuring commercials, commentary by sportscasters and the like. It just so happened that I spent my Sunday evening, absent from watching real football games and Tatort on TV, watching a 1977 playoffs game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams, in what was dubbed the Mud Bowl. That game was televised in full length, which included the pre-game, the commercials and the play-by-play. The Vikings won 14-7 in what was one of the sloppiest game in the history of the National Football League and would advance to the NFC Championship game, losing to the Dallas Cowboys in the end. This Vikings’ victory was revenge for an earlier loss in the season.

Here’s the entire game in full length:

 

When watching this game, I came up with a grand idea that might be useful in any classroom setting. Both in America as well as in Europe, we have a sense of nostalgia, where pieces of our past are kept and cherished, while others that disappeared for a long time are recovered for rememberance purposes. Be it an antique cup, a historic building or place of interest, a lost recording of a film, old 70s style clothing or even music, we all have a sense of nostalgia, which we sometimes go back to look at what was then in comparison with what is today- right now. And this media-laden exercise takes us back to the past so we can talk about certain events, what we used to have and should have back at any cost, and what which ones were better off being a fad of the past and not of the future. 😉

SWOT:

Created by Alfred Humphrey in the 1960s, the SWOT Analysis is based on a strategy used by companies and institutions to determine their health and better plan for the future. The letters stand for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat, each one looking at the capabilities that a person and/or institution have so that they can see them as assets and not as liabilities. 

This activity has a sense of SWOT in there but shaped somewhat differently than what was developed by Humphrey because it focuses on the past-present comparison instead of the present-future scenario.  For S, we would have the assets of the past that were of great value and wish we should have kept; For W, we would have the aspects that were only good for the past and cannot be compatible for the present or future. For the O, we would have the question of whether some aspects of the past could still be instilled in the present or future. And lastly, for the T, we would have anything either from the past that could pose a threat to the future or from the future that would have altered the past had it happened. 

So, use this SWOT analysis and watch this game from start to finish, including the pre- and postgame shows AND ESPECIALLY the commercials. If you use it for a class, you can divide the segments up and give one to a group to analyse.

When watching the game, keep the following aspects in mind:

  1. What were the surroundings? Most football games were played outdoors in the 1970s, and having an indoor stadium (or dome) was considered a luxury compared to today’s games.
  2. How did the people dress and how did they act, behave and communicate with each other and indirectly during those days?
  3. How was the game structured then in comparison to now? Here, some research may be needed to help you answer the question.
  4. How were the commercials marketed? The products featured? The product facts? Would they still be useful in the present?
  5. How were the products and TV show previews presented? 
  6. How was the graphics of the game, the TV shows, the commercials and previews shown?
  7. What controversies in the sportsworld existed during the time of the game. Again, some research may be needed to help support your arguments?
  8. What was the overall environment of the game in the past, compared to the present? 

You can use any full-length game to conduct this SWOT analysis and talk about what was good and should’ve been kept and what still exists today but in altered form. This focuses on not just American football, but soccer, boxing, basketball and even Wide World of Sports.  Most of the games can be found on youtube, just by typing in the key words plus full length. Keep in mind that some leagues, like the NFL, may have their own copyright laws and have pulled full-length classics from these platforms. But not to worry, there are enough full length games to watch and conduct this exercise.

It will take some research but in the end, you will have a chance to enhance your knowledge of English, while learning about the aspects of history, culture, business, media and technology, entertainment and marketing and even the sport itself.  😉

So sit back, have some popcorn and a good Löwenbrau in your hand and enjoy this classic, while using the SWOT to look at the what ifs and what nots. Enjoy!

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