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Weimar-era detective show has sold to 100 countries, firmly establishing Germany as a serious player in blockbuster series

It has been sold to 100 countries, spawned international interest in the fashions of 1920s Berlin and, in 2020, Germans first TV blockbuster of the streaming era returns for its third season, promising more murder and mystery in the turbulent days of the Weimar era.

Based on the bestselling detective novels by Volker Kutscher, Babylon Berlin is the most expensive non-English language screen production ever. Its cast is a whos who of Germanys best actors, headed by Liv Lisa Fries, playing the impoverished stenographer and aspiring detective Charlotte Ritter, and Volker Bruch, who plays her superior, chief inspector Gereon Rath.

Both investigators harbour secrets, with Ritter turning to prostitution at night to subsidise her family, and Rath battling PTSD triggered by his experiences in the first world war as well as leading a complicated love life.

The backdrop is 1929 in Berlin, a city in turmoil as it undergoes profound cultural, economic and political change. Nazis lurk in the wings, ready to exploit the desperation caused by poverty and unemployment. The foundations of the young republic show signs of crumbling and, as if in expectation of its imminent demise, the citys inhabitants, including the protagonists, indulge in a frenzy of dancing, drug-taking and cabaret parties.

From left, Meret Becker, Jenny Schily, Leonie Benesch, Hannah Herzsprung, Liv Lisa Fries and Fritzi Haberland at the premiere of the third season of Babylon Berlin in Berlin. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

At its recent red carpet premiere in Berlin, and the after-party event in a dairy factory from the Weimar era, cast and audience members wore cloche hats, flapper dresses, spit curls and drag queen looks, underlining how the show has caught the publics imagination.

A 1920s musical, guided tours of Weimar Berlin, including many of the locations in the show, a rise in popularity of burlesque nightclubs and table telephone bars, as well as a flurry of books and music, are among the cultural spin-offs.

Liv Lisa Fries plays the aspiring detective Charlotte Ritter. Photograph: X Filme

Liv Lisa Fries, wearing a 1920s-style cinnamon taffeta gown at the premiere, has also become caught up in the craze. Its fascinating. I know a lot of people wanting to have their hair cut in a bob like Charlotte, who are wearing her cloche hat. They also like the real world of this film, and how my character boxes her way through this very male world to fulfil her goals.

Its creators, the director-screenwriter trio Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries, and Henk Handloegten said they sometimes had difficulty keeping up with reality, citing economic and political upheaval around the world. Im reluctant to say it, but similar things are happening in the world today, said Tykwer. It has also been one of the big challenges. We have had to keep reminding ourselves to stick to the point of view of the characters in 1929, otherwise it will become cheap.

The production team on the set of Babylon Berlin. Photograph: X Filme

It has surprised some in the entertainment industry that Germany was so late in entering the field of television blockbuster serials, which has been dominated by the US, Scandinavia and the UK.

On the eve of the launch of the third season of Babylon Berlin, and with a fourth season in the pipeline, Germany is now considered to be firmly established in the genre.

A remake of Germanys hitherto most successful TV export, Das Boot, came out in 2018 to critical acclaim. Other series, such as Der Pass (Pagan Peak) and Acht Tage (8 Days) are also making an international impact. Deutschland 83, a drama based on recent German history, is particularly popular in the US and is also about to launch its third season. The sci-fi eco thriller Der Schwarm (The Swarm), based on a popular novel by Franz Schtzing, is creating a buzz even before shooting starts next year.

A scene from Babylon Berlin, season three. Photograph: X Filme

But critics in Germany have taken umbrage at the extent to which the compulsory TV licence fee, one of the highest in the world, has provided the bulk of the 40m (34m) funding for Babylon Berlin, which is co-financed and produced with Sky, whose subscribers will see it in January. German terrestrial television will not broadcast season three until the autumn.

Tykwer, also known for Run Lola Run and Perfume, defended the model. Many more people something like 10 times as many watched the first two seasons on the public television station ARD, he said. The year before it was shown on ARD, it didnt really exist for most German viewers, most of whom, I have to say, are still watching linear television.

Season three was kept under wraps until its premiere in December but the Guardian was allowed on to the Studio Babelsberg set. In reconstructed 1920s Berlin streets, with a pawn shop, a millinery, restaurants and brothels, fog, rain, the hoot of car horns and the stink of exhaust fumes, Tykwer was overseeing a key scene from the end of episode two.

Volker Ruth plays Chief Inspector Gereon Rath. Photograph: X Filme

We watched as Chief Inspector Gereon Rath, holding on to his trilby, dashed down the stairs of a tenement block, elbowing everyone out of his way, including a cartload of chickens. He caught the witness to the murder of a silent screen actress, bundled him into a car for the briefest of interrogations, before the man was immediately shot dead. Rath was left bewildered and sprayed in blood.

Its joyful to shoot, even if its physically draining, said Tykwer when the scene was finished. We shoot these 12 episodes in 100-120 days, whereas you would usually have 40 for cinema or 20 for a TV show. The dedication you need for something so long term is quite absurd.

After wiping the sweat from his brow, Bruch said he had learned a lot about the period while playing Rath. At school it was so squeezed between world war one and two, he said. So it was useful to have lots of historical experts to prepare us, everything from the police work to the politics, the psychology and the nightlife. They even taught us how to dance the Charleston.

My character is haunted by the past and that describes the era well because it was at this time, with German resentment over paying war reparations, and the suffering of living standards, that created political turbulence, which all leads to a horrific future we know too well.

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Have you ever wondered what Europe looked like before or during the Second World War (WWII)? Take a look at our “before and after” or “then and now” images and see what the war did to the people, the monuments and the landscapes.

Head over to our site for an interactive version of each image and many, many more!

Let us know what you think about the images below in the comments


Avenue Foch (Occupation Of Paris)

On June 14, 1940, troops of the German Wehrmacht occupy Paris. The picture shows the victory parade of the German 30th Infantry Division on the Avenue Foch in front of General Kurt von Briesen 1886-1941.


Cinema In Żnin During German Occupation

Catholic house transformed by the Germans into a cinema. 1941.


Burning Peterhof

Burning Peterhof Palace after the Nazi invasion. 1941 September



The city center and US troops in June 1944. Several US vehicles are parked on the Quai de Caligny west of the rotary bridge.




Captured German Soldiers At Juno Beach

Captured German Soldiers at Juno Beach shortly before their deportation to England. In the background, the villa “Denise et Roger” can be seen. It is one of the most famous places in the time of D-Day. 1994, June 6th.




German Prisoners At The Station In Bernières

Captured German soldiers await their transport at the railway station in Bernières-sur-mer. Today, the old station building serves as the tourist office. 1944.


Place De La Concorde (Liberation Of Paris)

A crowd celebrates the arrival of Allied troops during a victory parade for the liberation of Paris, as suddenly shots from a sniper on one of the roofs are heard. Quickly the Parisians scatter for cover. Although the city was officially abandoned by the Germans, small bands of snipers remained active, which made the victory celebrations risky. 1944, August 29.


Aachen Rathaus

Southside of the Aachen Town Hall at Katschhof at the end of World War II. The town hall is one of the most important buildings in the historic center of Aachen. It was repeatedly rebuilt and expanded over many centuries. The oldest part of the monument is the Granusturm from the time of Charlemagne. During World War II, the town hall suffered badly from several bombing raids. On 14 July 1943, the roof and both City Hall towers burned out, the steel skeletons of the tower domes bent by the heat dominated the appearance of the town hall for a few years. Rebuilding followed in the 50s; last, the two-tower caps were finished in 1978.




Notre-Dame (Liberation Of Paris)

Priest 105mm self-propelled guns of the French 2nd Armoured Division in front of Notre Dame in Paris, 26 August 1944. Photo of the Imperial War Museum (IWM).


Rentforter Straße

Destroyed tram and houses in the Rentforterstrasse in Gladbeck, end of the Second World War. The house with the gabled facade in the background is the main entrance of the St. Barbara hospital. Today there are no more tramways in Gladbeck. 1945.


Locals Welcome The German Soldiers

In the background is the Assumption Cathedral. 1941.




Rue St. Placide

August 1944. Since 1940, Paris is occupied by German troops. As the Allied army approaches the capital, this encourages the Parisian population to resist. It comes to a general strike, followed by open revolts. Everywhere in the city (such as here in the rue St. Placide) barricades are erected, and around the 20th of August, the Resistance has taken control of the city. Although militarily inefficient, these barricades had a symbolic character for of the Paris uprising.


The Dam Busters

In May 1943, the Allies dropped specially developed “bouncing bombs” on select dams in Germany’s industrial heartland. The Möhne dam was the hardest hit and 1600 civilians died in the flooding. The attack was dramatized by The Dam Busters (1955).



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German Soldier In Alkmaar

German soldier in Alkmaar at the Langestraat. 1941.


Palais Chaillot

Paris in September 1944, shortly after the recapture. To protect against potential German counterattacks, an anti-aircraft gun is provisionally installed by American soldiers in the park of the Palais de Chaillot.




View From The Castle Of Caen On The Destroyed City

June 1944.


Hoofdkwartier Wehrmacht

German officers in the headquarters of the Wehrmacht in Huize Voorhout in Alkmaar. 1942.


Pont Neuf/Quai De Conti (Liberation Of Paris)

Barricade on the Pont Neuf at the intersection with the Quai de Conti, August 1944. Since 1940, Paris had been occupied by German troops. As the Allied army approached the capital, this encouraged the Parisian population to resist. It came to a general strike, followed by open revolts. Everywhere in the city barricades were erected, and around the 20th of August, the Resistance took control of the city. Although militarily inefficient, these barricades had a symbolic character for of the Paris uprising.


San Lorenzo, Rome

San Lorenzo, Rome after the allied bombing on 19 July 1943.


San Lorenzo, Rome After The Bombing

San Lorenzo after the bombing in 1943, Princess Marie-José inspecting the damage.


Siege Of Leningrad

The school building destroyed by the Nazi bombing. 1941.



See Also on Bored Panda

Aerial shot of Lodz made at the end of WW2 (1942) compared with Google Earth’s view from 2017.


Villa Denise Et Roger At Juno Beach

The villa “Denise et Roger” is one of the most famous places of the time of D-Day. The region around Bernières-Sur-Mer was liberated by Canadian soldiers on June 6. 1944.


Battle Of Rome, Porta San Paolo

September 9th, 1943


The Battle Of Porta San Paolo, Rome

On 10 September 1943, Porta San Paolo was the scene of the last attempt by the Italian army to avoid the German occupation of Rome On the evening of the 9th, the 21st Infantry Division “Granatieri di Sardegna” moved towards the center, engaging in fierce fighting on the Via Laurentina (Tre Fontane locality), around the Exposition Hill (current EUR district) and Forte Ostiense. The German troops marched on the Via Ostiense, towards the heart of Rome. Despite the overwhelming numerical superiority and armament of the enemy, the walls of Porta San Paolo became a defensive bulwark of resistance, protected by barricades and vehicle carcasses. The grenadiers also fought here with courage, along with the numerous civilians.


Wehrmacht Soldiers In Schagen

Wehrmacht Soldiers In the city of Schagen in The Netherlands. 1940.


Alkmaar Mobilization Dutch Soldiers

Mobilization Dutch soldiers before the “Ambachtsschool” in Alkmaar, The Netherlands. 1939


Horses Bring Food To Civilians Hidden In The Abbey

After parts of the city have been liberated by the Allies, horse carts bring food to those who took refuge in the Abbey of Saint-Étienne. 1944, July 10th.




Old Bunker Alkmaar Flower Shop

An old bunker is now used as a plant shop. Old Photo is taken in 1945, the new one in 2018.




Opéra Garnier (Occupation Of Paris)

The Opera Garnier decorated with swastikas for a festival of German music during the Occupation of Paris. The Germans organized a series of concerts in the occupied city, including by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan. 1941.

Note: this post originally had 39 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

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Back in 2015, Google’s ATAP team demoed a new kind of wearable tech at Google I/O that used functional fabrics and conductive yarns to allow you to interact with your clothing and, by extension, the phone in your pocket. The company then released a jacket with Levi’s in 2017, but that was expensive, at $350, and never really quite caught on. Now, however, Jacquard is back. A few weeks ago, Saint Laurent launched a backpack with Jacquard support, but at $1,000, that was very much a luxury product. Today, however, Google and Levi’s are announcing their latest collaboration: Jacquard-enabled versions of Levi’s Trucker Jacket.

These jackets, which will come in different styles, including the Classic Trucker and the Sherpa Trucker, and in men’s and women’s versions, will retail for $198 for the Classic Trucker and $248 for the Sherpa Trucker. In addition to the U.S., it’ll be available in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K.

The idea here is simple and hasn’t changed since the original launch: a dongle in your jacket’s cuff connects to conductive yarns in your jacket. You can then swipe over your cuff, tap it or hold your hand over it to issue commands to your phone. You use the Jacquard phone app for iOS or Android to set up what each gesture does, with commands ranging from saving your location to bringing up the Google Assistant in your headphones, from skipping to the next song to controlling your camera for selfies or simply counting things during the day, like the coffees you drink on the go. If you have Bose noise-canceling headphones, the app also lets you set a gesture to turn your noise cancellation on or off. In total, there are currently 19 abilities available, and the dongle also includes a vibration motor for notifications.


What’s maybe most important, though, is that this (re-)launch sets up Jacquard as a more modular technology that Google and its partners hope will take it from a bit of a gimmick to something you’ll see in more places over the next few months and years.

“Since we launched the first product with Levi’s at the end of 2017, we were focused on trying to understand and working really hard on how we can take the technology from a single product […] to create a real technology platform that can be used by multiple brands and by multiple collaborators,” Ivan Poupyrev, the head of Jacquard by Google told me. He noted that the idea behind projects like Jacquard is to take things we use every day, like backpacks, jackets and shoes, and make them better with technology. He argued that, for the most part, technology hasn’t really been added to these things that we use every day. He wants to work with companies like Levi’s to “give people the opportunity to create new digital touchpoints to their digital life through things they already have and own and use every day.”

What’s also important about Jacquard 2.0 is that you can take the dongle from garment to garment. For the original jacket, the dongle only worked with this one specific type of jacket; now, you’ll be able to take it with you and use it in other wearables as well. The dongle, too, is significantly smaller and more powerful. It also now has more memory to support multiple products. Yet, in my own testing, its battery still lasts for a few days of occasional use, with plenty of standby time.


Poupyrev also noted that the team focused on reducing cost, “in order to bring the technology into a price range where it’s more attractive to consumers.” The team also made lots of changes to the software that runs on the device and, more importantly, in the cloud to allow it to configure itself for every product it’s being used in and to make it easier for the team to add new functionality over time (when was the last time your jacket got a software upgrade?).

He actually hopes that over time, people will forget that Google was involved in this. He wants the technology to fade into the background. Levi’s, on the other hand, obviously hopes that this technology will enable it to reach a new market. The 2017 version only included the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket. Now, the company is going broader with different styles.

“We had gone out with a really sharp focus on trying to adapt the technology to meet the needs of our commuter customer, which a collection of Levi’s focused on urban cyclists,” Paul Dillinger, the VP of Global Product Innovation at Levi’s, told me when I asked him about the company’s original efforts around Jacquard. But there was a lot of interest beyond that community, he said, yet the built-in features were very much meant to serve the needs of this specific audience and not necessarily relevant to the lifestyles of other users. The jackets, of course, were also pretty expensive. “There was an appetite for the technology to do more and be more accessible,” he said — and the results of that work are these new jackets.


Dillinger also noted that this changes the relationship his company has with the consumer, because Levi’s can now upgrade the technology in your jacket after you bought it. “This is a really new experience,” he said. “And it’s a completely different approach to fashion. The normal fashion promise from other companies really is that we promise that in six months, we’re going to try to sell you something else. Levi’s prides itself on creating enduring, lasting value in style and we are able to actually improve the value of the garment that was already in the consumer’s closet.”

I spent about a week with the Sherpa jacket before today’s launch. It does exactly what it promises to do. Pairing my phone and jacket took less than a minute and the connection between the two has been perfectly stable. The gesture recognition worked very well — maybe better than I expected. What it can do, it does well, and I appreciate that the team kept the functionality pretty narrow.

Whether Jacquard is for you may depend on your lifestyle, though. I think the ideal user is somebody who is out and about a lot, wearing headphones, given that music controls are one of the main features here. But you don’t have to be wearing headphones to get value out of Jacquard. I almost never wear headphones in public, but I used it to quickly tag where I parked my car, for example, and when I used it with headphones, I found using my jacket’s cuffs easier to forward to the next song than doing the same on my headphones. Your mileage may vary, of course, and while I like the idea of using this kind of tech so you need to take out your phone less often, I wonder if that ship hasn’t sailed at this point — and whether the controls on your headphones can’t do most of the things Jacquard can. Google surely wants Jacquard to be more than a gimmick, but at this stage, it kind of still is.


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By the end of 2019, the global gaming market is estimated to be worth $152 billion, with 45% of that, $68.5 billion, coming directly from mobile games. With this tremendous growth (10.2% YoY to be precise) has come a flurry of investments and acquisitions, everyone wanting a cut of the pie. In fact, over the last 18 months, the global gaming industry has seen $9.6 billion in investments and if investments continue at this current pace, the amount of investment generated in 2018-19 will be higher than the eight previous years combined.

What’s interesting is why everyone is talking about games, and who in the market is responding to this — and how.

The gaming phenomenon

Today, mobile games account for 33% of all app downloads, 74% of consumer spend and 10% of all time spent in-app. It’s predicted that in 2019, 2.4 billion people will play mobile games around the world — that’s almost one-third of the global population. In fact, 50% of mobile app users play games, making this app category as popular as music apps like Spotify and Apple Music, and second only to social media and communications apps in terms of time spent.

In the U.S., time spent on mobile devices has also officially outpaced that of television — with users spending eight more minutes per day on their mobile devices. By 2021, this number is predicted to increase to more than 30 minutes. Apps are the new prime time, and games have grabbed the lion’s share.

Accessibility is the highest it’s ever been as barriers to entry are virtually non-existent. From casual games to the recent rise of the wildly popular hyper-casual genre of games that are quick to download, easy to play and lend themselves to being played in short sessions throughout the day, games are played by almost every demographic stratum of society. Today, the average age of a mobile gamer is 36.3 (compared with 27.7 in 2014), the gender split is 51% female, 49% male, and one-third of all gamers are between the ages of 36-50 — a far cry from the traditional stereotype of a “gamer.”

With these demographic, geographic and consumption sea-changes in the mobile ecosystem and entertainment landscape, it’s no surprise that the game space is getting increased attention and investment, not just from within the industry, but more recently from traditional financial markets and even governments. Let’s look at how the markets have responded to the rise of gaming.

Image courtesy of David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Games on games

The first substantial investments in mobile gaming came from those who already had a stake in the industry. Tencent invested $90 million in Pocket Gems and$126 million in Glu Mobile (for a 14.6% stake), gaming powerhouse Supercell invested $5 million in mobile game studio Redemption Games, Boom Fantasy raised $2M million from ESPN and the MLB and Gamelynx raised $1.2 million from several investors — one of which was Riot Games. Most recently, Ubisoft acquired a 70% stake in Green Panda Games to bolster its foot in the hyper-casual gaming market.

Additionally, bigger gaming studios began to acquire smaller ones. Zynga bought Gram Games, Ubisoft acquired Ketchapp, Niantic purchased Seismic Games and Tencent bought Supercell (as well as a 40% stake in Epic Games). And the list goes on.

Wall Street wakes up

Beyond the flurry of investments and acquisitions from within the game industry, games are also generating huge amounts of revenue. Since launch, Pokémon GO has generated $2.3 billion in revenue and Fortnite has amassed some 250 million players. This is catching the attention of more traditional financial institutions, like private equity firms and VCs, which are now looking at a variety of investment options in gaming — not just of gaming studios, but all those who have a stake in or support the industry.

In May 2018, hyper-casual mobile gaming studio Voodoo announced a $200 million investment from Goldman Sachs’ private equity investment arm. For the first time ever, a mobile gaming studio attracted the attention of a venerable old financial institution. The explosion of the hyper-casual genre and the scale its titles are capable of achieving, together with the intensely iterative, data-driven business model afforded by the low production costs of games like this, were catching the attention of investors outside of the gaming world, looking for the next big growth opportunity.

The trend continued. In July 2018, private equity firm KKR bought a $400 million minority stake in AppLovin and now, exactly one year later, Blackstone announced their plan to acquire mobile ad-network Vungle for a reported $750 million. Not only is money going into gaming studios, but investments are being made into companies whose technology supports the mobile gaming space. Traditional investors are finally taking notice of the mobile gaming ecosystem as a whole and the explosive growth it has produced in recent years. This year alone mobile games are expected to generate $55 billion in revenue, so this new wave of investment interest should really come as no surprise.

A woman holds up her cell phone as she plays the Pokemon GO game in Lafayette Park in front of the White House in Washington, DC, July 12, 2016. (Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Government intervention

Most recently, governments are realizing the potential and reach of the gaming industry and making their own investment moves. We’re seeing governments establish funds that support local gaming businesses — providing incentives for gaming studios to develop and retain their creatives, technology and employees locally — as well as programs that aim to attract foreign talent.

As uncertainty looms in England surrounding Brexit, France has jumped on the opportunity with “Join the Game.” They’re painting France as an international hub that is already home to many successful gaming studios, and they’re offering tax breaks and plenty of funding options — for everything from R&D to the production of community events. Their website even has an entire page dedicated to “getting settled in France,” in English, with a step-by-step guide on how game developers should prepare for their arrival.

The U.K. Department for International Trade used this year’s Game Developers Conference as a backdrop for the promotion of their games fund — calling the U.K. “one of the most flourishing game developing ecosystems in the world.” The U.K. Games Fund allows for both local and foreign-owned gaming companies with a presence in the U.K. to apply for tax breaks. And ever since France announced their fund, more and more people have begun encouraging the British government to expand their program, saying that the U.K. gaming ecosystem should be “retained and enhanced.” But, not only does the government take gaming seriously, the Queen does as well. In 2008, David Darling, the CEO of hyper-casual game studio Kwalee, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to the games industry. CBE is the third-highest honor the Queen can bestow on a British citizen.

Over in Germany, and the government has allocated €50 million of its 2019 budget for the creation of a games fund. In Sweden, the Sweden Game Arena is a public-private partnership that helps students develop games using government-funded offices and equipment. It also links students and startups with established companies and investors. While these numbers dwarf the investment of more commercial or financial players, the sudden uptick in interest governments are paying to the game space indicate just how exciting and lucrative gaming has become.

Support is coming from all levels

The evolution of investment in the gaming space is indicative of the stratospheric growth, massive revenue, strong user engagement and extensive demographic and geographic reach of mobile gaming. With the global games industry projected to be worth a quarter of a trillion dollars by 2023, it comes as no surprise that the diverse players globally have finally realized its true potential and have embraced the gaming ecosystem as a whole.

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The punks were sceptical of my presence. One guy even headbutted me. In retrospect, I think it was a sign of acceptance

I was in my mid-20s when Cornell Capa, director of the International Center of Photography in New York, recommended me for a job documenting life in the American sector of Berlin while the city was still divided. As a young photographer, I was so nervous. All of these senior German officials were swanning around my studio inspecting my work.

I blurted out that I wasnt American, that I was born in Canada, almost like a confession. I felt I had to tell them. They just looked at me quizzically, laughed and started speaking in German. I have no idea what they thought of me. But I got the job.

I went to West Berlin in 1982 to document what was called Mauerkrankheit, which roughly translates as wall sickness. It was a disorder, identified in Berlin, caused by the fact that youre living in this divided city, surrounded by the tension between the Soviet and American sectors. Its a slow-motion trauma that culminates in depression. I heard that nearly 10% of people living in the east were diagnosed with it.

In the west, I discovered a different side to the disorder. Every Saturday, punks would hang out, drink beer and blare music through their soundsystems. Cars would be set alight and bank windows smashed in. The cops would arrive, teargas them and send them running to find shelter in nearby bars, and the whole cycle would repeat. They were sceptical of me to begin with. One guy even headbutted me. In retrospect, I think that was a sign of acceptance.

Getting to know them wasnt easy, and it happened in the strangest of ways. I would carry a bunch of bananas to snack on while I wandered the streets. When I found the punks, I didnt know what to say, so I offered them bananas. They just laughed at me. But they must have liked it, because they welcomed me into their crew.

As I got to know them, I realised they fitted into the idea of the wall sickness, but they were the manic side of the depression that reigned in the east. There was something psychotic about punk at the time. These werent just weekend punks and punk wasnt just a look this was their life.

The woman in this shot was called Miriam, and the rat on her shoulder is called Bestia. It was a week or so before Reagan was planning to visit, and there were windows smashed all over the city in protest. Despite the violence and the militancy, she was extremely gentle. She was big, much bigger than me, but she had a soft way of gesturing and moving.

She invited me to her place, a nearby squat. We hung out, drank tea, took some shots and became friends. She introduced me to her rat, Bestia, who lived in her oven. Being a squat, it had no electricity, so it was perfectly safe. Bestia was almost like a guardian angel for Miriam, keeping her safe amid the anarchy. I think it was useful to keep guys off her back, too nobodys messing when you have a rat draped around your neck.

People feel this image represents a moment in Berlins history, or the punk movement more broadly, but to me its a shot of someone I got to know, who welcomed me into a hard-to-reach scene. It was a doorway for me into other activist and protest scenes, and I remember the time fondly.

People seem to think that punk has died, and maybe elements of the aesthetic have. But the spirit of punk was so much more than a look, and I think that lives on, albeit in different forms. I think we saw it in the Occupy movement, within elements of the Arab spring, and I think we are seeing it today in the UK with Extinction Rebellion.

Philip Pococks CV

Photograph: Heike Borowski

Born: Ottawa, Canada, 1954.

Training: Film and television production, New York University.

Influences: Diane Arbus, Brassa, the Capa brothers, Eikoh Hosoe, Andr Kertsz, Dorothea Lange, Helen Levitt, Mary Ellen Mark, Lszl Moholy-Nagy, Gordon Parks, Thomas Ruff, Aaron Siskind, Francesca Woodman.

High point: My 1997 Documenta X commission, Germany.

Low point: A life-changing accident on a film set in 1979.

Top tip: Draw with your eyes. Think like a writer. Earn trust and befriend!

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From Fritz Lang to Brecht, 1920s German culture is being celebrated in print and on stage perhaps because it has clear echoes today

It was one of the most febrile and fascinating periods in the 20th century. A time when cultural creativity and technical innovation walked hand in hand with political uncertainty, growing inequality and storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Small wonder, then, that 100 years later, the Weimar republic is being celebrated in film and literature, music and art.

Next month sees the conclusion of the BFIs well-received Weimar programme, Beyond Your Wildest Dreams: Weimar Cinema 1919-1933, a series of films from the well-known such as M, Metropolis and The Blue Angel to the more esoteric such as the silent film Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolisand period drama Chronicles of the Gray House.

Meanwhile, Esa-Pekka Salonen, artistic adviser and principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, is overseeing Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis, a series of concerts, cabaret, films and talks, culminating in September at the Royal Festival Hall with The Partys Over, which includes a performance of Kurt Weills 1924 Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra and Alban Bergs Lulu Suite.

Just down the road, Tate Modern is showing Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany, having last year also dedicated an exhibition to Anni Albers, one of the few female Bauhaus artists. And, on television, the German series Babylon Berlin, adapted from Volker Kutschers bestselling books, has become a global and critical hit, with a third series scheduled for later this year.

Literature, too, is in on the act. Last month saw the publication of Metropolis, the last novel by the late Philip Kerr, which takes his much-loved PI Bernie Gunther back into the dying days of Weimar Berlin. The Hiding Game, Naomi Woods new novel about a group of young students at the Bauhaus and beyond, is published in July, and the following month sees the publication of Blueprint, the debut novel by German author Theresia Enzensberger, which tells the story of a would-be architecture student at the Bauhaus.

Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel. Photograph: Granger Historical Picture Archive/Alamy

I think part of the appeal is that we know what is coming but there is also such a sense of joy, particularly within the Bauhaus movement, says Wood. It feels very fresh, and that period is such a time of fertile production and liberal politics and experimentation. Theres something seductive about it and not simply because we know the horror that is coming.

Wood was first inspired to write about Weimar and the Bauhaus movement after seeing a photograph of a group of students at the institutes famous 1929 metal party. It was so crazy and they looked so happy, the joy radiating off them. There was something very appealing about the notion of a golden collective where everything starts to go wrong.

Enzensberger agrees that the youth of those attending the Bauhaus exerts an almost magnetic pull. There is something so accessible about that period, she says. The school, the parties I also wanted to capture the seriousness and earnestness of their political ideals. We all know what it feels like to be young and feel passionately.

There are parallels between Weimar and our current unstable times. In both, technology has changed so fast it threatens to overwhelm the populace. Both have seen political opinions harden and entrench, with intense debate over attitudes towards gender and sexuality.

It is hard not to see parallels, agrees cultural historian Gavin Plumley, who oversaw the programme for the Philharmonia in addition to making a series of short films about the period.

I tried not to be too slavish in teasing out those connections because history doesnt repeat, but what I think resonates is that rather vicious and lurid combination of extraordinary hedonism and a train driving into the buffers. Theres definitely the idea that were becoming almost blind to the appalling situation unfolding around us.

Margaret Deriaz, who programmed the BFIs film season, agrees. It was a period of great experimentation and vitality and also of diversity and multiplicity of voices. I think its inevitable that the social, political and economic turbulence during the Weimar period strikes a chord.

I dont want to over-egg the analogy, although I will say that the vision of a world in which democratic values are under threat and the social fabric is torn no longer seems quite so remote as perhaps it once did.

For Deriaz, the best thing about the renewed interest in the period has been the way in which the films are speaking to a new generation. Weve definitely seen a younger audience and, in some ways, that doesnt surprise me because the films feel very modern. They are the precursors of film noir, horror and sophisticated romantic comedy, and they capture both the excitement and the fear of life in such a fast-moving society.

That notion of a nation feverishly dancing on the edge of the volcano is key to our continued interest in Weimar, says Plumley, adding that the eras ultimate appeal lies in that sense of the rule book being ripped up The odd haircut or item of clothing aside, you could walk down a Berlin street 90 years ago and you wouldnt feel as though youd landed in another world. Its that immediacy that still resonates down the years.

Weimar: the definitive works

The book
Goodbye to Berlin
by Christopher Isherwood
The basis for Cabaret, Isherwoods six interlinked stories, published in 1939 but set during the Weimar era, were described by George Orwell as brilliant sketches of a society in decay.

The film
The Blue Angel
directed by Josef von Sternberg
This landmark 1930 tragicomedy of a troubled teacher whose life is slowly destroyed after he falls obsessively in love with a cabaret singer made an international star of Marlene Dietrich.

The artwork
The Trench
by Otto Dix
Later presumed destroyed in aby fire, Dixs 1923 anti-war painting made his name and became a touch point for what Weimar culture stood in opposition to. The Nazi government confiscated more than 260 paintings by Dix.

The music
The Threepenny Opera
by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill
The 1928 play with music is the story of the rise and fall of criminal Macheath. The Ballad of Mack the Knife is perhaps its best-known song.

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Don’t like the idea of your baby guzzling down liquid candy all day? It may surprise you to find corn syrup is the main ingredient in most infant formulas in the U.S. That’s where Bobbie, a Bay Area-based baby formula delivery startup promising only wholesome ingredients, hopes to fill in.

Just go down the baby food aisle of any supermarket in America and start reading the ingredients and you’ll likely find corn syrup, soy bean oil, glucose syrup, maltodextrin and palm oil at the top. Even “organic” options often add these ingredients.

While it’s high-fructose corn syrup we should be most concerned with when it comes to diabetes (and some doctors might even recommend adding some sort of syrup to your baby’s diet to combat constipation), corn syrup is not something some parents may want their baby drinking all day.

BobbieTouting itself as “European” style, Bobbie’s first product features fresh, grass-fed cows’ milk as the main ingredient. What it does not include, however, is key for the concerned parent. There’s zero corn syrup, maltodextrin or other artificial sugars or unhealthy oils.

Of course, some babies might not be able to stomach the lactose from bovine sources, but grass-fed and corn syrup-free is music to the ears of many parents (me included) who’ve resorted to ordering bulk from Germany just to avoid feeding our kids Snickers in a bottle.

Yes, it seems crazy to order all the way from Europe when there are so many choices here in the U.S. — and there are some formula manufacturers here making an effort to offer better options — but finding something that meets the simple standard of no sugar, corn syrup or processed oils in the baby food is weirdly difficult.

The other nugget Bobbie provides is delivery. Heaven knows every second is precious when you are a new parent. Delivery can be an especially big help in maintaining some semblance of order in those early days. Sure, Amazon delivers many baby things — it even ships the popular, German-based Hipp brand of formula — but it comes at a premium price and will only ship in bulk.

You can also get the European brands delivered straight from sites like Organic Start, Huggable and a number of others easily Googled. But for those wanting something local, slightly less expensive and with presumably less of a carbon footprint than shipping from another continent, Bobbie is here for you (and we’re told will be delivered with a soft knock on the door, in case baby is sleeping).

The company was founded by two San Francisco moms and former Airbnb operation leaders Laura Modi and Sarah Hardy. Both found out how hard it was, after returning from maternity leave, to pump each day while keeping up with the demands of the job. However, neither of them liked the formula options they found at the grocery store for their own little broods.

Modi and Hardy thought it was time to give parents a more local choice in healthy formula. The two founded the company in 2018 and pulled in $2.5 million in funding last year from Bolt Capital, Nextview Ventures, Lakehouse and Precursor while Modi was pregnant, closing the round a week before giving birth to her baby boy.

Bobbie will (appropriately) begin taking orders this Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, Bobbie only delivers to the Bay Area for now. However, those interested can order one 400 g trial box for $27, which should make about 22 bottles at 6 ounces per bottle, according to a company spokesperson. You can also sign up for the subscription package for $23 per box.

Bobbie Baby – Evolving the conversation of parenthood from Laura Modi on Vimeo.

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They have a fearsome reputation for excluding eager clubbers but as a documentary about Berlins doormen is released, three of them explain why their policies are all about tolerance

The door policies for Berlins nightclubs are some of the most talked about in the world. Online forums detail appropriate clothing, what to say and how to act in line in order to get in. In the German capital, bouncers dont just play the role of security, but also curator, sussing out who can handle the extreme depths of hedonism and who might gawk or yuck at what they see.

Today, far removed from the sexual freedom, relentless techno and ample substance use that defines Berlins nightlife, Im sitting in a plain white room with grey carpet and unforgiving lights. Across from me are three men whove become infamous for this curation, playing a key part in creating the renowned and secretive door policies. Theyre the subject of a new documentary, Berlin Bouncer, by German film-maker David Dietl: a humanising look at people who have reached this bizarre level of celebrity.

In the early 90s all I did was party, says Sven Marquardt, the face-tattooed doorman of the citys most revered club, Berghain. Just party non-stop. Coming from the east Berlin neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg, Marquardt spent his youth photographing the counterculture communities in communist Germany. When the wall fell, he was eager to embrace the heightened freedom that lay on the other side; going out so frequently ended up landing him a door job.

The trailer for Berlin Bouncer video.

The two men sitting beside him followed the same path: finding fun and then employment in the lawless DIY parties that occupied the citys squats and abandoned buildings. Frank Knster moved from Herzhausen to Berlin for university before nightlife eclipsed his studies he worked at now-defunct clubs like Cookies and Delicious Donuts before becoming the bouncer and eventually owner of King Size Bar, which shut its doors in 2017. Smiley Baldwin, an ex-American GI who was stationed at the east-west border, also did a long spell at Cookies, and now owns his own security company.

Berlin Bouncer pulls back the curtain to reveal the personal histories and artistic ambitions of these figures, and the realities of living and ageing in a city once again undergoing rapid change. Knster is filmed putting logs of wood on his fire, Baldwin going home to visit family, Marquardt shopping for black designer T-shirts: these mundane moments are reminders of the regular people that stand between clubbers and a weekend of debauchery.

Its an absurd profession, Knster explains in the film. Im giving people something. Thats why people give me positive attention. While he seems to enjoy this significantly more than the other two, not shy to share pictures of young girls flashing him at the door, all three are keenly aware of how temporary the admiration is. You have to separate between private and professional life, fake and real friends, Marquardt says in a soft Berlin accent. Sometimes people approach me or yell from the queue: Hey, Sven we took a picture together once, remember? and I have no recollection of that person whatsoever.

Secretive door policy … Berghain, Berlins most revered nightclub. Photograph: Image Broker/Rex

While some people could view door policies in Berlin which rely mainly on a bouncers intuition to decide who comes and goes as infuriatingly exclusive or absurdly random, others view bouncers as the original stewards of safe spaces. Marquardt says he has a responsibility towards the guests and protecting their freedom of expression. I try to create an environment where no one feels threatened by their sexual orientation and disposition. Whats important is the combination of different people. If curated well, then I am sure you can say its political. Its all about tolerance.

Its an absurd profession … Frank Kunster. Photograph: Flare Film GmbH

Marquardt insists my use of the word curation makes them sound pompous, but all agree that the most satisfying part of the job is when they know the people theyve selected fit perfectly together, and the night has been euphoric as a result. When you see the crowd inside, and what you curated rises up into ecstasy, and you know you played a part in that, thats special, Knster says.

As Berlin goes through another period of regeneration, with people from wealthier German states, western Europe and north America pouring in to get their taste of the wild weekends and cheap rent, many wonder if its nightlife will survive another increase in gentrification. Courts may have ruled that Berghain must receive the same generous tax breaks as other German cultural institutions such as museums and theatres, but smaller venues face problems unique to Berlin, as Baldwin explains.

Most big cities have a party area where all the club licenses are given out, and everythings there. Berlin, on the other hand, allowed the licensing to be done just about everywhere. And if a neighbour says that the music is too loud, even if the neighbour moved in after the club, the person who is complaining has the right. (A residential noise complaint ended up being the nail in the coffin for Knsters King Size Bar.)

Its all about youth culture and youth power … Smiley Baldwin. Photograph: Flare Film GmbH

A citys party scene is inevitably shaped by its slickness and gentrification, Marquardt says. The more gentrified, the more slick, the more boring the citys party scene. He cites a recent trip to Australia. In Sydney, for example, there simply is nothing going on.

They now see the DIY energy that carved out Berlins niche cropping up in neighbouring countries. Eastern Europe has a thriving, wonderful club scene that is somewhat reminiscent of Berlin in the 90s, Marquardt explains. Belgrade and Tbilisi are amazing for partying right now. And in their own city, they remain optimistic that a new generation of club kids will carry the torch. Its all about youth culture and youth power, and it always was all about youth culture and youth power, Baldwin says. I just hope it keeps going. I want to find my space within that power.

The interview wraps up, and I leave with Marquardt down the long staircase of the Berlinale Palast theatre. The staff guarding each floor joke with each other: Should we let him in? Its a gag hes all too aware of. I always imagine when I depart from this life, Ill enter an intermediate circle of hell. Like a Hieronymus Bosch painting, he laughs in the film. Ill have to repeatedly knock. And theyll say, No. Not you.

Berlin Bouncer is out now.

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A Game of Thrones and Song of Ice and Fire exhibition is coming to Berlin, bringing to life the work of more than 40 concept artists exploring The World of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin’s history of Westeros.

The teaser trailer for the exhibition – “Unseen Westeros” – is nothing short of breathtaking.

“Unseen Westeros” takes visitors through Westeros, Essos, Ulthos, Sothoryos, and the 80 original works of art are meant to be experienced “like a traveler,” per the official description. Visitors walk from room to room, accompanied by an audio guide and original music.

The exhibition was realized with the help of Martin himself, who insisted that admission be free for all fans who want to experience it. To offset costs, the artists have a Kickstarter with rewards ranging from music downloads to a guided tour with an artist.

“Unseen Westeros” runs Jan. 23-27, 2019. Tickets can already be reserved.

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Interior minister Thomas de Maizires newspaper column on Leitkultur seen by some as implicit attack on Muslim immigrants

An ear for Bach and Goethe, a willingness to shake hands, and pride in Europe, are just three of the distinguishing characteristics that the German interior minister has included in a catalogue of guidelines about what it means to be German.

The minister, Thomas de Maizire, has reignited a debate about the need to foster a Leitkultur a dominant culture which first surfaced in the 1990s and looks set to be one of the leading issues in the campaign for Germanys general election in September.

The term Leitkultur is being used in debate about immigrants having to incorporate a set of shared cultural values to ensure German society functions smoothly.

Resurrected as political discourse, the topic has become dominated by discussion about the long-term integration prospects of the hundreds of thousands of refugees that Germany has taken in during recent years.

De Maizire, a Christian Democrat politician, used a guest column in the tabloid Bild am Sonntag to pose the question who are we and who do we want to be? He referred to Leitkultur as a vital yardstick for the coexistence of Germans and immigrants.

In his lengthy essay he took a critical and sweeping view of what has contributed to shaping modern Germany, from its classical music and philosophy to its darkest chapter, the Nazi era.

We are the heirs of our history with all its highs and lows. Our past shapes our present and our culture, he wrote.

German fans celebrating during a World Cup match in Dortmund in 2006. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

De Maizires intervention has drawn a mixed response that has underlined just how sensitive the issue of national pride or patriotic traditions remains. Many Germans still find it difficult to contemplate harbouring such feelings lest they appear to be celebrating or belittling the crimes of the Nazi era. Flag waving only became at all acceptable in 2006 when Germany hosted the football World Cup.

Critics have accused de Maizire, a close ally of Angela Merkel, leader of the CDU party, of delivering nothing more than a thinly disguised critique of Muslim immigrants. Germany is home to about four million Muslims.

Writing in Der Spiegel, Severin Weiland accused de Maizire of digging up an old political debate so as to steal political thunder from the populist extremists Alternative fr Deutschland (AfD).

Weiland referred to the propositions as nothing less than a catalogue of behavioural guidelines for Muslims meant to appease AfD supporters. He wrote: His we dont do burkas can only be understood one way. His catalogue doesnt even make an effort to pretend to be an elegant subtext even the most politically illiterate can get what hes driving at.

He argued that de Maizires propositions came at a time when the Christian Democrats under [their leader] Angela Merkel have moved so far to the left they have enabled the AfD to grow.

Shoppers in Saxony-Anhalt. Bargain hunting has been listed as a national trait. Photograph: Eckehard Schulz/AP

The ideas have also fed into a fierce debate over the issue of dual citizenship, which some CDU politicians would like to abandon following the recent Turkish constitutional referendum. The majority of the 400,000 Turkish citizens living in Germany voted for Turkeys president, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, leading to questions over how they could claim loyalty to both countries.

The guidelines have also sparked a passionate national debate about alternative views of what it means to be German.

It is different things to different people, according to Nina Pauer, writing a response to de Maizire in the weekly Die Zeit, in which she listed more tangible traits such as a national hatred of drafts, a love of crusty bread, coffee and cake, and an obsession with punctuality. In short, in Germany, we want everyone to be like us, because we do everything best, she wrote.

Others have listed a host of characteristics, from a penchant for socks and sandals, to bargain hunting, hypochondria, and the habit of Wildpinkeln peeing in public.

Joining the debate, the philosopher Jrgen Habermas said that de Maizires proposals were unhelpful, and would sit uneasily alongside the German constitution. But he said civil society in Germany should expect immigrant citizens who had come to the country to immerse themselves in the political culture, even if they cannot be legally forced to do so. He added: You cannot for example force a Muslim to shake de Maizires hand.

The word Leitkultur was originally a farming term to describe dominant plant varieties within a habitat. It has long been a favourite word of Germanys rightwing thinkers, but was first used as a political term by the Syrian Islam expert Bassam Tibi, from the University of Gttingen, central Germany. He said, 20 years ago, that Europe needed a Leitkultur to consolidate its common values, such as tolerance, separation of church and state, and human rights.

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