Stefan Theil

The Barbarians Within

Hatun Surucu's crime was that she wanted to be free. Forced by her family to marry her cousin at age 16, the Turkish-born Berliner had divorced her husband, gone back to school and begun dating other men.

Real Estate: History In Reverse

It's our dream house," says Tomasz Pawlik, clicking through the slides on his laptop. In a few days, the 33-year-old restaurant owner in Szczecin, Poland, expects to sign the contract that will make him the owner of a handsome two-story country house, built in 1917 for a Lutheran parson.

Fear and Loathing

BRACE FOR THE DELUGE, the newsweekly Der Spiegel recently warned Germans. A wave of modern-day "serfs" is heading your way. Migrants from Poland and the Czech Republic--working for as little as 3 euro an hour, one third the standard wage--are coming to steal jobs from hardworking Germans.Far-fetched?


A black day for Germany. So trumpeted last week's newspaper headlines. According to the latest official numbers, German unemployment is the highest it has been since the Great Depression of the 1930s--more than 5 million jobless, or 12.1 percent of the work force.

GERMANY: Ostrich Politik

A black day for Germany. So trumpeted last week's newspaper headlines. According to the latest official numbers, German unemployment is the highest it has been since the Great Depression of the 1930s--more than 5 million jobless, or 12.1 percent of the work force.


He won't start his job until February--and Wolfgang Bernhard has already earned his future employer, German auto giant Volkswagen, many times his salary. When, in October, VW announced the 44-year-old turnaround specialist would become the new No. 2 under CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder, investors celebrated by raising VW's market cap by 1 billion euro in a single day.Volkswagen obviously needs a shot in the arm.


In Germany, American investors have lately been snapping up just about everything. Last week New York-based Blackstone Group, one of the biggest buyout funds, paid 1.4 billion euros for 32,000 rented apartments from struggling Hamburg-based WCM Real Estate.


European diplomats called it "the Polish path." In this rosy view, Russia would--like Poland and other post-communist countries before it--proceed down a slow but steady path of democratization and free-market reform.


There's a scene in Michael Moore's "Roger & Me," the 1989 documentary featuring GM factory closings, in which a laid-off worker in depressed Flint, Michigan, can't leave town.

Divided We Stand

In the east German town of Wittenberge, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder faced eggs and rocks thrown by a furious crowd. In dozens of other cities, tens of thousands of protesters have revived the weekly "Monday marches" that brought the communist regime to its knees in 1989.


The news was dismally familiar. Last week the Prussian Claims Society, a nationalist organization of Germans whose prewar estates were annexed by Poland in 1945, announced it would sue the Polish government in the EU courts to get back its members' land.


The swimmers were bickering and unmotivated, finishing far slower than their personal bests. The track-and-field team watched medal after medal fall to small-country upstarts such as Ethiopia or Belarus.


For five years Mario Monti has been the most powerful man in Brussels. As the European Union's competition commissioner, the former economics professor has busted cartels, stopped mergers and fought the protections EU members lavish on favored industries.


Beneath its perpetual sense of malaise, a quiet revolution is sneaking up on Germany. Two weeks ago the upper house of Parliament passed the final phase of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Agenda 2010, the landmark reform package aimed at getting Germany back on the track to growth.


When a group of young artists took over the bombed-out remains of a 19th-century shopping arcade on Berlin's Oranienburger Strasse in the early 1990s, the city government intervened to stop the wrecking ball.


SAP is no household name. but if you work for a multinational corporation, chances are you're already using SAP software to file expense reports, manage customer data or monitor product deliveries.


In April the International Olympic Committee took the unprecedented step of buying $170 million worth of insurance to cover its operations in case the Athens Games are interrupted by terrorism or war.


It is a spectacular tale of incompetence, greed and charges of corruption. It has pushed one of Germany's biggest banks to the brink of collapse. It allegedly involves ingenious pyramid schemes, runaway debts and uncovered losses concealed in a maze of shadowy companies and Cayman Islands trusts.


For decades, environmentalism has been close to a national obsession in Germany. The Green Party was invented here as a counterculture movement in the 1980s; today Green ministers help run the country.


Usually, Germany's lenten carnival season means nonstop parties and good-natured cheer. This year, however, joking and laughing has turned into derision and scoffs.


Like most of Western Europe, Germany considers itself a secular democracy. Article Four of its Constitution guarantees equal treatment of all religions. But that hasn't kept the governments of Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg and five other German states from drafting laws that treat different religions very differently indeed.


When Enron launched an era of scandal in 2002, Old Europe had a good sneer about the ugly excesses of American capitalism. Now Europe has a scandal as large as any uncovered in the United States.

Eastern Exposure

Europe's cherished dream of ever-closer union is dead. That's not just because the European Union's draft constitution fails to mention that now dirty word, "federalism." Nor does it have much to do with Iraq, and the division of Europe into feuding pro-American "New Europe" and a more skeptical core of "Old Europe." It doesn't even have that much to do, long term, with the latest flap du jour in Brussels over voting rights.

Looking For An Iron Lady

Chancellor Helmut Schmidt called her "a rhinoceros." His conservative successor Helmut Kohl scarcely concealed his dislike, virtually hissing her name when forced to discuss the ruthless, unbridled capitalism she epitomized--and that he was determined Germany should never emulate.Left, right or center, Margaret Thatcher has long been the politician Germans loved to hate.

9/11? It Never Happened

To get a sense of how deep mistrust of the United States runs in Germany, take a look at the bookshelves. Two years after September 11, German bookstores are flooded with such works as "The CIA and September 11," in which a former government minister of Research and Technology, Andreas von Bulow, insinuates that the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services blew up the World Trade Center from the inside.

The Next Wall To Fall

Wolfgang Neubert used to work in an East German combine making clunky refrigerators for the socialist bloc. The factory went under after German unification.

Underground Railroad

Bahar knew there was no going back. Her father, a Turkish immigrant in Berlin, had threatened to kill her "with 100 stabs of the knife." Her crime: refusing to marry her cousin Hassan, as her parents had arranged when she was 12.