German of the Week: Baby Lady

 Evan Amos / Wikimedia

Evan Amos / Wikimedia

This episode, our German of the Week is Annegret Raunigk. She also wins the award for my favorite unpronounceable name.

You probably not won’t know her - she’s not a famous athlete, a politician, or YouTube star. But, you might have read her story, which was on pretty much every news website in the world.

Annegret is a high school teacher in the city of Berlin. What makes this woman a hot topic this week is that she’s given birth at the age of 65. And not to a single child, but to quadruplets. 3 boys and a girl.

Even more remarkable is that this grandmother already had 13 children bringing her total up to a giant number 17.

This was an artificially created pregnancy. Both the eggs and sperm had been donated, fertilized and implanted in a medical clinic. The procedure took place abroad, as it’s prohibited in Germany.

Critics said that, due to her age, she shouldn’t have used the available science to try and force a pregnancy. An obstetrician working at the University of Leipzig said anyone over the age of 60 would be considered a high risk pregnancy. At that age, the human body is not designed for it.

Annegret had tried for more kids naturally, but was not successful. She was shocked when an ultrasound showed she was pregnant... and carrying FOUR children.

And her reason for having more children at such a late age? Annegret said her nine year old daughter asked for a younger sibling.

German of the Week: Sir Simon Rattle

 Berliner Philharmoniker / Wikimedia

Berliner Philharmoniker / Wikimedia

Our German of the Week this week is Sir Simon Rattle. In fact, for a change, he is yet another honorary German we would like to present to you.

For years Sir Simon Rattle has been the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic or as they are called in German - Berliner Philharmoniker.. After a long tenure, this Monday his successor will be announced. Nevertheless it might still be time to look back at his life and work in Berlin.

Born in Liverpool in 1955 the British conductor laid the foundation of his career in London. It’s there that he entered the Royal Academy of Music in 1971. Only 3 years later, right before graduating, Rattle won the John Player International Conducting Competition. Directly after, he assumed the position of assistant conductor at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

His time with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) from 1980 to 1998 drew him to the attention of critics and the public.

It was in 1987 that he gained the infamous knighthood that bestowed him the title of SIR. His degree of Doctor of Music honoris causa of the University of Oxford in 1999 only added to his rising profile.  

Berlin was proud to be called his new home as of 2002. It was then when he assumed his current position as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. But it was not his first appearance. Rattle made his conducting debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1987, in a performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6.

His first concert as principal conductor in 2002 received rave reviews from the press worldwide. This time it was Mahler's Symphony No. 5.

During his time in Berlin he not only managed to turn the institution into a foundation, with more control for its members; he also established its first education department.

Even though he is not leaving Berlin quite yet he sure may look forward to yet another of the Great Orchestras. As of 2017 he will be the Director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

German of the Week: Thomas de Mazière

Our German of the Week this episode is Thomas de Maizière who is currently Germany’s Minister of the Interior. Felix takes a look at the spying scandal surrounding him. 

This week de Mazière is back in the public debate after the latest in a list of NSA spying scandal revelations.

It’s not the first time he’s had responsibility in government. He’s also been Minister of Defense and, before that, Minister for Special Affairs. In this role he officially held oversight of the Bundesnachrichtendienst as well as other German spy agencies.

He’s held all of these positions under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The 61-year-old politician is known to be a close confidant of her and held ministerial positions since her administration began in 2005.

He joined the centre-right Christian Democrats in the early 70s. After studying law and history he gained a doctorate in law in 1986. His political career gained momentum when he was part of the West German negotiations on reunification with the East.

Here he started working with Angela Merkel, who was a rising political figure from former East Germany. It was in 2005, with the election of Merkel as chancellor, when he claimed his first ministerial position on the federal level. That position, “Special Affairs”, is what’s causing him so much trouble over the latest spying scandal.

How much did he know? And if he didn’t know, why not? Did he turn a blind eye to NSA meddling? Was there anything else he didn’t see?

Whatever the answers, he’s managed to see off more than one political crisis before.

German of the Week: Georg Elser

Our storytelling feature as a standalone clip in its entirety. 

Georg Elser planned and carried out an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler at the Bürgebräukeller in Munich. 9th April 2015 was the 70th anniversary of his murder in Dachau concentration camp. 

If you want to listen to the full, unedited interview with Professor Johannes Tuchel of the German Resistance Memorial Center, check out our recent episode of TWIG Extra.