On 19 March 1970, West German Prime Minister Willy Brandt visited Erfurt in Soviet East Germany. Like any politician anywhere, he found himself surrounded by photographers and other politicians, both Western and Eastern, both local and national.

But everyone was in for a surprise. Thousands of Erfurters mobbed him, too. He stood nobly in the window of the Erfurter Hof Hotel to wave, gazing caringly at the crowd. Interestingly, East German television did not air anything about his visit.

Modern-day Erfurters revere the memory of Willy Brandt for his courage in reaching out to them. They changed the name of the Erfurter Hof to the Willy Brandt ans Fenster, "Willy Brandt in the Window." The restaurant on the ground floor is the Willy B.

Seeing the cheering crowd of people and the now-familiar landmarks gave me chills up my spine. Erfurters took such a huge risk breaking through the police cordon to get closer to Willy Brandt.

For the Soviets, seeing them cheer for a Western leader must have been unsettling.


September 30, 2022

Rolexes and Wealth

I remember the day my eighth-grade teacher arrived at school wearing his new wrist-watch. We saw this guy for the 180 days of the school-year and knew him pretty well--as well as anyone did. We noticed that, among his other mannerisms, he tended to look often at the watch during class. We thought he was keen to know the time on a regular basis. Now, I believe he was just admiring his new watch.

September 28, 2022

Family-life is not a Democracy

I ran into a problem yesterday when I returned to Germany. On my first evening, I wanted to slake my thirst for German beer, big-time! So I ordered a liter-serving right off the bat; but I knew I also wanted some wine and ordered a carafe of it, as well. Shamefully, I have to admit to not finishing either. I slaked my thirst, but had to leave some of it undrunk. I hate wasting anything, but I had work to do and wanted to operate on all my cylinders.

September 24, 2022

Violence in the Real

This article appeared last July in the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, by the newspaper's expert on hip-hop music, Florentin Schuhmacher. He regards gangsta-rap, and its sub-genre Drill, as a legitimate art-form. He can understand the reservations that law enforcement, parents, and teachers have toward music that glorifies gang-life, describes the rush of killing one's enemies, the pleasure of drugs—as a source of wealth—and demeaning women; but Schumacher also says the police cannot simply censor it. They must distinguish between art and criminal acts, shooings, and robberies.

Lloyd Bowers


Facebook twitter Favorites google