Entries in Germany (64)


New Comic Novel on Adolf Hitler Races Up Germany's Best Sellers List YORK) -- German books about Adolph Hitler are often labored historical tomes that manage to traverse well-worn facets of the Nazi leader and his diabolical march on Europe. But a new novel about the f dictator is employing a provocative approach - satire and comedy - and is racing up Germany's best sellers lists.

Timur Vermes's "Er Ist Wieder Da" (He's Back) is a comic novel with a farcical plot: Hitler does not die in a bunker at the end of the Second World War. Instead he falls asleep in 1945 and wakes up in the German capital in 2011 and begins to wander the streets of modern Berlin.

People assume he is a comedian. His street-side ramblings and monologues are unintentionally hilarious and he is eventually discovered by a television producer and given a guest slot on the TV show of a Turkish-born comedian. His bitingly ironic ethnic humor helps to drive up the ratings. He turns into a YouTube phenomenon and fame quickly follows, which eventually leads to a promising political career.

"We've had too much of the same Hitler in past books," the author recently told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. "Always the same explanations, always the same additions, always the same perspectives... The result is that people have too often accepted Hitler only as a monster which makes them feel better about themselves."

Despite its comic theme and dreaded protagonist the book is a hit with a German audience that has long wrestled with Hitler's legacy.

The novel has soared to the top of bestseller lists selling more than 250,000 copies and 75,000 audio books. There are also reports in the German press that the book is set to be published in English.

German book reviewers are divided about whether shining a comical light on the man responsible for the Holocaust is appropriate, something that would seem unpalatable just a few years ago.

Some literary critics have lauded the book for taking a unique approach to historical story-telling. But a few haven't been as charitable.

Stefan Schmitz, a writer for Germany's Stern magazine, called the book "cynical, incendiary and the latest output of a Hitler marketing machine that breaks every taboo to sell books and make money."

The book's author, a former journalist, dismisses criticism of the book and has said he wanted to utilize a comic theme to portray an authentic Hitler.

"Certainly megalomaniacal and deeply disturbed, but also charming, polite and flexible," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "There are people who would like a comfortable monster so they can shift the blame."

Vermes has also downplayed any fears that the book would become a must-read for neo-Nazis who still idolize Hitler. So far there has been very little reaction from Germany's Jewish community.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


German Web Stunt Turns Deadly

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A German amateur stunt performer died instantly from head injuries after being thrown from a spinning playground carousel in a Jackass-style stunt gone awry in the Bavarian town of Oberviehbach.

The 20-year-old man, known only as Tobias, was part of the group known as the “Bavarian Dumbasses,” a gang of six young German men who gained notoriety for filming their shenanigans and posting them to the web via YouTube and Facebook.

Tobias was taped to the playground carousel and roped to a BMW by his three cohorts on Sunday, according to the Munchner Merkur newspaper. With the rope hitched to the car, the three other young men, who the paper said were 18-20 years old, then put the car in full throttle in attempt to spin Tobias as fast as possible.

As the car took off, Tobias was propelled by centrifugal force at an incredibly high speed – so fast that the tape tore off and he was sent hurtling six yards from the merry-go-round and head first into the ground.

Police are now looking at manslaughter charges against the friends, according to the paper.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


German Track and Field Official Killed by Javelin During Competition

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A German track and field official died Monday, a day after he was struck in the face and throat by a javelin thrown by a 16-year-old competitor at a youth athletic competition in Dusseldorf.

Dieter Strack, 74, an experienced domestic javelin referee, was trying to measure the distance of a throw that was still in the air when he was hit.

“He ran to the sector while the throw was still in the air,” Jochen Grundman, an organizer of the 66th Wilhelm Unger Games, told ABC News.  “He probably thought he would calculate the airpath correctly before the javelin touched the ground.”

The javelin, which weighs about 700 grams (1.5 pounds), and its steel tip struck the official in the cheek and went down the neck, Grudman said.  He shouted, grabbed the javelin, taking it out of his body, and dropped to the ground as officials, a doctor and athletes rushed to him.

The 16-year-old competitor watched in shock from afar and cradled his head in his hands.

“He and several of the 800 spectators at the event are receiving psychological counseling,” police spokesman Andre Hartwig said over the phone.

The referee had a ruptured carotid artery in the neck, was bleeding heavily and was immediately taken to a nearby hospital where he died early Monday morning, a police spokesman confirmed.

Officials canceled the remainder of the Wilhelm Unger Games.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sexist Parking Plan? German Mayor Creates Male-Only Spots

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(TRIBERG, Germany) -- In Gallus Strobel’s 10 years as mayor of Triberg, a small town in Germany’s Black Forest region, his bid to create two male and 12 female parking spots in the town’s new public lot is one of his greatest feats, he said.

“I have much pleasure with this idea,” Strobel told ABC News. “I decided last month to do this as a question of humor for our society, and as a question of justice.”

By “justice,” Strobel said he meant that allowing for two difficult-to-maneuver and potentially dangerous spots in the parking complex to remain in use, to be challenged by “better” male drivers.

“It’s a joke,” Strobel said. “Everyone in Triberg thinks it is a joke. We looked at the two parking spaces and we said, ‘They could be dangerous for your car,’ so at the same time, we decided to make them for men, and then give 12 others for women. ”

On June 8, the mayor unveiled Triberg’s new parking lot, which he said was geared to the 60,000 or so tourists a year who flock to the town – population 5,000 – to check out the country’s highest waterfalls and what’s called the world’s biggest cuckoo clock.

“It’s a big space, 220 spaces, and so far many, many people have tried to park in the two places,” Strobel said, adding, “Dozens of women have tried also.”

He said that this “rule” was more symbolic than a rule of law, and that women were more than welcome to take part in the parking challenge. Asked about how difficult these two spaces really were to handle, Strobel laughed and said, “Many park here every day. Myself, I also parked there many times, especially now for all the TV and media who come.

“But many also cannot par; Like my secretary. Five times she tried and no success.”

Apart from a good chuckle, Strobel said that he hoped his parking rule, which one male and one female architect behind the parking lot complex helped him come up with, would give Triberg more prominence on the global tourist map.

“Perhaps many more people would like to come and not only see our waterfalls but try our parking,” he said. “It’s a marketing idea and it works. I cannot work this week with all this publicity.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five People Killed in German Hostage Drama

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BERLIN) -- Five people were shot dead Wednesday during a hostage standoff involving an apartment eviction in the German city of Karlsruhe, police said.  The dead include the 53-year-old suspected gunman.

Authorities say the drama began at an apartment complex when a locksmith, a bailiff and a person planning to move into an apartment were taken hostage by a man who was scheduled to be evicted.

Police say the man barricaded himself and his hostages inside a two-bedroom apartment with a large number of weapons, including what one witness said was a live hand grenade. 

An elite police unit finally stormed the apartment nearly three hours after the first shots were heard, and discovered four bodies, including the deceased gunman.  The fifth victim, the gunman’s partner, died of her wounds later at a hospital.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Political Football: Greece Takes On Germany

Pixland/Thinkstock(GDANSK, Poland) -- Greece will wiggle itself out from under Germany’s boot heel for at least 90 minutes on Friday, as the international spotlight shifts from the Eurozone’s hottest fiscal feud to an unlikely European Championship quarter-final soccer match in Gdansk, Poland.

Victory against the heavily favored German side, with Chancellor Angela Merkel flying in from Berlin to support her squad, would make for a rare and glorious night in Austerity-blighted Athens.

Tabloids newspapers around the world spent the past four days chewing up the storyline.  

“Rejoice, dear Greeks,” wrote Germany’s Bild newspaper, “your bankruptcy on Friday is on us!”

“Bring us Merkel,” read a headline in Greece’s Goal News, “You will never get Greece out of the euro.”

Players from both sides have downplayed the political angle, with Greek striker Georgios Samaras (no relation to new Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras) calling the subplot “a bad thing,” and declaring his team was “going to play and enjoy it because we love it, nothing else.”

German manager Joachim Low sounded a similar note on Tuesday.

“Angela Merkel and the national teams are on very good terms,” he told reporters.  ”We have reached an agreement where she doesn’t interfere with my tactical instructions and, in return, I don’t deal with her political agenda.”

If only it were so simple.  While it’s a touch overwrought to say “soccer explains the world,” there should be little doubt that the sport has a way of synthesizing the politics of the moment and calling up the pain of generations’ past.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mysterious 'Forest Boy' Identified by German Police -- The mysterious young man who emerged in Berlin nearly a year ago claiming he had been living inside the German forest with his father for five years has now been identified, according to German police.

The young man, who has since been known only as Ray, has been identified as 20-year-old Robin van Helsum, from the Dutch town of Hengelo.  German police tell ABC News that van Helsum was 19 when he went missing nine months ago, and that his stepmother identified him from the photo released earlier this week.

"We are 100 percent certain that he is this 20-year-old boy, because his stepmother positively identified him," a police spokeswoman told Die Welt newspaper.  "We have made contact with his family and friends.  A photo where you could see him with a chain round his neck showing his name provided the proof.  We are very glad that he has been found."

Van Helsum's story -- that his mother, Doreen, had been killed in a car accident, and that he had lived in the forest with his father, Ryan, until his death last summer -- is now believed to be a lie.  He was the subject of a lengthy investigation by German police and the international police organization Interpol.

Authorities tell ABC News that van Helsum, who is now living in social care housing in Berlin, seems not to suffer mental problems.  Police have no idea what his motives were with the hoax, and they are questioning him again on Friday.

"Forest boy," as van Helsum cane to be known in the German press, wandered into the German capital nine months ago, carrying only a tent and a backpack.  He told police he had been walking for five days to get to Berlin.  He called himself Ray and told authorities that both of his parents were dead.

Authorities went to painstaking lengths to identify van Helsum, having checked his DNA with international missing person lists, made public appeals, and sent his fingerprints around the world, all to no avail.  It was only this week that he allowed his photo to be released.

"There were things that did not fit with his story -- he was relatively clean and the tent he had with him did not look like it had been used for five years," Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin police told German news website The Local.

According to German police, van Helsum insisted that he buried his father before starting his five-day trek that landed him in Berlin. Yet he doesn't know where his father died, police say.

Because he spoke English with an accent, German investigators thought that one or both of his parents could be American or British.

"This is no joke anymore," Berlin police spokesman Michael Maaß told Die Welt. "He made right fools of us. The costs could come down to him."

There are no immediate plans for what will next happen to van Helsum.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


German Police Release Photo of Mysterious ‘Forest Boy’ -- Police in Germany have released a photo of Ray, an English-speaking boy who wandered into central Berlin nearly a year ago claiming he had been living in the woods outside of the capital.

Ray claimed to have no idea who he was when he wondered into Berlin, and said that he had been living in the woods for five years. Now, after almost a year later, he’s sticking to his story, confounding German police.

“The whole thing is still a mystery,” Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin police told “We have conducted all the investigations we know how, We have compared his DNA with international missing persons lists, we’ve made public appeals, we’ve sent his fingerprints around the world to see if he was involved in anything picked up by authorities anywhere but have come up with nothing.”

The youth originally spoke just English, but in a way that authorities said suggested it was not his mother tongue. Specialists were unable to determine where he was from.

“Certain aspects of his DNA indicate he most likely comes from Europe,” said Neuendorf.

The boy, who says he was born in 1994, is estimated to be between sixteen and twenty years old with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. Ray claims that his mother Doreen was killed in a car accident when he was twelve, and that has father Ryan had taken him to live in the woods for five years where the two sheltered in tents or hunting sheds.

He says his father was killed when he fell over last August, and his final instructions to his son were to walk north until you find civilization and seek help.

And walk he did – for five days he claims — arriving in Central Berlin with nothing but a two-man tent and a sleeping bag in a backpack. He was wearing a gold chain around his neck with a pendant in the shape of the letter D, a tribute to his mother.

A search for the father’s body has turned up no results, leading to further skepticism about Ray’s story.

“There were things that did not fit with his story. He was relatively clean and the tent he had with him did not look like it had been used for five years. It was also simply unimaginable that someone could live near Berlin for such a long time without being seen,” Neuendorf told the local.

Yet the mystery endures and the boy is apparently less than forthcoming when discussing his past.

“Whenever we want to go into details with him, he breaks it off, saying both of his parents are dead, and that no one else knows him. He seems to have an astounding lack of interest in finding out who he is,” Neuendorf said.

Ray is currently living in a youth housing project and in good health, but he cannot live there forever and his future is ambiguous at best.

Ultimately, the resolution of Ray’s story may not come with the discovery of a past identity, but with the creation of a new one.

“At some time he will have to be given a family name, a nationality and an official date of birth — that is the law in this country,” said Neuendorf.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Body Parts in Mail; Cops Eye Canadian Porn Actor Link

Montreal Police(MONTREAL) -- Two Vancouver, British Columbia, schools have received packages in the mail containing body parts, and police said Tuesday they are investigating whether they are linked to the porn actor accused of hacking up his young lover and mailing pieces to Canadian government officials.

One of the schools received a foot and the other received a hand, officials told ABC News Tuesday, but they said it was too soon to say whether they were connected to the Luke Magnotta case.

Montreal Police confirmed to ABC News Tuesday that Magnotta also likely ate parts of his young lover's body and videotaped the gory feast.

In a mug shot taken moments after his arrest, a stone-faced Magnotta, who allegedly killed Chinese student Jun Lin, 33, stares steely-eyed into the camera, a stark contrast to the dozens of smiling images the rakish porn actor posted of himself online.

Nabbed by police at a Berlin Internet cafe Monday, Magnotta, 29, Tuesday was ordered held pending his extradition, and his mug shot was released.

The video also allegedly contains images of Magnotta stabbing a bound naked man with an ice pick, having sex with parts of the corpse, and putting fork and knife to his victim's body.

Magnotta is currently being held in a Berlin jail awaiting an extradition hearing. He could be returned to Canada as early as this week.

Magnotta was the subject of an Interpol "red notice," and on Sunday the international police organization posted three photos of a man passing through security at an unidentified airport. In the photos, a man who appeared to be Magnotta had been circled in red.

His alleged victim, Lin, was last seen on May 24 and was reported missing to the Chinese consulate on May 29, according to the Montreal Police Department.

On the same day, a human foot was found by a receptionist who received a blood-soaked package at the Ottawa headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. A second package containing a hand was seized at a post office in Ottawa later in the day.

A janitor in Montreal found a male torso in a suitcase behind a apartment building in the Cote-des-Neiges neighborhood. Magnotta was a resident of that building, and Montreal police said he was in a romantic relationship with Lin.

Magnotta, who has appeared in adult films, and has previously posted videos of himself torturing animals.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Accused Murderer Luka Rocco Magnotta Captured in Berlin

Montreal Police Department(MONTREAL) -- Canadian Luka Rocco Magnotta, who allegedly videotaped the murder of his lover and mailed his body parts, has been captured in a Berlin Internet cafe, according to the Berlin Police Department.

A man in an Internet cafe spotted Magnotta at about 2 p.m. in Germany and recognized him as the Canadian fugitive, Berlin Police spokesman Thomas Neuendors told ABC News.

"That man from this small restaurant went on the street and there was a police car there. He stopped the policeman and the policeman went into this small café and so they found the man in search," Neuendors said. "At first, he tried to tell several different names, but at last he said, 'Okay, you got me.'"

Authorities had an arrest warrant for Magnotta and he was taken to prison. He is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday, according to police.

Magnotta, 29, is wanted by Canadian authorities for first-degree murder and other charges.

He has been the focus of an international manhunt for the murder of his Chinese boyfriend who he allegedly killed on videotape before posting the video online and mailing parts of 33-year-old student Jun Lin's body to Canadian government offices.

Lin had been studying in Montreal since last July. He was last seen on May 24 and was reported missing to the Chinese consulate on May 29, according to the Montreal Police Department.

On the same day, a human foot was discovered by a receptionist who received a blood-soaked package at the Ottawa headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. A second package containing a hand was seized at a post office in Ottawa later in the day.

Meanwhile, a janitor in Montreal found a male torso in a suitcase behind a apartment building in the Cote-des-Neiges neighborhood. Magnotta was a resident of that building and Montreal police said that he was in a romantic relationship with Lin.

"We know that the suspect and the victim knew each other. It was not a random attack," Lafreniere said. "[Magnotta] knew the victim. They were having an affair."

Magnotta has no prior criminal history that police are aware of. Authorities have confirmed that the mailed body parts did indeed belong to the torso that was found and that the body parts mailed to Ottawa originated in Montreal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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