Saturday, 16 January 2010

Nazi victims demand compensation

Nazi victims demand compensation from  German Railways (Deutscher Bahn)

Polish victims want compensation for their deportation in WWII. The association for Political Prisoners formerly held in Hitler's prisons and concentration camps expects a gesture of reconciliation from Deutsche Bahn.

Here's the intro to the story running on ARD's Tagesschau

NS-Opfer fordern Entschädigung von Deutscher Bahn

Polnische NS-Opfer fordern von der Deutschen Bahn Entschädigung für ihre Deportation im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Der Vereins ehemaliger Politischer Häftlinge von Hitlerschen Gefängnissen und Konzentrationslagern erwartet von dem Unternehmen eine "Geste der Versöhnung".

Read the full story    Listen to the story

Apparently this is not just about money. The 7000 remaining members of the association need humanitarian assistance. The Bahn has already contributed a multi-million Euro figure to a foundation to compensate forced-labourers (Zwangarbeiter). Should they be doing something to help these Polish victims?

You can add comments to the others shown below the story on ARD. One of the contributors says:
Klar haftet an Deutschland leider noch immer die Nazi-Vergangenheit und es ist auch unentschuldbar was damals geschah. Doch was können wir, die 4. Generation nach dem 2. WK, dafür, was vor über 50 Jahren geschah?

Is it realistic for generation after generation to have to pay for the sins of previous generations? On the other hand should more have been done to provide compensation in the immediate post war period?

Friday, 15 January 2010

News News News

One thing I want to do with this blog occasionally is pick up something in the headlines in Germany and make comment on it. Perhaps I'll copy a short extract so my readers can see if it interests them and I'll provide a link to the full piece.

How to keep up with the headlines? Turns out that's easy. Go to InfoLive - Das Nachrichten Portal You'll find the headlines from the main TV and radio stations. Not only that you'll find tabs for Magazines/Daily papers and much more.

Avoiding Colds

From cold to colds - you see how my mind makes connections.

Is there anything you can do to avoid colds? I found some suggestions on

I've picked out a few headline points and offer my rough translation. The full article would be a useful German to English translation exercise.

Was tun gegen Erkältungen?

Stärken Sie Ihre Abwehrkräfte
Vorbeugen ist bei Krankheiten besser als Heilen
Glücklicherweise gibt es viele Möglichkeiten, um eine Erkältung zu vermeiden.
  • Ziehen Sie sich warm an
  • Leben Sie gesund
  • Schlafen Sie genügend
  • Bewegen Sie sich an der Luft
  • Waschen Sie sich oft die Hände

Strengthen you resistance to colds

For illnesses prevention is better than cure.
Fortunately there are many possible ways to avoid colds.
  • Put on warm clothing
  • Get a healthy lifestyle
  • Get enough sleep (if only!)
  • Get plenty of outdoor exercise
  • Wash your hands frequently

Cold Weather

The snow is beginning to go and I took the car out for the first time in 10 days - started at a touch, much to my great relief.

Having published posts on weather and climate change, I noticed that WDR are showing Fit für die Kälte this week - Quarks & Co (Tuesday and Saturday). I've seen this one before and recommend you download it. You can also download an accompanying PDF file with text and pictures covering the same ground as the video - useful if you need to look up some of the vocabulary used. Look for the words PDF zur Sendung in the sidebar on the right. A little further down you'll also find a link to a related PDF file on Das Wetter.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Save the world

Enough energy for half Europe - that’s what’s claimed for a new type of energy production, a hydroelectric scheme based on osmosis.

The driving force comes from the difference in the salinity (salt content) of river and sea water. In one container you have river water and in another sea water. They’re separated by a membrane. The river water penetrates the membrane to even out the salinity. That causes the water level in the second container to rise. The difference can be used to drive a water turbine. An advantage, if this proves commercially viable, is that it is not dependent on weather (Witterung).

I learnt about this in a short video downloaded from Projekt Zukunft: Das Wissenschaftsmagazin. You’ll find some details about it if you visit and look at the video podcasts for 3 January 2010.

Another video you’ll find under the same date deals with a pilot project which uses micro-algae to bind with CO2 from the waste gases (Abgasen) of a brown coal fired power station.
For steps you can take to make your life more environmentally friendly (umweltfreunlich)  I recommend more video - this time podcasts from Quarks & Co which has  three episodes of Die Welt Retten in kleinen Schritten - Save the world in small steps - originally broadcast between 17.11.2009 and 01.12.2009.
Now let's have your ideas about saving the world.

Climate Change - Klimawandel

Can we forget climate change now?

I’m sure a lot of people are wondering whether we can still speak about global warming given the cold weather in Britain and Germany. We’ve been freezing but Winters are supposed to get milder. Perhaps I’m stating the obvious when I say climate is not the same as weather but some people just don’t get it. A few weeks when the weather is colder than average will not change the 30 year average much. Climate is about statistics and not about short-term weather events.

Here’s the start of an article by Dr. Tim Steiger which appears on the ARD website.

War‘s das jetzt mit dem Klimawandel?

Wie passt der bisher recht kalte Winter ins Bild einer globalen Erwärmung?
Deutschland friert und trotzdem sollen vor allem die Winter hierzulande immer milder werden? Ein scheinbarer Widerspruch, der dieser Tage wieder leise Zweifel an der globalen Erwärmung hochkommen lässt. Jedoch vollzieht sich der Klimawandel einerseits innerhalb von Jahrzehnten und andererseits nicht nur in Deutschland, sondern weltweit.
full article
glossary of weather terms
more environmental issues vocabulary and links to German Umwelt lexicons

What are your views on global warming? Perhaps you could add a comment and express your opinion in German.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Memorising Vocabulary

I just remembered something I meant to include in yesterday's post. Ok, it's easily sorted but reminds me I have a flaky memory. Some people manage to remember things by repeating them over and over. That doesn't really work for me. I get bored, go sleepy, lose concentration.

So how do you build up a good vocabulary (Wortschatz)? Two things have helped me. One is the sheer level of exposure to the German language through reading and listening. The downside is I hardly ever write in German so the gap between my understood and written vocabulary is probably greater than it need be. The second aid to learning has been a program called Teachmaster. You can download this free from There are instructions and an online manual in English.

Teachmaster has an editor for you to build your own exercises by entering German words or phrases and their English equivalents - or some other pair of languages. Lessons need to be kept to a reasonable size for ease of learning - though you can have several lessons in a single file and as many files as you like. If you are revising stuff you know reasonably well then 30 word pairs per lesson would be fine but if it's new then smaller lessons make learning easier.

The other part of Teachmaster is a teaching program which presents you with the text in one language for you to enter the matching text in another. If you don't get some right first time you'll find they are repeated at the end of the exercise. Those words you don't get right are the ones that need more practice and Teachmaster has a mechanism that lets you concentrate on those if you want.

I was never very good at remember the gender of nouns but by including the definite articles with any nouns in my Teachmaster exercises I've improved enormously. At one time I tried associating genders with cutlery. Don't laugh! - der Löffel, die Gabel, das Messer. I would visualise putting things onto a table next to the spoon, fork or knife according to gender. Some people imagine a 3-storey building and associate words with a particular level. Or if you can live with gender stereotypes - associate masculine with garage or basement, feminine with kitchen and neuter with some shared space like the sitting room. Divisions of labour don't work like that in our household.

If there are things that help you memorise or free software you want to recommend then please let everyone know by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Virtual Libraries

Sometimes I come across web-sites that are so good I wonder why I didn't find them earlier. Last night I was looking for more information to follow up my previous post about jobs and stumbled upon several useful sites that were new to me. The best of these is a virtual library - Deutsche Internetbibliothek.

Yes, it has plenty about Job & Karriere but there's so much more here. Take a look and I think you'll want to bookmark this.

If you want a particular question answered then you could ask a librarian - at the top of the page you'll find Fragen Sie Bibliothekare. You'll have to ask in German but then you do want to practise using the language. There are some example questions and answers - Bespielfragen und -antworten.

Other virtual libraries of German resources include and

If you are looking for German literary texts you could try: - a free digital library of works no longer protected by copyright
Project Gutenberg - has many German texts available as free downloads.
Unfortunately its German counterpart Projekt Gutenberg-DE only allows free browsing of texts on a page by page basis gives useful information about German authors and their works.

There's a comprehensive listing of German literature resources on the German Studies Web

Sunday, 10 January 2010


Listening to Germans speak is a great way to tune your ear to the language. I find this easier if speech is set in a visual context so I like to download and watch videos.

One of my favourite series has 15 minute videos intended for young people thinking about what sort of job they want and how they can train for it.
The series is called "Ich mach's". You'll find the video podcasts if you follow this link.

Each podcast listing has some information in German and at the bottom of the listing you'll see three button controls. The middle one (a down arrow) is for downloading. To start downloading: Right click on it and then choose "Save Target As..."

There is also some accompanying material available from Just go to the foot of that page and click on Weiter mit: Berufe in Überblick to bring up an A-Z index of jobs. There is text, more video and Die wichtigsten Infos zum Beruf (the most important info about the job or profession)

Welcome - Herzlich Willkommen

Welcome to a blog for people who, like me, are trying to learn German.

Because I've already made some progress the things I find interesting or helpful are more likely to suit people at an intermediate or advanced level.

Most of the websites I visit are in German but there are some in English picking out some great resources for people learning German. I have collected many links into Jeckylls Heft but when you start delving in there you'll begin to see I've only just scratched the surface. I want to use this blog to go in a bit deeper and share some thoughts on what I've found.

If you have suggestions for new things to add or just want to comment on a post, then please do so. You can comment in English or German or both.