Berlin’s symbolic function during the Cold War helped to deepen its intellectual and artistic culture. Thus, the city impresses the visitor with dozens of theaters, a number of major orchestras, three opera houses, and countless internationally renowned museums. Superb public transportation and an urban biking culture allow easy access to Berlin’s riches. The many public parks and waterways increase the attraction of Berlin for those who like the outdoors.

With its important role as the capital of Prussia and then the German Empire and the Weimar Republic, its sites of political decisions and destruction under the Nazis, and the fact that for over forty years it served as the symbol for Germany’s (and Europe’s) division, Berlin provides a stimulating environment to explore German and European history. The European economic crisis since 2008, the recent refugee crisis, and turbulence in the EU have all once more underscored the fact that Germany continues to be at the forefront of European politics and economics. We will discuss the challenges the present situation poses to the German democracy throughout the program.

To explore some of the most distinguished achievements in German-language literature and the arts and the tumultuous events of the Weimar Republic, we will travel to Weimar and Munich. To better understand Berlin and Germany’s connections to its European neighbors and other famous German-language writers and thinkers (Kafka, Rilke, Freud, Bachmann, Jelinek), we will go to Prague and Vienna.