Living abroad can have a big impact on your identity and the way you see your country of origin. That is certainly the case for me. I was born in Germany but have lived in Britain for well over a decade – an experience that has made me both more and less German.
Living in Britain has compounded my Germanness because I earn a living thinking, talking and writing about Germany. My books Blood and Iron and Beyond the Wall describe versions of the country that don’t exist anymore and yet affect the present immensely. My Washington Post column, as well as my contributions to British newspapers like The Spectator, The Telegraph, The Times, The FT and The Guardian, are spaces for my political and cultural analyses of Germany today. I also post titbits on Twitter. Writing in English and for non-German audiences has given me the linguistic and conceptual tools to distance myself from the subject matter in a way few Germans can, but also gives me cause to think deeply and constantly about the country of my birth.
Yet here I am, writing from my home in East Sussex with two passports in my drawer, a cup of tea on my desk and a British Shorthair cat purring on the window sill. I have been an anglophile since I tried to teach myself better English than my teachers could, who had been trained in East Germany and had never had a chance to spend time in a country where English is spoken. As I painstakingly worked my way through imported copies of Harry Potter – armed with a dictionary so I could look up useful words like ‘whomping’ – I learned to love British writing and have never looked back.
My Substack is a place for more personal reflections on German history, politics and culture as seen through my (somewhat) anglicised eyes. It is also the place where you can follow my research, travels and events.
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