I have had the privilege to attend four programs that were offered at the American Academy in Berlin this semester. The American Academy is a prestigious academy in Berlin, Germany that brings in incredible speakers from all the world to present their thoughts, promote their books and bring great (international) discussion to the table. As stated on their website, “The American Academy in Berlin, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit center for advanced study, was founded in 1994 by Richard C. Holbrooke.” From the beginning, it has provided an important location for discussion between Germans and Americans to take place. I feel very lucky to have had the chance this entire semester to attend talks that were hosted at The American Academy. Diplomats, Journalists, Students, Authors, etc. have all been in attendance at the talks that I have had the chance to go to. Their presence has added to the depth of discussion and increased my understanding of the global world that we all live in today. My eyes have been opened to both sides of the views on American National Security (German/European and American), and to the differences in living styles that the prestigious in society maintain throughout major cities in the world. I have also met two incredible authors, which helped to reignite my love for reading… I will write more about this later on. Each talk that I attended was unique to itself, but similar in that it was an absolutely incredible opportunity for me!
This semester I have heard:
Malcom Gladwell, speaking about his newest book: David and Goliath;
Richard N. Haas, the President for the Council on Foreign Relations in the USA, speaking about the ways in which he believes that the United States of America should be Rethinking American National Security;
Dominique Nabokov, a world-renowned photographer, presenting her most recent photographs involving the living rooms of prestigious Berliners;
and lastly, this past Tuesday I heard: Andrew Agorski, an award-winning journalist and American correspondent during the Cold War, speaking about his newest book: Hitlerland
During the last talk that I attended on this past Tuesday evening, Andrew Agorski spoke about his new book: Hitlerland. Hitlerland is not a title that he invented, it was in fact a term that was used in the 1930’s by American journalists in their correspondences with those in Germany and back in the United States of America. Andrew Agorski created the cover design for his book to look like, you, as the reader are peering over the shoulder of a soldier or other person, in this way providing the reader with a different perspective as the book is read. The book, which I still need to purchase and read, discusses the personal tales of American correspondents at the beginning of Hitler’s rise to power during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Hitlerland includes many personal accounts, journal entries, and photographs from the time period. It talks about how Berlin, was a huge magnet for many people at the that time, despite the underlying turmoil that was arising and growing in strength. Berlin was seen as the cultural center of the world then and evidence of this can be read in the book. It was stated that, “All railroad tracks from any European city end up in Berlin” during the 1920’s and 1930’s… and this was said despite all the chaos present. … The accounts that Andrew Agorski talked about were all new to me. I had not yet learned about American perspectives on the German reality during 20’s and 30’s from people that actually had eye-witness accounts to share. His book provides just that. Insight to the amazing culture and wild and lavish way of living that was present here, as well as thoughts and reflections about Hitler after correspondents met him are all present in the book. Andrew Agorski spoke about many fascinating realities and thoughts that people had upon meeting Hitler. Many thought that he could never be a threat to anyone, some saw that he was able to rally the people in a powerful way that ought to be viewed with caution. Regardless of what people thought, we all know what took place. Having the ability now to read the first hand accounts and reflect on the history is a great chance to have. The talk was one that left us all with many thoughts on our mind and questions to wrestle with in our heart. To close up the talk, Andrew Agorski asked us to think not about, “What we would have done” but to ask ourselves, “What would we have understood?” As he spoke about, even those closest to Hitler, even those seeing the situation from the outside-in, having come from the United States of America, still misread Hitler and the future situation that would unfold. … What would I have understood? That is a question that I am not sure that I can provide the answer to… can you?
After the talk, Andrew Agorski came out to speak with all of us. He answered our questions and shared stories from his time working as an American correspondent in the GDR and Russia during the Cold War. … to say the least, my experiences at the American Academy have been captivating, educational, thought-provoking and memorable.
To learn more about the Academy in Berlin, please click on the link below: