Nostalgia for the Middle Ages?

A recent report by the "German Hygiene Council" concludes:

Germans are making themselves and others sick because they do not wash their hands or change their underwear often enough. [L]ess than half of all German children are inoculated against such common childhood diseases as whooping cough and measles.

The good doctors blame "misunderstood environmentalism":

Misunderstood environmentalism helps spread contagious disease, [Dr. Martin Exner] claims.

"So as not to sully the environment with paper tissues, people will cup their hand over their mouth when sneezing, but then will not wash their hands before handling produce at the market or shaking hands with people," Exner says. "And if they use a handkerchief, they neglect to change it often and launder it properly."

To spare the environment, many Germans do their laundry with weak detergent, or no detergent at all, and at a low temperature.

German and American Foreign Poliicy

Jan, Ross, in Die Zeit, writes about how German foreign policy is made in Welterklärer, verzweifelt gesucht (G) ("Desperately seeking world-explainers"). The key foreign-policy think tank in Germany is the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (Science and Policy Foundation, or SPF), which is state-funded and required to be as independent and neutral as possible.

Ross contrasts this with the situation in the U.S.:

[T]he United States plays in a league of its own. American career politicians may normally be fairly provincial, but there is a real foreign-policy elite – whose members cycle actively between government jobs, private firms, universities, and think-tanks – to manage the country’s superpower role. The think-tanks are not only numerous, they’re also private, opinionated, and in many cases extremely ideological. The boldest proposals get the attention; Washington is full of 30-year-olds who are willing to explain the world, and precisely how it should be governed. (The fact that their proposals are often nonsense and fail in practice is a matter for another day.) A state institute like the Science and Policy Foundation, by contrast, must produce consensus-tested material for all political camps, both the government and opposition. “There are committee meetings,” says Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, “in which five political parties cite the same paper of the SPF.” However, this fact also ensures that the Institute’s expertise cannot be bought by an interest group or lobby – and that it’s not driven by world-domination fantasies, as is the cases with some planners of the universe in Washington.

A certain dull earnestness is perhaps the key flaw of the German foreign-policy debate. Ambitious strategic doctrines like American neo-conservatism were perceived in Germany as dangerous and insane, not as intellectual challenges. Political scientist Herfried Münkler observes an “extremely strong tendency toward mainstreaming” in Germany, whereas in the U.S. models are “tested on the basis of global strategic visions.” Perhaps Münkler’s work itself shows something’s beginning to change, and that even in Germany bolder, fresher thinking is becoming possible – his book Empires is a stunningly cold-blooded survey on the logic of world domination that glides effortlessly through the centuries and across the globe. Writing something like this is “itself an anti-imperial act,” according to Münkler, an attempt at intellectual independence. Münkler is actually an historian of ideas, not a traditional specialist for international relations. Did foreign policy interest him 20 years ago? “No,” comes the immediate answer. The world situation’s gotten more exciting, and the intellectual atmosphere has as well.

Pictures from Poland

The monument to shipyard workers killed in Gdansk, the Baltic sea port, by government troops during unrest in 1970 which was triggered by food prices. Erected in 1980, it’s the only monument built by a Communist government to victims of its own repression. Note that it consists of three tall crosses on which anchors are crucified.


Young women sitting on a park bench in Gdansk.


The Church of the Holy Trinity in Gdansk was damaged during World War II. Local art students have started to rebuild it as a class project. Here is Christ, who once hung above the rood screen as the centerpiece of a Gothic crucifixion scene created around 1500. He’s bald because religious sculptures created in Poland at this time were fitted out with wigs of real human hair to make them more realistic.


An extended family enjoying a break in the park on a sizzling hot day in Warsaw.


A nun talking to a department store security guard in Cracow.


Graffiti near the New Jewish Cemetery in the Kazimierz quarter of Cracow.


A memorial plaque dedicated to the visit of German Social Democratic Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt to Warsaw in December 1970, during which he fell to his knees in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial.


Girl standing inside a sculpture called ‘Eros Bendato’ on the Great Square in Cracow.


German Joys Uncut: On Film Music

And now for something very special. A project I’ve been working on for the past month or so. An entire, uncut essay by Max Goldt.

English-speakers are asking: ‘Who is Max Goldt?’

He is a respectable-looking young man in his early 40s. Judging from the readings I’ve been to, he’s partial to cordury jackets. You could call him the poet laureate of young, hip, well-educated, marginally-employed Germans, but he’d probably find that descrition pompous and trite. He writes essays and, in cooperation with comic-strip designer Katz, forms the ‘comic-duo’ Katz und Goldt (G). Here are a few of their T-shirts (G), which bear slogans like "Wasps – Your Reliable Partner When It Comes to Wasp-Stings"; "Hay Fever is like Rock ‘n Roll for the Nose",  and "At a certain age, the only option left for meeting new people is to give birth to some."

There’s no real way to convey Goldt’s peculiar genius; but you might say he lives in a German-speaking neighborhood a few exits down from S.J. Perelman and Glenn O’Brien, where there are strange murals on the walls and bohemian-looking beggars. Better to just read a bit of Goldt and craft your own analogies. That’s hard for non-German speakers to do, because I don’t believe anything of his has been translated into English, more’s the pity. So I translated* this essay, from the July Titanic (G) magazine:

On Film Music: Or more Precisely, on Television Music

It is the year of our Lord 900, or, as it was called in East Germany, “according to our calendar.” On an island off the Welsh coast live two wise, holy women who are bound to each other by two things, namely: a) a life-long enmity; and b) blazing physical desire. On an autumn night which is stormy even by Irish Sea standards, the two women completely independently search out an ancient Celtic grave-site, to solve a folk-mystery whose origins – even back then – were lost in the mists of time. A fearful battle ensues under an oak whose trunk splits at 30 feet. During the battle, deep, probing kisses alternate with millimeter-precise fist-blows. After both achieve a simultaneous sexual climax, one tries to wall the other into a dungeon, so that she will wither away gruesomely. The other, however, happens to have exactly the same idea. Something happens which never happened before in the entire early middle ages: Two women wall each other into the exact same tower. They die slowly of thirst, hideously cursing their fate from within their respective chambers. Moss and owls, but also spiders, as well as greedy Time, Space’s sometimes-unfriendly colleague, do their worst.

1104 years later, the Hamburg journalist, moderator, cat-raiser, bar-owner, foot-jewelry designer and, of course, author Heidi Würsel spreads the just-described dramatic material over 800 pages, to “float a few toads.” “Floating toads” – in her private jargon, this is how she refers to the profits from the activity that, in interviews, she calls “writing really exciting and, most importantly, historically credible entertainment”, but which, among friends, she calls her “bread job.” That is, that’s what she calls it when she’s in command of her senses, which, thank God, she usually is. However, when she’s among her very innermost circle of friends and the partying’s been serious, and lasts not just “a little longer” but into the wee hours, it can happen that she calls the bread job “throwing together a bunch of literary garbage for fat women,” but that doesn’t happen so often, so the other members of her posse say nothing more than that she can be “deliciously incorrect,” which of course is really the most ‘super-refreshing’ thing about Heidi. She sticks the dough from the “nicely lesbianized Middle-Ages plot” into the restyling of the Bali-Lounge of her restaurant “Schinkenkeller” on the island of Sylt, whose regulars include her half sister, the not-yet-very renowned sports car restorer, but already internationally renowned rock-garden expert – and, of course author – Eileen Würsel-Ahmadenijad, and the film and television composer – but recently almost completely television composer – Henner Larsfeld.

Everyone knows each other in this small circle, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone, at least insiders, that Larsfeld got the commission to deliver the music for the multi-million dollar TV film of the Würsel material.

Henner Larsfeld sits with his laptop in the kitchen. “I usually compose in the kitchen,” he would say in interviews, if he ever gave any, but he doesn’t, because he just absolutely hates to “make himself naked” in front of a bunch of gawkers.  Once in a while, though, he imagines that he’s sitting in a talk show, and says, very calmly, in a casual masculine tone, that he usually composes his music only in his kitchen. He says this first because it’s true, and second because he can imagine that the talk-show host would reply, excitedly: “What?! This fantastic, dramatic music? Composed in the kitchen, next to the onions and the greasy Teflon pans?” That’s totally incredible!” And then all the housewives in the live audience: “This man’s fantastic! He composes this music with church choirs and giant symphonies just like it was nothing, right there in his own kitchen!”

So, Henner Larsfeld sits in his kitchen, which theoretically could be described as fascinating. He’d really like to go to the sea with Eileen, Heidi’s sister, and get hammered. But first, she’s got to "de-rust" as she calls it, an "incredibly exciting 1965 Lamborghini", and second, Larsfeld has only 24 hours’ time to supply a 90-minute television mystery-thriller with an appropriate soundtrack. How he hates the word “de-rust”! But he’s not afraid of the soundtrack-writing. He’s always been able to fulfill any job within 24 hours with ¾ of a tablet of Lexotanil and regulated wine-intake. Nothing serious – no cocaine or anything – just Lexotanil, which any doctor will prescribe. But he’s not looking forward to it. He looks over at the good old sound-sample CDs that his old friend Björn burned for him nine years ago, when they both staged an event which was – not at all ironically – called an “evening for friends of elegant electronic entertainment” in the Podewil Club in Berlin. The audience was students with time-consumingly selected glasses and city-hoppers with retro wool caps.

That was 1997, and Larsfeld still uses the Björn-created sound files. On one CD “Monk Choirs” is written, on the other “Humming Sounds – Extreme Reverb.”

“I’ve done 134 TV jobs with this sound software already,” Larsfeld ruminates, “three ‘Crime Scene’ detective shows, 21 nature or geography films, and 60 history documentaries. Of these, three were about Egypt, seven about the Vikings, three about the 17th of June, four about the 20th of July, ten about the 13th of August, 11 about the 9th of November, and two, as long as we’re counting, about the 11th of September. I always used the same sounds, with one single exception: For a 30-second spot about Adam Riese, I though ‘hey, why not give yourself a challenge. Try some new software, mix in some crumhorn and dice-noises.’ But then the woman from TV mailed me and said that wasn’t what they had in mind. So back to the old monk-choirs and humming sounds. The reaction: ‚Totally exciting! Unbelievably atmospheric! Why didn’t you send us this the first time?’ It’s all so sad and ridiculous – the 17th of June and monks’ choirs! Naturally, for contemporary history I add a pair of alienating sound-filters, so the choirs sound a little rougher, less choir-y, a little bit like scratchy strings. You know, so they sound more ‘political.’ But it’s actually the exact same original material. The fact nobody notices, the fact that no viewer has ever complained – man, that’s really depressing.” 

The telephone rings. It’s Eileen. “Hey, let’s drive to the ocean tomorrow and get smashed! Should we take the Ferrari or the yellow Lotus? Too bad the Lamborghini hasn’t been de-rusted yet!” Larsmann replies: “Eh, I dunno. I’m feeling kind of droopy right now, burn-out wise, you know. I’ve got the feeling I should do something that has more to do with what I started with ten or fifteen years ago.”

“Oh, come on!” Eileen replies. “Get the job done, then come have a blast with us! Do you really want to end up like Björn, teaching music theory and ear training twenty hours a week at the music school in Kreuzberg?”

“Well, not that, I guess, but there’s got to be some middle path between making serious money and doing what you really wanted to do.”

“Middle paths are for fairy tales! What, you think I could find some kind of middle path between rock-garden expert and sports-car restorer? Don’t you think it doesn’t annoy me to have to prattle on about these stupid rock-gardens during the ‘noon buffet’ TV show? Rock gardens have bored me to tears for about a hundred fucking thousand years now! These stupid old hags would puke the studio full, and I mean literally puke the studio full, if I told them anything about professional de-rusting. So what? That’s life! Shit happens!** So I’ll just take my rock-garden money and restore my Lamborghinis in my secret hideaway.”

Larsmann is convinced. He works the whole night through, delivers the product on time, as always, and drives with Eileen to drink himself silly by the side of the ocean. A smashing time was had by all. There are plenty of fantastic people there. Some are talented hacks, some are just ordinary people who don’t take everything so bloody seriously, and think plenty of things have changed for the better in Germany over the past few years. The Germans have become so relaxed! There’s no country in the world where people put as many chairs on the sidewalk as in Germany!

The film adaptation of the Welsh drama is a huge hit with the audience. The TV station commissions a sequel that plays in the year 1520. The two walled-in holy women have returned to life and begin a years-long trek through central Europe. Throughout the whole journey, they must suppress their alternating hatred and sexual appetite for one another. Often, they’ve got to combat both at the exact same time, while simultaneously jumping over slippery rocks in the middle of a treacherous stream. In a mystery-cave decked out with lots of convincing special-effect moss, they meet a disowned sister of the Swiss reformer Huldrych Zwingli and do something or other with her. In the capsule description, there will be two thumbs up under the words “Exciting” and “Sexy.” So, without giving away any spoilers, I’ll just say there’s something for every taste.

But you can pretty much imagine how the music will sound.

* This translation is furnished free of charge to all, for educational purposes only, in the name of fostering Max-Goldt-related understanding among the peoples of the world.

** These three phrases are in English in the original.

Pope: Vacation is Holy

Pope Benedict XVI’s least controversial pronouncement to date:

Working too hard, even for those leading the Catholic Church, is bad for the spirit, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday as he greeted tourists at his summer residence outside Rome…. Benedict quoted [St. Bernard] as advising pontiffs to "watch out for the dangers of an excessive activity, whatever … the job that you hold, because many jobs often lead to the ‘hardening of the heart,’ as well as ‘suffering of the spirit, loss of intelligence.’"

German Film Teacher on Harvard Students

German director Jan Schütte, who directed the 1987 immigrant drama Drachenfutter ("Dragon Chow") and Auf Wiedersehen, Amerika, is teaching film at Harvard for one year. The German campus freebie magazine Unispiegel asked him what how he would compare German to U.S. students:

There are no bad students in Harvard," said [Schütte], "the bottom third [of unmotivated students] is simply missing." However, Harvard’s level is hardly out of reach. A good German student, Schütte says, can compete without special preparation.

[Unispiegel 4/2006, p. 19].

Guenter Grass: Two Defenses, One Attack

John Irving defense Guenter Grass "as a writer and a moral compass" here:

The man (and the writer) is a model of soul-searching and national conscience. People are saying he deliberately withheld this information until after he won the Nobel prize for literature, because he would never have won the prize if it were known he’d been in the SS…

The fulminating in the German media has been obnoxious. Grass is a daring writer, and he has always been a daring man. Was he not putting himself at risk – first at 15, then at 17? And now, once again, at age 79? And, once again, the cowardly small dogs are snapping at his heels.

Peter Gay joins in:

I think that whatever Mr. Grass has said in election campaigns (usually as a loyal Social Democratic speaker) or in his powerful novels, all essentially on the present or the recent past, retains its value.

… Ralph Giordano, a German writer and, by the way, a Jew, has noted that Mr. Grass was only 6 when Adolf Hitler was invited to become Germany’s chancellor. (The overused phrase “seizure of power” badly distorts what happened around Jan. 30, 1933, the date of the Führer’s accession. A coup d’ état would have been bad enough; that Hitler’s appointment was perfectly legal only makes it worse for German history.) And Mr. Giordano has asked, reasonably enough, “What else could he have done during that time in the face of the Nazis’ all-powerful propaganda apparatus?” And answers his own question: “Nothing.”

Grass’ confession seems to have been met with rather more patience and understanding from English-speakers — especially his writer colleagues — than in Germany. One of the reasons must be that these writers know Grass primarily, or only, from his novels and from meetings with him.

They also probably know little about many of Grass’ innumerable moral and political judgment calls (for Grass, the two virtually always go together) that don’t have to do with World War II. Take it away, Christopher Hitchens:

When German reunification finally occurred after 1989, [Grass] referred to it with scorn as an Anschluss whereby the West had annexed the former "German Democratic Republic." When challenged on the absurdity of this, he wielded the truncheon of moral blackmail and said that, after Auschwitz, his critics had no right to speak about history. At a discussion in a Berlin theater at about that time, I heard him defend these propositions and felt that I was listening to a near-perfect example of bogus pseudo-intellectuality. By this stage, he had already become something of a specialist in half-baked moral equivalences. At the PEN conference in New York in the mid-1980s, for example, he had sonorously announced that conditions in the South Bronx put the United States on a par with the Soviet Union … I didn’t like being lectured by a second-rater then and I like it no better when I discover I was being admonished by a member, however junior or conscripted, of Heinrich Himmler’s corps d’elite.

Believe what you will about Hitchens, he knows how to end a polemic. With a truncheon:

"Let those who want to judge, pass judgment," Grass said last week in a typically sententious utterance. Very well, then, mein lieber Herr. The first judgment is that you kept quiet about your past until you could win the Nobel Prize for literature. The second judgment is that you are not as important to German or to literary history as you think you are. The third judgment is that you will be remembered neither as a war criminal nor as an anti-Nazi hero, but more as a bit of a bloody fool.

In Praise of Prize-Rejecters

People who’ve won major international prizes are a select group, but even selecter is the group Perelman190_1 of those who have refused them. The latest to is 40-year-old Russian mathematician Dr. Grigory Perelman, who just refused a Field Award for helping to solve a century-old mathematical puzzle called the Poincaré conjecture:

"Dr. Perelman, 40, is known not only for his work on the Poincaré conjecture, among the most heralded unsolved math problems, but also because he has declined previous mathematical prizes and has turned down job offers from Princeton, Stanford and other universities. He has said he wants no part of $1 million that the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Mass. has offered for the first published proof of the conjecture."

Sir John M. Ball, president of the International Mathematical Union, traveled to Perelman’s home in St. Petersburg to convince him to accept the prize, but Perelman was "adamant." A previous New York Times profile of Perelman featured former colleagues’ impressions of him. He had long hair and fingernails, they said, and looked like "Rasputin." The only hobby he described was collecting mushrooms in parks near St. Petersburg.

Jean-Paul Sarte refused the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964 with a rather windy declaration about his "independence." Samuel Beckett accepted the prize in 1969, having learned from Sartre’s experience that publicly declining it just draws even more attention. Beckett, however, declined to attend the award ceremony. He wished King Gustav all the best, and had his Paris publisher tell the world that he "had no need either for the notoriety or the money" and was enjoying a swim vacation in Nabeul, Tunisia.

Perelman’s approach is the purest: just decline without statement or explanation. I find this somehow admirable. Happy mushroom-collecting, Dr. Perelman!

I Wiki’ed Dedecius

When I picked up a book of German translations of poems by Wislawa Szymborska, I noticed that the man who translated them into German (and wrote a nice foreword) was named Karl Dedecius. Hmm, interesting name.

Then, while leafing through Hans Magnus Enszensberger’s Museum der Moderne Poesie, Enszensberger’s famous collection of lyric poems from 100 poets from all over the world, I noticed that the aforementioned Dedecius had translated almost all the Polish poems in that volume.

I looked Dedecius up in German Wikipedia, and found out that he is a prominent Polish-German translator, and in fact founded the German Poland Institute. He started translating Polish and Russian literature in his spare time, while he was an employee of the Allianz insurance company.

I liked the Wikipedia entry so much I decided to translate it into English; you can see the result here. My favorite part:

[Dedecius] was severely wounded in the Battle of Stalingrad and became a prisoner of war. During his time as a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union, he taught himself Russian. Quote: „I lay in my sick-bed, and the nurses brought me books by Lermontov, for instance. For one year, I learned the Cyrillic Alphabet and Russian by reading Lermontov and Pushkin. Eventually, the guards asked me to write love-letters for them, because I wrote like Pushkin"

More about Polish Punk Band KSU

It’s kind of silly to post a song whose lyrics you don’t understand, but I did it anyway. Thanks to the cosmopolitan community that is the Internet, a fellow from Poland recently explained what the song was about. Click here for the exciting, and strangely timely result.

And yes, there will be more about Poland soon.

Ambassador Timken: Neither Coup nor Catastrophe

Atlantic Review recently asked for my opinion of the performance of William Timken, Jr. as U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Thanks for asking; here’s my take.

First, let me say I have nothing against Ambassador Timken; I’m sure he’s a decent human being who’s doing his best. His appointment, however, was a minor slap in the face to Germany.

Historically, U.S. Presidents name two kinds of Ambassadors. For inconsequential-but-pleasant countries like Costa Rica or Luxembourg, the nominations go to the President’s political allies or to financial supporters. All Presidents do this, regardless of party; recall the controversy a few years ago when President Clinton nominated an openly gay man (and extremely wealthy Democratic donor) to be Ambassador to Luxembourg.

When it comes to important countries — close allies of the U.S., or nations located in strategic areas — ambassadorships almost invariably go to career diplomats or important political figures. Even if the President doesn’t pick a diplomat,  he’ll usually pick someone who knows the language and has extensive regional ties, or someone who’s got plenty of political clout. Until 2005, Germany was, of course, considered one of these "big-time" countries. Both Democratic and Republican Presidents nominated U.S. Ambassadors who had extensive public-service or diplomatic pedigrees before they were named Ambassadors. People like Robert Kimitt, Vernon Walters, Richard Holbrooke, and Dan Coats.

Timken has neither a public-service nor a diplomatic background. He doesn’t speak German, and doesn’t have any notable ties to Germany (although he is an honorary citizen of Colmar, France). His ancestors came from Germany, but over 50 million other Americans can say the same thing. However, Timken had other impressive qualifications:

Timken and his immediate family made $568,239 in federal political contributions during the 2000, 2002 and 2004 election cycles. Of that total, $12,000 went directly to the Bush campaigns and another $100,000 went to the first Bush inaugural committee. Separately, Timken’s company directed $250,000 to the president’s second inaugural committee. Timken also served as finance co-chair of the president’s re-election effort in Ohio and was listed as a Bush Ranger for the 2004 campaign, a title given to those who raised more than $200,000 for the president.

Thus, Bush officially demoted Germany to the rank of nations who were entitled to "no more" than a wealthy political donor as their U.S. Ambassador. Germany noticed.

However, it’s not all dark and gloomy. Some German diplomats say — tongue no doubt planted firmly in cheek — that Timken’s appointment is good for Germany’s image. Being an Ambassador in Bonn, Germany’s capital until 1999, was so boring only policy wonks could stand it. Timken’s appointment shows that Germany’s new capital, Berlin, is exciting enough for wealthy "hobby diplomats." Here, the center-right political magazine Cicero argues (G) that Timken’s appointment is actually a good sign, since there’s no question that close White House confidante "Tim" has Bush’s ear.

Does this all really matter? Probably not. I’m sure the career foreign-service staff has done what bureaucrats always do when a non-specialist is appointed to lead them; they’ve gone into "Yes, Prime Minister" mode. They’ll drill Timken on a few important sound-bites, keep him away from occasions during which a big misstep might make headlines, and encourage him to concentrate on the things he knows best, like business. There’s zero chance of him changing German attitudes toward the United States anyway, even if he could speak German. Those attitudes are driven by dislike of Bush, and by American foreign policy. Neither of those two factors are going to change much in the next two and a half years.

There are, of course, hundreds of career U.S. diplomats stationed in Germany who speak fluent German. I can’t read minds, so I don’t know exactly why we haven’t seen them defending U.S. policies. However, from conversations I’ve had with a few of them, I would guess it’s probably because many disagree with those policies and would not be able to make a credible case for them. (Not that they’ve told me this in so many words, of course — I don’t want to get anyone in trouble here.) As one career foreign service officer wrote (anonymously, and perhaps self-servingly) in 2004, "Not since Vietnam…has the U.S. diplomatic establishment viewed the future with such a degree of alarm." This reticence is hardly surprising, since even among neo-conservatives, the number of people who still agree with policy decisions such as the invasion of Iraq can seemingly be counted on one hand. It’s the policies, not the packaging. As George W. might say himself, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

So let Ambassador Timken do what he does best — forge business ties, say nice things about Germany, and project the image of America as the can-do land of unlimited opportunity. In two-and-a-half years, there’ll be a chance to actually begin rebuilding America’s reputation. Unless, that is, Americans elect John McCain.

The €1,000 Blind Slovenian Cave Beetle

According to Spiegel Online English Edition, Nazi insect enthusiasts are snapping up a blind cave beetle found in Slovenia which, unfortunately, happens to be named Anophtalmus hitleri:

"There’s a real run on the animals. Collectors are encroaching on their natural habitats," Martin Baehr, a beetle expert at Munich’s zoological research institute, told the DPA news agency. The institute’s collection of beetles has been almost completely stolen, as they fetch upwards of €1,000 on the open market.

But how did unlucky beetle become saddled with its rather unfortunate name in the first place? Apparently Der Führer was flattered in the 1930s when Oscar Scheibel, a German insect enthusiast, discovered a blind cave-dwelling beetle in Slovenia and decided to give it Hitler’s name. Maybe it was the bug’s brown coloring — matching Hitler’s sartorial taste in uniforms — that pleased the Nazi leader.

Step 1: Activate Slovenian connections, import several dozen Hitleri. Step 2: Get them in a romantic mood (plenty of fresh dung, limestone) Step 3: Make contact with neo-Nazis. Step 4: Buy island.