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The Big Pond – A U.S.-German Listening Series

A US-German Listening Series
The Big Pond

In collaboration with radio producers and broadcasters from the US and Germany, the Goethe-Institut Washington is bringing to you The Big Pond, a podcast with 50 features that will be produced this year.

Our topics such as music, sports, history, religion, language, and society convey a multifaceted image of life in Germany and in the US. With high-quality journalism, thorough research, and a preference for unique stories, this series takes on pretzels, beer, and the Berlin Wall, each piece offering a fresh perspective on just how much these two countries share.


Visit “The Big Pond” on the website of the Goethe-Institut in the USA. There you can find a lot of information about each episode of the podcast.

Latest episode

The Racing Presidents © https://blog.letteddywin.com/

30. Oktober 2019
The Big Pond #52: Puppeteering from Darmstadt to DC

Ingrid Crepeau ist eine erfolgreiche US-amerikanische Puppenspielerin und -bauerin in Washington DC, bekannt für ihre Arbeit an den Maskottchen der Racing Presidents des Washington Nationals Baseballteams. Ihr Interesse am Puppenspiel wurde in den späten 1950ern in Darmstadt geweckt, wo sie damals mit ihrer Familie lebte. Für das Serienfinale von The Big Pond berichtet unser technischer Leiter Flawn Williams über ihre transatlantische Karriere.


All Episodes

Jutta Allmendinger Foto © WZB / Photo: David Ausserhofer

October 23, 2019
The Big Pond #51: The Right to Housing

Berlin and Los Angeles share a common problem: homelessness. Producer Caroline Porter reports on topic, which is the focus of the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles and the Thomas Mann House in LA. This episode is a contribution of the Thomas Mann House to The Big Pond.


Soccer © picture alliance / dpa

October 9, 2019
The Big Pond #49: US-American Soccer and the World

Since the US Men’s National Soccer Team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, many American soccer players have been looking to sign onto international teams to better their skills and become more competitive. Players like Christian Pulisic, who got his start on the German team Borussia Dortmund, show promise for the future of soccer in the US.


Marion Kraft mit Gloria Joseph und Audre Lorde © Marion Kraft

October 16, 2019
The Big Pond #50: Showing Our Colors

People of mixed heritage lead complex lives, often navigating between two racial and/or cultural identities. Producer Jocelyn Robinson, who lives this experience, explores the formation of identity in the US and Germany.


In front of the Tacheles in Berlin, in the 90s Courtesy Martin Reiter, Kunsthaus Tacheles Archive

October 3, 2019
The Big Pond #48: Legacies of the Berlin Wall

“It was chaos, it was total chaos.” When the Berlin Wall unexpectedly fell in 1989, it triggered a time of massive flux for the newly reunited capital of Germany. Subcultures and international trends combined with other creative forces to establish Berlin as a mecca for artists. For The Big Pond, KCRW Berlin speaks to Berliners who helped build the city’s lasting legacy.


Walking in Berlin © Thomas Reintjes

September 25, 2019
The Big Pond #47: How to Walk in the City

After moving from Cologne, Germany to New York City, our producer Thomas Reintjes had trouble adjusting to walking in the bustling metropolis. Traffic, crowds and high-rise buildings made it difficult for him to get away from everything. By sharing their personal experiences, the writers Lauren Elkin and Garnette Cadogan teach him how to walk in New York City.


New Orleans Photo by NICO BHLR on Unsplash

September 4, 2019
The Big Pond #44: Germans in New Orleans

Historically, New Orleans is a cultural, spiritual and ethnic melting pot. In the streets, you immediately come across signs of French, Caribbean, Native American and Spanish influences. Hard to imagine that there were German immigrants here at one time! But once you know how to read the clues, the picture changes – producer Martina Groß explores Germans’ long history in New Orleans.


Alain Locke Mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

18. September 2019
The Big Pond #46: Black Art, Berlin Stories – Looking for Alain Locke

1925 begründete der afroamerikanische Philosoph Alain Locke (1886–1954) eine revolutionäre Bewegung afroamerikanischer Künstlerinnen und Künstler, die als Harlem Renaissance bekannt wurde. In dieser Folge von The Big Pond beschreibt unser Produzent Bilal Qureshi, wie Alain Lockes Vorstellungen besonders von einer Stadt geformt wurden – Berlin.


Chris Strachwitz © John Fago

September 11, 2019
The Big Pond #45: The Passion of Chris Strachwitz

Chris Strachwitz is a man possessed. A “songcatcher,” capturing and recording the traditional, regional, down-home music of the US, his adopted home after his family left Germany following the end of World War II. His archive is jam-packed with 78s, LPs, 45s, reel-to-reels, cassettes, videos – a collection of all manner of recordings. For The Big Pond, The Kitchen Sisters present the story of Chris Strachwitz. 


Tattoo © Goethe-Institut e. V.

28. August 2019
The Big Pond #43: Under the Skin – Tattoo Artists

Es scheint so, als gäbe es heute viel mehr tätowierte Menschen als früher – einige Tätowierungen sind versteckt, aber die meisten sind gut sichtbar. Männer und Frauen gleichermaßen tragen schwarze, graue und farbenfrohe Zeichnungen auf Armen, Beinen oder sogar dem ganzen Körper. Unsere Produzentin Anne-Rose Heck erforscht, wie sich dieses Phänomen auf beiden Seiten des Atlantiks ausbreitet.


Sonja Schrepfer and Tobias Deuse © Noah Berger/for UCSF

August 21, 2019
The Big Pond #42: Heart in Space – German Scientists and NASA

Since 2016, the German scientist Sonja Schrepfer and her husband Tobias Deuse have led the Transplant and Stem Cell Immunobiology Lab at the University of California in San Francisco and the Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf. Their research is funded by NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space. Our producer Iris Völlnagel reports on their contributions to space travel.


Cyclist in Berlin Photo by Morgana Bartolomei on Unsplash

August 14, 2019
The Big Pond #41: Enjoy the Ride – About Bicycling

With the ever-growing awareness of human impact on the environment, the bicycle is on the rise again. In Germany, especially in mid-sized cities such as Freiburg, urban planners are aiming to create an infrastructure that encourages bicycling among their citizens. Our producer Anne-Rose Heck investigates the current developments in German bicycling culture for this episode of The Big Pond.


Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles © Aaron Perez, courtesy of VATMH

August 7, 2019
The Big Pond #40: Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles

During the Nazi regime, many German artists, scientists, and other intellectuals found refuge in Southern California. The authors Lion Feuchtwanger and Thomas Mann were two of the most prominent “exiles in paradise”. Producer Kerstin Zilm takes us on a trip to their former homes in Los Angeles – the Villa Aurora and the Thomas Mann House – both of which host transatlantic fellows today.


Quietude © Bilal Qureshi

July 31, 2019
The Big Pond #39: Quietude – In Search of Radio Silence

In this radio travelogue, culture writer and journalist Bilal Qureshi explores Germany’s capital Berlin to find out about local origins, regulations, and daily rituals of silence. To his ears, German “Stille” sounds and feels more present than the pulsating noise of American cities – and this episode of The Big Pond is a personal quest to understand why. 


People picnic on the rocky heights that overlook Harpers Ferry in Maryland, 1962 © Volkmar Wentzel, NG Image Collection

July 24, 2019
The Big Pond #38: Seeing in the Dark – Volkmar Wentzel’s Photography

In this episode, producer Katie Davis profiles German-American photographer Volkmar Wentzel who was born in Dresden, Germany in 1915 before moving to the US with his family in 1926. He grew up in Upstate New York, relocating to Washington, DC shortly after. In DC, he was hired by National Geographic and became one of their legendary field men who traveled and photographed the world. 


Bauhaus © Verónica Zaragovia

July 17, 2019
The Big Pond #37: 100 Years of the Bauhaus

The Bauhaus school of art, architecture and design was founded in 1919, lasting only 14 years before the Nazis forced it to close its doors in 1933. Yet, the Bauhaus and its founding members continue to have a profound impact on the world of design, construction and building, making it one of the most influential schools to date.


Plane at Tempelhof © Monika Müller-Kroll

July 10, 2019
The Big Pond #36: Luftbrücke – 70 Years of Memories

On June 24, 1948, the Soviet military administration officially cut off roads and rails into West Berlin in the Berlin Blockade, isolating it from the rest of West Germany. In this episode of The Big Pond, KCRW Berlin reflects on the Berlin Airlift, a massive multinational effort to bring vital supplies to West Berliners via plane during the blockade. To tell this story, producers Monika, Nikki, and Sylvia interview some of those who experienced it firsthand. 


Libraries Alex van Oss © Alex van Oss

July 4, 2019
The Big Pond #35: The Library and the Book

German and American libraries have influenced each other’s development tremendously over the last few centuries. These days, institutions in both countries are faced with challenges brought on by rapid shifts in technology. Experts address the threat that technology poses and weigh in on the future of the library in the era of digitization.


Jakob Lewis in front of his parents' former apartment in Wölfersheim © Catherine Lewis

June 26, 2019
The Big Pond #34: Finding My Parents

Producer Jakob Lewis was born in a military hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. Jakob grew up hearing stories about his parents’ time in Germany during their early 20s, but Jakob doesn’t remember any of it – he left when he was six months old and he hasn’t been back since. For this episode, Jakob and his wife, Catherine, set out on a journey to retrace his parents’ footsteps.


Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, Texas Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg

June 19, 2019
The Big Pond #33: Texas German – Auf Wiedersehen to a Dialect

America is a country of immigrants. Most people know that Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the US besides English, but there’s more than just Spanish here – German immigrants helped found this country. In some parts of Texas, their culture and language still live on… But probably not for much longer. This funny-sounding dialect, a mixture of Texan English and German from the immigrants who settled here in the mid-1800s, is slowly dying out.


Black Forest Cake © Nikki Out West

June 12, 2019
The Big Pond #32: Getting to Know the Gateau

Although it’s not certain who first wrote the recipe, the Black Forest cake has been fully embraced by the Black Forest community as an essential aspect of their cultural identity. On a quest to understand just how this confectionery classic came to be, producer Kate Sammer journeys to its namesake, the Black Forest. There, she speaks with local experts about the region’s history, the cake’s origins, and the significance it holds for the community and their ancestors.


Ringbahn Treptowerpark © Ama Split and Riky Kiwy

June 5, 2019
The Big Pond #31: The Berlin Ringbahn

Hop on board Berlin’s Ringbahn, a suburban train that carries over 400,000 passengers each day and circles some of the city’s most authentic and lively neighborhoods. Producer trio Monika Müller-Kroll, Sylvia Cunningham, and Nikki Motson dedicate a day to riding the Ringbahn around the city. During their trip, they interview an array of Berliners entering and exiting at the train’s 27 stops, each station an entry into one of Berlin’s distinct districts.


Milwaukee German Fest Photo Courtesy of German Fest Milwaukee, Inc.

May 29, 2019
The Big Pond #30: Milwaukee’s German Heritage

Milwaukee has been called the most German city in America – already in the 1840s, large numbers of Germans who were fleeing wars in Europe began settling in the city. In this episode of The Big Pond, our producer Carole Zimmer explores the experience of these first-generation German immigrants and looks at how the city has changed for younger generations and the way that they relate to German culture. 


Dieter Kosslick Red Carpet © dpa

May 22, 2019
The Big Pond #29: Dieter Kosslick’s Last Red Carpet Ride

Dieter Kosslick is one of the film world’s best-known film festival directors. He’s put his stamp on the Berlin International Film Festival for the past 18 years, and the 69th edition of the festival in 2019 was his last. For The Big Pond, The Kitchen Sisters talk to Dieter Kosslick and many of the people he collaborated with over the years, resulting in a career-spanning profile. 


MIETENmove!-Demonstration in Hamburg Photo by Rasande Tyskar on flickr licensed under CC-BY-NC 2.0

May 15, 2019
The Big Pond #28: Exploding Rents in San Francisco and in Berlin

Rents in San Francisco have exploded in recent years; by now, the metropolis in Northern California has overtaken New York as the most expensive city in the US. In Germany’s capital Berlin, the issue of affordable housing is also a hot topic – some are even suggesting dispossessing companies owning more than 3,000 apartments.


The Big Pond #27: Welcome to Motherland © Melissa Gerr

May 8, 2019
The Big Pond #27: Welcome to Motherland

Three women, two countries, one shared experience: motherhood. From giving birth to receiving support – our producer Melissa Gerr looks at the role and expectations of being a mother in the US and in Germany, revealing some startling differences. 


A Box of Berger Cookies © Katie Marquette

May 1, 2019
The Big Pond #26: No Restraint – Berger Cookies and the City of Baltimore

Over 200 years ago, German immigrant Henry Berger opened a bakery in East Baltimore – and since that day, Berger Cookies have been handmade in the city of Baltimore. Our producer Katie Marquette investigates this special, “unrestrained” cookie.


Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Center, library of the Humboldt University in Berlin Photo: Bernhard Ludewig

April 24, 2019
The Big Pond #25: US-American Students in German Universities

For some US students, escalating costs are putting college out of reach – whereas in Germany higher education is considered a right, tuition is normally even free. Meanwhile, German universities are also creating degree programs entirely in English, thus eliminating the language barrier. For these reasons and others, Germany recently surpassed China, becoming a top-five destination for US-American students.


Friday prayer of the Muslim Student Association of the Miami University, Oxford, Ohio © Rosemary Pennington

April 17, 2019
The Big Pond #24: Being Muslim in the Midwest

What is it like to be Muslim nowadays in the Midwest, the so-called Heartland of the US? And how does that reality connect to the one in Germany? Our producers Rosemary Pennington and Joe Sampson interviewed members of several Muslim communities as well as speakers of Muslim advocacy groups in the Cincinnati area.


Recycling © Nina Bohlmann

April 10, 2019
The Big Pond #23: Sorting Out Recycling

Like most of the Western world, the US and Germany have a waste problem – and recycling has been pushed by policymakers as one of the best ways to combat it. In Baltimore and Berlin, conversations with locals and experts reveal that recycling is not necessarily working as it should be on either side of the Atlantic. 


Prezel production in Cincinatti, Ohio © Valora

April 3, 2019
The Big Pond #22: The Story of the Brezn

The pretzel, known as a “Brezel” or “Brezn” in German, is not an ordinary pastry. It has a century-old history full of myths and stories. Where did it come from? Why does it have this special shape that vaguely resembles a hug? And how come it’s doused in lye? In this episode of The Big Pond, we trace the pretzel’s story from its origins to today. 


Hessian Barracks in Maryland © Rob Sachs

March 20, 2019
The Big Pond #20: Hessian Barracks in Maryland

It is estimated that 30,000 Hessian soldiers fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Where did they come from and what happened to the survivors after losing to the US Army? For The Big Pond, Rob Sachs visits the Hessian Barracks in Frederick, Maryland to find out more.


The City of Magdeburg © Jakob Lewis

March 27, 2019
The Big Pond #21: What’s a Sister City Really?

In the historic city of Magdeburg, Germany, there is a “Johnny Cash”-themed country music festival called Nashville Days – complete with corn dogs and cowboy hats. This is one of the fruits of the sister city relationship between Nashville and Magdeburg. Our producer Jakob Lewis, a Nashville citizen, goes to Magdeburg to see where the rubber meets the road for Sister Cities' idealistic vision to “promote peace one individual, one community at a time.”


Bread Nikki Out West © Nikki Out West

March 13, 2019
The Big Pond #19: German Bread – A Nourishing Craft

Germany is internationally renowned for its bread. With more than 3,000 varieties of bread, the Germans are world champions. Since 2014, German bread culture is even an immaterial world cultural heritage, recognized by UNESCO. But the traditional baker's craft is threatened because there is a lack of new blood and competition from large-scale bakeries and cheap prebake stations.


Wurstfest in New Braunfels © Wurstfest Association of New Braunfels

March 6, 2019
The Big Pond #18: German-Texan Heritage Societies

Between 1820 and World War I, nearly six million Germans immigrated to the US – in 2017, only about 5,000 made the trip. If Germans aren’t coming to the US anymore, what will happen to the German-American heritage societies that try to keep German culture alive in the US? Our producer Berit Mason investigates in Texas.


Detroit, MI © Frank Hofmann

February 27, 2019
The Big Pond #17: The Detroit-Berlin-Connection

Dimitri Hegemann, the mastermind behind the Berlin nightclub Tresor, has been nurturing an artistic connection between Berlin and Detroit since the early nineties. Hegemann wants to pay Detroit back for what its electronic music scene has done for Berlin – by converting former industrial spaces in Detroit into cultural hotspots.


Alsace, Bas-Rhin, Sélestat, Église Sainte-Foy, Verrière “Sainte-Hildegarde” du chœur (Ott Frères, 1892); Photo (excerpt) by Ralph Hammann via Wikimedia Commons; licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

February 6, 2019
The Big Pond #14: St. Hildegard of Bingen

St. Hildegard of Bingen was a twelfth-century German nun – a writer, composer of chants, mystic and visionary. You might be asking yourself, “What on earth does a twelfth-century nun have to do with life today? What does medieval chanting have to do with music today?” It turns out, a lot.


A Cup of Coffee © Nina Bohlmann

February 20, 2019
The Big Pond #16: Culture of Coffee

Coffee is more than just a beverage – it can be a jumpstart to a day at work or a relaxing afternoon with friends. This episode explores the meaning of coffee across cultures, from Baltimore to Berlin, including a glimpse into the typically German tradition of “Kaffee und Kuchen,” or afternoon coffee and cake.


The Bonn Capitals present their Medals © Bonn Capitals, Schönenborn

February 13, 2019
The Big Pond #15: American Sports in Germany

“German baseball” may sound like an oxymoron, but the Bonn Capitals have successfully maintained a leading position in the German baseball league for years. The Capitals’ success can be traced back to earlier times when Bonn was the capital of Germany and home to a large American community that popularized the sport.


Grapes Image by milivanily on Pixabay

January 30, 2019
The Big Pond #13: German-style Wines in the US

German entrepreneurs and winemakers have shaped the manufacturing of wine in the US for over a century. Join our producer Gary Lee on a tour of three US vineyards with surprisingly German roots to see the full scope of German influence on this industry in the US.


Alexander Haus Courtesy Alexander Haus

January 23, 2019
The Big Pond #12: A House for Reconciliation

Five families have lived at the Alexander Haus on Groß Glienicker See over the past century – enduring fascism, war, the division of Germany, and the Fall of Communism. Now, the former family home has undergone yet another transition into an educational center.


Germans on Harleys © Scott Carrier

January 16, 2019
The Big Pond #11: Germans on Harleys

Every year, tourists from around the world flock to Southern Utah to take in the scenic landscape. Most travel by car, but some opt for a less traditional mode of transport. Ride along as our producer Scott Carrier accompanies a German motorcycle club on their trip through the Red Rock Canyons.


Volunteers make about 4,000 dumplings for the annual Sour Beef dinner at the Zion Church of Baltimor © MelissaGerrMedia

January 9, 2019
The Big Pond #10: Faith, and a Side of Sour Beef

Within the historic walls of Zion Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland, you’re just as likely to hear a rousing polka band as sacred organ music. For more than 250 years, the congregation has remained dedicated to its German immigrant heritage, faith, and ministry. Now, they’re grappling to find the right balance that will carry Zion Church into the future.


Leigh Hamilton © Janine Guldener

December 19, 2018
The Big Pond #09: A Singer’s Life

Leigh Hamilton is a dramatic soprano who has been based in Germany for more than 17 years. This episode follows Leigh’s story, which takes her from small-town in Ohio to metropolitan Berlin where she now trains the next generation of singers for the rigors of the stage in her private voice studio. 


Apprentice Jahi Taylor and his mentor Erik Smith © Rhoda Metcalfe

December 5, 2018
The Big Pond #08: German-style Apprenticeships in the US

Driven by a critical lack of skilled technicians, a group of largely German-owned manufacturers in Chicago have launched a new apprenticeship program based on the German education model. This idea is now spreading to a number of American companies.


Oktoberfest at “Zum Schneider” Courtesy “Zum Schneider”

November 21, 2018
The Big Pond #06: Suds and Stories

Germany’s beer influence has spread around the world, and one of the epicenters of this trend is New York City. There are now more than two dozen beer gardens and halls in the city. And every year, Oktoberfest celebrations are held in all of the five boroughs, lasting several weeks. 


Jürgen Klinsmann talking to Kerstin Zilm © SilverLakes

November 28, 2018
The Big Pond #07: Klinsmann in California

Jürgen Klinsmann is a soccer legend in Germany, as a player and a coach. After leading the German national team to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup, he coached the US men’s soccer team from 2011 to 2016. But now, Klinsmann is anything but retired – in the summer of 2018, he created the SilverLakes Cup, an international youth soccer tournament in Southern California.


Thomas Buergenthal and his parents © Thomas Buergenthal

November 14, 2018
The Big Pond #05: Thomas Buergenthal - A Lucky Child

Thomas Buergenthal saw the Nazi concentration camps through a child’s eyes. Luckily, he survived and later became a lawyer and, eventually, a judge on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador. 


Marine A Grain Silo, Buffalo, NY © Alex van Oss

November 7, 2018
The Big Pond #04: The Colossi of Buffalo

Buffalo, New York was once the world’s foremost grain port. More than a dozen enormous grain silos, awesome colossi made of wood, steel, and reinforced concrete, still attest to that fact. Their surreal quality fascinated European pioneers of modern architecture, including Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe. 


Atlanta, GA Photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash

October 31, 2018
The Big Pond #03: Revitalizing Downtown Atlanta

When Jake Nawrocki had the idea to revive the Southside of Atlanta’s downtown neighborhood – which could take up to 20 years – he had to find investors interested in a long-term commitment. He found a partner in Olaf Kunkat, a German real estate investor. 


Migration © Chris Gash

October 3, 2018
The Big Pond #01: The Things We Brought

​There are keepsakes that hold a story for each of us, things that we hold onto for our whole lives – a stitch, a book, a hat. In this episode, we hear three stories about mementos that immigrants brought to the U.S. from other countries and what they mean to their owners.


Frances Schoenberger and John Lennon 1975 in New York © Bob Gruen

October 17, 2018
The Big Pond #02: A Day With John Lennon

In 1975, the German journalist Frances Schoenberger interviewed John Lennon in New York, a dream gig for her – but this interview was never published. For The Big Pond, Schoenberger listens to the recordings again for the first time in more than 40 years, recalling what she calls the best day of her career.


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