The Big Pond

It all began in 2018 with Season 1: THE BIG POND. In celebration of the Year of German-American Friendship, our journalists tackled classic German-American topics, like pretzels and the Berlin Wall, from a fresh transatlantic perspective. The result: a mosaic of modern life in Germany and the U.S. that shows just how much our two countries share. Listen to all 52 episodes here or wherever you get your podcasts. Looking for new music? We also created a Spotify playlist of songs that we specially selected to air alongside THE BIG POND on WPFW DC. Listen here.
Germans on Harleys
© Scott Carrier

With a German motorcycle club through the Red Rock Canyons
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. More ...

© Bilal Qureshi

What “Stille” means in bustling Berlin
Quietude — In Search of Radio Silence

A search for some peace and quiet leads to bigger questions — why German culture values quiet so much, where the city’s physical spaces nurture it, and how to cultivate stillness within ourselves. More ...

Alain Locke
Courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Mobility and the Black Experience
Black Art, Berlin Stories — Looking for Alain Locke

This is a story about African-American philosopher Alain Locke, the Harlem Renaissance, and why Locke’s book The New Negro remains relevant in the U.S. and Germany today. More ...

Thomas Buergenthal and his parents
© Thomas Buergenthal

A child in Auschwitz
Thomas Buergenthal — A Lucky Child

Thomas Buergenthal saw the Nazi concentration camps through a child’s eyes. Luckily, he survived. Later, he became a lawyer, and eventually a judge. He waited decades to write his story down, now informed by his precise knowledge of human rights law. More ...

© Chris Gash

Memories of Home
The Things We Brought

A stitch, a book, a hat. Katie Davis speaks with immigrants about the items that they brought to the U.S. from their home countries — and the special meaning that each of these souvenirs holds. More …

Chris Strachwitz
© John Fago

Records that Shaped Lives
The Passion of Chris Strachwitz

Chris Strachwitz is a man possessed. A “songcatcher,” capturing and recording the traditional, regional, down-home music of the U.S. where he and his family settled after World War II. More ...

Marion Kraft with Gloria Joseph and Audre Lorde
© Marion Kraft

The legacy of an iconic activist
Showing Our Colors

What is it like to navigate life with multiple cultural and racial identities? Producer Jocelyn Robinson explores this intersectionality in Germany and the USA. More ...

Leigh Hamilton
© Janine Guldener

Connecting people and cultures
A Singer’s Life

A singer’s life is not an easy one, but voice teachers like Leigh Hamilton know what it takes — because she’s lived it. Hamilton is a dramatic soprano, based in Germany for more than 17 years, who helps singers from around the globe who come to Germany to seek their fortunes. More ...

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

Music and Art in Transition
Legacies of the Berlin Wall

When the Berlin Wall unexpectedly fell in 1989, subcultures and international trends combined with other creative forces to establish Berlin as a mecca for artists. More ...

Plane at Tempelhof
© Monika Müller-Kroll

Unique multinational relief action
Luftbrücke — 70 Years of Memories

On June 24, 1948, the Soviets cut off roads and rails into West Berlin in the Berlin Blockade, isolating it from the rest of West Germany. Today, the former pilots and ‘Berlin kids’ still remember it well. More ...

Ringbahn Treptowerpark
© Ama Split and Riky Kiwy

A rich, roving backdrop for urban life
The Berlin Ringbahn

Hop on Berlin’s Ringbahn, a train that carries over 400,000 passengers each day through some of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Some of them share their stories here, over one day and 27 stops. More ...

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

A Career-Defining Moment
A Day with John Lennon

In 1975, German journalist Frances Schoenberger had the chance to speak to John Lennon, but the interview was never published — until now. Here, Schoenberger listens to it for the first time, 40 years later. More ...

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

The magical world of images
Seeing in the Dark — Volkmar Wentzel’s Photography

The German-American photographer Volkmar Wentzel moved from Germany to the U.S. with his family in 1926. Eventually, he was hired by National Geographic in Washington, D.C. and became one of their legendary ‘field men’ who traveled and photographed the world. More ...

The City of Magdeburg
© Jakob Lewis

A glorified trip club or the key to world peace?
What’s a Sister City, Really?

The historic city of Magdeburg, Germany, might seem like an odd place for a country music festival — but corn dogs and cowboy hats are one perk of the sister city relationship between Nashville and Magdeburg. More ...

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

When the past comes to life
Finding My Parents

Jakob Lewis was born in Germany, at the military base where his dad was stationed — and hasn’t been back since. Now, he retraces his parents’ steps and finds surprising parallels between their life then and his life today. More ...

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

Everyday life with children
Welcome to Motherland

Three women, two countries, one shared experience: motherhood. From giving birth to getting support, a look at the expectations of motherhood in the U.S. and in Germany reveal some startling differences. More ...

The Racing Presidents

A Master Artisan
Puppeteering from Darmstadt to D.C.

Ingrid Crepeau, the mastermind behind the Washington Nationals’ ‘Racing Presidents’ mascots, talks about her transatlantic career. More ...

© Verónica Zaragovia

Defining Design
100 Years of the Bauhaus

The Bauhaus school of art, architecture and design was founded in 1919 and only lasted for 14 years before the Nazis closed its doors. A century later, it still has an outsized influence in modern design around the world. More ...

Libraries Alex van Oss
© Alex van Oss

The library in the era of digitization
The Library and the Book

Libraries around the world are facing new challenges brought on by technology, changing everything from how we find books to how we think about public resources. What does the library of the future look like? More ...

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

Surreal architecture on Lake Erie
The Colossi of Buffalo

At one time, Buffalo, New York, was the world’s foremost grain port. The old grain silos are awesome colossi, made of steel and reinforced concrete. Now, the silos are being rediscovered and repurposed — a trend in similar former industrial areas in Europe, South America, and South Africa. More ...

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

The Middle Ages come alive
St. Hildegard of Bingen

St. Hildegard of Bingen was a 12th-century German nun, but she was also a writer, composer of chants, mystic, and visionary. What on earth does a 12th-century nun have to do with life today? As it turns out — a lot. More ...

A Box of Berger Cookies
© Katie Marquette

Overwhelming indulgence
No Restraint — Berger Cookies and the City of Baltimore

Berger Cookies are like Baltimore: down-to-earth, charming, and extravagant. These fudge-covered cookies are a staple of the city — and the delicious legacy of a German immigrant family, the Bergers. More ...

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

Dumplings within historic church walls
Faith, and a Side of Sour Beef

For more than 250 years, the congregation ​of Zion Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland, has remained dedicated to its German immigrant heritage. The church’s annual sour beef and dumplings dinner serves 4,000 dumplings to enthusiastic locals. More ...

Black Forest Cake
© Nikki Out West

A dream of biscuit and cream
Getting to Know the Gateau

German chocolate cake isn’t German — it was named after its American inventor, Samuel German, in 1852. But there is one real German cake that is beloved in Germany and the U.S. alike: the Black Forest gateau. More ...

A Cup of Coffee
© Nina Bohlmann

Much more than just a pick-me-up
Culture of Coffee

Are there cultural differences in the consumption of coffee? We explore the meaning of coffee across cultures, from Baltimore to Berlin. Plus, a glimpse into the German tradition of ‘Kaffee und Kuchen,’ or afternoon coffee and cake. More ...

Prezel production in Cincinatti, Ohio
© Valora

A centuries-old history full of myths and stories
The Story of the Brezn

The pretzel — ‘Brezel’ or ‘Brezn’ in German — is not an ordinary pastry. It has a rich history, full of myths and hearsay. Where did it come from? How did a baked good doused in lye become a beloved snack? More ...

Bread Nikki Out West
© Nikki Out West

Late nights in the bakery
German Bread — A Nourishing Craft

German bread culture has been recognized by UNESCO, but the traditional craft is threatened — by a lack of new blood and competition from large-scale bakeries. Can German bread culture rise again? More ...

Oktoberfest at “Zum Schneider”
Courtesy “Zum Schneider”

Craft beer continues to explode in popularity
Suds and Stories

Germany’s beer influence has swept the world, and one epicenter of the trend is New York City. There are over two dozen beer gardens and halls in the city — and every year, weeks of Oktoberfest celebrations are held in all of the five boroughs. More ...

Image by milivanily on Pixabay

Old knowledge for the new world
German-Style Wines in the U.S.

German winemakers have shaped wine manufacturing in the U.S. for over a century. We look at how riesling, Blaufränkisch, Grüner Veltliner, and other old favorites are being used to create something new and unique in the U.S. More ...

Cyclist in Berlin
Photo by Morgana Bartolomei on Unsplash

German Bicycling Culture
Enjoy the Ride — About Bicycling

As climate change awareness grows, urban planners have a secret weapon — the bicycle. In Freiburg, Germany, advocates with different backgrounds are working together to make cycling easier for everyone. More ...

© Nina Bohlmann

Garbage problems on both sides of the Atlantic
Sorting Out Recycling

Like many countries, the U.S. and Germany have a garbage problem. The U.S. recycling rate is relatively low, while Germany has the highest in the world. But is recycling really the answer to our waste problem? More ...

Dieter Kosslick Red Carpet
© dpa

The end of an era
Dieter Kosslick’s Last Red Carpet Ride

As festival director, Dieter Kosslick has put his stamp on the Berlin International Film Festival for 18 years. The 2019 season was his last, but artists and fans celebrate his continued influence. More ...

New Orleans
Photo by NICO BHLR on Unsplash

Hidden Traces
Germans in New Orleans

In the streets of New Orleans, you immediately come across signs of French, Caribbean, Native American, and Spanish influences. Producer Martina Groß explores the lesser-known German history of the city. More ...

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

Housing speculation in Berlin
Exploding Rents in San Francisco and in Berlin

Berlin may not be as bad as San Francisco (yet), but the city’s popularity — 40,000 people moving in every year — is leading to a housing shortage that will shape city life in years to come.More ...

Hessian Barracks in Maryland
© Rob Sachs

Searching for clues in Fredericksburg
Hessian Barracks in Maryland

An estimated 30,000 Hessian soldiers fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War. German prisoners were brought to Frederick, Maryland — the beginning of a rich shared history. More ...

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

From breweries to belonging
Milwaukee’s German Heritage

Milwaukee is sometimes called the most German city in America. In the 1840s, Germans fleeing wars in Europe settled there — now, younger generations are rediscovering their German roots. More ...

Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, Texas
Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg

German culture in the Lone Star State
Texas German — Auf Wiedersehen to a Dialect

Deep in the heart of Texas, the great-great-grandchildren of German immigrants speak their own unique dialect of German. The language may be dying out, but locals are working to ensure that the culture lives on. More ...

Wurstfest in New Braunfels
© Wurstfest Association of New Braunfels

Lack of new members
German-Texan Heritage Societies

Between 1820 and World War I, nearly six million Germans immigrated to the U.S. — in 2017, only 5,000. What does this mean for the German-American heritage societies that keep the culture alive in the U.S.? More ...

© Goethe-Institut e. V.

The Body Art Phenomenon
Under the Skin — Tattoo Artists

To supplement her income as an artist, Ruth Marten became one of the first female tattoo artists in New York in the 1970s — back then, tattooing was still illegal, which she says made it even more fun. More ...

© picture alliance / dpa

A Transatlantic Exchange
U.S.-American Soccer and the World 

Since the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, many American soccer players have been signing onto international teams to improve their skills and become more competitive. More ...

Jürgen Klinsmann talking to Kerstin Zilm
© SilverLakes

More than a tournament
Klinsmann in California

Jürgen Klinsmann is a soccer legend in Germany. He led the German national team to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup and coached the U.S. men’s soccer team for years. Now, he’s helping foster a new generation of athletes at his international youth soccer tournament in Southern California. More ...

The Bonn Capitals present their Medals
© Bonn Capitals, Schönenborn

Emulate the idols
American Sports in Germany

‘German baseball’ may sound surprising, but the Bonn Capitals have led the German baseball league for years. Their success traces back to when Bonn was the capital of Germany — and home to an American community that wanted to play ball. More ...

Sonja Schrepfer and Tobias Deuse
© Noah Berger/for UCSF

International Researchers in the U.S.
Heart in Space — German Scientists and NASA

Growing up in Germany, Sonja Schrepfer never imagined that she would one day work for NASA in the U.S. Today, the German cardiologist and her husband Tobias Deuse work out of San Francisco where they conduct research on space travel. More ...

Apprentice Jahi Taylor and his mentor Erik Smith
© Rhoda Metcalfe

Young talent in craft industries
German-Style Apprenticeships in the U.S.

Driven by a lack of skilled technicians, a group of manufacturers in Chicago launched an apprenticeship program based on German education models. When companies invest in young people, it creates a promising new era for industry. More ...

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

Study abroad in Germany
U.S.-American Students in German Universities

With more and more degree programs entirely in English — and free tuition, typically — Germany recently surpassed China to become one of the top five destinations for students from the United States. More ...

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

Everyday life for Muslims in the U.S. and Germany
Being Muslim in the Midwest

What is it like to be Muslim in the Midwest? A look at shared experiences between Muslim communities in the U.S. and Germany, where more immigrants who practice Islam have arrived in recent years. More ...

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

Exile and debates about global issues
Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles

During the Nazi regime, many German artists and intellectuals found refuge in Southern California. In Los Angeles, the homes of authors Lion Feuchtwanger and Thomas Mann still inspire transatlantic art fellows today. More ...

Alexander Haus
Courtesy Alexander Haus

Researching Jewish family history
A House for Reconciliation

Five generations have lived at the Alexander Haus on Groß Glienicker See over the past century, enduring fascism, war, division, and the fall of communism. Now, the home has undergone yet another transition — into an education center for meaningful connections. More ...

Atlanta, GA
Photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash

48 Buildings in the Southside
Revitalizing Downtown Atlanta

When Jake Nawrocki had the idea of reviving 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. More ...

Detroit, MI
© Frank Hofmann

From industrial wasteland to cultural shrine
The Detroit-Berlin Connection

Dimitri Hegemann, mastermind behind the Berlin nightclub Tresor, has been nurturing artistic connections between Berlin and Detroit since the early ’90s. He wants to thank Detroit for what its music has given Berlin — by converting Detroit’s former industrial spaces into cultural hotspots. More ...

Walking in Berlin
© Thomas Reintjes

Cologne, New York City, and New Orleans
How to Walk in the City

This episode is a reflection on what it means to walk in a city — how walking can be anything from a mode of transport to a meditative practice. More ...

Jutta Allmendinger Photo
© WZB / Photo: David Ausserhofer

Worlds of Homelessness
The Right to Housing

Berlin and Los Angeles are faced with a common problem: homelessness. Journalist Caroline Porter demonstrates how traditional ideas surrounding homelessness are changing and discusses some creative new solutions. More ...

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