Die British Library plaudert aus dem Nähkästchen…

The British Library has extensive German collections and sometimes some extraordinary things come to light. In this blog post, the curator Susan Reed found herself on a journey into embroidery…

It was a recent cataloguing query from a colleague that led me to the pattern-books of Johann Schwartzenberger. One three-part work by him, Ain New Formbüchlin der Weissen Arbait …, was bound with a similar but separate work, Ain New Modelbüchlin des Porten gewürcks …, which had no catalogue record….

via Patterns for 16th-century Stitchers — European studies blog

And we had a dig around the internet to find sewing-related idioms as well! In English there’s ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ – but do you know any German ones? We came up with ‘Aus dem Nähkästchen plaudern’ – that refers to the practice of women in previous centuries getting together over their sewing to exchange the latest local news. But we found plenty more: check out the list at the Textilprojekt to be inspired!

… and there are even more winners!

The Oxford German Olympiad traditionally has a ‘Round 2′ of competitions. They have related or different themes to the main Olympiad, with prestigious prizes donated by individuals and institutions in academia and industry. All the winners of these competitions are also invited to the prize ceremony in Oxford and you can read all about the competitions and the winners’ work below!

The Wiener Library Competition:

Every year, staff at the Wiener Library, London, delve into their archives and select an interesting text from their extensive collections on the Holocaust and the Nazi period. Current university students from all over the country are then invited to have a go at translating the text and provide a short commentary. This year, the chosen text for translation was satirist Martin Miller’s 1940 speech parodying Adolf Hitler.

Winner: Stuart Dunlop, University of Manchester (Winner Wiener Library 2017)

Runner up: Syamala Roberts, University of Cambridge (Runner up Wiener Library 2017)


Camden House Competition:

This competition is sponsored by the publisher Camden House and its sister company Boydell & Brewer. Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers are invited to submit a book proposal on a topic in the field of German literature and/or film that would represent a significant contribution to research and fit the profile of Camden House in German studies.

Winner: Jonathan Johnston, Trinity College Dublin (Winner Camden House 2017)


Kafkaesque Creatures:

Kafkaesque Creatures is sponsored by the Kafka Research Centre. This year, learners of German age 14 and over were asked to read Kafka’s short story ‘Die Sorge des Hausvaters’, which introduces us to the strange creature Odradek, and write a creative response in German.

Winner: Victoria Adjei (Winner Kafkaesque Creatures)

Runner up: Cressida Hay (Runner up Kafkaesque Creatures)

Runner up: Elsa Voak (Runner up 2 Kafkaesque Creatures)


The HC Artmann Competition:

This was a special competition created this year to celebrate the work of Austrian poet HC Artmann. Much of his work is written in his native dialect and contain a lot of grotesque and even morbid imagery. So this competition asked students aged 16 years and above to engage with three of his poems and either rework one of them or write a commentary. Oxford German Network is particularly grateful to HC Artmann’s widow, Rosa Pock, for her generous permission to reproduce his poems.

Winner: Beth Molyneux (Winner HC Artmann)

Honourable Mention: Sophie Stoakes (Honourable Mention HC Artmann)

Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland – the Winners!

The Oxford German Olympiad 2017 is officially closed and yesterday evening the winners were invited to attend a prize ceremony in Oxford. We’re delighted to announce all the winners here. And while you’re here, why not take a look at some of their work as well?

Peoples have always migrated and taken their languages and stories with them. Moreover, languages and cultures are almost never confined to one geographical area or one nation. This year, the Oxford German Olympiad explored German peoples, language and culture beyond the borders of Germany. We asked students across the UK to think about where German is spoken throughout the world in all its variants and how it got to all those places, as well as modern German-speaking migrants and the texts and opinions they take with them.


Oxford German Olympiad 2017 The Winners

Years 5 and 6 (age 9-11)

Draw a comic strip:

Winner: Seren Billington

Runner-up: Charity Clifford

Runner-up: Rianne Thomas

Highly Commended: Nile Studt

Highly Commended: Helen Li



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Design a menu:

Winner: Sydney Smith & Ellie Grimsey

Runner-up: Helen Li

Highly commended: Hester Perry

Commended: Anastasia Ellis, Olivia Hough, Liberty Caraher



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Illustrate your favourite German word:

Winner: Sophie Moss

Runner-up: Dinara Gill

Highly commended: Lydia Morgan

Highly commended: Aisha Akhtar

Commended: Joshua Mariott

Commended: Martha Block



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Years 7 to 9 (age 11-14):

Write a conversation between a Deutscher Schäferhund and a Bernhardiner

Winner: Aishwarya Shanmuganathan

Runner-up: Izzie Grout

Highly Commended: David Demetriou & Alfie Stocker

Commended: Emma Haythornthwaite

Commended: Charlotte Preston

Commended: Fifi Dunphy

Commended: Elizabeth Gliznutsa



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When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit: Summarise or write about the adventures of Anna’s toy dog

Winner: Eleanor Voak (Pink Rabbit Winner)

Runner-up: Khadijah Rahman

Runner-up: Layla Barwell

Highly Commended: Helena Taylor

Commended: Xiaoli Biggs

Commended: Lara Koch & Elizabeth Appleford (Pink Rabbit Commended)



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Design a brochure  

Winner: Alina Gantner & Maria Maratovna Nazhmeddinova

Winner Dario Brincat

Runners-Up: Mahliha Taylor & Rosa Boyd

Highly Commended: Pamela Shahbakhti

Commended: Ngum Mofor

Commended: Abesha Balakumar & Ikra Kabir



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Years 10 and 11 (age 14-16):

Relocate the adventures of Hänsel und Gretel and write their story

sekhonsogo2017Winner: Simrit Sekhon

Runner-up: Loretta Bushell (Runner up Hansel and Gretel)

Runner-up: Sofia Justham Bello (Runner up 2 Hansel and Gretel)

Commended: George Phibbs (Commended Hansel and Gretel)

Commended: Sebastian Roberts (Commended 2 Hansel and Gretel)


Write a blog post or short article

Winner: Olivia Shelton (Winner Blog Post)

Runner-up: Isobel Horsfall (Runner up Blog Post)

Highly Commended: Jacob Melia, Daniel Mills, Alex Rowley (Highly Commended Blog Post)

Highly Commended: Alasdair Czaplewski (Highly Commended 2 Blog Post)

Commended: Pyotr Baskakov (Commended Blog Post)


Write a profile

baylisslogo2017Winner: Lucy Bayliss

Runner-up: Ekaterina Rahr-Bohr (Runner up Profile)

Highly Commended: Iris Bertrand (Highly Commended Profile)

Highly Commended: Jessica Ebner-Statt (Highly Commended 2 Profile)

Commended: Yao-Chih Kuo (Commended Profile)

Commended: Sophie Noble (Commended 2 Profile)


Years 12 and 13 (age 16-18):

Migrating Communities

Winner: Simone Jackson (Winner Migrating Communities)

Runner-up: Beth Molyneux (Runner up Migrating Communities)

Highly Commended: Isabel Yurdakul (Highly Commended Migrating Communities)

Highly Commended: George Ruskin (Highly Commended 2 Migrating Communities)

Commended: Lidija Beric (Commended Migrating Communities)

Commended: Amy Lewis Commended 2 Migrating Communities)


Dialect Essay

Winner: Mariella Clarke (Winner Dialect Essay)

Runner-up: Franziska Alting (Runner up Dialect Essay)

Highly Commended: Maia Jarvis (Highly Commended Dialect Essay)

Highly Commended: Emma McDowell (Highly Commended 2 Dialect Essay


Colonial History Essay

Winner: Helena de Guise (Winner Colonial History)

Winner: Beth Molyneux (Winner 2 Colonial History)

Runner up: Lilian Tosner (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Runner up: Eden Magid (Runner Up 2 Colonial History)

Highly Commended: Hugo Gallagher-Boyden (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Highly Commended: Phuong Bui (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Special Prize for pupils outside the UK: Maurice Zoa & Bruno Ndougou


Open Competition for Groups or Classes (4+ participants)

Write and perform a rap about the German language

Winner: Samantha Martin, Veronica Kravchenko, Laura Newey, Faye Metcalfe

Runner-up: Pierre Meyer, Nicholas Poat, Travis Richards, Thomas Barnes (Deutsch Rap – Transcript)

Highly Commended: Jodie Gollop, George Bayliss, Nicholas Speed, William Coupe


Create a web page or website on the theme ‘Deutsche jenseits von Deutschland

Winner: Propa Anwar, Lidija Beric, Rayya Shareef, Precious Quaye

Runner-up: Miles Begley, Rupert Hill, Reuben Bye, Lucas Cope


Interview a German-native speaker living in the UK and create a podcast

Winner: Leonora Selita, Sofia Denno, Laura Bell, Amaani Khan, Rosie Young

Runner-up: Safron Salhan, Setinder Manic, Nikita Talwaria

Runner-up: Hannah Wicks, Laila Gowling, Grace Adamson, Ellie Tempest


A new OGN competition is launched – it’s going to be a classic!

The Oxford German Network is delighted to announce the launch of a new essay competition for 16-18 year olds in the UK: ‘A German Classic’. The piece of classic German literature celebrated this year is Goethe’s Faust, Part I. To find out all about entering the competition, visit the OGN website here, where you’ll also be able to download a wealth of podcasts and other study resources to help you. The competition prize has been generously donated by Jonathan Gaisman, QC, whose first encounters with German as a schoolboy left him with a lifelong enthusiasm for German literature. In this week’s blog, he tells us how this passion came about.

Faust und Erdgeist, a sketch by Goethe

My first German teacher, a perceptive man called Roy Giles, wrote in my initial term’s report: “He will do well at this language, because he likes the noise it makes.” And so I did: aged just 14, I was immediately delighted by the disembodied voice on the audio-visual tape, which was how my acquaintance with the German language began: “Hören Sie zu, ohne zu wiederholen”. The cadences of this unremarkable sentence, bidding one to listen without repeating, still enchant me today. The story on the tape told of the prosaic doings of a German businessman attending an industrial fair. He was called Herr Köhler. Presumably this was a joke, though one unlikely to appeal much to schoolboys. But what caught my attention was the dramatic plosive – unlike anything in English – available to those willing to launch into the sentence “Plötzlich klingelt das Telefon”. That this sentence, like its companions, was of an almost Ionescan banality deprives it of none of its nostalgic appeal: I was already reaching for the handle of the door.

Four years later, by the time I left school, I had passed well and truly through. In those days, studying a modern language involved intensive study of literature. We studied Prinz Friedrich von Homburg and other writings of Kleist, carefully read Maria Stuart, and more than dabbled in the shallows of Faust part I.  A personal enthusiasm bordering on obsession led me to commit large slabs of Faust to memory, and they are still there. Giles had introduced us to recordings of Gründgens‘ performance of Mephistopheles in Faust; another teacher, Mark Phillips, earned my particular  gratitude by playing me Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin.  And so the way was opened though literature to poetry, to Lieder, to Wagner and to the extraordinary contribution of the German language to the life of the arts from the 18th century on.

German literature and culture had thus passed into my bloodstream, and become part of my imagination and mental being. So it was inevitable that I would take modern languages to university, where I was lucky enough to be tutored by a third fine teacher, Francis Lamport, at Worcester College, Oxford. Sadly, before long, but not before adding authors such as Büchner, Grillparzer, Kafka and Mann to my acquaintance, I abandoned the outer form of German studies, and dwindled into a lawyer. But the fire within was alight, and it burns still. The few years between the ages of 14 and 18 when I studied German represent the dominant intellectual influence in my education, and the one for which I am most grateful.

The simple aim of this prize is to enable other students to set out on the same journey which has enriched my way of seeing the world, to discover the inspiration of the German literary canon, and to avow the great truth uttered by Karl der Groβe himself: “The man who has another language has another soul”.

Jonathan Gaisman QC

Faust spricht mit dem Erdgeist (1969), Margret Hofheinz-Döring (copyright Brigitte Mauch)

Mitmachen und Erleben im mittelalterlichen Stil

We’ve had several posts from south Germany and Switzerland in the past, so this week we’re redressing the balance and turning to a more northerly destination: a small town in Nordrhein-Westfalen. One of OGN’s team recently went to find out what you could do there over Pentecost, which is a public holiday in Germany. Read on…

Letztes Wochenende war in Deutschland ein langes Wochenende – wegen Pfingstmontag, einem religiösen Feiertag. Erwachsene haben am Montag frei – und die meisten Kinder mindestens eine Woche Schulferien. Das ist die perfekte Gelegenheit – ganz wie zu den Bank Holidays in Großbritannien! – in überhitzten Autos im Stau zu sitzen und sich in überfüllte Züge zu zwängen -, um z. B. Familienmitglieder anderswo in Deutschland zu besuchen.

Also schloss ich mich den Scharen an und fuhr mit dem Zug nach Krefeld in Nordrhein-Westfalen (die offizielle Website der Stadt findet ihr hier). Seit dem 18. Jahrhundert ist die Stadt wegen der Seidenstoffproduktion als ‘Samt- und Seidenstadt’ bekannt. Doch schon im Mittelalter wurde Flachs in der Umgebung angebaut, womit Leinenstoff hergestellt und auf dem Markt verkauft wurde. Dieser inzwischen tradierte ‘Flachsmarkt’ ist jetzt eine alljährliche Veranstaltung und einer der größten historischen Handwerkermärkte in Deutschland – und den wollte ich mit Freunden besuchen.

Burg_linn_02 joerg74
Burg Linn (Foto: joerg74)

Einmal angekommen, fuhren wir zum Veranstaltungsort des Marktes: der Wasserburg Linn, die vor den Toren Krefelds liegt. Sie ist eine der ältesten Burganlagen des Niederrheins (andere Burgen, die man besuchen kann, findet ihr hier). Die Burg ist von einem breiten Wassergraben umgeben und heißt deswegen ‘Wasserburg’.

Die Burg wurde als Stammsitz der freiadeligen ‚Herren von Linn‘ im 12. Jahrhundert errichtet, aber der Großteil des heute noch erhaltenen Baubestandes stammt aus dem 13. Jahrhundert. Als die Familie ausstarb, wurden die Grafen von Kleve mit dem Besitz belehnt. Etwa zu dieser Zeit wurde auch die Stadt Linn gegründet, die heute zur Stadt Krefeld gehört. Die ganze Burganlage macht also einen durchaus mittelalterlichen Eindruck mit Türmen, Torzwinger, Rittersaal und einem Bergfried, während die Straßen des umliegenden Stadtteils mit Pflastersteinen gepflastert sind. Alte Fachwerkhäuser stehen dicht aneinander am Straßenrand.


Der Flachsmarkt findet auf dem Parkgelände rund um die Burg statt. Die Anlage ist riesengroß – und das muss sie auch sein, denn über 300 Handwerker errichten hier ihre Stände und bieten ihre Waren an. Der Anblick all dieser Stände und der vielen Besucher war überwältigend: hier waren Flachsspinner, Handweber, Lehmbauer, Sattler, Seiler, Rüstungsschmied, Kettenhemdmacher, Perückenmacher, Imker, Buchrestauratoren, Spitzenklöppler, Töpfer und Buttermacher – und viele mehr – zu sehen. Und das Tollste war, dass man ihnen bei der Arbeit über die Schulter schauen konnte und in vielen Fällen durfte man sogar selber mitmachen. Das ist nämlich ein wichtiges Kriterium für die Flachsmarktaussteller – die Besucher sollen nicht nur ihre Waren kaufen, sie sollen dabei auch etwas Lernen und Erleben können.

Falke Burg Linn Pfingsten 2017
Ein Falke fliegt über die Köpfe der Zuschauer (Foto: Jolan)

Nachdem wir also alle Hüte beim Hutmacher anprobiert und dem Leinenweber an seinem Webstuhl zugeschaut hatten, ließen wir uns von den Rittern  beim Turnier unterhalten. Ein besonderer Höhepunkt für mich waren aber die Falkner, die in luxuriöser mittelalterlicher Tracht ihre Vögel präsentierten – dass ein Jagdvogel so lautlos und nah an allen Köpfen vorbeifliegen kann, hätte keiner von uns gedacht! Leider ist der Falke so schnell geflogen, dass niemand ein wirklich gutes Foto davon machen konnte (aber wir haben es versucht).

Flachsmarkt 2017Und trotz der vielen Besucher und des schönen Wetters war die Burg definitiv nicht so voll von Menschen wie mein Zug auf der Hinreise!

Madeleine, Stuttgart

(Uncredited photos by Madeleine & Harald T.)


How Germans have helped the OED — OxfordWords blog

This week we’re sharing an old post from OxfordWords about the involvement of German and Germans with one of the most famous institutions of the English language: the Oxford English Dictionary!


It is well known that the work that originally produced the Oxford English Dictionary was a great collective effort, drawing on contributions from people throughout the English-speaking world. It should also be no surprise that valuable contributions were also made by many scholars from outside that world. However, the specific debt which the Dictionary owes…

via How Germans have helped the OED — OxfordWords blog