Historical

How one German city developed – and then lost – generations of math geniuses

There are two things that connect the names Gauss, Riemann, Hilbert and Noether. David Gunderman The National Interest One is their outstanding breadth of contributions to the field of mathematics. The other is that each was a professor at the same university in Göttingen, Germany. Although relatively unknown today, Göttingen, a small German university town, was for a time one of the most productive centers of mathematics in history. Göttingen’s rise to mathematical primacy occurred over generations, but its fall ... Read More »

Between the Millet System and EU Values: The Sunni Muslim Turkish State and Non-Muslim Minorities

The relationship between the state and non-Muslim communities[1] has been a sensitive issue since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Dr. Özgür Kaymak MDC Although the principle of secularism has been stated in the constitution, wherein the state was ostensibly required to distance itself from all religious beliefs equally,  Islam had always played an important role in the formation of Turkish identity. The debates with regard to freedom of religion and conscience as well as the rights of ... Read More »

Turkey’s new presidential system and a changing west

Implications for Turkish foreign policy and Turkish-West relations Kemal Kirişci and Ilke Toygür Brookings Executive Summary In July 2018, having triumphed in the presidential elections the previous month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began to formally transform Turkey’s long-standing parliamentary system into a heavily centralized presidential one. The new system entrenched his one-man authoritarian rule at home and is having profound implications for the making and substance of Turkish foreign policy as well as Turkey’s relations with the West. This ... Read More »

Hidden women of history: Caterina Cornaro, the last queen of Cyprus

The life of Caterina Cornaro could easily be the plot of a novel or TV drama. One of the most significant woman of Venice’s golden age, Cornaro (1454-1510) was an important figure in Renaissance politics, diplomacy and arts. Craig Barker The Conversation She reigned as the queen of Cyprus for 16 years under immense pressure. As a patron of the arts, she was painted by greats such as Dürer, Titian, Bellini and Giorgione. Yet today she is relatively little known ... Read More »

Reconciliation remains elusive as Cambodia marks 40 years since fall of the Khmer Rouge

When you discuss the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, you will often hear people recite a very specific period of time: three years, eight months and 20 days. Holly Robertson ABC Even 40 years after Pol Pot and his cadres were brought down, the length of their reign is seared into people’s minds for the terror and brutality it evokes. An estimated 2 million people died from overwork, starvation and mass killings during the Khmer Rouge era. It’s difficult to overstate ... Read More »

Ireland loves exactly what Britain hates about Europe

London and Dublin’s mental geographies have embarked on different trajectories Bobby McDonagh The Irish Times Although Ireland will be deeply affected by Brexit, we have to an extraordinary extent been unaffected by the Brexit debate. The main arguments and fears of the Brexiteers are essentially alien to us. We don’t share their wish to return to an imagined past. Unlike the UK today, we are confident about our ability to promote our interests in the modern interdependent world. Xenophobia in ... Read More »

The euro at 20: An enduring success but a fundamental failure

New Year’s Day 1999 saw the largest monetary changeover in history. Barry Eichengreen The Conversation On that date, just 20 years ago, 12 members of the European Union formally adopted a brand-spanking-new currency, the euro. Today seven additional EU member states use it, along with Montenegro, Kosovo, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. If survival is the ultimate gauge of success, then this grand monetary experiment can be said to have succeeded. But as investment advisers say, past performance ... Read More »

British Jews look to Germany for Brexit ‘insurance policy’

The German constitution allows for people whose citizenship was revoked for ‘political, racist, or religious reasons’ to have it reinstated. Hannah Roberts Politico LONDON — Sally Geppert, a legal secretary from Cologne, was 27 when she arrived in the U.K. on the last day of August 1939 — one of tens of thousands of German Jews who fled the Nazis and found refuge in Britain. The next day, September 1, Germany invaded Poland, war broke out and emigration to Britain from Nazi-controlled ... Read More »

German government cagey on spy cooperation in Pinochet’s Chile

The German Foreign Ministry has refused to shed light on the BND’s cooperation with the CIA to aid General Augusto Pinochet’s brutal regime in Chile. Ben Knight DW The vague responses have outraged the German Left party. The German government has offered only cagey responses to questions about cooperation between the German secret service, the BND, and military dictatorships in Chile and Greece in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The socialist Left party’s Jan Korte submitted 68 questions to ... Read More »

Quantifying the Holocaust: Measuring murder rates during the Nazi genocide

Even though the Holocaust is one of the best documented genocides in a historical sense, there is surprisingly little quantitative data available, even on major critical events. Lewi Stone The Conversation What’s more, this history is often told in figures too large to comprehend on the human scale. Large numbers – like the infamous 6 million people murdered – obscure the significance of key operations that shaped this genocide, leaving instead just a… In a digital age, mathematics, data science ... Read More »

Churchill once defended ‘Scottish nationalism’ at Ibrox stadium – Alastair Stewart

I’ve spent the last week trying to find the original source of Winston Churchill’s most famous remark about Scotland: “Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.” The Scotsman The location, if he even said it, remains elusive, but so does any comprehensive book about Churchill’s relationship with Scotland, writes Alastair Stewart. It’s a remarkable omission given just how much material chronicles every facet of Churchill’s life. ... Read More »

Director of Uffizi Galleries in Florence demands that Germany hands back Nazi-looted painting

The director of the Uffizi Galleries in Florence has demanded that Germany return an artwork that was looted by the Nazis during the Second World War. Nick Squires The Telegraph Eike Schmidt, who is German himself, said Berlin had a moral duty to give back the painting, Vase of Flowers, by the 18th century Dutch artist Jan van Huysum. It was looted from Florence by German soldiers in 1944 and is now owned privately by a German family. Dr Schmidt, who has been ... Read More »

Why archaeology is so much more than just digging

It’s our experience that most people think archaeology mainly means digging in the dirt. Authors: The Conversation Admit to strangers that you are of the archaeological persuasion, and the follow-up question is invariably “what’s the best thing you’ve found?”. Start to tell them about a fantastic ink and watercolour plan you unearthed in library archives, or an old work site you stumbled upon in thick eucalypt bush, and their eyes glaze over. People invariably want to hear about skeletons, pots ... Read More »

Howard govt feared slow Y2K bug preparations, cabinet documents reveal

Predictions of a chaotic IT collapse brought on by the Y2K bug had the Howard government fearing Australia was unready for the worst, previously classified documents reveal. Doug Dingwall Brisbane Times As the year 2000 approached, the federal government in 1997 took seriously the warnings that the new millennium’s arrival could play havoc with electricity, hospitals and traffic lights. The “millennium bug”, cast by some as a looming apocalypse, brought on hundreds of billions in estimated spending worldwide to avoid catastrophe. ... Read More »

‘The world is diminished by the death of Amos Oz, it has narrowed down’

The writer David Grossman pays tribute to his friend, the Israeli novelist and outspoken peace campaigner Harriet Sherwood The Guardian The world has been “narrowed down” by the death of the Israeli literary giant Amos Oz, according to his close friend and fellow author David Grossman. “There will not be another Amos Oz, there was only one like him. You can say this about every human being, of course, but there was something unique about Amos,” Grossman told the Observer. “Those who appreciated ... Read More »

The Girl Who Lived

Remembering my grandmother, whose improbable survival became the foundational story for my family’s existence Franklin Foer The Atlantic There were the scissors that my grandmother somehow remembered to bring with her as she fled. She could hear the rumble of destruction in the distance. She could see the cloud of smoke that was the Nazi murder of her family and neighbors. Without forethought, she made the decision to run ahead, carrying with her the scissors and, despite the blossoms of ... Read More »