the finest 2020
the finest 2020
Start of prohibition in the USA 100 years ago
Although President Woodrow Wilson had tried to veto it, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was passed by Congress in Oc-tober 1919. With this Volstead Act, the commonly used name for the National Prohibition Act, the production, transport and sale of alcohol was prohibited nationwide from 1920 onwards. And what happened? Virtually nothing, at least as far as the government was concerned. Things were different in the underworld: the illegal production and distribution of alcohol increased rapidly; in New York alone, some estimates indicate that around 100,000 speakeasy clubs popped up like mushrooms.
The Roaring Twenties were no coincidence – best regards from Al Capone & Co. But then the Great Depression turned up, and the govern-ment was not making a lot of friends among the forcibly sober depressed, so President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the 21st Amendment to the constitution to repeal the hated 18th on 5 Decem-ber 1933 – and Hitler had already seized power in Germany. Perhaps it was the ideal opportunity to drown the sorrows of subsequent historical events for the next few years, before Japanese forces carried out their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, bringing to the USA into World War II.
100th birthday of the Italian film director Federico Fellini (1920-1993)
The most famous Italian director is one of the most im-portant writer-filmmakers of the 20th century. He made a total of 24 films, often and preferably with Marcello Mastroianni in the starring role. Four of these were awarded Oscars (La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, 8½ and Amarcord).
With La Dolce Vita he achieved – much to the annoyance of the Catholic church – international fame and was awar-ded, among other things, the Golden Palm in Cannes, France.
To crown his numerous other achievements, he received the honorary Oscar for his life’s work shortly before he died in 1993.
The 70th Berlinale
The international film festival, which is taking place for the first time after the Oscars, will attract stars and celebrities to Berlin for the 70th time this year. Under the new dual leadership, the new competition category ‘Encounters’ will present aesthetically and formally unusual works by inde-pendent filmmakers.
The actor Samuel Finzi will present the opening gala and awards ceremony. The British Golden Globe and Oscar winner Helen Mirren will receive the Honorary Golden Bear for her life’s work.
Last episode of the German television series ‘Lindenstrasse’
Hans Beimer leaves Helga, son Klaus joins the radical right, Carsten Flöter turns gay, Tanja Schildknecht turns lesbian, Sandra Sarikakis becomes addicted to drugs, Iffy Zenker has an unwanted pregnancy and Sarah Ziegler has an eating disorder. Dr. Ludwig Dressler marries a consi- derably younger woman, Timo Zenker converts to Islam, Anna Ziegler is a victim of domestic violence, Benno Zim-mermann dies of AIDS, Else Kling and Erich Schiller die of heart failure, Berta Greise has an accident, Tom Ziegler emigrates to Colombia, Hans-Joachim Scholz goes to prison… the real-life dramas of the inhabitants of Linden-strasse have been moving and gripping us for almost 35 years – every Sunday just before seven on channel 1. The first German soap opera, developed and produced by Hans W. Geißendörfer, is now being discontinued after 1,758 episodes, yet another real-life drama…
25th James Bond to be released
The dry martini for Mr. Bond – shaken or stirred? “Do I look like I give a damn?” Daniel Craig, Bond for the first time in Casino Royale in 2006, was definitely a different type of British gentleman agent than Pierce Brosnan and before him Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, George Lazenby or Sean Connery, who embodied the first 007 of the Eon film franchise in Dr. No in 1962. No Time To Die is now to be the 25th blockbuster, originally based on an idea by Ian Fleming; it is the fifth time that Craig is playing the starring role.
The record is held by Moore with five appearances, whereby opinions are divided here: if you count Never Say Never Again, which was produced outside of the Eon franchise in 1983, Connery (who never wanted to play James Bond again, thus the title) has equalled this record.
Breakup of the Beatles 50 years ago
In the 1960s, the four moptops from Liverpool trigge-red a wave of fanatical adoration and, with between 600 million and one billion recordings sold, are the most successful band in music history. It all began in 1962 with the first official single ‘Love Me Do’, and from that point onwards they consistently topped the charts worldwide, were showered with awards and set records, some of which have not been broken to this day: the Beatles had more number 1 albums than other solo artists or groups and spent the highest number of weeks at number 1 in the album charts. In April 1964, they had 14 hits in the Billboard Hot 100, holding down the first five spots with the tracks ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘Twist and Shout’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and ‘Please Please Me’. In the same year, they were the only band to – twice – knock themselves off the top spot of the most important American single charts. To date, Lennon and McCartney are the most successful composers in pop history with more than 60 number 1 singles in the USA and UK.
There are a great many important milestones to celebrate this year: the band was founded 60 years ago and broke up 50 years ago; John Lennon was shot 40 years ago and born 80 years ago, just like Ringo Starr, who can at least celebrate his birthday alongside Paul McCartney, now that George Harrison has also been dead for almost 20 years. The Fab Four, however, will remain immortal forever.
Formation of QUEEN in 1970, 50 years ago
They are one of most successful bands worldwide. You just have to read the famous song titles of the British quartet and you want to sing along, and with the band line-up remaining the same for over 20 years, all band members were involved in the song writing: ‘We Are The Champions’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (Freddy Mercury), ‘We Will Rock You’ (Brian May), ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ (John Deacon) or ‘Radio Ga Ga’ (Roger Taylor). Decisive for the unmistakeable Queen guitar sound is the “Red Special” – the electric guitar built by the 6-year-old Brian May together with his father using, among other things, mahogany from a fireplace, a breadknife and parts of a motorcycle.
From 1991 onwards, fate took its course: Freddy Mercury dies after contracting HIV, bassist Deacon leaves the band in 1997. Since then, May and Taylor have been involved in new projects: the musical ‘We Will Rock You’, written by Queen and Ben Elton, premiered in London in 2002, followed by two world tours with Paul Rodgers. Queen + Adam Lambert have been gracing the stages of the world since 2012.
Men’s Ice Hockey World Championship
With the match venues Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland was the sole bidder and will be staging the tournament for the eleventh time.
75th Anniversary of the end of World War II
On 1 September 1939, Hitler’s Germany invaded Poland, and the rest is history: up to 1945, 60 nations were directly or indirectly involved in this war, more than 110 million people were mobilised and more than 60 million people lost their lives.
The British historian Ian Kershaw has written: “This war was a historically unique attack on humanity, a destruction of all the cultural ideals engendered by the Enlightenment, a collapse that had never been seen be-fore. It was Europe’s Armageddon.”
75 years later, it is up to us to ensure it does not happen again.
64th Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam
With Duncan Laurence bringing home victory in Tel Aviv last year, the Netherlands are now to host the contest for the fifth time – making them, together with Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom the third most successful participating nation.
Sweden is in second place with six victories; Ireland tops the list with seven successes. Germany and Spain have only won the song contest twice each since 1956. And it is still the case that not even a wallaby understands why Australia is allowed to take part…
100th birthday of Pope John Paul II
He was the 264th head of the Roman Catholic church, the first Slav ever and also the first non-Italian in this office since 1523.
In the more than 26 years of his papacy (only Pius IX sat on St. Peter’s throne for longer) from 16 October 1978 to his death on 2 April 2005, world history saw the end of the Cold War, wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, as well as the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, whereby the Pole by birth Karol Jószef Wojtyla is attributed a decisive role in the democratisation of his home country.
The “media pope” advocated a dialogue between the world religions; in the area of sexual morality, he suppor-ted conservative views, rejecting contraception, abortion and same-sex partnerships. He was canonised and sainted nevertheless.
60th Men’s European Football Championship
To celebrate the year, the championship will be staged across Europe for the first time: in eleven European cities and one Asian city, Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and we won’t even ask what that has to do with the Euros. Aus-tralia, after all, is allowed to take part in Eurovision, as is Azerbaijan now, by the way… After the opening match in Rome and in the run-up to the final in London, there will be 51 matches between 24 nations and all will be aiming to grab the trophy from the hands of the reigning Euro-pean Champions, Portugal.
Record winners to date with three titles each are Ger-many and Spain; France has only won two; the Soviet Union (yes, that’s the way things were in 1960), Italy, Por-tugal, Czechoslovakia (same story, 1976), the Netherlands, Denmark and Greece have each won once, but that can all change in the summer…
75th anniversary of the founding of the UNO
The League of Nations, which aims to secure world peace, could actually be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year – if World War II hadn’t got in its way. This meant that the official go-ahead for the United Nations only came in 1945; 50 nations signed the charter. In the meantime, 193 nations have joined to – according to Article 1 – preserve international security and peace, develop friendly relations between nations, solve global problems and promote human rights, and to be the central instance at which the nations jointly negotiate on these objectives.
Even though hunger, poverty, discrimination or HIV have not yet been eliminated and we are still a long way from living on an ecologically sustainable planet on which no blood is spilled – all millennium objectives – the UN has still achieved admirable success, defused crises, ended wars, secured peace, provided development aid, ensured the spread of information and saved lives.
The UN and many of its sub organisations have received the Nobel Peace Prize for their achievements, and together they are the most frequent recipients of that prize.
Summer-Olympic Games in Tokyo
These are the 32nd Olympic Games. They have taken place every four years since 1896 as a re-enactment of the antique festivities in Olympia, which are assumed to have their origin in the 2nd century BC. For the second time since 1964, the largest sporting event in the world along-side football’s World Cup will be staged in the Japanese capital.
There are 339 events in 51 disciplines; athletes from 136 countries have qualified so far: 45 European nations, 27 from America, 25 from Asia, 5 from Oceania, 34 from Africa – oh yes, there are also the “Olympic athletes from Russia”, who will compete under a neutral flag: in the face of doping allegations, Russia as a competing nation has been excluded from all large-scale sporting events for the next four years.
30th anniversary of German reunification
Germany was divided for four decades, and the Berlin Wall hermetically sealed off the GDR from West Berlin for more than 28 years of this period, from 13 August 1961 to 9 November 1989.
Hundreds of people lost their lives trying to escape. The communist dictatorship was not exactly successful: growing national debt on the one hand, increased isolation within the Eastern Bloc on the other, because the reforms initiated by Gorbachev in the course of glasnost and perestroika were rejected.
The “brother socialist nations” turned out to be not all that helpful in rigorously preventing GDR citizens from escaping, and the protests in October 1989 (the finest devoted its third issue to this peaceful revolution in October 2019) were not suppressed with violence. On 3 October 1990, the German Democratic Republic merged with the Federal Republic of Germany, officially implementing German unity – and we are still working today on becoming truly unified.
Opening of Berlin Brandenburg “Willy Brand” Airport
Who knows whether the fourth Chancellor of the Federal Republic would have volunteered to lend his name to this disaster: work on it has been ongoing since 2006; flight operations were supposed to start in November 2011, but nothing happened.
Construction deficits, technical deficiencies, management failures and an explosion in construction costs made the project a synonym for public construction failure – it is the greatest scandal in the history of German construction. At the end of October, BER is to finally replace the airports of Schönefeld (using some of its grounds) and Tegel, directly enabling 28 million passengers per year to fly around, 58 million after extension by 2035.
Yes, we believe you this time…
Presidential election in the USA
This 59th election involves the fundamental question: will 45 remain or will – perhaps preferably – a 46th President of the United States bring at least a better haircut into the White House?
For Trump himself, the answer is obvious: he announced his own candidacy even on the day of his inauguration in 2017, earlier than any other president.
The few opposing candidates among his own party to “free conservatism from Trumpism”, as the political commen-tator William Kristol suggested, are hard to take seriously. Among the Democrats, on the other hand, there is an ex-tensive field of applicants, even famous names such as Oprah Winfrey or Meryl Streep have already been hauled through the media – according to polls in December 2019, it is more likely that the former Vice President Joe Biden, the progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren and Hilary Clin-ton’s main rival back in the day, Bernie Sanders, have the best chances.
Oh yes, there is also the former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, who only announced he was entering the race for the presidency at the end of November 2019. Whoever leads the field within the party: just undo it!
JFK is elected president 60 years ago
In view of 45, we are all too glad to look back on 35, even though John Fitzgerald Kennedy was only in office for two years before his assassination on 22 November 1963 in Dallas, a murder which has not been satisfactorily resolved to this day. He was not really able to achieve very much in only 1,036 days, which for good measure were overshadowed by far-reaching historical events: failure of the invasion of Cuba in the Bay of Pigs, escalation of the Vietnam War, construction of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis as well as the increasing peaceful resistance of the African-American civil rights movement.
Nonetheless, the youngest president (43) ever to have been elected to office oozed charisma and hope; the First Lady Jackie O. brought style and glamour into the White House. Indeed, the entire Kennedy clan was surrounded by a certain grandeur, which meant that a veritable mythos formed around JFK – a poll shows that he is regarded, along side Abraham Lincoln, as the greatest American president.
Willy Brandt kneeling in Warsaw 50 years ago
He came to Warsaw to sign a treaty with Poland for Germany – more than 30 years after the war of aggression contravening international law which unleashed World War II on 1 September 1939. 25 years after the end of the war, the mutual relations were to be “normalized”, borders recognised, non-aggression ensured. Political protocol involved a visit to the memorial for the dead of the War-saw Ghetto beforehand.
However, instead of the customary laying of a wreath and briefly remaining standing as a courtesy, Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt down and remained there silent for around half a minute – an avowal of humbleness hat no one expected. It was viewed internationally as a request for forgiveness and became a symbol of the Ostpolitik (policy towards the East) for which Willy Brandt received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971. He wrote in his memoirs in 1989: “At the abyss of German history and under the burden of millions of murder victims, I did what human beings do when they have no words.”
250th birthday of the German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven
The world looked slightly different in 1770: during the American Revolution, North America was attempting to break away from the British Empire; unimpressed, the British seafarer James Cook sailed the Seven Seas, disco-vered a few islands and at some point took possession of Australia for the British Crown. In France, Marie Antoinette married the later King Louis XVI, while Greece was figh-ting against Ottoman foreign rule. In India, a famine left ten million dead and in Denmark unrestricted press freedom was introduced.
In Austria, the 14-year-old Mozart was already stea-ling the limelight – and in Germany? Beethoven was born – and led the First Viennese School to its pinna-cle in the course of his 57 years. It was his aspiration to leave behind a lasting body of musical work, which he more than succeeded in doing, despite deafness. With that in mind: Da-Da-Da-Daaaa!