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Read Around the World: Germany

germanyrap

In October our world trip took us to Germany just in time for the famous Oktoberfest a 2 week folk festival held every year in Munich – did someone mention a beer tent….

Fun facts about Germany from this website I have put my favourite facts in bold.

  • One-third of Germany is still covered in forests and woodlands.
  • 65% of the highways in Germany (Autobahn) have no speed limit.
  • University is free for everyone (even non-Germans).
  • There are over 2100 castles in Germany.
  • There are over 1,500 different beers in Germany.
  • Berlin has the largest train station in Europe.
  • Berlin is 9 times bigger than Paris and has more bridges than Venice.
  • Germany is composed of sixteen states. The states have their own constitution and are largely autonomous in regard to their internal organization. At the municipal level, Germany is divided into 403 districts (Kreise), of which 301 are rural districts and 102 urban districts. Bavaria is the largest state.
  • Germany is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
  • The following cities have all at one time or another been capitals of Germany: Aachen, Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Nuremberg, Berlin, Weimar, Bonn (and East Berlin), and, since 1990, Berlin again.
  • The first printed book was in German.
  • Germany is one of the world’s leading book nations. Publishing around 94,000 titles every year.
  • The first magazine ever seen was launched in 1663 in Germany.
  • Germany was the first country in the world to adopt Daylight saving time – DST, also known as summer time. This occured in 1916, in the midst of WWI.
  • Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft is the longest word to be published. It is 79 letters long.
  • There are over 300 different kinds of bread in Germany.
  • There are over 1,000 kinds of sausages in Germany.
  • Beer is considered a food in Bavaria officially.
  • The biggest Beer Festival in the world is of course the Oktoberfest in Munich, Bavaria, where the size of the beer glass is not 500ml but a whole liter!
  • Germany has (once) lost a penalty shootout in a major football competition. It was in 1976 when the then West Germany lost a shootout 5-3 in in the European Championships against Czechoslovakia. On the four other occasions the Germans
    have been involved in one, they won.
  • The Christmas tree (Tannenbaum) tradition came from Germany.
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel has a Barbie doll made after her.
  • The world’s narrowest street is in Reutlingen. It is called Spreuerhofstrasse and is 31 cm (one foot) wide at its narrowest point.
  • The Chancellor’s office in Berlin is known locally as the “washing machine”.
  • In Germany there’s no punishment for a prisoner who tries to escape from jail, because it is a basic human instinct to be free.

So what book did I choose for my visit to Germany? I actually visited via 2 books this time the first was Cat and Mouse by Gunter Grass – my full thoughts can be seen soon in the 1001 round-up post and the second was The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.

Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: This was a solid 3 star read for me this is also the first book in a series and I already have book 2 downloaded to the Kindle. I enjoyed this look into European witchcraft and witch trials and how easy it is for things to spire out of control in a time when women with any knowledge were treated with suspicion.

I liked the social commentary about how women who knew healing were judged as witches but men were considered righteous and how despite condemning women as witches the town elders were more than happy to visit when they themselves needed something. I also enjoyed the insight into the full role of a hangman including torture to gain a confession, what a great justice system.

In his afterword the author reveals that he is actually related to the Kuisl’s and that while this is a work of fiction a lot of the Hangman’s characteristics come from real family members. How fascinating is that?

How did you decide to visit Germany? Let us know your books and thoughts.

In November we travel to South Africa will you be coming with us and what do you intend to read?

 

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