Amerikaner/black and white cookies

I always thought Amerikaner were a German thing and wondered where they got their name from, but it turns out they are a New York cookie (via smitten kitchen).



(Image by Ben Orwoll, public domain)

Amerikaner certainly used to be made with a form of ammonium carbonate called Hirschhornsalz (Salt of Hartshorn/baker’s ammonia) in German. This is widely sold in Germany, especially at this time of year. I saw it being used by London Eats, who posts Christmas cookies from abroad at this time of year:  Fedtebrød.

If you don’t want to make do with baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, the German Deli sells Hirschhornsalz, and also potash and Lebkuchen spice.

German Döner Kebab

German Döner Kebab shops are apparently everywhere.

Of course, it is a German thing. I think this is ‘Mile End coming soon’.

If you want to find out what meat they use, you have to click on the Location tab, which gives a choice of UK, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Sweden and Bahrain.

For the UK, you get Chicken, Beef or Mix. In Germany it was virtually always Turkey, sometimes beef if you were lucky.

Where’s the lamb? I think it’s because Germans don’t like it.

German courts holding commercial cases in English

The subject of German judges holding cases in English has raised its ugly head again and is not likely to go away. I’ve mentioned it several times, from 2010 on.

Courts in Paris and Amsterdam as well as Frankfurt would like to take over the international commercial cases so often held in London. Apparently after Brexit UK decisions won’t be automatically effective in the EU and this will slow things down.

Frankfurt am Main Landgericht (Regional Court) has announced this week that from January it will have an English-speaking commercial chamber. From Legal Tribune Online (in German!):

Gerichtsstandort Frankfurt Eng­lisch­spra­chige Kammer für Han­dels­sa­chen ab 2018

Das Landgericht (LG) Frankfurt am Main will ab Januar 2018 eine englischsprachige Kammer für Handelssachen einrichten. Wie das LG am Donnerstag mitteilte, soll Frankfurt damit als Gerichtsstandort gestärkt werden. “Unternehmen sollen die Möglichkeit erhalten, nach ihrer Wahl die Verhandlung auf Englisch durchzuführen”, sagte der Gerichtspräsident Wilhelm Wolf.

I’m not going to analyse this at length, but it is fun reading some of the comments on articles quoted here.

Here is something in English from Bloomberg:

Paris, Frankfurt Try to Grab Lucrative Legal Action From London

“London is stepping into the shadows,” says Roman Poseck, president of the appeals court in Frankfurt, where officials plan to have an English-language panel in place by January. “Frankfurt wants a piece of the pie.”

(Is this what’s known as a mixed metaphor?)

This is all early November 2017 stuff. It was being discussed in March though.

Here is my earlier report on a colleague’s description of the first court hearing in English:

First German court hearing in English

I remember coming to the conclusion that the judges understood each other despite using English, not because of it.

The problem for me, of course, is the language, and above all the gulf between what some judges think is fluent English and what some translators and interpreters think. Especially when it comes to talking about one’s own or a different legal system in a foreign language.

Ehe für Alle/Same-sex marriage

Last Friday, June 30, the German Bundestag voted in favour of same-sex marriage, called ‘marriage for all’ (following François Hollande). The bill will no doubt be passed by the Bundesrat and signed by the President and become law in the autumn. But will there be a constitutional challenge?

June 30 was the last day of Angela Merkel’s current parliament and as there is to be a general election, the marriage-for-all bill, which had been introduced at least three years earlier, would otherwise have failed. I haven’t been following this closely and it’s a big issue, so please do further reading for details and don’t rely on me. But I believe that the Green Party applied unsuccessfully to the Federal Constitutional Court to make sure that the bill could be voted on on June 30 at the latest. (I can see the sense of the Court not intervening in the parliamentary process).

The CDU and CSU are traditionally against same-sex marriage, but on June 27 Angela Merkel permitted a free vote in the Bundestag, so suddenly it became possible for the bill to be passed, as not only some CDU and CSU members were in favour of it, but the SPD would also have been bound as part of the coalition government . The suddenness almost recalls the sudden opening of the Berlin wall in 1989.

New York Times:

Ms. Merkel, when asked Monday evening about gay adoption, cited what she said was a recent meeting with a lesbian who invited the chancellor to visit her and her partner’s home in Ms. Merkel’s parliamentary constituency in northern Germany, where the couple has raised at least eight foster children.
The chancellor said she had not had time to take up the invitation, but she used it as a way to illustrate that it may often be better for children to live permanently with a loving couple no matter what their sex, rather than moving from home to home in foster care.

Although Frau Merkel voted against the bill – she could be seen putting a red ticket into the ballot box – it’s been suggested that in acting this late before the election she was both avoiding a long discussion in the Bundestag and improving her chances in the election, since marriage for all was one of the issues on which Martin Schulz was going to campaign.

German legal bloggers disagree on what will happen next. Here is Maximilian Steinbeis at Verfassungsblog (lots of English there)Merkel’s Conscience:

In some way, the right always seems to succeed in making themselves believe that their reading of the constitution is somehow dictated by nature. They did that with the opening of the borders in 2015, and now they do the same with the opening of marriage in 2017. There will always be some constitutional law professor who certifies their constitutional interpretation with utmost authority, so they can keep on shaking their heads in a distressed and indignant way at the turpitude of these liberals that so blatantly disobey their own liberal constitution.

To not let them get away with that, to pierce their self-congratulatory constitutional certainty and force them to justify their readings of the law – this should be the task of constitutionalists.

Steinbeis goes on to link to Matthias Hong, who reads the Constitution differently Warum das Grundgesetz die Ehe für Alle verlangt.

A different view is presented by Andreas Schwartmann in Rheinrecht – Meinung: Diese “Ehe für Alle” ist verfassungswidrig.

BEEF! The German media scene

I’m just posting this old entry to check my blog is still working. I had thousands of attacks on my site in the last couple of days (as in April) and had to ask the provider to help restore things, but it looks OK now.

Some observations from my 2016 visit to Germany.

Selection of magazines, I think this was in Nuremberg train station:


Here’s a particular curiosity:


This magazine is not, as you might think, soft porn, it’s a magazine for men who like to cook meat. But perhaps that’s the same thing.

The history of Fanta

It’s been reported that Coca Cola, the owner of Fanta, made a bit of a blunder when it put up an ad in 2015 (now withdrawn) celebrating the 75 years of Fanta’s history with images from the Sixties – but 75 years takes us back to 1940, so the good old days were really the Third Reich. The new ‘original’ offering is in a brown bottle again. It seems that the ingredients for Coke were hard to come by in the war years, so Fanta was developed, using whey and apple pulp – citrus fruits came in after the war. The brown glass protected the ingredients from light.

This was just reported in English in The Local, but it is apparently a 2015 story.

The Local (English)
Die Zeit (German)

(Coke and Pepsi ads have recently been withdrawn in 2017 too, in the USA and UK).

According to Die Zeit, Coca Cola did well in Germany in the Nazi period, sponsoring the Olympic Games in 1936:

Coca-Cola galt in anderen Ländern als Wahrzeichen für den American Way of Life. Aber das Unternehmen arrangierte sich mit der Diktatur in Deutschland – und machte sogar außerordentlich gute Geschäfte: Zwischen 1933 und 1939 stieg der Absatz von 100.000 auf 4,5 Millionen Kisten. Die Firma war offizieller Sponsor der Olympischen Spiele 1936 in Berlin, und bei Kriegsbeginn gab es 50 Produktionsstätten in Deutschland.

German prisoners of war arriving in the USA were surprised to find Fanta had beaten them to it.

A few links

Interesting interview (in German) with Katy Derbyshire on translating Clemens Meyer Im Stein (Bricks and Mortar) Ich würde mir wünschen, dass die Literatur die Welt verbessern kann. The novel is actually on my bookshelves but I haven’t started it yet. It’s about the development of prostitution in an East German town after reunification.

The author and translator are apparently giving a talk at Senate House on May 11, from which I discover that there is a

GLGN – Greater London German Network.

The GLGN is part of the think german initiative of regional networks spearheaded by the German Embassy.
The aim of the network is to fight the corner for all things German in the Greater London area by bringing together all those people in and around London who have an interest in the German language and related cultures and facilitating both real and virtual communication between them.

They are on Facebook and Twitter too. Who knew? It claims I am following it on Twitter – must be linked to GSSN, the German Screen Studies Network, which I do follow.

The Institute of Modern Languages Research is now in Senate House, as I realized recently when reading a history of German studies in London called Glanz und Abglanz.

German restaurants in London.

Disturbing: German Village and Bierfest at Mile End.

Now when days get longer and the sun comes out again it’s time for the German Village Festival. Sit outside in our Garden and get the vipe together with friends or family and enjoy a bratwurst or maybe one of our 3 different special brewed Bavarian beers. In addition you can visit our FunTime area or get your self a Heidi wig in the special German souvenier house. In the evening you should join our party in the Bavarian FestTent – grap your Lederhosen or Dirndl and become part of the biggest party!

Heidi wigs also widely available online.

Frankfurt eyes London’s commercial litigation crown

An article in the Solicitors Journal:
Frankfurt eyes London’s commercial litigation crown
Brexit uncertainty, an underfunded civil justice system, and a less diverse judiciary are causes for concern, by John van der Luit-Drummond

The article reports that ‘moves are afoot to dethrone London as the preeminent dispute resolution hub.’ We’ve been here before – attempts to set up English-language courts in Germany were linked to a German campaign to sell German courts to international litigants. But Brexit was not part of the mix then. It is reported in the SJ earlier:

The Rolls Building is to be rebranded the ‘Business and Property Courts of England and Wales’ from June of this year in a move to shore up the jurisdiction’s reputation post-Brexit and to enhance the connection between the regions and the capital.

(Here’s the Rolls Building.)

On 30 March, ‘Justice Initiative Frankfurt’ was presented to German lawyers, judges, and business leaders with one aim: to attract more financial disputes to Frankfurt at the expense of London. The initiative launched by law professors Burkhard Hess, Thomas Pfeiffer, Christian Duve, a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Roman Poseck, the president of the Frankfurt Court of Appeal, is backed by the federal state of Hessen’s minister for justice, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, and will look to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s legal services market post-Brexit.

The link to Justice Initiative Frankfurt is to an English translation of the position paper.

The SJ has a Simmons & Simmons partner, Ed Crosse, who thinks English courts will continue to be preferred internationally.

‘When designing new procedures, the Frankfurt courts, like many others such as the Singapore International Commercial Court, will undoubtedly select what they perceive to be the most attractive procedures used by other jurisdictions and avoid those that are receiving criticism,’ explains Crosse. ‘We cannot be complacent about such matters.’

I have no idea how flexible the Frankfurt courts can be in choosing their procedures. The position paper quotes the German Code of Civil Procedure in the ‘official’ version not always popular with me.

There’s something about this on a blog new to me but which I intend to follow, Dispute Resolution Germany, by Peter Bert. He wrote about the subject on March 15 but perhaps he will return to it:

As much as I would like to see more banking litigation moving to Frankfurt, in my opinion, one very important factor will be the governing law: Unless the underlying contracts and financial instruments are governed by German law, it will make little sense to agree on Frankfurt as the venue. Parties, on the other hand, will only agree on German law if they have confidence in the courts. In my opinion, an effort must be made to align Justizinitiative Frankfurt, the Law Made in Germany project and the English language in German courts legislative initiative. So let’s see what is going to be proposed on March 30, 2017.