10 podcasts with amazing Germany-related stories
From popular US podcasts to Berlin-based series, here are 10 English-language shows you should listen to in order to better understand the country's culture.
'This American Life' on a WWII interrogation
The radio program "This American Life" started airing in 1995. The personal tone of the show's non-fiction stories has inspired many others since and its host, Ira Glass, has become a absolute superstar of the podcasting world. The story "Mein Camp" in episode 595 is about a secret interrogation camp in the US, where Jews who'd just escaped Germany were hired to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war.
'99% Invisible' on a Berlin Wall tunnel
Since 2010, host Roman Mars has been producing the popular podcast "99% Invisible," which digs into the stories hidden behind the world's design and architecture. The episode "Tunnel 57" tells an absolutely fascinating story about a tunnel that was built within a former bakery in West Berlin. It went under the Berlin Wall and allowed 57 people to escape East Germany in 1964.
'Radiolab' on Beethoven's beats
"Radiolab" has been airing since 2002. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich introduced clever sound collages to their science and philosophy stories, making their show another inspiring podcasting pioneer. Episode 110, "Speedy Beet," explores how German composer Beethoven actually marked his well-known symphonies with shockingly fast tempos - that can hardly be played at the speed he wanted.
'Love + Radio' on a teenage West German pilot
Boasting "an eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime," Nick van der Kolk's "L + R" went on breaking audio storytelling ground through sonic innovation. Specialized in portraying intriguing characters, episode 36 is told by Mathias Rust in a delightfully German accent. Back in 1987, the then 19-year-old West German had the strange idea of renting a Cessna to fly to Moscow (above).
'Memories of a Nation' at the Buchenwald gate
British art historian Neil MacGregor is passionate about exploring world history through objects. His BBC 4 podcast series from 2014, "Germany: Memories of a Nation," covers 600 years of German history, whether through everyday emblems, such as sausages and beer, or the symbols of terror, such as the Buchenwald concentration camp gate, designed by imprisoned Bauhaus designer Franz Ehrlich.
'You Must Remember This' on Dietrich
Included in many "best of 2016" lists, the storytelling podcast "You Must Remember This" is "about the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood's first century." Episode 32 reveals the background of the glamorous German actress and singer Marlene Dietrich, and how she was embedded by the Allied Forces during World War II and her plot to kill Hitler.
'Walrus & the Bear' on Burlesque
Wouter Bernhardt, alias Walrus, is an art historian originally from Amsterdam who works as a tour guide in Berlin, or "the city of the Bear." His podcast picks up different beloved Berlin topics, from döner kebabs to tattoos, from the former military listening station on Teufelsberg and burlesque, with a reference to "Salome," the opera by Richard Strauss, as as an early incarnation of the genre.
'Berlin Stories' on a perennial airport mess
The NPR podcast "Berlin Stories" offered an expat's perspective on the German capital from 2009 to 2012. Although the episodes are a few years old, they still give insight into the city's diverse cultural scene. Some things simply don't change in Berlin, as demonstrated in the "Summer Episode" from July 2012. It's about delays surrounding Berlin's new airport: "BER" still hasn't opened yet.
'Radio Spaetkauf': news, Berlin-style
A "Spätkauf" is the Berlin version of a corner store, where you go to grab a beer and chips, and perhaps chat with locals about whatever's happening in the neighborhood. Hosts Joel Dullroy, Maisi Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern joyfully keep international Berlin residents informed about politics, culture, bicycles, bars and more. The show is recorded live at the Comedy Cafe in Neukölln.
'Berlin Belly' on Berlin's food scene
Foodies, if you want to become an insider of Berlin's hipster food scene, "Berlin Belly" is a podcast that can inspire you even before you set foot in the city's famous Street Food Thursdays in Markthalle Neun (pictured). In her podcast, Berlin-based Irish writer and photographer Elizabeth Rushe features "food forays, recipes, interviews and burps" from her adoptive city.