Lipsi, when DDR created a new dance to stop rock’n’roll

Listening new rock bands was actually impossible for youngsters who lived in Soviet bloc

All western bands were strongly censored by regime, above all rock’n’roll was not tolerated at all. Although listening to Elvis, Rolling Stones or Beatles was very hard matter, the ban was bypassed and their music albums came into DDR, getting really famous. Soviet party’s chiefs worried about the fact that youngers were listening this music, so they decided to think a new dance up. The newborn dance was created to be catched on them in order to eclipse the success of rock’n’roll: Lipsi was born.

Soviet reply to decandent and vulgar Western rock’n’roll

Soviet leaders felt disconcerted by dances which spread out since the end of 50s. They were the opinion that Elvis’ basin movements were almost pornographic, and besides, a tête-à-tête dancing between teenagers was a not- well-identified danger for social order. In order to prevent that this new kind of music could keep influence on DDR teenagers, Soviet leaders were determined to compose a new music and dance, both were suitable to the (chaste) education of Socialist youngsters. About Lipsi, René Dubianski composed its music, whereas dancing was created by Christa and Helmut Seifert dancers. As reported by J.Elke Ertel in his book entitled “Walled In – A West Berlin girl’s journey to freedom, the name was not choosed by chance. All three authors came from Lipsia which was obviously situated in Soviet bloc. Adapting the latin name of the city, Lipsiens, they created an original name: without good reason, they actually thought that the final “i” would have given an “american” and new-fashioned guise, more fashionable for teenagers. Once music was composed and dance was created, the strict Soviet censorship let pass it: challenge against capitalist West could be begin on the dancing floor too.

A guidelines to dance Lipsi, for perfect party in Eastern German style

Surely, you are now curious to know how to dance Lipsi that is essential to organize a DDR themed party. The lyrics, composed by Dublansky and reported by Anna Funder in C’era una volta la DDRsaid: «These days all the youngsters dance Lipsistep, just it; These days all of them want to learn Lipsistep: it is hip rhythm! Rumba, Boogie and Cha Cha Cha are old-fashioned; out of the blue, a new rhythm has come from nowhere and it is about to be still». The piece is in 6/4, as it was a speedy waltz. The Seiferts created a very simple choreography which is quite similar to a rumba blended with waltz as defined by Ertel, so as the youngs could learn quickly. The most curious aspect was that any kind of basin movements was strictly forbidden, only chest movements were permitted. Dancers almost never moved close to each other, staying at safe distance: all that contributed to create an “innocent” choreography. But even though it was beaten the drum for it, Lipsi didn’t hit the big time. Socialist teenargers continued to prefer Western rock’n’roll with its own unfettered rhythm and, listening to Lipsi, we can’t argue with them. If you want to learn more about history of this questionable dance and everyday life during those years, you could visit DDR Museum in Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse, Berlin.

Cover image: A Lipsi step – Screenshot from Youtube’s video


Johann Trollman, the Sinti boxer who challenged the Nazi regime

Who is Johann Trollman?

Johann Trollman was a Sinti boxer who started his career during the Nazi regime. On the ring, he used to wear a pair of shorts on which the tiny word “Gypsy” had been sewed. Trollman was born in 1907 in Hannover, it was also known as “Rukeli,” which means “tree,” due to his prominent figure and his curly hair. Although he was a professional boxer, he has always been branded as “nomad.” Trollman was known for his original way to fight like a dancer. Disparaged by the press because of his approach to competitors, he was exempted from the Olympic team of ’98 beacuse of his gipsy origins.

He stepped into the ring dressed up as a true Arian to mock the regime

When Hitler rose to power, Germany’s boxing clubs were reorganized, and non-Arian fighters were excluded. To obtain the middle weight title, Trollman had to fight against the German Adolf Witte. Even if he won the match, Nazi authorities stripped him of his title eight days later and gave it to Gustav Eder. Trollman took up the challenge and fought against the new champion. However, German authorities forced Trollman to change his original way of fighting. As a response, the gypsy boxer arrived on the ring after having dyed his hair blonde and covered his body with flour, to mock the regime.

The Sinti boxer had to pay up for teasing Nazis

Due to Gustav Eder’s match, Trollman lost both his chance to regain the title and his fighting license. Furthermore, his failure forced him to work as a waiter for a living. After being threatened, the Sinti boxer had to leave his family and underwent a sterilization. In 1942 he was arrested and forced to join the eastern front. Later, he was deported in Neuengamme, a concentration camp where German soldiers forced him to make illegal fights over the night. Trollman was moved again into Wittenberge, where he had his last illegal match. His victory stirred up general unrest among German soldiers, who killed him. Today the German boxing federation recognizes his value and apologizes to the family for what happened during those years. 

Kokeshi75 CC0

Hermannplatz returns to its former beauty thanks to David Chipperfield

The department store located in Hermannplatz (Berlin – Neukölln) will be redesigned by David Chipperfield

The legendary building located in Hermannplatz, which dates back to the 1920s, will be knocked down and rebuilt by David Chipperfield. The palace can be found between Kreuzberg and Neukölln. In 1929 Karstadt wasn’t just a shopping center: it represented also a tourist attraction in the Weimar Republic. After the Second World War, the building was destroyed and later on built up. Today the facility belongs to an Austrian billionaire called Renè Benko. Now the billionaire wants to restore Karstadt’s builing and bring it to its former beauty. 

Karstadt from the 1920s to the 1950s

In the past, the Art Decò building stood on Hermannplatz, extending over 32 meters with 7 floors. The whole palace was made of limestone. Karstadt recalls New Yorkers’s store. During the 1940s the façade was destroyed. In the second half of the 20th century, the building has been refurbished. It didn’t, however, regain its glory.

David Chipperfield’s project

The British architect David Chipperfield will handle Karstadt reconstruction project. His aim is to give a modern interpretation of the building. As planned for the project, two columns will be reactivated. Furthermore, an observation deck will be added. Both in the first and second floor, a day care and a library are to be put up. The new structure will appear smaller than the older one even though gyms, offices and a covered market won’t be missing. On the top of the building, a restaurant and a hotel will be added. Construction works will last 3 years, starting from 2021. 

Photo: © Visualisierungen von der Vision des Projekts am Hermannplatz. Das Copyright der Renderings liegt bei David Chipperfield Architects.


How Dresden was rebuilt by its citizens, after being bombed in 1945

Dresden after the Second World War

February 1945. A few months before the end of Second World War, the city of Dresden was bombed. As a result of the conflict, Germany was occupied by Soviets. Just right after the Reunification of Germany and the Fall of the Berlin Wall, a tough work of reconstruction took place over the country. A group of Dresden citizens cleaned the rubble up and a lot of blueprints were drawn up thanks to the work of architects and urban planners. People wondered how the new city could appear and how it could be possible to rebuild it. In 1993, refurbishing works started in Dresden; almost ten years later, in 2005, the Lutheran church called Frauenkirche – which was considered the emblem of the city – returned to its people. Its wreckage has always represented a memoir against the war. Thanks to the citizen’s efforts, several important buildings were restored such as the Zwinger Palace and the Semper Opera House.

What happened during the bombing period

In February 1945, both Britain and U.S. Armies decided to drop two pounds of explosive and a thousand firebombs over Dresden. The air strike lasted two days no stop. The city of Dresden was destroyed by the flames. According to historians, 370000 people passed away during the attacks. The attacks in Dresden were known for their atrocity and then depicted in a novel called “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. 

Women called “Trummer Frauen” rebuilt Germany

The “Trummer Frauen” were a group of women who helped with the reconstruction of German destroyed cities. War reduced men’s workforce: husbands and sons died or never returned home. On their behalf, women took the reins of Germany’s cities restoration, being almost 7 million more than men. With their help, women freed cities from debris. The age of the so-called Trummer Frauen goes from 15 until 50. Moreover, allied powers issued an order for women to help get rid of rubble. A lot of volunteers joined and supported them. In different German cities like Berlin, Leipzig, Magdeburg e Nürnberg set out a plan for rubble removal. In Dresden, almost 492 men and 512 women took part in disposal operations. At the end of the 1946, the number of working women reached 580.

Photo: Wikilmages CC0

Nabokov lived in Berlin for 15 years, but he never integrated in the German society

Vladimir Nabokov moved to Berlin in 1922 and lived there for 15 years

Nabokov’s family moved to Berlin in 1920. In those days, many people left Russia because of the Civil war, and from 1922 to 1923 more than 300.000 Russians reached Berlin. Immigrats was mainly concentrated in Wittenbergplatz and Charlottenburg (this latter was ironically called Charlottengrad). Vladimir Nabokov was among those who arrived in 1922. His arrival was quite tragic: after just a few weeks, his father passed away while trying to save Pavel Miliukovl, a notable Russian politician, during an attack.

Life in Berlin

Nabokov spent his time within the Russian community, as he has never been able to integrate in the German society. In fact, he then admitted he could not stand Berlin. “Upon moving to Berlin I was beset by a panicky fear of somehow flawing my precious layer of Russian by learning to speak German fluently…”, as he wrote in his work Strong opinions, published in 1973. He stayed in Berlin till the late 1930s, when the rise of the Nazi party pushed him to move to the United States.

Literary debut

In Berlin, Nabokov wrote his first works in Russian and published them in some newspapers, which were printed by some Russian immigrants. His first book (Korol Dama Valet) was published by a Russian editor. He also translated in English a great number of books. In fact, the cultural hybridization shines through them: even though, those books belong to the English literature, styles and themes are typical of the Russian culture.

A guide to Berlin

A Guide to Berlin is one of those. This short novel, published in 1925, describes Berlin from the inside perspective, through the eyes of an unidentified character. The novelist believes in how important it is to immortalize everyday life: “So that could be reflect in gentle lens of future times”. The guidebook offers few reference points, which are concretely recognizable: narration is subjective and far away from a guidebook-style.

Here you can download Nabokov’s short novel

Photo: A Pictorial Biography, compiled and edited by Ellendea Proffer (Ann Arbor: Ardis Publishers, c1991).




Muller, Schumacher, Hoffamann: the secrets behind German surnames

The invention of German surnames

The use of German surnames became popular during the Middle Ages (between the 10th and the 11th Century), with the purpose of identifying the social status of people. Surnames were selected – like everywhere else in the world – according to physical, working and family features. Using a surname was very useful for census surveys.

Only rich families could afford a surname                                                                                                                                                                

Originally, the surname was widely used and it was considered as a people’s first name. After that, surnames were used to recognize the families’ origin. Having a family name was a prerogative of rich families, only. During the 12th Century, the use of surnames spread all over Europe, becoming common use everywhere.

How surnames were chosen 

During the Middle Ages, Germany started to use surnames according to people’s professions. Let’s make an exemple: Meyer was first used for rather important and powerful people; it was later adopted with the meaning of “farmer”.

A list of the most famous German surnames and their translations

  • Wagner – a man who deals with means of transit
  • Becker/ Beck – Baker
  • Bauer/ Baumann – Peasant
  • Hoffmann – Farmer
  • Schulz/ Schulze/ Scholz – Mayor
  • Koch – Chef
  • Richter – Notary
  • Klein – Little
  • Wolf/ Wolff– Wolf
  • Schröder – Driver
  • Neumann – Newman
  • Braun – Brown
  • Werner – Defense army
  • Schwarz – Black
  • Schumacher/ Schubert/ Schuster – Shoemaker
  • Zimmermann – Carpenter
  • Weiss – White
  • Krüger – Potter
  • Lange – Long
  • König – King
  • Krause/ Kraus – a man with curly hair
  • Huber – Landowner
  • Frank/ Franke – a man who comes from Franconia
  • Lehmann – Servant
  • Keiser – Emperor
  • Fuchs – Fox
  • Herrmann – Warrior
  • Thomas – Twin
  • Peters – Stone (Greek origin)
  • Stein – Stone
  • Jung – Young
  • Berger – Pastor (French origin)
  • Martin – Belligerent (Latin origin)
  • Friedrich – Peaceful
  • Keller – Basement
  • Gross – Big
  • Hahn – Plumber
  • Roth – Red
  • Günther – Warrior (Scandinavian origin)
  • Vogel – Bird
  • Winkler – Nook
  • Lorenz – Laurentius (Latin origin)
  • Ludwig –Famous
  • Heinrich – A person who belongs to an important House
  • Otto – Heiresses
  • Simon – Simon (Jewish origin)
  • Graf – Lordship
  • Krämer – Trader
  • Böhm – someone from Bohemia
  • Winter – Winter
  • Haas – Rabbits Hunter
  • Sommer – Summer
  • Schreiber – Writer
  • Engel – Angel
  • Brandt – Fire
  • Busch – Bush
  • Horn – Horn
  • Arnold – someone strong like an Eagle
  • Bergmann – Miner
  • Pfeiffer – Piper
  • Sauer – Sour

Photo: Gellinger CC0

Why you should absolutely attend Berlino Schule’s Summer School instead of lying on the beach

Why you should attend one of Berlino Schule’s superintensive courses (5 hours/ day) 

Imagine a day hot as hell. You’re watching TV with your buddy lying on a sofa, while a fan is blowing on a mild breeze. Sweating buckets, pants glued on the pills… you would kill for a cold drink. Out of the blue, your buddy gets up, heading towards the kitchen. It’s your day beyond any doubt – you think.

Fritz Kola oder Club Mate? – He asks while he opens the fridge. 


Trinkst du lieber ein Bier? –

The TV show you have been watching for hours starts talking in a strange way, it looks German…. What the hell is …


And that’s a midsummer night’s dream, not a nightmare! Full immersion is the key to unlock the wonderful world of foreign languages, as you can immerge yourself into a new world, practice your skills, taste new food, discover new cultures. 

And how about doing this super exciting experience during the summer, in a cool and buzzy city like Berlin? Keep calm and don’t dread the adventure, “Übung macht den Meister” as Germans say. It’s just practice that makes everything perfect.

Close your eyes and imagine to bite a Berliner Pfannkuchen or Franzbrötchen for breakfast, then stroll along the Berliner Mauer, the biggest open-air gallery in the world. You end up in a colourful Flohmarkt and enjoy a beer in one of the typical German Biergärten

So, let’s chill out and enjoy our Summer School at Berlino Schule!

The Summer School of Berlino Schule is the study trip you are looking for. If you choose to register for our classes, you will have the possibility to attend super intensive courses of 5 hours per day (from Monday to Friday) for 2 weeks, in a lively and international district of Friedrichshain.

That’s not all!

Students attending the courses at Berlino Schule will be offered the chance to join afternoon activities, related to the German language (i.e. cineforum, walking tours, museums, conversation activities, etc) for a total amount of 8 hours per week.



Keys of the courses

The ones who have never studied German before, will start with the A1.1 course. After 50 hour of lessons, you will have access to the next course, that is the A1.2 (till the C2 level). 


Mission impossible? No panic! Berlino Schule has established some agreements with flats, hostels and hotels to make your studying holiday as easier as possible. If you are interested, you can contact the school and we will provide you with a list containing all the info you need. 

Book the whole package!

You would like to attend a super-intensive course, but it is rather difficult for you to find an accomodation? We can provide you with an a single room in some hotels just nearby Berlino Schule (15 nights) and you can have the chance to get 2 weekly tickets (AB zone).

Price for the whole package

Accomodation + 2 weekly tickets + super-intensive course + 8 extra activities: 1200 €

The dates

Summer School courses will be held from the 8th of July to the 30th of August and will be every 2 weeks: 8-19 July, 22 July-2 August, 5-16 August, 19-30 August, every day, from 14:30 to 18:45. Here you can find the whole calendar. 

Info and registration 

For further information, contact us at or visit our website.

Are you still planning on spending summer on your sofa?

Haus der Offiziere, an army base settled in south Berlin which has been working till the 90s      

Have you ever heard about Haus der Offiziere?                                         

Wunsdorf, Germany. Approximately 27 miles away from Berlin lies an army base called “Haus der Offiziere,” which stands for the “officers’ compound.” Opened in 1916, the building hosted Kaiser William II’s troops. Later on, it was used over World War II as a Nazi command center. The fortress “operated” until 1994, when the last soldiers permanently abandoned it.

Haus der Offiziere as Moscow secondment during the Cold War

Werner Borchert, 67 years old, works as a tourist guide in the building; the man claims that “Haus der Offiziere appears to be a tiny Moscow in a German territory.” In fact, during the Cold war the building became the center of the soviet army for the Eastern part of Germany. Inside the building were several facilities, such as a theater, a museum, a swimming pool, many barracks and different kinds of shops. The army base, approximately 4 miles wide, is surrounded by an eleven-mile-long wall and can contain about 40.000 soldiers. The complex still worked after the reunification of the country. Since the mid-1990s, the base has been abandoned and left unattended.

How the “forbidden city” appears today

During the soviet regime, it was almost impossible to reach the army base. Due to this reason, the building earned the name of “forbidden city” as German citizens couldn’t get into the building. Today, if you want to visit the ex-army base, it is possible to do so by booking tickets in advance. At the main entrance stands a Lenin statue; also, a set of Nazi vaults is to be found there. Currently, the base belongs to the federal state of Brandenburg; however, the building doesn’t have a real owner who can refurbish it.

Photo: Herr_Rettschlag CC0

Kurt Drummer: the most followed chef by DDR housewives

Kurt Drummer: a tv chef throughtout the DDR period

The Chef Kurt Drummer played an important role during the DDR period. In fact, he was the leading figure of a German tv program called “Der Fernsehkoch empfiehlt”, which means “Advice from the tv Chef”. The show went on air in 1958 on a television broadcaster service which belonged to the eastern side of Berlin. Over his 25-year-long career, Chef Drummer had the chance to undertake food science studies and to be a chef in a well-known hotel chain called Vereinigung Interhotel. Moreover, he won several international cooking competitions in London, Budapest and Vienna.

“Der Fernsehkoch empfiehlt”: Kurt Drummer’s tv show

Kurt Drummer was born in Germany (Gornsdorf) on 20th March 1928. He was both a Chef and a German showman during the DDR period, when almost 650 episodes of his show came out. Drummer started his career in August 1958. The first episode of the cooking show was called “Delicious fish meals”. Over the years, he released lots of episodes in which he showed people his recipes. Drummer’s tv show episodes usually went on every Saturday night and, in some occasions, on working days or in prime time. With a chef uniform and a white hat, Kurt Drummer shared his passion for food paying attention to its nutritional value. His advice was really popular among his audience. One of his suggestions was to use one ingredient rather than another: for instance, margarine instead of butter to make brown bread.

The tv show ending

The cooking show “Der Fernsekoch empfiehlt” was really appreciated by DDR housewives. Thanks to the easy and healthy recipes presented during the show, people enjoyed Drummer’s work. The program was interrupted in 1983 due to Drummer’s health problems. The chef explained to the spectators that he had no longer energy to fetch ingredients and come up with new recipes as stated by the tv contract.

Photo: Pexels CC0

Inka Grings: the first female coach of a German men’s team

Inka Grings: the first female coach of a German men’s team

Inka Grings becomes the first woman in Germany coaching a men’s team. She was both an ex-football player of the German National team and a technical supervisor of a female soccer club called Duisburg. From now on, she is officially involved in the SV Straelen a team which stood the fourth tier in the Oberliga Nordrhein. Her nomination was taken into account thanks to her ex-Football coach, who proposed her candidacy.

The woman who replaced Hermann Tecklenburg

Hermann Tecklenburg, the old coach, relieved of his charge, seems to have failed the expectations of the team supporters, and backed the candidacy of Inka Grings. The woman, ex-football player, is recognized as the most high-scorer player of the Bundersliga. Also, Martina Voss, who currently coaches the German National team, supported Grings’ candidacy. Germany is getting ready for the first woman on charge that coaches a men’s team. But that’s not all, because also France and Italy have already several women who coach men’s team.

From being a player to coaching

Inka Grings career starts in 2014, when the first female football team has been set up by the MSV Duisburg. Thanks to her technique, she carried her team from the youth field till the Fußball-Bundesliga. Between 2016 and 2017, her team gained the Bundesliga.

Photo: jarmoluk CC0