Kerstin Lange


Kerstin Lange is a writer, travel planner, and naturalist.

Brian A. Jackson / iStock

With apologies to Henry David Thoreau, I’ve lately come to think that the mass of people, or at least a great many of us, are leading lives of noisy desperation.

I don’t exactly have a Vermont accent. My first language is German, and even though I started learning English in fifth grade, the accent sticks. It’s not a big deal; I can usually communicate just fine, to the extent that we humans can communicate with words and language – but that’s another story.

Kerstin Lange

For those old enough to remember, the fall of 1989 was an exhilarating time. One had to have a heart of stone to not be moved by the chants of “We are the people”. So many East Germans had mustered the courage to challenge their repressive regime that it finally collapsed, and they did it peacefully.

Living in two cultures can be enriching, sometimes it’s just plain baffling. Being a citizen of two countries helps - it makes it harder to dismiss baffling behavior as “typically German” or “typically American”.

Lange: Not Sinking

Aug 29, 2016

On September 4, 2015, German chancellor Angela Merkel and the Austrian chancellor at the time, Werner Faymann, agreed to let some 7,000 refugees enter their respective countries from Hungary. The refugees, most of them from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, had been stranded for days at a Budapest train station, which had become a de facto refugee camp with abysmal conditions.

Germany is in the news a lot these days as it struggles to take in the thousands of refugees that arrive each day.

I’ve been feeling haunted by these images: People with little but the clothes on their back, traumatized from whatever they fled from – these people facing protesters and sometimes outright violence in the countries they thought of as safe havens. In one small town in eastern Germany, 100 police offers have been placed on 24 hour watch at a temporary shelter for newly arrived refugees.

Lange: The Wall

Nov 4, 2014

With everything going on in the world, it can seem as if the events of November 1989 happened in the Middle Ages. But it’s worth contemplating what exactly happened, and how.

The fact that the Berlin Wall fell during a peaceful revolution is as remarkable as the fact that it fell at all. The developments that led up to the event itself began a decade earlier.

Lange: German Holiday

Jun 17, 2014

Throughout my childhood, June 17th signaled a summer holiday – when families would pack a picnic and go for a bicycle outing. Only gradually did I realize that the holiday reflected the fact that we lived in a divided country - and that in the “other Germany” June 17th was not a holiday at all.

Officially, this was the “Day of German Unity” and it was observed in West Germany to commemorate the uprising in East Germany on June seventeenth, 1953 – an uprising brutally suppressed by Soviet forces.