Mark S. Weiner

Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

If Your Law Were an Animal … or a Tool … or Music?

In Austria, Constitutional law, Conversations, Cross-cultural encounters & comparisons, Europe, Germany, Law and music, Netherlands, Romania, Video on July 30, 2013 at 3:58 pm

When I was in Europe last November, I asked a group of legal professionals some unusual questions. The results are in my new video.

 

Beauty & Dignity: How is German Law Like Music?

In Aesthetics, narrative, form, Austria, Constitutional law, Conversations, Cross-cultural encounters & comparisons, Germany, Law and music, Video on February 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm

My latest video is about the concept of human dignity in German constitutional law. The video also considers the relation between law and art—in this case, music—which I’ve also examined in two other videos: “The Beauty of the Code” and “Law in Stone & Glass.”

A Short, Simple Post

In Germany on February 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Those who have been reading this blog or following my Facebook page know that I’ve recently had the chance to get to know some of the faculty and students at the law school of the University of Würzburg, in Germany. The law school is housed in this beautiful old building:

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For many years, a Jewish wine merchant and philanthropist named Max Stern (1883-1956) used the cellar of the building to store his wine, keeping it safe there in the great, intricately carved wooden barrels characteristic of the region. Some of the barrels were carved with images of his family.

In 1938, the Sterns fled their homeland, escaping death, and found refuge in America.

The law school is now creating a memorial to the family, making the history of this one spot, this specific piece of ground, visible and alive. The memorial will include a video of an interview with one of Max Stern’s daughters in which she talks about her father and about the arc or her own life. Today I traveled to New Jersey at the invitation of the law school’s former Dean, Eric Hilgendorf, to film the conversation.

To protect her privacy, I won’t name the woman, and I won’t talk about what she said, but I wanted to share one impression.

When we arrived, we were served lunch. The sparkling table was bedecked with home-made cooking (much of it German): delicious potato salad, tangy from just the right amount of vinegar; beet-pink herring salad, flavorful yet mild; perfectly broiled, thick slices of salmon; pastrami, mustard, and rye; apple cake with caramelized nuts; blueberry tort; lemon bars; coffee. She had been cooking for hours.

The memory of her exile was all about us. The silverware with which we ate was stamped with the name of the city from which she had fled as a fourteen-year-old girl. And yet there was a representative of the country that had driven her family violently away, the Dean of a law school whose building bore the memory of her own exile in its bones, and she had prepared for him this beautiful meal of welcome.

This is a short, simple post, to share and remember that extraordinary act.

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I’ve been working on an article about The Rule of the Clan for The Chronicle of Higher Education. I’ll return with longer posts soon.

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A New Video: German & EU Legal Buildings

In Aesthetics, narrative, form, Architecture, Conversations, Europe, Germany, Video on January 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Here’s my latest mini-documentary from my recent trip to Europe—it’s called “Law in Stone & Glass,” and it’s about German and EU legal architecture. I hope you all enjoy it.

Thanks for all your recent emails. Please know how much I enjoy hearing from you!

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Update 5/10/13. Here is a videotaped lecture by anthropologist Alan Macfarlane that provides a broad historical context—the social history of glass—for the themes I explore in the video. I’m also looking forward to reading his book (with Gerry Martin) The Glass Bathyscaphe. HT: Breviosity.

Law Made in Germany

In Conversations, Cross-cultural encounters & comparisons, Europe, Germany, Video on January 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm

As promised some weeks ago, here is my interview with the German Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger. In our conversation, I asked the minister about the export of German law overseas, internet privacy and European Union legal harmonization, German law school tuition, and the recent controversy surrounding circumcision in Germany. If you’re reading this blog in the three-column format and would like a larger version of the embedded YouTube video, click here.

For those who are interested in reading the booklet “Law Made in Germany,” click here.

A conversation about German law beside the river Main

In Aesthetics, narrative, form, Books and libraries, Conversations, Germany, Law and music, Video on December 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Before I post my interview with the German Minister of Justice (I hope to do so later this week), I thought I’d share a snippet of lively conversation I had this afternoon with a young German lawyer in a picturesque spot in city of Würzburg. Now I’m off to give a public lecture about The Rule of the Clan!

A Talk with the German Minister of Justice

In Conversations, Europe, Germany on December 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Greetings from Würzburg, Germany! As never fails, I’m having a great time in this beautiful, vibrant town, with its baroque castle overlooking a living, modern city center. A cold front recently descended from the east, and when night falls, the streets are illuminated as much from snowflakes gently drifting through the air as from the glow of street lamps. Plus the country knows a thing or two about how to celebrate Christmas with true community spirit, so there have been plenty of opportunities for me to drink mulled wine and eat Nutella-filled crepes at the shimmering Christmas market.

There’s also never been a dull moment intellectually. This Friday and Saturday, I held an intensive class about American constitutional law for German students—how intensive? Saturday’s class lasted eight hours!—tomorrow I’ll be giving a public lecture about The Rule of the Clan (in fact, I just finished reading the final proofs!), yesterday I conducted a spirited interview with a German law professor (question: if German law were a composer, which would it be? Answer, naturally: Bach), and all of the moments in between have been filled with political and philosophical conversations.

But best of all was today. In the afternoon, I attended a coffee hour with the German Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who spoke about a wide range of policy issues with a small group of faculty and local professionals. I was really impressed with her openness, intelligence, and thoughtfulness—but the discussion over Kaffee und Kuchen was nothing compared with the talk about German law in an age of globalization she gave almost immediately afterward to an audience several hundred (I was seated in the front row). The talk was sponsored by an innovative program at the University of Würzburg in “global systems and intercultural competence,” and it would have done credit to any university academic. One of her main points was that Germany should seek to export its legal ideas as actively and effectively as Britain and the United States have done—which certainly seemed eminently sensible. I kept thinking how lucky Germans are to have a political culture that nurtures someone like her.

German Minister

And then, amazingly, I got the chance to interview the minister one-on-one. It wasn’t a long interview, just ten minutes or so. And she was clearly a bit tired, having been working since the crack of dawn—and having just spoken passionately for many hours about some very difficult issues. But it was a complete thrill, and she was fantastic—not only smart and tough, but also warm. Among other topics, we talked about the threat that internet companies based in America pose to citizen privacy in Europe, the legislative protection of circumcision in Germany in the wake of a controversial court ruling prohibiting the practice, and the fact that German law students don’t pay tuition—a policy that, as a member of the liberal Free Democratic Party, she opposes.

I’m looking forward to posting excerpts from the interview soon.

A Philosophical Reflection on Judicial Bobbleheads

In Aesthetics, narrative, form, Books and libraries, Conversations, Germany, Supreme Court, Video on October 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I’ve begun to experiment with videos about comparative law. Here’s my first (click here, or click “read more” below, and then click on the video). Read the rest of this entry »