Portrait: Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

August 22nd, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

US President Barack Obama taking his Oath of Office © defenseimagery.mil - Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

US President Barack Obama taking his Oath of Office © defenseimagery.mil – Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

Barack Hussein Obama II is an American politician who served as the 44th President of the United States from January 20, 2009 to January 20, 2017. The first African American to assume the presidency, he was previously the junior United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008. Before that, he served in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 until 2004. For the moment, he is the last US president who is obliged to the values of the West: democracy, freedom, respect for the right and dignity of man, irrespective of origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or political attitude, and in compliance with national and international law.   read more…

Portrait: Hans and Sophie Scholl

July 25th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Ludwig Maximilians University Munich - Lichthof © Cfaerber/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ludwig Maximilians University Munich – Lichthof © Cfaerber/cc-by-sa-3.0

Hans and Sophie Scholl, often referred to in German as die Geschwister Scholl (literally: the Scholl siblings), were a brother and sister who were members of the White Rose, a student group in Munich that was active in the non-violent resistance movement in Nazi Germany, especially in distributing flyers against the war and the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. In post-war Germany, Hans and Sophie Scholl are recognized as symbols of the Christian German resistance movement against the totalitarian Nazi regime.   read more…

Portrait: Albert Schweitzer, a French-German theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician

June 27th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

© Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0

Albert Schweitzer, OM, was a French-German (Schweitzer was born in the province of Kaysersberg, which changed hands between France and Germany near and during his lifetime. Schweitzer considered himself French and wrote mostly in German. His mother-tongue was Alsatian) theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician. A Lutheran, Schweitzer challenged both the secular view of Jesus as depicted by historical-critical methodology current at this time, as well as the traditional Christian view. His contributions to the interpretation of Pauline Christianity concern the role of Paul‘s mysticism of “being in Christ” as primary and the doctrine of Justification by Faith as secondary. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of “Reverence for Life”, expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa (then French Equatorial Africa). As a music scholar and organist, he studied the music of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach and influenced the Organ Reform Movement (Orgelbewegung).   read more…

Portrait: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics

May 23rd, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was a German mechanical engineer and physicist, who, on 8 November 1895, produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range known as X-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. In honour of his accomplishments, in 2004 the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) named element 111, roentgenium, a radioactive element with multiple unstable isotopes, after him.   read more…

Portrait: Thomas Mann

April 25th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Thomas Mann at Hotel Adlon in Berlin, 1929 © Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0-de

Thomas Mann at Hotel Adlon in Berlin, 1929 © Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0-de

Paul Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Mann’s work influenced many future authors, including Heinrich Böll, Joseph Heller, Yukio Mishima, and Orhan Pamuk.   read more…

Portrait: Financier and banker J. P. Morgan

March 28th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

J. P. Morgan © Images of American Political History - Pach Bros.

J. P. Morgan © Images of American Political History – Pach Bros.

John Pierpont Morgan Sr. was an American financier and banker who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation in the United States of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric. He also played important roles in the formation of the United States Steel Corporation, International Harvester and AT&T. At the height of Morgan’s career during the early twentieth century, he and his partners had financial investments in many large corporations and had significant influence over the nation’s high finance and United States Congress members. He directed the banking coalition that stopped the Panic of 1907. He was the leading financier of the Progressive Era, and his dedication to efficiency and modernization helped transform American business. Adrian Wooldridge characterized Morgan as America’s “greatest banker”. Morgan died in Rome, Italy, in his sleep in 1913 at the age of 75, leaving his fortune and business to his son, John Pierpont Morgan Jr. His fortune was estimated at “only” $80 million, prompting John D. Rockefeller to say: “and to think, he wasn’t even a rich man”.   read more…

Portrait: Andrew Carnegie, steel magnate and philanthropist

February 21st, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Andrew Carnegie © Library of Congress - Theodore C. Marceau

Andrew Carnegie © Library of Congress – Theodore C. Marceau

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, business magnate, and philanthropist during the Gilded Age. Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and is often identified as one of the richest people (and richest Americans) ever. He became a leading philanthropist in the United States, and in the British Empire. During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away about $350 million to charities, foundations, and universities—almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 article proclaiming The Gospel of Wealth called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, and stimulated a wave of philanthropy.   read more…

Portrait: Shipowner, railway operator and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt

January 24th, 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad tycoon, by J. C. Buttre

Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad tycoon, by J. C. Buttre

Cornelius Vanderbilt (May 27, 1794 – January 4, 1877), also known informally as “Commodore Vanderbilt”, was an American business magnate and philanthropist who built his wealth in railroads and shipping. Born poor and having only a mediocre education, Vanderbilt used perseverance, intelligence, and luck to work his way into leadership positions in the inland water trade and invest in the rapidly growing railroad industry. He is known for owning the New York Central Railroad. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s great-great-grandfather, Jan Aertson or Aertszoon (“Aert’s son”), was a Dutch farmer from the village of De Bilt in Utrecht, Netherlands, who emigrated to New York as an indentured servant in 1650. The Dutch van der (“of the”) was eventually added to Aertson’s village name to create “van der Bilt” (“of the Bilt”). This was eventually condensed to Vanderbilt. As one of the richest Americans in history and wealthiest figures overall, Vanderbilt was the patriarch of a wealthy, influential family. He provided the initial gift to found Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. According to historian H. Roger Grant:

Contemporaries, too, often hated or feared Vanderbilt or at least considered him an unmannered brute. While Vanderbilt could be a rascal, combative and cunning, he was much more a builder than a wrecker. … being honorable, shrewd, and hard-working.

  read more…

Portrait: Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor

December 27th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Hamburg, Portrait

Otto von Bismarck in 1886 © Immanuel Giel/cc-by-sa-3.0

Otto von Bismarck in 1886 © Immanuel Giel/cc-by-sa-3.0

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890. In the 1860s, he engineered a series of wars that unified the German states, deliberately excluding Austria, into a powerful German Empire under Prussian leadership. With that accomplished by 1871, he skillfully used balance of power diplomacy to maintain Germany’s position in a Europe which, despite many disputes and war scares, remained at peace. For historian Eric Hobsbawm, it was Bismarck who “remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess for almost twenty years after 1871, [and] devoted himself exclusively, and successfully, to maintaining peace between the powers”. However, his annexation of Alsace-Lorraine gave new fuel to French nationalism and promoted Germanophobia in France. This helped set the stage for the First World War.   read more…

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