A special show marking A WHOLE YEAR OF THE PODCAST! Extra brilliant guests are here to help us mark this very narcissistic edition of anniversary annexe/commemoration corner. Flavia Kleiner, whose Operation Libero has been waging a quietly successful war against rightwing populism in Switzerland, calls in from Zurich with some lessons for the rest of Europe. And Andrea Chalupa is here to discuss her new film Gareth Jones, about a courageous Welsh journalist’s battle to tell the truth about the famine her grandfather survived in Ukraine 85 years ago. Plus: vote-buying, espionage, and a few splashes of prosecco.
A hundred years on from the end of World War I, we wanted to look at an aspect of the conflict we don’t often talk about: the role of millions of troops of colour who fought for European powers. The excellent Christian Koller, professor of modern history at Zurich University, is here to help us explore what life was like for African and Asian soldiers who were often dismissed as ‘savages’ while risking their lives for European governments.
Also: France faces its past, European conservatives face their future, and Dominic faces a lifetime of incessant church bells.
Our episode name comes from the poem by George A. Borden:
The bugle called and forth we went
To serve the crown our backs far bent,
And build what ere that must be done;
But ne’re to fire an angry gun
No heroes we no nay not one.
With deep lament we did our job
Despite the shame our manhood robbed.
We built and fixed and fixed again,
To prove our worth as proud black men
And hasten sure the Kaiser’s end.
From Scotia port to Seaford Square
Across to France the conflict there,
At Ville La Joux and Place Peronne
For God and King to right the wrong –
The number two six hundred strong.
Stripped to the waist and sweated chest
Mid-day’s reprieve much needed rest.
We dug and hauled and lifted high
From trenches deep toward the sky –
Non-fighting troops and yet we die
The peace restored the battle won
Black sweat and toil had beat the Hun.
Black blood was spilled black bodies maimed
For medals brave no black was named,
Yet proud were we our pride unshamed.
But time will bring forth other wars,
Then give to us more daring chores
That we might prove our courage strong
Preserve the right repel the wrong,
And proud we’ll sing the battle song.
You can read Christian’s fascinating research here.
Thanks for listening. 🇪🇺 ❤
This week, the story of a painting that’s been attacked with knives, chopped up, hidden in a cave from Nazis, and has probably had beer spilled on it. It also happens to be one of the world’s greatest masterpieces. Our very special guest is Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, here to explain why the Netherlands’ national museum is going to be restoring The Night Watch while the whole world watches. And from Rembrandt to race, the playright Marjorie H. Morgan is on the line from Liverpool to talk about the difference between being black in Europe and black in America.
The Europeans is supported by Are We Europe, the continent’s most beautiful magazine. Type ‘europeanspod’ for a 15% discount on your copy.
Thanks for listening! 🇪🇺 ❤
A longer version of our conversation with Akbar Ahmed on his book ‘Journey into Europe’ about Islam’s role in the continent.
We couldn’t have two more different interviews for you this week: we’re talking anti-Semitism in Germany and the art of remaining zen on a beach in Scotland.
After two German rappers sparked national outrage with lyrics about the Holocaust, Human Rights Watch Germany’s chief Wenzel Michalski is on the line to talk about his all too personal experience of Europe’s rising problem with anti-Semitism.
But why throw stones when you can turn them into art instead? Scottish photographer Andy Buchanan brings us the weird, wonderful and unexpectedly hilarious story of covering the European Stone Stacking Championships. You can see his beautiful photos in the Guardian here.
Plus, Macron Does America and Bulgaria Does It Wrong (check out former guest Georgi Gotev’s reporting on a night of vodka and scantily-clad ladies here). And why not stick around and Take A Chance On Dominic’s happy ending this week?
You can check out the story behind our artwork, as mentioned in the show, on the great new podcast I Should Start A Podcast.
And if you have a few minutes to spare, we’d love it if you could leave us a review — it helps new listeners to find the show.
Thanks for listening, Europe!
Hello from Paris and Amsterdam! Since we’ve seen a huge rise in listeners this week (welcome!) we’re in a giving mood, so we’re talking about organ donation. As countries across Europe weigh up how to save the most lives, transplant ethicist Greg Moorlock is on the line from Birmingham, England to discuss why Spain sees so many more donations than Germany and whether or not the Netherlands should make giving up our kidneys an ‘opt-out’ affair. Ania Jakubek in Warsaw is back to explain what’s going on with Poland’s new Holocaust law. Plus: a good (ish) week for Angela Merkel, and a bad one for French fashion designer Christian Louboutin and his famous red-soled shoes.
Thanks so much for the lovely reviews you’ve been writing — it’s not too late to add another to help people find the podcast across Europe and beyond!