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May 8th: Tag der Befreiung

Was war am 8. Mai 1945?

What happened on the 8th of May, 1945?

Caption 31, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 10

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On the evening of May 8th, 1945, German forces surrendered unconditionally to Allied forces in Berlin, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe. This also meant the end of Nazi Germany, which had been committing crimes against humanity in Germany and in occupied countries for more than twelve years.


Wann waren die Nationalsozialisten

When were the National Socialists

mit Adolf Hitler in Deutschland an der Macht?

in power with Adolf Hitler in Germany?

1933 bis 1945.

From 1933 to 1945.

Captions 18-19, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 11

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In the United States and Great Britain, the day is called Victory in Europe Day (often shortened to "VE Day"). A national holiday is celebrated on this date in a number of European countries. In Germany, the day is known as Tag der Befreiung, or "Liberation Day." Although not a national holiday in Germany, there are often events organized on this day to celebrate the country's liberation from the Nazis and to memorialize the millions of victims. For May 8th, 2020, the city-state of Berlin declared a regional holiday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation.


It may seem strange to some that a country would celebrate its own surrender, but by doing so the Germans create a clear break between the authoritarian Nazi state and the democratic German Federal Republic which followed. It is simultaneously a way to remember the human destruction caused by the criminal Nazi Regime.


Die Städte fallen unter den alliierten Bombern in Schutt und Asche.

The cities are falling into debris and ashes under the Allied bombers.

Caption 26, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Although the Allied bombing of civilians in the Second World War would be judged a war crime by modern standards, it was practiced by all sides in this conflict. Most Germans today recognize that it was the Nazi Regime that ultimately bears responsibility for the destruction inflicted upon Germany during the war by its enemies.


Welche Länder wurden nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in Deutschland

Which countries were, in Germany after the Second World War,

als alliierte Besatzungsmächte bezeichnet?

named Allied occupying powers?

USA, die Sowjetunion, Großbritannien und Frankreich.

USA, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France.

Captions 33-35, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 10

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Although the Allied forces eventually withdrew most of their troops from Germany—the Soviets completely, after the dissolution of the GDR and the Soviet Union—there is still a continuing problem with right-wing extremists in Germany.


Wir ignorieren seit 1945,

Since 1945, we've been ignoring

dass es noch so viel Rechtsextremismus in Deutschland gibt.

that there is still so much right-wing extremism in Germany.

Captions 54-55, Böhmermann - Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um?

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Und im Rahmen dieses besonderen Tages

And in the framework of this special day,

wurde auch die Gedenkstätte

the Memorial

für die ermordeten Wiesbadener Juden

for the Murdered Jews of Wiesbaden

ihrer Bestimmung übergeben.

was consigned to its set purpose.

Captions 8-10, Holocaust-Gedenktag - Gedenkstätte am Michelsberg

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It is through Holocaust memorials, such as those in Michelsberg and Wiesbaden, that Germany hopes to steer young people away from right-wing racist extremism. But the infiltration of the German police and military by right-wing extremists has only started to be investigated in recent years, and 2022's coup attempt to seize the military and overthrow the German government has hopefully awakened the German government to the need to take stronger measures.


Further Learning
Today, the 8th of May 2023, is the 78th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany and the liberation of Europe. You can read on Wikipedia about the surrender of Nazi Germany on May 8th, 1945, and about the Allied holiday that celebrated the event. Go to Yabla German to watch some of the videos above about related topics.

All about the preposition zeit, Part I

We should all know the meaning of the noun die Zeit by now, considering it is also the title of one of the most well-known newspapers in Germany. But how many of you are familiar with the preposition zeit, written in lower-case? German, more so than English, tends to have many words and expressions that appear in print but are rarely spoken, and zeit is one of these. Let's start with the one we already know: 


Ich wünschte, die Zeit würde stillstehen.

I wish that time could stand still.

Caption 40, Die Klasse - Berlin '61 - Part 8

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Für die Verschwörer wird die Zeit immer knapper.

For the conspirators, time gets scarcer and scarcer.

Caption 30, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Das wird die Zeit meines Lebens

It will be the time of my life

Caption 18, Glasperlenspiel - Geiles Leben

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Note that in most cases, the German uses the definite article die (the) when referring to time, whereas English, in most cases, drops the article altogether. The last example above is interesting in that "the time of my life" is a standard expression, as is Die glücklichste Zeit meines Lebens ("The happiest time of my life"). This construction, as you will note, is very similar to the most standard use of the preposition zeit and it could be easy to confuse the two:


Ich bin Architekt von Beruf und habe zeit meines Lebens als Architekt gearbeitet.
I am an architect by profession and have worked as an architect for all of my life.


Zeit seines Lebens war er nie in Rom
During his lifetime he has never been to Rome.


In a general sense, zeit can be translated as "during" or "for." The first example of zeit meines Lebens could have been translated as "during my lifetime" or simply "all my life." Note that zeit meines Lebens therefore has a very different meaning from Die Zeit meines Lebens. The former is referring to something you have done all of your life, enjoyable or not, and the latter to having one of the best times of your life.


Further Learning
In the unlikely event that you were to hear zeit spoken, you might easily think that it was the similar-sounding preposition seit. Remember, however, that seit is pronounced with an English sounding Z and takes the dative form, whereas zeit is pronounced with a Ts sound and takes the genitive form. See the full meaning of zeit on the German dictionary website Duden and see if you can find any other German expressions that use the preposition zeit.  

Promises, Secrets, and Lies

Quite a few words, phrases, and expressions related to promises, secrets, and lies have popped up in some of Yabla's recent video series. Let's look at some of these, as they can be a useful and fun addition to your vocabulary.


The basic word for a promise is das Versprechen, which stems from the verb versprechen. However, schwören can be used like "to swear" in English to indicate a promise as well:


Er erinnerte sie daran, dass man halten muss, was man verspricht.

He reminded her that you must keep what you have promised.

Caption 66, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Der Froschkönig

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Wir haben Flügel, schwören uns ewige Treue

We have wings, we swear eternal loyalty to each other

Caption 18, Andreas Bourani - Auf uns

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You may know the noun for "secret" but do you know the adjective for "top secret"?


Wie meinst du das? -Ich kenne dein Geheimnis! -Was?

How do you mean that? -I know your secret! -What?

Caption 37, Das Lügenbüro - Die Bewerbung

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Das streng geheime Papier, das in Olbrichts Panzerschrank lagert...

The top secret paper stored in Olbricht's safe...

Caption 4, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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The expression unter vier Augen means "in private" or "between the two of us":


Ich halte es sowieso für besser, mit Prinz Dietbert unter vier Augen zu sprechen.

I think it is better anyway to speak with Prince Dietbert under four eyes [in private].

Caption 33, Küss mich, Frosch - Leb wohl, kleiner Prinz

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You may know the noun die Lüge and the verb lügen, but there is also anlügen, which refers to lying to directly to a person. 


Und wir sind umgezogen, ich hab dich angelogen

And we moved, I lied to you

Caption 2, AnnenMayKantereit - Oft gefragt

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Further Learning
Practice conjugating the verbs schwören, versprechen, and lügen/anlügen. You can find more examples of these verbs used in real life situations on Yabla German

Light, Left and Loose Hands

In English, we are used to using a number of idioms to express that something is easy without thinking much about the literal meaning of what we are saying. For instance, to someone who is not so familiar with English, the expression "it's a piece of cake" might sound like you are discussing pastries, when really you are just attempting to express that something is easy. 


The German language also has a number of idioms expressing that something is easy or easily done, and many of them are related to the hands. 


Heute wird das alles mit leichter Hand, äh, so weggewischt.

Today, that is all erased with a light hand [idiom, with ease].

Caption 80, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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This means that you don't have to use much energy for something and can use a "light hand" to easily get something done.


Das machen wir dann mit links.

We'll do that then with our left hand [idiom, easily].


This does not mean to literally use your left hand to do something, but rather that something is so easy that a right-handed person could even manage it with their less nimble left hand.


Dann ging mir das eigentlich locker von der Hand.

Then it actually went very loosely from the hand [idiom, was easy for me].

Caption 72, Frankfurter Flughafen - Flugzeugschlepper

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This might suggest that something has fallen out of your hand, but actually means that something was accomplished with very little effort or quite easily.


Further Learning
Go onto Yabla German and find more examples of phrases expressing "easy" and "easily." As Piggeldy and Frederick always say: Nichts leichter als das!