KES logo

In conversation with John Kampfner

In April, John Kampfner, journalist, writer and broadcaster, came to KES for a discussion with Professor Simon Green (Professor of Politics at Aston University) about his new book In Search of Berlin: The Story of a Reinvented City.

He began by reading the first few pages of his work, and this was followed by a wide-ranging discussion about the history and significance of Berlin. In particular, Kampfner described the search for Berlin’s identity following reunification in 1989 and the role it currently plays as Germany’s capital city. He furnished the conversation with detailed empirical examples of various aspects of Berlin’s geography and history, explaining the historical and sociopolitical context of architectural and cultural variations across the city, that would perhaps pass the average tourist by.

The idea of a capital city, representative of its people, was interesting when compared with London. Kampfner explored the idea that in England, other cities feel second to our capital and so London is seen to epitomise (and hence represent) the country well; in Germany, numerous great cities, each famous and vital for various reasons, are dotted around the nation. For example, we see Frankfurt, the finance hub and home to the central Bundesbank, or Stuttgart, the ‘cradle of the automobile,’ where we find Porsche and Mercedes-Benz headquarters. This is not to mention the huge metropolis of Munich! For this reason, as Kampfner outlined, Berlin struggles to find a united national identity through which it can represent Germany as a whole.

Kampfner’s previous book, Why the Germans Do It Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country, was published in 2020, and immediately received huge positive acclaim as a Sunday Times bestseller for many weeks. Several newspapers selected it as one of the books of the year 2020 and 2021, as well as it being shortlisted for the Orwell Prize (for political writing). This most recent book about the history of Berlin has garnered similar acclaim.

Overall, Kampfner and Green wonderfully contributed to the intellectual crossroads of history, politics and language which Berlin represents, and King Edward’s School was greatly honoured to host these esteemed guests.

Surya (Divisions)

More Posts

Qur’an in the City project

Last week, KES hosted a Study Day for Year 9 pupils from across the King Edward VI Foundation as part of the Qur’an in the City project in collaboration with the University of Birmingham’s Culture Forward programme.

Imperial College Science and Innovation Competition

Congratulations to three pupils from Year 12, Haaris, Han & Friedrich, for achieving the title of runners-up in the Imperial College Science and Innovation competition finals. Their achievement stands out among over 250 teams worldwide.

Enterprise Day

Over 90 Year 9 students from across our Foundation Schools came together to take part in this year’s Enterprise Day.

Search our site