The 2023 DAAD-ILCS German Language Competition culminated in a prize-giving ceremony at the University of London Senate House on 3 November that celebrated language learning, cultural and historical reimagining. The event featured a thought-provoking discussion between Julia Franke, curator at Berlin’s Deutsches Historisches Museum, and Oxford University Lecturer Alex Lloyd.
Franke’s experience of curating the new exhibition at the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Roads Not Taken, gave unique insights into the process and highlighted new ways of seeing and understanding history. Conceptualised around key turning points in German history, the exhibition delves into alternative routes that Germany might have taken, painting a colourful contrast between reality and what might have happened.
What if? What if Germany had been spared the Great Depression of 1929? What if the attempt on Hitler's life in 1944 had succeeded? What if the Wall had never been built in 1961? And what if there had not been a United Germany following the Peaceful Revolution of 1989? Based on these crucial moments displayed in the exhibition, the competition invited learners of German to reimagine German (and by extension European) history through the writing of letters or diary entries.
Entries showed a remarkable display of talent. The twelve winning submissions captivated the jury with their depth and creativity, demonstrating impressive German language skills whilst conveying complex ideas and emotions.
Winners in various categories also recorded a podcast describing the experience of entering the competition and how they developed their ideas. The podcast, led by trainee BBC journalist Chelsea Coats, provides a dynamic platform showing how language learning can be fun and stimulating.
The DAAD–ILCS’s annual German Language Competition celebrates linguistic and creative excellence whilst promoting understanding of the rich tapestry of German culture and history. All winners and their entries, photos of the event, and the podcast can be found on the DAAD GLC website. This year’s competition was generously sponsored by the German Embassy, the Swiss Embassy, the Goethe Institute, the Keith Spalding Trust (University of London), and the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.