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    The Bridge’s Striking Heroine

    The striking German actress on the drama’s improved Season 2 and whether she’s ever seen her partner Joshua Jackson’s ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ [Warning: Some spoilers.]

    Hers was “the face that launched a thousand ships.” Now, a decade after making her big-screen splash in the sword-and-sandals blockbuster Troy, Diane Kruger is no longer a model-turned-ingénue, but a versatile actress who can convincingly portray anyone from a German screen siren/spy (Inglourious Basterds) to a treasure hunter with a Ph.D. (the National Treasure films). But on FX’s gritty drama The Bridge, she’s taken her talent to a different level.

    Kruger plays Det. Sonya Cross, a member of the El Paso Police Department who, when she’s not investigating rampant corruption and violence along the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico—the show’s title refers to the Bridge of the Americas border crossing—is busy managing her Asperger’s. The socially awkward Cross has found an odd ally in Det. Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir), a world-weary homicide detective for the Mexican State Police of Chihuahua.

  • Hungarian girl nationalists in Budapest where a women's organisation had been formed on Nazi lines. (Popperfoto/Getty)

    Femme Fatale

    Hitler’s Killer Women

    A new book pulls back the veil on the widespread involvement of women in the Third Reich’s most murderous and brutal activities. An exclusive excerpt from Wendy Lower’s Hitler’s Furies.

    The history of female killers—Hitler’s furies—during the Third Reich has been suppressed, overlooked, and under-researched. Given the ideological indoctrination of the young cohort of men and women who came of age in the Third Reich, their mass mobilization in the eastern campaign, and the culture of genocidal violence embedded in Nazi conquest and colonization, I deduced—as a historian, not a prosecutor—that there were plenty of women who killed Jews and other “enemies” of the Reich, more than had been documented during the war or prosecuted afterward. Though the documented cases of direct killing are not numerous, they must be taken very seriously and not dismissed as anomalies. Hitler’s Furies were not marginal sociopaths. They believed that their violent deeds were justified acts of revenge meted out to enemies of the Reich; such deeds were, in their minds, expressions of loyalty.

    As self-proclaimed superior rulers, German women in the Nazi East wielded unprecedented power over those designated “subhuman”; they were given a license to abuse and even kill those who were perceived, as one secretary near Minsk said after the war, as the scum of society. These women had proximity to power in the massive state-run machinery of destruction. They also had proximity to the crime scenes; there was no great distance between the settings of small towns, where women went about their daily routines, and the horrors of ghettos, camps, and mass executions. There was no divide between the home front and the battlefront. Women could decide on the spot to join the orgy of violence.

  • Figure skater Katarina Witt of Germany becomes the first woman figure skater to repeat as Olympic champion, first in 1984, and again in 1988 (Daniel Janin/AFP/Getty)


    Socialism’s ‘Most Beautiful Face’

    Katie Baker on a new ESPN documentary that examines Katarina Witt’s ascent in the symbolically loaded Cold War sports scene.

    It’s February 27, 1988, at the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. A beguiling figure dressed in scarlet and black skates silently out in front of the crowd that has packed into the Saddledome arena to catch the final day of the women’s figure-skating championships. The girl is hauntingly lovely: lips rouged, hair pulled back and fixed with a flamenco flourish. She is skating to Bizet’s Carmen, and she is skating for her future. If she lands her jumps and wows the judges, the chance at a professional career awaits. If she trips or falls, or loses her momentum and lets her confidence falter, she will be sent home to East Germany, and her life as a figure skater will be over. She will be trapped behind the impenetrability of the Iron Curtain, perhaps never to be allowed outside the country again.

    The girl, of course, is Katarina Witt, one of the greatest figure skaters of all time—a sports-world superstar sent to the West to represent the supposed glories of communism, even as the German Democratic Republic and its Eastern bloc allies rotted behind the scenes. Her story—from her meteoric rise as a darling of the rink through her glittering Olympic years to her fate in a unified Germany—is traced by the new documentary The Diplomat, airing Tuesday night on ESPN. And yet, in 1988 at Calgary, as Witt embarked upon her final performance as a state-sponsored athlete, the Berlin Wall’s collapse—less than two years away—was as utterly unthinkable as the impending fall of the U.S.S.R. As far as Witt and her fellow East Germans were concerned, they were in Canada to help win the Cold War by bringing home gold to their government.

  • Markus Schreiber/AP


    Police Shut Down Femen Protest

    Of three women from the group in Germany.

    Police moved three bare-chested women from the feminist protest group Femen from outside the German chancellery in Berlin Friday while they were protesting for the release of other activists in Tunisia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Tunisian Premier Ali Larayedh, who said the problem had been discussed and handled accordingly. Two of the protesters painted names of the activists on their chests, and the other had “Free Femen” on her stomach. Police said they were not arrested, but charges may be pending.

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    Workplace Equality

    Female Hiring Quota Tiff Hurts Merkel

    Her CDU party slipped in the polls after an internal battle over a quota requiring German firms to put more women on their boards.

    Angela Merkel has long been opposed to the idea of forcing German companies to increase female membership on their boards. But the country’s Iron Chancellor—often called the world’s most powerful woman—found her back against the wall this week when a rogue bloc in her own party came out in favor of the quota system. Led by Merkel’s labor minister, Ursula von der Leyen—who was hired to promote women’s rights—the rebels forced Merkel to agree to the quota, though the changes won't take effect until 2020.

    The political challenge from her own flank left Merkel smarting—and it could end up hurting her and her Christian Democratic Union party in September’s elections. Support for Merkel’s conservatives fell 2 percentage points to 39 percent after the quota quarrel, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday. The ruling government party is still pegged to win a parliamentary majority by a small margin.