Saturday, December 17, 2016

My Top Ten German Fakes

I sat the other day and pondered upon this German topic of fake news, asked myself....why one circle?  There actually are a lot of fake things....some even German.

1.  Nutella.  It's a wonderful German "nutritional" spread for breakfast or snacks.  I should note that it's 70-percent saturated fat and processed sugar by weight.  Just two table-spoons are 200 calories.  This German spread is often hyped up in various countries (to include the US) as a great nutritional item because it comes from Hazelnuts. The thing is....if you bring up this nutritional topic....German experts will get all hyped up and angry because it is fake.  No nutritional expert will ever say it has any good stuff on nutrition.

2. VW Diesel Issue.  For roughly seven years, VW manufactured a series of diesel engine which they were proud of the technology for clean air.  Then someone figured out that the software within the vehicle was rigged, and it was a 'dirty' diesel engine. Fake statistics?  Yeah.  The engineering team came to realize they could never build a engine that had good mileage, was clean, and had they manufactured a software that made you think it was clean.  It is such a fake situation, that VW is fairly damaged.  German owners getting compensation?  Oddly, they are at the very end of the whole deal and VW is probably hoping that the German government never forces them to pay off individual owners here.

3.  Fake resume.  For over twenty years, Petra Hinz kept moving up the SPD Party of members in NRW.  Her job profession?  She was a degreed-lawyer. Well....back in July of 2016....reality finally caught up and she had to admit that she didn't have the law degree, and never took the state bar exam. Here she of the top twenty-five SPD members nationally, and highly regarded within Berlin Bundestag....a fake lawyer.  She was urged to resign quickly....for the sake of the party.  This took several months of coaching before she finally walked away.

4.  Fake band, Milli Vanilla. This German R&B band (two guys actually) was a creation of Frank Farian in 1988.  What can be said is that Frank did know good music and how to package it.  So he had these tunes in his mind, but he needed a front act to fit it.  So he hired these two guys....Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus.  Fab and Rob basically dressed in hip-fashion (for 1988), and had the appearance of male models.  1989 was this break-out year for the band with Girl You Know It's them a Grammy for Best New Artist in spring of 1990.  The thing is....NEITHER guy could actually sing.  Frank had the vocals done in a studio with a couple of regular singers/artists who didn't have the "appeal" that Fab and Rob gave him.  Things would have been fine except both Fab and Rob wanted to do the vocals and sing on their own....which they just didn't grasp the talent situation.  The public figured out the gimmick by the end of 1990.  Things went downhill with the German band, with Rob heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol, dying in a Frankfurt hotel in 1998.

5.  Fake German beer steins.  Most all American guys who spend a couple of years in Germany on some tour....end up with a authentic-looking beer stein.  These can be highly decorative.  Prior to the 1990s....when you bought one of these at some local German gift probably was German-made.  Over the past decade, the German gift shops have imported a fair number of Chinese-made steins.  So if you are buying need to pay attention, and buy only from a reputable dealer and ask questions.

6.  Fake Hitler Diary. In the early 1980s....Konrad Kujau appeared with no less than sixty volumes of daily journals that Adolf Hitler had written. was unbelievable at the time that such journals existed.  The fact that we are talking about sixty of them....all hand-written...was a monumental effort.  It took roughly two years to create these.  Stern magazine (one of the top German publications) bought the sixty....for 9.3 million DM (roughly 4.5 dollars).  To recover their investment.....they sold serial rights to the sixty journals. By 1984....the fake diaries were figured out.  It became a massive scandal, with Focus, the London Times, and Newsweek all tied to this.  For months, jokes were made about the fake diaries.  The thing is....Germans were hyped to want to know more about Hitler and were literally begging for the diaries to exist.

7.  Fake Western Writer.  When German Karl May passed away in 1912 at age 70....he had the distinction of having written dozens of successful western-theme fictional books.  In his youth, you can basically say that he was more or less a failure as a tutor (his chosen profession).  From 1870 to 1874....he spent some time in prison and spent a fair amount of this episode reading.  So when he emerged in 1874....he felt he could write as well as anyone, and started producing an American western series of books.  You have to remember....he'd never stepped outside of Germany in his life (at this point).  The series would revolve around a friendly Indian (Winnetou) and a honest cowboy (Old Surehand).  Using travel pamphlets, Karl wrote a series of western books that Germans enjoyed and were entertained by.  From 1892 to 1899....May was turning out a book about every four months. Germans generally laugh over the stories today, but the movies made from the 1960s are regularly featured.  How May accomplished this?  Most say that he had a great imagination and did pour into research of the topic.  That made up for the fact that he didn't make a trip to the US until the last few years of his life.

8.  Fake Car of the Year.  Back in 2013....ADAC, the Automobile Club of Germany, did a annual collection of votes to pick car of the year.....which ended up with the VW Golf being the winner.  So after a few weeks of came out that the votes were manipulated, and the Golf should not have been the ADAC car of the year.

9.  Fake Phantom Killer.  For roughly two years, German cops were convinced because of DNA evidence that a serial killer was operating somewhere in the region of Heilbronn.  They had tied at least a dozen serious crimes (from robbery to murder) to this one single individual.  At some point, it appears that a cop began to doubt the complex nature of this whole case and he sent a blank DNA swab to the analysis office.  It came back identifying the Phantom Killer to the non-existent crime. This was a problem now.  So, they looked at the packing of the DNA swabs and went to the company that manufactured them.  The company wasn't aware of this DNA usage....they simply sold their product to a 3rd party, who packaged it as DNA swabs.  There was no control and individuals at the company were openly in contact with the swabs during production.  The whole fake phantom killer investigation?  Literally thousands of man-hours thrown into this....totally wasted.

10. Fake wine connoisseur.  By the end of the 1980s....Hardy Rodenstock (in his late 40s) had been a successful publisher and even managed a number of German pop and Schlager stars.  His newest claim to fame was that he was a wine collector, and wine connoisseur.  His big deal was old and rare wines.  So Hardy would have these five-star wine tastings, with a few prominent people around and sold wine that was featured.  At some point in the 1991/1992 period....the gimmick was figured out and that some of the rare wines were simply a fraud.  By 1992, Hardy ended up in front of a German court and had to settle out of court.  The problem is that a lot of people from across the globe had bought 'treasured' wine for hefty prices with some sitting there wondering the real value or authenticity.  Some of Hardy's deals were probably correct and some questionable.

When I talk about this topic of's not that the Germans alone produce a fair bit of fake things....but that German society will easily buy into fakes.  You can ask Germans today about Nutella, at least half of society will say that it's a nutritional spread for a breakfast....which hypes up the nutritional-police to a great extent.   When ADAC's car of the year fake came blew up the brand-name of ADAC for vote-rigging.

Skepticism is a wonderful tool....if applied.  

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