Private accommodation in Cuba: staying with locals

DAt the start of their digital accommodation service, Maren Benens and Klaas Sennekool had imagined a little differently. Last March there was to be a celebration with her business partners on site, the flights to Havana had long been booked, also for a photographer and a social media officer.

But then the virus intervened and made long-distance travel impossible for the time being. “Exactly on the day we wanted to take off, Cuba announced that it would close its borders,” says Klaas Sennekool. “The airline offered us to take us back on the same day, but we did not seriously consider it.”

The Cologne lawyer couple has founded a booking platform for private accommodation on the Antilles island. The site is called and is now active. So far, 29 houses with a total of 70 rooms are on offer, not just in Havana, but in a total of seven cities and regions, including Cienfuegos, Mantanzas and Trinidad. The price range for an overnight stay is between 40 and 50 euros per room.

Source: Infographic Die Welt

The accommodations are mostly simple but lovingly furnished. No two rooms are the same. With one exception, the couple knows each host personally. Your offer should make the accommodation service more transparent and reliable – not only for the guests, but also for the hosts.

Private accommodation is a thriving business

Travel to Cuba is now possible again, also for tourist purposes (see below). The clammy socialist island state is dependent on foreign currency, tourism is one of its main sources of income.

For visitors whose idea of ​​a successful vacation is to sit on the beach with a mojito in hand, there are hotel complexes that are largely isolated from island life. Business with private hostels, so-called casas particulares, whose operators require a state license, is also flourishing.

Private accommodation in Cuba: No two rooms are alike when it comes to Cuba Vida.  The photo shows Casa Bianca in Trinidad

No two rooms are alike when it comes to Cuba Vida. The photo shows Casa Bianca in Trinidad

Quelle: Cuba Life

Many guests prefer such private casas because they appreciate the direct contact with the local families, who are considered to be particularly hospitable – and because they ensure that their money reaches the local people directly. The accommodations are often magnificent villas or townhouses from a time when Cuba was still the Mallorca of the Americans. Sometimes there are even the bulky old US fridges from the 1950s in the kitchens.

Vacationers do not always get the booked room

Cuba Vida is not the only international broker of private accommodation in Cuba. Rooms can also be booked via platforms such as or TripAdvisor, and smaller agencies are also busy on the market.

The operation of a casa is associated with strict conditions for the owners, but you don’t always get what you order there. The most popular and best-rated casas are sometimes overbooked, and arriving guests are then moved to other accommodations in the vicinity.

They often have no choice but to accept the alternative because they fear that they will not find a replacement. In other cases the rooms are in a much worse condition than the pictures on the Internet suggested.

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Money gone, vacation gone: If you fall for fake ads, you usually have double bad luck

Through the personal proximity to the landlords, Cuba Vida wants to set clear standards and increase planning security. “We guarantee our customers that they will get exactly the room they saw and booked on our site,” says Klaas Sennekool, whose company is financed through agency fees.

Cuba Vida guarantees the landlord more security

On the other hand, the landlords of Casas particulares also have to deal with imponderables. When booking, no deposit is usually required, the invoice is paid on site. As a result, many guests simply do not show up because they have changed their plans at short notice.

For the landlord, in the worst case, this is associated with a total failure if they can no longer get rid of the reserved room in a hurry. “Reliable casa owners are punished by this,” says Sennekool. At Cuba Vida, a cancellation fee offers landlords a certain amount of financial security.

However, customers have to accept that their inquiries are not processed in real time. Since most landlords do not have internet access, a direct booking is hardly possible.

Instead, the request is forwarded to Ottoniel López Magariño, a local manager who calls the casas or drives over in person. This can take up to 72 hours. “Otto has his own system here,” says Maren Benens. “At first we were a little surprised about his mess of papers, but he is well organized.”

Deep attachment to Cuba

After graduating from university, the couple traveled to Cuba for the first time. That was ten years ago, and the island has not let go of them since. During their many visits, they have always found accommodation in Casas particulares.

Well suited for families: private accommodation in Cuba

Private accommodation is particularly suitable for families

Quelle: Cuba Life

A deep connection to the tropical island and its inhabitants has developed. “We have been around the world a lot,” says Sennekool. “But nowhere do we feel as at home as in Cuba.”

However, the two are far from romanticizing the political situation in the country. Oppositionists have to expect reprisals. “Cuba is a dictatorship, there is nothing to gloss over,” says Sennekool. “We believe our initiative will help boost the private sector.”

But this also requires patience, especially since the demands of European tourists are often not immediately apparent to the landlords on site. “Some of our partners didn’t understand why they should take photos of their rooms,” says Benens. “You have never been a tourist yourself because you cannot leave your country.”

The flights to the island are already booked

The signs for greater dynamism in the private sector are currently not unfavorable. A currency reform, which came into force on January 1, is intended to stimulate the economy – even if US dollars are still traded on the black market.

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Switch off in the Caribbean: There is no travel warning for Antigua and Barbuda

In addition, Cuba has lowered the barriers to investment from abroad. A majority stake by the state is no longer required for tourism projects. This should also attract small and medium-sized companies.

The Cologne couple is hoping that their offer will be accepted by Germans who love to travel. The number of rooms available on Cuba Vida will gradually increase. In February, the two want to travel to Cuba again and look for further partners. The flights are already booked.

Tips and information

Getting there: Currently, for example, with Condor to Varadero, with Iberia via Madrid or with Air France via Paris to Havana.

Corona rules: According to the Robert Koch Institute, Cuba is not a risk area, and there is no travel warning from the German Foreign Office. Entrants must present a negative PCR test from their home country (not older than 72 hours upon arrival). After landing in Cuba, another PCR test is mandatory at the airport.

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

World on Sunday from January 10, 2021

Source: Welt am Sonntag


Inauguration of Joe Biden: An Inauguration That Wasn’t

Dhe inauguration of the American President after an election has been won is carried out in a ritual that has been revised again and again and has essentially been in effect since 1933. That almost seems like a crowning achievement – and not least because of this it generates worldwide media attention. In addition to the evocation of the nation, the religious framing is particularly striking. The church attendance takes place beforehand, the swearing-in takes place on the steps of the Capitol. But this swearing-in, with its religious, even magical elements, contains ideas that go back to the Middle Ages.

It was previously thought that America would hit rock bottom with the inauguration of Andrew Johnson in 1869.


Delivery bottleneck: Ford stops production of the Focus in Saarlouis

Cologne –

Another bitter damper for the German Ford works. The Cologne-based carmaker has to shut down the plant in Saarlouis for five weeks just one week after the end of the company holidays. Production is not scheduled to start again until February 22nd.
The reason is bottlenecks in semiconductor components. The chip manufacturer apparently does not comply with the delivery.

Because of this, the production of the Focus model cannot be continued. Everything has been tried to get modules for the motor control or for spacers, said plant manager Jürgen Schäfer the Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR). But the market has been swept empty. Many car manufacturers are currently suffering from this.

Car manufacturers are vying for electronic chips

The background to the shortage is apparently the enormous competition between car manufacturers and the entertainment industry, which needs the same components and whose products are in even greater demand during the corona pandemic. It was therefore not possible to switch to other providers.
The approximately 5000 employees are now being sent on short-time work for five weeks.

Further construction stops expected

Only the production of the Focus model, which the Saarland site produces for all European markets, is affected, the company announced on Friday. “Currently we do not expect further temporary production stoppages in other European plants.” This also applies to the plant in Cologne, where the Fiesta is being built, said a spokeswoman for the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”.

For the restart of production on the Saar, vehicles ordered by customers will be prioritized, according to Ford.

After a difficult 2020, the start in 2021 will not be easy for the car manufacturer.
In Europe, sales of cars and light commercial vehicles slumped by almost 27 percent to 974,982 units last year. The market share fell by 0.3 percentage points to 7.1 percent compared to the previous year.
In the case of passenger cars, the decrease was even higher at around 32 percent and 645,156 units. The demand for light commercial vehicles fell by 13.6 percent to 329,826.


Cardio bikes: Indoor bikes are the ideal form of training for those who don’t like sports

Web world & technology Cycling in the living room

Indoor bikes are the ideal training device for those who don’t like sports

| Reading time: 3 minutes

Pedaling is the trend.  Not by bike on the street, but with the cardiobike in the living room Pedaling is the trend.  Not by bike on the street, but with the cardiobike in the living room

Pedaling is the trend. Not by bike on the street, but with the cardiobike in the living room

Source: picture alliance / dpa Themendie

In the corona crisis, bicycles are experiencing a boom – not only on the street, but also in the living room. Because cardiobikes make cycling at home possible. Even those who have never had anything to do with sport will find an easy entry here.

Ron the stationary bike, and off you go, the race, the bike tour through the mountains or the fitness course. Cardiobikes have received an enormous boost in the corona pandemic.

They are networked and some have a screen. With apps, they can then bring the fitness course into the living room or enable virtual competitions against other cyclists who require real muscle strength and endurance.

Indoor bikes have low entry barriers

But exercise bikes are not only a good form of training for ambitious amateur athletes, says Achim Schmidt from the German Sport University in Cologne. Of the endurance sports equipment for indoors, they would certainly offer the lowest entry hurdles because you hardly put any strain on the body.

When jogging on the treadmill, for example, the load is already quite high at low speed. “It’s different on the bike. This can also be used by people who are overweight, for example, because the bike bears their weight, ”explains the cycling expert.

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Schmidt is convinced: “With the cardiobike you can also get people with a very low level of performance to do sport.”

The only important thing is that beginners should be checked by a doctor before their first units. “The danger lies in the fact that people with pre-existing illnesses, about which they may not know anything, may overload themselves and thus risk cardiovascular problems.”

Indoor bikes for bargain hunters

What might put you off is the purchase price of the indoor bike. But if you don’t use the networked premium product with a screen, you can also ride very cheaply – especially if you already own a bike.

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A roller trainer may be enough to get you started. There the bike is clamped with the rear wheel and thus the roller is driven. Some roller trainers can be bought for less than a hundred euros. “This is how you get a good indoor training device with a small sum,” says Schmidt.

No risk of infection on indoor bikes

The huge advantage of cycling training at home is that it is always possible, even if it is storming or snowing outside. And there is no risk of infection during the pandemic, which is also extremely low when cycling outside.

There you can also experience nature in the form of cold and warm stimuli and fresh air. “Personally, I prefer to be outside,” says Schmidt. He is more motivated when he can ride a bike outside. “But I also know people who prefer to be inside.”

In any case, the location of the training has no influence on the effectiveness of the training, says Schmidt: “That indoor training is not effective and you do not get fit on a roller trainer is all nonsense. You could also prepare for the Tour de France inside. “

Better not to buy these e-bikes

In times of Corona, more and more people get on their bikes. E-bikes in particular are very popular. But anyone who has the idea of ​​buying a new one should know something. At Stiftung Warentest, two out of 12 e-bikes even failed completely.

Source: WELT / Peter Haentjes


Man arrested with grenade at Cologne Central Station

Place in front of the train station in Cologne: A patrol had checked the drunk man early Saturday morning. (Archive image)
Image: dpa

A drunk, 19-year-old man was arrested at Cologne Central Station because he had a hand grenade in his backpack. He said he found her while on vacation in Bosnia.

E19-year-old was arrested at Cologne Central Station with a sharp hand grenade in his backpack. The federal police reported on Monday that a patrol checked the drunk man, who was unable to identify himself, on Saturday morning. The grenade was discovered in his luggage “within reach”. The alarmed defusing service classified the explosive device of Yugoslav design as “armed” a little later.

The 19-year-old from Bosnia and Hercegovina is now being investigated for violating the War Weapons Control Act. According to the police, he said that he “found the grenade on a meadow during his vacation in Bosnia and took it with him”. No other prohibited items were discovered during a search of his apartment in Bielefeld.


Success in Austria: German handball players succeed in encouraging people at the right time

Sport Success in Austria

German handball players succeed in encouraging people at the right time

| Reading time: 4 minutes

Handball players pass World Cup stress test in Austria

The German handball players confidently defeated Austria in the European Championship qualification. A week before the World Cup in Egypt, the DHB team made people want more.

Nine players are missing from the national team at the World Cup. In the penultimate endurance test, the decimated selection nevertheless managed a surprisingly sovereign victory. Defense remains the biggest construction site for national coach Alfred Gislason.

Sa great quirk as a trainer accompanied him for 60 minutes in Graz. With every groundbreaking action by his players, Alfred Gislason goes with the substitution bench, then jerks his upper body back slightly before the situation is over.

Even in the 30th year of his coaching activity, the Icelander can’t get out of his skin – although he was able to record a sovereign victory in the penultimate endurance test before the World Cup and could actually have reacted more calmly early in the game. Germany clearly won against Austria with 36:27 (22:16) in the European Championship qualification.

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Fireside chat: Alfred Gislason, handball national coach, in his converted farmhouse in Wendgräben near Magdeburg

After a successful start into the new year, Gislason stood on the field with a smile, even though he, who was celebrated as the new savior of German handball, had not liked everything. “We attacked very, very well and put a lot of pressure on the defense,” he said. “In the first half we only had two missed throws. We wanted to expand our game and we succeeded. In terms of defense, it was as expected, we often left the Austrians a little too close at the throws. You could see that we weren’t quite in tune. After the break I was already dissatisfied with the first ten minutes because we were too sedate. “

ARCHIVE - 05.11.2020, North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf: Handball: European Championship qualification, Germany - Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2nd qualifying round, group 2, 1st matchday in the ISS Dome: national coach Alfred Gislason watches his team warm up.  (To dpa "National coach Gislason warns of World Cup newcomers Cape Verde") Photo: Bernd Thissen / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Not entirely satisfied: national coach Alfred Gislason

Source: dpa

In that phase, the Austrians came within two more goals, but in the end Gislason’s men found their way back to their strong game. Before the game, given the lack of nine professionals, there was still a bit of uncertainty about their own performance, the Germans were allowed to classify the game afterwards as an encouragement at the right time.

Little time

A week before the start of the World Cup in Egypt, the national team was able to indicate that, despite the bloodletting, it is quite ready for the global title fights. After another European Championship qualifier against Austria on Sunday in Cologne, the entourage of German handball players will head to the desert state on Tuesday, where Uruguay, Cape Verde and Hungary will be waiting as opponents during the preliminary round. Gislason, who took over the post of national coach ten months ago from the hapless and overwhelmed Christian Prokop, wants to use the time until then to give the team, which has been reorganized in many parts, support.

“We are far from being a favorite”

Handball national coach Alfred Gislason is concerned about the stability of his defense for the World Cup in Egypt in view of the many cancellations. The expectations for his tournament debut in the DHB dress are correspondingly low.

The biggest construction site is the inner block, where two world-class players, Hendrik Pekeler and Patrick Wiencek, have been eliminated. The two Kielers had won the Champions League in Cologne last week with THW Kiel, but canceled their participation in the World Cup beforehand for fear of the consequences of the corona pandemic – as did their teammate Steffen Weinhold and Melsung defensive specialist Finn Lemke.

In addition, there are five injuries-related cancellations, which is why the coach needed a bit of imagination and courage when putting his squad together. Sebastian Firnhaber, for example, who will play in the inner block alongside Johannes Golla, made his international debut in Graz and will be the first HC Erlangen player to represent the club’s colors at a World Cup. In this case, carelessness has to compensate for a lack of routine, which also applies to other positions such as the middle of the back space or the circle. “We now have four training sessions behind us, in which we have continuously improved,” said Golla, the new head of defense. “We are on a good way. You saw that today too. “

In fact, besides Golla, who had just recovered from a metatarsal fracture, Austria was able to do some other advertising on his own behalf. Above all Marcel Schiller. The Göppingen initially surprisingly was preferred to captain Uwe Gensheimer and then impressed with a formidable rate: eleven goals in eleven attempts. From the seven meter point, the 29-year-old was just as successful as the regular left winger. “I can be very satisfied,” said Schiller after the game. “The important thing is that I took my chance. With a program as tight as the World Cup, we have to divide up our forces. “

06.01.2021, Austria, Graz: Handball: European Championship qualification, Austria - Germany, 2nd qualifying round, group 2, 3rd matchday, Raiffeisen Sportpark.  Germany's Marcel Schiller (l) and Austria's Balthasar Huber in action.  Photo: Erwin Scheriau / APA / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Strong appearance: Marcel Schiller

Source: dpa

However, Gislason denied that there is now a role reversal and “Uns Uwe”, as he is called in handball, could be relegated to reservists at the World Cup. Gensheimer had problems with the throwing hand and was therefore not used, said the Icelander. In the second game against Austria on Sunday, the captain should be fit again and play the full 60 minutes.

This also applies to Marian Michalczik, who was absent from Graz after a training accident. On Tuesday, the Berliner got the finger of an opponent in the eye during a training session and suffered a tear in the cornea. “After the pain got worse, the eye didn’t stop watering and sticking together, I was driven to the eye clinic,” said the 23-year-old “Bild”.

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Sander Sagosen speaks during an interview.  The 24-year-old handball player from Norway has switched from French champions Paris Saint-Germain to THW Kiel for the new season.  (To dpa-KORR “Handball star Sagosen wants to become a world handball player in Kiel”)

A moment of shock for the Germans, who absolutely cannot afford further failures. But the playmaker has since given the all-clear. He has to take a break for three to four days and take care of the eyes, then he is ready to go again. His twitching boss at the bank will be pleased.


Fashion industry: In lockdown, the danger of fast fashion is revealed

economy Closed fashion stores

500 million superfluous items of clothing – the disaster for retail is perfect

| Reading time: 4 minutes

Mannequins in Cologne: The economic damage of the lockdown is serious for retail Mannequins in Cologne: The economic damage of the lockdown is serious for retail

Mannequins in Cologne: The economic damage of the lockdown is serious for retail

Source: dpa

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The clothing industry is increasingly having its back to the wall because of the extended lockdown. Many cannot get rid of their goods. The fashion trade now has only one option left from which consumers can benefit at least in the short term.

Dhe second lockdown turns into a disaster for the clothing industry. “It will drive numerous fashion stores, shoe stores and department stores to ruin,” predict the trade associations of the sectors concerned.

The long closure phase also has foreseeable consequences for the environment. According to estimates by the textile (BTE), shoes (BDSE) and leather goods (BLE) trade associations, the extended lockdown will create a huge avalanche of half a billion unsold fashion items in stationary retail by the end of January.

While the associations criticized politics for lack of success in fighting pandemics, environmentalists assign the industry a piece of responsibility. “With its grotesquely accelerated cycles, the fast fashion industry degraded millions of unsold T-shirts, pants, shoes and other clothing to disposable items during the pandemic,” said Greenpeace consumer expert Viola Wohlgemuth WELT.

“My resources, financially and energetically, are at the end”

The federal and state governments have decided to extend and tighten the corona measures. Among other things, the radius of movement in corona hotspots is to be limited to 15 kilometers. What do the Germans say? Asked about it in Berlin and Frankfurt.

If this mountain of valuable products threatens to be destroyed, this underlines “the obscenity” of a large part of the fashion industry. “In a country with 82 million people, how can 500 million unsold items of clothing be generated in a few weeks? Does every German need six more winter coats? ”Wohlgemuth asked rhetorically.

Many owner-managed clothing stores do not count themselves among the so-called turbo fashion companies, but the acceleration of sales cycles also affects them. Instead of devaluing clothes with a permanently shortened half-life, the fashion industry must use the corona crisis to develop business models that prevent wasting resources and do not stir up false needs, demanded Wohlgemuth.

Even in normal years, the amount of unnecessary clothing in Germany adds up to a few hundred million. Experts estimate that around every tenth item remains unsold – because it does not appeal to customers, because it was delivered too late, because it has slight defects or because it can no longer be sold despite price discounts.

Source: Getty; Infographic WORLD

Because fashion is regarded as perishable goods. As soon as the new looks for blouses, jackets or sneakers are available, the previous collections regularly prove to be slow-moving.

According to the trade associations, the economic damage caused by the lockdown is also serious. For the past year, a “historic drop in sales” of the order of 30 percent is to be expected, said BTE boss Rolf Pangels. “Since the costs and especially the purchase of goods could hardly be adjusted due to the long lead times in the international supply chain, many businesses are now facing the ultimate end,” he fears.

The German Trade Association (HDE) warned Chancellor Angela Merkel in a fire letter at the beginning of the week that 50,000 stores with a total of 250,000 jobs were in dire straits. Like the HDE, the professional associations are now calling for more financial support. The help offered so far is “absolutely inadequate”, complains Pangels. The lost sales of the winter lockdown alone should add up to ten billion euros by the end of January.

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In the short term, consumers could even benefit from a wave of bankruptcies in the fashion trade. An unparalleled discount battle is to be expected if the shops reopen. The fashion retailers cannot actually afford these discounts, because little or nothing can be earned with discount goods.

In any case, many shop owners are already hit by the first lockdown in spring. “The fashion trade is facing a major dilemma,” says BTE representative Axel Augustin. “From a business point of view, companies cannot afford high discounts. But no customers come without a discount. And then the running costs for goods, rent and employees are not matched by any corresponding income. “

At the same time, new goods are pushing into the storage and shelf spaces, because parts of the spring collections arrive from Asia in January and February. At the same time, there are also goods from the lockdown period in spring in the warehouses, at least the timeless items. “We have our backs to the wall,” says Augustin.

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December 8th, 2020, Saxony, Dresden: A passerby walks with a paper bag on the shopping street Prager Straße in front of a shop window with the inscription "Merry Christmas" along.  As part of stricter protective measures against the spread of the corona pandemic, schools, daycare centers, after-school care centers and many shops in the Free State are to be closed from December 14, 2020.  Photo: Sebastian Kahnert / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Retail in the pandemic year

The spring collection is the first ever to be ordered under the impression of the corona pandemic. The order quantities are therefore significantly lower than with previous orders. Nevertheless, many retailers have difficulties paying for the quantities ordered in view of the lack of liquidity from ongoing sales, because the collections are usually paid for with the sales of the previous weeks and months.


Henriette Reker “is fine”

Cologne’s mayor went to the hospital shortly before New Year’s Eve. The reason for Henriette Reker’s stay in the clinic was initially unknown. The city has now announced details of the treatment.

The Lord Mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker has been in the Cologne University Clinic since Tuesday due to a “acute diagnosis” treated in hospital. The city announced this in an official announcement. Initially, nothing was known about the reason for their stay. Only that the diagnosis is neither related to the coronavirus nor to the long-term consequences of the attack in October 2015 in which Reker was injured.

On Friday the city announced in a further announcement that the 64-year-old was being treated for “venous thrombosis”. Media had reported about it.

“The treatment with the aim of a full recovery is positive,” said city spokesman Alexander Vogel of “Bild”. “According to the current status, the mayor can leave the university clinic in the coming days,” it said. She is fine. She spent the turn of the year in the university clinic.


Klopp counters: “As if Scholl had eaten wisdom with a spoon”

Soccer Klopp counters experts

“As if Scholl had eaten wisdom with a spoon”

| Reading time: 2 minutes

This is how Watzke reacts to Mehmet Scholl’s criticism

Ex-national player Mehmet Scholl sharply criticized the new BVB coach Edin Terzic. For his ruthless words, Scholl gets headwind. In addition to Jürgen Klopp, Dortmund’s managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke also spoke.

Mehmet Scholl has caused quite a stir in the past few days. The football expert had harshly criticized the coach in Germany. In particular, BVB coach Terzic he buttoned himself up. That didn’t go down well with Terzic’s colleague Klopp.

JAfter Mehmet Scholl’s most recent criticism of the coach, ürgen Klopp verbally defied the former national soccer player. “What raison d’être does Mehmet Scholl have to judge trainers? That would really interest me. It’s kind of like talking about car manufacturing. I have no idea about that either, ”said the Liverpool FC coach on Wednesday at Sport1.

Scholl (50) recently criticized the new BVB trainer Edin Terzic and said: “There is not much in his words. It’s like saying the sun will go on tomorrow. His analysis is not tangible. ”The trainer training in Germany is also a disaster. The choice of trainers for the trainer course in Cologne alone is “a disaster. They’re all smarties that come across as smart and can sell themselves, ”said the 1996 European champion.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp passes a harsh judgment on Mehmet Scholl

Source: AP / Adam Davy

That didn’t go down well with Klopp. “Mehmet Scholl feels called to break the baton over young German coaches. I am extremely reluctant to comment on such things, but he always talks about people he doesn’t know, “said Klopp (53) and added:” He tried it as a trainer, didn’t get it right, and now he’s talking about it, as if he had eaten the wisdom with spoons. “

Klopp had seen some coaches “that he apparently meant. He talks about how he can no longer hear all of this. This was the first time that one of the trainers spoke. How can you no longer want to hear something from someone who expresses himself for the first time? “

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Art forgery: Not good hair (

Kasimir Malewitsch, Suprematism No. 38, 1916, oil on canvas, Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv, Cologne

The traitor was blue. Manganese blue to be precise. Like a distant memory of the sea, the pigment shines out of the faceted world of things of the cubo-futuristic still life. Allegedly the picture was painted by the Moscow revolutionary artist Lyubov Popova. This is also supposed to have happened in 1914. But there is a problem: the said manganese blue, which the chemical analysis found in the paint layer, has only been produced since 1935, when Popowa was no longer alive. A finding that sets the alarm bells ringing for experts! The Museum Ludwig in Cologne owns a total of around 600 other works from the time of the Russian avant-garde. Almost all of them came to the house from the property of the donor couple Peter and Irene Ludwig. In the meantime, essential parts of the bundle have been put through their paces. And lo and behold: In addition to Popowa’s composition with the wrong color, 22 other works from the bundle are under the worst possible suspicion that a work of art can be exposed to: not being authentic.

Usually museums do not like to raise such cases, but the people of Cologne decided to flee forward. “Original and Fake” is the title of a workshop exhibition that is currently closed but is well documented on the Internet and tells of the fake picture and its background using the example of early Soviet modernism. How much explosive the subject holds is shown not least by a legal dispute in advance. The gallery, from which the Ludwigs acquired many of the works in question, sued the Museum Ludwig for the results of its investigation to be released. The request of the private art dealers was only stopped by the Higher Administrative Court in Münster.

It is no coincidence that there are many counterfeit items in Western art collections, especially among paintings from the Russian avant-garde. Stalin banished the abstraction of the early revolutionary years to the museum depots, and in Central Europe it did not gain broader reception until the 1960s. “Because this art was hidden for decades, there was little knowledge in the West about the actors, their respective oeuvre and their artistic practice,” says Rita Kersting, deputy museum director and co-curator of the exhibition. “Peter Ludwig had to trust the certificates of authenticity presented by the art trade.” Unfortunately, the political ice age of the Cold War also played into the hands of dodgy businessmen. Whoever wanted to know more about the provenance did not get very far. There were hardly any communication channels between the system enemies, and important Russian archives were closed to Western scientists. It was only after 1989 that the situation began to change.

Since then, it has been easier to trace the origin and previous ownership of museum objects from Russia. In addition, the restorers have ever finer analysis techniques. Electron microscopy, x-rays, or the C14 method of dating materials. In a picture of Nina Kogan, who died in 1942, it emerged that the plants for the linen fibers were still in a field in 1960. Another inconsistency revealed a lattice composition ascribed to Ilya Tschaschnik (1902-1929). The restorers removed one of the brush hairs that had come off during the painting process and stuck in the paint. It was made of polyamide. Brush manufacturers did not even use plastic during the artist’s lifetime.

However, complex laboratory procedures are never the first step. Even atypical motifs or color structures make the picture detectives sit up and take notice. Just like too great a resemblance to secured work of the alleged author. For example, a costume design for Oscar Wilde’s »Salome« that was ascribed to Alexandra Exter at an early stage merely transfers a largely identical gouache by the artist into a painting. Did Exter plagiarize himself?

The initial suspicion, according to Kersting, is usually based on a critical view of the style. “If there are any doubts about art history, then you usually find a scientific indication afterwards.” The show offers a whole series of such criminal cases that show how exciting art history can be. You learn to see pictures through the eyes of a Sherlock Holmes. Even the smallest details can reveal a lot. Consignment notes, signatures, brushwork. Or the craquelé, the network of the finest cracks in the paint that occurs with natural aging. In order to simulate an earlier date of origin, crooks often try to create micro-damage mechanically. A larger-meshed network structure indicates this.

Anyone who clicks through the online documentation of the research results will notice that works with disputed authorship usually appear there under the heading “unknown artists”. Rita Kersting doesn’t like to speak of “forgeries” either: “The term implies a charge of fraud, which we would rather avoid for legal reasons.” In fact, the art mafia does not immediately lurk behind every misspelling. Even with the many Rembrandts that the 20th century has identified as not handwritten, it is only to a limited extent a question of deceptions. Most of these paintings were completed by assistants following the instructions of the master. Or by artists who recreated the great role model for training purposes. The people of Cologne also know an example of such an honest copy. In 1962 the Pole Henryk Stazewski set about painting Kasimir Malevich’s “Suprematist Composition, Airplane Flying”. Not as a forgery, but as consolation for a museum in Lodz that did not have an original Malevich.

»Russian avant-garde in the Museum Ludwig – original and fake. Questions, examinations, explanations «until February 7, 2021. The museum is currently closed, but a digital offer is available at: