Stories From California

I fell in love with being a reporter when I got an internship at the RIAS in Berlin, weeks after die Berliner Mauer between East und West came down. I moved to Los Angeles in 2003 when I was assigned to be the head of German public radio’s West coast studio. In 2008, I became the California correspondent for Weltreporter, the largest network of German freelance foreign correspondents. I mostly work for Deutsches Public Radio, LA’s NPR station KCRW, and the journalism collective RiffReporter. If you want me to write a story for your publication, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"The Not So Pretty Truth" - Living on Skid Row


The shooting of a homless man on Skid Row in Los Angeles, the disturbing sounds and pictures reminded me of the few hours I spent recording during the recent homeless count. Walking from the parking lot to registration I saw a place in the middle of the city I live in that might as well be on a different planet. It was not so much the tents, the dirt and the smell of drugs that disturbed me. It was bundles of clothes on the sidewalk that made me wonder whether a human being is somewhere in there, a man trying to sell socks out of a torn plastic bag, the shouts and screams, the lost, desparate and resigned looks on many faces.

Going South In The 1960s as "White Liberal Jew"


I was not aware of the close relationship between jewish and black communities during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. I learned more about it at the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood, a jewish community deeply rooted in the commitment for social justice. Researching the story I met Bruce Corwin. He heard Martin Luther King Jr. speak at the Temple in 1965 when he was 25 years old, shared a handshake with the Baptist pastor and was inspired to "drive South to see for myself"

Scent of East Berlin in Los Angeles

“We were working in a ghost town”


25 years ago, November 9th 1989 the Berlin Wall came down after a peaceful revolution in East Germany. Shortly after, I started working as reporter in Berlin.

You can't imagine how surprised I was to smell the very distinct scent of East Germany again - in Los Angeles.

Within one day two interviews brought back memories of stale cleaning soap mixed with dust, the reek of burning coal and a deep sense of oppression.

"July 4th, 2006 My Son Was Killed By Police ..."


I knew it was going to be an emotional event - a community meeting at Paradise Baptist Church in South los Angeles after the killing of a young unarmed man by police officers. I did not expect to be stopped in my reporter tracks by an encounter I will never forget. After collecting several voices and stories I decided to spend the last minutes before the meeting with a lady reminding me of Maya Angelou with her dignified posture, elegant clothing, graceful movement and warm smile. First Diantha Black was reluctant to share her story. When she started to talk I held my breath. 

Competing Utopias Beyond The Iron Curtain



I so wish those gold-rimmed porcelain plates could talk. Golden initials are proof: the dishes on the couch table in front of me are from the now demolished Palast der Republik, the former seat of the East German parliament in Berlin, the so called people's house.

Who has eaten what from those plates? Did they have dry or sweet champagne with their delicious food (most people outside of the Palast could only dream of)? What did head of states, officers and spies talk about over venison and cranberries? And then I realize on the shelves are books from Erich Honceker's private library - apparently the General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party liked German classics as well as American favorites ...