Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 inhabitants make it the most populous city proper of the European Union; the city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, contiguous with Potsdam, Brandenburg's capital; the two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions. Berlin straddles the banks of the River Spree, which flows into the River Havel in the western borough of Spandau. Among the city's main topographical features are the many lakes in the western and southeastern boroughs formed by the Spree and Dahme rivers. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. About one-third of the city's area is composed of forests, gardens, rivers and lakes; the city lies in the Central German dialect area, the Berlin dialect being a variant of the Lusatian-New Marchian dialects.

First documented in the 13th century and situated at the crossing of two important historic trade routes, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich. Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II and its subsequent occupation by the victorious countries, the city was divided. East Berlin was declared capital of East Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany. Berlin is a world city of culture, politics and science, its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations and convention venues. Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a complex public transportation network; the metropolis is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries include IT, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology and electronics.

Berlin is home to world-renowned universities such as the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, the Technische Universität Berlin, the Freie Universität Berlin, the Universität der Künste and the Berlin School of Economics and Law. The city has numerous orchestras and entertainment venues, is host to many sporting events, its Zoological Garden is one of the most popular worldwide. With the world's oldest large-scale movie studio complex, Berlin is an popular location for international film productions; the city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, contemporary arts and a high quality of living. Since the 2000s Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene. Berlin lies in northeastern Germany, east of the River Saale, that once constituted, together with the River Elbe, the eastern border of the Frankish Realm. While the Frankish Realm was inhabited by Germanic tribes like the Franks and the Saxons, the regions east of the border rivers were inhabited by Slavic tribes.

This is why most of the villages in northeastern Germany bear Slavic-derived names. Typical Germanised place name suffixes of Slavic origin are -ow, -itz, -vitz, -witz, -itzsch and -in, prefixes are Windisch and Wendisch; the name Berlin has its roots in the language of West Slavic inhabitants of the area of today's Berlin, may be related to the Old Polabian stem berl-/birl-. Since the Ber- at the beginning sounds like the German word Bär, a bear appears in the coat of arms of the city, it is therefore a canting arm. Of Berlin's twelve boroughs, five bear a Slavic-derived name: Pankow, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Treptow-Köpenick and Spandau. Of its ninety-six neighborhoods, twenty-two bear a Slavic-derived name: Altglienicke, Alt-Treptow, Buch, Gatow, Kladow, Köpenick, Lankwitz, Lübars, Marzahn, Prenzlauer Berg, Schmöckwitz, Stadtrandsiedlung Malchow, Steglitz and Zehlendorf; the neighborhood of Moabit bears a French-derived name, Französisch Buchholz is named after the Huguenots.

The earliest evidence of settlements in the area of today's Berlin are remnants of a house foundation dated to 1174, found in excavations in Berlin Mitte, a wooden beam dated from 1192. The first written records of towns in the area of present-day Berlin date from the late 12th century. Spandau is first mentioned in 1197 and Köpenick in 1209, although these areas did not join Berlin until 1920; the central part of Berlin can be traced back to two towns. Cölln on the Fischerinsel is first mentioned in a 1237 document, Berlin, across the Spree in what is now called the Nikolaiviertel, is referenced in a document from 1244. 1237 is considered the founding date of the city. The two towns over time formed close economic and social ties, profited from the staple right on the two important trade routes Via Imperii and from Bruges to Novgorod. In 1307, they formed an alliance with a common external policy, their internal administrations


General of the Army Raden Soedirman was a high-ranking Indonesian military officer during the Indonesian National Revolution. The first commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, he continues to be respected in the country. Born in Purbalingga, Dutch East Indies, Soedirman moved to Cilacap in 1916 and was raised by his uncle. A diligent student at a Muhammadiyah-run school, he became respected within the community for his devotion to Islam. After dropping out of teacher's college, in 1936 he began working as a teacher, headmaster, at a Muhammadiyah-run elementary school. After the Japanese occupied the Indies in 1942, Soedirman continued to teach, before joining the Japanese-sponsored Defenders of the Homeland as a battalion commander in Banyumas in 1944. In this position he put down a rebellion by his fellow soldiers, but was interned in Bogor. After Indonesia proclaimed its independence on 17 August 1945, Soedirman led a break-out went to Jakarta to meet President Sukarno. Tasked with overseeing the surrender of Japanese soldiers in Banyumas, he established a division of the People's Safety Body there.

On 12 November 1945, at an election to decide the military's commander-in-chief in Yogyakarta, Soedirman was chosen over Oerip Soemohardjo in a close vote. While waiting to be confirmed, Soedirman ordered an assault on Dutch forces in Ambarawa; the ensuing battle and British withdrawal strengthened Soedirman's popular support, he was confirmed on 18 December. During the following three years Soedirman saw negotiations with the returning Dutch colonial forces fail, first after the Linggadjati Agreement – which Soedirman participated in drafting – and the Renville Agreement, he blamed these issues for his tuberculosis, which led to his right lung being collapsed in November 1948. On 19 December 1948, several days after Soedirman's release from the hospital, the Dutch launched an assault on the capital. Soedirman and a small contingent escaped Dutch forces and left the city, making their headquarters at Sobo, near Mount Lawu. There Sudirman commanded military activities throughout Java, including a show of force in Yogyakarta on 1 March 1949.

When the Dutch began withdrawing, in July 1949 Soedirman was recalled to Yogyakarta and forbidden to fight further. In late 1949 Sudirman's tuberculosis relapsed, he retired to Magelang, where he died more than a month after the Dutch recognised Indonesia's independence, he is buried at Semaki Heroes' Cemetery in Yogyakarta. Soedirman's death was grieved throughout Indonesia, with flags flown at half-mast and thousands gathering to see his funeral convoy and procession, he continues to be respected in Indonesia. His guerrilla campaign has been credited with developing the army's esprit de corps, the 100-kilometre long route he took must be followed by Indonesian cadets before graduation. Soedirman featured prominently on the 1968 series of rupiah banknotes, has numerous streets and monuments named after him. On 10 December 1964, he was declared a National Hero of Indonesia. Sudirman was born to Karsid Kartawiraji and Siyem while they lived with Siyem's sister Tarsem, one of three women married to the sub-district head Raden Cokrosunaryo, in Rembang, Bodas Karangjati, Dutch East Indies.

According to the family's records, Sudirman – named by his uncle – was born on a pon Sunday in the month of Maulud in the Javanese calendar. As Cokrosunaryo was in a better financial situation, he adopted Sudirman and gave him the title Raden, reserved for Javanese nobility; when Cokrosunaryo retired from his position as chief in late 1916, Sudirman went with the family to Manggisan, where he was raised. In Cilacap Karsid and Siyem had Muhammad Samingan. Karsid died when Sudirman was six, at which time Siyem left the boys with her brother-in-law and went back to her village at Parakan Onje, Ajibarang. Sudirman was raised with stories of heroic deeds and taught the etiquette and ways of the priyayi, or noble caste, as well as the work ethic and simplicity of the wong cilik, or commoners. For his religious education, he studied Islam under Kyai Hajji Qahar with his brother, he calls to prayer. When he was seven years old, Sudirman was enrolled at a school for natives, where he was an average student.

The family, although it had enough to live by, was not rich. During his tenure as sub-district head, Cokrosunaryo had not accumulated much wealth, in Cilacap he became a distributor of Singer sewing machines. In his fifth year of school, Sudirman asked to leave his studies, concerned with the ridicule he faced at the government-run school. In his eighth year, Sudirman transferred to Wirotomo Junior High School after the Taman Siswa School was found to be unregistered and closed under the Wild School Ordinance. Many of Sudirman's teachers at Wirotomo were Indonesian nationalists, which influenced his views of the Dutch colonists. Sudirman studied diligently at school. Although he performed poorly in Javanese calligraphy, Sudirman was strong in mathematics, science

Birgit Aschmann

Birgit Aschmann is a historian from Hamburg in West Germany. Since April 2011 she has held a teaching chair in nineteenth century European History at the Humboldt University of Berlin. One focus of her work is on Spanish History in the twentieth centuries. On leaving school, Aschmann embarked on a study course in Medicine, which lasted from 1986 till 1989, it was only that she enrolled at the Christian-Albrecht University in Kiel for a study course that combined History and Spanish. Her student career included significant periods studying at Málaga und Guayaquil, she concluded her undergraduate studies in 1995 and spent the next three years working on a doctorate. Her doctorate from Kiel, addressed the relations between West Germany during the "Wirtschaftswunder years" and Spain under Franco, it was subsequently adapted for publication under the title "Treue Freunde...?: Westdeutschland und Spanien 1945 bis 1963". Between 1998 and 2000 she worked as an academic researcher at the Kiel University Institute for Modern and Contemporary History, having obtained a lectureship in 1998.

She remained at Kiel as an academic counsellor till 2003, after which she was a senior academic research assistant. Between 2004 and 2010 she was focused on her habilitation which she received for a dissertation entitled "Prussia's Glory and Germany's Honour: The Discourse on National Honour in the build-up to the Franco-Prussian War". Another work published during this period concerned the balance between Calculation and Emotion in driving the politics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Birgit Aschmann received a teaching chair in Modern and Contemporary History at Kiel in 2010, she moved the next year, taking the teaching chair in European Nineteenth Century at the Humboldt University of Berlin on 1 April 2011 in succession to Wolfgang Hardtwig