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A liver transplant patient turned up to her operation appointment at a German hospital with a bottle of vodka in her bag, a court has heard.

Album: The Irrepressibles, Mirror Mirror (V2)

Fans of the Dresden Dolls and Antony and the Johnsons, pay attention: if you haven't investigated this London 10-piece already, your new favourite band is right here.

Travel By Numbers: Christmas markets

Ben Ross calculates the appeal of traditional festive shopping in Europe

Bishop Werner Krusche: Bishop who played a crucial role in reconciling the two halves of Germany

Werner Krusche was a bishop in the East German Protestant Church who clashed with the ruling SED, Communists as he sought to gain concessions for Christians in the German Democratic Republic, but was eventually credited for his part in advancing Germany's re-unification.

Philip Hensher: But that was in another country...

Sometimes, when I'm in Berlin, I seem to glimpse the ghost of a different city inhabiting these same streets. In Prenzlauer Berg, behind the gleamingly restored Jugendstil apartment blocks and chic restaurants serving Sunday brunches, there rises up a shabby, grey street with a single cellar bar; behind the lavish grandeur of Unter Den Linden, the sight of a pathetic shop, its wares pushed to the front, two quiet assistants following passers-by with their eyes. Friedrichstrasse, going in the direction of Kreuzberg, has a slight kink; in the mind's eye a cabin rises up, a barrier, a 10-foot wall, the sign "YOU ARE NOW LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR".

When East met West: How Germany became one

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany's landscape has changed dramatically. Foreign correspondent Rupert Cornwell returns to his old stamping ground

'Racist' on trial for murdering Muslim woman in courtroom

A German accused of brutally murdering a pregnant Egyptian woman in full view of courtroom judges went on trial yesterday amid massive security in Dresden to answer for a crime that has provoked outrage across the Muslim world.

The week the Iron Curtain began to be torn apart

Twenty years ago, marches convulsed the cities of East Germany, from Berlin to Leipzig and Dresden

Album: Bach, Cantatas Volume 13, (Soli Deo Gloria)

The latest disc from John Eliot Gardiner's millennium Bach Pilgrimage finds the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists celebrating Advent in Köln and Lüneburg.

Europe's Revolution: The pastor who brought down the Berlin Wall

As Leipzig froze in fear at Communist threats to crush the 1989 revolution, one man gave his compatriots the courage to fight on

Prom 69: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/ Chailly, Royal Albert Hall, London

Not bringing Mendelssohn to the Proms was never an option for the Leipzig Gewandhaus in this the composer’s bicentennial year.

'Red' Oskar Lafontaine seeks comeback in state elections

He may have been dubbed "the most dangerous man in Europe" by The Sun, but Germany's veteran leftwing firebrand "Red" Oskar Lafontaine has cast himself in the role of everyone's favourite uncle in the run-up to this Sunday's crucial poll in Saarland, the country's westernmost state.

Album: Bach, Orchestral Suites for a Young Prince, (Avie)

Bach was never more comfortable than he was in Köthen, earning four times as much from the young Prince Leopold as he would in thrifty Leipzig. Is this reflected in his music?

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Chailly, Barbican, London

Leipzig's venerable Gewandhaus Orchestra arrived at London's Barbican Centre with so much more than Bach's St Matthew Passion. They brought with them history, tradition and Bach's very own choir from St Thomas's Church, where his passion first startled Leipzig's faithful on Good Friday 1727.

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/ Chailly, Barbican Centre, London

Leipzig’s venerable Gewandhaus Orchestra arrived at London’s Barbican Centre with so much more than Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Book Of A Lifetime: I Shall Bear Witness; To the Bitter End, By Victor Klemperer

This is one of the great masterpieces of the Second World War. Victor Klemperer was a German Jewish professor and, miraculously, one of a handful of Jews who survived the entire war - living, until the last three months, openly in Dresden. Throughout the entire period of the Third Reich, at considerable risk, he kept a diary (translated by Martin Chalmers) documenting his life and the daily humiliations as the Nazis gradually tightened the noose around the Jewish inhabitants of the city. He owed his remarkable survival primarily to the fact that he was married to an Aryan, a category of Jew that the Nazis had decided to leave until last. By early 1945, his luck appeared to have run out.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
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Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
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