Germany won’t name a fast train after Beethoven

Germany won’t name a fast train after Beethoven


norman lebrecht

March 02, 2018

Deutsche Bahn has been wondering what names to give its new generation of ICE trains.

So it asked the German public for suggestions, having reserved a slot for Ludwig van Beethoven on his 250th anniversary in 2020. Martin Luther has already got the first ICE train named after him.

The public submitted the following celebrity names:  Konrad Adenauer, Hannah Arendt, Bertha Benz, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Willy Brandt, Vicco von Bülow, Marlene Dietrich, Hedwig Dohm, Albert Einstein, Ludwig Erhard, Anne Frank, Heinrich Heine, Alexander von Humboldt, Marie Juchacz, Erich Kaestner, Hildegard Knef, Käthe Kollwitz, Adolph Kolping, Thomas Mann, Karl Marx, Scholl, Margarete Steiff, Elisabeth of Thuringia and Fritz Walter.

But the railway has now changed its mind. nne Frank, it puffed, might awaken painful memories, and Karl Marx is a bit, er, controversial.

So all future trains will be named after lakes and mountains and Beethoven won’t get his name on an engine.

Luther, however, gets to keep his train.




  • Dave says:

    “Celebrity names”?

    Most of these have achieved something, which puts them above celebrity.

  • Alexandra Ivanoff says:

    How about: Vivaldi’s “Mannheim Rocket”?

    • Sue says:

      Brilliant. And those ICE trains are fabulous!! The suspension on them means they virtually float when going over 300kph.

  • Doug says:

    Just name the train Muhammad. Germany is certainly on a fast track in that direction.

    • Studio Tan says:

      Or how about “Onyetenyevwe Ugwemubwem” to ensure that the Subsaharan “protection seekers” also get their representation.

  • Alex Davies says:

    So, a marking of the bicentenary of Marx’s birth is a bad thing, but naming a train after Luther elicits no criticism from Slipped Disc. To be clear, I personally object to neither, but there seems to be some inconsistency here. If Marx is to be blamed for the later atrocities committed in the name of communism, surely Luther must be blamed for subsequent religious persecutions and wars, for the development of German antisemitism right down to the Holocaust, and for the atrocities perpetrated in the name of Protestant Christianity, e.g. the British Empire (since without Luther there would be no Anglicanism in the form that it took on in the 16th and 17th centuries). That is if we are going to be consistent.

    • Doug says:

      Go participate in a non-Christian culture then semewhere else. Please make certain not to employ the Internet, that product of evil Christian, white patriarchal, running dog capitalist, toxic male colonialist civilization.

      • Michael Comins says:

        You paint with a broad brush since some advances in your so-called christian culture were made by non-christians. Some of the USA’s writers of its Constitution were non-believers. So maybe you should go participate elsewhere.

        • Sue says:

          He probably means they were FACILITATED by the christian culture which gave rise to the Enlightenment, then the industrial revolution. Sure, these may not have come from adherence to biblical tenets – many were not – but they were ENABLED by an increasingly sophisticated civilization built around values and ideas which sprang from christianity. But you already knew that…

      • Alex Davies says:

        Well actually I’m a Catholic, so I’m not sure why you recommend I “participate in a non-Christian culture”. And, yes, I am well aware that the sort of people who say things like “Rhodes must fall” and “Britain: the world’s worst mass murderer” will also be swift to damn the entire history of the Catholic Church because of the crusades, the Inquisition, child abuse scandals, etc. I think the truth is that you are so quick to perceive disagreement with others that you probably didn’t bother to read my comment correctly. I don’t have a problem with commemorating Luther. But then I don’t have a problem with the Mongolians naming their principal airport after Genghis Khan. All I was saying was that it’s a bit inconsistent to condemn any commemoration of Karl Marx if one’s happy to commemorate Martin Luther, whose legacy is similarly problematic.

        As for your hobbyhorse about Christian culture, yes, Christianity has been closely involved in many important achievements of human civilisation, but it’s far from the only religion about which one can say this. You appear from your previous comment to have a particular problem with Islam, and yet Islam bequeaths to the world an important legacy in philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, pharmacology, science, navigation, cartography, trade, art, and architecture.

      • Christopher Culver says:

        “Go participate in a non-Christian culture then semewhere else…”

        What?! A fair percentage of the world’s Christians share with the OP a negative view of Luther and a belief that his actions caused unnecessary strife. Remember that Protestantism of Luther’s stripe is just only of several currents within Christianity.

      • roger says:

        it sounds like you might need therapy – or maybe an exorcist. you can make sure he/she is sufficiently Christian.

    • db says:

      Well, for sure, Luther wrote some pretty horrendous stuff against Jews, and his Church has only just begun to somehow come to terms with that. Still, no-one needs to feel ashamed these days to call themselves Lutheran, much less Protestant. Whereas even so much as expressing a faint interest in Marx’ writings makes one, in the eyes of some, instantly an apologist of Stalin, Mao and the other guy. Now I’m not an expert on what Marx wrote but I do believe it contains nothing of the “whoever does not agree with me should die” or “Eskimos are Untermenschen” genre.

  • CYM says:

    « Fidelio » could have been a good name ! or « Ludwig Bullet Van » ?
    How about « Pastorail » ? Or « Für El-ICE » ? « Hammerkel Klavier » …
    « The Archeduc », « Road to Joy »


    • Thomasina says:

      I think Fidelio is very good. It’s short, easy to pronounce and remember. But one problem that Fidelio is a story of patience and it may not be an image of a fast train…

  • Gary says:

    Zuggi von Zuggesicht doesn’t have the same ring does it?

  • Michael says:

    Don’t think DB has anything against naming trains after composers. A couple of weeks ago I was on the EC Carl Maria Von Weber from Prague to Dresden (where Weber is buried). This train goes daily from Prague to Berlin.

  • Sue says:

    @ 50 minutes here. Briefly.