Monday, June 30, 2014

Miep Gies: Anne Frank's Arrest

Erzählung (Retelling)

Auschitz Survivor Raps at Age 89


Play Video|0:51
Esther Bejarano, a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, may be the last thing you’d expect in a hip-hop singer. She uses her music to spread a message against fascism.

Credit Heribert Proepper/Associated Press
BERLIN — AT various points during shows, the German rapper Kutlu Yurtseven gestures to a bandmate sitting demurely off to the side. That’s the cue for 89-year-old Esther Bejarano, a diminutive woman with a snow-white pixie cut, to jump in with a song. “When will the heavens open up, again, for me?” is one favorite, the refrain of a local carnival tune. “When will they open up?”
It is an unusual pairing. Ms. Bejarano is one of the last surviving members of the Auschwitz Girls’ Orchestra, the only all-female ensemble among the many Nazi-run prisoner musical groups in the camp system. Among other duties, the Girls’ Orchestra was responsible for playing the marches that imprisoned women had to keep step to as they went out to work in the morning and, even more cruelly, as they returned, half-dead, at the end of the day.

Five years ago, hoping to reach more young people with her story and her message of tolerance and anti-fascism, Ms. Bejarano teamed up with Microphone Mafia, a German hip-hop duo with Turkish and Italian roots. They have released their first album, and have been playing concerts throughout Germany and Europe ever since.

The music combines songs like the poignant Yiddish resistance song, “We’ll Live Forever,” composed in the Nazi-run Jewish ghetto in Vilna just before it was liquidated, with rap passages about current problems like racism that, in Ms. Bejarano’s view, show that the lessons of the Holocaust still need to be learned.

Performances always begin with Ms. Bejarano reading aloud from her autobiography, which tells the story of a life shaped by two forces: the Nazis and music.

Ms. Bejarano was born Esther Loewy in Saarlouis, in what is now southwestern Germany, in 1924. Her parents had met in Berlin as teenagers, when her father was hired as a piano teacher for her mother, and the two fell in love. “I picture it as having been very lovely,” Ms. Bejarano said with a smile.

Hitler’s rise to power put an end to what Ms. Bejarano described as “a lighthearted childhood.” By the time she was 16, she was separated from her family and interned in a Nazi work camp outside Berlin. Her parents, she learned later, were deported the same year to Riga, Latvia, where they were shot.

In 1943, she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her hair was cut off, and she was tattooed and forced to do backbreaking labor. For extra food, she sometimes sang songs by Schubert, Bach or Mozart for barracks leaders.

The Nazis regarded camp orchestras as status symbols, and, within a month of Ms. Bejarano’s arrival in Auschwitz, Maria Mandl, the SS commander in charge of the women’s camp, decided that she, too, wanted one.

When approached, Ms. Bejarano said she could play the piano. There was no piano, she was told, but they needed an accordion player. “I had never held an accordion in my hands, before,” Ms. Bejarano said. “But I said I could play one.”

It worked, and she was accepted into the orchestra. “To this day I can’t believe that I did it.”
In addition to entertaining SS officers with popular ditties or classical selections, the Girls’ Orchestra also had to play for new detainees arriving for the gas chambers. Often, people smiled and waved at the musicians. “They must have thought, ‘Where music is playing, things can’t be that bad,’ ” Ms. Bejarano said. “They didn’t know where they were going. But we knew. We played with tears in our eyes.”

BECAUSE fewer female than male prisoners could play musical instruments, members of the orchestra received somewhat better treatment than their male counterparts, and Ms. Bejarano was able to survive two serious illnesses.

After six months in Auschwitz, new regulations allowed her to transfer to a labor camp because she had a Christian grandmother. During a forced march in the last days of the war, she and several friends hid in the woods and escaped. After a few harrowing months traveling Germany on foot, dodging Russian soldiers and searching for her family, she acquired false papers and boarded a ship headed to what was then British Palestine. There, she reunited with her sister, Tosca.

While some who played in the camps and survived never touched an instrument again, for Ms. Bejarano, there was never any question: As soon as she left Germany, she began training as a singer. “Some people say, after Auschwitz, you can’t write any more poems, there can’t be music, beautiful pictures,” she said. “I think that’s completely wrong. We have to express to people what happened to us.”

For many years, though, Ms. Bejarano was unable to talk about her time in the camps. In Israel, where she settled, she sang in an award-winning workers’ choir, and gave hundreds of concerts as a soldier in the army. She met and married Nissim Bejarano, a truck driver whose family had immigrated from Bulgaria. They had two children. She taught local children to play the recorder.
But, in 1960, after much soul searching, the Bejarano family left for Germany: Her husband had fought during the 1956 Suez crisis and was morally opposed to further armed conflict with Israel’s neighbors. Settled in Hamburg, Ms. Bejarano had no time for music. She cared for her small children and later, with her husband, ran a laundry service.

It was not until the 1970s that she decided to break her silence, after witnessing the German police shield right-wing extremists against protesters. “The next day, I joined the Association of the Persecutees of the Nazi Regime,” she said. There, other members encouraged her to tell her story, and to return to music.

SHE spoke at schools. She joined two bands, singing Jewish resistance and antiwar songs with her children. She delivered protest speeches at neo-Nazi marches. A recurring nightmare of being trampled by Nazi soldiers’ boots finally ceased. “I freed myself, inwardly,” she said.

Rap is still not her favorite genre, but Ms. Bejarano likes her bandmates’ lyrics and is glad for the chance to reach a younger audience. Last year, for example, she spoke out against the tragedy near Lampedusa, an island off the coast of Italy where hundreds of African migrants fleeing war and poverty drowned en route to Europe.“You have to help people like this,” she said. “I know it from my sister Ruth. She made it to Switzerland, but the border guards turned her back. The Germans shot her.”

The plight of modern-day refugees is just one of many problems that keeps Ms. Bejarano singing — in Yiddish, Hebrew, German, English, French and Romany, the language of the Roma, or Gypsies. “I use music to act against fascism,” she said. “Music is everything for me.”

Christa Spannbauer, a filmmaker and journalist, said that the musicians’ work makes it easier for young people to engage with the past constructively. “If you just see the documentaries, you lose hope,” said Ms. Spannbauer, whose own father was in the Waffen-SS as a teenager. “But when you see the courage of the people who survived, it gives you hope in humanity and strength to act. The kids see her and say, ‘O.K., we want to do something.’ ”

Last year, Ms. Bejarano added the Order of Merit, one of Germany’s most important medals, to the many honors she has received. Soon, she and the band will head to Istanbul. “I am always on the road,” she said, shaking her head.

For Mr. Yurtseven of the Microphone Mafia, every concert with Ms. Bejarano is an inspiration. “Sometimes I’m kind of tired,” he said. “Then I look at Esther, and think, ‘O.K., don’t tell yourself you’re tired. She’s 89 and still fighting for a better world.’ ”

A version of this article appears in print on June 28, 2014, on page A7 of the New York edition with the headline: Amid the Rap Music, Echoes of an Orchestra Playing in a Dark Past.

"VERGESSEN kann man nie,"  so, Esther Bejarano im Interview.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The rise and fall of the shopping mall

Yahoo Online

Daily Ticker
One of the most iconic pieces of Americana, the shopping mall, isn’t really American at all. In fact, the first mall was created by an Austrian refugee who wanted to recreate an American version of downtown Vienna.

Victor Grün escaped to America from Nazi Austria in 1938 with “an architect’s degree, eight dollars, and no English.” By the late 1940s, World War II was over and the American economy was in full swing. Suburban sprawl and consumerism were the new normal, and this bothered Grün. “[Strip malls are] avenues of horror… flanked by the greatest collection of vulgarity—billboards, motels, gas stations, shanties, car lots, miscellaneous industrial equipment, hot dog stands, wayside stores—ever collected by mankind,” he wrote.

Grün conveived of a central, indoor shopping location that would allow Americans to get out of their cars and socialize. He envisioned a crop of apartment towers popping up around the mall, the creation of an urban downtown within the suburbs - that's not what he got.

Grün designed the first shopping mall in the USA which opened in Edina, Minnesota in 1956. The Southdale Shopping Center cost $20 million to create and had 72 shops, cafés and even a zoo. More than 70,000 people attended the mall on opening day. Copycat malls began to spring up around the country following Grün's formula, plain exteriors with inward-facing stores, multiple floors looking down into a central atrium and high windows.

The mall was a success, and they grew in number quickly, partially because builders found they could benefit from tax breaks granted by suburban municipalities, but also because of something now dubbed "the Grün effect."  When shoppers entered malls their senses were thrown off and they were dazzled by the new environment. Because of this, they would stay longer and shop more, often forgetting the purpose of their trip in the first place.

By 1960 there were 4,500 malls in America accounting for 14% of all retail sales. By 1975 there were 16,400 malls making up 33% of all retail sales and by 1987 there were 30,000 malls accounting for 50% of all retail dollars spent. The mall had taken over America.

Mall culture had truly arrived in the US. Films and TV shows proliferated the idea of the “valley girl,” and the “mall rat.” In 1992, at the height of mall culture, The Mall of America, not too far from the first mall in Edina, Minnesota, opened its doors. The Mall of America occupied 78 acres making it the largest mall in the USA. On opening day The Mall of America had 330 stores, an amusement park, and employed 10,000 people.

By the mid-1990s, however, the concept of "the mall" had hit its peak. 140 malls were being built a year, creating too much competition, and discount stores like Marshall’s began popping up, attracting bargain hunters away from the confines of the mall.

The demographics of the suburbs also changed as money started moving back into the cities. Between 2000 and 2011 the number of suburban poor grew by 64%, double the rate of the city. In 2008, the U.S. toppled into a crippling recession and in 2011, for the first time in over 100 years, urban population growth outpaced suburban growth.

Around this time online retailers like took a 6% bite out of brick-and-mortar business.  Put all of this together and it meant bad news for the shopping mall. Retail analyst Green Street Advisors predicts that half of American malls will close within the next 10 years, and even Southdale, our nation's first mall, has 18% of its stores unfilled.

Victor Grün ended up renouncing the mall, saying he hated what they stood for; publicly he refused to “pay alimonies for these bastard projects.”  It looks like 55 years later, he’s finally getting his wish.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Union Berlin's stadium turned into giant living room

filled with fans' couches 

for World Cup viewing party!

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle
A German event agency had a brilliant idea — to invite fans to Union Berlin's stadium to watch World Cup games. But instead of having them all sit in those hard stadium seats, they allowed people to bring their own sofas as they turned the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei (Stadium near the old Forester's house) into a giant living room complete with 38,000 square feet of retro wallpaper around the 700-inch screen.

Dubbed the World Cup living room and inspired by fans chanting about the stadium being their home at Union Berlin matches, 780 sofa were registered and set up on the pitch with end tables and lamps for a delightful evening of World Cup viewing.

According to 3News, 12,000 fans were expected to attend the viewing party for the Brazil-Croatia match with 3,000 watching from their sofas. But this will go on for the entire World Cup. Or until Germany lose and people start throwing couches at the screen.

Prior meeting: USA v GERMAN, World Cup Quarter Final: 2002

Fabulous game!

Thorsten Frings' handball would have been caught using today's cameras, for a potentially different outcome.

Where were these games held?  In Asia (S. Korea and Japan).  

What will happen between these two teams in Brazil in 2014???

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Just Add German summer photo contest

Hallo Schüler.  Hier kann man auch SommerPlussPünkte bekommen! 

Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2014
From: "Liamkina, Olga" <>

Dear Colleagues,

The Goethe-Institut’s Just Add German invites you and your students to take part in the German Traces Photo Contest!

For a chance to win an iPad Air, iPod Shuffles, or iTunes gift cards, have your students showcase local German-American connections in their hometown with a photo and short description!

Deadline is September 30th, 2014.


A service of the Goethe-Institut New York

Aber wo denn?  Was könnte man hier fotografieren?   Hier ein paar Ideen...
          (What could one photograph from this area with German ties for this contest?  Here are a few ideas....)  
  •   Habt ihr etwas cooles aus Deutschland bei Euch zu Hause?  (Amalia erzählte von einer geliebten Deutschen Fruchteismaschine, zum Beispiel;      (Anybody besides Amalia have a favorite German item at home?)
  •   Es gibt doch ein Ratskeller in Charleston, nicht wahr?  (Anybody have plans to check out this place this summer?)
  •   Ich finde eine Deutsche Fahne im Kieferpark (Quonset Point) bei der Firma Supfina. 
        (This is where I hope to be watching some upcoming World Cup games....we'll see about that.  I remember how cool an experience this was for me in 2002  when I watched a game at a neighboring company, EWAG, which has since been bought out and moved on.)   
  •   Wo es früher Jamestowns "Reeducation Camps" gab könnte ein paar sehr interessante Fotos machen. Mehr HIER BEI DEUTSCH-HEUTE  (vom 1. Juni 2014)
  •   Und wer unter uns schaut das WM Spiel USA gegen Deutschland am Donnerstagnachmittag nicht an!?    (Who amongst us will not be tuning into the USA v. Germany game this Thursday afternoon?)   --rsb

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ode an die Bienenkönigin

Hier ist nur das Lied, von den Bienen. nicht die ganze Folge.
(This is just the song segment from the cartoon, not the entire episode.)

Dass sie alle tief singen?  Lustig, nicht wahr?

Why there are so many German players on the 2014 USA World Cup Team

I've added photos and notes to an extent where I've now lost the original article.  I'll post it preliminarily, but return to edit it as soon as I have the source.  --rsb

Five German-Americans, 21% of the entire team, made the U.S. 23-man roster for the World Cup in Brazil.  There's also an Icelandic-American and a Norwegian-American, in addition to players of Colombian, Mexican, and Haitian descent. 

When he took over as coach in 2011, Jurgen Klinsmann said, "Soccer in a way reflects the culture of a country."  Three years later, he's taking a team to the World Cup that's fittingly diverse and multicultural.  The German-Americans are the biggest bloc of dual-nationals on the team.  Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, and Julian Green are all in Brazil.

This German influx isn't random, and it has little to do with Klinsmann being a German soccer legend. The U.S. has had tens of thousands of troops stationed in Germany for 60 years. Of the five German-Americans in the U.S. squad, four were born in Germany to American fathers in the military. The fifth, the Tampa-born Green, is also the son of a U.S. solider.

There's a large pool of U.S.-eligible players living in Germany and benefiting from the cultural and developmental advantages it has over the United States when it comes to soccer. Assuming coaches and scouts can identify and recruit German-Americans in Germany at a young age, it's a valuable pipeline for the U.S. soccer program.

Fabian Johnson (of Munich)  is starting for the U.S. in Brazil
Kevin Johnson/Getty Images

Has played for 1860 Munich (2006-09), Wolfsburg (2009-11) and Hoffenheim (2011-14), and in February agreed to sign with Borussia Mönchengladbach for next season.

julian green
 Julian Green was born in Tampa and at age 2 moved to Berlin.  He's 18 years old, and has just joined Bayern München last November.   REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad  
Because of the wealth of talent in Germany, these dual-nationals have a much better chance of playing regular, international soccer on the U.S. team. As a result, guys who have spent most of their lives in Germany — which all five of the players on the 2014 World Cup roster have — are committing to the U.S. more than ever.
 This German influence isn't new.  The U.S. captain at the 1998 World Cup, German-born Thomas Dooley, couldn't speak English when he committed to the U.S. team for the first time.  But since Klinsmann took over in 2011 the number of German-Americans has increased. Youth coach Thomas Rongen told the New York Times in 2011 that it's just a coincidence that more German-Americans are committing to the U.S. now that Klinsmann's coach.

Indeed, Klinsmann has been aggressive in pursuing dual-nationals from Mexico and Scandinavia and anywhere else where you can find a good soccer player with an American passport.  Clearly Klinsmann's celebrity status in Germany — as well as his boundless enthusiasm — are an asset when recruiting German-Americans.   But these charms are helpful no matter where a player is from, and it just so happens that the largest concentration of U.S.-eligible players in Europe is in Germany.

John Brooks   (20)  Hometown:  Berlin
Here he's just scored the go-ahead goal against Ghana in the first game of the 2014 World Cup.
Helped Hertha Berlin in 2012-13,  earn its promotion back to the Bundesliga.

Timmy Chandler  (24)   Hometown:  Frankfurt, Germany  Tore meniscus in left knee against Bayern Munich on Feb. 8, had surgery and returned to action April 26.

Jermaine Jones   (33)  Hometown:  Frankfurt    
Shown here after scoring the go-ahead goal against Portugal, in Game 2 in Brazil.

Made debut for German national team as a substitute against Austria on Feb. 6, 2008, then appeared against Belarus on May 27 and England on Nov. 19 — all exhibitions. Was among Germany coach Joachim Loew's final roster cuts for the 2008 European Championship, and in 2009 he asked FIFA for a change in affiliation last summer. ...(U.S. debut in October 2010.  Played for Eintracht Frankfurt (1999-04, 2005-07), Bayer Leverkusen (2004-05), Schalke (2007-14), Blackburn (2011) and Besiktas in Istanbul (2014).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Language Learning and the Law

From Wikipedia:

Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923),[1] was a U.S. Supreme Court case that held that a 1919 Nebraska law restricting foreign-language education violated the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

On May 25, 1920, Robert T. Meyer, while an instructor in Zion Parochial School, a one-room schoolhouse in Hampton, Nebraska, taught the subject of reading in the German language to 10-year-old Raymond Parpart, a fourth-grader, the Hamilton County Attorney entered the classroom and discovered Parpart reading from the Bible in German. He charged Meyer with violating the Siman Act.[3]  **

On April 9, 1919, Nebraska enacted a statute called "An act relating to the teaching of foreign languages in the state of Nebraska," commonly known as the Siman Act. It imposed restrictions on both the use of a foreign language as a medium of instruction and on foreign languages as a subject of study. 

  • With respect to the use of a foreign language while teaching, it provided that "No person, individually or as a teacher, shall, in any private, denominational, parochial or public school, teach any subject to any person in any language other than the English language." 
  • With respect to foreign-language education, it prohibited instruction of children who had yet to successfully complete the 8th grade.

Meyer was tried and convicted in the district court for Hamilton county, Nebraska, and fined $25 ($294 in today's dollars). The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed his conviction by a vote of 4 to 2. The majority thought the law a proper response to "the baneful effects" of allowing immigrants to educate their children in their mother tongue, with results "inimical to our own safety." The dissent called the Siman Act the work of "crowd psychology."[3]

Meyer appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. His lead attorney was Arthur Mullen, an Irish Catholic and a prominent Democrat, who had earlier failed in his attempt to obtain an injunction against enforcement of the Siman Act from the Nebraska State Supreme Court. Oral arguments expressed conflicting interpretations of the World War I experience. Mullen attributed the law to "hatred, national bigotry and racial prejudice engendered by the World War." Opposing counsel countered that "it is the ambition of the State to have its entire population 100 per cent. American."[4]

Majority opinion

In his decision, Justice McReynolds stated that the "liberty" protected by the Due Process clause "[w]ithout doubt...denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men."

Analyzing in that context the liberty of the teacher and of parents with respect to their children, McReynolds wrote: "Practically, education of the young is only possible in schools conducted by especially qualified persons who devote themselves thereto. The calling always has been regarded as useful and honorable, essential, indeed, to the public welfare. Mere knowledge of the German language cannot reasonably be regarded as harmful. Heretofore it has been commonly looked upon as helpful and desirable. Plaintiff in error taught this language in school as part of his occupation. His right thus to teach and the right of parents to engage him so to instruct their children, we think, are within the liberty of the amendment." And further: "Evidently the Legislature has attempted materially to interfere with the calling of modern language teachers, with the opportunities of pupils to acquire knowledge, and with the power of parents to control the education of their own."

And finally: "That the state may do much, go very far, indeed, in order to improve the quality of its citizens, physically, mentally and morally, is clear; but the individual has certain fundamental rights which must be respected. The protection of the Constitution extends to all, to those who speak other languages as well as to those born with English on the tongue. Perhaps it would be highly advantageous if all had ready understanding of our ordinary speech, but this cannot be coerced by methods which conflict with the Constitution​—​a desirable end cannot be promoted by prohibited means."

He allowed that wartime circumstances might justify a different understanding, but that Nebraska had not demonstrated sufficient need "in time of peace and domestic tranquility" to justify "the consequent infringement of rights long freely enjoyed."

SOUNDS LIKE A CLOSE CALL TO ME!  Not sure if other languages besides German have been targeted in this way.   Check out this further article regarding challenges which teaching the German language has had to overcome.  -- rsb

Call To Ban Teaching German Language Split Allentown Board During Wwi School District's Compromise To Keep It As An Elective Was Eventually Overruled By State Legislature, Which Forbid It.

March 27, 2000|by FRANK WHELAN, The Morning Call
On the evening of May 27, 1918, a thunderstorm pounded the Lehigh Valley with rain, wind and hail. Inside the Allentown School Board's meeting room, the mood was almost as stormy. The members had the most controversial subject on their agenda that they had ever faced, it combined a volatile mix of patriotism and the teaching of a foreign language.

School Board Chairman J. Dallas Erdman was demanding that the members forbid the teaching of German in the public schools. If not, they would be siding with the nation's foes who were killing Americans at that moment in World War I.

The Catasauqua School Board, Erdman pointed out, had already banned German. It was up to Allentown to follow.

Board members William F.P. Good, Oliver A. Iobst and Charles A. Reber were in Erdman's corner. But members Wilson Arbogast, Harry G. Correll, William J. Dietrich, the Rev. Charles J. Rausch and Oliver T. Weaber could only be pushed so far.

Make German an elective rather than the required high school course it had been since 1858, they argued. But don't do away with the teaching of the language of Luther, Goethe and the German ancestors of everyone in the room.

The board's argument grew heated. When their loyalty was questioned, the dissidents protested. `I am an American," said Rausch after a cutting remark in German by Iobst. `Do you challenge my patriotism?` said Weaber, rising, `menacingly from his chair," the Call reported.

The argument raged on, but the German supporters would not budge. Finally, the board agreed to the compromise of making German an elective. Part of the agreement was replacing the course's textbook, `Im Vaterland," which means `My Fatherland,` with something that sounded less pro-Germany.

The roots of this argument went back to the earliest days of the city and region's education system.  Until the Civil War, German was the first language of the Lehigh Valley. Newspapers were written in it, God's word was preached in it and school children were taught in it. It was not unusual to find rural schools in the Lehigh Valley where Pennsylvania German was the only language spoken into the 20th century.

This was not confined to public schools. Into the 1900s, Muhlenberg College's faculty and administration were deeply divided between those who felt all its courses should be taught in German and those who believed that only its theology courses -- the school was founded to train students for the Lutheran ministry -- should be taught in German.

But after the Civil War, the region was becoming more and more bilingual. English was the language of business and the popular culture that surrounded the Lehigh Valley. It was clearly being heard more often, mixed with the Pennsylvania German dialect, in the region's cities and towns. Perhaps for that reason the city's educational leadership, particularly clergymen, wanted German as a required part of the public school curriculum.

As the German Empire rose to a position of world power, many people in the Lehigh Valley were proud of it and their German roots. Teaching German in the schools was a part of the community's ethnic heritage that few questioned.
But World War I and the anti-German hysteria that followed America's entry in April 1917 changed all that. Sauerkraut became liberty cabbage and anybody who spoke the `Hun's` language was as good as a traitor.

The Allentown School Board's decision was made the same spring that the most popular movie in the city was a propaganda film, `The Kaiser -- The Beast of Berlin." Ads for the film in the Call showed a sinister Wilhelm II with blood dripping from his hands.

The day after the board's decision, the Allentown chapter of the Past Presidents Association of the Patriotic Order, Sons of America, denounced the members and demanded German be dropped.

Eventually, the board's compromise decision was overruled by a higher authority. In April 1919, six months after the war ended, Pennsylvania's Legislature banned the teaching of German in the state's public and normal schools. Although the law eventually lapsed and German came out of hiding, the debate of 1918 is a reminder of how volatile a mix language and politics can be.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The USA Is Looking Good to Advance to the Second Round

A Rundown of US Credit Cards With EMV Chip Technology

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  With the unveiling yesterday of the rebranded Barclaycard Arrival – which is now called the Arrival Plus and comes with a Smart Chip (with PIN capability, no less) embedded, as well as recent announcements about the Delta Amex cards getting them May 1 and the introduction of the Amex EveryDay cards with Smart Chip technology, not to mention the fact that the Chase Sapphire Preferred started offering it in November as well, I thought it was time for an update on US credit cards that now offer Smart Chip technology, and more specifically, those offering Chip + Pin.
Cards with Smart Chips are both more secure and easier to use abroad. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

It’s been about a year since I compiled a complete list, and there are a lot of great new and existing credit cards out there that now come with EMV Smart Chip technology, which makes it easier to use them abroad in many cases. What’s interesting, is that several new cards on the market – notably the new Arrival Plus and Hawaiian Airlines cards from Barclaycard as well as the Wells Fargo Propel World are offering Chip + PIN cards rather than just your average Chip + Signature versions.

Why Smart Chips Matter
To be honest, the single most important factor to me when deciding which cards to take and use abroad is that whatever cards I bring waive foreign transaction fees, since those can add up to 3% of your purchases.

However, so many great credit cards waive those fees nowadays that it makes sense to deepen your consideration to which cards offers Smart Chips. Unlike other countries where these chips require cardholders to enter a PIN for transactions as well, most US credit cards with these chips still just require a signature. The PIN cards offer an added layer of security that makes it much harder for hackers to steal your personal information, but even chip-and-signature cards can be much more useful than your average American swipe and sign cards with just magnetic strips. 

Of note – the new Arrival Plus from Barclaycard is one of the few that will require a Chip + PIN abroad, as is the new Wells Fargo Propel World.

However, even Chip + Signature cards can be used with portable electronic readers that require you to insert the card rather than swipe it like many restaurants abroad use, and then sign for it as you would with a regular old swipe card. It can also be a big help to carry them when you might need to make purchases at foreign merchants whose machines might not read magnetic strips, and that includes major entities like the Paris Metro, as well as many smaller hotels and restaurants.
So I have put together this list of all the travel credit cards out there that currently have Smart Chips in them (although I might have missed a few, so if you see any missing, please leave a comment!). 

If you already have one or several of these cards but they don’t have chips in them, you can request a new one online or call your issuer and they should reissue you one for free, unless you need it expedited. Though existing cards that have transitioned to having Smart Chips now offer them to new cardholders, most issuers will not send you replacement cards if you don’t ask for them.

You can also get a preloaded chip card from the Travelex money exchange stores in airports. These are basically just pre-loaded charge cards, but when you put money on them in foreign currencies, Travelex takes a huge cut on foreign exchanges, so I’d much rather get a credit card that has a chip in it and let the credit card company do my currency conversion- and earn points while I’m at it.

So here is the list, and I’ve put an asterisk (*) next to those that are new or have recently started offering Smart Chips and a double asterisk (PIN) by the Chip + PIN ones.

AMERICAN EXPRESS Platinum, by request. 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 1st 3 months. $450 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees. Business Platinum, by request. 40,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 1st 3 months. $450 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees. *Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express, by request. 30,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. No foreign transaction fees. $95 annual fee waived 1st year. Available on business version as well. *Platinum Delta SkyMiles American Express, by request. 5,000 MQMs and 35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. $195 annual fee. No forex fees. Available on business version as well. *Delta Reserve, by request. 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 miles plus Delta Sky Club access after first purchase. No forex fees. $450 annual fee. Available on business version as well. *EveryDay Preferred. 15,000 points when you spend $1,000 in 90 days. $95 annual fee *EveryDay. 10,000 points when you spend $1,000 in 90 days. No annual fee.
Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express: No foreign transaction fees. No annual fee.

For more on requesting a Platinum Card with a chip, see this post.

BANK OF AMERICAAlaska Airlines Visa. 25,000 Bonus Miles upon approval and an additional 15,000 Bonus Miles after making at least $10,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of the account open date. $75 annual fee. 3% foreign transaction fee. Virgin Atlantic Mastercard. 45,000 miles when you spend $2,500, 15,000 miles on account anniversary, 5,000 miles when you add additional users. $90 annual fee. 1% foreign transaction fee. Asiana Airlines Amex. 10,000 miles after first purchase. $99 annual fee. 1% foreign transaction fee. Bank Americard Travel Rewards Visa. 10,000 points when you spend $500 in 90 days. No annual fee. No foreign transaction fees. Norwegian Cruise Line World Mastercard. 10,000 points after first purchase. No annual fee. 3% foreign transaction fee. Royal Caribbean Visa. 10,000 points after first purchase. No annual fee. 3% foreign transaction fee. AAA Member Rewards Visa. 2,500 points after first purchase. No annual fee. 2% foreign transaction fee.
The Arrival Plus now comes with a Smart Chip.
The Arrival Plus now comes with a Smart Chip.

BARCLAYCARD (PIN) Arrival Plus. 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in 90 days. $89 annual fee waived the first year. No foreign transaction fees. This is a Chip-and-PIN card. (PIN) The New Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard. 35,000 bonus miles when you make $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days. No forex fees. $89 annual fee. (PIN) The New Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard. 35,000 bonus miles when you make $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days. No forex fees. $89 annual fee.
CHASEBritish Airways Visa Signature. 50,000 Avios when you spend $2,000 in 3 months. $95 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees. Chase Marriott Rewards Visa. 30,000 points when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. $45 annual fee waived first year. No foreign transaction fees. Marriott Rewards Premier Visa. 70,000 points when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. $85 annual fee waived first year. No foreign transaction fees. Hyatt Visa. 2 free nights. $75 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. 70,000 points when you spend $2,000 in 3 months. $395 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees. Sapphire Preferred. 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months plus 5,000 points when you add an authorized user in the first 3 months. $95 annual fee waived first year. No foreign transaction fees.
JP Morgan Palladium Visa. $595 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees.
JP Morgan Select Visa Signature. No longer available to new cardholders.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great all-round credit card for anyone interested in travel and to pay taxes with too.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred also now comes with a Smart Chip.

Citi Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card. 2 free weekend nights when you spend $2,500 in 4 mons. $95 ann/ fee. No foreign transaction fees. Citi Hilton Visa Signature. 40K points wen you spend $1,000 within 4 months. $0 annual fee. Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®. 50K miles for spending $1,000 in 3 months. $95 ann. fee waived first year. 3% foreign transaction fee. Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard. 100Kmiles when you spend $10,000 in 3 months. $450 ann. fee. No foreign transaction fees. AAdvantage Gold Mastercard. 25K miles when you spend $750 in 4 months. $50 ann. fee waived first year. 3% foreign transaction fee. Citi ThankYou® Card. 0% APR for 15 mons. on purchases and balance transfers. No ann. fee. 3% foreign transaction fee. Citi Prestige. 30K points when you spend $2,000 in 3 months. $450 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees. Citi ThankYou Premier. 20K after $2,000 in purchases and an additional 30K points after another $3,000 in purchases within 1st 3 months. $125 ann. fee waived 1st year. No foreign transaction fees. Citi ThankYou® Preferred. 20K points when you spend $1,500 in 3 months. No ann. fee. 3% foreign transaction fee. Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card. 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months. No ann. fee. 3% foreign transaction fee.

PenFed (PIN) Platinum Rewards Visa Signature. No foreign transaction fees. Chip + PIN enabled. No annual fee.

USAA (PIN) Platinum World Mastercard, Chip + PIN upon request. No annual fee. 1% foreign transaction fee. No ann. fee.

US BankFlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa 17,500 points when you spend $2,500 in 150 days. $49 annual fee waived first year. 3% foreign transaction fee. Korean Air SkyPass Visa Signature 15,000 miles after first purchase. $80 ann. fee for SKYPASS Visa Signature, $50 for SKYPASS Visa. No foreign transaction fee for Visa Signature, 3% foreign transaction fee for transactions in foreign currency. Korean Air SkyPass Visa Classic 5,000 miles after first purchase. $50 ann. fee. No foreign transaction fee for Visa Signature, 3% foreign transaction fee for transactions in foreign currency.

The new Wells Fargo Propel offers Chip + Pin technology.
The new Wells Fargo Propel offers Chip + Pin technology.

Wells Fargo (PIN) Propel World40K bonus points after spending $3,000 in 1st 3 months. No forex fees. $195 ann. fee waived 1st year.
For more information on Smart Chips and the credit cards that have them, as well as those that waive foreign transaction fees check out these posts:
US Credit Cards With Smart Chip Technology
Maximizing Smart Chip Credit Cards in Europe
Top Travel Credit Cards that Waive Foreign Transaction Fees
Are you missing out on the benefits of a card with EMV chip technology?
Are you missing out on the benefits of a card with EMV chip technology? Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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chip with PIN (not signature) is becoming more of an issue all over Europe in my experience... if you don't want surprises -- especially at transportation areas that don't have staff to purchase tickets..
I was in Milan two weeks ago and needed to use Metro. I didn't have enough Euro coins, so I tried my Citi World Elite (chip and sign) card... it rejected it (ie, asking for a pin).
Granted, I should carry more Euro coins, but sometimes you're in a bind (who carries cash and coins in America now?)... and I also save my Euro coins at times to make sure I can pay to go potty in Europe, too :)

BEWARE of the Netherlands and Belgium if you think your "chip and signature" card will pull you through. It won't. You need true "chip and PIN" for most restaurants -- and most importantly at train kiosks (where there are NO manned train ticket booths). Last May 2013, I got stuck at a remote train station near the Hague with not enough Euro coins and no chip and pin card -- Ii had to walk a mile to a bakery to get some coins (and they were NOT happy with me clearing out their till of coinage!) -- so that I could buy a train ticket from a coin only/chip/pin only kiosk back to Amsterdam
  • The chip in my HHonors Reserve card was very handy last year when we were in Taipei and Hong Kong as ALL the credit card machines there used them. I had to have a clerk at a 7-Eleven in Taipei show me how to insert the card to read the chip since I'd never used it in the US! Very useful this year in Montreal, too. Have never seen a US merchant/machine use it, though.

    now, which is the chip that mopes roam around with laptops and remote readers to steal your info that the same as this one, or is it the near field chip in some cards that can purchase with a wave instead of a swipe at certain merchants ...I believe it is the latter NFC one that is subject to this ...I asked my cc company to provide me cards without that feature for foreign travel safety I correct these are 2 different things ??
  • Ok bein paranoid here, but I had 3 of 6 credit cards hacked and fraud charges attempted within 5 days on all. The only common thing between the 3 is that they all the had the chip (2 chase and 1 citi). Never used any of them at the same location. Hmmmm
  • you need to wait for the chip/pin cards. just got back from Europe with my Chase Sapphire and guess what did not work w/o a pin. The chip was worthless, had to scan every time.
    • Right- that's why it's important to get a chip+ PIN card for European travel- luckily there are several decent options out there where you can earn points too
        • Well, "Europe" is a big place. I was in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and others last year. Chip + signature worked just fine. The merchant (or you) just needs to press the "no PIN" button and the machines spit out paper for you to sign. The merchant won't necessarily know about this, though, as it's only American cards that have this problem.
          The chip lets you use the card in machines that don't have magnetic stripe readers, which is better than worthless in my perspective.
          Also, according to Chase when I asked about a pin for my Sappire Preferred, trying 0000 will often work in automated machines that only take cards with chips.

          Be aware, some merchants refuse to accept a NO-PIN transaction. And, some merchants can't accept NO-PIN transactions. I can point to numerous places in Amsterdam that are like this. But, many of the heavily tourist oriented places will deal with a signature.

            • Interesting. I'll be in Sweden, Iceland, France and Switzerland this summer, with some German airports in the mix. I'll make a point of seeing how it all goes. Of course, if Chase would just get their act together and start supporting PINs we wouldn't have to go through this silly dance!

      • It was announced in March that the Sapphire Preferred would go chip & pin, but when I spoke to them yesterday customer service didn't know when. But she did confirm that they have a lot of customers bugging them about it. :)

        Great list - thank you! FYI Chase Marriott is 30K points if you spend $1,000 in the FIRST 3 months. The way it's written is as if it's ever $1K.

  • Here's two more cards to add to the list from United Nations Federal Credit Union:
    Visa Azure:
    Visa Elite:

    The main difference is that the Elite comes with more perks and has a $50 annual fee while the Azure has no annual fee. Sadly, there is a 1% foreign transaction fee for both cards.
    However, both of these cards are true Chip and PIN so you won't be asked for a signature. I used the Visa Azure everywhere in Europe with no problems and was always prompted to enter a PIN.
    Membership is open to anyone who joins UNA-USA: ($25, but is free for students).
  • We have used our Brit Air card all over Europe. The chip has proved a nessessity.
  • I just got my replacement AmEx Platinum Skymiles with Chip+Sign. I have Barclay Arrival MC so I called them but their customer service stated that the new cards won't be mailed out until mid-June. I leave for Denmark June 5 so I won't have a Visa or MC with Chip+Sign. Will I be ok with Amex chip+sign only? Do I need to get a Visa/MC with Chip+Sign? Just trying to avoid a hard pull on my credit report right now.
    • You should be able to special request a chip/pin from Barclay. I left for Singapore 10 days ago and I had requested a new Arrival card and it arrived in the nic of time. You can pay for an overnight shipment as well. I didn't and got it in 5 business days. The 'wont be mailed till mid June' may be because of the upsurge in request but I'd try again.
  • The Fidelity American Express card issued by FIA Card Services has EMV chip. It also has 2% cash back, no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee. I believe it is the only card out there with all of these attributes.

    This is incorrect. The FIA-issued AMEX card does have 2% cash back and no annual fee, but it does not have a chip and it has a 1% foreign transaction fee. I have this card and also double-checked the FIA website to make sure the card and terms had not been updated since mine was issued.
      • This is incorrect. My Fidelity FIA issued Amex card does have a 2% cash back and no annual fee, it does have a EMV chip and sign feature. Call and request one, you will have it in five days. There is a 1% foreign transaction fee but the 2% cash back wipes that out. I used it overseas works fine. When asked for pin just push the green button without entering the pin. It will then ask for signature. I even use it at walmart here in the states. The machine asks for pin. I push enter green button it then asked for signature.
  • I just got the Andrews Federal Credit Union Globe Trek Visa Rewards Card. No annual fee and Chip and Pin. Had to pay $5.00 to join the American Consumer, then $5.00 to join the credit union.
    • I got that, too about a year ago. It saved my backside in the Netherlands... where "chip and sign" was not accepted at many restaurants and train kiosks.
      Another chip and pin card I found was at Commerce Bank... based in Kansas City...but anyone can open a card (Visa Signature card)... crummy rewards, and $29 annual fee. I applied for it the same time I did for Andrews Federal CU -- because the credit union took two months for "manual" archaic approval.
  • I believe Wells Fargo has several other cards that have chip technology. All 3 Wells Fargo Advisors cards: Invitation & Premium Rewards Visa Signatures and Platinum Cash Back Visa. Also the Wells Fargo Private Bank by Invitation Visa Signature. These are lesser marketed higher-end cards, but have good travel benefits.
    • They are also Chip+PIN. Not sure if they are proactively issuing them to new cardholders, but you can request them.

  • Great list! I had tweeted at you a few weeks ago about choosing whether to keep Barclay Arrival or Sapphire Preferred (both have no foreign exchange fee which was my priority)and was going to go with Sapphire bc of the chip&pin but it turns out it's chip&signature.
    The chip feature is great for security but the point of getting it was to expedite transactions and having to sign for a chip card doesnt help that. Barclay Arrival releasing the chip&pin came just in time! Though I still don't know what I'm keeping since I like Chase's ultimate rewards program, but I like the ease of easy travel redemption with Barclay...maybe I'll up my game and just pay for both after my first year annual fee waive.
    "but the point of getting it was to expedite transactions and having to sign for a chip card doesnt help that."
    I thought the point of getting an EMV card was to ensure acceptance by merchants who won't take cards without chips.
    • The point for me personally. Yes greater acceptance by merchants is important but I didn't have too much of a problem in Europe, only one or two stores.