Hollywood star Tom Hanks on the David Letterman show recently spoke about the charms of a small German town called Eisenhüttenstadt. Located near the Polish border, its architecture and history make it worth a visit.
When it was established in 1950, Eisenhüttenstadt was touted as the first socialist city on German soil. The steelworks are the heart of the town. Known as EKO in the former communist East Germany, today they are owned by ArcelorMittal, a global steel company. The factory is open for guided tours.
Lindenallee, formerly Leninallee, is the road leading into the city. It features 1950s apartment blocks, built in the Stalinist neoclassical style. The architecture forms the most spacious monument in Germany—a monument to the model socialist city. The city museum gives an insight into how it all came about. Elsewhere, the Documentation Center of Everyday Life in the GDR aims to give visitors an understanding of life in communist East Germany.
Russia has criticized sanctions imposed by the EU and US this week, saying they will lead to higher energy prices in Europe. In eastern Ukraine, meanwhile, fresh peace talks appear possible - with an unusual host.
The US Federal Reserve has said it is in no rush to raise interest rates, even while issuing positive predictions on inflation and economic growth. The central bank continued scaling back its stimulus spending.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has agreed to host talks that Minsk has said are open to "all interested sides." The discussions are expected to focus on access to the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site.