Rob Schmitz Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin.
Rob Schmitz 2016 square
Stories By

Rob Schmitz

Julian de Hauteclocque Howe/NPR
Rob Schmitz 2016
Julian de Hauteclocque Howe/NPR

Rob Schmitz

International Correspondent, Berlin

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.

Prior to covering Europe, Schmitz provided award-winning coverage of China for a decade, reporting on the country's economic rise and increasing global influence. His reporting on China's impact beyond its borders took him to countries such as Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. Inside China, he's interviewed elderly revolutionaries, young rappers, and live-streaming celebrity farmers who make up the diverse tapestry of one of the most fascinating countries on the planet. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road (Crown/Random House 2016), a profile of individuals who live, work, and dream along a single street that runs through the heart of China's largest city. The book won several awards and has been translated into half a dozen languages. In 2018, China's government banned the Chinese version of the book after its fifth printing. The following year it was selected as a finalist for the Ryszard Kapuściński Award, Poland's most prestigious literary prize.

Schmitz has won numerous awards for his reporting on China, including two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and an Education Writers Association Award. His work was also a finalist for the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. His reporting in Japan — from the hardest-hit areas near the failing Fukushima nuclear power plant following the earthquake and tsunami — was included in the publication 100 Great Stories, celebrating the centennial of Columbia University's Journalism School. In 2012, Schmitz exposed the fabrications in Mike Daisey's account of Apple's supply chain on This American Life. His report was featured in the show's "Retraction" episode. In 2011, New York's Rubin Museum of Art screened a documentary Schmitz shot in Tibetan regions of China about one of the last living Tibetans who had memorized "Gesar of Ling," an epic poem that tells of Tibet's ancient past.

From 2010 to 2016, Schmitz was the China correspondent for American Public Media's Marketplace. He's also worked as a reporter for NPR Member stations KQED, KPCC and MPR. Prior to his radio career, Schmitz lived and worked in China — first as a teacher for the Peace Corps in the 1990s, and later as a freelance print and video journalist. He also lived in Spain for two years. He speaks Mandarin and Spanish. He has a bachelor's degree in Spanish literature from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

[+] read more[-] less

Story Archive

European Countries See Spikes In Coronavirus Cases

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/916208933/916208934" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

This photo published Sept. 15 by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on his Instagram account shows Navalny (center) his wife, Yulia, (right) daughter Daria and son Zakhar (top left) in Berlin's Charité Hospital. Navalny was discharged Tuesday after 32 days, 24 of them in intensive care. Alexei Navalny Instagram/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Alexei Navalny Instagram/AP

Germany Reportedly Offered U.S. $1 Billion To Save Russian Pipeline

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/914281571/914281572" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A wild boar and two of its young roam around Teufelssee, or Devil's Lake, in Germany in August. Ingolf König-Jablonski/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Ingolf König-Jablonski/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Wild Boars Are Causing Havoc In Germany, But Humans Are Making It Worse

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/910651178/911050172" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

German Wildlife Officials Caution People To Be Wary Of Wild Boars

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/910586909/910586910" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Germany Reports Russian Opposition Figure Alexei Navalny's Condition Is Improving

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/910499201/910499202" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Alexei Navalny Was Poisoned With Novichok Nerve Agent, Merkel Says

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/909086043/909086044" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Alexei Navalny was poisoned by a rare nerve agent developed in Russia, German officials say. Navalny, a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is being treated in Berlin's Charité hospital, seen here behind the Reichstag. Christoph Soeder/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Christoph Soeder/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

European Leaders Condemn Recent Presidential Election In Belarus As A Sham

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/907157460/907157484" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The entrance to Herbertstrasse, the heart of the red-light district in Hamburg, Germany. Prostitution is legal in Germany, but the coronavirus pandemic prompted lawmakers to ban sex work in March. Rob Schmitz/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Rob Schmitz/NPR

Germany Bans Prostitution During Pandemic. Sex Workers Say That Creates New Dangers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/905392256/907811904" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny was poisoned by a substance that disrupts the nervous system, according to the Charité hospital in Berlin. Navalny has been in a coma since Thursday. Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Putin Critic Alexei Navalny Arrives In Germany For Medical Treatment

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/905015264/905015265" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

German Health Officials Warn About 2nd Coronavirus Wave

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/900279657/900279658" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Klaus Teuber, creator of the popular board game Catan, with his son Benjamin Teuber, a managing director at Catan Inc. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the game's launch, the elder Teuber has released an autobiography, My Way to Catan. Patrick Liste hide caption

toggle caption
Patrick Liste

Families Stuck At Home Turn To Board Game Catan, Sending Sales Skyrocketing

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/897271885/899310138" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sales Of 'Settlers Of Catan' Skyrocket During Coronavirus Crisis

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/898853332/898853333" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript