Rob Schmitz Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin.
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Rob Schmitz

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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.

Story Archive

A picture that Hans-Joachim Bull has showing Merkel with his father in 1990. Rob Schmitz/NPR hide caption

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As Germany's Merkel Steps Down, Those Who Guided Her Into Politics Recall Her Fondly

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Social Democratic Party leader Olaf Scholz is the front-runner in the polls to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Michael Kappeler/Pool/AP hide caption

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This Is The Candidate To Beat In The Race To Become Germany's Next Leader

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Afghan evacuees wait for the next flight to the U.S. in a fenced-in enclosure in a hangar at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. More than 25,000 Afghans have traveled through Ramstein to get to the United States. Rob Schmitz/NPR hide caption

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The U.S. Air Base At The Heart Of America's Biggest Airlift

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U.S. Airbase In Germany Processes Thousands Of Afghans Evacuated From Kabul

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Sister Doris Engelhard, a 72-year-old Franciscan nun and master brewer at the Mallersdorf Abbey brewery in northeastern Bavaria. Lena Mucha for NPR hide caption

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A Pilgrimage To Meet Germany's Last Beer-Brewing Nun

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After Fatal Floods, Germans Look At How Climate Change And Infrastructure Contributed

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The Flooding In Parts Of Germany Is The Worst There In 60 Years

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For nearly three centuries, the Republic of Ragusa, where modern-day Dubrovnik is centered, forced visitors to spend 40 days on the remote islands off the coast of the walled city, but in the 17th century, the city built the Lazarettos, a series of buildings immediately outside the city where visitors had to quarantine. This is the view from one of the quarantine cells. Rob Schmitz/NPR hide caption

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How A Medieval City Dealing With The Black Death Invented Quarantine

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Despite Climate Concerns, Germany Bulldozes Land To Expand Coal Mines

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The Bagger 288, a bucket-wheel excavator, digs into the beet fields behind the farm of Norbert Winzen to expand Germany's Garzweiler coal mine, one of Europe's largest open-pit mines. Winzen's family is fighting coal mine operator RWE in an effort to save their village of Keyenberg, which is more than a thousand years old. Rob Schmitz/NPR hide caption

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A Coal-Mining 'Monster' Is Threatening To Swallow A Small Town In Germany

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An aerial view shows part of a highway near Podgorica, the capital of Montenegros. The highway project, constructed by a large Chinese state-owned company, risks derailing Montenegro's economy. Savo Prelevic/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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How A Chinese-Built Highway Drove Montenegro Deep Into Debt

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Temps Are High In Germany — But The Country Isn't Using Air Conditioning To Endure It

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Hungarians Grow Frustrated With Prime Minister's Close Relationship With China

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