Do something about the obstruction politics of Poland and Hungary, EU!

Since years Poland and Hungary try to block any attempt of the European Union to sanction politics adversary to the rule of law. It’s well known that Poland for example undermines the independence of its judges. Hungary in comparison is going straight in direction to an authoritarian state. Mr Orbán is supported by an entourage that receives much money in reverse, some of it being of EU origin. Other steps of Hungarian government look strange as well. So this year 16,000 ventilators were bought from China at fourfold the prices the EU pays. This number of ventilators, however, can’t be used by skilled operators in an adequate number of high care units. Actually Poland and Hungary together with Slovenia are blocking a Covid-19 relief fond of 750 billion Euros. Some parts of it are coupled with complying to rule of law standards.

It’s clear that the EU can’t be a super state controlling everything, but it can’t be fooled by authoritarian countries either. First step to comment on that: Throw out the Hungarian Fidesz party of Mr Orbán of the EPP / EVP (Europaeische Volkspartei). If all fails there could be a very radical remedy: dissolve the EU and reestablish it afterwards without those countries that don’t comply with certain standards of democracy and human rights.

Colm Tóibín: House of Names

Toíbín who? you might ask – as far as I can see he has not yet gathered the attention he definitely deserves. Perhaps his novel “House of Names” can change that. What’s it about?

Nearly all the figures and a great part of the plot is taken from Greek mythology. There is a stalemate before Troy. Agamemnon’s fleet stucks and the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia is meant to bring favourable winds. His wife Clytemnestra can’t prevent the murder of her daughter and thinks of revenge. That brings Aegisthus on the stage. To prevent the youngest of this very special family, Orestes, from interfering in this revenge plot he his abducted together with some other young men from powerful families.

It’s absolutely thrilling how Toíbín tells how Orestes and his friend Leander try to escape and come back to their home town. Toíbín uses an unadorned prose where you can’t eliminate a single word. Nevertheless, every very detail of his account is very clear and imaginative. In most parts this novel is a real pageturner, you can’t put it down. All in all: 260 pages of fine literary art with much suspense.

Colm Tóibín, House of Names, Penguin / Random House, ~ 9 € / £

“Journey through the past” (Berlin 1931) / #3

Somehow weird or even pervert: To choose from a list those names that sound “jewish” . Welcome to Berlin 1931, a few months before the Nazis and some years before the Shoah. The picture above suggests really nothing of this drama. In any case I wanted to give those of the school mates of my mother a name that were endangered or slaughtered by the Nazis.

These are further names I found information on:
Lore Strauss, born 2/14/1924. Combined with this name I found also the name “Lore Allard”, she was pupil at the Privaten Waldschule Kaliski, a school that could give quite a lot of attenders a shelter for some time. Lore Allard (Strauss) is mentioned with a letter to L. Kaliski from London dating 11/16/1981. If she is the Lore Strauss from my mother’s school, she had survived the Shoah.
Hanna Markus: The Yad Vashem data base reveals a person called “Hanchen Markus”, from Berlin, but born in 1922. Result unclear
Ruth Baer: for a Ruth Bähr, also born in 1924, living in Berlin, the Yad Vashem data base says “Während des Krieges war sie in Chelmno, Polen. Ruth wurde in der Schoah ermordet.” [She was during the war in Chelmno, Polen. Ruth was murdered during the Shoah.] For another Ruth Bähr the same data base says: “Ruth Bähr wurde 1924 geboren. Vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg lebte sie in Berlin, Deutsches Reich. Während des Krieges war sie in Berlin, Deutsches Reich und wurde mit transport 4 von Berlin, Berlin (Berlin), Stadt Berlin, Deutsches Reich nach Lodz, Getto, Polen am 01/11/1941 deportiert. Ruth wurde in der Schoah ermordet.” [Ruth Baehr was born in 1924. Prior to WWII she lived in Berlin, Germany. During the war she was in Berlin, Germany. Deported with Transport 4 from Berlin, Berlin (Berlin), City of Berlin, Germany to Lodz,Ghetto,Poland on 01/11/1941. Ruth was murdered in the Shoah.] Whether one of these persons by the name of Ruth Bähr is identical with Ruth Baer, is hard to decide, but possible.

The name list (of my grandmother?) is not that reliable. So I show a picture of the whole form of my mother at a school party on top of this page.

A list of those on the picture, but the list was obviously produced later.

“Journey through the past” (Berlin 1931) / #2

 

No one would associate these pictures with the genocide to come: Many girls having fun at a birthday party. I also found these pictures in the photo album of my mother. It shows Lili Cassel (first in the row, picture on top) with her friends in May 1931 in Berlin. My mother is the second to last. Fortunately Lili Cassel could escape to England with her sister Ewa. Later the whole family emigrated to the U.S.

In 1952 Lili married Erich Wronker and was in her professional life a renowned illustrator of books and a Hebrew calligrapher and typograph. She got an obituary in the NY Times when she died in January 2019. Shalom, Lili

A letter to Lili’s nanny from 1933 can be seen here.

See also the London Diary.

Boeing 737 Max hassle not yet over

Last year, the 34 year old Boeing engineer, Curtis Ewbank, complained officially about shortcomings in the design and control of the Boeing 737 MAX production. According to the Seattle Times he now again has revealed severe and fundamental critics concerning this same jet in a report to a U.S. Senate committee.

Moreover, he criticizes  the FAA heavily: “If the FAA was truly regulating in the public interest, it would take action against Boeing for its continued deception and gross errors in the design and production of the 737 MAX by withdrawing Boeing’s production certificate.”

See also Designfehler wie für ein Lehrbuch (German).

 

What had happened to the Jewish friends? Berlin 1931 #1

In the beginning of the thirties my mother lived in Berlin Dahlem. She attended the Volksschule Lansstraße (?) in this quarter. Looking at two atmospheric pictures from her photo album I wondered what might have happened to her probably Jewish school mates, Martha Esther Hirschberg and her brother Walter Joseph (“Seppl”) Hirschberg. The photo was labeled “Mit Martha und Seppl Hirschberg Juli 1931” (“With Martha and Seppl Hirschberg July 1931”).

Looking on MyHeritage I got to know to my relief that both had survived World War II and the Shoah: Martha Esther Hirschberg died in 1979 and Walter Joseph Hirschberg in 1998. Apparently, Walter Joseph Hirschberg emigrated to San Diego. It would be nice to gain more information on both and the school they attended. I would be happy to send my photos to relatives of the Hirschberg siblings.