Tag Archives: holocaust

18% Brown: the downfall of a Bulgarian intellectual

The countries of Eastern Europe continue to struggle with the classification of their history and the people and currents that shaped it. This is especially true for the legacy of the time immediately before the Communist seizure of power. In many Eastern European countries, since the 1920s, there were fascist or openly National Socialist groups that enjoyed widespread popular support; they generally combined radical anti-communism with a totalitarian idea of society and eliminationist anti-Semitism modeled after German National Socialism.

From these groupings, the Nazis gained before and at the outbreak of WWII many fanatical supporters for their policy of violence and extermination, a policy that aimed at the complete eradication of whole races, especially the Jews and Roma. The prejudices and social exclusion that had prevailed for centuries, as well as the existing willingness to use violence against these population groups in Eastern Europe, were taken up by the Nazis and made serviceable for their barbaric extermination project. The anti-Semitic and fascist organizations of the “elites” in these countries disappeared apparently later with the Communist seizure of power, but the persons and attitudes of course remained largely unchanged.

While many leading members of fascist groups settled in the West in time, and others being executed or sentenced to lengthy prison terms in trials that were usually not according to the standards of constitutional democracies, there were also many who remained undisturbed. Among other things, the collapse of the communist bloc in Eastern Europe led to the formation of political groups that deliberately leaned towards pre-war organizations and that see themselves as following the values of such organizations. As a rule, the anti-communism of these pre-WWII groups is emphasized, but the totalitarian-fascist and anti-Semitic tradition is often concealed or relativized.

Hard-boiled anti-Semites and racists who have survived the communist regime and who are still proud of their (mis)deeds against Jews, and who in some cases spent decades behind bars in a communist prison, were suddenly revered by many despite (or perhaps because of?) their open advocacy of the ideology of their youth as anti-communist martyrs and heroes and role models for 21st century youth. And frequently, there are willing intellectuals who wholeheartedly support this revisionist narrative.

I want to report on such a case here. The focus is on the Bulgarian writer Zachary Karabashliev, whose novel 18% Gray is also available in English translation.

What is it all about? On his Facebook profile Karabashliev describes a visit to a 97-year-old retiree, and he provides photos and explanatory text. This encounter has, in his own words, strongly impressed him. The old man, apparently still astonishingly vigorous for his age, was harassed several times by intruders in his home and probably also physically abused. Karabashliev demanded in a letter from the competent ministry a better protection and an increased pension for the war veteran, who also spent many years in a prison of Communist Bulgaria as a regime opponent.

So far so good. There is no one who does not regret the poor living conditions of pensioners in Bulgaria, and also the frequent lack of recognition that many innocent victims of the communist system (in)justice have received in today’s Bulgarian society. So quite a noble action, which honors also the initiator, one could believe at first glance. Another picture, however, comes to light when you are digging a bit deeper.

The old man, whom Karabashliev praises, and whom he has repeatedly dubbed in public statements – even on television – as a hero, is called Dyanko Markov. Markov was imprisoned in communist Bulgaria for political reasons and was rehabilitated in the years after 1989. He was then a member of parliament for a right-wing party and became the most prominent living symbol of the political Right in Bulgaria because of his strong anti-communist stance. Markov wrote his memoirs, he often appeared as a speaker at public events (for example at the European Parliament) and was repeatedly interviewed. He is not just any pensioner, but in Bulgaria a well-known figure of public life. We are dealing with someone whom many – Karabashliev, for example – consider to be an exemplary hero and as such he was and is always present in the Bulgarian public.

In the first version of his Facebook post, Karabashliev also mentioned in detail and admiringly a part of the biography of Markov, which he interestingly later edited and completely deleted. This section referred to Markov’s membership in the so-called “Legions” and his alleged heroic deeds during World War II.

The Union of Bulgarian National Legions was an anti-Semitic and openly fascist paramilitary organization led by Hristo Lukov from 1933 on (he used the title “National Leader”). The youth organization of the Legions used the swastika as part of their emblem, the uniforms of the Legions and also the program were directly based on the blueprint of the German SA and also otherwise this movement was regarded as an arm of Hitler in Bulgaria and was strongly supported accordingly by Nazi Germany.

Eliminationist anti-Semitism was particularly actively promoted in Bulgaria by radical groups such as the Legions. Lukov, who eventually rose to become a general, Minister of War, and the “gray eminence” in the background, used the Legions as a base to gain more and more political influence and power; the Gestapo seriously debated whether they should support a coup d’etat by Lukov against Tsar Boris III who was for opportunistic reasons – the defeat of the Nazis was already forseeable – reluctant to carry out the Final Solution in Bulgaria; a replacement by a dictator Lukov, would according to the reasoning of the Gestapo, “deliver” the Jews for extermination without any problems. Before these ideas could be carried out, Lukov was assassinated by Violeta Yakova, a 19-year-old Jewish partisan (she was later brutally raped and tortured to death by Bulgarian security forces); the strong resistance of many Bulgarian citizens, some politicians (such as Dimitar Peshev) and the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria meant in the end that Bulgaria did not extradite their own Jewish citizens to the Nazis.

The Jews in the Bulgarian-occupied and annexed areas of Thrace, Macedonia and the Pirot region of Serbia were less fortunate: they were the only inhabitants of these areas who were formally declared as non-Bulgarians, and with this “trick” the Bulgarian authorities had laid the basis for deporting them. The deportation in these areas was organized and carried out by Bulgarians, members of the Union of Bulgarian National Legions were particularly eager, since the murder of the Jews corresponded to their own program. More than 11,000 Jews were deported to Treblinka and murdered on arrival.  

The founder and “leader” of this organization, which carried out much of the dirty work in the murder of Jews, Hristo Lukov, is the idol of many neo-Nazis in Europe to this day, he is “honored” with a torchlight parade every year in the center of Sofia by groups of neo-Nazis from all over Europe. Lukov is also the idol of Dyanko Markov, and he still propagates the ideas and “values” of the Legions to this very day. His memoirs sing a song of heroism of this organization. The Holocaust in the territories occupied and annexed by Bulgaria was commented by Markov in a speech in the Bulgarian parliament in 2000, in which he stated that the deportation of a “hostile population” was not a war crime. In 2018 he added that the deportation of the Jews to Treblinka was “relatively humane”. Almost at the same time Markov received from the Bulgarian state a high Order of Merit. One wonders, however, for what exactly…

At this point lies the real scandal, in the center of which Karabashliev has now maneuvered himself, probably out of the deepest conviction from the bottom of his heart.

If he and his notorious co-propagandists had wanted to draw attention to the fate of the veterans, the former inmates and victims of the communist regime of injustice or, in general, the shameful situation in which many elderly people in Bulgaria have to vegetate, one could easily choose almost any older person in Bulgaria as an example. The fact that a Dyanko Markov of all people is chosen to make this point, a person whose appearance in the European Parliament triggered a major scandal just a few years ago, after his continued advocacy of an inhumane organization and ideology and his Holocaust relativization became known, is, of course, a hint to the fact that the small group’s political program that keeps repeating Dyankov’s instrumentalization aims mainly at a complete rehabilitation of criminal fascist organizations from pre-war Bulgaria, a rehabilitation on which the group obviously plans to capitalize politically.

Anyone who points out that an inhumane ideology is being propagated here, the ideology of a group whose main historical aim was the mass murder of certain population groups and a cruel war of aggression in the East, anyone who questions why such people should be made into heroes must be prepared for a few things, from – in the end unsuccessful – slander trials to vicious, hate-filled personal attacks from the camp of Karabashliev’s co-propagandists. Unfortunately, such tendencies are probably in the spirit of the times, because in Bulgaria, which is governed by a coalition of right-wing and right-wing extremist parties, intellectual currents that relativize or deny the Holocaust and who claim that it is “the Jews” who need to be blamed for all atrocities of communism (which, as a matter of course makes their mass murder an excusable response); even the age-old anti-Semitic topos of the Jews as Christ-killers celebrates resurrection, e.g. in the columns of the once respected portal “Kultura”. The fact that Bulgarian writers such as Karabashliev and a few other second- and third-rate figures are initiating or supporting such shameful acts is a declaration of moral bankruptcy.

The case Karabashliev weighs particularly hard because of its influential position in the Bulgarian publishing industry. Significantly, with the exception of Angel Igov, who has contradicted the account of Karabashliev and his allies with reference to the facts, and Lea Cohen, who as a Jew is a traditional target of the Bulgarian anti-Semites, no other author has to my knowledge yet intervened in this scandal. Too big is obviously the fear to lose access to publication outlets in the small Bulgarian book market, or to estrange readers, of which a considerable part probably sympathizes with Markov‘s and Karabashliev’s historical revisionism. One may call this cowardice or complete dullness towards moral values; in any case it is a tragedy and a worrying symptom of the state of Bulgarian society these days.

© Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki, 2014-9. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

18% Braun: Vom Fall eines bulgarischen Intellektuellen

Die Länder Osteuropas tun sich nach wie vor schwer mit der Einordnung ihrer Geschichte und der Personen und Strömungen, die sie gestaltet haben. Das gilt vor allem für das Erbe aus der Zeit unmittelbar vor der kommunistischen Machtergreifung. In vielen osteuropäischen Ländern gab es seit den zwanziger Jahren des 20. Jahrhunderts faschistische oder offen nationalsozialistische Gruppierungen, die sich grosser Unterstützung in Teilen der Bevölkerung erfreuten, und die in der Regel einen radikalen Antikommunismus mit einem totalitären Gesellschaftsmodell und eliminatorischem Antisemitismus nach nationalsozialistischem Vorbild verknüpften.

Aus diesen Gruppierungen erwuchsen den Nazis vor und bei Kriegsausbruch fanatische Unterstützer für ihre Gewaltpolitik, in deren Zug sie ganze Rassen ausrotten wollten, allen voran die Juden und Roma. Die seit Jahrhunderten verbreiteten Vorurteile und gesellschaftlichen Ausgrenzungen, sowie die vorhandene Gewaltbereitschaft gegenüber diesen Bevölkerungsgruppen in Osteuropa wurde von den Nazis gerne aufgegriffen und für ihr barbarisches Ausmerzungsprojekt dienstbar gemacht. Die antisemitischen und faschistischen Organisationen der „Eliten“ in diesen Ländern verschwanden zwar scheinbar später mit der kommunistischen Machtergreifung, die Personen und Geisteshaltungen aber blieben selbstverständlich weitgehend unverändert.

Während sich viele führende Vertreter faschistischer Gruppierungen rechtzeitig in den Westen absetzten und mancher auch im Rahmen von Prozessen, die meist wenig rechtsstaatlich waren, hingerichtet oder zu langjährigen Gefängnisstrafen verurteilt wurde, blieben viele auch unbehelligt. Der Zusammenbruch des kommunistischen Blocks in Osteuropa führte unter anderem auch dazu, dass sich politische Gruppierungen bildeten, die sich bewusst an Vorkriegsorganisationen anlehnten oder in deren Tradition sehen. Dabei wurde in der Regel der Antikommunismus dieser Gruppierungen in den Vordergrund gestellt, die totalitär-faschistische und antisemitische Tradition aber gerne verschwiegen oder relativiert.

Hartgesottene Antisemiten und Rassisten, die das kommunistische Regime überlebt haben und bis heute stolz auf ihre (Un-)Taten gegenüber Juden sind und die in einigen Fällen Jahrzehnte hinter Gittern in einem kommunistischen Gefängnis verbracht hatten, wurden von vielen plötzlich ungeachtet (oder vielleicht gerade wegen?) ihres offenen und ungeläuterten Eintretens für die Ideologie ihrer Jugendjahre als antikommunistische Märtyrer und Helden und Vorbilder für die Jugend des 21. Jahrhunderts dargestellt. Und immer wieder finden sich willige Intellektuelle, die dieses revisionistische Narrativ aus ganzem Herzen unterstützen.

Von einem solchen Fall will ich hier berichten. Im Zentrum steht dabei der bulgarische Schriftsteller Zachary Karabashliev, dessen Roman 18% Grau auch in englischer Übersetzung vorliegt.

Um was geht es konkret? Auf seinem Facebook-Profil berichtete Karabashliev von einem Besuch bei einem 97-jährigen Rentner, den er mit Fotos und erläuterndem Text versah. Diese Begegnung hat ihn nach eigenen Worten stark beeindruckt. Der alte Herr, offenbar noch erstaunlich rüstig für sein Alter, wurde diesem Bericht zufolge mehrfach von Eindringlingen in seiner Wohnung belästigt und wohl auch physisch misshandelt. Karabashliev forderte vom zuständigen Ministerium in einem Brief einen besseren Schutz bzw. eine erhöhte Rente des Kriegsveteranen, der zudem auch viele Jahre in einem Gefängnis des kommunistischen Bulgariens als Regimegegner einsass.

So weit, so gut. Es gibt wohl niemanden, der die schlechte Versorgung von Rentnern in Bulgarien und auch den häufigen Mangel an Anerkennung, den die vielen unschuldigen Opfer der kommunistischen Systemjustiz gegen Regimegegner in der heutigen bulgarischen Gesellschaft erhalten, nicht bedauert. Also durchaus eine edelmütige Aktion, die dem Initiator zur Ehre gereicht, könnte man auf den ersten Blick glauben. Ein anderes Bild jedoch ergibt sich, wenn man etwas tiefer gräbt.

Der alte Herr, von dem Karabashliev berichtet, und den er mehrfach in öffentlichen Äusserungen – auch im Fernsehen – als Helden tituliert hat, heisst Dyanko Markov. Markov war von im kommunistischen Bulgarien aus politischen Gründen inhaftiert und wurde in den Jahren nach 1989 rehabilitiert. Er war danach Parlamentsabgeordneter einer rechten Partei und wurde die prominenteste lebende Symbolfigur der Rechten in Bulgarien wegen seines unbeugsamen Antikommunismus. Markov schrieb seine Memoiren, trat häufig als Redner bei öffentlichen Veranstaltungen auf (u.a. auch im Europaparlament) und wurde immer wieder interviewt. Er ist also nicht irgendein Rentner, sondern in Bulgarien eine sehr bekannte Figur des öffentlichen Lebens. Wir haben es mit jemandem zu tun, den viele – so auch Karabashliev – geradezu für einen mustergültigen Helden halten und als solchen immer wieder der Öffentlichkeit vorstellen.

In der ersten Version seines Facebook-Posts erwähnte Karabashliev auch ausführlich und bewundernd einen Teil der Biographie Markovs, den er interessanterweise später redigierte und komplett strich. Dieser Abschnitt bezog sich auf die Mitgliedschaft Markovs bei den sog. „Legionären“ und seine angeblich heldenhaften Taten während des 2. Weltkriegs.

Der Bund der Bulgarischen Nationalen Legionen war eine antisemitische und offen faschistische paramilitärische Organisation, die ab 1933 von Hristo Lukov geführt wurde (er benutzte den Titel „Nationaler Führer“). Die Jugendorganisation der Legionäre nutzte in ihrem Emblem das Hakenkreuz, die Uniformen des Verbandes und auch das Programm waren direkt an das Muster der nazistischen SA angelehnt und auch sonst wurde diese Bewegung als Arm Hitlers in Bulgarien angesehen und entsprechend von Nazideutschland gefördert.

Der eliminatorische Antisemitismus wurde in Bulgarien besonders aktiv von radikalen Gruppen wie den Legionären propagiert. Lukov, der schliesslich zum General, Kriegsminister und zur grauen Eminenz im Hintergrund aufstieg, nutzte die Legionäre, um auch politisch immer mehr Einfluss zu gewinnen;  die Gestapo diskutierte ernsthaft, ob man einen Staatsstreich Lukovs gegen den bei der Judenvernichtung in Bulgarien aus opportunistischen Gründen – die Niederlage der Nazis war bereits absehbar – zögerlichen Zar Boris III durchführen sollte und an seiner Stelle Lukov als Diktator, der die Judenvernichtung in Bulgarien „liefern“ würde, unterstützen sollte. Dazu kam es am Ende nicht, Lukov wurde von der 19-jährigen jüdischen Partisanin Violeta Yakova bei einem Attentat getötet (sie wurde später von bulgarischen Sicherheitskräften bestialisch vergewaltigt und zu Tode gefoltert); der starke Widerstand vieler bulgarischer Bürger, einiger Politiker (wie Dimitar Peshev) und der Orthodoxen Kirche in Bulgarien führten dazu, dass Bulgarien die Juden im eigenen Land nicht an die Nazis auslieferte.

Die Juden in den von Bulgarien besetzten Gebieten Thrakiens, Mazedoniens und der serbischen Region Pirot hatten weniger Glück: sie wurden als einzige Einwohner dieser Gebiete nicht als Bulgaren angesehen, und mit diesem „Trick“ hatte man die Grundlage geschaffen, sie zu deportieren. Die Deportation in diesen Gebieten wurde von Bulgaren organisiert und durchgeführt, Mitglieder der Bulgarischen Nationalen Legionen zeigten sich besonders eifrig, entsprach der Mord an den Juden doch ihrem eigenen Programm. Mehr als 11000 Juden wurden überwiegend nach Treblinka zur Vergasung deportiert.

Der Gründer und „Führer“ dieser Organisation, die Hand- und Spanndienste beim Judenmord leistete, Hristo Lukov, ist das Idol vieler Neo-Nazis in Europa bis heute, er wird jedes Jahr mit einem Fackelzug gewaltbereiter Rechtsextremisten aus ganz Europa auf den Strassen von Sofia „geehrt“. Lukov ist auch das verehrte Idol von Dyanko Markov, und er propagiert bis heute das Gedankengut der Legionäre. Seine Memoiren singen das Heldenlied dieser Organisation. Der Holocaust in den von Bulgarien besetzten und annektierten Gebieten wurde von Markov in einer Rede im bulgarischen Parlament im Jahr 2000 dahingehend kommentiert, dass die Deportation einer „feindlichen Bevölkerungsgruppe“ kein Kriegsverbrechen sei. Im Jahr 2018 ergänzte er dazu noch, dass die Deportation nach Treblinka „relativ human“ gewesen sei. Fast zeitgleich erhielt Markov vom bulgarischen Staat einen hohen Verdienstorden. Man fragt sich allerdings, wofür…

In diesem Punkt liegt der eigentliche Skandal, in dessen Mittelpunkt sich Karabashliev jetzt, wohl aus tiefster Überzeugung selbst manövriert hat.

Wenn es ihm und seinen einschlägig bekannten Co-Propagandisten darum gegangen wäre, auf das Los der Veteranen, der ehemaligen Häftlinge und Opfer des kommunistischen Unrechtsregimes oder generell auf die schändliche Situation, in der viele betagte Menschen in Bulgarien vegetieren müssen, aufmerksam machen zu wollen, hätte man sich ohne weiteres fast jeden beliebigen älteren Menschen in Bulgarien als Beispiel aussuchen können. Dass man ausgerechnet einen Dyanko Markov, dessen Auftritt im Europäischen Parlament vor wenigen Jahren einen grossen Skandal auslöste, nachdem sein ungebrochenes Eintreten für eine menschenverachtende Organisation und Ideologie und seine Holocaust-Relativierung bekannt wurde, ist natürlich politisches Programm der kleinen Gruppe, die ihn immer wieder instrumentalisiert, um verbrecherische faschistische Organisationen aus dem Vorkriegs-Bulgarien zu rehabilitieren und daraus letzten Endes politisches Kapital zu schlagen.

Wer darauf hinweist, dass hier eine inhumane Ideologie propagiert wird und eine Gruppierung, deren Hauptziel nach eigener Aussage der Massenmord an bestimmten Bevölkerungsgruppen und der Angriffskrieg im Osten war, zu Heroen aufgebaut werden sollen, muss sich auf einiges gefasst machen, von – am Ende erfolglosen – Verleumdungsprozessen bis hin zu geifernden, hasserfüllten persönlichen Angriffen aus dem Lager von Karabashlievs Gesinnungsgenossen. Leider liegen derartige Tendenzen wohl im Zeitgeist, denn in Bulgarien, das von einer Regierungskoalition rechter und rechtsextremer Parteien regiert wird, gibt es seit einiger Zeit auch unter Intellektuellen Strömungen, die den Holocaust relativieren oder leugnen, und die „den Juden“ die Schuld am Kommunismus und seinen Verbrechen geben (und insofern den Massenmord an ihnen als entschuldbare Reaktion darauf interpretieren); auch der uralte antisemitische Topos von den Juden als Christus-Mördern feiert Wiederauferstehung, z.B. in den Spalten des einstmals angesehenen Portals „Kultura“. Dass sich bulgarische Schriftsteller wie Karabashliev und einige andere aus der zweiten und dritten Garnitur dazu hergeben, ist eine moralische Bankrotterklärung.

Der Fall Karabashliev wiegt besonders schwer aufgrund seiner einflussreichen Stellung im bulgarischen Verlagswesen. Bezeichnenderweise hat – mit der Ausnahme von Angel Igov, der der Darstellung von Karabashliev und seiner Bundesgenossen mit Hinweis auf die Fakten widersprochen hat und von Lea Cohen, die als Jüdin ohnehin traditionell eine Zielscheibe der bulgarischen Antisemiten ist – meines Wissens bisher noch kein anderer Autor zu dem Vorgang Stellung genommen. Zu gross ist offenbar die Angst, auf dem kleinen bulgarischen Buchmarkt Pulikationsmöglichkeiten zu verlieren oder bei Lesern anzuecken, von denen wohl ein beträchtlicher Teil mit Markovs und Karabashlievs Geschichtsrevisionismus sympathisiert. Man mag das Feigheit oder komplette Abgestumpftheit gegenüber moralischen Werten nennen; ein Trauerspiel und ein besorgniserregendes Symptom für den Zustand der bulgarischen Gesellschaft ist es auf jeden Fall.

© Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki, 2014-9. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fatherland

Ähnliches Foto Counterfactual history, i.e. the question “what would have happened if …” the events would not have taken the well-known historical, but another conceivable path, has become in recent years – at least according to my impression – an increasingly popular narrative vehicle in literary fiction. The Nazi era in particular seems to be a prolific territory for this genre, just think of works as diverse as Philip Roth’s “Conspiracy against America”, Timur Vermes’ “Look Who’s Back” or Robert Harris’ “Fatherland”, the work I am reviewing here. Harris, until then known as a journalist and non-fiction author, reported in detail for the press in the Anglo-Saxon countries about the “Hitler diaries”, which the German magazine “Stern” had “discovered” in the 80s. (These diaries proved of course to be a hoax, and it is difficult to understand how anyone could in all seriousness believe in the authenticity of these amateurishly made up “diaries”.) In the course of his preoccupation with this period, Harris wondered how Europe would have looked like if the Nazis would have achieved their war goals. The result was his first novel “Fatherland”, published in 1992. Berlin, 1964: The Nazis have won WWII and have created a Europe dominated by the Greater German Reich. The borders of the Reich extend to the Urals, behind which the remains of the Soviet Union, with which there are still border skirmishes, has withdrawn. While 11 million Jews have been “resettled” and then disappeared without a trace (nobody dares to ask questions about this topic), and the Slavic population has been decimated and turned into slave laborers, millions of Germans have taken over the conquered territories in the framework of a huge resettlement program. In these newly conquered territories however, dissatisfaction is rising and partisan raids have reached an increasingly dangerous level. The European Union, a creation of Nazi Germany and of course dominated by it, has its headquarters in Berlin; its members are independent only by name but de facto satellite states of Nazi Germany; a separate peace was concluded with Great Britain and the USA; the only remaining free country on the European continent is Switzerland. Berlin, which has been fundamentally redesigned by Speer according to Hitler’s megalomanic plans, is preparing for the celebrations of the dictator’s 75th birthday (Harris follows in his novel until about 1942 the actual biographies of the Nazi elite and then switches on his “counterfactual mode”.). While some notable Nazi officials such as Goering or Himmler are already dead in the novel, others such as Goebbels – who still requires attractive actresses to come to him for an “audition” – or Heydrich, Hitler’s potential successor, who controls the Gestapo and SD apparatus, are still in office.  This is the backdrop in front of which the plot unfolds, and in the beginning the reader seems to be in a classic detective novel. The corpse of an old man is pulled from a lake near Berlin. Both the identity of the man and the cause of death are initially unknown and it looks first like a routine case for the responsible investigator of the criminal police, detective Xavier March. However, the peculiarities accumulate in the framework of the investigation, and the experienced March smells soon that there is something fishy about this case (I want to avoid spoilers and will therefore not convey too much of the plot). Having established the identity of the dead – it is a Nazi of the first hour – and March, thanks to the conspiratorial assistance of an old friend who now works in the gigantic party archives, discovers a startling parallel with the recent deaths of other prominent Nazis. The traces of all these deaths lead back to the year 1942, to a villa on the Wannsee, where the organization of the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” was discussed. Could it be that Heydrich wants to cover up all traces and kill all surviving participants of this conference? And why is March suddenly crossing paths on more than one occasion with Odilo Globocnik, the sadistic and brutal bloodhound of Heydrich? Why is an important eyewitness suddenly dead? Is it all somehow connected with the planned meeting between Hitler and US President Joseph Kennedy (the anti-Semite and father of John F. Kennedy)? After all, since the announcement of a planned pact between Nazi Germany and the United States, the popularity of the US president in the polls has increased so much that his re-election seems certain. (The US Ambassador in Berlin, Charles Lindbergh, also a Nazi sympathizer, certainly is the right man in the right place in Harris’ novel.) Of course, the sudden emergence of documents that prove the full extent of the Holocaust, would be in such a sensitive situation diplomatically more than inconvenient. The case is withdrawn from March, who is supposed to not uncover the truth; and he becomes a target of the State Police himself; nevertheless, March keeps on investigating in secret and discovers what is at the bottom of all these cases; the situation becomes increasingly dangerous for March, but he has no choice… The plot is not all that matters in Fatherland. The protagonist of the book who is formally belonging to the SS, but who in the past has been plagued by doubts about the official party line and politics, is increasingly removing himself from the regime he has served for many years. The description of this process is almost as exciting and convincing as the thriller plot itself. Fatherland is an absolute page turner; after I started reading, I could not put the book down until I had finished it. I do not want to say that this is a literary masterpiece, but it’s a very entertaining and exciting read and for some readers also the documents about the Wannsee conference in the novel may be something new. The book has some weaknesses: first of all, the absolutely impossible name of the main character and the very clichéd female protagonist and love-interest of March, an American journalist (here Harris seems to have been already too much preoccupied regarding the later movie) are not convincing. However, the book is really exciting and you can tell that the author has done his homework regarding the Nazi era and its ideology. The strongest part of the book for me is when Harris describes the leaden, nightmarish atmosphere in Berlin in 1964; the mistrust and fear in which people live in this totalitarian society; the instrumentalization of even the closest family ties (exemplified by the betrayal of March by his own son); the suppression of truth and historical facts and the self-censorship of thoughts. There is nothing great about the victorious Greater German Reich, beyond the dimensions of a deeply inhuman architecture, which aims at intimidation, the demonstration of absolute power, and the reduction of the masses to a mere ornament. All in all, and despite the weaknesses mentioned, a worthwhile and entertaining book that encourages the reader to learn more about the Nazi era and totalitarian dictatorships in general.  Robert Harris: Fatherland, Arrow Books 2017
© Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki, 2014-8. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Seventh Well

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The Seventh Well by Fred Wander is a book in the tradition of the works of Primo Levi, Imre Kertesz, Elie Wiesel or Julius Fučík about the Holocaust. Although it’s a novel, it is an only slightly fictionalized account of experiences of its author as an inmate in no less than twenty Nazi concentration camps in France, Poland and Germany.

The book consists of twelve comparatively short chapters. The chapters as well as the events reported in them are not always in chronological order. The book – and this was a wise decision in my opinion – does not aim at being an exhaustive report of all the sufferings of its author/narrator; it rather focuses in each chapter on one or a small group of inmates, their characteristics, background, bits of information about their life “before” – when they were just ordinary people with all their strengths and defaults, dreams and obsessions, family life, political convictions, religious creeds, with their love of money, sex, alcohol, or literature and story-telling. And indeed, the title of the opening chapter is How to Tell a Story, and I must quote the very first sentences here:

“In the beginning was a conversation. Three weeks after the conversation, Mendel died.”

What follows this almost Biblical entry is a portrait of the above-mentioned man, Mendel Teichmann, a middle-aged Jew who would tell every other Sunday afternoon stories to the other inmates who gathered to listen to him. These first eight pages set the tune for the whole book. The other vignettes in the book are similarly impressive.

While the SS guards and their willing local helpers are indiscriminately called “jackboots” throughout the whole book and almost none of them is identified by a name or some individual characteristics (contrary to many recent books and movies about the Holocaust that are indulgent in their portrayal of sadistic, demonic and somehow charismatic Nazis, while the victims don’t play an important role; the most extreme case that I know of is Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones, a book that I find highly problematic – but I digress…), the prisoners of the camp in these approximately 150 pages gain an individual stature and profile. While many things we know about the camps – the selections, the arbitrary violence and killings, the role of the Prominenten and Kapos, prisoners who made themselves useful to the SS guards and became part of the system that kept the work in the camps going, the hasty evacuation and Todesmarsch (death march) from one KZ to the next, the slow physical and psychological decline of the inmates, the permanent exhaustion and starvation to name just a few -, there are several reasons why The Seventh Well stands out in comparison to other works.

The Holocaust was such a monstrous crime, the number of victims so huge, and the extermination was organized in such a bureaucratic, industrialized and cunning manner that there is a danger that the individual victims are easily forgotten. By remembering a few of them, the author/narrator gives them a face, a fate, a story to remember. These are not anonymous victims, these are people from different countries, Jews, Christians, Jehova’s Witnesses, Atheists; there are communists or other leftists; homosexuals and Russian POW’s; people with a working-class background and intellectuals. And they all struggle to keep their human dignity against all odds by acts of resistance: for example by forming a literature club, by singing an Italian opera aria or Spanish songs from the Civil War, by protecting a fellow prisoner who is in bad physical shape from discovery, by not committing suicide, by fighting to keep their younger brothers alive (the last chapter Joschko and his Brothers is particularly touching), or – by telling stories.  

The episodic character of the chapters makes it easier for the reader not to get overwhelmed by the subject matter. While some of the chapters could be stand-alone stories, others have more the character of essays. The translation of Wander’s sparse, but beautiful prose by Michael Hofmann is excellent.

I cannot say that I “enjoyed” this book – for obvious reasons.  But I am very glad that I read it. The Seventh Well is a truly humanistic book, because it helps us to remember the humanity of at least some of those who perished and suffered in the Holocaust.

A post-scriptum: In Germany, Fred Wander is probably less well-known than his (second) wife Maxie Wander, author of the celebrated interview book Guten Morgen, du Schöne (Good Morning, Beautiful), and her posthumously published diaries. He wrote also an autobiography Das gute Leben (The Good Life), which I plan to read as well – maybe for next years’ German Literature Month, who knows?

The Seventh Well

Fred Wander: The Seventh Well, translated by Michael Hofmann, Granta Books London 2009

This review is published in the framework of the 2017 edition of German Literature Month, organized again by Caroline from Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat and Lizzy from Lizzy’s Literary Life. A list with links to all published reviews by the participating bloggers can be found here.

#germanlitmonth2017

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Kommentar zu einem Nachruf auf Ernst Nolte

Ernst Nolte ist gestorben.

Von den Toten soll man gut reden oder dort, wo dies nicht möglich ist wenigstens respektvoll schweigen. Was allerdings vollkommen unakzeptabel, ja geradezu skandalös ist, sind Artikel wie der Nachruf auf Nolte von Lorenz Jäger in der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung.

Während mit viel Empathie Noltes Lebensweg nachgezeichnet wird, wird seine höchst zweifelhafte Rolle im Historikerstreit nur in einem Nebensatz erwähnt, und seine jahrzehntelangen publizistischen Aktivitäten im neu-braunen Umfeld (Holocaustrelativierung, Verteidigung von Volksverhetzung und vieles mehr) als “Ungeschick” verharmlost – nicht ohne pauschal und anonym denjenigen, die wie Jürgen Habermas Nolte damals ein paar unbequeme Wahrheiten gesagt haben, “harte Angriffe” auf den Geschichtsrevisionisten zu bescheinigen, die Mitschuld an dessen Isolation (“Der Arme!” soll der uninformierte Leser wohl denken) hätten.

Vom Kapp-Putsch, der dem kommunistischen Umsturzversuch vorherging, von den zahlreichen politischen Morden der extremen Rechten nach Ende des 1. Weltkriegs, von der politischen Einäuigkeit der Justiz und politischen Institutionen zu jener Zeit hat Herr Jäger offenbar noch nie gehört, und zu schreiben dass Nolte derjenige gewesen wäre, der als Erster(!) ”den zeitlichen Vorrang der bolschewistischen Klassen-Vernichtungspolitik vor dem Holocaust” behauptet hätte, ist natürlich blanker Unsinn. Es genügte auch vorher schon ein simpler Blick in die Geschichtsbücher, um das zu wissen. Die Angriffe auf Nolte hatten einen anderen Grund, den Herr Jäger verschweigt. Oder schreibt er gar, was er schreibt wider besseres Wissen?

Offenbar hat Herr Jäger bis heute nicht verstanden, um was es bei dem Historikerstreit ging, und warum die Reaktionen auf Noltes geschichtsrevisionistische Thesen, die die Vernichtungsmaschinerie als simple Reaktion auf bolschewistische Verbrechen (und damit zumindest teilweise entschuldbar) darstellte, so heftig waren wie es dann der Fall war. 

Ein Nachruf auf einen der übelsten Geschichtsrevisionisten der Nachkriegszeit, der seinerseits Legendenbildung betreibt und versucht, die Leser in plumper Form zu manipulieren oder bewusst falsch zu informieren – das ist nicht der Qualitätsjournalismus, den ich von der FAZ erwarte!

 © Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

News from Retardistan (5): The silence of the lambs

Honestly, I cannot understand why most Bulgarian intellectuals don’t say a word about the fact that many of the places where they are usually buying their books are being more and more turned into locations where Nazi publishers are selling pamphlets that are advertising an inhumane ideology, racial hatred and mass murder. No wonder that in this climate, anti-Semitism shows its ugly face also outside the bookstores as this excerpt from the excellent book A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria shows.

It seems to be normal for most Bulgarian intellectuals to see Hitler’s My Struggle, Henry Ford’s The International Jew, and other extremely revolting books that either advertise mass murder, deny the Holocaust, or are apologies of war criminals being prominently advertised and promoted literally almost everywhere, or what is the reason for the silence of most of the Bulgarian intellectual elite in this case?

Do they think that the widespread promotion of such books in their country doesn’t concern them? Do they think someone might be offended when they raise their voice to confront those people who help to distribute extermination manuals? Are they afraid to be physically threatened if they speak out against right-wing extremism and Nazism? (I have to admit that this is unfortunately a very real threat as I learned during my public argument with a revisionist and anti-Semitic so-called “historian” – the “fan mail” by his friends gave me a very interesting insight in the moral scruffiness and deprivation of this part of the extreme right wing of the intellectual lumpenproletariat in Bulgaria; it contrasted rather typically and unfavourably with the almost complete lack of public support for my position by most of my intellectual friends – but do not worry, I have an extremely high frustration tolerance.)

Do they think it is a sign of democracy and freedom of expression when those who either deny the holocaust or who would like to commit mass murder, erect concentration camps, and sterilize by force certain groups of the Bulgarian population if they could are not only allowed to propagate their inhumane ideology without limits, but are even supported by a coalition of silent intellectuals and a public that seems to be completely uninformed about history and uninterested in what is going on in their country, in which revisionists, fascists and openly Nazi groups are taking more and more over the public discourse on certain topics? What kind of “democrats” would have the idea to promote a law that bans the use of certain communist symbols under threat of a prison sentence, but who seem to be fine with the promotion of mass murder under the banner of revisionism, fascism, and Nazism?

Hate speech against minorities is not the exception, but the rule in Bulgaria, and very few people seem to care. A real democracy and pluralist society requires that people raise their voice and set limits to this domination of the public sphere by revisionist, fascist and Nazi propaganda; intellectuals have a particular responsibility to speak out when it comes to these issues. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Bulgarian intellectuals seems to be sound asleep – this intellectual indolence, laziness and cowardice when it comes to confront this pest in Bulgaria is something very sad, disappointing, and depressing. 

Fortunately a few bookstores are consciously not following this trend and a few intellectuals voice their concern. A few bookstores and a few intellectuals, yes. But a real public discussion on a large scale about this problem doesn’t take place, nor seem many people who should know it better even to be aware at all of the issue. As long as it is like this, the enemies of democracy and a pluralist society have a field day in Bulgaria.

————————————————————————————————————————————

The above mentioned book is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Jewish and/or Bulgarian history:

Dimana Trankova, Anthony Georgieff: A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria, Vagabond Media, Sofia 2011

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

News from Retardistan (3)

A bookstore in Sofia, at the table with the best and most-interesting newly arrived books. And what do I see? Hitler’s My Struggle, marked as a “Hit” – and just beside it a book by Primo Levi, a survivor of Auschwitz.

I am speechless.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran

Paris, 1960. Moïse, or Momo as he is usually called, is a Jewish boy that grows up in a rather loveless household. Mother and an older brother, Popol, have left soon after Momo’s birth and left the baby-boy with the father, a lawyer, that is hardly ever communicating with his son (or anybody else), except for the cases when he is suspecting Momo to steal money from the funds from which he is supposed to buy the household supplies.

At 13, Momo is getting interested in the other sex, and so the short novella Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran starts with him crashing his piggy bank and using the savings for a first visit at a prostitute. The real centre of the story however is the slowly developing friendship with Monsieur Ibrahim, the Arab of the predominantly Jewish neighbourhood, where Momo is buying (and sometimes stealing) his supplies.

While at the beginning they exchange usually only one sentence every day, over a longer period they become closer and the ever-smiling Monsieur Ibrahim, an elderly man who is rarely ever seen leaving his shop, is beginning to share his view of life with the boy who is looking for answers, answers that usually a father is supposed to provide if possible – but on the one occasion Momo is looking for a serious talk with his father, he realizes that his old man is a broken man, unable to even make sense of his own life. Something terrible happened in the life of Momo’s father, and it is only after Monsieur Ibrahim, a true Sufi, explains it to him at a later stage, Momo begins to understand that his twice being deserted by mother and father alike is not his own fault, of course. He is in a way suffering because he too is a victim of the holocaust – his life is tremendously affected by the consequences of this great crime, although he is born after WWII.

I don’t want to give away the whole story but rather dramatic developments are still ahead of Momo. At a bit below 70 pages in print, this book is a fast read, so you can easily go through it in a few hours.

A friendship between a Jewish boy and an Arab in Paris – I think the author realized that he had to tell us this story in the past tense. By placing his story in the early 1960s he makes this friendship more probable; at the same time this past is a bit like a lost Utopia where people that belong to different religions learn to accept each other and even become true friends for life. And on a more symbolic level – the protagonists’s name derive from Abraham and Moses – it is also a book about the fact that the followers of the big monotheistic religions share in the end much more than many of the legalistic interpreters of these cults want to know nowadays.

“Avec monsieur Ibrahim, je me rendais compte que les juifs, les musulmans et même les chrétiens, ils avaient plus de grands hommes en commun avant de se taper sur la gueule. Ça ne me regardait pas, mais ça me faisait du bien.” – (With Monsieur Ibrahim, I realized that the Jews, the Muslims, and even the Christians had more great men in common before they were hitting each other’s faces. It had nothing to do with me, but it made me feel good.)

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a popular and very prolific French-Belgian author of bestsellers. I didn’t expect very much from the book but was pleasantly surprised. Since I decided to read again more French books in their original language, it was also a test if I can still do it – it went well and I will tackle also some longer and more complex works in French again in the future.

It is said that the book is inspired by Romain Gary’s The Life Before Us – I haven’t read Gary’s book yet and can therefore not comment on this aspect.

By the way, there is a movie with the same title with Omar Sharif in the title role – probably his best performance of his later career.

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt: Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran, translated by Marjolijn De Jager, Acorn 2004; Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran, Albin Michel 2014

The above quote from the French edition is translated by Thomas Hübner.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On Gertrud Kolmar and some other “forgotten” authors

literatur_2015_gold-2

This blog post is part of the German Literature Month, hosted by Lizzie (Lizzies Literary Life) and Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat). I read Gertrud Kolmar’s poetry in November.

After the end of WWII a heated discussion took place between authors that stayed in Germany during the Nazi era and others who had emigrated.

The controversy was led by two rather mediocre authors, Frank Thiess and Walter von Molo on the side of those who decided to stay in Germany and by Thomas Mann on the side of the literary emigrants. This controversy has left traces until today and the work of W.G. Sebald for example can be only understood when you consider this historical backdrop.

What was it all about?

Thiess and von Molo considered themselves and those authors who were against the Nazis but stayed in Germany as representatives of the Innere Emigration (inner emigration). According to them they suffered consciously the horrors of the Nazi regime to bear witness and to – if possible – send hidden messages to their readers which they smuggled into their books (one reason for the particular popularity of historical novels during this time). While according to them they suffered terror, war and permanent personal threats under the Nazis, the literary emigrants like Thomas Mann or Lion Feuchtwanger lived according to their perception rather well and undisturbed in their comfortable exile and were now, after WWII trying to lecture the “inner emigrants” about moral and declaring the literature of this group of authors per se as worthless.

Thomas Mann who was directly attacked in a rather distasteful way was answering that all books published in Nazi Germany stank of blood and shame and should be destroyed.

Six decades after the end of WWII we can see this controversy in a more rational and distanced, less emotional way. I would say both sides had a point, and both were partly wrong in their judgement.

Indeed, the situation of writers and intellectuals who remained in Germany after 1933 and who were not joining the ranks of the Nazis was very difficult to say the least. Many of them were banned, some were imprisoned and there was a permanent threat on their lives which must have been a terrible strain on them. Some of them complied with the requests of the new regime, some made compromises and only a very few of them really resisted the Nazis completely. Some were discredited in the eyes of the Nazis by their political or racial background – those were the ones that were threatened most, but who anyway rarely had a chance to publish anything during that period. Therefore the term inner emigration is a quite mixed box which contains an assortment of cowards as well as real heroes and all shades in between. But to think that writers who had emigrated had it nice in their exiles is far from the truth that it is insulting and it shows simply the ignorance or mischievousness of the ilk of Thiess and von Molo. Most emigrants were destitute and permanently threatened by expulsion or by the secret agents of the Nazi and Stalinist regime that ruthlessly eliminated critical voices also abroad. The other problem that emigrant authors faced was the lack of publication opportunities and therefore lack of possibilities to make a living. Only Thomas Mann, Feuchtwanger or Stefan Zweig could live from their writing, all the others lived usually miserable from charities.

Also Thomas Mann’s verdict is rather harsh and with all due respect to this great author a bit exaggerated in my opinion. All literature published in Germany between 1933 and 1945 may be morally discredited by the fact that writing and publishing about things that didn’t offend the Nazis included silence about their unbelievable crimes and thus a silent acceptance if not endorsement – still I think that it should be scrutinized on a case to case basis since I am not a supporter of the collective guilt thesis even for books – the question of the literary value is something else. To give an example from the French literature: Celine was an insane anti-Semite who published appalling brochures in which he advocated the mass murder of millions of Jews – but at the same time he is the author of one of the literary most important French novels of the 20th century. Disturbing and disconcerting, but you see the problem here. Sometimes a book is so much better than its author.

There is quite a number of books that were published in Germany during the Nazi era by authors that were no Nazis and that are worth being read today. Some of these books are of high literary value. I want to just drop a few names and titles for those who are interested in finding out more about this interesting topic.

Eugen Gottlob Winkler (1912-1936), the author of excellent essays and an accomplished poet, committed suicide at the age of 24 in order to avoid torture and imprisonment by the Nazis. Unfortunately his slender oeuvre is untranslated in English.

Gertrud Kolmar (1894-1943), one of the most remarkable German poets of the 20th century could publish two collections of poetry in that period although she was Jewish. She was gassed in Auschwitz 1943 or died during the transport from Theresienstadt to the concentration camp.

Jochen Klepper (1903-1942), author of the novel Der Vater (The Father) and of posthumously published diaries committed suicide with his Jewish wife and stepdaughter after their emigration request was denied.

Albrecht Haushofer (1903-1945), fellow student of Rudolf Hess and son of NS geo-politician Karl Haushofer, but nevertheless a member of resistance circles wrote his Moabiter Sonette (Moabit sonetts) while in prison; the manuscript was found in his coat pocket after he was executed by an SS commando a few days before the end of the war in Berlin.

Felix Hartlaub (1913-1945), whose diaries are of highest literary and documentary value disappeared without traces during the final battle of Berlin in the first days of May 1945.

Friedo Lampe (1899-1945) published a novel that was immediately banned after publication, and another one that was censored by the Nazis. Lampe, who was probably the stylistically most advanced writer of his generation, was shot a few days after the end of WWII by a Russian soldier.

Most of these authors were never translated into English, which is a pity. Only Haushofer and Kolmar are so far known to the English-reading public.

Here is an example of Gertrud Kolmar’s (i.e. Gertrud Chodziesner) poetry:

Der Engel im Walde

Gib mir deine Hand, die liebe Hand, und komm mit mir;
Denn wir wollen hinweggehen von den Menschen ….
So lass uns fliehn
Zu den sinnenden Feldem, die freundlich mit Blumen und Gras unsere wandemden Füsse trösten,
An den Strom, der auf seinem Rücken geduldig wuchtende Bürden, schwere,
giiterstrotzende Schiffe trägt,
Zu den Tieren des Waldes, die nicht übelreden …
Wir werden dürsten und hungem, zusammen erdulden,
Zusammen einst an staubigem Wegesrande sinken und weinen…

The Angel in the Forest

Give me your hand, beloved, and follow me.
And we will go away from men. . . .
So let us flee
Unto the musing fields that will console our wandering feet with friendly flowers and grass,
Unto the river, bearing patiently upon its back the weighty burden of the full,
freight-laden ships,
Unto the forest animals that speak no ill ….
And we will thirst and hunger and endure together,
And together someday on a dusty roadside we will fall and weep …

(translation by Henry A. Smith)

Kolmar had the opportunity to emigrate but refused. She didn’t want to leave her old father unattended back in Germany. The exact date of her death is unknown. Since there is a record of her on the transport lists from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz from 2 March 1943 but no record in the lists of inmates in the concentration camp it means that she was most probably gassed immediately after her arrival there or died during the transport.

Reading her poetry (or works of any other victim of that regime) one should remember well her verses from the poem Die Dichterin (The Woman Poet):

Mein Herz wie eines kleinen Vogels schlägt
In deiner Faust. Der du dies liest, gib acht;
Denn sieh, du blätterst einen Menschen um.
Doch ist er dir aus Pappe nur gemacht.

My heart beats like that of a little bird
In your fist. You who read this, take care;
For see, you turn the page of a person.
Though for you it is only made of cardboard.

(translation by Henry A. Smith)

For those interested in Gertrud Kolmar’s poetry and life, I can highly recommend the biography by Dieter Kühn: Gertrud Kolmar. A Literary Life. Kolmar, like all the other authors I mentioned, is worth to be discovered.

Kolmar

Gertrud Kolmar: Das lyrische Werk, Kösel, München 1960

Gertrud Kolmar: Dark Soliloquy, transl. Henry A. Smith, Seabury Press, New York 1975

Gertrud Kolmar: A Jewish Mother from Berlin – Susanna, transl. Brigitte M. Goldstein, Holmes & Meier 2012

Gertrud Kolmar: My Gaze Is Turned Inward: Letters 1938-1943, transl. Johanna Woltmann, Northwestern University Press 2004

Gertrud Kolmar: Worlds – Welten, transl. Philip Kuhn and Ruth von Zimmermann, Shearsman Books 2012

Dieter Kühn: Gertrud Kolmar. A Literary Life, transl. Linda Marianiello, Northwestern University Press 2013

 

Eugen Gottlob Winkler: Dichtungen, Gestalten und Probleme. Nachlass, Neske, Pfullingen 1956

Jochen Klepper: Der Vater, dtv, München 1991

Jochen Klepper: Unter dem Schatten deiner Flügel. Aus den Tagebüchern der Jahre 1932-1942, Brunnen, Gießen 2005

Albrecht Haushofer: Moabit Sonnets, transl. M.D. Herter Norton, W.W. Norton, New York 2013

Felix Hartlaub: In den eigenen Umriss gebannt (2 vol.), Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main 2002

Felix Hartlaub: Kriegsaufzeichnungen aus Paris, Suhrkamp, Berlin 2011

Felix Hartlaub: Italienische Reise, Suhrkamp, Berlin 2013

Friedo Lampe: Septembergewitter, Wallstein, Göttingen 2001

Friedo Lampe: Von Tür zu Tür, Wallstein, Göttingen 2002

Friedo Lampe: Am Rande der Nacht, Wallstein, Göttingen 2003

Friedo-Lampe-Gesellschaft e.V.: Ein Autor wird wiederentdeckt: Friedo Lampe 1899-1945, Wallstein, Göttingen 1999

Johannes Graf: Friedo Lampe (1899-1945). Die letzten Lebensjahre in Grünheide, Berlin und Kleinmachnow, Frankfurter Buntbücher, Frankfurt/Oder 1998

Patrick Modiano: Dora Bruder, transl. Joanna Kilmartin, University of California Press, Oakland 2014 – Modiano mentions Friedo Lampe and Felix Hartlaub in his novel.

© Kösel Verlag, 1960
© Henry A. Smith and Seabury Press, 1975
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A case of revisionism – second update

An adapted version of my recent blog post on the role of Boris III in the context of the Bulgarian participation in the Holocaust in Vardar Macedonia and Thrace was published in Bulgarian on the website Marginalia.

The team of Marginalia is nominated this year for the renowned Human Rights Tulip award of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for curageous individuals or organisations that promote human rights worldwide in innovative ways.

Thanks to Svetla Encheva and Marta Metodieva from the Marginalia team.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.