12 August 2018

A Few More Words About Rivne (Rivne, 1936 km)

(Rivne, 09.08.2018 - 12.08.2018) In his blog posting "A FEW WORDS ABOUT RIVNE" Christian Herrmann raised the question "What can I say about Rivne?". For me Rivne was first of all a starting point for exploring Trochenbrod, this longed-for destination, historically fictionalized by Jonathan Safran Foer in his novel "Everything Is Illuminated" and the same-named film from the year 2005.

As a matter of fact the name Trochenbrod in Yiddish stands for "Dry Bread" or "Bread without Butter" (German: Trockenbrot). In line with this and being on site I never ever believed that Trochenbrod was more than an imaginary place. After hours of walk in heathlands and forests, I didn't discover the Trochenbrod Memorial photographed by Christian Herrmann at his blog postings "INTO THE NOTHING" and "RETURN TO TROCHENBROD" but instead of this I located its perfect copy. Again, imagination or reality?

Frankly speaking, even now it's still hard to believe Trochenbrod was more than an imaginary place, a real settlement inhabited entirely by Jews - up to 3,500 souls - before World War II and vanished without a trace. Back to Rivne, in addition for me a place to acclimate myself with the Ukrainian way of life. It is much more than one single hour time difference between Central European Time (CET) and Eastern European Time (EET).

09 August 2018

Which is more important, the sun or the moon?... (Chelm, 1675 km)

(Chelm, 08.08.2018 - 09.08.2018) ... a citizen of Chelm asked the rabbi. “What a silly question!” snapped the cleric. “The moon, of course! It shines at night when we really need it. But who needs the sun shine when it is already broad daylight?”

In Eastern European Jewish folklore, the city of Chelm functions as an imaginary city of fools, similar to that of the Greek Abdera, the English Gotham, and the German Schilda, among numerous others. Was that the reason why on my ride from Lublin and Chelm a ghost driver drove in my lane in the wrong direction while I was overtaking a truck on the freeway? After many hundreds of thousands of miles by car or by motorcycle all over the world I made this unique near-death experience for the very first - but hopefully last - time in my life. Time to go to the Chelm Jewish Cemetery, fortunately just as visitor and photographer...!

08 August 2018

From Berlin to Praga (Warsaw, 1389 km)

(Warsaw, 05.08.2018 - 08.08.2018) Whoops, what happened, Praga, did I punch in wrong coordinates into my GPS device? I was scheduled for Warsaw, where two major conferences took place: 38th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and AGAD-Gesher Galicia Joint Symposium „Archives and Jewish Galicia“. Don‘t worry, before going to the conferences in order to meet friends from Bukovina and Galicia, let‘s first discover Praga, the most trendy of Warsaw‘s neighborhoods. Any similarities with Czernowitz are purely NOT coincidental!

Well, back to „work“, what actually means having a wonderful time and meeting friends from all over the world, such as The Netherlands, Germany, USA and Curaçao.

06 August 2018

A Tree Top and Time Travel Path and more Mysteries in History (Berlin, 554 km)

Berlin (02.08.2018 - 05.08.2018) This is the first stage of my motorcycle ride to Bukovina and far, far beyond. Travelling from west to east, it is highly recommended to stop over in Beelitz, located about 33 mi west of Berlin. More than 100 years ago, the famous „Beelitz-Heilstätten“, a large hospital complex of about 60 buildings, were created. Nowadays, a unique tree top and time travel path is winding above the World War II ruins of an Alpine house. In the old days, the working population of the imperial capital of Berlin was supposed to recover from the then rampant tuberculosis surrounded by the finest architecture and extensive forest parkways.

A special botanical highlight is the forest roof on top of the World War II ruin of the Alpine house. Trees have been growing here since 1945. Also the other castle-like buildings are grown over by climbing plants and pioneer plants provide some extravagant motifs which are usually to be expected on temples in the jungle. Step by step, the old structures of the park are brought back to the light of day.

In the evening I went for dinner with Prof. Dr. Mariana Hausleitner  one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent German historian for Romanian and Bukovinian historiography and above all, a very good friend of mine.

Mariana drew my attention to one of her lectures, as part of the much-frequented series „Mysteries in History“, hosted by Freie Universität Berlin. Raising the question „Why concluded Romania the extermination of Jews and Roma as early as end of 1942?“, Mariana dispels the myth that Ion Antonescu‘s Jewish policy was solely the result of the crushing defeat of the Battle of Stalingrad at the beginning of 1943, offering at the same time a bunch of additional explanations. Curious and fluently in German? Then click here for viewing the videotaped lecture and place the historical developments in the right order!

19 July 2018

Die Hauptsachen

Meine Wertung

Die Hauptsachen werden zu Nebensachen

Wer kennt das nicht, dieses unheimliche Gefühl von Fremdheit, häufig dann, wenn man sich selbst auf Fotos sieht, fast immer jedoch, wenn man eine Tonaufnahme der eigenen Stimme hört? Im besten Fall wirkt diese fremd, im schlechtesten unangenehm. Mit seiner Autobiografie versetzt Martin Amis vermutlich die meisten Leser in diese unheilvolle Stimmungslage, wären da nicht seine überragenden Formulierungskünste. Dennoch stellt man sich die Frage, warum man auf über 450 Seiten über einen - eingestandenermaßen - unsympathischen Protagonisten und - schon weit weniger reflektiert - über seinen noch unsympathischeren Vater lesen sollte. Wem es um Martin Amis geht, der ist mit seinen Romanen und Erzählungen weitaus besser bedient, wer mehr über Kingsley Amis erfahren möchte, wird reichhaltiges Material dazu finden, wer aber über eine Vater-Sohn-Beziehung in höchster literarischer Vollendung lesen möchte, dem sei „Mein Leben als Sohn“ von Philip Roth ans Herz gelegt. Die allzu bemühten Versuche des Verlages, „Die Hauptsachen“ von Martin Amis auf die gleiche Ebene hinaufzubefördern, gehen ins Leere. So werden „Die Hauptsachen“ eher zu Nebensachen und können ihre Wirkung allenfalls für detailbesessene Kenner der angelsächsischen Literaturszene entfalten.

08 July 2018

From Paris with Love & Banksy

(Paris, 28.06.2018 - 01.07.2018) Following us step by step, you'll always keep up with the news: A recent work by street artist Banksy is seen on a wall next to the Eiffel Tower on June 27, 2018 in Paris, France. The British artist Banksy confirmed on Instagram account responsibility for two new works made in the French capital. Between 22 and 24 June, six new artworks were discovered in Paris. Urban artist Banksy is known around the world for stenciling on city walls. This would be the first incursion of the artist into Parisian street art.

Let's walk along the waterfront of Paris and get closer to the Eiffel Tower. Oops, what's there? As if by magic our French relatives and friends, with whom we celebrated a magnificent family reunion in Savigny-sur-Orge on June 30, 2018, form a group below the Eiffel Tower?

Well, don't worry, keeping in mind Paris traffic, specially during Paris Gay Pride 2018 on June 30, the gathering below the Eiffel Tower was just virtual, but the family reunion in Savigny-sur-Orge was nevertheless real and beyond that it was great! Fun factor and risk of repetition are extremely high!

12 May 2018

Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker • Der Leviathan

Meine Wertung

 Joseph Roth weiß, wovon er spricht…

…wenn er uns in das Milieu der Clochards an der Seine entführt. Seine letzten Jahre verbrachte Joseph Roth, schwer vom Alkoholismus gezeichnet, in Paris. "Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker" war in jeder Beziehung nicht weit von ihm entfernt, während uns "Der Leviathan" in das fiktive Städtchen Progrody mitnimmt, das prototypisch für jedes beliebige jiddische Shtetl in Osteuropa stehen könnte. Auch hier faszinieren die intime Kenntnis der Verhältnisse und Joseph Roths „vollkommene, vollendete Prosa“ (Marcel Reich-Ranicki): "Im Städtchen Progrody aber wußte kein Mensch, was sich alles in der Seele des Korallenhändlers abspielte. Alle Juden hielten ihn für ihresgleichen. Der handelte mit Stoffen und jener mit Petroleum; einer verkaufte Gebetmäntel, der andere Wachskerzen und Seife, der dritte Kopftücher für Bäuerinnen und Taschenmesser; einer lehrte die Kinder beten, der andere rechnen, der dritte handelte mit Kwas und Kukuruz und gesottenen Saubohnen. Und ihnen allen schien es, Nissen Piczenik sei ihresgleichen – nur handele er eben mit Korallen. Indessen war er – wie man sieht – ein ganz Besonderer."