May 2, 2015

Alfred Schreyer from Drohobych (08.05.1922 - 25.04.2015)

During my 2011 motorcycle ride via Galicia to Bukovina I had the special privilege to meet Alfred Schreyer on his 89th birthday and to post on May 8, 2011: "Happy Birthday, Alfred Schreyer!" After captivity at the concentration camps Plaszów, Groß-Rosen and Buchenwald, Alfred was the only Jewish Holocaust survivor in Drohobych who lived there during the occupation.

It is with very great sadness that I learned from Marla Raucher Osborn that Alfred Schreyer has passed away in Warsaw on April 25, 2015. R. I. P. dear Alfred!

January 25, 2015

A Winter Journey into the Past to Czernowitz

(Czernowitz, 18.01.2015 - 23.01.2015) As a matter of fact, my short winter trip via Cluj-Napoca to Czernowitz is a journey into the past and it starts at the Czernowitz Regional Archives.

Once again we come across "A Sunken Treasure of Czernowitz", as discovered and reported by us in April 2013. Included in more than one hundred volumes are the census data entry forms for Czernowitz for the years 1869/70, 1880/81, 1890/91 and in part for 1900. In total there are 126 volumes - 33 more than initially stipulated - each containing about 500 large-size double-pages. We are trying to identify new opportunities to recover and to digitize this unique find.

We proceed on our journey into the past, taking a rest in the year 1786/87, only one decade after Bukovina became part of the Austrian Empire. Between 1775-1786 Bukovina was a closed military district, then between 1787-1849 the largest district, Kreis Czernowitz (after its capital Czernowitz) of the Austrian constituent Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria.

Were your relatives in Bukovina as early as in 1786/87, what was their occupation, where their residence and were they reliable tax payers? You don't know? Well, perhaps I'll have something for you, since I photographed the entire volume evidencing the Taxation of Jewish Families for the Years 1786/87 - 415 large-size double-pages - to be disclosed in the near future!

Each journey, whether into the past or into the future, ends sooner or later at the cemetery and so does my short winter trip to Czernowitz.

It's perhaps not exactly the right remedy against winter depression, but however, moody photographic impressions on 178 new old photos taken at the Czernowitz Jewish Cemetery are just one click away.

October 24, 2014

What's it about: "The Nazi, the Painter and the Forgotten Story of the SS Road"?

Drawings dedicated by Arnold and Anna Daghani to Erich Dubowy

These two letters - Click here for the German transcription! - and the two drawings above were sent by Arnold and Anna Daghani from Switzerland to Erich Dubowy from Romania between June and September 1976. They are reproduced by special courtesy of Erich's son Daniel Dubowy from Canada. Concerning the relationship between Arnold Daghani and Erich Dubowy, we learn from Daniel: "...they knew each other from Czernowitz, (they were of the same age) but surely from Bucharest. In the early fifties in Bucharest there were quite a few Czernowitzer artists who socialized and met regularly, and my father who was an architect but also a decent piano player, must have intermingled with them. [...] They may not have been close friends but acquainted enough to be in some constant correspondence before and after." Even more, one of the reasons these letters make compelling reading, is their historical relevance, far beyond just personal considerations. 

Arnold Daghani shines a light on his artistic self-conception as well as on his relationship to the Romanian post WW2 artist community, such as to the Czernowitzer poet Alfred Kittner, the Romanian art reviewer Eugen Schileru, the Armenian businessman and art collector Krikor H. Zambaccian, the diplomat and art critic Oscar Walter Cisek, who authored short stories, novels, poems and essays in both German and Romanian. In addition we discover at the bottom of these letters a catalogue of Daghani’s works, which apparently were still in his possession before finally emigrating to England and settling in Hove, near Brighton, one year later in 1977. Daghani died in 1985, a deeply frustrated man, and his work is now held at Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex.

Dr Deborah Schultz comes straight to the point stating in her article "Pictorial Narrative, History and Memory in the Work of Arnold Daghani" as follows: "His frustrations were intensified by the lack of public interest in the camps in Ukraine, with all the attention focused on better-known camps such as Auschwitz, and he strongly believed that his account had to be heard. For Daghani writing and image making may have been the means of locating himself and of finding his way." You will better comprehend this by reading the first paragraph of Daghani's second letter: "As an 'homage', I received from the public prosecutors the entire investigation procedure file only after ten years, since, according to the chief prosecutor [Fritz Bauer], it's solely due to me, that they gained knowledge of the atrocities committed on the other side of the Bug River." But it's finally G. H. Bennett,  Associate Professor in History at the University of Plymouth, who - by his article "The Limits of West German Justice in the 1960s: The Post-War Investigation of Walter Gieseke" and his book "The Nazi, the Painter and the Forgotten Story of the SS Road" - is enlightening the historical dimension to us.

Well, the "Nazi" was Walter Gieseke, Oberstleutnant of the Gendarmerie and SS, the "Painter" was Arnold Daghani and the DG IV (Durchgangsstraße IV) was the "SS Road", the road building project across the Ukraine which resulted in the murder of substantial numbers of Jewish forced labourers, among those many from Bukovina.

At my previous posting "The Stone Quarry on the Bug River at 8 Miles from N 48°40' E 29°15'" you'll find additional reports on the fate of the Jewish forced labourers including excerpts from Andrej Angrick's article "Forced Labor along the 'Straße der SS'" and Gerhard (Bobby) Schreiber's memoirs "A Tale of Survival". After getting numerous answers to our initial question, the final question concerns the moral condemnation and criminal conviction of the war criminals, but read by yourself G. H. Bennett's conclusion:

"Gieseke was never brought to trial and Daghani would eventually conclude that the West German investigations into the crimes committed along DGIV were ‘merely a farce, a meaningless gesture’. [...] The investigation of Walter Gieseke highlights the problems in the 1950s and 1960s of securing justice for crimes committed during the war. The processes of investigating and prosecuting of German war criminals in the context of West German justice in the 1950s and 1960s were not likely to result in a conviction. Gieseke’s defensive strategies maximized the problems facing investigators which resulted from the set of legal, political, social and investigative contexts that made a trial difficult and, in the eyes of many West Germans, unwanted and unwarranted. [...] In the case of Walter Gieseke can be glimpsed many of thecomplexiti es that protected the guilty men and women of post-war Germany. Moreover, study of this case hopefully demonstrates the need to discount concerns about ‘practitioners’ trespassing onto the territory of historians. In studying post-war German justice, and indeed most aspects of legal history, there is ample scope for practitioners and historians to pool their skills and approaches to the mutual benefit of truly interdisciplinary scholarship.There is much to be learned from each other and little to be feared.

Additional Links:
"SS film links officer with war crimes" by BBC
"Lost film unearthed in Devon church..." by Daily Mail 
"Arnold Daghani. Who is he?" by Miha Ahronovitz
"The Art of Arnold Daghani" by The Art of Polemics
"Ruth Glasberg Gold, Holocaust Survivor" at the UN

September 21, 2014

Kyra Kyralina

Meine Wertung

Panait Istrati und sein Mangel an einer marxistisch fundierten Weltanschauung

Romain Rolland hat in seinem Vorwort zur ersten Ausgabe von Kyra Kyralina, die 1924 in Paris in französischer Sprache erschien, die Erzählkunst von Panait Istrati treffend beschrieben:

"Er ist der geborene Erzähler, ein Erzähler des Orients, der sich an seinen eigenen Erzählungen berauscht und erregt; und er lässt sich so sehr von ihnen gefangennehmen, dass - hat die Geschichte erst einmal begonnen - niemand, ja nicht einmal er selber weiß, ob sie eine Stunde dauern wird oder tausendundeine Nacht."

Tausendundeine Nacht sind ebenso weit davon entfernt Kindermärchen zu sein, wie dieser Roman von Panait Istrati, beide bewegen sich in einem erotischen Milieu, selbst wenn Margot Böttcher, die das Nachwort zu dieser Ausgabe der Kyra Kyralina schrieb, mehr Wert auf Istratis sozialistische Moral und den vermeintlichen "Mangel an seiner marxistisch fundierten Weltanschauung" legt. Vielleicht war das aber nur die der Zensur geschuldete Pflichtkritik, um im sozialistischen Rumänien des Jahres 1982 Bücher von Panait Istrati überhaupt veröffentlichen zu können, wer weiß...?

September 8, 2014

Lion Feuchtwanger: Münchner - Emigrant - Weltbürger

Meine Wertung

Sage mir, was du liest und ich sage dir, wer du bist!

Andreas Heusler schafft mit seiner Biographie eine solide Grundlage für eine Annäherung an "Lion Feuchtwanger: Münchner - Emigrant - Weltbürger" und leistet genau das, was er zu Beginn seines Buches verspricht, nämlich die Lebensgeschichte von Lion Feuchtwanger mit "sozialen, kulturellen, politischen Gegebenheiten" zu verschränken. Angesichts einer Vielzahl an biographischen Darstellungen, wäre es für Andreas Heusler einfach gewesen, diese zu bündeln, um nach "Bezugssystemen, Netzwerken, Abhängigkeiten, Bedingungen" zu fragen, die für das Werk und den Erfolg von Lion Feuchtwanger ausschlaggebend waren. Das leistet der Autor zwar auch, aber darüber hinaus beschäftigt er sich intensiv mit den Tagebüchern von Lion Feuchtwanger, aus denen "wir uns einen Eindruck von Feuchtwangers bisweilen exzessivem Lesehunger verschaffen" können:

"Lektüre 1938 u.a.

Jonathan Swift »Gullivers Reisen«
Louis Aragon »Les Beaux Quartiers« (erschienen 1936)
Robert Neumann »Eine Frau hat geschrien« (erschienen 1938)
Alfred Döblin »Der blaue Tiger« (erschienen 1938)
Sinclair Lewis »Work of Art« (erschienen 1934)
Iwan Gontscharow »Oblomow«
Maxim Gorki »Die Mutter«
Hermann Kesten »Die Kinder von Guernica« (erschienen 1939; Lektüre im Manuskript)
Nikolai Ostrowski »Wie der Stahl gehärtet wurde« (erschienen 1932)
Stefan Wendt »Insel im Vaterland« (erschienen 1938)

Lektüre 1939 u.a.

Ilja Ehrenburg »Der zweite Tag« (erschienen 1933)
Elisabeth von Heyking »Briefe, die ihn nicht erreichten« (erschienen 1903)
Guy de Maupassant »Bel Ami«
Annette Kolb »Das Exemplar« (erschienen 1913)
Gottfried Keller »Grüner Heinrich«
Ernst Weiß »Der arme Verschwender« (erschienen 1936)
Aldous Huxley »Point Counter Point« (erschienen 1928)
Klaus Mann »Der Vulkan« (erschienen 1939; Lektüre im Manuskript)
Stefan Zweig »Maria Stuart« (erschienen 1935)
William Shakespeare »Der Sturm«"

Selbst wenn Feuchtwangers komplette Leseliste für die Jahre 1938/39 aufschlussreicher gewesen wäre, kann der Leser Andreas Heusler hierfür, aber auch für dessen gründlich recherchierte Biographie dankbar sein.

August 25, 2014

Photo & Video Finish and Balance Sheet in... (Rheinberg - 6257 km)

Marinel & Vasile from Clejani, the home of the sensational Taraf de Haïdouks

Distance: 6,257 kilometers = 3,888 miles
Travel period: 22.07.2014 - 23.08.2013 = 33 days
Difference in temperature: 15°C = 59°F (Nuremberg) / 38°C = 100°F (Mohyliw-Podilskyi)
Photos: more than 2,500
Traffic tickets: € 30.00 = US$ 40.00 (Ukraine)
Major Problem: Puncture in the fuel tank of the motorcycle (brazed in Czernowitz)
Bakshish: affordable
Travel expenses: Don't ask!
Personal meetings: innumerable
Experiences: priceless
Fun factor and risk of repetition: extremely high
Stages (16 = 6,257 km = 33 days)

John Cage, Paul Celan, John Felstiner and Edgar Hauster in Halberstadt - 423 km
Crossing the German-Polish Border in Görlitz/Zgorzelec - 777 km
Routes of Street Art in Kraków - 1199 km
Following in Iuliu Barasch's Footsteps from Kraków to Lemberg - 1608 km
The Goose Podwoloczyska, 26 Miles East of Ternopil - 2045 km
Let's Take a Seat in Czernowitz - 2226 km
Following the Backyard Photographer to the Jewish Quarter of Czernowitz - 2226 km
Crossing First the Pruth and then the Dniester between Otaci and Mohyliv-Podilskyi - 2649 km
The Stone Quarry on the Bug River at 8 Miles from N 48°40' E 29°15' and 54 Miles from Uman - 2923 km
Pay Attention to the Details at the Jewish Cemetery of Odessa - 3478 km
Reencounter with the Pruth River in Galați - 3812 km

I Came Too Late for the Flash Mob on the Council Square in Brașov - 4170 km
The Big Backyard Contest Between Czernowitz and Sibiu - 4339 km
One Day and One Night Intermezzo in Timișoara - 4638 km
On August 20, 2014 Both Tom Cruise and I Arrived in Vienna - 5211 km
The More Fortunate Relative of the Czernowitz Theater in Close Vicinity to Nuremberg - 5742 km

Photographic Afterthought

Backyard Idyll in Halberstadt
The Monk at the Jewish Cemetery of Chortkiv
Pipe Art in Chortkiv, the Birthplace of Karl Emil Franzos
The Ukrtelecom Radio Mast at the Top of the Cecina
Contemplating on Herrengasse in Czernowitz
Their Master's Voice on Springbrunnengasse in Czernowitz
Postmodernism in Red in Czernowitz
Lady in Red in Czernowitz
Massive Support at the Jewish Cemetery of Stara Zhadova
Slash-and-Burn in Ukraine
Odessa Naval Base
Odessa Commercial Port
Safety First in Odessa and Ukraine
The Future is Solar!
At the Jewish Cemetery of Galați
Mural Art in Galați
Famous Roof Eyes in the Old Town of Sibiu
Operational Electric Art in Sibiu
Staircase Art in Sibiu

August 24, 2014

The More Fortunate Relative of the Czernowitz Theater in Close Vicinity to... (Nuremberg - 5742 km)

(Nuremberg, 22.08.2014 - 23.10.2014) There's much more than history in historic Nuremberg, more than the sites of rising and fall of the German National Socialism: Reichsparteitagsgelände, the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and the Court Room 600 of the Regional Court Nürnberg-Fürth, which gained worldwide fame as the venue of the "Nuremberg Trials". At a stone's throw from Nuremberg, you'll discover the Fürth City Theater the more fortunate fraternal twin of "our" Czernowitz Theater.

Fürth City Theater

Czernowitz Theater

Read more on the relationship between the twins at my post from December 2011: "Fraternal Triplets Brought Into the World by Fellner & Helmer!"