This being the last hurrah for the generation that fought and suffered from World War Two, everyday for the next year will be an opportunity to cry, remember and celebrate the events of sixty years ago.
Thursday will be the sixtieth anniversary of one of the most notorious massacres of the war. Surprised by the D-Day invasion, German troops were sent into Vichy France (the technically autonomous France in the south) in order to shore up security. Near Bordeaux, a unit of the Waffen SS massacred almost the entire population
of the small town of Oradour-sur-Glane
. The men were separated out and shot. The women and children were shut up in the church, asphyxiated, shot, and burned. 642 people died.
As shocking as the event was, it was discovered after the war that fourteen of the German soldiers were Alsatians: malgré-nous
, people who were considered German citizens (Reichsdeutsch
). Because the National Socialists considered Alsatians to be Aryan and ethnically German, they were obligated to serve the state as other Germans. Furthermore, the Nazis were anxious to show the participation of Alsatians in the Reich. Many Alsatian men were forced to serve in the military–often members of their families were held hostage or were harmed in order to compel them to fight. Most malgré-nous fought on the Eastern Front in the Waffen SS (the military division of the SS, often given the most arduous missions). The Russians were aware of the presence of the malgré-nous, and they would call out to them in French, encouraging them to surrender or switch sides.
A court in Bordeaux tried the Alsatian soldiers, along with seven Germans, in 1953 and condemned them. But the sentence caused outrage in Alsace. People felt that the rest of France did not understand the unique suffering that they experienced during the war. Not just occupied, the Nazis put tremendous pressure on the Alsatians to integrate and Germanize. The malgré-nous were only one aspect of forced assimilation and punitive deprivation that Alsatians experienced and other Frenchmen did not. The malgré-nous were pardoned. The people in Oradour-sur-Glane and the region of Limousin were incensed. They felt that the government sacrificed justice in order to preserve national unity with a traitorous people. The betrayal that they felt was deeper because no one attempted to prosecute the leaders who organized the massacre, only those who committed it
If they had condemned the organizers before trying the executors, the clemency granted to the latter might have been easier to accept.
Politicians who refused to recognize the crimes were placed on a plaque–a symbol of shame–in the remnants of the burned out village (now organized under Centre de la Mémoire
Dialogue between the two is still difficult. The Limousin demand recognition of the massacre, and they are unwilling to recognize the precarious situation in which Alsatians found themselves. In the 1980s, one of the malgré-nous sued for a military pension (something which he would be entitled to despite fighting for Germany), but was lambasted by a storm of public opinion.
Like Gerhard Schroeder at Normandy this week, current Alsatian politicians are attending memorials of Oradour-sur-Glane. Alsatians have generally stayed away from memorials. The current mayor of Oradour-sur-Glane, Raymond Frugier, has attempted to create dialogue between Limousin and Alsace
. He has met with Alsatian politicians for six years. For this memorial, Frugier invited four Alsatian politicians to attend. He wants reconciliation–to create a collective memory of these events–but he insists that certain facts are accepted:
Everyone must accept that people on both sides endured terrible suffering ... There are [those in Limousin] who refuse to recognize forced incorporation. [In Alsace] there are those who tend to lessen the responsibility of the SS in order to minimize the involvement of the malgré-nous.
They are trying to balance the right tone, giving the atrocity its due while reminding France of the sufferings of Alsatians. France is still struggling with a simple view of people’s roles during the war: collaboration or resistance. In this light, the malgré-nous are on the wrong side of history
Many Frenchmen still believe that those who were incorporated into the Wehrmacht by force had been volunteers. (Philippe Richert, French senator and president of the general council of Bas-Rhin)
Finding the balance is not simple–it is difficult to excuse the participation of the malgré-nous
despite their unique status:
The Alsatians were on both sides of this terrible war. (Fabienne Keller, mayor of Strasbourg)
The politicians have responded to the challenge by pointing out that Oradour-sur-Glane concerns two different war crimes
I understand that Oradour[-sur-Glane] was and absolute crime. But forced incorporation existed and was a violation of the rights of the population that is recognized by war tribunals. These are two wrongdoings of Nazism ... Alsace has also been a symbol for the wrongdoings to totalitarianism. (Adrien Zeller, president of the regional council of Alsace)
Heine's River, Prussia's Border (Heine's Germany part I)
I had thought that I would use my reading of Heine's Germany. A Winter's Tale. to talk about difference between native and travel views of the Rhine. The material is much richer than I expected, and I plan to devote several posts to Heine.
returned home to Germany in 1843 after years of exile in France. His path took him eastward, through Aachen to Cologne, down the river to Munster and Westphalia until he reached the city in which he was raised–Hamburg. Before he reaches Aachen, Heine experiences the presence of Prussia at the border in the guise of the Zollverein
. It is here that he experiences (what he would consider to be) and unnatural border.
Historically, the Zollverein was a customs union that allowed for tariffs to be regularized between German states. Free movement of goods was possible between these different states. German nationalist (and many subsequent historians) described the founding of the Zollverein as a definitive step in the creation of a unified Germany. This attribution is exaggerated: the customs union was a diplomatic arrangement, and any state could put pressure on the system to renegotiate its terms or even leave the union. There was also discussion about expanding the Zollverein to non-German nations like Belgium and Netherlands (David Hansemann being one of the leading proponents of expansion into northwestern Europe). Furthermore, it affected the lives of only a small number of Germans, only the elite merchants.
Heine experiences the Zollverein as more than a customs union. On the one hand, it is the arbiter of what will be allowed into Germany and, by extension, what is German. On the other hand, it enforced Prussian power in the West. When he comes to the border, Heine is approached by Zollverein officials, whom he identifies as Prussians (preußischen Douanièrs). The search through his belongings for contraband–lace, jewelry, books. Heine remains smug as the customs officials disturb the clothing in his suitcases–they will not find “the twittering birdnest of confiscated books” that he keeps in his head.
More than an arrangement to smooth over differences between tariffs, the Zollverein was defining borders. It denied the influence of foreign ideas by preventing them from entering German states. Enforced by Prussian officials, the Zollverein created a territory based on the threat of force by the state. It is within the territory that Germans should find themselves and coalesce into one people. According to a nationalist with whom Heine travels:
It gives outer unity to us
The so-called material;
We get spiritual unity through censors,
The real ideal.
It gives us inner unity,
The unity of thought and mediation;
A united Germany is what we need,
United on the outside and the inside.
What Heine experiences and hears is out of harmony with his ideas of what Germany is and how it should come together. The ideas that the Prussians wanted to keep out were of bourgeois revolution: civil upheaval that would displace the landed aristocracy–the group that Prussia defended–and replace them with the people–the group that Heine championed. Heine does not want a hegemonic state to create Germany. It should form organically as an expression of popular sovereignty. He opposes the concept of Germany as a territory that can be drawn and delimited:
The land belongs to the French and the Russian
The sea belongs to Britain
But we possess in the imaginary realm (Luftreich) of dreams
Here we practice our hegemony
Here we are undivided
The other nations have developed themselves
On the flat earth.
But Heine had trouble with borders in general. He recognized the existence of different nations, but the differences between them were undefined and unenforced. In his preface to the French version of Germany, a Winter’s Tale, Heine addresses his French readers by defending his Rhine as a German land, one that was his by right of birth, not one that could be made French (as some wanted to do in the 1840s). But he had to temper his nationalism with assurances that his desire for a German Rhine did not extend to designs on Alsace and Lorraine (something that German nationalists wanted). In his opinion, the Alsatians and Lorrains were French because they were attached to the rights that they won during the French Revolution. But as soon as Germany achieved its own revolution the differences between France and Germany would be eliminated, and Alsace and Lorraine could be “annexed”:
The Lorrains and the Alsatians will reunite with Germany when we finish that which France began (the great work of the Revolution: universal Democracy!)
Heine allowed for the Alsatians and Lorrains to remain part of France so long as the political rights were superior in France. As soon as those political differences were effaced–when all men enjoyed freedom–the cultural nation could find expression.
This Washington Post story from Ethiopia is tragic as well as heroic: a young girl and her peasant family pursue the men who raped her
, circumventing rural customs that would keep them silent. Twice, Woineshet escape from the same men who kidnapped and raped her.
She was abducted one night in March 2001 by four men who hacked down the front door of her home in the village of Abadjema with a machete. Police and witnesses said she was forced into a nearby shack by the men's leader and raped for two days. She was 13 years old.
The second abduction/attack lasted fifteen days. Her father, wanting his daughter to enjoy the same independence as women in the cities, engaged women's rights organizations and convinced the police and others in the village to push for a prosecution.
The case opens a window on a struggle in Africa between deeply held rural and tribal traditions and a quest to establish internationally recognized legal standards in societies that have long been without them.
Despite gaining a ten year conviction, a local judge released her attacker after one month because, in the judge's opinion, the accusation of rape was a cover for a dispute between families over marriage:
I don't think she was abducted or raped ... The health report did not specify that she was a fresh virgin. No one wants to rape anyone who is not a virgin. Maybe they were just in love. This case has no evidence.
This family is only out for revenge ... Maybe they don't want her to marry him. So they accuse him of rape.
Look, a marriage contract had been signed, and I think we should find it. If she wanted to marry him, then if there was a rape that makes it legally okay.
Some of our new laws and ideas on these matters do not fit with the culture anymore.
To Woineshet, the judge said:
He wants to marry you. Why are you refusing? ... After 13 years, after 15 years, the lady she can be happy. She can be okay.
DW Griffith’s Way Down East
used to unsettle me. It is a beautiful film–Richard Bartholmess running across the breaking winter ice to save Lilian Gish is breathtaking. The title never made sense to me–going down or going east, neither word accurately describing moving into this frigid climate. When I first saw the film I was still living in LA–the concept of Maine being “way down east” made little sense in my Pacific worldview.
Atlantic Coast as seen by Joannes Jansson
What did not occur to me is that people interpret geography through their level of geographic experiences. Students of Roman history are always confused when they are told that the province of Lower Rhine was north of Upper Rhine. When one thinks about it, the level of the Rhine is obviously higher in the south where it is nearer to its source, lower in the north where it is nearer to the ocean. Going down the Rhine means a northward journey, going up a southward journey.
The confusion between north and south, up and down has some roots. One German scholar of English, Franz Stanzel, was disturbed by American travelers who would go up the Rhine
from Switzerland to Cologne–a downhill journey from the Alps to the Lower Rhine Plain. When he informed the Americans of their error, they quickly and easily switched usage. The question that he pondered is whether the relationships between north/south and up/down was a reflection of what they expected geographically. The Mississippi flows north to south, and it is obviously what it means to go down the Mississippi. Looking at a map, it is easy to extrapolate those directions onto any north-south river.
The relationship between up and down is not simply a matter of how the rivers flow–large American rivers generally flow south, although the St. Lawrence goes north as well as east. It is also a matter of elevation. Most American mountain ranges run north south, meaning that east and west could equally (perhaps even more accurately) describe up and down. The political division between north and south is problematic–more of America is west of the South than north. Oddly, the interior conceptualization of the “South-west” as “El Norte” persists–perhaps as a means of designating a peripheral badlands.
But the notion of north and up transcend the American experience, nor was it always present. The traditional Chinese view was one dominated by its relationship with the sea–up and south were synonymous. Even the traditional view of Europe was southward–toward the Mediterranean, where all the valuable commerce flowed. Perhaps even more than looking south, the ancient Mediterranean civilization looked east and west, seeing the sea as a long road. The perspective of Europeans changed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as Atlantic trade became more important and London and Amsterdam were the “centers of the world” (most important points in the early modern urban network). As it became more important to move goods to Atlantic ports, ‘north’ became more prominent in the European mentality. Other north-south divisions reinforced this thinking: Latin versus Germanic, Catholic versus Protestant, commercial versus agricultural. Even subaltern sets itself off against north.
The north-south perspective in which north dominated probably originated with Gerhard Mercator
himself, the Flemish geographer whose projection method allowed for models of the world that were more whole and more useful. By making the meridians parallel to one another, navigation was made simpler. But doing so exaggerated the area of lands that were more distant from the equator, and more of that land was present in the more northern latitudes. It appeared that Europe was physically larger than in reality in global representations. But Mercator also placed Iberia and Europe in the center, reflecting the growing power of Portugal and Spain. Considering the Mercator projection helped navigation, maps of the world could have been centered more on the oceans rather than on land. The tradition of seeing north as dominant was carried on as other northern powers fought for and achieved empire.
Still today maps pay greater attention to the lilliputian European states and the empty American spaces rather than to countries like China, India and Indonesia which are both populous and vast. Arno Peters, the maker of the anatomically-correct (yes, I know what it really
means) projection, says that the north-up perspective is not being preserved merely for reasons of empire:
[M]ore recent global maps which abandoned important qualities of Mercator's map, thus mitigating distortion of area. [T]hese maps that have contributed to a survival of our Europe-dominated view of the world were not untenable because of a failure of exactitude; rather, they lacked just one quality: equal representation of space.
Mercator's map is superior to more recent maps not only because of its vertical representation of the North-South direction (fidelity of axis) and its! realistic representation of climatic position (fidelity of position). It is superior also for esthetic reasons: because of its proportions that approach the dimensions of the Golden Section, and because of its beautiful and dear cartographic representation.
The defining of the North also occurred between European powers fighting over empire. Peter Stuyvesant turned to cartography
as a means of defending the claims of the United Provinces in the New World against the English. The best maps of the seventeenth century were produced in Netherlands, and the maps that they made of the Northeast were still in use in the eighteenth century. Stuyvesant used the maps to place the Dutch imprint on as much of the New World as possible. The Dutch cartographers placed their colonies in New Netherland at the center of the New World, putting the more prosperous English colonies “in the south.” The maps were powerful tools of diplomacy, but the Dutch were edged out by the strength of the English presence. However, the English were at pains to ignore Dutch cartography–they erased the Dutch names, but had to rely on the maps themselves in order to produce their own.
The posts have been a little thin the last few days: I have been fighting jerkbots
on the desktop computer.
Lion de Belfort
Somehow I missed the news that Colmar (Haut-Rhin, France) celebrated the centennial of the passing of favorite son Auguste Bartholdi
, the sculptor of minor works like the Lion de Belfort and this one
. (For reference, Bartholdi conceptualized the statue as a means of unifying France following defeat in 1870--and after his home was taken over by the Germans).
Picture from Doctors without Borders
A while back I wrote about the genocide taking place in Dafur, Sudan
(report from Doctors without borders
). According to Human Rights Watch describes the situation
[t]he root cause of this humanitarian crisis is the Sudanese government’s campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against civilians of three ethnic groups. ... The crisis in Darfur is a manmade emergency.
There is now a blog dedicated solely to this issue: The Passion of the Present
. It gives both current news, links to important reports and suggestion about how to become active. Go read
These are times when faith seems to be more lost than found, and belief in making a difference is hard to hold onto, especially amidst the warring winds of words blowing through cyberspace. But imagine if millions of people were moved by the Passion of the Present. A donation of the cost of going to a movie to any of the human rights organizations across the world would transform our global landscape. Imagine the candlepower of truth overcoming the firepower of genocide. This world has long endured holy wars that take lives. Imagine one that saves them.
If the French constitution is a periodical, reform for decentralization is its annual supplement. France has made many attempts to decentralize power, yet Paris remains the symbol of centralization and concentration of power. Most reforms fail because de-concentration does not follow decentralization
. More specifically, the government does not surrender clear powers to local and regional politicians, but gives the prefects tremendous control over the implementation of national policies.
In 1982, Mitterand decided that decentralization was a means of invigorating the French polity by making power flow from the local level to the central level. The loi Deferre
of 1982 gave mayors greater control over communal matters, nearly making them despots that rival the prefects. In particular, mayors received extraordinary powers over land use: mayors became both urban planners and developers. Rather than employing these far-ranging powers to improve urban conditions, French mayors have been obsessed with increasing tax revenues. The latest example of this trend comes from zoning policies. Mayors have used their ability determine land use to restrict housing development and to promote construction for commerce and industry
. The result is a scarcity of land for housing and high prices. According to Bernard de Korsak:
I do not believe that there is a shortage of real estate--it suffices to look at production [in order to see this]. One refers to the absence of land when it is a question of accommodating new lodgings, but not for installing enterprise or commerce.
The prevailing logic is that businesses produce revenue for communes, but people demand services. As a result, most development occurs in a predictable manner: lots of office space interspersed with a few apartments.
Poor translation of the quote is my own.
The power of the tombs of unknown soldiers rests in the abstract identity of the person inside. Anyone can mourn there because the soldiers lack real names and lives. Their identity was itself a casualty of war, making the ultimate sacrifice by allowing themselves to be effaced. These kinds of memorials were fitting for an age of total war in which large numbers of men fought and died, some never to be returned home, left to the battlefields. Appolinaire descried World War One as a meat grinder in which men came out the other end as an undifferentiated mass.
Place Broglie, before the National Opera, Strasbourg
In his book on war memory, George Mosse
situates the tombs of unknown soldiers in the myriad of local memorial that paid tribute to local men who died in WWI and, later, WWII. Whereas the latter were specific, the former were general. They allowed nations to mourn collectively. I might still shed tears when I see wreaths laid before the tomb in Arlington.
It is now harder to make the same abstraction that allows for collective mourning. First, mourners demand that they find some concrete representation of their relatives in the memorial. Sometimes this means that the process of naming heroes and victims cannot be achieved at once time in one place: in Israel, two rabbis read aloud the names of Holocaust victims on Yom ha-Shoah, but never achieve but a small fraction of the names. Even with 800 dead, Gen. Sanchez could not allow enought time for a naming of Americans who died in Iraq in the last eighteen months.
Second, the nature of warfare has changed. The numbers of Americans who die have decreased, and they can be more easily identified. (How long did it take to find an unknown soldier for Vietnam?) Even if the technology of war is more destructive, other technologies have emerged that prevent people from disappearing into the miasma of total war as they did ninety years ago.
The new memorial for WWII in Washington
attempts to balance some of the problems, remaining abstract in some ways, but also representing specifics in others. Every major battle is names, every state and territory is represented, every casualty represented in some small way.
Architect/Classicist John Massengale
visited the World War Two Memorial this weekend
. His entry on it affirms my preliminary thoughts on the project: that it tries to abstract too far, and that it cannot replicated the feat of the Vietnam War Memorial (please read is post at length). Mr. Massengale notes that,
[Architect] Friedrich St. Florian abstracts Classicism to the point of clunkiness rather than simplicity. More detail would make more contrast in the light and shadow, one of the prime elements of Classical beauty. And I'm skeptical of a very loud fountain and pool as such a prominent element in a humid climate like Washington's.
In particular, I have been troubled by memorials that try to represent each individual who was involved with or was affected by the original event. The 168 or so chairs at the site of the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal building
is one example: places left empty by the absence of those lives. Architects tried to work the number of dead from September 11, 2001 into the lower Manhattan site, some suggesting either ditches or towers that are 2,800 or so feet (or some other units of messure) long, or deep, or tall. Mr. Massengale points out that this reflects the success, and failure, of the Vietnam Memorial:
In architectural circles today, the Vietnam Memorial is the sine qua non of memorial design, to the degree that the jury for the World Trade Center memorial, which included Maya Lin, chose the design that was most like the conceptual sketch Lin had published in the New York Times. And then forced the designer to pair with a landscape architect who made the execution of the design more the way that Lin would have done it.
This new conceptual paradigm can be emotionally powerful, but its palate is limited. Traditional, transcendent beauty is only allowed at the abstract level like the proportions. At the same time, an emphasis on mundane details is practically mandatory. A common feature of the majority of recent memorial designs is the use a prominent element to doggedly show the number who died: not only are there 2,173 benches to represent 2,173 dead, for example, but the number 2,173 becomes so material and central to the concept, that there is little subtlety or transcendence. And the result is more often the Korean Memorial than the Vietnam Memorial.
Even in the Vietnam Memorial, many Vietnam veterans found that the conceptual elegance didn't speak to their experience and memories, and the traditional sculptor Frederick Hart was hired to make a statue of 3 GI's standing near Lin's memorial. The architectural establishment's emphasis on the Style Wars and abstract conceptions, limits both Modernist and Classical memorials. The Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, great Classical works of the 2oth century, show how much more can be done.
The Vietnam Memorial filled a unique function: it was the only real commemoration of its kind in the nation. I can only think of the memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico
as another example. But in every town, in America and in Europe, there is likely to be a list of the Americans who died for the country–especially WWII. Almost every town in France has some small memorial–usually an obelisk surrounded by plaques, perhaps with other adornments, somewhere near the center of town. Strasbourg has two–one near the Place Broglie (municipal government section), the other in the Place Republique (prefectural government section). But these French memorial include names of those who died in Algeria and Indochina, two shameful wars, or at least mentions the wars themselves. What town in America does the same for Vietnam? America lacked local spaces for Vietnam vets–places for them to mourn and remember.
There are things about the WWII Memorial that are positive, mostly its circular conception–a sort of City of Sacrifice in which different types of participation are remembered. But where is the statue of Rosie the Riveter
First Germany, now Brazil
In a post in a former incarnation, I wrote about how opposition to Germany becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council has stepped aside.
Germany’s application for a permanent seat on an enlarged UN Security Council would not be vetoed by the US, a German newspaper reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources in the German government. Germany, a major contributor to the UN budget, plans to apply for a seat on the Council either later this year or early next year. (Reuters, May 14)
Now Brazil wants to become the Latin American regions representative on the UNSC
, and it sees its peacekeeping role in Haiti as its ticket:
Brazil openly acknowledges a bigger mission in dispatching its soldiers to the Caribbean: raising its profile on the world stage and strengthening its bid for permanent membership in an expanded U.N. Security Council, a long-cherished hope of many officials here ....
To proponents, Brazil's inclusion in the U.N.'s top decision-making body is a no-brainer. Many Brazilians believe that their nation — with more than 180 million people, a hefty economy, a land mass bigger than the continental United States and enviable natural resources — belongs to the class of "monster countries" that includes the U.S. and China. Those two nations, along with Russia, Britain and France, make up the five permanent council members.
"Brazil is a natural candidate," said Guerreiro, of the Foreign Ministry. "We have all the credentials in terms of our history, our relationships with our neighbors, the consistency of our positions, our tradition of solving peacefully our conflicts."
The Rhine as a New York State of Mind
My recent zeal for seeing New York has been partly motivated my wish to see evidence of Dutch influence in America. In particular, I want to see remnants of architecture. While researching the subject of the Dutch in America I was delighted (and surprised) to learn that the Hudson River was once called the American Rhine
Lake George, Thomas Chambers
How did this comparison come into being? Perhaps there is a simple answer out there, but I have yet to find it. My gut instinct says that Dutch settlers themselves encouraged others to cultivate the same relationship between the Hudson and the nation as the United Provinces had with the Rhine.
In the early modern perspective of the Netherlands, the Rhine was a local portal for commerce in its global commercial empire. It was an area from which they could invest in proto-industry and purchase agricultural goods (especially German wines) and timber. In the down-river
perspective, the Rhine was a vast, empty plain waiting to be developed. Painters like Van Goyen imagined the flat space as much as the flowing water–indeed, he could displace the river from his picture. I would guess that the Dutch settlers would have made the same connections between the Hudson River, the frontier, and the outlet to world trade. They situated New Netherland/New York in a global perspective. The modern Rhine was imagined from an interior perspective–more up-river
. The landscape was dominated by a complex of elements: the river, the cities, the cathedrals.
View of the Rijnland, Jan Van Goyen
In the early nineteenth century the Rhine River became a favorite subject of Romanticism. It also became a favorite subject of travel writing, especially for British writers. New York writers, like Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper, focused on the Rhine as well. Inspired by his travels up both rivers and by the Grimm brothers, Irving transferred legends of the Rhine to the Hudson
. Cooper also traveled up the Rhine. His novel The Pioneers
reflects on different peoples who inhabit the region:
Major Hartmann was a descendant of a man who, in company with a number of his countrymen, had emigrated with their families from the banks of the Rhine to those of the Mohawk. This migration had occurred as far back as the reign of Queen Anne; and their descendants were now living, in great peace and plenty, on the fertile borders of that beautiful stream.
The Germans, or "High Dutchers," as they were called, to distinguish them from the original or Low Dutch colonists, were a very peculiar people. They possessed all the gravity of the latter, without any of their phlegm; and like them, the "High Dutchers" were industrious, honest, and economical. Fritz, or Frederick Hartmann, was an epitome of all the vices and virtues, foibles and excellences, of his race. He was passionate though silent, obstinate, and a good deal suspicious of strangers; of immovable courage, in flexible honesty, and undeviating in his friendships.
Writing about the Hudson and about the Rhine, did they take their Rhine-informed image of the Hudson and impose it on the Rhine? Was there cross-pollination between the two river?
Cooper’s trip down the Rhine was dominated by extreme elements. Cooper, traveling in the 1840s, started from Paris, visited Brussels and Liege, entered Germany at Aachen, traveled across to Cologne, went up river by carriage until he reached Baden, at which point his path took him away from the river, through Wutermberg, until he found it again in Switzerland. Until he started to travel down the river, Cooper was unimpressed with what he saw. Aachen was “narrow” and “a crowded and not particularly neat place.” He found the old home of Charlemagne overpopulated for city so displaced from the world stage. The plain between Aachen and Cologne was “flat and monotonous.” And he was unimpressed by Cologne. He showed reverence for the Dom, describing it as a magnificent work of continual creation rather than an incomplete work. (One of the themes of his trip was how Cathedrals framed civic life, and he laments that America has no such structures. More generally, he desires that American religious life developed a sense of magnificence and grandeur comparable with European Catholic rituals.) The city itself if filthy:
I do not know that there is a necessary connexion between foul smells and Cologne water, but this place is the dirtiest and most offensive we have yet seen, or rather smelt, in Europe. It would really seem that the people wish to drive their visiters into the purchase of their great antidote.
Cooper’s characterizations changed as soon as they entered the river valley. A stay at Bad Godesberg turned into a supernatural experience. Cooper and his party stayed at Nonnenwerth, a convent that had been turned into inn on an island in the middle of the river. The landscape around them was framed by the Siebengebirge mountain range with its castle ruins, the Drachenfels. According to legend, a returning crusaders returned home to find his betrothed in the convent. He built the castle to watch over the convent.
There was a thunderstorm that night. The lightning was the only thing that broke the darkness, illuminating the mountains and ruins periodically. The thunder roared through the valley. Cooper wandered through the old convent, unguided and lost.
I discovered a door, at one extremity of the passage. Bent on adventure, I pushed and it opened. As there were only moments when anything could be seen, I proceeded in utter darkness, using great caution not to fall through a trap. Had it been my happy fortune to be a foundling, who had got his reading and writing “by nature”, I should have expected to return from the adventure a [duke]. Perhaps, by some inexplicable miracle of romance, I might have come forth the lawful issue of Roland and the nun.
Finding his way to the convent chapel:
The dim light came from the high arched windows, and the bat’s wings were small broken panes rattling in the gale. But I was not alone. By the transient light I saw several grim figures, some kneeling, others with outstretched arms, bloody and seared, and one appeared to be in the confessional. At the sight of these infernal spectres, for they came and went with a successive flashed of the lightning, by a droll chain of ideas, I caught myself singing–“Ship ahoy! Ship ahoy!–what a cheer, what a cheer?” in a voice loud as the wind. ... At this moment, when I was about to address [these diabolic looking forms] in prose, the door, by which I had entered the gallery, opened slowly, and the withered face of an old woman appeared in a flash. ... I gave a deep and loud groan ... . The door slammed, the face vanished, and I was alone again with the demons.
For the rest of the trip Cooper found the Rhenish landscape more agreeable. He fell in love with the wine, the castles, the small cities. He took shots at the Prussians for militarizing the Rhine. However, his viewpoint, influence by Romanticism, was more “Gothic” rather than “historical” or “natural.” Cooper seems to have missed the transformations taking place in the Rhine–the rise of industry in particular. And he made no distinctions between the bourgeois cities and the court cities.
By contrast, Heinrich Heine’s poet journey to Germany (Deutschland–published around the same time) was more historical and natural. The Romantic poet focused on centuries of conflict, the failure of the German enterprise in the late middle ages (Heine placed the blame for the lack of German unity on the Protestant Reformation). And it is a space of contemporary political conflict–between Prussians and liberals. Aachen is still a crowded city, but the Prussian soldiers disturb him. The Dom was a failure of German unity, and ought to remain unfinished. And Cologne spoke of a long history of religious strife (as opposed to the unity that Cooper perceived). (I’ll have more on Heine in a few days).
There are disturbing trends in Russia's (failing) actions against Chechen rebels. Kidnappings in provinces neighboring Chechnya
have been attributed to the Russian secret police (successors to the KGB).
Experts have suggested that the Russian Federal Security Service could be behind the recent wave of unexplained kidnappings in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia. One theory is that the plan is to destabilize the area in order to flush out Chechen refugees.
Some observers, particularly human rights groups, have suggested that the kidnappings could be part of a government strategy to introduce fear and instability in Ingushetia. An unstable Ingushetia could prompt Chechen refugees to return home, while inducing fear among the Ingush themselves could prompt locals to attempt to stabilize the situation by themselves pressuring Chechen refugees to leave – especially if those abductions could be blamed on Chechen separatists.
Last weekend, an Ingush website (www.ingushetiya.ru) published a statement allegedly from an FSB officer who had recently served in the republic, confessing to the torture and execution of people critical of the Ingush president or suspected of having links to Chechen separatists.
The Russian actions are having the expected humanitarian effect on Ingushetiya--destabilization. These accusations come at a time when Putin's plan for Chechinization
--putting the government in the hands of economic elites who want stability--is failing. Rather than establishing a Chechen leadership that has local legitimacy, Putin merely replicated the pattern of authoritarian rule of Moscow and transferred it to Chechnya. As a result, Chechnya has become a totalitarian regime within the federation:
[Chechen President] Kadyrov demanded more authority from the Kremlin, and the Kremlin granted it, however reluctantly. He established a violent and cruel regime and was feared and hated by many in Chechnya. He purged his inner circle of potential rivals and put his son in charge of an armed force called the Chechen police, thus strengthening the clannish nature of the Chechen government.
Kadyrov's undisciplined and violent army harassed, kidnapped and tortured fellow Chechens suspected of collaboration with the fighters or those simply deemed disloyal. And while Kadyrov waged war against the Chechen fighters, his allies in the federal Russian forces were deeply distrustful of his armed men, and not without reason. Kadyrov had scores of enemies; several attempts had been made on his life.
Given that little bunny Ollie had to go for more treatments, we curtailed our vacation plans even further. In fact, we spent one day in Saratoga Springs
, New York just for a little day away.
Bunny update: Ollie had more radiation on Tuesday. The vets are happy to see that she was energetic and alert, and they notes that the mass is visibly shrinking. Blood tests showed that the lymphoma is likely the only source of the illness.
We spent most of our time in Saratoga walking around to look at the old houses. It was the first sunny day in almost a week, and the next day would be less forgiving. It was the perfect day for such a tour of the town. We saw a wonderful mix of mid- to late-nineteenth century styles: Classical revival, Second Empire, Italianate were all in evidence. Some houses were not kept in good condition, but were nonetheless interesting subjects. Rich red bricks are worked into the houses as much as possible; the red brick theme is further expanded along the main streets in shops and government buildings. Non-brick houses use striking color combinations, perhaps using traditional color schemes rather than white washing them. My favorite house was an Italianate house on Circular Street. My least favorite: a behemoth mansion that is being built on north Broadway–it is completely out of character of the rest of the neighborhood, and for its six-million dollar price tag, it shows no class.
We also visited the gardens at the artist colony Yaddo
. The gardens are beautiful, but they do not justify the trip out to the estate. Yaddo has an important reputation in the New York cultural tradition, but too little of the estate is open to the public.
Pergola at Yaddo.
The main street of Saratoga Springs was relaxing and refreshing. No shops were exceptional, but they were all nice. My wife was correct to compare Saratoga Springs with Palm Springs–people should go their to simply exist, to relax and loosen up. Or simply “take the waters,” something which we forgot to do.
In an attempt to see some Dutch architecture, we tried to hit the Stockade in Schenectady. However, our strength was already sapped, and by the time we reached Schenectady we were more interested in heading home. Oh well, next time.
Last weeks debacle in Germany concerned the failed Olympic bid of Leipzig because the city was too small. This weeks has greater gravitas. It involves the deportation of a radical Islamist cleric
Metin Kaplan, an imam in Cologne, succeeded his father as the head of the group "Caliphate State
), which spread antisemitism and called for a coup d'etat against the secular regime in Turkey. They had come to Germany in 1983 as asylum seekers. The organization, founded by his father Cemaleddin (known as the Khomeini of Cologne), called for global domination under Islam under a Caliphate. (Conveniently, he called himself "the Caliph of Cologne"). He incited the assassination of a rival imam from Berlin, for which he served four years in prison. Turkey sought his extradition after 32 members of the Caliphate State planned to crash a plane into a monument to Ataturk (the secular founder of Turkey) in 1998.
In December 2001 the Caliphate State was banned
) by the federal republic as an "enemy to the democratic and constitutional state". In 2002 his asylum was rescinded, but his deportation to Turkey was blocked by the same court: it could not be guaranteed that Kaplan would be treated fairly in Turkey. Kaplan was under the surveillance of the police and the government, but he had freedom of movement throughout the city of Cologne.
This week a court in Muenster approved his deportation when sufficient guarantees were given by Turkey. Kaplan was asked to report to the authorities. But he disappeared. Germans were shocked that this fifty-one year old man could disappear so easily. With fingers pointing everywhere, the blame appears to be falling on the minister of the interior for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Fritz Behrens. Previously Behrens had promised the state parliament that Kaplan was no threat German security. Kaplan's disappearance has caused Germans to doubt their entire anti-terrorism apparatus
The Social Democrat's parliamentarian from Cologne, Lale Akgün, agreed that the Kaplan case has undermined the authority of German officials. "Under such circumstances, people will find it difficult to believe that we're capable of passing good security laws," Akgün said.
Kaplan is now at his apartment
, under surveillance, enjoying a few weeks before being deported.
Not looking for a 'new ' England
My thoughts on last night's Colonial House:
- The colony was a low-end success but a high-end failure. The economics and society were on the money, the politics and culture were not.
- The bad relations between colony and natives would have continued despite the good intentions of the colonists.
- Governor Heinz's vision for the growth of the colony was too grand. Whereas Wyers failed on faith, housing, and trade relations, Heinz failed because he idealized how the colony would develop (and because he acted like a mayor in a court city rather than the mayor of a commercial city).
- Wyers looks better with a beard.
- Awareness of gender history is weak with respect to men.
- The epilogue suggests that the experience forced the participants to re-evaluate their concepts of spirituality (everyone but the Vorhees).
- Despite his anachronistic coming out, my favorite participant was Jonathan Allen. He gave the show an "Upstairs-Downstairs" feel. He could be very witty: he never strayed too far from character when he joked about the social hierarchy. His little scenario was funny.
- Best moment: when the auditors revealed that the colonists had trouble with provisions of beer.
One of two efforts to promote community identity and cohesion in urban environments
took place yesterday in France.
Immeubles en fêtes
hoped to bring together 3 million people to celebrate their neighborhoods by visiting and eating with one another in common. Founder Atanase Périfan got the idea when he found that an elderly woman died without being noticed by her neighbors. Wanting to combat urban disaggregation, he petitioned local and national government to promote local meals between neighbors in order to
recreate social connections [and] develop a sentiment of belonging to the same neighborhood (quartier), and to reinforce solidarity bproximityty.
(See photos from the event.
Repas de quartier
(meal for the district) will take place on June 4. The tradition of holding a larger community meal within cities began in Toulouse in 1990. The sponsoring organization, carrefour culturel Arnaud-Bernard
, itself just a community organization, had convinced neighborhoods in other French cities to organize similar gatherings.
The organizers want to create new feelings of community where they had yet to be realized:
[The meals] are a prelude to other collective actions, independent of the efforts of the state and of institutional order: to battle against isolation--to create exchange between generations, communities, and people of different social, political and economic origins, all brought together by their own efforts.
Last night's episodes of Colonial House
were fun. The departure of the Wyers was not as contentious as I had expected. Building a new home in order to relieve the housing pressures appears now to have delayed the economic progress of the colony, but that point was not emphasized. (BTW, has anyone discovered the circumstances of the accident in Temple, Texas?)
I like the new "Cape Merchant"
. However, Jack Lecza appears to be less a participant than an actor on the show.
The conditions with to faith are finally resembling the times. Wyers' attendance taking was excessive. But there were limits to how much a family could remain absent from church. The Vorhees took the modern approach to spirituality too far. The seventeenth century had its men and women who had little faith, but they never severed their ties with religion--especially if they hoped to ascend the social ranks and obtain political power (note Spinoza).
The Washington Post had this article about how pressures to conform to national policies in Afghanistan are causing resentment within the provinces
By most standards, Wardak province should be a model for the rest of Afghanistan. It is the only place in the country where militia disarmament, poppy eradication and voter registration -- three efforts backed by the United Nations and Western governments -- are taking place simultaneously.
But some residents say they feel this ruggedly beautiful, impoverished province is less a showcase than a victim. They complain that it has been singled out for unpopular projects demanded by international powers because it is close to Kabul, economically vulnerable and without a dominant leader to resist the pressure.
Some local officials and U.N. officers said the simultaneous launching of the anti-poppy and disarmament programs could sharpen anti-government sentiment. It also could undermine provincial support for national elections in September, they said, which to succeed will require accelerated voter registration in rural areas by July.
"We are getting increasingly concerned about Wardak, because everything is taking place there at once, and it's putting a lot of pressure on people," said one U.N. officer in the capital. "People see the international process as one thing, whether it's disarmament, poppy eradication or voter registration. If they get upset enough to boycott the elections, it could hurt everything." ...
The province has been largely free of Islamic terrorism, and its small armed factions have been far more willing to disarm than more powerful militia bosses elsewhere. Mohammed Musa Hotak, a local commander and Islamic cleric, volunteered to turn in his weapons and demobilize 100 fighters last month, earning high-level official praise.
Nevertheless, the simultaneous start of the disarmament and anti-poppy programs has aroused resentment in a region where poor farmers and ex-militia fighters are often one and the same, and where ethnic Pashtuns are suspicious of being abused by ethnic Tajik factions in the transitional government set up by the United Nations in 2001.
In most models for dealing with particularism the resistance of the provinces is often ascribed to cultural isolation. But pressure can also come from the modernizing mission of the state, especially as it is applied unevenly throughout the territories.
A Catholic Style, A German Style
This entry deals with one of the three elements that I claim make up the landscape of the Rhine. If it seems a little incomplete, it is because I am not sure yet how far I want to delve into the architectural discussion (being that it is not my field and that it is hard to read about it in another language).
A German Catholic Style
In the 1770s the center of the German literary world was Strasbourg, France. Writers like Goethe and Lenz took a trip down the Rhine to find themselves in the border city, where they found a strong circle of intellectuals, a university with all faculties, and an atmosphere of freedom and relaxation that they could find in no German city. They discovered the writings of Shakespeare and the thought of the Lumière (French Enlightenment). The circles of intellectuals and writers developed a new literary style–Sturm und Drang
–that would form the basis for Romanticism.
In Strasbourg they discovered Gothic architecture. The Strasbourg cathedral
(Münster) inspired them to think about architecture and its relation to German history (picture
). The pink stone Münster with its rose windows and single spire in the middle of a French city represented German architecture. And more generally, Gothic architecture represented Germany.
The Sturm und Drang
brought attention to the Gothic churches and cathedrals in the Rhineland. Citizens were inspired to repair (and in some cases complete) their religious patrimony. The initial phases of the French Revolution heightened interest in the Gothic. On the one hand, the occupying armies of the French Republic directly threatened cultural sites and collections of art. On the other, Germans were inspired to match the national elan
of the French with their own Geist
. One of these was Georg Forster (1754-1794), who regarded the cathedral of Cologne (the Dom) as a masterwork of Gothic architecture, even though it had not been completed. (Dom Cam
) Less important than the accomplishment of the Dom was the vision of the artists: to offer a spiritual experience to those who walked inside. The grandeur and magnificence moved the spirit. The man who saw it could not help but be “petrified” (versteinern) from awe.
The habit of restoring Gothic buildings in the Rhineland continued after the defeat of Napoleon. The Prussians who moved into the Rhineland and annexed it in 1815 were at odds with the native populations. The Prussians were Protestant and spartan, the Rhinelanders Catholic and entrepreneurial. Prussian administrators were plied with requests for the completion of the Dom, something which had become a growing interest. Sulpiz Boisserée
studied the development of the Dom and began interesting people in resuming construction. He had attracted important Cologners (like the Wallraf family), writers like Goethe and nationalists like Gorres. They petitioned the monarchy complete the construction of the Dom as an act of good will that would symbolize the effort to unify the territories and create a German nation. Prussian administrators saw a political expedient for the monarchy: bringing Rhinelanders to trust Prussia. Despite the will to complete the Dom, the project took decades (the new cornerstone was laid by Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Archbishop Johannes von Geissel in 1842; it was finally completed in 1880), and how to restore it could be a matter of controversy as well. Gothic buildings were more a part of the landscape of western Germany than eastern (where Baroque was more important), and they were closely associated with Catholicism.
In 1842 Johann Joseph von Görres
made his pitch for a pure Gothic style for the completion. Görres was a veteran of the revolutionary era: he lead the Jacobin Club in the Mainz Republic. Later experiences with France soured him to revolution. He briefly turned into a German nationalist until he had a falling out with the Prussian government. After spending some time in exile in Strasbourg in the 1820s he turned his interests to Catholic mysticism and Romanticism, teaching in Bavaria. Görres argued that the Strasbourg cathedral should serve as the model for the restoration of the Dom. Both came out of the same milieu of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the Rhine. Ecclesiastical princes, small aristocrats and mercantile burghers competed for political power and influence. Görres noted the bishops of the Rhine, who acted as territorial princes and imperial electors as well as religious leaders. The large ecclesiastical territories added to the strength of the Catholic Church, giving the Rhine the reputation as a Pfaffengasse (alley of preachers). Gothic expressed the richness of German medieval culture, one that was in harmony with the spirituality of the times. More simply, the Rhine was the center of medieval German culture at its height, and its style should be used to express the greatness and unity of Germany in its diverse elements.
The Rhine was then, as it strives to be now, the great artery of German life.
Görres was keen on emphasizing that the Germanness of Gothic construction in the Rhine was also Rhenish and Catholic, all of which were meant to be counterweights to Protestant Prussian influence, but also were meant to express the desire to see all the elements of Germany balanced and represented rather than dominated by one state.
The completion of the Dom and the restoration of other Gothic buildings led to a revival of medieval architectural style in the Rhineland in contemporary building. However, Gothic would not be that style. Architects like Heinrich Hübsch
preferred the earlier Romanesque. It was simpler, more restrained, more essential. The architects of Rundbogenstil
appreciated Gothic for the essential elements used in construction which were better represented by the Romanesque (different definition
). Furthermore, the simpler and less ornate style was more appropriate for the modest buildings that they designed. Rundbogenstil concentrated on the rounded arch rather than the pointed arch of Gothic buildings–indeed, Rundbogenstil means round arch style.
Historicism characterized German architecture of the nineteenth century as Germans searched for a national style. The general trend was to put buildings into a style that best represented their function. Assembly buildings were Classical, churches Gothic, palaces baroque. The most egregious example of historicism was Vienna, where the new government buildings represented nearly every era of architectural history.
Not everyone was interested in bringing different styles together. Various revival movements competed with one another for the imagination of the nation, Greek Classical and Romanesque/Gothic being most important. Some argued that the Classical style was the perfection of architectural rules, offering balance and beauty. Classical revivals were more popular in eastern Germany where religious life tended to be Protestant. They dismissed medieval styles because either Romanesque and Gothic were eccentric and emotional or they were representative of Catholicism. They reproached Gothic above all for excess of decoration. Proponents of Rundbogenstil retorted that neo-Classicism was dead imitation, that neo-Romanesque emerged from living impulses in design.
Hübsch, using the Dom and the Abbey of Maria Laach
in Koblenz as examples, defended medieval styles, especially the neo-Romanesque impulse. Hübsch argued that medieval architects made technical improvements over what ancient Greeks and Roman had accomplished. They spanned larger spaces with less material, allowing them to create more magnificent structures that were more open than what the ancients built. The decorative elements were less important than the structural elements: the arches, the ceilings, the columns, the placement of doors and windows. The rounded arch allowed for more open space and the inclusion of more decoration. Hübsch also argued, moreover, that it was difficult to adapt Greek Classicism to the building materials available in Germany.
Rundbogenstil was a style that was a technological advance made under German culture. It was also an expression of the materials available in the German landscape. Gothic was a tangent from the Rundbogenstil–radical and inspired, but never formalized and ultimately immature.
What neither style had yet to confront was the introduction of steel. Until 1840 it was believed that no new style would develop unless new building materials were introduced. Steel held possibilities, but it was difficult for designers to imagine its potential. Steel spanned even larger spaces, creating airy structures and would give nineteenth century department stores their look.
This post is based on my own research. If you are interested in the sources, please contact me.
1913 and Euroregions
There are two items that I have posted at great length, only to delete those posts minute later. Here they are in brief:
- Mitt Romney's application of a 1913 law to prevent couples from using marital laws that are different in Massachusetts than in their own states. (See BRDGT and Johno on how hypocritical the law is.) This law is a slap in the face, but its application expresses an obvious reality: same sex couples cannot count on having their Massachusetts marriages recognized out of state. The advocates for same-sex marriage have chosen a state-by-state approach to winning recognition, and they have had success with this strategy. What should be of greater concern is whether or not the secretary of the commonwealth will send records to other states when they are requested, and whether or not the commonwealth will advocate for recognition of specific rights of Massachusetts couples (especially powers of attorney) when they are in other states.
- The effort to create a Euroregion between Strasbourg and communities across the Rhine in Baden-Wuertemberg has stalled. There is no specific problem, just that no one appears to be working on it. (Euroregions are unique in that they are alliances of communities on different sides of an international border. They do not involve the respective national governments. Most Euroregions are between Belgian, German and Dutch communities along their borders, the best example being Euregio Maas-Rhein.)
As in the US, gasoline prices in Germany are exploding. A gallon of gas can cost more than 4.80 Euro (1.20 Euro/liter). Germans have found savings in the former eastern bloc states. But the most popular destination has been Wasserbillig
, Luxembourg (population 2,300), where non-diesel gas can cost as little as 3.60 Euro/gallon. The discrepancy is the result of differences in taxes between Germany and Luxembourg.
German drivers take special trips out to Wasserbillig, where they wait in line at one of its ten gas stations (more than nearby Trier), all of which are along the same stretch of highway. The number of foreign cars that come into Wasserbillig each day have been numbered more than 20,000 at times of normal prices
. Truck drivers from Cologne are instructed to skip German gas stations and fill up in Luxembourg. The small duchy receives more petrol than any other EU member, despite its size.
These gas stations have created a "gas tank tourism" for Luxembourg. A number of gift shops have appeared around these gas stations, selling jam, cheeses, cigarettes, sparkling wines--all of which are cheaper than in Germany. These trips to Luxembourg become gluttonous affairs of bulk purchases for Germans, who return home with full tanks and full trunks.
[Added on edit]:
Wasserbillig means "cheap as water." Here are mapquest directions
for the 108 mile trip from Cologne to Wasserbillig
- Bunny update: Ollie is going back to Tufts on Tuesday for x-rays and, perhaps, another shot of radiation. She is looking better, but she keeps pulling out her fur. I wonder if it is falling out and is itching her?
- It is our anniversary today. Not much blogging, just completing some unfinished posts.
- I bought Van Lear Rose on Johno's recommendation. I would add to his review that there are definite touches of Ballad of Easy Rider, Joshua Tree, and Ragged Glory--especially in the expansiveness of the sound and its take on Americana. I did not have the same reaction as Johno (country has never made me cry) but this is damn good.
- We bought a season pass for Look Park.
Without Milosevic, the Serbs have returned to being a nasty bunch of arrogant nationalists. According to an ISN report
, the Serbian government plans to carve up Kosovo in order to reintroduce Serbian ethnic dominance in many areas:
The plan foresees, at a minimum, the creation of five Serbian autonomous districts, which would in effect be all but independent of Kosovo itself. More ambitiously, however, it also suggests that while it may not now be possible for displaced Serbs to return to areas where they once lived, then they should be given “just compensation”. It says that these Serbs should be “entitled to parts of the territory that links in a natural way Serb-dominated settlements, in which previously they did not make up a majority…” The fact that the Serbian plan aims, in effect, to carve out a very large area of territory for a very small number of Kosovo Serbs, is one reason why it has received a mixed reception from Western policymakers at best. Albanian leaders have, of course, just rejected it out of hand.
The negotiations, however, are moving more toward decentralization as a means of balancing existing ethnic elements:
The Kosovo Albanians, who dominate Kosovo’s government, or as it is officially called the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, will be given more competences, while in exchange they will have to move to allow some form of Serbian local self-government.
Report author Tim Judah notes that both Serbains and Albanians did not attend talks in Switzerland over their own status.
In my first substantial post
I dealt with a book on ethnic conflict in the states of India. The new prime minister of India is stirring up controversy as a member of an ethnic minority in a state rife with ethnic conflict
. A Sikh, Manmohan Singh will be India's first minority prime minister (only days after India nearly had a foreign-born PM).
Map from Maps of India
In 2002 one thousand Muslims were killed by Hindu
The Gujarat riots were some of the worst sectarian violence in the history of independent India, which is mostly Hindu but where about 12 percent of the population is Muslim and about 2 percent Sikh. After 59 Hindu activists were burned to death in a train that had been surrounded by a Muslim mob, vengeful Hindus rioted for weeks, killing, raping and driving Muslims from their homes. The state government, which was controlled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., did not stop the attacks. The central government, also led by the party then, took no action against the state's chief minister, Narendra Modi, did nothing to ensure that Muslims received relief, and looked away - until the Supreme Court intervened - as the state failed to punish Hindu rioters.
Although his party did not hold the premiership at the time, Singh admits that his own party (Indian National Congress) has not done enough to stop outbreaks of violence when they occur. But Muslims in Gujarat are not satisfied: they are looking for more accounting of these massacres and for the central government to do more to prevent discrimination against Muslims. One activist, Shakeel Ahamad, expressed caution:
Certainly and naturally I feel very good [about the prime minister's remarks]. But I want to listen something from Manmohan about what he is doing for Gujarat now. What about the trials? What about Modi? What about the structural violence, the harassment of Muslims? There is still harassment going on.
The ire of the German sports world is focused on its national Olympic committee
, which failed to get one of the top four spots on the short list of possible venues for 2012. Applicant city Leipzig
was sixth, with Moscow ahead of it in the second tier.
The reason has shocked Germans: Leipzig is too small. According to the director of the IOC, a city must have a population of at least 1.5 million in order to have sufficient accommodations to host the games. Leipzig, the capital of Saxony, had been as large as 750,000 before WWII, but fell due to the war. Conditions under the DDR did not allow for recovery. Today it stands at 500,000. (I am not certain, but I suspect that the city planned to pool resources with nearby Dresden, also 500,000). Leipzig was chosen on the strength of its financial planning, which was stronger than other applicant cities (Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Dusseldorf) (another source suggests that the committee memebers ties to the Stasi were damaging
The vice president of the German Olympic committee, Dieter Landsberg-Velen, Germany "has been duped. This is grotesque. Had we known this before, we would have spared the effort." Knowing the criterion of the IOC, only two German cities could ever hold the games: Berlin and Hamburg.
This flies in the face of reason. 500,000 may be too few. The cities that were chosen by the IOC--Paris, London, Madrid and New York--are all cities of gigantic proportion. Metropolis is too small a word to describe them. But Munich, a city with a population of 1.3 million, held the Olympics. The major glitch of 1972 was security, a problem that all the larger applicants would be at pains to solve. Leipzig also has a significant cultural tradition that betrays its size.
According to the IOC criterion, only five US cities would be good candidates for the Olympics: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. One American city that held the games, St. Louis (1904), would not qualify. New York is currently a top choice. Los Angeles has held them twice. Houston would never qualify for a variety of social and cultural reasons. Philadelphia would likely be at financial pains to mount the games. San Francisco--an international city of great renown, a former world capital, and recognized as having the best organized application of any US city (having lost to NY for sentimental reasons)--would not qualify. Boston would never qualify despite its international reputation.
- Bunny update: Ollie is feeling better. She had a large appetite and is hopping around a lot. We take her back to Tufts next week,
- BMW intends to move more of its production to northeastern China. It will increase its production in that country to 100,000 cars per year, according to president Helmut Panke.
- I hope to put up a post about Gothic architecture in the Rhineland and how it was coopted as a national style of architecture in the 19th C.
- Colonial House has got me thinking about different ways in which the intellectuals have conceptualized the disciplining and civilizing of people in the western world. Essentially, Norbert Elias versus Michel Foucault (as well as some others). I might blog this out as well.
Tear me down
Last night my wife (aka Her Highness) and I saw the German film Good Bye Lenin
. It was the second time I saw the film, the first time being in Mannheim with my friend Uli last year.
The film follows a family in East Berlin during the first year after the fall of the Berlin Wall as the two Germanies took tentative steps to reunite. The mother, who was left by her husband when he fled to the west, "married the Party"--she taught children to love the East German fatherland. Just before the Wall comes she sees her son Alex arrested in protests for freedom of the press. She suffers from a heart attack and falls into a coma. Germany changes around her. The old symbols of East Germany are taken down and are replaced by western consumerism. When she awakens, her family is warned that she cannot suffer from any shock and surprise. Alex decides that he must hide the truth about the fall of Honecker and the DDR from her. It puts him on a quest to find old brands of food, to produce fake television news programs, and to hide her with the apartment.
Alex confronts a world that is changing too rapidly. No one expresses loss for the old things that they had. But many of them feel disoriented as they are no longer needed for their labor. Furthermore, along with the western consumer goods, "Wessies
" (West Germans who are unmoved by the loss of the everyday culture of the East) are taken up room in East Berlin. From her high-rise apartment the changes in Berlin cannot be seen: there are only other high-rises, and she has a clear view of the East German television tower (Fernsehturm
) that was the symbol of progress. From up high, the city is still anonymous.
Progress cannot be hidden for long, and each new change must be explained by Alex through his fake TV programs, creating a counter-narrative in which East Germany opens itself up to teach the West about the society that they hand built--the Wall will no longer separate East Germans from West. Alex remarks that his fake DDR ended up being more like the East Germany he would have wanted, its end a more fitting death.
The film is a revision of German reunification. It is normally told that the Wall came down and Germans became one. Politically and economically, reunification was more complex. Helmut Kohl and the West Germans were arrogant, believing in the power of the Deutschmacht (a pun in which German power is associated with the German currency (Deutschmark)). Kohl did a number of things that seem reckless in hindsight:
- Rather than negotiating unification, West Germany literally bought the East. This was so that the West would not be forced into any ideological compromises.
- West Germany bought off the Red Army in order to send it home (perhaps a wise move).
- West Germany bought East German currency at a rate of 1:1.
- Kohl promised asylum to anyone who claimed German ancestry who lived in the USSR and Eastern Bloc.
- Kohl promised to move the capital from Bonn to Berlin in order to show the commitment of the West to the East and to symbolize unity.
When reunification was formalized, Kohl said that all Germans would celebrate the anniversary of unity of Mallorca.
Kohl's reunification was too costly, and it hinders the German economy today. But this arrogance has persisted as Wessies care little for the problems of the Ossies (East Germans). The resulting division can be seen in the return of a socialist party for the east (PDS). The film shows that the speed of unification left many people behind, clinging to the culture of the East long after they had killed off communism by their own efforts. Something that was lost on the audience was that East Germany was a kind of consumer society. The Soviet Union used the East as a showplace of how great communism could be and that people under communism could have thing and be happy. In that respect East Germans were pampered with a rich consumer culture with cars and television, etc. Even when the "new Germans" admit that they prefer western products, they mourn not having the option of the cheaper East German variety. No one defends or resurrects communism, only the Germany that was left behind
Genocide in Dafur
The Sudanese government has increased the level of systematic
violence against ethnic minorities, now choosing to target African Muslims where they have persecuted Christians in the past.
Human Rights Watch characterizes the violence as a clear attempt by the government to change the demographic makeup of the Dafur region:
First, the government of Sudan is responsible for recruiting, arming, and participating in joint attacks with militia forces that have become the main instrument for attacks on and the displacement of the civilian population ...
Second, the attacks on Masalit and Fur villages by Sudanese government and militia forces follow clear patterns and were carried out in what appeared to be coordinated and planned operations. Villages were not attacked at random, but were emptied across wide areas in operations that lasted for several days or were repeated several times until the population was finally driven away ...
Third, many of the attacks were carried out in a similar manner: aerial support in bombing and reconnaissance by the Sudanese air force followed by ground attacks by government forces and Janjaweed [militia]. Janjaweed have been given explicit and implicit authority over areas vacated by those they have forced out. The Janjaweed man checkpoints on main roads and regulate the movement of goods and people ...
Fourth, the government and militia attacks on the Masalit and Fur villages appear intended to discourage continued habitation by the population ...
Fifth, government-supported militia forces have been deployed in and around destroyed villages, preventing the displaced population from returning. Militias continue to attack displaced civilians after they escape into camps and settlements, beating women and children who attempt to leave these settlements in order to collect firewood, wild foods or other essential items, and sometimes killing them; women have been raped. Men residing in camps and towns controlled by the Janjaweed have been tortured and killed.
Refugees have been fleeing western Sudan for Chad, creating a humanitarian crisis in that country that Medicins sans Frontieres has been at pains to treat:
The level of malnutrition is now climbing every week. In mid-April, we were admitting three or four children per week with severe acute malnutrition ... That number has now increased to nearly 25 children each week ... The camps that have been set up are operating way beyond capacity - several camps that were designed for 6000 people are now holding twice that number. This means that food supplies that were intended to meet the needs of 6,000 people now have to stretch much further and are not nearly enough.
Escape to Chad provides little security:
The tens of thousands of refugees who have still not been moved from the border area to refugee camps further into Chad remain at risk of attacks by Sudanese militias which frequently turn violent. The militia groups cross the border from Sudan into Chad to loot refugees' possessions and steal cattle.
Bunny update: Ollie had radiation therapy yesterday. She was fatigued yesterday, perhaps sore, but she is doing much better now.
I loved last nights episode of Colonial House
(read first post
)--people tried hard to develop the community spirit. There were two big issues: justice and deviance. Wyer
's misapplication of law revealed more about his religious beliefs than 17th C English justice. No legal authority would have applied laws so vigorously, especially those that related to infractions such as profanity and dissembling. The sense that the community members got from Wyer's justice was that English justice was unnecessarily harsh--one person even referred to the N--- regime led by H----- in the 1930s and 1940s (subjects that I abhor talking about). Even if the members were to adopt Wyers vision of what it meant to come to the New World--to escape religious persecution--it must be accepted that they would look for alternatives to strict interpretations of English law.
However, in spite of Wyer's harsh justice, community members attended sabbath by the end of the episode. They found their reasons to go as a community, which was the most likely result anyway.
On the second issue, Allen
's coming out would make no sense in the 17th C. Every man would want to be married--to be legitimized to the community and to have the labor of wife and children. The equating of spouse and love is a modern concepts.
I can't do much blogging today: I am taking little bunny Ollie to the animal hospital so that she can be shot with radiation.
Colonial House, the reality show in which people live like Americans decades after
my ancestors reached the New World, was quite good, even if the participants "slipped out of character" often. I like Don Heinz
, the real life scholar of religion and fictional preacher, as well as Michelle Rossi-Vorhees
, real life seamstress (she can be bitchy, but she is still cool). Something thing that I find interesting: the participants are caught up in the way they think life ought to be. They are disturbed less by the amount of work they must do than by the fact that it takes all their time. They want to revert to primitive innocence more than experience how people of the era lived (swimming). I also wonder whether the fundamentalist Wyers, if they return, will clash with the more hippy-like Vorhees.
Catholicism, Liberty and Federalism
Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler
, Bishop of Mainz (1850-1877), founded German Social Catholicism. He was born in Westphalia to an aristocratic family. He was deeply influence by the Kölner Wirren (when the Archbishop of Cologne Droste-Vischering was imprisoned until his death because he would not confirm the marriage of Protestant men and Catholic women as “Protestant”.) Under his influence, Germans undertook social works on their own initiatives, supported by the efforts of the Catholic clergy, even to the point of forming their own labor unions.
It was in the 1848-1849 Revolution
that Ketteler made his mark as a political figure. He was elected to the Parliament at Frankfurt that was charged with writing a constitution for the German state. Ketteler believed that he could keep focused on religious and education issues. However, He was quickly entangled in issues that dealt with the prerogatives of the state. In the district that he represented a Prussia bureaucrat began complaining that Ketteler was undermining the power of the Berlin government to set the priorities of education in the kingdom. In his letters, the bureaucrat argued that the state had exclusive rights over communal affairs because it was the community owed its existence to the state.
Ketteler reacted. He upheld his belief that the people of the community should establish the priorities of education, especially whether schools would be secular or religious and what religious instruction would be given in schools:
The majority of patriarchs of a community decide then over the spirit of the school wherein their children should be educated.
But Ketteler was forced into state-local relations:
The State is merely an institution which has its existence through the communities and without which it could not even be conceived.
Furthermore, individuals are not just subjects and citizens of the state but of all the communities and entities to which they belong:
To me the state is not a machine, but a living organism with living members, in which every member (Glied) had his own law, his own function, has made his own free life. Such members are for me the individual, the family, the community, etc.
This defense of both the rights of the individual and of the community (and every other sub-national entity) helped to characterize subsidiarity
. Social Catholicism emphasized the social interdependence of men, but it also affirmed their autonomy. These seemingly contradictory beliefs, one socialist and the other liberal, combined as a commitment to diversity and the restraint of central authority. The society imagined by Social Catholics consisted of individuals, families, territorial states, social organization, the central state, the Church–all manner of groups and political bodies that came together organically and federally as a nation.
Subsidiarity justified the work of different organizations. The central government was just another actor that protected its members and helped them to advance. The central government was not synonymous with the nation. Instead, different groups cut across the nation and ministered to them. An individual was a member of several different communities, and the nationality of the individual was reflected in how these memberships merged with others.
Catholic social thought influence European federalism. Subsidiarity displaced the notion that an supranational organization must and will dominate its member states. Instead, it works side by side with them.
[This post is based on my own research. If you are interested in my sources, please contact me.]
A new book by Jean-Paul Picaper, Enfants maudits
(cursed children), many French men and women who were the offspring of French women and German soldiers during the Second World War are searching for information about their German fathers.
During the period of the occupation of Northern France, 200,000 children were born to mixed couples. Marriage between Germans and Frenchwomen was forbidden. But the French populations interacted with the Germans, especially in the villages areas (mostly along the Atlantic coast of France)where the German administrations relied on local workers. After France was liberated, the German soldiers left. The children were the but of jokes in their villages.
Many of the children are in retirement. Recent events have inspired them to look for German fathers:
The extraordinary revival of Franco-German relations has thrown out the last taboo: the shame of being the child of a Boche (derogatory term for a German).
Often they know nothing more than the given name of the soldier. Nonetheless, many have been united with half-siblings (their fathers more than likely having passed away) by combing over the records of the Wehrmacht
Alsatians don't figure into this phenomenon, even though they were directly annexed by Germany and saw a larger influx of Germans during the war. According to Picaper,
in this territory of the Reich, marriages were authorized between Alsatians, who were considered to be Aryans, and Germans. I suppose that these families left to establish themselves in Germany.
Anthropologist Marc Abélès of the Laboratory for the Anthropology of Social Institutions and Organizations
attempts to understand the culture of the European Union. The EU has few symbols, no rituals, no festivals, no motivating slogans, and as a result, seldom inspires the imagination of European citizens, and then only with great difficulty. But it is still a community, one that can be observed for how it works. If we accept Abélès' description, the workings of the EU resemble the film “Memento” (in which the protagonist constantly loses his memories of his predicament).
The technocrats of the European Commission look at their work as acts of continual creation. The culture of compromise that has emerged makes looking at the past painful and defining its end goals impossible. They might reference the people who founded the union–people like Adenauer, Monnet and Schuman (my lecture
on the roots of European integration). But these recollections distract from the technocrats work at best, raise memories of disagreements at worst:
Whatever the reason, the institution seems little concerned with managing its relations to time and this troubles its more lucid members. One seems to ignore the specific work of memory in such a way that each crisis is immediately enveloped in a cloak of forgetfulness. Reference to the past is usually limited to a brief remembrance of the founding fathers. Any references to tradition seems to be completely incongruous in the context of the European institutions.
Without making this history, the EU has no sense of its traditions–the values and ideals that motivate it. It has no narrative that describes the achievements of a united Europe and the mission that it will fulfill.
Instead, the EU moves in a forward flight of integration. Everyday, technocrats are consumed with realizing a new step in the process. But without tradition, the EU is forced to reinvent itself at every moment. Each step is another moment in which the union must be created, another moment in which its existence is in jeopardy:
No one waits for Europe to exist, one builds it up everyday.
Integration is not a goal. There are no clear goals to which the EU is working. It is the process of integration that it is sustaining, and the process that is ultimately affirmed. Furthermore, each step implicates the members into taking the next step:
‘engrenage’, an ‘action trap’ in which once the agents are set in a specific course of action, they find themselves obliged to take further actions.
This unusual culture makes the EU a unique community. Rather than working toward its own integration, it works towards harmonization of the disparate nations and peoples. Without a history and definable goals, it cannot motivate people the way that nations can. Conversely, the EU can do things that other types of communities cannot do. It is able to overcome the fractious relationships between nations or the divisiveness of their individual histories. The achievement of the EU is, and will be, to bring Europeans to work together rather than to mold them into a single people.
References from "Virtual Europe" in An Anthropology of the European Union (2000)