What It Was Like in Berlin, 1932

New book, started just today. It’s by a woman named Rebecca Donner, and the subject is her great-grandaunt, Mildred Harnack, who was married to a German, Arvid, whose fate is a family secret, because it was very bad: it seems she was imprisoned by Hitler and executed, and what family would want to talk about something like that?

Self only heard about Mildred Harnack from a book review in The Economist (August 2021). Self saved the review and now, finally, she holds in her hands All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler.

Mildred was from Wisconsin. She met Arvid when they were both students at the University of Wisconsin. In 1932, she was a part-time instructor at the University of Berlin, where she taught American Literary History.

It’s a good thing her great grandniece knows how to tell a story. She uses present tense, which hints that at least one of her goals is to make this story immersive: it’s not going to be a “Mildred did this, then Mildred did that” kind of thing. No, Rebecca’s actually going to put us in Berlin, which so happens to be a place self has visited, long ago, when she was invited to read from her book Mayor of the Roses by the House of World Culture. Just a few weeks ago, she was in Berlin again, this time April 1945 Berlin, through the eyes of Anonymous in A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City.

1932 Berlin is very different from 1945 Berlin (of course). Mildred would be two years dead by the time Anonymous began writing her diary (Self wonders if Anonymous would have heard of Mildred Harnack? Anonymous was a journalist, so in all probability she would have heard of Mildred’s arrest and execution). Here is Mildred walking through Berlin in 1932:

She reaches a wide boulevard: Unter den Linden. She turns right.

The boulevard takes its name from the profusion of linden trees flanking it, trees that are in full bloom now, cascades of tiny white blossoms perfuming the air she breathes. But all this beauty can’t mask the ugliness here. Swastikas are cropping up like daisies everywhere: on posters pasted to the walls of U-Bahn stations, on flags and banners and pamphlets. A white-haired, walrus-mustached man is leading the country right now, but just barely. President Paul von Hindenburg is eighty-four, tottering into senility. A politician half his age is growing in popularity, a high-school dropout named Adolf Hitler who, Mildred predicts, will bring “a great increase of misery and oppression.”

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, p. 16

Past Squares 2: Prague, May 2019

This is only self’s third round of participation in Life of B’s Squares Challenge, so instead of choosing favorites from her previous rounds, in April and July 2021, she’ll focus on past trips. She used to be quite the traveler! Everything came to a screeching halt in 2020.

May 2019: Self’s niece was going to Prague and asked if she wanted to come along. Self had never been to Prague. Of course she wanted to come along!

Dinner the first night was in the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. All the surrounding buildings were lit. The view was stunning! The next day, at Prague Castle, we stumbled on a wedding photo shoot. Self was able to squeeze off a quick candid photo.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: HATS

Bless Cee Neuner for keeping Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge so FUN!

For this week’s Fun Foto Challenge, HATS, self found a couple of pictures from her archives.

Self’s baseball-cap wearing niece, Angela, an undergrad at the University of Michigan, spent a summer as an intern at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park. Self had a lot of fun hanging with her:

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The Martian is son’s favorite novel (after the Dune novels; son is an avid science fiction reader). He met the cap-wearing author at SDCC 2018:

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Finally, one of Magritte’s most iconic images, the man in the bowler hat, at an exhibit in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 2018:

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Other hats:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Glass, Cups, Saucers

WHAT FUN! Self loves Glass, Cups, and Saucers. Just in general. Thank you, Cee Neuner!

Good morning, Silay! Hometown of Dear Departed Food Writer Doreen G. Fernandez: Self visited in September.

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Gamboa House, Silay: September 2019

Hello, Ateneo Classmates! Reunion Dinner

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Makati, September 2019

Hello, Prague! At the Globe Bookstore/Coffeeshop. Self was in Prague with her niece, Irene.

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May 2019

What a year 2019 was!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 77: 2019 FAVORITES

Great theme!

In 2019, self traveled the world. Her life triangulated between home in Redwood City, California, to England and Ireland, to the Philippines. Side trip to Prague with her niece, Irene!

Here goes, all the images that mattered most to self in 2019, arranged from most recent — December 2019 — to the earliest, January 2019: Starting with her home in Redwood City in early December; to London’s Blackfriar station; to Manggapuri Villa in Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental, Philippines; to Prague; to Oxford University’s Exam School for Alice Oswald’s first reading as Oxford’s first woman Poet in Residence; to Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park; to the Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig; to the fire pit in Manggapuri Villas; to the Daku Balay in Bacolod City, the Philippines; to self’s bedroom; to the Blue Room in Café Paradiso in Cork, Ireland; to Fowey in Cornwall; to Courthouse Square, Redwood City; to the cover of last winter’s issue of Prairie Schooner, which included her story Things She Can Take

Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: ONE BASIC COLOR

Excited that it’s ALMOST CHRISTMAS!

Excited, too, to be able to participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this weeK: ONE BASIC COLOR.

Here are some pictures self took earlier this year, in May. She was in London and then joined her niece Irene in Prague, her first-time ever in that wondrous city:

  • The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Field, just off Trafalgar Square, London
  • The London Eye
  • St. Martin restaurant in the Mala Strada district of Prague, just a few doors away from the American Embassy

Self just realized, looking at her shots and comparing to Cee Neuner’s, that self’s are extremely monochromatic. Ah, well!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2019: Grateful For

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 72: WAITING

It is easy for self to come up with pictures for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge  #72 this week: WAITING.

Less than a week ago, she and two other friends waited at Oxford University’s Examination Schools for the start of the inaugural lecture by newly appointed Professor of Poetry Alice Oswald, who is the first woman ever to be appointed to that prestigious position.

Self took the second picture while visiting London’s Canary Wharf. Evern since she saw the handmaidens, she’s been wondering what/ who they’re waiting for.

The third picture is of self in Prague, where she’d gone in May with her niece. The other woman in the picture is a Filipina; we started chatting.

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Prague, May 2019

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: CANDID

HAVE YOUR CAMERA READY AND JUST SHOOT.

— Leya, Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 67

Prague, May 2019

Irene (self’s niece) and Martin (tour guide) crossing the Charles Bridge, our first day in Prague.

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Street Performers, Prague, Last Week of May 2019

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Prague Castle, Last Week of May 2019

Tuesday Photo Challenge — STONE

Week 179 of the Tuesday Photo Challenge is STONE (“Turn to something a bit more permanent.”)

Self went searching among her recent photos for examples of stone.

First, the fire pit at Manggapuri Villas, Purok Pagdanon, Don Salvador Benedicto, in the Philippine province of Negros Occidental (Dear Departed Dad’s home province). Just beyond, shrouded in mist, the still-active Canlaon Volcano. Don Salvador Benedicto is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Bacolod City:

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Manggapuri Villas: September 2019

Next, a photo of Courthouse Square, just prior to the Annual Redwood City Salsa Festival:

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Courthouse Square Before the Annual Redwood City Salsa Festival, Saturday, 21 September

Finally, a statue of General Douglas MacArthur on the Philippine island of Corregidor (That’s self standing with son and his cousin Georgina, 20 years ago. She found the photo when she was cleaning out the closets recently):

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Georgina, Andrew and Self on the Island of Corregidor, at the Mouth of Manila Bay

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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