Creepy 3: Sutro Tower, San Francisco; Holocaust Memorial, Miami, Florida

Still working off the WordPress Photo Challenge this week: CREEPY.

  • “Grab a shot of something you find disturbing.”

First, welcome to creepy San Francisco. It’s little wonder the city served as the setting for the Donald Sutherland movie, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The pods arrive from outer space and take root in Golden Gate Park.

Sutro Tower, San Francisco: Waiting for The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Sutro Tower, San Francisco: Waiting for The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Snapped from the lawn in front of the Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park.

Next, in Miami’s South Beach, the most gut-wrenching Read the rest of this entry »

Why Self Loves Warlocks and Werewolves and What Not: CLOCKWORK PRINCE, Chapter 11 (“Wild Unrest”)

First of all, self didn’t get a wink of sleep last night.

Second, writing is hard work. VERY VERY hard work.

Third, just see how you’d like reading 600 pages of The Third Reich of War (The chapter self is on describes how rich Hermann Goring was: he owned 10 villas, all of which were crammed with expensive artwork, and all of which were subsidized at German taxpayers’ expense. Just a few pages before, self read how a Jewish nurse at Auschwitz accompanied her son voluntarily to the gas chamber, during one of the last waves of gassings at the camp: October 1944)

So self hardly needs to explain why she goes for a little fantasy now and then. (How very forward-thinking of her to bring along her copies of Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess to the UK! She usually isn’t that pro-active!)

Anyhoo, Clockwork Prince, which most readers seem to think is “Jem’s book.” NOT!

While our boy Will Herondale is dreadfully discomposed, or disoriented, or whatevers, by the events therein, he is most decidedly NOT out of the picture entirely!

From the Oxford Dictionary of English in Cottage # 2 at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

From the Oxford Dictionary of English in Cottage # 2 at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

In a side-story, a Downworlder named Ragnor Fell is sniffing around Yorkshire to dig up information for the Clave on what exactly the Herondale family is doing in Ravenscar Manor, which is owned by the Magister (aka Mortmain aka Evil Person Who Has Been Trying to Abduct Tessa Gray Since FOREVER). Ragnor reports his findings to Charlotte in a very circumlocutious (but charming) letter which reads, in part, thus:

Ravenscar itself is near a small village. I set myself up at the local inn, the Black Swan, and posed as a gentleman interested in buying property in the area. The locals have been most forthcoming with information, and when they were not, a persuasion spell or two helped them to see the matter from my point of view.

It seems the Herondales mix very little with local society.

It’s now raining! OMG, it was hot as all get-out all day. Thank you for the rain!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Goebbels’ Speech at the Berlin Sports Palace: 18 February 1943

And self is back to reading The Third Reich at War!

At first glance, the below text might seem like something out of a play. Mebbe Tamburlaine the Great, or Richard II.

Oh no, on second thought, the writing is just too bad. It’s just one long, hysterical shriek of racial hatred. It may be considered an example of exhortation, a rhetorical device. Delivered with a very blunt instrument.

Self will reproduce it here, minus editorial comment:

  • Behind the onrushing Soviet divisions we can already see the Jewish liquidation squads, which loom behind terror, the spectre of millions going hungry and total anarchy in Europe. Here international Jewry is once more proving itself to be the devilish element of decomposition . . .  We have never been afraid of Jewry and we are less afraid today than ever! The aim of Bolshevism is the world revolution of the Jews . . .  Germany at least does not intend to quail before this Jewish threat; rather, to meet it with the timely, if necessary total and most radical exclusion of Jewry!

— p. 280, The Third Reich at War, Part 3 (“The Final Solution”)

Victor Klemperer, Dresden, 1942

On 14 February 1942, Klemperer, aged 60 and in less than perfect health, was ordered to report for work clearing snow off the streets. He was married to a non-Jew; his wife was called a “Jew’s whore.”

They ransacked his house, taking away everything of value. Except for — the diaries.

“Desperately worried that the Gestapo would find his diaries (one is murdered for lessser misdemeanors), Klemperer started to get his wife to take them” to a “non-Jewish friend” for safekeeping.

“But,” he wrote, “I shall go on writing . . . This is my heroism. I intend to bear witness, precise witness!”

— from The Third Reich at War, Part 3 (“The Final Solution”), p. 252

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Felix Landau’s Diary: Cracow, 1941

Alternating between Clockwork Prince and The Third Reich at War, be forewarned.

Events in Cracow from the diary of Felix Landau, part of the SS’s Task Force C:

Landau watched Jews forced to dig their own graves, mused in his diary:  “What on earth is running through their minds during those moments? I think that each of them harbours a small hope that somehow he won’t be shot. The death candidates are organized into three shifts as there are not many shovels. Strange, I am completely unmoved. No pity, nothing.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Germany, 1939 -1940, In Numbers

From The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans:

Only about 15,000 Jews found “refuge in a neutral country in the course of 1940.”

In 1939, 1000 “got to Brazil with the help of visas arranged by the Vatican.”

In 1939 – 1941, Chiune Sugihara, “a Japanese consul stationed variously in Lithuania, Prague, and Konigsberg . . .  whose main function was supposed to be observing military matters, began on his own initiative to issue transit visas to Japan to any Jew who approached him, even though they had no permission to enter the country.” He issued documents to 10,000 Jews (10x as many as the Jews of Schindler’s list! And self had never heard of him until a few minutes ago)

Shanghai permitted immigration until December 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In the summer of 1941, “over 25,000 Jewish refugees from a variety of European countries, including Germany,” managed to get there.

By 1941, the Jews remaining in Germany were “overwhelmingly concentrated in Berlin.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Misery and Terror: Also Reading The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans

Thank God for The Infernal Devices, that is all self can say.

If not for those books, she’d be stuck reading her way through The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans.

Imagine going through London with those miserable pictures in her head: the German soldiers, at least some of them, kept diaries. And Evans is nothing if not painstaking as he sifts through each individual soldier’s journals, picking out passages that highlight the emotion.

Most of the time, what the German soldiers/diarists felt when they looked at the slowly starving, slowly dying Jewish population in the Occupied Territories was terror.

It is 1939. For months, the Jews have been confined to the ghettos, isolated and starved. The German soldiers look at the lines, hundreds of people long, full of resigned, awful, starving faces.

When they see a man fall over — which happens quite often — well, it’s all right, because these people are animals. Just look at them! Dressed in sacks and rags! And look at the children, wailing non-stop! The dehumanization is the only thing that can stave off the soldiers’ terror.

Terror is in itself dehumanizing. So the soldiers are as dehumanized as the objects of their contemplation.

Naturally, they hate being put in that position. Hate, hate, hate it.

Now and then, an occasional soldier will write something like: “The wretchedness of the children brought a lump to my throat.”

But, in the next breath: “I clenched my teeth.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dawid Sierakowiak: A Jewish Schoolboy’s Diary, Poland, Fall 1939

9 September 1939:

“First signs of German occupation . . .  they are seizing Jews to dig.”

Sierakowiak’s parents stopped him from going to school, fearing he would be taken away by the Germans.

11 September 1939:

“Beatings and robbings.” Sierakowiak’s father’s store was looted. “The local Germans do whatever they wish.”

16 November 1939:

Sierakowiak was forced, along with other Jews, to wear a yellow armband when he went out.

Early December, 1939:

“New work in the evening, ripping off the armbands and sewing on the new decorations.” The yellow armbands were to be replaced with a yellow, 10-centimetre Star of David that had to be worn on the right chest and the back of the right shoulder.

“As the first snows of winter began to fall,” Sierakowiak’s school was closed down, and Germans began beating Jews on the streets.

—  from Part 1, page 54 of The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans

Richard J. Evans, THE THIRD REICH AT WAR

From The Third Reich at War, p. 93:

  • “If human life counts for so little, will that not endanger the morality of the entire people?”

— Pastor Paul Gerhard Braune, director of a group of hospitals in the German city of Wurttemberg, in a letter of protest written to Reich Justice Minister Gurtner.

Braune was one of the first to detect a systematic Nazi plan to eliminate mentally ill patients in Polish hospitals, and one of the very few who were courageous enough to lodge written protests. Evans writes: “He was told that Hitler was unable to stop the programme.”

And here’s another brave soul: Theophil Wurm, Protestant Bishop of Wurttemberg, in a letter to Interior Minister Frick, July 1940:

  • “If so serious a matter as the care of hundreds of thousands of suffering . . . comrades in need of care is dealt with merely from the point of view of transient utility and decided upon in the sense of . . . brutal extermination, then a line has been drawn under an ominous development and Christianity is finally abandoned as a power . . .  that determines the individual and community life of the German people . . .  There is no stopping anymore on this slippery slope.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

EVERY MAN DIES ALONE, by Hans Fallada, p. 118

The book self is currently reading is very bleak. It’s set in World War II Berlin and tracks the lives of ordinary Berliners, all of them residents of one apartment building. The people have lived there since before Hitler, so naturally the population includes some Jews.

The very title of the book should serve as a warning. For a while self debated the wisdom of reading a book like this just before Thanksgiving. For a while she worried that the book would make her feel depressed, isolated, alienated. But the sobering reality is: reading this book makes self feel — paradoxically cheerful.

Reading a book like Every Man Dies Alone (The translation from the German is by Michael Hofmann, the publisher is Melville House) is tremendously eye-opening, even therapeutic. It makes self question every single complaint she’s made in the past week/month/year/decade.

Self can’t help thanking her lucky stars that she lives in California. Safeway is less than a mile away, which means it is very walkable, Hallelujah! As an American living in California, she is surrounded by a plethora of pleasurable distractions. Like animated movies (“Penguins of Madagascar” was great). Like fan fiction. Like “Gotham” which shows every Monday night. Consumerism does tend to dull the senses.

SPOILER ALERT

In the section self is on, a Jewish woman whose apartment has just been ransacked by her neighbors is given refuge by a retired judge. He gives her strict instructions not to go out, blah blah blah.

After spending a day in utter loneliness and mental anguish (Her husband is in prison, she has no one to talk to, etc etc), she decides to go out. Next thing you know, she runs into some brownshirts, tells them her name (Frau Rosenthal), tells them her husband is incarcerated somewhere, and that she has two sons.

What? What? What?

Oh boy, self can hardly wait to see what happens next. She is really worried for that retired judge!

Stay tuned.

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