Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Hazelnut is Black-Brown

Dr. Conrad Gröber

Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss is the start of a German folk song, and the next line may be changed to ... and black-brown is Conrad too, i.e., Dr. Conrad Gröber, late archbishop of Freiburg and during the Third Reich nicknamed "Der Braune Conrad". Red Baron wrote about Gröber’s disregard for #MeToo in an earlier blog.

On Monday I listened to a lecture by Professor Wolfgang Proske titled: Erzbischof Conrad Gröber: Was ist dran an den Nazi-Vorwürfen? (Archbishop Conrad Gröber: The Nazi accusations, what is it about?).

It is well accepted that Gröber was a Helfershelfer (accomplice) of the Nazi regime. Professor Proske documented Gröber’s attitude with several slides. The copyright of all those is with Professor Proske.

During the Freiburg Synod on April 25 to 28, 1933, the archbishop called for a collaboration with the new regime:

"The constitutional state (!) and the republic are outdated in the parliamentary form they have had heretofore. We had to fear [---] that socialism and communism would soon overthrow and dominate all of Germany, but they are interned or on the brink of flight*. Blatant atheism and proletarian free-thinking [---] are dead religiously. Today we witness flight, sudden immersion, and complete death. Something new irresistibly prepares its way instead" [---] "We must not and we cannot reject the new state but must affirm it with unwavering cooperation. [---] We must adapt. [---] We must get involved.” And Gröber added, “Neither need we change our goals nor our ways nor basically ourselves, at most we need to change our method”.
*By that time the Communist Party was already outlawed and apprehended members were either dead or interned in concentration camps. The Social Democrat Party was outlawed on June 22, 1933.

While visiting Baden’s capital Karlsruhe on October 10, 1933, Gröber had fully embraced the Nazi regime:

"I am not revealing a secret when I declare that in the course of the last few months the church administration in Freiburg (!) and the government in Karlsruhe (!) have had the most friendly relations. I also think that I am not revealing a secret to you or to the German people when I say that I am fully (!) behind the new government and the new Reich.”

In June of 1933, a discussion flared in Freiburg whether religious classes in schools should be started with the Hitler salute. Trying to avoid any clash between the Catholic church and the Nazi regime Gröber decided that the salute may be followed by a "Praised be Jesus Christ".

On July 14, 1933, the Nazis issued the Law against the foundation of new parties making the NSDAP the only legal organization. The new rulers nevertheless organized a propaganda campaign without precedent for the election of the Reichstag (German parliament) on November 12, 1933, hoping for an overwhelming majority. Happy about the Reichskonkordat (Treaty between the Holy See and the German Reich) that Archbishop Conrad Gröber had advised on and German Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen had signed in Rome on July 20, the Catholic bishops* hastened to call their lambs to the polls for a freudige Stimmabgabe für den Führer (joyful vote for the Führer). The result of the election gave a stunning 92.1% for the single, the Nazi ticket.
*The Catholic party, the Zentrum, had decided its self-dissolution on July 5.

In 1935 Gröber wrote about the resistance of Catholics against the new regime in a truly Lutheran way*:
*Luther always claimed that Christians must be righteous, obedient, faithful subjects and are obliged to obey their worldly authorities.

"The Church forbids [...] insubordination and subversion, i.e., the illegal elimination of an existing state order, just as Christ had refused to acquire the favor of the people by political means and to call for internal and external resistance by raising arms against the hated Roman rule. [...] Even authorities who abuse their rights do not readily lose their rights”.

Dr. Max Joseph Metzger
Not only resistance fighters but pacifists too were auszumerzende Pestbeulen am Volkskörper (pestilential boils on the body of people to be eradicated) in the eyes of the Nazi regime. When on October 14, 1943, the Catholic priest Max Joseph Metzger was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof for his pacifist convictions, Conrad Gröber sent one letter to the President of the People's Court, Roland Freisler, "I deeply regret the crime of which he is guilty". In a second letter to the Reichsjustizminister (Minister of Justice) Otto Georg Thierak, Gröbner recommended not to inflict the death penalty but rather to send Metzger to the front so he may die a Heldentod (hero’s death). Gröber’s letter delayed Metzger’s execution on the guillotine by six months.

In 1935 Gröber wrote in his diary:

"From 1935 on (I belonged) to the pronounced opponents of the system."

Was this the reason that Gröber’s homilies in Freiburg’s minster church drew such enormous crowds during the Nazi area? What he said - he was an excellent preacher - must have been enlightening in the brown times or even brightening, e.g., when in 1939 he tried to prove by a somewhat Kafkaesque argumentation that Jesus was a half-Jew "only":

"By his human nature, Christ descended from a Jewish tribe. But only on his mother's side. Begotten by the Holy Spirit he had no earthly father,[...]. So Christ was the child of a Jewish mother. And in this sense salvation, according to his own words, comes from the Jews. Otherwise, however, he is enormously different from all the others in the Jewish country of that time. Yes, he almost forms a noticeable, sharp contrast to them, well-founded in his person and teaching.»

During the war, Gröber became deeply concerned about his Church. In 1942 he wrote to Bishop Heinrich Wienken (Berlin):

"I leave it up to you to judge who disturbs the inner front more, the Gestapo (Secret State Police) or our clergy. It would be wiser to deal with the communists, who are a real danger to the inner front, instead of troubling priests, Catholics, and Christians".

Gröber always remained in the focus of the Gestapo, but during the war, the Nazi regime could neither attack the Church openly nor take the risk of creating martyrs. Gröber became "the most evil agitator against the Third Reich", and by 1940 he had developed into "the greatest enemy of the NSDAP and the National Socialist state", as the Minister of Culture of Baden noted. In February 1940 Reichspropagandaminister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary: "The Archbishop Gröber of Freiburg delivered a New Year's Eve speech that is clear-cut treason. We'll have to snatch the guy later."

The Gestapo summoned Gröber on several occasions but he survived all interrogations and the war. So he claimed “Soviel ist sicher, dass ich durch die geheime Staatspolizei und ihre Helfershelfer seelisch mehr gelitten habe als viele von denen, die in Dachau misshandelt wurden oder starben“ (One thing is sure. I have suffered more emotionally through the secret state police and their accomplices than many of those who were abused or died at Dachau).

In 1947 the former sponsoring member of the SS number 400609 of March 6, 1934, Conrad Gröber wrote to the governor of the French occupation zone:

"I never belonged to the party or any of its organizations."

What a hypocrite. May God have mercy on Conrad’s soul.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Havdalah and El Malei Rachamim

On November 9, 80 years ago, during the Reichskristallnacht, synagogues burned all over Germany. It was the beginning of a Jewish genocide without precedent. My German-speaking friends may read the story of the burning of Freiburg’s synagogue here.

Freiburg's Old Synagogue as seen by the painter Alexander Dettmar
On November 10, Red Baron went to Freiburg’s new synagogue for the celebration of Havdalah marking the end of Sabbath and, fitting to the occasion, the singing of El Malei Rachamim in remembrance of 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust:

God, full of mercy, who dwells in the heights, provide a sure rest upon the Divine Presence's wings, within the range of the holy and the pure, whose shining resemble the sky's, all the souls of the six million Jews, victims of the European Holocaust, who were murdered, slaughtered, burnt and exterminated for the Sanctification of the Name, by the German Nazi assassins and their helpers from the rest of the peoples. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect them forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and tie their souls with the rope of life. The Everlasting is their heritage, the Garden of Eden shall be their resting room, and they shall rest peacefully upon their lying place, they will stand for their fate at the end of days, and let us say: Amen.

In Wikipedia, we read: The ritual of Havdala involves lighting a special candle with several wicks, blessing a cup of wine, and smelling sweet spices.

While Irina Katz, chairwoman of Freiburg's Israelite Community,
lights the wicks of the candle, Cantor Moshe Hayoun sings the Havdalah.
Irina Katz is holding the Havdalah candle, and Moshe Hayoun is blessing the wine.
Havdala and El Malei Rachamim were followed by a remembrance of the Reichskristallnacht.

Corner of remembrance at Freiburg's new synagogue
Mayor Ulrich von Kirchbach presented a copy of the painting by Alexander Dettmar.

Mayor Ulrich von Kirchbach finding the right words
Next was my friend Andreas Meckel talking about: 80 Years Ago, Pogrom 1938, Accounting of a Governmental Crime.

Irina Katz introduces the speaker of the evening, Andreas Meckel.
By describing the events on November 9, 1938, and beyond, the speaker kept the memory alive. Thank you, Andreas, for your devotion to the cause.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Ehre, Freiheit, Vaterland !

Honor, freedom, and fatherland is the motto of Germany’s student fraternities (Deutsche Burschenschaften).

Red Baron’s apartment block neighbors two of Freiburg’s fraternities. Teutonia has its fraternity house besides, Franconia on the other side of the street. As a friendly gesture, these two Burschenschaften regularly invite their neighbors to their events as there are lectures, garden parties etc. Red Baron reported on a lecture in the past.

Last Saturday I followed an invitation to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the foundation of a Burschenschaft in Freiburg on October 10, 1818. At that time Freiburg had 10,000 inhabitants and there were 200 young men studying at the university. Today these figures are 220,000 and 20,000 and there are more women than men. For the celebration Teutonia as the organizing host had combined its efforts with those of the two other Freiburg fraternities Franconia and Saxonia-Silesia.

The initial Urburschenschaft (original fraternity) founded at the University of Jena on June 12, 1815, pursued the idea of abolishing the then existing compatriot fraternities and bringing all students together in a "general fraternity". As a side effect, following the Napoleon wars, the still existing 50 German states were to be abolished in favor of a united Germany. The colors adopted by the Urburschenschaft were black-red-gold that later became and are still the colors of Germany.

A warm welcome
When I arrived at the Historisches Kaufhaus I was greeted by a cordon of riot police protecting those willing to attend the celebration against about one hundred protesters of the Antifascist Left. They were shouting and drumming against the allegedly reactionary and elitist behavior of the Burschenschaften.

Inside at the historical Kaisersaal, all orators were anxious to stress that their fraternities stand firmly on the ground of Germany's democratic Grundgesetz (constitution). They were neither looking backward nor were they right-wing but fully devoted to a Germany in a united Europe and not to a German Europe. Burschenschaften were not nationalist but rather patriotic what the word patria (Vaterland) implies.

So apparently no one of the protestors had listened to or understood French President Macron’s critical words addressed to the self-proclaimed nationalist POTUS*: « Le patriotisme est l'exact contraire du nationalisme. Le nationalisme en est la trahison. En disant « nos intérêts d'abord et qu'importent les autres ! », on gomme ce qu'une Nation a de plus précieux, ce qui la fait vivre : ses valeurs morales. » ("Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying 'our interests first; who cares about the others! ', we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life — its moral values.")
*You know what I am? I am a nationalist.

We were listening to music
Keynote speaker in the morning was Professor Werner Münch, former Ministerpräsident (Governer) of the state of Saxonia-Anhalt, a right-wing Christian Democrat, and a harsh critic of Chancellor Merkel's rather liberal policy. The title of his talk: Freiheit und Rechtsstaatlichkeit in der Demokratie - Chancen und Gefahren (Freedom and the Rule of Law in Democracy - Opportunities and Dangers).

Professor Münch in full action
During his lecture my emotions were roller-coasting. Her rightly said that in Germany there is a mainstream of political correctness and those not following it feel excluded. But then all his examples to make his point were right-leaning, e.g., when he lamented that same-sex marriages in Germany now were considered as normal while at the same time traditional family values were eroded.

He continued to look at all controversial topics in Germany through his conservative glasses as there are refugees and immigration, energy transition, atomic energy and climate change, digitization, social media, and fake information etc. He was rubbing salt into hardly healed wounds of German society. Instead of building up a mutual understanding he was deepening the trenches between various ideologies in German society. He was just an angry old white man. While a few applauded him frenetically, others spent only muted applause, Red Baron did not applaud at all.

As one of the first guests Red Baron left for home disappointed and stirred. When I arrived at the cloakroom to fetch my coat a young Burschenschafter approached me recommending that I leave in a group or use the back door. Marauding leftists groups might attack single persons. With my head high I left the building through the front door and noticed that riot policemen and -women were not only protecting the perimeter of the Historisches Kaufhaus but were stationed throughout Freiburg. What an effort to protect 200 people against groups ready to use violence and what a big expenditure to assure the freedom of association and speech.

In the evening the colors of Freiburg's fraternities were still flying at the Historisches Kaufhaus.
At the right-hand side a few bored riot policemen and -women. Left, in front of the entrance
 a few fraternity students inhaling their last cigarettes before joining singing and drinking
 at the illuminated Kaisersaal on the first floor.
In the evening Red Baron felt reconciled when he went to the Festkommers (festive commercium) in the same building drinking beer and singing student songs. Although Rainer Wieland’s* fest speech on the future of Europe was too long I enjoyed the evening flushing with beer the old traditional songs as there are In allen guten Stunden (All those good hours), Burschen heraus (Come on fra students), and Freiheit, die ich meine (The freedom that I claim).
*Vice-president of the European Parliament

To my pleasant neighbors Teutonia and Franconia a strong vivat, crescat, floreat!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Obituary on America

Yesterday night Red Baron went to a reading of and a talk with Klaus Brinkbäumer, former editor in chief of the renowned magazine Der Spiegel. As you may imagine - even though people had to pay an entrance fee - the auditorium was fully packed with listeners eager to learn whether America will become great again and that in spite of the dark title of Brinkbäumer’s thick book: Nachruf auf Amerika.

In her usual competent and charming way, Friederike Schulte, director of the Carl-Schurz-Haus, introduced the speaker who had spent many years of his career as a journalist in New York traveling the States as correspondent of Der Spiegel.

To whet the appetite of the auditorium Brinkhäuser started by mentioning that he had interviewed Donald Trump at his NY Tower in 2004 but the outcome of the meeting had been so meager that he renounced to write an article about the real estate mogul. Then suddenly in 2008 Brinkbäumers telephone rang and Trump was on the other end of the line. He wanted to speak to the young journalist hopeful from Germany.

This second story actually was Brinkhäuser‘s beginning of his reading but then he continued going into the differences and similarities between the German and English language citing well-known examples of the wrong use of English words in German as there are the public viewing for watching television in a group or body bag for a lady's purse.  He stretched Mark Twain’s complaint about the terrible German language and read about neologisms like Handy in German for a cell phone. According to him, Wellness is a German neologism too, i.e., a short form of "well being" and "fitness".

By that time some unrest had developed within the audience. Suddenly a distinguished lady got hold of a microphone and told the speaker - as only a distinguished lady can do - that she knew the States well and in coming here had expected to be informed about the aftermath of the midterm elections.

Suddenly both reading and the talk were forgotten and the speaker and his audience entered into a lively discussion. While Brinkbāumer mentioned that Hillary‘s flying over Wisconsin had been a big mistake* I could get my message in that Madison was Freiburg‘s sister city and that Wisconsin now has a Democrat governor.
*Red Baron still remembers, watching television in the early morning hours (CET) on November 9, 2016, when the results of Wisconsin finally tipped the balance in favor of Donald Trump.

In his answers to the questions from the audience, Brinkbāumer often remained vague and imprecise. When he said that Trump‘s tax reform privileged the already rich so they may consume even more he forgot to tell that above all the reform lowered the US corporate tax inviting American firms to repatriate jobs and money.

 I said that the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller by Jeff Sessions‘s successor Matthew Whitaker would disturb the US system of checks and balances or - as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put it - even evoke a major constitutional crisis. When Brinkbäumer answered that the firing of Mueller was not excluded but in view of the consequences rather unlikely I, like Faust‘s famulus, was no wiser than before.

Somewhat disappointed I left the auditorium.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Luther and No End

Last Sunday night Red Baron was at the Konzerthaus (concert hall) to listen to the one and only performance of the pop oratorio Luther - Das Projekt der tausend Stimmen in Freiburg.

Rather than 1000 voices, here at the Konzerthaus we  listened to five local choirs with just 300 singers aged between 6 and 85 years clustered on stage. A permanent ensemble of fourteen professional singers and six instrumentalists who had toured Germany performing the oratorio throughout the Luther year 2017 completed the setup.

The participation of as many local lay persons as possible is the main aim of composer Dieter Falk and librettist Michael Kunze. So the music, a mixture of gospel, soul, pop, rock, and old church music, was simple, easy listening, and repetitive.

Introducing the singers. Sitting in row five I couldn't get them all in my photo.
First Mayor and Freiburg's culture man, Ullrich von Kirchbach, welcomes the audience.
Indulgence preacher Johann Tetzel picturing the tortures of hell.
Indulgence for sale. Note the nearly filled money box.
Enter Martin Luther.
Emperor and playboy, Charles V, is bored by the religious quarrel.
Luther confidently holding the letter to the Romans 3:28 and quoting:
For we reckon a man to be justified by faith alone without deeds of law
while the original Greek text leaves out the word alone.
Some of the professional actors
with little Luther recruited locally and trained on the job.
Post-finale: Singers and actors are waving and clapping hands with the audience.
So in the end, the audience was invited to clap its hands and sing the catchy melodies in a medley.

All in all, it was a pleasant evening.

For your listening experience here are three trailers on YouTube of performances in DortmundBerlin, and Munich.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

E pluribus unum?

This morning I read an article by Florian Harms on German T-online news headed, “Aus vielen eines”. This is the proud motto of the United States in Latin adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. Sixty-seven years ago in school, I learned, “The USA is a  melting pot of people”. In the 1950s America was the measure of all things in Germany.

The author continued his article on the outcome of the midterm elections in Latin, “Tempi passati”, times have changed. The States are deeply divided not only between Republicans and Democrats but between "the poor against the rich, the whites against blacks, the whites against Latinos, the ultra-religious against atheists, city residents against rural dwellers, Trump admirers against Trump despisers." And the dividing ditch is deepening by the abuse of the media, fake news, and hate speech. It is to be feared that the results of the election with a divided Congress will accelerate the transformation of E pluribus unum into E pluribus collidum.

Two years of Trump rule saw the cancellation of balanced international agreements where POTUS steamrolled over diplomatic conventions. We had the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, the attacks against the European Union and NATO, the torpedoing of the laboriously negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran, and we are waiting for an extension of the starting trade war with more “great tariffs”.

In my opinion, the Democrats' win of the House is a Pyrrhic victory. Back to the wall, POTUS will now fight, and with him, his loyal supporters, increasing internal and external political tensions. A president can veto any legislation passed by Congress, and it requires a 75% vote to overturn his veto. Stormy times* lie ahead.
*No allusion to Daniels

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Tariffs Are the Greatest

On October 23, the Carl-Schurz-Haus invited to one of its successful luncheon talks. Last December Red Baron already reported on an interesting presentation on “Shielding Democracies from Hacking and Misinformation”.

On the inviting poster, I had rather recognized Bill Clinton but the following twitter indeed is that of the present POTUS.

"Without being well aware, Trump is bound in his ideas of international commercial trade to a reasoning from the Stone Age of economics," as Oliver Landmann, professor of macroeconomics at the University of Freiburg, wrote.

Another excusable slip was the wrong orthography of Schurz on Professor Tim Krüger’s introductory slide. Only in German. the "z” is sharp so that for the reason of pronounciation the French too must write quartz instead of simply Quarz as in German.

Professor Krüger started his talk by showing how the economic structural change has irreversibly hit the States over the last 160 years. Agriculture has become an economically negligible quantity while the employment in the service sector is steadily increasing. The industrial production in the States leveled off during the 1960ies and is on the decline since then.

Why is POTUS so excited about tariffs? Does he have in mind the decrease of people employed in industrial production as shown in the above graphic? Or is the reason for his excitation, “Ich sage nur China, China, China”, words our former Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger spoke as early as September 1969, while hammering with his knuckles on the speaker’s desk.
*I only say China, China, China.

The trade deficit with China indeed is huge
POTUS has accused the European Union of unfair trade practices too. Indeed, I became uneasy when I read that American import duties on European cars are only 2.5% while the EU charges car imports from the States with a 10% tariff. When in the past those percentages were negotiated the 10% were rather aimed to protect the European auto industry against car imports from Japan while the US with their big internal market for cars did not care.

Professor Krüger’s slide spoke for itself, but then he explained that the existing tariffs are the result of negotiations and compromises between trading countries in the framework of the World Trade Organisations (WTO) while in an ideal world there are no tariffs at all.

The US levies its highest duties on milk and milk products, pickups, sugar, and tobacco ranging from 20 to 50% while the EU imposes its highest tariffs on meat increasing from 21% for chicken and 26% for pork to 67% for beef. Although agriculture adds little to a national economy it still is politically extremely important. Nations must assure the feeding of their people and to this end protect their farming industries.

It still seems that the States when signing the last WTO trade agreement were more generous judging from the number of goods originating from the EU and imported into the States being exempt from any duty.

The world economy is dynamic and developing rapidly. So international trade agreements are already obsolete when they come into force. Updating existing treaties is a tedious process in particular with many countries involved in the negotiations.

WTO’s Doha Development Agenda started in 2001 and was supposed to update the existing trade agreement by 2005. But negotiations are still on and there is no end in sight. This is why POTUS prefers bilateral deals. Indeed although some punitive tariffs are already in force talks between the US and China, resp. the EU are presently taking place.

Here are the basic principles of the WTO. They explicitly allow punitive measures by one country in the case of unfair trade.

However, it seems that the States should reconsider their punitive tariffs for in the past those turned out to be detrimental for the national economy as shown on the following slide.

The impact of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act on the US economy
was eventually revoked by the Reciprocal Tariff Act of 1934.
Note the importance of midterm elections.
At the end of the talk - Red Baron sitting as usual in the front row (5th from the left) for better listening and watching - had learned a lot although he did not taste the luncheon lasagne but had a big plate of green salad instead.