Friday, June 28, 2019

A Tropical Heatwave

"We are having a heat wave," as the great Ella once sang so much better than Marilyn, "A tropical heat wave" in Central Europe. Here is the weather map of last Wednesday for my American friends conveniently marked in Fahrenheit.

©Weather BELL Analytics
In Freiburg we measured 37⁰ Celsius, so we did not quite make it to the 100 ⁰F.

The heat wave is caused by hot winds blowing along the eastern flank of a low-pressure area located and stationary over the Atlantic. So the heat will continue to flow in, although somewhat attenuated, over the coming weekend.

Last Friday, on the occasion of the climate summit in Bonn, the Badische Zeitung printed a graphic showing the development of summer temperatures in Germany from 1881 to today. Below the picture, the laconic headline, "Climate Conference Not Moving".

©Badische Zeitung
Since there are still people around not accepting the human-made climate change, German journalists upgraded their language. Instead of writing about Klimawandel (climate change) that always has existed, they now call the present situation Klimakrise (climate crisis)

Yesterday I was in Zürich to hand over Elisabeth’s death certificate to our bank. It was hot, but the trains were air-conditioned. Only on my last lag from Basel to Freiburg, I had no (?) surprise.

The air-conditioning systems on the German ICE-trains simply cannot cope with the present temperatures. This happened yesterday in my carriage. But instead of locking the access to the wagon, the personnel arrived with a reel sticking tape and scotched off the seats instead. What a waste of time and above all what pollution by plastic tape not to be reused.

My second surprise. Instead of using German English like when thanking the mostly delayed traveler over the speaker, "Senk ju for träveling wis Deutsche Bahn!", they had translated the message, "Klimaanlage defekt - Dieser Wagen darf nicht benutzt werden", somehow correctly, "Air conditioning not working - this carriage must not be used."

Found on Facebook
Here comes the “cooler” side of the present heat wave. A man in Potsdam rode his scooter completely naked. Otherwise, he had committed no traffic offense wearing his helmet correctly. The friendly policemen eventually convinced him to put on his shorts.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Recently a mention of the Madagascar Plan in the press reminded me of the material I had prepared on the topic a long time ago. Here comes the blog:

The first Zionist Congress in Basel on August 31, 1897, adopted a resolution calling for the "creation of a home in Palestine secured under public law for those Jews who cannot or do not want to assimilate elsewhere."

Dreaming Theodor Herzl
In Basel's Stadtkasino, a good 200 delegates elected the Austrian publicist Theodor Herzl as the first president of the newly founded Zionist World Organization. This gave secular Jewish nationalism - propagated by Herzl in his book "Der Judenstaat." (1896) - an internationally anchored network. The aim was to counter the rampant anti-Semitism in Europe with the project of an independent state.

After the conclusion of the Basel Congress, Herzl wrote: "I founded the Jewish state in Basel. If I say that out loud today, a burst of universal laughter would answer me. Perhaps in five years, at least in fifty, everyone will see it."

It took 50 years indeed. On May 14, 1948, following a U.N. resolution, the the independent state of Israel on Palestinian territory was proclaimed, and that is when all the trouble started.

In 1922, Great Britain had received the mandate for Palestine from the League of Nations, the predecessor of the U.N. The British faced a difficult task as they were to fulfill the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that on the one hand, committed them to promote a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. On the other hand, they were also to protect the rights of existing non-Jewish communities in their mandated territory.

Paul de Lagarde
But long before Herzl's Judenstaat, the question of what to do with the Jewish minority in a Christian occident had stirred the mind of theologist and linguist Paul de Lagarde. The Professor in Göttingen wrote in 1885 in an essay über nach Madagaskar auszuschaffende Juden (about Jews to be deported to Madagascar). As a representative of ethnic anti-Semitism, he stressed the point that because of Madagascar's isolated situation, a mixing of Jews with other peoples could almost be ruled out.

Later Lagarde's idea was taken up by British publisher Henry Hamilton Beamish. He was the founder of the anti-Semitic "The Britons" organization. In his journals, Beamish demanded the expulsion of Jews to the African island of Madagascar from the twenties onwards. "The Briton" flyer mocked that the problem for the Zionists was "solved," Madagascar offered space "for 100 million". Beamish was also allowed to spread his ideas in the N.S. press under the name "Der Engländer" (The Englishman). There he wrote, "Where is the paradise that allows all Jews to live in peace and joy? This is Madagascar."

Julius Streicher's anti-Semitic hate paper "Der Stürmer" (translated as The Stormer, Attacker, or Striker), addressed the Madagascar Plan at an early stage - sooner than the Nazi leadership dealt with it. As early as 1933, the paper was already celebrating the idea of "depopulating the island and housing the Jews there." To prevent the escape from the Great Ghetto, "fast and vigilant police ships would have to circle the island permanently."

"Prudently, they omitted to ask us, the Malagasy."
The trunk is marked Wien-Madagaskar (Vienna-Madagascar).
A caricature from 1938 shows a desperate Jew pressed against a globe in the typical degrading Nazi pictorial language. Above the cynical headline: "Madagascar - The End."

Later in 1940, the leader of Referat D III, i.e., the Judenreferat in Ribbentrop's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Franz Rademacher, was the first to draw up a roughly sketched Madagascar plan. He presented it to his superior Martin Luther, "The solution to the Jewish question can be found within the framework of peace with France, through a revival of the Madagascar plan."

Luther took the mad plan with a sympathetic attitude. He even saw the possibility of propagandistically selling those millions of forced deportations as "Germany's magnanimity." After all, a state would be given to the Jews.

Soon almost all top Nazi functionaries, including Eichmann, Göring, Rosenberg, and Heydrich, were interested in the distant African island. Hitler, too, demanded that "Madagascar be used to house Jews under French responsibility" and initiated Mussolini into the idea.

Alfred Rosenberg at a Nazi party rally.
As early as 1927, the Nazi chief ideologist, Alfred Rosenberg, praised Paul de Lagarde, as "prophet of the new world view and co-builder of the national state."

Commemorative stamp for Reinhard Heydrich
issued in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
one year after he had been assassinated in Prague.
Following the infamous Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, where Heydrich outlined that European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), the Madagascar plan was paper waste.

After the war, Franz Rademacher disappeared, but in 1952 was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for aiding and abetting 1300 Serbian Jews. Followed a typical post-war biography of an N.S. offender, i.e., an early release and a career in the BND, Germany's FBI.

In 1968 Rademacher was still mourning his Madagascar idea, "If it had been realized, we wouldn't have a Middle East crisis today." Really?

N.B. Most of the pictures and much of the material are drawn from articles published in Der Spiegel.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Blue Skies Above Baden

The Graphic Collection of Freiburg’s Augustinermuseum presently presents gouaches and watercolors of Johann Martin Morat that he painted around 1820 in Baden and Switzerland.

Initially, Red Baron had no intention to visit the exhibition until Professor Jörg Stadelbauer of the Alemannisches Institut offered an Exkursion in das Bild, Freiburg aus der Ferne, i.e., an excursion into paintings showing Freiburg from a distance. In his talk, Professor Stadelbauer started with a photo from 1920 and then went back in history.

Here is a photo of Freiburg at a distance from 1920
with the Schönberg in the background.
Here the same motif painted by Karl Hauptmann in 1910.
A wood engraving of 1887.
Another famous painter from Freiburg, Emil Lugo, did not finish his sketch in 1859.
Another engraving by Rudolf Follenweider around 1820.
Here is the line of sight that all the pictures have in common
drawn on to a topographical map of 1883.
Michael Sauter painted how he imagined Freiburg may have looked
from a distance during the French siege of 1713.
On the right-hand side the Lorettoberg and its chapel.
Here is the first painting of Johann Martin Morat showing vineyards in the foreground.
.The same motif showing a completely different foreground.
On this view, the lecturer and his audience entered into a lively discussion:
Where and what is this house
 that Johann Martin Morat had so prominently placed in the foreground?
Today's view of the Minster church and the Schönberg

Monday, June 10, 2019


This blog will introduce splinters. Splinters are photos or events for which writing a whole blog would be like taking a sledgehammer for cracking a nut*.
*The German proverb is "Mit Kanonen auf Spatzen schießen" meaning taking a cannon to shoot sparrows.

In his show, my favorite Late Night host Stephen Colbert subsumes those fragments under the title Meanwhile. My splinters are mostly funny, too, but sometimes will complete or update the information contained in previous blogs.


Remember the Holbeinpferd? The foal had to lose weight, but removing the layers of paint took longer than initially thought for the total weight of its Speckmantel (wrapped up bacon) turned out to be 180 kg.

As an example of splinters, I am showing you some photos of the "cleaned" Holbeinpferdchen.

Admire the delicate structure of the concrete surface (©Kunz/Resetz)
The cleaned foal was put back into place on Monday, June 3, but already on June 5, it showed the Dannebrog, the Danish flag. Was this because of the Danish national holiday on June 5, or was it an expression of joy that the Socialist party had won the national election the same day? Nobody knows.


Last week Red Baron was on tour with Freiburg's Museumsgesellschaft. I previously wrote blogs about those annual trips, e.g., to Burgundy or Alto Adige. This year we traveled to Schwäbisch Hall, and on our way, we visited the Maulbronn monastery. Here are some splinters from this trip.


Two pressed persons are in desperate need to return their drinks.

At the Scheffelhof, a restaurant at Maulbronn where our group had lunch, this sign pointed to the restrooms.

The surprise, however, came when washing my hands. Water was flowing from an open faucet resembling a water spring. Is this a reminiscence of the Cistercian monks who founded the Maulbronn monastery in 1147? For this monastic order flowing water was a condition sine qua non when choosing the sites for their monasteries.


From the Würth* Collection at Schwäbisch Hall: Here is a painting by the young Pablo Picasso at the age of 19 in Paris without a sou (penny). In the absence of an expensive canvas, Picasso painted an expressionist scene on the cover of a wooden box.
*The Würths made all their money on screws, nuts, and bolts.

From the Ensemble Center Pompidou and Museum Frieder Burda at Baden-Baden: Here is Picasso's self-portrait huile sur toile one year before his death. The painting genius of the 20th century and lover or rather user of women was always afraid to die too early before having achieved what he had still on his mind.

Picasso became 92, and while he was painting his last self-portrait unshaven and with eyes wide open and full of fear, he was possibly thinking back with nostalgia to his rose period of 1904 to 1906. Raoul Dufy painted les 30 ans ou la vie en rose in 1901 on display at the Würth Collection at Schwäbisch Hall.


The Reclam publishers in Leipzig are still well known for their wohlfeil (cheap) booklets with classic texts. Generations of students read in class Reclam booklets of Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, Goethe's Faust, Shakespeare's Hamlet*, and writings of many other classical authors. Some of those booklets were so popular that in 1912, Reclam deployed coin machines in Germany filled with brochures of their most favorite authors. Here is a revived Reclam-Bücher-Automat, as seen in the lobby of our Hotel Hohenlohe in Schwäbisch Hall.
*in the famous Tieck and Schlegel translation