A Program about ‘Time management’ on ‘Deutsche Welle’

First of all here is what ‘Deutsche Welle’ is all about:

 

Deutsche Welle at a glance

“Our Mission: Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcaster. We convey a comprehensive image of Germany, report events and developments, incorporate German and other perspectives in a journalistically independent manner. By doing so we promote understanding between cultures and peoples. We simultaneously also provide access to the German language. . . .”

And here now is the link to the video about time management. Peter and I watched it this morning and liked it very much. It shows how important it is to have some kind of balance in your life to keep in ‘Good Shape’.

 

https://www.dw.com/en/in-good-shape-time-management/av-49961638

 

“A Ukulele Opera…” by Joe Carli

 

 

A Ukulele Opera…Act #3.

Image result for Two lovers embracing.

 

Enrico and Rosaline.

Joe, the narrator tells of Enrico’s story..:

“You see, he had only just landed at Outer Harbour in the year of 1939 when he was immediately informed that being an “enemy alien”, of Italian extraction he would be interned…but the company he gained work with as a stone-mason/bricklayer gave him a choice..; He could be interned with the rest of the Italians in the Riverland, or he could go to Darwin to do work that the company had contracts for there on the hospital and the wharfs…He chose the latter…but then when he was working there, Darwin got bombed by the Japanese and he had to make his way back down the centre to here with us other Italians.. as fate would have it…

“Guiseppi!…how would your luck be” Enrico exclaimed to me when he got here, “ I leave Italy to get away from Mussolini, and then I come here to get bombed out by Tojo!….where does one go for a bit of peace in this world?”

Anyway…here he was and here he would stay….at least for the duration…and ..like the rest of us, he wasn’t very happy with the option.”

Joe, the narrator continues..He reads from a sheet of paper….

“Now at last I am free!

Off through the scrub I run

Where sheep tracks only are seen

Nothing but bush and sun

Till all of a sudden I come

Out where an axe swings free.

Cutting, for love and money

The axe bites deep in a tree…”

“A passing moment does not a lifetime make, but a moment’s passion can be a lifetime’s mistake….or..good fortune.  A life brought into being by the strangest union in the most unusual chances and circumstances one could imagine. He from the north of Italy, in the Dolomites, she from the ‘heartbreak country’ of the Murray Mallee in Australia..

They met on the banks of the Murray River, Enrico and Rosaline. He there to collect a truck-load of water for the camp, she on an evening ambulation from Portee Station where she worked as a servant girl.

He being able to speak barely a word of English, she not being able to understand a single word of Italian..But they met and exchanged pleasantries as only such ethnically diverse  strangers could.”

He asked (in Italian) if they ate well at the big house…;

“Mangiano bene nella grande casa?”

She replied ( in English)..:

“ The evening light falling on the river spreads a certain calm over the waters…don’t you think?”

He was a stone-mason by trade.

She desired to be a poet.

They got on well, and in the intervening months, while Enrico’s English improved immensely, so did their congenial meetings..by now a regular, mutually agreeable thing. As the Spring weather became more and more pleasant and the days longer, Enrico would linger at his duties of pumping water into the tanker longer than was allocated by his roster and he was questioned by Joe on his arrival back at the camp..

“What do you get up to there by the riverside to be away for so long?” Joe asked.

“ I listen to the birds sing and observe the calming light on the waters”..Enrico answered.

“And this singing birdy you listen to..what is her name?” Joe cynically responded..

“Rosaline.” Enrico smiled.

Indeed, They did eventually wed..the youthful composer of the above doggerel ; Rosaline Thomas and the refugee Italian ; Enrico Corradini (whom she would call; “Ricky”). And as she describes her running through the scrub to meet with her lover, I can now ask, knowing the ending of her story ; Was she running to embrace life, or running from a desolate lifestyle?..And Enrico, the refugee , HE we know was running from hunger and war, but did he realise then as he surely did later, what and where was he running to?”

Enrico arrived at the Charcoal camp a week after Artini’s attemped escape and drowning in the Murray River. So the whole camp was in the doldrums over that affair. There was little appetite for getting to know any new arrivals at the moment..the whole camp ran on “automatic pilot” and Enrico was given the easy job of just going to the river twice a week to get a tanker full of water. It was on one of these trips that he met Rosaline.

The “unofficial” story surrounding their meeting and courtship is recorded in the family circle..It seems the erstwhile Enrico was out trapping rabbits one day and he got lost..only to stumble onto the dusty bush camp where, coincidently, the young Rosaline was in attendance to her mother ; Grace Thomas, who was expecting her fifth child. Rosaline’s father, having difficulty understanding the gesticulating “eyetalian”, instructed Rose to show him the track leading to the presumed wood-cutters camp from whence he came.

In truth, the information on the whereabouts of that family’s camp-site away in the bush from another charcoal-burning camp a couple of kilometres from Fox’s camp, and the fact that Rosaline would be at that camp-site on such a time of the month was passed to Enrico on one of their “accidental meetings” at the river’s edge..the trapping of rabbits was Enrico’s own innovation.

A week or so later, Enrico turned up again, rabbit traps in hand and lost again..the same procedure as last time was followed and that was that, until again..another week later Enrico shows up again, lost while trapping rabbits…this time, as Rosaline is leading the gentleman away, Richard Thomas scratched the back of his head in thought…he turned to his wife..:

“You know..that eyetie must be the worst trapper in the world…he’s never got one single bunny!”

Joe continues…;

“The camp that Rosaline’s parents were at was a couple of kilometres from our camp and it was run by a Slavic man named Jack…It was a rough camp of desperates and opportunists, with many accidents at the charcoal pit heads..for if those burns were not attended to or done right, they could suddenly explode into a shower of flame and sparks and set the whole camp aflame…Here, I will let Rosaline explain it from this poem she wrote of everyday life there..

“Also down in the camp,

The man are up and about,

Somebody waves a flagon,’

And another raises a shout!

Then a glass of wine is downed,

To help one through the day . . .”

So you can see, there was not much disciplined routine over in that camp and that is why Richard Thomas moved his family away into the scrub and pitched tent away from the men, as Mrs. Thomas and the young girls were the only women and children in the camp…So when Rosaline told Enrico she was going to stay with her mother because of the mother’s pregnancy, that developed into the occurrence of her mother having a miscarriage and Rosaline had to stay longer to both help with her mother’s recuperation and the schooling of the younger ones..so Enrico got to know Rosa and her family quite well over that time, with the family sometimes coming to play cards at the Italian camp..and then when Rosaline went back to work at Portee station, he resumed his job of going to the river to get water..and there he continued his courtship of Rosaline.”

Joe continues..:

“Now, the war is coming to an end..it won’t be long before the camp will be broken up and all these men will be able to go back to their dreams…but I wonder if those dreams will now become something different?….”

One afternoon, on the banks of the Murray River, Enrico and Rosaline sit talking of the future…The war is near an end and the Camp is due to be broken up…The Italians will be able to go back to their former plans and dreams…Enrico says to Rosaline:

“Rosa..what are we to do?…I will soon be sent back to the city..what will you do?”

Rosaline sat quietly looking over the river waters…then she spoke..not exactly TO Enrico, but to the quiet atmosphere around them both..:

“There’s an old German hand there at Portee who, whenever he has to cross the river on the punt to go to work on the other side, would pick up a small stone, a pebble, carry it across and place it on the other side….I once asked him why he did it….he was at first reluctant to tell me..but I persisted…

“Well, girlie”…( that’s what they all call young women out here)….”it is my own little thing…I think of the small stone as my soul,…you see, I cannot swim..and so I take the stone, carry it, and if or when I reach safely the solid ground on the other side, I leave it dzair….when I come back, I do the same”

“What happens if the punt starts to sink?” I asked.

“Dzen I will try to throw it with all my might, to the other side….and I think if it reaches there , then  I feel I too will reach there…”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“Dzen, I think I vill be lost in the waters of the river…” Rosaline stopped abruptly and looked to Enrico with a sadness in her eyes..“Will I too be lost in the waters of the river, Enrico?” she asked. “Will my life’s hope be as desperate as that little pebble..nothing but a hope of something better?”

Enrico took her hands and looked deep into her eyes…he then asked the question he had been wanting to ask for a long time….

“Will you come to the city to be with me, Rosa?…Come to the city and we can soon be married…if you will have me.”

“O’, Ricky..how can we marry?…you see where my family lives..how my family lives…in a bag tent in the Mallee..I have nothing, you have little as you have said yourself..How can we start a life together?”

Enrico clasps her hands tight..

“But, my love..soon I will be back in the city..I have a job promised to me by Joe..he is a builder there..I will make my money..if you can find work there, we can both start a new life together..”

Rosaline brightens up at the new prospect, this new hope…

“Dr. Hackendorf and his wife are good friends of the owners of Portee Station and the Doctor has said many times that I could work and board with them if I ever decide to come to the city to live…I’ll see if that offer still stands”…

Enrico moves to kneel in front of the sitting Rosaline takes hold of her hands and sings this song to her..:

“El canto della sposa”..:

“The house of my darling,

Is all made of bags,

But for me who wishes to go there ,

It is a palace of silk..”  (etc.see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-KqXtc0CFo )

Afterwards, they both go back to the camp, where they find the men there in an uproar at the news that Gemano’s fiancé has survived the war and has written a letter to Gemano…He rushes toward Enrico when he sees he and Rosaline arrive back from the river in the water truck…The opening music of Verdi’s “Requiem Dies Irae “  strikes up in the background ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79tAD1UZ7m0

Gemano is waving a letter and crying out to the sky..

“She lives!!…she lives!!…my love is alive!…ahh, ha ha! ..she lives..” he drops to his knees and sobs.. “We have won, Enrico..we have both beaten death…for now…my love lives..she lives”

And he holds the letter up to Enrico who takes it gently and reads it..:

“Oh Gemano…truly you are fortunate…yes…she lives..” Enrico pauses, his brow furrows as he reads on..” She says here she now has a child…born during the war…”

“Yes, yes..I saw that..and she says she will only come to me if I accept the child as well.. what say you, Enrico…what do you think..”

“Do you still love her, Gemano?”

“Truly…more than I could say…so much more than I could say..”

“Then you must accept them both, Gemano…for they are both needing you as well..and who can say what has happened to those we left behind in that war…both you and I remember the last great war…so much killing of the young and old and raping of the women…the armies went up and down those valleys taking and using everything in their path so that none were spared..or none would survive..”…and he hands the letter back to Gemano…who takes it tenderly, folds it away into the envelope and places it into a top pocket…he then stands and takes out the old photograph he has of her..the stage darkens with a spotlight only on Gemano…he sings his song to the tune once again of ; “O’ mio babbino caro”…(I would also like to hear the soft strains of the ukulele mixed in tune with the symphonic music) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f59v8r1CBIo&list=PLabSmKXr9e_dZYdM61YNlQ40pRjjBPjYR&index=2&t=0s

“Now I will see my Sophia, (he holds her picture in front)

I still hold her picture so dear..

We will kiss at the station once more,

And I’ll put a white rose in her hair.

Just like this one I see here, (touches photo)

Now she is back I will kiss her,

Now she is back I shan’t miss her,

Once I see my Sophia,

I can’t believe she will be here,

I so want her to call my name,

Now I will see my Sophia,

Now I will hold my Fidanza,

We will kiss once more at the station,

I will put a rose in her hair, (Gemano strokes the picture lovingly)

I can hardly believe she will be here,

I so want her near me,

I will soon see my Sophia,

My love, My darling, my dear.”

I will soon see my Sophia,

My love, my darling, my dear.”

The music continues as the light slowly dims on Gemano, standing with his head bowed …

Joe the Narrator takes up the story…

“Ah…Gemano and Sophia…they did get married…by proxy..he here, she there in the old country and they finally joined together later when the ship brought her and her child to a new life here in Australia…and they had more children.

The camp was broken up not long after, and the men went back to their trades and work in the city and elsewhere…and look (Joe points to a heap of sacks left in a jumble at the back of the stage set ) there..in amongst the left over rubbish and sacks on their old life here..(He bends to pick up Gemano’s ukulele..it is battered and damaged and a couple of strings are broken) and see here..Gemano’s ukulele…what brought so much song and joy to so many nights in the camp..left to decay away with their memories…(he tosses it onto the heap of sacks) ..oh well..perhaps best it be so…so many dark days to walk away from…best it be so…”

Joe walks briskly off stage, whistling as he does so to the background music of “O’ mio babbino caro”…..

 

 

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5 thoughts on “A Ukulele Opera…Act #3.”

  1. Thanks for this link, Joe:

    I like this music very much. And my intention is now to study all three parts of your Ukelele Opera. Some of it I read already and it makes me want to read and understand more! And there seem to be lots of refernces to great music . . . .

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    1. Hello, Uta….it was late last night when I saw your comment..now I have time to answer better…Yes, the music is the thing..I wanted to orignally join in with someone who could read and write music to do a real opera rather than a “reading opera”…but coming from the trades, I had no reliable contacts to work with…so I had to borrow music and songs where I could and re-write words for them…But the story of those people is the thing, as it happened to some of my relatives in that very camp I write about..indeed, some of the “players” in the opera are my rlatives…It is a tale that had to be put down for posterity…good or bad, it had to be put on paper…Thanks for yours and Peter’s support, Uta..it is much appreciated

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  2. Thank you so much for this answer, Joe. Yes, I thought that the story is based on some of your relatives experiences. My impression is, that Australia does produce a great number of very talented people in the arts. Joe, that you put your story not just on paper but also on the internet, may inspire some people to use it in a creative way as for instance in a ‘real’ opera! You did well, to try to put this story down for posterity. 🙂

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  3. That generation were tenacious buggers…but I suppose coming from a great depression and two WWars, they had been through so much that a little more was not going to break them all…The ‘Gemano” in the story lamenting for his fiance back in Italy was a true event…where he came tto Aust’ with my father to get established but with the war, he didn’t hear anything of her for the duration..he didn’t know if she was alive or dead..so you can imagine the relief at the news…ah…I wonder if this new generation coming on has the “dig in and hold ground” tenacity of those of the past…I think there are going to be a lot of very lonely people around in the years to come…

Is Our Obsession With Appearance Ruining Relationships?

“. . . living life to the full is far more than looking pretty.”
I do agree with this. In my opinion the whole post is very well written and I want to reblog it! ‘

Author -Carole Parkes

Appearance

Most of us like to look our best for special occasions, like parties, weddings, and Christmas. We believe our looks dictate how others see us and we’ll sometimes go to extreme lengths to improve our appearance and prevent our looks from fading. This line of thought has spawned a huge, billion-pound beauty industry and it is often claimed this trend has gone too far.

Most parts of our body can be altered by surgery or exercise,  Our skin can be peeled and plumped, teeth improved and whitened, and our eyesight corrected with laser surgery so we don’t have to wear glasses. These are only a few treatments and procedures available, and while some people have achieved a slightly more youthful look by employing these methods, others have not. A great deal depends on the skill of the surgeon. They don’t all have the same skills.

While some facial procedures…

View original post 521 more words

Landgericht, Die Dokumentation

https://www.zdf.de/dokumentation/dokumentation-sonstige/landgericht-106.html

Die Geschichte des Berliner Richters Kornitzer und seiner Familie, die das Fernsehspiel “Landgericht” erzählt, beruht auf wahren Erlebnissen: Es ist die Geschichte der Familie Michaelis.

Beitragslänge:
35 min

 

Datum:

 

Sprachoptionen:
UT
Verfügbarkeit:
Video verfügbar bis 30.01.2022

I think all the following is enormously interesting. This is why I copy all of it!!

 

“Die Autorin hat sich auf die Suche begeben und Zeitzeugen gefunden. Unter ihnen ist auch Ruth Barnett, die Tochter von Robert und Luise Michaelis, die aus erster Hand von der Geschichte ihrer Familie berichten kann.

Es gab nur einen Ausweg: Die Ausreise

In den frühen 1930er Jahren stand Robert Michaelis am Beginn einer Karriere am Landgericht Berlin. Im April 1933 wurde er Opfer der Willkür der neuen Machthaber, die Nationalsozialisten warfen ihn aus dem Amt. Verheiratet mit einer “Nicht-Jüdin”, entschloss sich der Familienvater zunächst in Deutschland zu bleiben. Erst nach dem Novemberpogrom 1938 sah er nur noch einen Weg: die Ausreise.

Richter Robert Michaelis 1939 auf dem Schiffsweg nach Shanghai
Richter Robert Michaelis 1939 auf dem Schiffsweg nach Shanghai
Quelle: ZDF

Während die Kinder Martin und Ruth, “Halbjuden” in der Diktion der Nazis, im Rahmen von Kindertransporten nach England geschickt wurden, gelangte Robert Michaelis im Juni 1939 auf dem Seeweg nach Shanghai. Die chinesische Hafenstadt war die letzte Anlaufstelle für schutzsuchende Juden. Fast 30 000 Verfolgte überlebten hier das “Dritte Reich”. Drei Jahre nach Kriegsende kehrte Michaelis zurück nach Deutschland, in ein Land, das in Trümmern lag, in dem die Menschen nur nach vorn, nicht aber zurück schauen wollten.

Der Jurist war dabei übrigens ein Ausnahmefall, denn nur einer von zwanzig Exilanten wagte die Rückkehr in die frühere Heimat. Verglichen mit anderen verfolgten Familien hatten die Michaelis darüber hinaus noch Glück, denn sie alle hatten den Terror der Nazis überlebt. Die Kinder waren jedoch den Eltern entfremdet, wollten nicht zurück in die Familie. Robert Michaelis, der zurück kam, um am Aufbau eines neuen und demokratischen Deutschland mitzuarbeiten, erlebte zunächst die offene Ablehnung seiner Landsleute

Eine zweite Chance in Mainz

Robert Michaelis 1939 im Exil in Shanghai (2.v.l. hinten)
Robert Michaelis 1939 im Exil in Shanghai (2.v.l. hinten)
Quelle: ZDF

Die Stadt Mainz bot ihm später die Chance einer zweiten Karriere als Jurist. Als “Opfer des Faschismus” erhielt Michaelis 1949 eine Richterstelle am Landgericht. Der Wiedereinstieg in den Beruf, 16 Jahre nach der demütigenden Entlassung durch die Nazis, schien zu gelingen. Doch dann bekam er die Missgunst und Verachtung vor allem jener Kollegen zu spüren, die ihre Laufbahn nach der NS-Zeit bruchlos fortsetzen konnten.

Michaelis’ Kampf um Wiedergutmachung und Entschädigung stieß auf wenig Verständnis. Der Geist der NS-Jahre wehte weiter in vielen Institutionen der jungen Bundesrepublik. Die Jahre des Exils, die Trennung von den Kindern, die gescheiterte Integration in die Nachkriegsgesellschaft zehrten an der Gesundheit des Richters. Mit 54 Jahren ging Robert Michaelis vorzeitig in den Ruhestand. Zeitlebens fühlte er sich ausgegrenzt.

Ruth Barnett
Ruth Barnett, Tochter von Robert Michaelis
Quelle: ZDF

Die Dokumentation rekonstruiert dieses bewegende deutsch-jüdische Schicksal, lädt ein zu einer Zeitreise an die Schauplätze der wechselvollen Biografie. Die Tochter des Richters, Ruth Barnett, lebt heute in London. In einem Buch hat sie die Verletzungen jener Kinder beschrieben, die in England zwar in Sicherheit, aber ohne elterlichen Beistand überlebten.

Die Familie von W. Michael Blumenthal zählte ebenfalls zu den Shanghai-Flüchtlingen. Der Gründungsdirektor des Jüdischen Museums in Berlin berichtet, wie er und seine Angehörigen die Ausgrenzung, die Emigration und die prekären Lebensbedingungen im Judenghetto der chinesischen Großstadt erlebten. Historiker Götz Aly erklärt die zeitgeschichtlichen Hintergründe jener tragischen Schicksale zwischen Verfolgung, Überlebenskampf und Neuanfang.”

 

FIGHTING PREJUDICE: RUTH BARNETT’S STORY

I thought Ruth Bernett’ story is a very interesting story, and this is why I copy here the whole article. Ruth was born in 1935 and was originally recognised as a German citizen, like her parents, but the Nuremburg Laws came along eight months later to change that. Ruth’s father, Robert Michaelis, was born Jewish, which meant that his baby daughter had no official nationality. When you go to my other post from today, yo find out that there is a docmentary about the Michaelis family available. This is the link to the documentary:

https://www.zdf.de/dokumentation/dokumentation-sonstige/landgericht-106.html

“Die Geschichte des Berliner Richters Kornitzer und seiner Familie, die das Fernsehspiel “Landgericht” erzählt, beruht auf wahren Erlebnissen: Es ist die Geschichte der Familie Michaelis.”

Beitragslänge:35 min Datum:30.01.2017 Sprachoptionen: UT
Verfügbarkeit:
Video verfügbar bis 30.01.2022

 

Fighting Prejudice: Ruth Barnett’s Story

Ruth BarnettIN June 1989, 1000 men and women crammed into a sports hall in Harrow. They had one thing in common: they had all been rescued by the British government when war broke out in 1939. Ten thousand Jewish children were sent on trains over to England from Germany and Austria in what was referred to as the “Kindertransport”. One of these children, Ruth Barnett (neé Michaelis), was four years old when she travelled with her older brother to England.

In 1989, a friend told Ruth about a 50th anniversary reunion of all the adults who had been part of the “Kinderstransport” scheme.

“Up until then, I knew nothing about the Kindertransport”, says Ruth, “I thought that only my brother and I had come from Germany.”

Without realising it, Ruth had avoided anything to do with her past; whenever people mentioned anything to do with the war, or her husband watched a war film, she would find some excuse to leave.

“You’re not a whole person if you cut off your roots.” she says.

Ruth was born in 1935 and was originally recognised as a German citizen, like her parents, but the Nuremburg Laws came along eight months later to change that. Ruth’s father, Robert Michaelis, was born Jewish, which meant that his baby daughter had no official nationality.

During her four years in Berlin, Ruth’s parents tried to protect her and to give her as normal a childhood as possible. The few flashes of memory that she still has of those years growing up in Germany are mostly happy, interspersed with strange moments which, in retrospect, Ruth knows were caused by the fear surrounding the Nazis. Her father once hid in a broom cupboard because the Gestapo were after him; Ruth’s aunt, ‘Tante Ella’, tried to tell her niece that her father was shaking with laughter (rather than fear) because it was all a joke, but Ruth was old enough to know this wasn’t true.

When Hitler came to power, many Jewish families had already left to escape to other countries, but many more stayed, including Ruth’s parents. They thought that the situation in Germany would calm down.

On November 9th, 1938, ‘Kristallnacht’ or ‘Night of the Broken Glass’ brought the Nazis’ actions to the attention of the rest of the world. It was after this blatant display of violence and hatred towards the Jews that the English government organised for children from Germany and Austria to be sent over (without their parents) to England.

“Parents had to make heart-rending decisions in sending their children to safety. Many rightly feared that they might never see their children again.” said Ruth in her autobiography Person of No Nationality.

Ruth Barnett

At four years old, Ruth didn’t understand what was happening or where their mother had gone when she left them at a foster home in England. Ruth describes sitting around a table with Martin, their mother and Reverend Stead and his wife, eating tea.

“It was just like another outing for me. After tea, my mother put us to bed and tucked us up with a story,” said Ruth in her book, “It all seemed like an adventure. That is, until I discovered in the morning that my mother was no longer there.”

Whenever Ruth asked her new foster family questions about her mother, or cried because she missed her parents, she was met with anger. So she eventually decided she must be inherently bad, to be sent away to England. When her mother didn’t return to bring them home, she started telling people that her mother was dead.

This conviction that she was a bad child, deserving of punishment, followed Ruth around for many years. Her first foster home, Merston Rectory, only served to reinforce this, as her memories of living there are described in Person of No Nationality as “a nightmare of confusion, fear and pain.”

Reverend Stead treated the children with kindness, but he didn’t spend much time with them; the majority of the care was given over to his wife, Mrs Stead, and her companion, Miss Wright. They made a habit of refusing to give Ruth food at the dinner table until she could ask for it using ‘proper’ English, which meant that she often went without. Miss Wright also enforced specific times for going to the toilet, causing Ruth to wet the bed later on.

A bright spot in the horizon for Ruth and Martin came in the form of their boarding school, ‘The Friends School’, run by Quakers. So when they were told, at the end of the school year, that they were not to return to Merston Rectory because Reverend Stead was ill, they were delighted.

Ruth Barnett

From the peace of The Friends School, Ruth and her brother were thrust into a world of complete chaos. They were sent to a hostel in Richmond, full of other children, which was relatively unsupervised. The chapter in Ruth’s book, Person of No Nationality, which talks about her next foster home (the Goodrickes) is titled: “A Real Family at Last”. After being wrenched away from everything that was familiar at such a young age, Ruth and Martin had not experienced any kind of security for a while. Living with the Goodrickes changed this.

Ruth felt so at home as part of the family that she started calling Mrs Goodricke “Mummy”. But she was told, gently, that Mrs Goodricke was not her mother, so not to call her that. Coupled with other events, this caused Ruth to withdraw into herself.

“I really didn’t know who I was.” said Ruth in her book, “The way depression was treated at that time was to tell the sufferer to ‘snap out of it’. When you are depressed, that is just what you can’t do – even if you want to.”

Ruth wasn’t the only one to suffer with the effects of the war. Her brother Martin, always such a source of strength to his sister, struggled to fit in with the Goodricke family and they agreed it would be best for him to move away and live with another family. They went to live with the Halting family on their farm in the South Downs. Ruth fell in love with the farming lifestyle and the beauty of the South Downs.

Four years after first moving there, Ruth’s mother contacted her and later visited her, with a desire to bring her ‘home’ to Germany.

Ruth Barnett“[For] ten years we were brainwashed with British propaganda against Germany in the war.” says Ruth, “As a small child, I believed it all. Most 14 year olds in England today are much more capable of thinking and questioning. I was very sheltered, so that the experience of being made to go to Germany was terribly shocking. That shattered my trust.

“It was the Kindertransport in reverse. Suddenly, a second time, my whole world had gone and I was in a frightening world gone mad.”

Ruth’s parents wanted her to slot straight in to her new life in Germany, but for her, it was overwhelming. After years of trying to adjust to every change in her life, struggling to fit into her foster families and find a sense of home, while thinking the whole time that her mother was dead, Ruth decided to give up. No longer would she be the obedient, docile child that everyone wanted her to be. She went for long walks and stayed in bed for hours, avoiding spending time with her mother during the day. On one occasion, she ran away from her parents’ house for 24 hours and ended up sleeping in a barn.

After this, Ruth’s parents resigned themselves to the idea that their daughter was not settling in, and they made an agreement with her. She would be able to go back to England, as long as she visited them during her school holidays.

“If I hadn’t [rebelled], I don’t know what my story would have been.” she says, “I might well be a mentally ill depressive, as I doubt I would have ever worked through my trauma.”

After university, Ruth was persuaded by her fiancée, Bernard to try and restore her relationship with her parents.

Ruth BarnettI thought I’d go to Germany and try to really get to know my parents.” she says, “I honestly wanted to give it a chance, because I knew that I hadn’t been able to when I was repatriated at 14. But it didn’t work.”

In 1958, Ruth and Bernard were married in a Jewish ceremony and Bernard received a grant, which allowed Ruth some freedom. She was employed in a small grammar school, where she was in charge of biology for the whole school. For the next 17 years, Ruth continued teaching, but knew that it was time to leave when the racial tension in a particular school in Acton grew too strong for the staff to deal with.

She re-trained as a psychotherapist, something that allowed her to look into some of her childhood behaviour and gain greater understanding. Three years after leaving Greenford High School, Ruth had built up her own private psychotherapy practice. It was during that third year of working as a psychotherapist that Ruth attended the reunion of the Kindertransport children.

“Now, there are plenty of good therapists, so I have retired.” says Ruth, “In order to talk, mainly in schools, but to any group that invites me. I’m very pleased to go and raise awareness of stereotypes that lead to racism.”

Ruth’s particular passion is for Roma-Traveller Gypsies, a people group that she looks upon as one of the most badly treated in Europe. She has written a second book, called Jews and Gypsies: Myths and Realities, which is self-published (“[my publisher] didn’t trust me that I would sell enough in schools” she smiles.)

“We have to learn and commemorate what’s happened in the past in order to be able to build a future.”

In Jews and Gypsies, it talks about Ruth’s conviction that she cannot stand up against anti-Semitism unless she also speaks up for other people groups who are being maligned.

“Real, convinced, Nazis were a small crowd.” she says, “The majority were bystanders and a small number who disagreed, were prepared to be active resistors and rescuers. That’s what I’m trying to challenge – people to take action and to think, before it’s too late.

Ruth Barnett

Ruth works with the Holocaust Educational Trust and goes into schools to talk about her experience, but she emphasizes how long it took her to get to that point. For her it was 50 years before she was even able to look into her past, let alone speak to others about it.

“Self-confidence and trust have to be restored before you can speak in public.”

Ruth describes her husband’s “endless patience and encouragement” as the only reason she managed to gain enough confidence to speak about her experiences.

“I completely lost my trust in human people. That is what surviving genocide does to people. I have listened to [a survivor of the] Rwandan genocide, who was persuaded to speak before I would consider she was nearly ready, and it’s re-traumatising if you’re not ready.”

“I would never put pressure on anybody to face their past, if it’s a traumatic past. You can’t see trauma, like if a person has a rash or a broken arm or a broken leg.”

This is why Ruth knows she must continue to speak out against injustice. “Education to counter racism must go on. I think this is important. There are not that many people who speak out.”

 

Ruth Barnett has published several books, including her autobiography Person of No NationalityJews and Gypsies: Myths and Realities and her newest book is called “Love, Hate and Indifference: the slide into Genocide” and will be available through the National Holocaust Centre.
Published 24th April 2015 with tags: stories of hope testimony
Here is another interesting link: Ruth Barnett, born Michaelis in Berlin 1935
Chiffre 215104
What Ruth Barnett tells about her life starts like this:
“The most personal and moving part of my week in Berlin was an event in honour of my father in the court in which he was a judge for five years until the Nazis chased him out, literally at the point of a gun, in 1933. I knew very little about my parents’ pre-war life until this event, as I came to England on the Kindertransport at age four with my sevenyear- old brother in 1939, while my father escaped to Shanghai and my non-Jewish mother stayed in Germany through the war. . . .”

Ursula Knechel’s ‘Landgericht’, review by David Vickrey

http://www.dialoginternational.com/dialog_international/2018/01/review-ursula-krechels-landgericht.html

Landgericht

This is what David Vickrey writes:

“I’ve always been interested in Exilliteratur – books by or about writers and artists forced to flee Germany during the Nazi era.  Much, of course, has been written about the exile community in Southern California – including Michael Lentz’s terrific Pazific Exil (2007). Anna Seghers wrote about her exile in Mexico in Ausflug der toten Mädchen, and many of Hilde Domin’s poems deal with her exile years in the Dominican Republic.  But very little has been written about the German exile experience in Cuba – which is one reason I was keen on reading Ursula Krechel’s Landgericht (literally “District Court”), which won the German Book Prize in 2012.  The central figure in the novel, the Jewish barrister Richard Kornitzer, is forced to flee the Nazis and finds sanctuary in Havana for ten years.

But Landgericht is also about homecoming – returning to the “scene of the crime”, to the country that cast Kornitzer out and wrecked his family forever.

Life was good for Kornitzer and his wife Claire in the Weimar Republic.  He was a talented young lawyer and judge with a brilliant career ahead of him, while Claire was a successful businesswoman, with her own advertising agency that created and placed ads in the booming German cinema.  Together they lived in a chic apartment in central Berlin and had two children.  But things quickly went downhill once the Nazi’s came to power: Kornitzer was forced out of his job and could no longer practice law, Claire, although of Aryan background, had her business stolen from her because of her marriage to a Jew (which she refused to renounce).  Soon it was clear that Richard and the children (Halbjuden) were in mortal danger.  The children were sent to England via the Kindertransport  while Richard was able to secure safe passage to Cuba – without his wife Claire.

Ursula Krechel takes the reader back and forth in time.  The book opens with Kornitzer’s return to a ruined Germany after 10 years in exile, hoping to resume his career where it had been suspended by the Nazis.  He is given a post in the provincial civil court in Mainz – a city that had been 95% destroyed by the allied firebombing.  And the descriptions of the deprivations of those early postwar years are well done.  Kornitzer quickly learns that the Third Reich never really ended: his colleagues on the bench in Mainz are all either former members of the NSDAP or Mitläufer.  Kornitzer is treated as an outsider – both as a Jew and because of his special status an Opfer des Faschismus.  And he is not alone as an outsider in new “democratic” West Germany.  Krechel often brings real historical events and figures into the novel.  Such as Philipp Auerbach, a Jew and former chemist who survived Auschwitz and who after the war worked tirelessly for restitution to the victims of Nazi crimes.  Kornitzer watches with great interest as Auerbach is persecuted by former Nazis in Bavaria.  Eventually he is unjustly convicted and imprisoned by a court comprised of ex-Nazis, and commits suicide.  Kornitzer cynically sees what is necessary to succeed as a Jew in postwar Germany:

“Am besten war es, man verhielt sich mucksmäuschenstill. man tut seine Arbeit, man fiel nicht auf, gab sich nicht als ehemaliges Mitglied einer Spruchkammer, als Jude, als Trauernder um Philipp Auerbach zu erkennen, gab keinen Anlass, antisemitische Äusserungen, Taktlosigkeiten, Nadelstiche auf sich zu ziehen. Am besten, man war wortkarg, sah nicht nach links und nicht nach rechts und tat seine Arbeit.  Am besten, man war tot.”

I very much enjoyed the middle part of Landgericht, which deals with Kornitzer’s exile in Havana. Life for the German/Austrian exiles in Cuba was hardly a tropical vacation.  Many ended up in a jungle detention camp where conditions were deplorable.  Kornitzer is able to find work as a secretary for a corrupt attorney and fares somewhat better than his compatriots.  Ursula Krechel obviously conducted quite a bit of research on Cuba in the 1940s and its treatment of European refugees.  Eventually Kornitzer meets and falls in love with a young school teacher.  The affair produces a daughter – Amanda – who Kornitzer never has a chance to see before the war ends he returns to Germany.

Kornitzer becomes frustrated and embittered by his inability to get ahead in the “new” postwar order.  His children are now more English than German and are estranged from their parents.  Claire’s health was ruined after her business was confiscated and she was forced to work in a dairy during the war.  Kornitzer pursues every legal and bureaucratic channel to recover the life that was stolen from him  – the back and forth with the various courts and agencies becomes somewhat tiresome to the reader.  But Ursula Krechel makes one brilliant move towards the end of the novel: Kornitzer is bitter that he was passed over for a promotion and in a public court hearing reads out Article 3 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz):

Niemand darf wegen seines Geschlechtes, seiner Abstammung, seiner Rasse, seiner Sprache, seiner Heimat und Herkunft, seines Glaubens, seiner religiösen oder politischen Anschauungen benachteiligt oder bevorzugt werden.

(No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions.)

That simple act of reading out loud a passage from the constitution is viewed as scandalous, and Kornitzer is forced into early retirement.  He spends his retirement relentlessly seeking restitution and – despite an appearance by Amanda – dies embittered man.

This novel would have benefited from a good editor – it is about 150 pages too long.  Nevertheless, Landgericht  is an important novel and deserves an English translation.  Landgericht was a recently made into a two-part film for television, which hopefully will be available to American audiences at some point.”

https://auntielive.wordpress.com/2018/09/16/ursula-knechels-landgericht/comment-page-1/#comment-306

2 thoughts on “Ursula Knechel’s ‘Landgericht’, review by David Vickrey”

  1. Thanks for the review of this very interesting story. I was quite interested in the book after watching the two-part (3-hour) video entitled ‘Redemption Road’ via streaming on MHZ Networks in German with English subtitles.

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    1. Hi Bill, I thank you for mentioning this video. I found it here:

      https://mhzchoiceblog.com/first-look-redemption-road/

      Now Streaming

      It says: “Redemption Road, a two-episode limited series based on the novel Landgericht by Ursula Krechel (which was translated into English as State Justice, so as not to be confused with Redemption Road, a 2016 thriller novel by John Hart, nor with Redemption Road, a 2010 limited release feature film …The two episodes are beautifully directed by Matthias Glasner (Blochin), and star German fave Ronald Zehrfeld (The Weissensee Saga, In the Face of Crime) and the fantastic Johanna Wokalek as a married German couple, Richard and Claire, dealing with the trauma and subsequent fallout of Nazi persecution. He’s Jewish, she’s not, and – good news! – neither of them die in the war! Neither do their children! No one ends up in a concentration camp! Sounds great, except… well, agony is relative, but it’s still agony.”

      In the review something interesting is mentioned about the German constitution!

      Article 3 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz) says:

      “No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions.”

      Vickrey says: “The central figure in the novel, the Jewish barrister Richard Kornitzer, is forced to flee the Nazis and finds sanctuary in Havana for ten years. . . .”

      After his return during the postwar years “Kornitzer is treated as an outsider – both as a Jew and because of his special status an Opfer des Faschismus. And he is not alone as an outsider in new “democratic” West Germany . . .”

      “That simple act of reading out loud a passage from the constitution is viewed as scandalous, and Kornitzer is forced into early retirement. . .”

      Yes, so much about how people may be treated in the new “democratic” West Germany!

      This is what it says further on about the movie:

      Redemption Road presents something of a unique perspective of the life of German Jews in WWII. By now, we’ve absorbed accounts of the Holocaust, historical and fictional, delving into Nazi atrocities of imprisonment, starvation, unfathomable physical abuse, and murder in the camps. Less often told are the stories of the people who, through foresight or luck, managed to get out, to escape their homeland as their citizenship was revoked, and their livelihoods taken away. Richard, a district judge who has devoted his life to the rule of law, sees the writing on the wall and, just in time, sends his little children to England as part of the kindertransport.

      With subtle horror, the show captures the utter nightmare and surreality of what it must be like for a parent to see their children taken from them, not knowing what will happen to them, not knowing if they’ll ever be together again. How could anyone survive the distress? For a person such as Richard, devoted to logic and order, the lost decade and mental toll in the face of the injustice of it all, is severe. His family stays alive, but at what cost? If you were obsessed with A French Villagehere’s a look at the war’s aftermath from another angle.

      The road back
      Having outlasted the war, Richard makes a return to Germany that was just as painful as his exit, and is reunited with Claire. Will putting the pieces back together prove futile? Is there any hope that justice will be served for the millions of fortunes destroyed, families torn apart and innocent lives lost in the name of war? Is there any point in seeking acknowledgment of the decimation done to so many? What does it take to make a life worth living after you have merely survived evil inflicted on you by your own country? These are but a few of the questions asked by Redemption Road as its characters go on with their lives, separately and together, seeking answers.”