The “Landlord’s Game” versus “Monopoly

The antimonopolist history of the world’s most popular board game

I published this article in 2015 here:

https://auntyuta.com/2015/06/30/this-was-published-in-harpers-magazine-in-october-2012-about-the-landlords-game-versus-monopoly/

By Christopher Ketcham

The players at Table 25 fought first over the choice of pawns. Doug Herold, a forty-four-year-old real estate appraiser, settled on the car. The player across from him, a shark-eyed IT recruiter named Billy, opted for the ship and took a pull from a can of Coors. The shoe was taken by a goateed toxic-tort litigator named Eric, who periodically distracted himself from the game on a BlackBerry so that he “could get billable hours out of this.” The dog was taken by a doughy computer technician named Trevis, who had driven from Canton, Ohio, as a “good deed” to help the National Kidney Foundation, sponsor of the 25th Annual Corporate Monopoly Tournament, which is held each year in the lobby of the U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh. On hand for the event, which had attracted 112 players, divided into twenty-eight tables of four, were the Pittsburgh Steelers’ mascot, Steely McBeam, who hopped around the lobby grunting and huzzahing with a giant foam I beam under his arm; three referees dressed in stripes, with whistles around their necks; and a sleepy-looking man, attired in a long judges’ robe and carrying a two-foot-long oaken gavel, who was in fact a civil-court judge for Allegheny County donating his time “to make sure these people follow the rules.”

I had spoken the night before with Doug, who won the previous year’s tournament, about his strategy for victory. “Well, last year I managed to get Boardwalk and Park Place, and then everybody landed on them,” he explained, chalking his success up to dumb luck. “What you have to do,” he said, “is get a monopoly, any monopoly, as quickly as you can.” I asked him if he knew the secret history of the game. He confessed that he did not.

The official history of Monopoly, as told by Hasbro, which owns the brand, states that the board game was invented in 1933 by an unemployed steam-radiator repairman and part-time dog walker from Philadelphia named Charles Darrow. Darrow had dreamed up what he described as a real estate trading game whose property names were taken from Atlantic City, the resort town where he’d summered as a child. Patented in 1935 by Darrow and the corporate game maker Parker Brothers, Monopoly sold just over 2 million copies in its first two years of production, making Darrow a rich man and likely saving Parker Brothers from bankruptcy. It would go on to become the world’s best-selling proprietary board game. At least 1 billion people in 111 countries speaking forty-three languages have played it, with an estimated 6 billion little green houses manufactured to date. Monopoly boards have been created using the streets of almost every major American city; they’ve been branded around financiers (Berkshire Hathaway Monopoly), sports teams (Chicago Bears Monopoly), television shows (The Simpsons Monopoly), automobiles (Corvette Monopoly), and farm equipment (John Deere Monopoly).

The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”

The Landlord's Game, 1906

Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities—the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley—and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”

For close to thirty years after Magie fashioned her first board on an old piece of pressed wood, The Landlord’s Game was played in various forms and under different names—“Monopoly,” “Finance,” “Auction.” It was especially popular among Quaker communities in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, as well as among economics professors and university students who’d taken an interest in socialism. Shared freely as an invention in the public domain, as much a part of the cultural commons as chess or checkers, The Landlord’s Game was, in effect, the property of anyone who learned how to play it.

Thousands of Monopoly tournaments are held in the United States each year: county tournaments, school tournaments, church tournaments, corporate tournaments, tournaments in basements, in boardrooms, in lunchrooms, in public libraries, and online. Every four or five years there are the big officiated tournaments—the U.S. Championship and the World Championship—sponsored by Hasbro, which hands out $20,580 pots to the winners of each. I missed the big tournaments—both were last held in 2009—and instead ended up in the lobby of U.S. Steel. I thought the venue fitting, as the corporation was the brainchild of supermonopolists Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan, the latter being the inspiration for Monopoly’s top-hatted, monocled, tails-wearing mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags.

The emcee called the lobby to order, shouting into his microphone, “You have ninety minutes. Let’s play Monopoly!” Immediately, the men at Table 25 began rolling dice and frantically buying property as they rounded the board. Doug snagged Pacific Avenue (an expensive investment at $300), two yellow parcels, and several slummier properties. Trevis’s portfolio included two railroads and Marvin Gardens, the most expensive property in the yellow group. Billy held the ultrachic Boardwalk ($400). Eric got Tennessee Avenue and St. James Place ($180 each). These last are among the properties most coveted by competitors, because they are relatively cheap and frequently landed on, along with the other properties that sit directly downboard of the jail, where odds are the players will spend a lot of time.

Sixteen minutes into the game Doug offered Billy a trade. (“The propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another,” writes Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, “is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals.”) Land was already growing scarce, and as land becomes scarce in Monopoly—as in the real world—its market value rises, often beyond its nominal value. “This,” said Doug, holding up one of his yellow deeds, “for that,” pointing at one of Billy’s slum deeds, “plus three hundred bucks.”

Billy was unimpressed. “No, you give me three hundred bucks.”

“Give you three hundred bucks?”

“Cash is king!”

This in turn inspired Trevis and Eric to start haggling, with Billy and Doug interjecting to gum up the talks when their own interests were threatened. The table got loud. The parties offered, counteroffered, rejected all offers, sweetened the original offers, rejected the sweetened deals with greater aplomb. Doug heaved a great sigh. “We’re just gonna go around the board and around the board,” he said, “and collect our little money.”

“It’s gotta make sense for me,” said Trevis.

“This guy wants my left testicle,” Doug replied.

In what amounted to open conspiracy, Billy then told Eric that if they made a trade and each received a monopoly as a result, they’d share a “free ride”—no rent would be charged—when they landed on one another’s monopolies: a corrupt duopoly, in effect, targeting Doug and Trevis.

Doug shrugged as Eric pondered the deal, but Trevis was aghast. “You can’t do that—it’s against the rules.”

“Rules!” said Billy. “I’m gonna set my price.”

“Bullshit!”

“Ref!”

A referee, whistle around his neck, hurried over—the judge with the gavel had disappeared—to decide on the matter as the players barked at each other. “You can’t do that,” he said finally.

A few weeks before the tournament, I’d had a conversation with Richard Marinaccio, the 2009 U.S. national Monopoly champion. “Monopoly players around the kitchen table”—which is to say, most people—“think the game is all about accumulation,” he said. “You know, making a lot of money. But the real object is to bankrupt your opponents as quickly as possible. To have just enough so that everybody else has nothing.” In this view, Monopoly is not about unleashing creativity and innovation among many competing parties, nor is it about opening markets and expanding trade or creating wealth through hard work and enlightened self-interest, the virtues Adam Smith thought of as the invisible hands that would produce a dynamic and prosperous society. It’s about shutting down the marketplace. All the players have to do is sit on their land and wait for the suckers to roll the dice.

Smith described such monopolist rent-seekers, who in his day were typified by the landed gentry of England, as the great parasites in the capitalist order. They avoided productive labor, innovated nothing, created nothing—the land was already there—and made a great deal of money while bleeding those who had to pay rent. The initial phase of competition in Monopoly, the free-trade phase that happens to be the most exciting part of the game to watch, is really about ending free trade and nixing competition in order to replace it with rent-seeking.

Henry George was not formally trained in economics. At age sixteen, he shipped out of his native Philadelphia as a mast boy on the freighter Hindoo,bound for Australia and India, where he watched the crew threaten mutiny over their miserable working conditions. By the age of twenty, transplanted to California, he was working as a printer’s apprentice, a rice weigher, and a tramp farmworker. George was soon married and broke, caught up in a wave of unemployment on the West Coast, and by the winter of 1865 his pregnant wife was starving. “Don’t stop to wash the child,” the doctor told George upon the birth of a son that January. “Feed him.” Poverty turned his mind to economics, to the question of why poverty proliferated in a land of plentiful resources. Economics turned him to newspapers, where he imagined he might get paid for his ideas. Eventually, journalism brought him to live in New York City.

What puzzled George was that wherever he saw advanced means of production arise in the United States—wherever industry was built up and capital accumulated—more poor people could be found, and in more desperate conditions. It was for him a stunning paradox. “It is the riddle which the Sphinx of Fate puts to our civilization, and which not to answer is to be destroyed,” wrote George. “So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes . . . progress is not real and cannot be permanent.” In 1879, he published the book that made him famous, Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth—The Remedy, which provided a sweeping answer to the riddle: land monopoly was the reason progress brought greater poverty. As American civilization advanced, as populations grew and aggregated in and around cities, land became scarce, prices soared, and the majority who had to live and work on the land paid those prices to the minority who owned it. For the laboring classes, rent slavery was the result. “To see human beings in the most abject, the most helpless and hopeless condition,” George wrote, “you must go, not to the unfenced prairies and the log cabins of new clearings in the backwoods, where man singlehanded is commencing the struggle with nature, and land is yet worth nothing, but to the great cities where the ownership of a little patch of ground is a fortune.”

From those little patches, primarily in New York City, had arisen the dynasties of the American nouveau riche: the Astors, the Beekmans, the Phippses, the Stuyvesants, the Roosevelts, and, later, the Tishmans, the Rudins, the Roses, the Minskoffs, the Dursts, and the Fisher and Tisch brothers. According to George, the sequestering of valuable land assets in private hands was itself the product of a system of property “as artificial and as baseless as the divine right of kings.” “Historically, as ethically,” he wrote, “private property in land is robbery. . . . It has everywhere had its birth in war and conquest.” This was, in fact, the original sin of Western civilization:

In California our land titles go back to the Supreme Government of Mexico, who took from the Spanish King, who took from the Pope, when he by a stroke of the pen divided lands yet to be discovered between the Spanish or Portuguese—or if you please they rest upon conquest. In the eastern states they go back to treaties with Indians and grants from English kings; in Louisiana to the government of France; in Florida to the government of Spain; while in England they go back to the Norman conquerors. Everywhere, not to a right which obliges, but to a force which compels.

George noted that many premodern tribes recognized no right of land ownership; the tribesman’s property was the bow and arrow he built with his hands, not the land he hunted on. Nor was such a right recognized under the laws of the Old Testament, in which land was “treated as the gift of the Creator to his common creatures.” Moses had, after all, instituted the jubilee, under which land was redistributed every fifty years, and the debts incurred against land were canceled—a tradition ended by Roman rule. Everywhere George reviewed the annals of the precapitalist world, he saw the “struggle between this idea of equal rights to the soil and the tendency to monopolize it in individual possession.”

By the nineteenth century, however, the “superstition” of “absolute individual property in land,” represented by the complex array of state-sanctioned deeds and titles, had become fundamental to the American legal system. It could not be crushed—nor should it be, said George. Land seizure and nationalization, he believed, would lead to tyranny. “Let the individuals who now hold it still retain, if they want to, possession of what they are pleased to call their land.” George would not revoke the right to buy and sell property or to will land to one’s descendants. Instead he argued that society might leave landowners “the shell” of their holdings if it could “take the kernel.” As George wrote, “It is not necessary to confiscate land; it is only necessary to confiscate rent. . . . In this way the State may become the universal landlord without calling herself so.”

Rent was the key. In line with classical economics from the time of Adam Smith, George defined rent as the unearned income owners derived from the rising value of land, meaning it was distinct from the labor that went into property in the form of improvements, the construction of homes and offices and factories, and the cultivation of fields. A community’s productivity was the invisible hand that caused land values to increase. The cabin in the woods became a prize when a mine opened up across the field, a road linked the cabin to the mine, a country store opened to supply the miners, more homes were built, a railroad came in, a town was born. The land under the cabin derived its worth from what society built around it. Its increase in value therefore belonged to society, and George said this value was to be assessed and taxed at market rates. This “single tax” on land and natural resources offered a reform of capitalism—whose self-destruction George believed it was his task to prevent—that “open[ed] the way to a realization of the noble dreams of socialism.” [1]

Georgism, as it came to be known, was denounced by wealthy landowners as the most radically lunatic notion of its time, and the single tax as more insidious than all the writings of Karl Marx put together. The Catholic Church ruled George’s thought “worthy of condemnation.” Yet within five years of the publication of Progress and Poverty, hundreds of thousands of Americans would come to believe in the gospel of the single tax. In New York City, the populist priest Father Edward McGlynn referred to George simply as “this prophet . . . this messenger from God.” Mark Twain proselytized as a Georgist, as did the philosopher John Dewey. “It would require less than the fingers of the two hands,” wrote Dewey, “to enumerate those who, from Plato down, rank with Henry George among the world’s social philosophers.”

Leo Tolstoy proclaimed that George would “usher in an epoch.” “The method of solving the land problem has been elaborated by Henry George to such a degree of perfection that, under the existing State organization and compulsory taxation, it is impossible to invent any other better, more just, practical, and peaceful solution,” wrote Tolstoy. “The only thing that would pacify the people now is the introduction of the system of Henry George.”

In 1886, the United Labor Party, fresh from the battles and boycotts of the first May Day, nominated George as its candidate for mayor of New York. His campaign offered a radical vision for the time: wherever railroads, telegraphs, telephones, and gas, water, electric, and heating utilities could be operated more efficiently at scale, as “natural monopolies,” the public would own them; transit in New York would be made free for all; city government would be responsible for social services; he would end child labor and mandate an eight-hour workday. The land-value tax would pay for his programs.

Though not a single major newspaper endorsed him, clubs were founded in George’s name in twenty-four districts across the city. Members financed his campaign, each contributing twenty-five cents, and George, in between sixteen-hour days of speeches and rallies, sat at headquarters rolling coins for distribution to his workers. The coalition he built with the ULP was big-tent, crossing lines of class, ethnicity, and religion that had long divided New York. Three days before the election, his supporters—merchants, lawyers, doctors, tailors, plumbers, cigar makers, brassworkers, Germans, Irish, Russians, Poles, Italians, Jews—gathered by the tens of thousands in lower Manhattan. They carried banners reading HONEST LABOR AGAINST THIEVING LANDLORDS, and at Tompkins Square, in driving rain, they chanted, “Hi! Ho! The leeches must go!” But George was defeated, amid allegations that Tammany Hall had engineered massive voter fraud to ensure his loss.

George returned to journalism, went on the lecture circuit, wrote five more books, and dedicated himself to spreading the word of the single tax. He has been credited with inspiring a generation of progressive reformers. William Jennings Bryan said thatProgress and Poverty “ought to be read by every thinking man and woman.” Samuel Gompers, Jacob Riis, Upton Sinclair, and Ida Tarbell read him and sang his praises. But George showed little interest in reform beyond the single tax. A believer to the end in Adam Smith, he denounced the socialists and labor organizers who were his strongest supporters, and, as one critic wrote, came to lead single-tax supporters “of intolerably dogmatic and doctrinaire spirit.” He refused to accept that unearned income might be gleaned from investments other than land, and thus he was accused of failing to confront the rising power of finance capitalism, which made money off of the socially created value behind stocks and bonds. By the time of his death in 1897, when 100,000 New Yorkers lined up to view his body in state, George’s “great idea” was already, as Tolstoy would lament in 1908, on the long road to being forgotten.

About a month before the Pittsburgh tournament, an amateur Monopoly historian and game collector named Richard Biddle invited me to the village of Arden, Delaware, to have a look at the first Landlord’s Game ever fashioned. Arden had been founded as a Georgist experiment in 1900, four years after a failed attempt to implement the single-tax system across the state. It was envisioned as a self-sufficient utopia on 160 acres of woodland, and it soon attracted artists, poets, actors, anarchists, and freethinkers. Upton Sinclair had a cottage there, dubbed the Jungalow. Ardenites were barred from “owning” their plots, instead purchasing ninety-nine-year leases on cooperatively held land. It didn’t matter whether the residents built mansions or shacks: they were taxed only on the underlying value of the land, often at very high rates. This revenue paid for roads, parks, a commons, playgrounds, and utilities.

Lizzie Magie visited the village not long after its founding, and brought with her an oilcloth mock-up of her Landlord’s Game, which soon became a pastime among residents. While at Arden, she built a board for the game with the help of a resident carpenter. Biddle spoke solemnly of this alpha board; he estimated that it could be worth a million dollars.

We met at the village green and walked a few blocks, where we found the owner of the board, an eighty-year-old retired autoworker named Ronald Jarrell, standing outside his cottage looking nervous. Apprised of our visit, Jarrell had earlier in the day gone to his safe-deposit box at the local bank to retrieve the board. We entered his living room, where, amid a collection of antique china, jade statues, and old dolls, he laid out the prized artifact on his coffee table. Jarrell’s three yapping poodles made it difficult to talk.

“It was the summer of 1903,” he said. “A woman was down visiting here—”

“Lizzie Magie,” said Biddle.

“I don’t remember the name,” said Jarrell, “but she had an idea for a game.” He told us his stepgrandfather, a Georgist carpenter named Robert Woolery, had grown tired of playing checkers at the general store and needed new entertainment. Woolery looked over the plans drawn up by Magie on the oilcloth and immediately set about making the board.

Arden Board, 1904

Biddle held it up and nodded his head approvingly. It was hand-painted and hand-carved out of the backside of a reclaimed pressed-wood crokinole board, and it smelled like an old shoe.

I had earlier looked up Magie’s 1904 rule set, which she produced several months before she and Woolery completed the original board. Oddly, it contained no rule about forming monopolies out of the property groups, nor did it mention charging players higher fees after they’d built houses or hotels (constructions that also didn’t exist in Magie’s original rules). Nor was there anything about Henry George, land-value taxation, or the evil of rent. If the game was designed to teach Georgism, it seemed Magie hadn’t quite thought out the lesson. Two years later, when the game was officially published,the rules had evolved: the business principle of monopoly was fully established, as was the Georgist alternative of cooperation. Theories abound as to how the changes arose; one holds that someone in Arden had pushed The Landlord’s Game in the direction of Henry George, and also in the direction of the Monopoly we know today.

I asked Biddle about the discrepancy. “Ask the Monopoly monopolist,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“Patrice McFarland. The Monopoly monopolist. She’d have all the answers because she is now the possessor of Lizzie Magie’s diaries. And a lot of other key stuff. But she isn’t talking.”

McFarland, I later learned, was a former exhibit specialist at the New York State Museum who in 1992 had received $25,000 from a Georgist organization, the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, to produce a biography of Magie. In the ensuing years, Biddle said, she had acquired, along with Magie’s diaries, a trove of early Landlord’s Game prototypes handcrafted by players in Arden and elsewhere. But she had never produced her book, nor, according to Biddle, had she been willing to share the information or documents she’d amassed. “She’s a tough player,” he said. “I once bid against her on eBay for my 1939 Landlord’s Game. Bid almost $10,000.” (I called and emailed McFarland several times to ask about her alleged Monopoly monopolism, but she never responded.)

With us in Jarrell’s cottage was Mike Curtis, an Ardenite who twenty years earlier had played a round of Magie’s original 1906 Landlord’s Game (one of his opponents, as it happened, was Patrice McFarland). The Georgist rules by which Curtis had played were known as the Single Tax set, and they went beyond having players simply pay rent into Magie’s “Public Treasury.” They also aimed to teach the shared ownership of public goods. Under Single Tax rules, when the amount in the treasury reached fifty dollars, the player who owned the lighting utility was forced to sell it, and thereafter the utility cost no money to land on, as it was now publicly owned. This process repeated itself with the Slambang Trolley, then with the railroads, then with the Go to Jail space, which became a public college that, instead of sending players to jail, provided extra wages at the end of the game. After that, each fifty-dollar deposit in the treasury raised players’ wages by ten dollars. A “win” in Single Tax, which Magie later dubbed Prosperity Game, occurred when the player with the least amount of money had doubled his original capital. “The Landlord’s Game,” said Magie, “shows why our national housekeeping has gone wrong and Prosperity Game shows how to start it right and keep it going right.” Curtis admitted that he didn’t think much of the game, pronouncing it “kind of boring after a while.” [2]

In the summer of 1971, Ralph Anspach, a game inventor and retired economics professor who lives in San Francisco, emerged from a crushing Monopoly defeat in his living room—his eight-year-old son had bankrupted him—and found himself considering the salability of a board game that was explicitly antimonopolistic. “My game would have to start,” he wrote in a self-published memoir, The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle, “where Monopoly ends, when the board is full of monopolies.” The goal of play would be to break them up, with monopolists fighting off trustbusters. The game Anspach created, Anti-Monopoly, sold 200,000 copies in 1973, its first year of production, and was on pace to top 1 million sales by Christmas of 1974. Parker Brothers, at that time a subsidiary of General Mills, was not pleased. The company threatened to sue Anspach for trademark infringement. Instead, he preemptively sued Parker Brothers—“a sort of buckshot maneuver,” his lawyer called it—on the theory that he could show the company’s Monopoly trademark was invalid.

One of Anspach’s first discoveries as he built his case was the existence of The Landlord’s Game. But he could not explain how Magie’s invention, with its promotion of socialized land and shared wealth, had been transformed into the proprietary commodity that made billions of dollars for Parker Brothers. The key to the mystery, he learned, was a radical socialist professor of economics named Scott Nearing, who taught at the Wharton School of Finance from 1906 to 1915. Anspach spoke to Nearing in 1974, when Nearing was ninety-one years old. The professor said he had learned to play the game around 1910, while living in Arden, then taught it to his students at Wharton in order that they might learn, in his words, “the antisocial nature of monopoly,” and in particular “the wickedness of land monopoly.” The students apparently taught it to their friends. It was around this time that the game became known as “monopoly”—denoted in lowercase, like checkers, chess, or dominoes. The game spread widely over the next several years, to the hometowns of Nearing’s students and to other universities. It would slowly lose its antimonopolistic message, however, as players came to the conclusion that Magie’s vision of Georgist redistribution was not nearly as entertaining as ruining one another.

By 1913, monopoly had made its way to Altoona, Pennsylvania, and four years later it arrived in Philadelphia. The economist Rexford Tugwell, a future member of FDR’s “kitchen cabinet,” remembered having played it in 1915. By the 1920s, camp counselors in the Poconos were playing it, as were students at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, Haverford, Princeton, and Swarthmore. During the early stages of the Depression, the game reached Indianapolis, where a Quaker schoolteacher-in-training named Ruth Hoskins played it. Hoskins soon traveled to Atlantic City and taught the game to two fellow Quakers, Jesse and Eugene Raiford.

The brothers were so taken with the game that they worked to improve it. Along with other members of the Quaker community, they changed the pawns to household objects: tie clips, hairpins, keys, thimbles. They changed the names and property values to reflect those of Atlantic City. Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues, slums in the Raifords’ hometown, became slums on the board; Boardwalk and Park Place, the carrefour of chic, became the most expensive deeds to purchase. The rules related by Ruth Hoskins stipulated that properties were to be auctioned when players landed on them; Jesse Raiford instead set the prices on the board. (This change later made the game marketable to children, who had difficulty understanding how auctions worked.)

The Raifords taught the game to a friend of theirs, Charles Todd, who taught it to its putative inventor, Charles Darrow. Sometime in 1932, Darrow copied the layout of the board, the rules of play, the property names, the deed values, and the Chance cards, and made his own version of the game. His only innovation seems to have been to claim the mantle of sole inventor. He would soon be assumed into the pantheon of American heroes of commerce.

The irony was not lost on Anspach. Before being monopolized by a single person working in tandem with a corporation, Monopoly had in fact been “invented” by many people—not just Magie and the Raifords but also the unknown player who gave the game its moniker and the unsung Ardenite who had perhaps aided Magie in advancing its rules. The game that today stresses the ruthlessness of the individual and defines victory as the impoverishment of others was the product of communal labor.

None of the information Anspach uncovered helped his case when it went to trial in 1976. The widows of Eugene and Jesse Raiford testified, as did seven other witnesses who claimed to have played monopoly as many as twenty years before Darrow marketed his game. Anspach even put Robert Barton, the former president of Parker Brothers, on the stand. Barton, who was pivotal in helping Darrow secure a patent for his “invention,” admitted under oath that he was fully aware of the game’s history and that he knew Darrow had not in fact invented it. The judge was unmoved. He dismissed Anspach’s complaint, ordering all unsold copies of Anti-Monopoly to be “deliver[ed] up for destruction.” Seven thousand of the games were bulldozed into a garbage dump in rural Minnesota, where officials from Parker Brothers oversaw the interment. [3]

After forty minutes of play, the game at Table 25 had stalled—or, depending on your view, was going along just fine, because no one had a monopoly and no one could raise rents. So Billy paid rent to Eric, who paid about the same rent to Doug, who paid to Billy, who paid to Trevis, who paid to Eric, who made a bad roll and briefly went to jail. Then Doug Herold landed on his third lucrative green property, allowing him to form a monopoly. He had enough cash on hand to build several houses, and one after another the players fell afoul of his outrageous rent hikes. Billy and Trevis handed over several properties in lieu of cash, giving Doug three monopolies. “You see,” he said, turning to me, “I don’t have to deal with these knuckleheads anymore.” There was no further need for trading, no need for the dynamism of the marketplace. He had done the work, built the houses, invested in the properties. Now he did no work, took no risks, made no investments. And yet wealth moved inexorably in his direction. When after ninety minutes time was called, Doug oversaw five monopolies and a wad of $10,293 in cash, more than half the money in the Monopoly bank. He was declared not only the victor at Table 25, but the all-around winner of the U.S. Steel tournament for the second year in a row.

I’d invited Richard Biddle to the tournament, and as Doug had started his run Biddle wandered off to watch the other tables. Every so often I could see him peering over the shoulders of the players, a pinched look on his face. He did not like what had become of Lizzie Magie’s invention. “My brother taught me how to play Monopoly when I was five,” he had told me. “It was pivotal in helping me understand the importance of lying, cheating, and stealing.” I’d asked him to bring along his reproduction of The Landlord’s Game, which he carried in a backpack. Earlier in the evening he had gingerly taken it out to share with whomever he could waylay. “This is the real Monopoly,” Biddle would tell the players, before attempting a sort of CliffsNotes explanation of what Lizzie Magie had in mind. The players nodded politely, their smiles freezing into nervous masks. “That’s very nice, thank you so much,” they said, and then they walked away.


[1] University of Missouri–Kansas City economics professor Michael Hudson has noted that property tax today functions in exactly the opposite fashion from George’s proposed single tax. The Federal Reserve Board is responsible for assessing the total market value of real estate in the United States, Hudson says, yet it routinely produces “nonsensical undervaluations of land.” In fact, the FRB mostly ignores land itself; instead, it considers buildings and capital improvements as the chief markers of value, basing its calculations on the historical cost of original construction and the replacement cost of structures. Land value is an afterthought. The amateur in the real estate marketplace need not read Henry George to know this flies in the face of common sense, the mantra being “location, location, location,” not “replacement cost, replacement cost, replacement cost.” Hudson has conducted some of the few authoritative analyses of the FRB’s sleight of hand, the tax losses that result, and how it benefits the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors, which together have lobbied the FRB to maintain its approach.   [2] Curtis also didn’t think much of Arden’s Georgist experiment, saying it had degenerated into something of a failure. The leaseholders, he told me, had learned to game the system by electing land assessors who based their assessments on the town’s budget needs rather than the land’s real market value, and so they avoided paying taxes at appropriate rates. “To be frank,” he said, “the people in Arden today don’t give a damn about Henry George.”   [3] Anspach twice appealed the decision, and in 1982 a California appellate court ruled in his favor, concluding that Parker Brothers had in fact committed fraud in the Darrow patent, and was thus under threat of losing its trademark. General Mills Fun Group appealed to the Supreme Court in 1982, backed by amicus briefs from nearly every major American industry group, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Trademark Association, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and the Committee on Trademarks of the Bar of the City of New York. The Court declined to hear the appeal. Anspach was nearly bankrupted, his house thrice mortgaged, his game business on the edge of ruin, his distributors unwilling to work with him because of a ten-year legal cloud. He was free, however, to continue selling Anti-Monopoly. In the past four years, he has sold 454,000 copies in European markets. Domestic sales, he says, have been comparatively small because Hasbro has used “its monopoly power to monopolize the Monopoly market” in the United States.

One thought on “This was published in HARPERS Magazine in October 2012 about the “Landlord’s Game” versus “Monopoly”:

stuartbramhallEdit

I loved playing Monopoly as a child. And the article is right. Learning to play monopoly educated me at an early age to the evils of monopoly capitalism.

Uta’s Diary, Beginning of Nov.2019

Just a couple of days ago I made this comment:

I would like to reblog this to auntyuta. In my opinion a lot of it what you say about conditions in America applies to Australia too! Just ignoring all the facts and pretending we can continue having these magnificent living standards for ever and ever, can make the situation only worse. Changes in our living standards are bound to come. I am sure we can adapt, if only, if only disastrous wars can be avoided somehow. Uta from Australia

I commented to the following post and actually reblogged it:

Here’s How Much Worse Things Will Get If Capitalism Isn’t Overthrown

‘Here’s How Much Worse Things Will Get If Capitalism Isn’t Overthrown’

Looking at this headline again, a few thoughts enter my mind. I imagine the majority of people in a majority of prosperous first world countries so far did rather well under capitalism, but even in properous countries the people at the bottom who at this stage do not so well under capitalism, these people increase more and more, that is for more and more people at the bottom all over the world things already get worse and worse. And soon it will affect also people who at the moment still do rather well. However a lot of the true capitalists are going to stay at the very top for quite a bit longer and they probably will be able to avoid a lot of the hardship that most other people have to suffer.

My worry and great concern is that if the masses are going to try to overthrow the very top people, that this will lead only to unimaginable disastrous wars. Isn’t it better to do anything to avoid such wars by continuing to do whatever is possible to reduce climate change in a peaceful way, and by for instance avoiding any clashes with the authorities? I think there are still a lot of things that can be achieved in a totally peaceful way!!

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Master Tuvan Throat Singer Kongar-ol Ondar

Master Tuvan throat singer Kongar-ol Ondar performs at a house concert in Marin County, California, Jan 2011. The whistling sound you hear is the isolated overtones of his voice, achieving single-singer harmony. There are no other instruments or vocals besides his singing and the strumming of his doshpuluur (tuvan guitar). He appeared in the acclaimed documentary “Genghis Blues” and has performed on David Letterman.

A Cemetery in Leipzig

https://auntyuta.com/2012/11/23/a-cemetery-in-leipzig/

This is a copy of my post from 23rd November 2012:

We had come by train from Berlin arriving at the Main Station in Leipzig (Hauptbahnhof)[/caption] A tram took us to the Southern Cemetery (Südfriedhof). When we got of the tram we could see the Völkerschlachtdenkmal.Crossing the road, we found ourselves right at what looked to us like the main entrance to the cemetery. There was a friendly lady in the building next to the entrance. She had the particulars of the graves at hand which were still under the care of the cemetery. People usually pay a fee which covers five years of care. If for any reason a renewal fee isn’t paid anymore, the grave site becomes a new plot for a new grave. My grandfather’s grave dated from February 1947. I knew that some of my cousins had continued to pay for the care of it. We even knew that the grave should be in section XXIV. I asked the lady could she please look up whether the grave-site still existed. The lady said, indeed, this particular grave was still under their care. It had been paid for till the year 2017. She showed us on the map where section XXIV was. This was it. We didn’t get any information about the position of the grave. We thought with the help of the grave’s number we should be able to find it anyway. Each grave under care had a particular number. We had the number of our grave. However to see the number you had to remove a stick from the soil. Then you could see the number underneath the stick. The problem was the numbers were not arranged in a consecutive order. We found the section all right. The grave-site number? This was another matter. We saw a young working woman who saw to the surrounding garden areas. She tried to help us find what we were looking for. She couldn’t work it out either where this particular site was. A gravestone with my grandfather’s name on it? Forget it. We covered the whole section, right left and center. We found nothing. In the end I felt rather tired and had a rest on a wooden bench while Peter kept on searching. Nothing! We hadn’t packed any food. Somehow we assumed we would be able to buy some food somewhere. But then except for flower-shops there had been nothing near the entrance. The toilet near the entrance was under repair. In the middle section of this huge cemetery there were toilet facilities which had been indicated at the entrance. Eventually we were heading for this middle section which turned out to be very beautiful: There were lovely well kept garden sections and stunning buildings with comforts, plenty of water and even a prayer room. Eating something, well, this had to wait. There was an office. Peter made inquiries. In this office every particular about every grave from way back was filed away. The lady from this office was able to give us a print-out with the exact position of the grave. Immediately we were full of hope again and we headed all the way back to section XXIV. We searched, and searched, and searched. We knew we were in the right area. Still no grave. We just could not see it! What was wrong? We didn’t know. I took another rest on that bench where I had been sitting before. Peter roamed about close by. The rest of the story is in the following pictures to be seen. Me, taking a rest We definitely had entered the right section. Peter contemplated in front of this more recent gravestone that here was a person who’s name ended in “….mann”. But where was “Spickermann?” Peter picked up the stick at the end of this grave site that said it was still under care. He turned over the stick, looked at the bottom of it. This was it. He shouted over to me: Darling, Darling, I found something! Look, look, look at the name! Wow, I had been sitting close to Grandfather’s burial ground all along! This is how this 65 year old gravestone has been supported for I don’t know how long. Walking through this cemetery with its tall trees was actually quite uplifting and relaxing. Lots of autumn leaves on the ground already. View to the middle section of this huge cemetery where the Crematorium is. I might publish about this a bit more some other time. An excellent cup of coffee was on offer in one of the flower shops close to the cemetery. We were told they didn’t sell any food yet. With the coffee we did get a very tiny biscuit. After coffee we had the energy to walk a bit closer to this impressive memorial. The tram took us to the city center of Leipzig where we indulged in a beautiful meal in the old council building’s restaurant. . This is where we had a lovely cooked meal.

Are we a humane Society?

In this post from 2016 Peter says, that capitalism is not interested in a humane society . . . .

I made at the time this comment to Peter’s blog:

I think capitalism would not be so bad if somehow “exploitation” could be avoided. Maybe it is not that capitalism as such is inhumane, only what people make of it because of their greed and not being satisfied with profits that can be had without any exploitation of people or countries. Letting everyone have their fair share, wouldn’t that bring about a ‘humane’ society?

What do you think, would it not be possible to let everyone have their fair share if people were only willing to be totally fair in every way? People were then also able to see that it is not right to profit from things that are bad for the environment!

Who, for heaven’s sake, could have the power to change people’s behaviour??

Peter’s blog was posted in Essay and tagged  by berlioz1935

Berlioz1935's Blog

There is so much strife in the world today. Sixty-five million people are refugees and looking for a better place where they could bring up their children in safety. The refugees often assume the nations of the European Union are shining examples of a “humane” society.

I wonder where they got that idea from? We, in the West, believe that the Western nations have indeed achieved a high level of human existence. We convinced ourselves, that since the end of the 18th Century, and the birth of the Enlightenment, we had turned the corner to a better world populated by enlightened people. We thought we had become more humane.

The educational reforms following the Enlightenment produced a better-educated populace. Research and inventions pushed us progressively towards a capitalist society in which the majority of people were indeed better off in the material sense. But the seeming progress also brought extreme…

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“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…

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.”

       

I just found this Blog in my Pages and want now to republish it once more!

Before I was three we lived in Taunus Strasse, Berlin- Friedenau. Some time during 1937 we moved to Bozener Strasse in Berlin-Schöneberg. This is where Tante Ilse and Onkel Addi lived as well and also my friend Cordula and her parents. Later on we did get to know Family T. who lived in the house opposite our apartment building.

During my early childhood Bozener Strasse was a very quiet street. There were no cars parked in the street.

Tante Ilse had this narrow but very long balcony with a lot of plants to water. As a two year old I loved to help with watering some of the plants!

Uta loves to water the plants. Mum is looking on.
Uta loves to water the plants. Mum is looking on.

Here Mum still has this “Bubikopf” which I believe became fashionable already in the 1920s.

In the next picture, which was taken in Bozener Strasse on 21st September 1947, my brother Peter is nearly six. I stand behind Peter. I turned thirteen on this day. My brother Bodo is on the left. He is nine. Beside him Eva Todtenhausen, who is going on twelve and beside Eva is Cordula who is twelve. Today I found out that Cordula died in July 2011, aged 76. This was very sad news for me. 😦

2-06-2009 5;02;21 PM23-02-2009 6;29;31 PM

The above picture is from my birthday in 1940. We stand under the huge chestnut tree. Cordula spent part of the war outside of Berlin. She is not in the 1940 picture.

We took the following picture of Bozener Strasse during our Berlin visit in September 2012. It is still the same chestnut tree. But look at all the cars now!

DSCN3831

Our apartment was on the third floor, Tante Ilse lived two floors further up. Mum quite often went up with me to visit Tante Ilse. One of my early memories is that Tante Ilse and Mum were lying  under the bright lights of some tanning lamps (Höhensonne).  They used some oil on their skin which smelled beautiful and made their skin look shiny. Their skin usually had quite a bit of a tan. They wore some protective dark glasses. Sometimes they made me lie under the lamp for a little while.  I  liked it when some of this nice smelling oil was rubbed all over my body. I too had to wear these dark glasses. I liked to wear them for a little while. But I was required to lie totally still. Very soon  I did get sick of it, not wanting to lie still any more under the hot tanning lamp. I was then always glad when I was allowed to get up again.

I remember thinking that Auntie was a very beautiful looking woman with her very long curly hair. In the three way mirrors of her dressing table I remember watching  how Auntie brushed her hair. It was very strong and long chestnut-coloured hair.  Auntie usually brushed it slightly back so it stayed behind her ears. She often wore very long blue earrings. Oh, I loved the look of these blue earrings.  They looked beautiful hanging down from Auntie’s ears! I think Mum did not wear any earrings, because her ears were covered by her hair. Mum’s brown hair was very fine and much shorter than Auntie’s. My hair was rather fine too. Mum always cut it quite short. I often wished  that I could wear my  hair longer but Mum would not let me grow it longer.

Both Auntie Ilse and Mum wore identical three big rolls of hair horizontally on top of their heads. The front rolls covered the top of their foreheads, the other two rolls were rolled behind the front roll. They often wore identical clothes, for instance light pink angora wool tops with identical grey suits.

1948: Mum 37, Uta 14, Bodo 10 and Peter 7.
1948: Mum 37, Uta 14, Bodo 10 and Peter 7.

Mum features her three big rolls of hair, I am already allowed to wear my hair long!

———-

Mum often called me  ‘MAUSEL’ or ‘Mauselchen’, whereas Auntie liked to call me ‘HERZCHEN’ or ‘LIEBLING’. Dad sometimes said ‘HERZEL’ to me, but he usually called me by my name. Mausel is derived from Maus (mouse), Herzchen means ‘little heart’, Liebling means ‘darling’.

Cordula’s mum once told  me, that her name meant ‘heart’ in the Latin language, but not to tell anyone otherwise some children would make fun of the name. I did not want anyone to make fun of Cordula. So I promised myself to keep the meaning of the name to myself.

My brother Bodo was born in June 1938. I think Cordula’s  brother Tilwin was born a few months after that. Mum said that Tilwin was an extremely odd name. It turned out he grew up with very bright red hair. The children in the street teased him about his hair. As much as possible Cordula always stood up for her  brother. I think for the most part Tilwin avoided playing with other children.

The Lepsius apartment was on the same side as our apartment, just two floors further up. (Auntie Ilse’s apartment was on the other side of the fifth floor). I often went up to the Lepsius apartment all by myself to play with Cordula. They had a ‘roof-garden’ (Dachgarten) above their apartment. It was the size of a big room and had no roof above it. I remember the sun shining right into it. The floor was concrete and along the walls were garden-beds . Cordula was allowed to look after her own little garden-bed.. Once Cordula’s Mum let me have a portion of a little garden-bed too! Cordula’s Mum and Dad were always kind to me. They made me feel welcome and included.

Cordula’s family had food that I had never seen before.. For snacks we children were often given some kind of brown flakes and raisins. Sometimes we were given dates or figs. I loved this food! My Mum thought it was strange to eat something like that. In Mum’s opinion this family was rather odd because they had lived in the Middle East for a while. Cordula’s  father was an architect. My Mum called him ‘the Hunger-Architect’ (Hungerleider)  since he seemed to get hardly any work in his profession.

Mum must have seen their apartment once for I remember her remarking how sparsely furnished it was.  Mum found their choice of furniture quite odd. There were a great number of shelves stacked full with books. These shelves went from floor to ceiling. Herr Lepsius sometimes showed us children books with colourful  illustrations. He also told us stories. We loved one story in particular which had a funny ending. We demanded to be told that story again and again. Each time we laughed our heads off and Herr L laughed with us. The story was about a beggar who knocked at the door of an apartment. A beautiful maid opened the door. Some time later the beggar knocked at another door of an apartment in the neighbouring building. And the same beautiful maid opened the door! We found the astonishment of the beggar very funny! Herr L explained to us, that a wall had been broken through to connect the apartments on that floor. This was actually where the family of Herr L had lived, when he was a boy.

Herr L was old and bald. He was about twenty years older than his wife. Quite a few years later Cordula and I went to the same high-school. We walked there together every morning. One morning I climbed up the stairs to  Cordula’s  apartment to find out why she  had not come down yet to go to school with me. I rang the bell. Frau L opened the door. She was in tears. She did not let me come in but went with me to the top of the stairs. She said: “Our father just died; I haven’t even told Cordula yet.”  She looked at me with despair in her face.  I did not know what to say. She hugged me and then she disappeared in her apartment.

12 Responses to “Early Memories”

berlioz1935

June 3, 2013 at 10:54 am Edit #

The last paragraph is very interesting as you must have rang the door bell at a moment of great turmoil and grief for the L. family.

That gave me an idea and I Googled her and I must say I’m very sorry to say I have learnt that your friend Cordula has passed away in the European summer of 2011.

I will send you the notification by email.

REPLY

auntyuta

June 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm Edit #

Thanks for that, Berlioz.

REPLY

giselzitrone

June 3, 2013 at 7:08 pm Edit #

Hallo liebe Freundin wünsche dir auch einen schönen Tag wieder so schön geschrieben ja die gute alte Zeit man hat gute und schlechte Erinnerung daran,und alles liegt schon so weit zurück.hatte heute mal keine Lust viel zu schreiben,naher kommt jemand raus um den P.C. anzusehen manches mal stimmt was nicht ist immer was ärgerlich.Ich wünsche dir eine glückliche schöne Woche bei euch scheint sicher die Sonne bei uns ist Regen.Lieber Gruß von mir.Gislinde

REPLY

auntyuta

June 3, 2013 at 9:14 pm Edit #

Ja, hoffentlich hört der Regen bei euch bald auf. In vielen Teilen Deutsclands sind ja zur Zeit Überschwemmungen. Wir sahen es in den Nachrichten. Wir hatten auch wieder etwas Regen. Dieser wurde bei uns gebraucht, denn es fing schon an etwas auszutrocknen.

Na, dann lass mal deinen PC recht schön auf Schwung bringen!

Dann macht das Schreiben wieder Spass. Viele liebe Grüsse von Uta.

REPLY

likeitiz

June 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm Edit #

Lovely photos, Aunty. I guess back in those days the adverse effects of tanning salons was not known yet. You had gorgeous hair at 14 years in one of the pictures. Do you know where your friend Cordula is nowadays?

REPLY

auntyuta

June 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm Edit #

My husband Peter aka Berlioz made a comment to the last paragraph of this blog. It gave him the idea to research on Google where Cordula is nowadays. He found out the sad news that Cordula died in the European summer or autumn of 2011, aged 76. Sad news: 😦

Thanks for commenting, Mary-Ann.

I feel sorry that I had lost contact with Cordula over the years. The last time I had seen her was in 1986. I probably could have done more to keep in touch with her. All I know is that at the time her priorities were to give her two children the best possible start in life and to establish a business with her older and already retired husband.

The death notice the computer found for Peter in a church bulletin from October 2011. This was definitely a death notice for Cordula. It showed the correct spelling of her first name and double surname.

REPLY

WordsFallFromMyEyes

June 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm Edit #

You at 14 is wow. And your mother looks so lovely. I can’t imagine handling that many kids!

Re the oil over your body – I agree. I would have loved that 🙂

REPLY

auntyuta

June 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm Edit #

Funny you should think three kids is too many. Actually Tante Ilse thought so too. She thought two children would have been plenty, especially during times of war.

The oil, yes Noeleen, I really loved the smell. I can still imagine all the beautiful smells in Auntie’s bedroom. I am still very sensitive to smell. Some smells I love, others I detest.

REPLY

The Emu

June 5, 2013 at 11:07 pm Edit #

Beautiful yet sad memories Auntyuta, I see by one of the other comments that your friend Cordula passed away in 2011, a beautiful friendship spanning many years.

Emu

REPLY

auntyuta

June 6, 2013 at 12:18 am Edit #

Emu, thanks very much for your comment. I have so many memories about Cordula going as far back as 1937 I believe. It’s kind of strange that there are big gaps when she wasn’t around because of the war. There were some beautiful years of friendship after the war. However she was in a different school year and had not the same friends that I had. Maybe Lieselotte who was in my class, was the only mutual friend we had. Then her Mum died and she moved away to live with her aunts. Later on she lived in the Middle East. She wrote me beautiful letters. She had a good job. She married late in life. Had two children, sent me lovely photos of her family. She moved with her husband back to Germany. I only saw her once again for an afternoon visit. This was in 1986, such a long time ago! There’s so much I don’t know. Maybe there’s a chance to find out where Tilwin, her brother, is. The last we heard from him, he lived with his wife and two children in Düsseldorf. But this goes back maybe fifty years. Such gaps in time.

I can only say that I always thought that Cordula was a very special person. Maybe I’m imagining things, but I think she was filled with inner beauty. No, I’m not imagining this. This is how she was. I am sure she led a good life. You’re right, Emu, beautiful yet sad memories.

REPLY

DevonTexas

June 6, 2013 at 1:41 am Edit #

mein Mitgefühl für die Freundin. I’m pleased, however, that you are sharing these memories with us. I feel like I was there. Gute Woche!

REPLY

auntyuta

June 6, 2013 at 7:19 am Edit #

Thanks, Devon, have a good week too.

How we settled in Australia

   This is a copy of a blog that I published in  August 2011:

Life in AustraliaMemories 

We disembarked in Port Melbourne on the 31st of May, 1959. The same day a train took us from Melbourne to the Bonegilla Hostel (near Albury/Wodonga).

Click to access BME-Site-Guide.pdf

The train was a special train for us migrants who had come on the S.S. STRAITHAIRD to Port Melbourne.

 

Around lunch-time we stopped in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. There were two long huts. Some Australian volunteer ladies were about to serve us a warm meal in these huts. One hut was designated for women and children, the other for men. Each hut was equipped with long tables and benches.

It was lunch-time. The meal for us consisted of meat with three vegies: Potatoes, carrots and peas. The peas were straight away called ‘Kuller-Erbsen’ by some German migrants for they thought the peas weren’t soft enough. They kept joking they were just good enough to be ‘kullert’ (rolled around)!

Peter was most upset that he wasn’t allowed to sit with me and the children. ‘I could’ve helped you with the feeding of the babies,’ he said. ‘Why on earth wouldn’t they let me sit with you?’ Yes, I would have loved Peter to be with us for the meal. Nonetheless, I felt that the feeding of the newcomers was well organised. I thought we ought to be thankful that they went to a lot of trouble to provide a warm meal for all of us. Strangely enough, I even liked the ‘Kuller-Erbsen’. The meat-rissoles were tasty and suitable to be fed to the babies. Besides, they had allowed us enough time for our lunch; we did not feel rushed at all. — And there were special chairs for all the babies! That gave me the feeling that Australians liked children. In Germany we had never seen a baby-chair in any public place!

In the evening our train stopped at a siding close to the Bonegilla Migrant Hostel. It was still early evening, but already pitch dark. And we could immediately feel that it was going to be a very cold night.

At the Hostel we were assigned two rooms in one of the huts. One room contained two single beds with two sheets and four Army blankets on each bed. In the other room were two baby cots, also with sheets and warm baby blankets. Both rooms were freezing cold. An electric radiator was in each room. We decided we would use only one room to sleep in, and use the other room as a store-room for our luggage and for one of the cots. One of the cots fitted into our bedroom. So we let our twenty-one months old baby sleep in it. Our six months old baby was to sleep in her pram, of course also in the same room with us. We pushed the two single beds together to make one big bed. One of the Army blankets we hung over the window as an extra buffer against the cold. Using both radiators for the one room it was soon pleasantly warm.

 Before bedtime we were given another hot meal in the huge dining hall. We were told every day we would get breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining hall. The meals were served from a counter. And again there was no shortage of baby-chairs for all the little ones!

For breakfast there was always semolina available, which was cooked in creamy milk. Our babies liked to eat it and so did I. Most German grown-ups didn’t like it at all and would complain that this sort of food was served every morning.

 Nonetheless, this was not the only breakfast food. There was always toast and butter and jams as well as other hot cooked food; for instance baked beans, scrambled or boiled eggs or fried eggs with bacon. I think there was also fruit-juice on offer and of course hot tea as well as coffee. The coffee would not have been made the way Germans liked it, but I’m sure I thought by myself, we had really nothing to complain about!

 We had severely cold nights during the month of June and wonderful sunshine during the day. We could use an outside laundry free of charge. There were a number of huge kettles and laundry tubs. Most mornings we boiled nappies in one of the kettles. After having rinsed those nappies in one of the laundry tubs, they were hung outside on one of the long clothes-lines. The sun quickly dried them. Taking the dry nappies of the line, they smelled wonderfully fresh! Some of the women made some rather sly remarks about how Peter was always around to help me with the babies as well as all the daily washing. They were probably envious that their husbands didn’t help them as much!

 We soon made friends with another German couple who had two babies of about the same age as our babies. During the day we often went for walks with them. The fresh air was good for all of us, especially for the babies, two of them being pushed around in their prams, while the other two could already walk a bit and when they got tired they could sit on a little seat which was fastened to the front of the pram.

 This other German family had been neighbours of ours on the S.S. Straithaird. The voyage on that P & O ocean-liner had been absolutely first class: Families with very small children had been accommodated on C-Deck with private cabins for each family! The cabins were large enough for double bunks for the parents as well as room for two cots. Right next to our cabin we had our own private bathroom, where the steward would fill the bathtub for us with hot seawater. He did this twice daily. Next to the bathtub was a dish which was filled with hot softwater for soaping ourselves.

 Every morning our steward collected our baby nappies to take them to the laundry-service, for which we had to pay some money. We were not allowed to wash nappies in the communal laundry, which people could use for free. Our voyage lasted for five weeks. For a five weeks nappy-service we had sufficient money, only just. Naturally we could not buy anything in the shops on board the ship. This did not in the least matter to us. All the meals on board for the passengers were absolutely first class! We regarded this sea-voyage as the best holiday we ever had.

 In Bonegilla we were immediatly given ‘dole’-money, since nobody had started work yet. The migrant workers were given a choice to look around themselves for a job or to start working in the Port Kembla Steelworks in Wollongong. Peter chose to go to Wollongong, a pleasant town at the Pacific Ocean. (We still live in the area!) Most migrants chose to start in the Steelworks. For a number of years Peter worked in the Steelworks with a gang of brush-handpainter climbing onto very high chimneys in order to paint these chimneys.

 Over the years Peter has had lots of different jobs. He was never out of work. It was like that in the sixties: There were always jobs available for everyone. People did not have to be afraid of losing their job. In the seventies Peter joined the railways and eventually was an ASM (Assistant Station Master). He worked then for the railways until his retirement.

 We raised four children in Australia. We are debtfree and own our own home. We never regretted that we left Germany to live in Australia. However we like to go back to Germany for visits. We’ve done so a number of times. 

A link to a Post of Peter’s with excellent Pictures!

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/my-brain-my-master-or-an-imperfect-tool/

This post of Peter’s has some excellent pictures in it. Towards the end of the post you can see a very good  picture of the Gratitude Bell!

I copied some of the comments to Peter’s post. So, I had actually reblogged the post at the time!

Very well written essay about some of the difficulties in old age. I also like all the pictures you included. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  1. I don’t think it’s your brain that is responsible, but a tireless ego, a strong will to live that dismisses the fact of aging. I can surely see this with my Dad. As we age, the brain does not accept information as rapidly as in our youth, but I find that I’m able to think on a much deeper level as I grow older and have stronger powers of concentration.

  2. Thanks for commenting. You are probably right. My post is more tongue in cheek than anything else. But there seems to be a disconnect of what we want and of what we can achieve. At times, it is frustrating. Generally, I’m happy with my age and with my ability to manage my life.