‘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!!
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.
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.
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??
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…
“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.”
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!
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. 😦
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!
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.
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”
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.
June 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm Edit #
Thanks for that, Berlioz.
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
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.
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?
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!