Antiquity - the Birth of Pop Art 
Monday, 09 .April, 2007, 12:03 - English Entries, Comics, History

The "Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe" (Museum of Art and Trade) in Hamburg finally shatters all my dreams in a new exhibition on "Bunte Götter - Die farbenfrohe Welt der Alten Griechen" (Multicoloured Gods - The Colourful World of Old Greece), in which the buildings and statues from the age of Antiquity are shown with their reconstructed colours.

After reading (not yet seeing) Frank Millers graphic novel "300", I was sure that the guys from Sparta looked like he depicted them: brown-pastel shades with red being the only statement that could be made in this great time.

Now, after this exhibition, can anyone imagine the staging of a Greece tragedy in such costumes? Does anyone want to see Oedipus, cutting out his eyes, in a turquoise robe with light yellow spots? Was there any way to avoid the take-over of this culture by the Romans and later on by the Barbarians, who for sure were dressed in proper grey and earth-coloured stuff?

Ah, that's the downfall of Western civilization.
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Then and Now - a Reaction on Overreaction. 
Sunday, 06 .August, 2006, 14:07 - English Entries, History, Politics

Six centuries ago,
Serbia heroically defended itself in the field of Kosovo, but it also defended Europe.
Serbia was at that time the bastion that defended the European culture, religion,
and European society in general.

Slobodan Milosevic's 1989 St. Vitus Day Speech

About four weeks ago, Israel was attacked by Hezbollah. Two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped, five others were killed.

Today Israel is in the middle of a war, which is understood by some as an act of self-defence. The Lebanon gets destroyed and faces a major humanitarian, social and political crisis. The good, the bad, the civilians - people die every day.

Five years ago, about 3000 people died in the World Trade Centre attacks. Since then we had bombings in Madrid, in London and several other attacks and attempts. The Western World, the free World is under attack by terrorists, who have a fundamentalist Muslim background.

Today US and European troops are in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both countries are staggering towards civil war. People get killed every day, by fanatic believers, by panicking and cracked-up soldiers, by people who are afraid.

The Battle of Tours and Poitiers 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict


In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic held a speech in which he linked a battle, that took place in 1389, to the political situation in former Yugoslavia. I remember that everybody in the rest of Europe shook heads about this reference. Milosevic was already then a shady figure and not long after, he was stamped as a war criminal.

And today? We talk about defending our values, the clash of civilization and the spirit of the free world. We are afraid of the Muslims. We do not only have the right to defend ourselves - we have the obligation to defend ourselves even without being attacked. And if we are attacked, then we do not only have the right to overreact, we are forced to overreact. We have to put fear into them. War is the only language they understand.

Doesn't that sound as if Vienna would be under siege again? And that we should consider to march to Tours and Poitiers once more?

Or does that sound more as if it is time to shake our heads again? To hold our weapons. To prevent us from becoming the beast, that we think the others are.

Stop taking our values as an excuse to betray them.

Stop manipulating us.

Stop the war in Lebanon.


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Finnish and German history during the 20th century - from supporting the national movement to burning Lapland 
Monday, 12 .June, 2006, 22:05 - English Entries, Finland, Germany, History
There were several occasions during the last years when I talked with different Finnish people about Germany. That's not a big surprise, I am a German and Finns are usually curious and many of them even have studied my mother tongue for a long time in school. What I learned is, that many Finns have a very distinct view on Germany and that this view is based on the last 100 years of history, in which Finns and Germans had a lot of interaction.

During World War One German troops went into Russia, which was weakened after the the revolution and the take-over of power by the communists. It was a major German interest to establish a line of buffer states between Russia and central Europe. This was achieved when Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which gave independence to a number of states that before formed part of Russia, including Ukraine, the Baltic states, Poland and also Finland.

Finland is the only country that was able to maintain its independence from 1918 till today. But immediately after gaining independence the Finnish Civil War broke loose, in which the socialist/communist Red Guards fought for several months in the beginning of 1918 against the conservative White Guards, which were lead by Marshall Mannerheim. There were cruetlies done on both sides, but it seems to me that the White Guards organized their way of fighting in a dramatic way, by establishing camps in which mass executions of the red enemies became daily business (see here). Parts of the White Guards were trained in Germany and formed so-called "Jäger" troops.

During the Civil War, Helsinki was held by the Red Guards. In early April 1918 Germany, still ruled by an Emperor at that time, sent troops to the Southern Finnish city of Hanko. From there they marched to Helsinki, conquered the capital and handed it over to the Whites.

The German prince Frederick Charles of Hesse even became elected king of Finland in 1918, but he ruled only for two month and afterwards Finland became finally a republic, with Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg as the first president.

Later, during World War Two, the secret protocol included in the Hitler-Stalin (Molotov-Ribbentrop) Pact "allowed" Russia to conquer Finland (and other countries) again. Russia tried occupy Finland again during the so-called Winter War from November 1939 till March 1940, but gave finally up.

Few years after that, German troops again fought in the so-called Continuation War together with the Finns against Russia. No doubt about it that it would have been in no way desirable for anybody in the Western hemisphere that Finland would become part of Russia again. Still this does not excuse anything what happened several hundred kilometres South in central Europe in the name of Germany.

The Finns and the Russians signed a armistice. One of the conditions in there was, that all German troops had to be kicked out of Finland. This finally lead to the Lapland War, the last war in Finnland during World War II. The Germans, moving back towards West followed their strategy of "scorched earth", meaning they burnt most of the villages and towns they came through in order to not give anything into the hand of their enemy. The city of Rovaniemi was completely destroyed and re-built anew after the war.

There are much more details to all these issues, but to me it seems that those parts of history play a major role in the thinking that some Finnish people have about the Germans. It ranges from "You freed us from the Communists", over "Our fathers kicked the Russians out" to "You burned my hometown". It is all part of History and I am just happy that people here are not getting over-excited about these things but mostly making jokes about it.


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Jewish History in Warsaw 
Wednesday, 31 .May, 2006, 16:02 - English Entries, History, Photographs, Travel
Yesterday we took a guided tour on Jewish history in Warsaw. Here are some impressions from the tour.

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Tablet at the Jewish Cementary in Warsaw, reminding of the Holocaust.

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The only remains of the wall around the Jewish Ghetto can be found in a backyard. The Ghetto was established in October 1940 by the Germans, in order to isolate the Jewish population of Warsaw. At its peak there were 450.000 Jewish people living in the Ghetto. Most of them were brought to the Treblinka extermination camp, where they got killed.

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Some of the stones of that wall have been removed and brought to Jewish mueseums and memorial sites all over the world.

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The memorial place for the uprise within the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw - nearly all Jews still living in the Ghetto got killed by the Nazis.

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Mila 18 - the place where the leaders of the Ghetto uprise killed themselves, before the Nazis could get hold of them.

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Umschlagplatz - from here the trains from Warsaw ran to the Treblinka extermination camp, where nearly 900.000 people got killed.

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When German chancellor Willy Brandt came to Warsaw in 1970, he fell on his knees in front of the memorial place for the uprising in the Jewish Ghetto. This gesture became famous as the "Warschauer Kniefall", which opend the door for better relations between Western Germany and Eastern Europe. This memorial site remind of the "Kniefall"

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The jewish cementary, which is over 200 years old.

» Further Impressions from the visit to Warsaw (Flickr)
»
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