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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and deliver us from evil 
Wednesday, 07 .June, 2006, 11:04 - English Entries, Comedy, Germany, Politics, Religion


Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast
(bad quality video)
Yesterday was June the 6th 2006, which can be written as 6.6.6. The "Book of Revelation", the last part of the Bible, names this sequence of digits as "The Number of the Beast", that means it represents the devil. Some peopole see in this much more than just a number - they think it is a true symbol, i.e. writing down or mentioning it would automatically evoke evil.

First of all: I like legends and symbols, there is usually a lot of inspiration coming from them. Just think of the Greek gods and their adventures. 666 was used in the 20th century on several occasions to provoke the superstitious and conservative parts of society, to indicate the departure of more liberal-minded elements from traditional values.


Stoiber in an Interview
You don't need to speak German to understand this.
What happend yesterday? The news were filled with two things: Satanists spilling blood over their body and dancing naked in the woods to celebrate their lord of evil - and Christians praying to avoid the worst and to save the world just once again by kneeling down and folding hands. My thanks and blessings go to both camps. Mankind made it to the next day and nothing has changed - so their efforts were successful. I don't want to know what would have happend if they would not have cared so much for all of us.

In the South-Eastern part of Germany nevertheless they took an extra effort to rescue the last remains of moral and fear of God. Mr. Stoiber, the great leader of the Christian Socialist Union (CSU) and adored prime minister of the Republic of Bavaria invited other great minds - the leaders of religious groups in Germany - to a summit on how to protect religious views and symbols from being laughed at. Two reasons for the summit that were officially mentioned were the Muhammed cartoons and the TV-series Popetown, which both brought up understandable rage among many believers. Stoiber's goal is to change German criminal law in order to put criticism and humour in the right place: behind bars.


Stoiber's famous speech "10 Minuten"
The Western World is one of the worst places to live in. Everybody can freely utter their opinion. Women are allowed to vote and some of them have even been seen in parliament. Scientists can research things that make the existence of a higher being less and less necessary. Children grow up without reading the Bible. Some people seem to even have sexual intercourse before they marry. What a misery we have created here.

Therefore I want to also thank those who participated yesterday in Stoiber's summit. I understand now that we have to protect and take special care of people who belive in numerology, Satan and the CSU.


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Der Palast der Republik 
Friday, 26 .May, 2006, 12:28 - English Entries, Germany, History, Online/Blogs, Politics

Der Palast der Republik, Berlin, Germany Lewis wrote a very good article on German architecture, that I recommend you to read. One of the buildings mentioned there is "Der Palast der Republik", which is currently being demolished. The building is located in the Eastern part of Berlin and the so-called Parliament (Volkskammer) of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR or in German: DDR) had its seat there.

It is with no doubt good that the GDR does not exist anymore and that Germany is re-united. But the decision to tear down the Palast der Republic, which was taken by the German Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag), is just a shame. It might be that the building seems ugly to some - we have more ugly buildings in Germany than one can count, so that is not an argument. The major reason is, that this building represents a part of German history, that most Germans are not proud of and some people also don't want to be reminded of it. With this reasoning it is still a violent act to destroy the building - it is the pride of the winning side in a cold-war between two ideologies.

» English Wikipedia: Der Palast der Republik
» Take a stroll through the palace online
» Ideology, Football, and Architecture - posting on German architecture at lewism.org
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German Music: Peter Licht and the End of Capitalism 
Monday, 22 .May, 2006, 10:25 - English Entries, Germany, Music

Peter Licht - Vierzehn Lieder Peter Licht (translates to "Peter Light") is one of the most surreal German artists that I know. His songs are soft (electro) pop, his lyrics are often far from reality. His best known album so far was "Vierzehn Lieder" (Fourteen Songs), on which he had such inspiring messages as "Gravity is overrated - it is not really necessary", "Stay away from Pop Culture" or "We are young and we are worrying about our chances on the job market". He sang about his "Relative from Transsylvania" and regretted that he lost a "Parking lot at the foot of the N'Gong mountains". Most famous became his beautifully simple song "sun deck" and this one:

Peter Licht:
Cheerfulness


I love the hate speeches of my shoemaker
whenever I give him something that needs to be repaired
I love being insulted by guys who make pizza
I love it to be grilled by somebody
I love the songs of civil servants,
I love love this sing-sang

I love to lose direction in the vally of tears
I love to be left there standing when it rains shit
I appreciate when moths like my clothes
I love when somebody tells me that something will not work out
I love talks about suicide
I love love this sing-sang

But it needs to be charming
And it needs to be subtle
And it must not miss humor
And it should be sexy
And it should be of wit
And cheerfulness

I also appreciate the big catastrophes
I love social differences
I love it when everybody is complaining,
I love love this sing-sang

But it needs to be charming
And it needs to be subtle
And it must not miss humor
And it should be sexy
And it should be of wit
And cheerfulness

A few days ago his new Album "Lieder vom Ende des Kapitalismus" (Songs about / from the End of Capitalism) came out, together with a book ("Wir werden gewinnen" / We Will Win). I could not resist and gave the translation of the title song a try - it's simply too good.

Peter Licht:
Song from / about the End of Capitalism

did you already
did you hear already
this is the end
the end
of capitalism
now it's finally over

over over over over over over
over over oh-over over
now it's finally over

do you remember
we rode with the sun carriage
over the firmament

and we plucked the stuff
from the shelves – from the stores
and we were complete

do you remember
we organized our things
with money

over over over over over over
over over oh-over over
now it's finally over

do you remember
we all labelled ourselves
and put on less and less clothes

do you remember
when we all were too much
do you remember

labelled and too much
and our bellies –
our capitalistic bellies

over over over over over over

capitalism, the old trickster,
he lived us off long enough

over over over over
now it's finally over
over over over over
now it's finally over

it was long enough anyhow
it was long enough anyhow

did you already
did you hear already
it's finally over

Obviously his lyrics do not offer an alternative to the capitalistic system, his criticism is not clearly formulated and it is all not helpful to really fix the problems of our time. Accepted!

But Peter takes us to an over-idealistic dance on a meadow, where we can believe for something around three minutes that everything is over and better now. It's over, over, over - it's finally over. He sums up the worries and fears in a single word, that he abandons and it becomes clear that afterwards we just feel free and light.

Of course this is an illusion, a cheap trick, playing with the feelings of the listeners. But then again: whatever he expresses would not work if there would not be the true desire for such a change. Or at least a general feeling of being fed-up with the current situation and system.

The song is a big, easy smile, that lurks behind our own dissatisfaction. It is friendly and harmless, it does not talk about revolution or brutality. It has gone past those revolting against something. It gives hope, without saying for what we should hope. Peter Licht is an artist who does not try to teach us anything but criticizes in the most friendly, humorous and effective way.

» Listen to "Lied vom Ende des Kapitalismus" (on Peter Licht's MySpace Page)
» Watch the Video of "Heiterkeit" (Cheerfulness) - on YouTube
» Watch the Video of "Clubbing Against Capitalism" - on YouTube
» Watch the Video of "Meine transsylvanische Verwandte" - on YouTube

» Peter Licht – Official Homepage (in German)
» Wikipedia.de: Peter Licht (in German)

» Amazon.de: Peter Licht - CD: Vierzehn Lieder
» Amazon.de: Peter Licht - CD: Lieder vom Ende des Kapitalismus
» Amazon.de: Peter Licht - CD: Lieder vom Ende des Kapitalismus + Book: Wir werden siegen

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