Albert Einstein and the new Berlin-Brandenbourg International Airport

“Yedioth Ahronot”. published yesterday (6.24.08) on his Hebrew printed edition: “Berlin considering to name it’s new international airport ‘Albert Einstein’ “.To be more precise Der Spiegel  already hinted on October 18, 2007 to additional names  Dietrich, Willy Brandt or von Stauffenberg? see here.

Construction of the new Airport Berlin Brandenburg International, see here, has started at Schönefeld and the new airport is scheduled for opening in 2011. It will be one on the bigest airport in Europe, and  his greatness and vastness demands  the name of an illustrious great men of fame, and Albert Einstein is a perfect candidate.

The special thing about the BBI Infotower is its unusual and rather striking design.

Photos source.

Well at a first glance, this is indeed a great honor for the Jewish people, to propose the name of Albert Einstein for the new Airport Berlin Brandenburg International, (what today is called the Schönefeld airport) ; in good accordance with the German restitution policy  funded by millions of euros given to the holocaust survivors and  other more discrete help for Israel’s security.
 
But I feel some uneasiness about this possible nomination. Because this is more a German issue than a Jewish or Israeli issue. Einstein lived in Berlin, and in 1933 was at his apogee as a scientists and as an international celebrity. I quote, …” Einstein was elected to the Prussian Academy of Science in Berlin in 1913. When he accepted the professorship of physics at the University of Berlin in 1914, he once more assumed German citizenship. The same year, he became director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute in Berlin. He occupied both positions until 1933.”…
 
 And then  began the great debacle, I quote , …”After the rise of NAZI in Germany, Einstein left for USA. Einstein and relatives left Europe for the United States, on December 9, 1930. In 1933, the Nazi government took his property and deprived him of his positions and citizenship.”…see here.


 
It is only natural that in actual Germany, Albert Einstein’s destitution under the Nirenberg decrees, the calling of the ‘The General Theory of Relativity’ and his seminal contribution to the birth of quantum mechanics  ‘Jewish Physics‘, finally leading to his escape from Germany’s Third Reich in 1930, is considered as an unbearable shame.  
 
The Times, in 2000, nominated Einstein as the ‘Person of the Century’: he was the person whose vision reshaped the view of the universe. The Times only ratified a latent choice of a vast majority of people.

All this to say: Berlin is eager to restitute to Albert Einstein his citizenship and property in the form of a grandiose entrance gate  “Albert Einstein (Berliner) International Airport”. But can you bargain such a deal for the  name of the new Berliner  airport?   Is it not better to remember him as Albert Einstein who opened the gates of our cosmos, not the gates of an airport.

A Jewish State in Germany as an Artwork

In the name of ART everything is possible. Ron Edelman a graduate student at an art university in Weimar, relying heavily on this axiom, proposes to launch an alternative Jewish state in Germany in the state of Thuringia with the town of Weimar as capital, about 10 km from Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp.

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“Magav in Weimar”, Ron Edelman.

I quote from the Israeli newspaper “haaretz”, 

….”Whenever someone launches an initiative towards establishing a Jewish state in addition to the one already in existence, there is invariably a ripple effect. This time, however, an even bigger stir than usual has been caused by the proposed site of the “second Israel”: Germany.”…

…”Ronen Eidelman, a journalist who espouses politically leftist views and is currently completing his masters studies at an art university in Weimar, says the movement that he heads is in fact his final academic project.”…

…” One of the motivating factors which compelled Eidelman to conceive of his idea was the famous speech delivered by Iran’s president calling for the elimination of the state of Israel and the establishment of a Jewish-run entity in an alternate location in Europe. ‘It’s clear that Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier and not some great theoretician, but he touched upon a very exposed nerve.’A video academic work produced by the artist Yael Bartana, which depicts a Polish member of parliament calling on the Jews to return to Poland (“We miss you”), served as the tipping point for Eidelman.

‘The state of Thuringia is becoming more empty of people, the economy is not successful, and there is no immigration,” Eidelman said. “They’re hurting from the fact that there are no foreigners here. Hitler’s dream of racially pure states has proven to be a nightmare. You walk down the street and notice all the girls look alike. I’m going to convince the Germans that a Jewish state here is to their benefit.’ “ see more.

The ‘haaretz’ ‘s article also mention’s another Israeli artist Yael Bertana whose video work, “Mary Koszmary” (Nightmares), , presented at the Foksal Gallery Foundation was the trigger to Edelsman video, Yael Bertana’s wants to import 3 million of Jews to Poland and in one scene a Polish member of parliament says ” We are missing you” :

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See here for the full scene.

In the Middle East, the law of improbable events becoming real events, works overtime : perhaps Ron Edelman will import a Jewish state to Goethe’s Weimar and Yael Bertana resurrect 3 million of Polish Jews, both in the name of Art.. 

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Nazi Propaganda in Misleading Paris Occupation Photos

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Via my Internet subscription to the french newspaper “Le Figaro” I found an article named “Cette exposition est tout à fait légitime”. Seeking an English written article on the same subject I found one on “FRANCE24″ named “German occupation photo exhibit causes scandal” . The opening lines describes in a few words what it’s all about “A controversial new photography exhibit entitled, ‘Parisians Under Occupation’ shows scenes of daily life that contrast sharply with the reality of the German occupation from 1940 to 1945″. (Photography exhibition, “Parisians Under Occupation” at the City Hall Library in Paris features 250 color photographs by French photographer André Zucca taken for the Nazi propaganda daily).
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Paris 1940-45
 
  Looking at the exhibition’s video clips reminded me of the same years in Brussels, where as a kid, I was living and hiding from the Nazis, with my family.The architectural resemblance between Paris and Brussels are striking; the same houses, streets., the same fashion, the false Idyllic look of a good living world. And all this, only a propaganda veil hiding the atrocities of the Nazi regime all over Europe.
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What ignite the fire of scandal was , I quote, that… “These unedited images, taken by a 24/36 Leica, were taken between 1942 to 1945, the height of the German occupation. The absence of any explanation about the propaganda element in the exhibit is striking…
 
  ..Most of the photos contrast sharply with the history books recalling the Vel d’hiver roundup and deportation in July 1942. Where are the snaking lines outside food stores? Where are the witnesses of the occupation? Rare are the photos where a yellow star sewn on coat lapels is seen on passers-by. This unexpected take on “German France” does not leave one indifferent.”…see here.
  
Here are more photos:
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I extracted the photos from  France 24″ here and from ”Le Figaro” here.
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Meanwhile the scandal continue,  I quote,..”WIthout questioning their beauty, the photos are disturbing. Even worse, the very title of the exhibit is rather shocking, due to its inaccuracy. Christophe Girard, the Parisian deputy mayor in charge of culture, is quite clear.”… “We should stop this exhibit!” …”Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë says the incident was “badly managed”, and is trying to put things right. He preferred not to ban the exhibit to avoid accusations of censorship, but removed the posters advertising the show. Organisers are also planning a debate titled “Is the camera an objective witness?” in a last-minute attempt to correct their early mistakes”..see more.
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 Well, I was a witness of those past days. What I remember are photos like these  from the “..’round-up’ or ‘raid’ of the Velodrome d’Hiver’,(see here), mirroring similar photos of Nazis raids in Brussels.
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I published this story on NowPublic and add here the comments by  NowPublic editors and contributing members.
 

 

 

 

 
good stuff:For me, the only way to take those exhibited images beyond revisionism/propaganda would be to show them alongside documentary counterparts: the image and the reality… sort of like what you did in the story above!

jordan thanks for the comment and the GS.

The curators of the exhibition trayed to minimize their mistakes, “..A large excerpt from the preface to the exhibition catalogue (Ed Gallimard / Paris Library), prepared by Jean-Pierre Azema, a specialist historian of this period is included in the exhibition since its opening and also recalls the historical context in which these photographs were taken, for more see here ..

…A weak palliative for bad conscience.

 
good stuff:korzac, I like this story. It’s good stuff. Excellent story and coverage Korzac

Barry Artiste, thanks for the comment and the GS.

 
good stuff:One must always guard against revisionist history. 

Karen Hatter, the exhibition is a form of visual deceit under the decent patronage of ‘culture’. But the french living witnesses of those years denounced the fraud..

Thanks for the comment and the GS.

I think all governments contribute propeganda to their citizens.

History reveals many things, sometimes it takes a while to come out. Many Germans, I believe, had no idea what was happening far away.

Of course they would prfer to be thinking of good things happening from their nations actions, just as we all are wishing to belive good things are happening from current conflict zones.

Matte, about your..”Many Germans, I believe, had no idea what was happening far away”..

Look at this ..”In a seminal study published thirty-five years ago, The Destruction of the European Jews, Raul Hilberg observed that the perpetrators of the Nazi holocaust were “not different in their moral makeup from the rest of the population…. [T]he machinery of destruction was a remarkable cross-section of the German population.”..see here.

Or look at this ..”To think that the Germans were unaware of the genocide is ignorant and absurd. The Germans saw as well as the Jews did what was going on. Why do you think so many Jews fled the country? They knew that death awaited them in the hands of the Nazis. The Germans saw the Jews being humiliated, corralled through the city, loaded up in trains and sent off to die horrible deaths in the concentration camps.’.. see here.

And look at the link with the title ..’The Genocide Generals: secret recordings explode the myth they knew nothing about the Holocaust“…see here.

I think Matte perhaps is stating that German civilians and soldiers far away from the conflict of the cities, perhaps the countryside and soldiers stationed outside of Germany may not have known about the concentration camps. Though I am sure rumours circulated, and perhaps even the rumours were infathomable to believe that humans could do that to humans.

Propeganda means different things to different people, and people belive what they want to believe. A study after a war cannot accuratly deduce what was going on inside people’s heads at the time. Yes people were being taken away – but at the time I belive NO ONE knew to where or for what fate.

People belive until they know otherwise, as has happened with the Iraq situation – people are fed propeganda and lies, until the truth is finally revealed. There is no blame for this on the part of the population, they just belive what they are told.

Just as in the Seconf World War the Japanese being portrayed as devils….but they were only following their leaders and fighting their war the way they were told, as is the US military, the Chinese military etc.

Matte about your “Yes people were being taken away – but at the time I believe NO ONE knew to where or for what fate.” What I most liked in this sentence is the irrevocable absoluteness of “..NO One knew..”

 Well, by ‘my what I where told by myself’  I know that SOME know what where the fate of the people taken away…

For example, the Belgian Benedictine priest, Reverend Henry Reynders  who saved my life and the life of  many other children from deportation, he and the whole Belgian rescues organisations knew perfectly well what would be our fate..see here  So,It would be very comforting that you indulge yourself in upgrading your knowledge from ‘No One knew’ to Some knew. The remaining question  will then be: how many is some.. 

 

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WW2 and looted art in Jerusalem exhibition

Looted Art Jerusalem
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Seventy years after the second World War, there are still attempts to restitution of looted art to their legitimate Owners. In the  words of French Minister of Culture and Communication Christine Albanel…””What we expect from this exhibit is that a miracle will occur and someone will come here and say ‘that belongs to me,'”.
She speaks on Monday night (2/18/2008), in Jerusalem, at the opening of an Israel Museum exhibit called Looking For Owners: Custody, Research, and Restitution of Art Stolen in France during World War II, see here.
In the exhibit of art from France, nearly every painting has a story. Some were seized by the Nazis for inclusion in a museum of European art that Hitler planned to build in Linz, Austria.
One story attired my attention. The story of “Landscape, the Pink Wall,” an early Matisse.The painting was  owned by SS officer Dr. Kurt Gerstein. In the “Jerusalem Post”  is written..”The painting was found by Allied troops hidden in
an alcove behind a plaster wall in Gerstein’s house after the war.  The Nazi officer killed himself in July 1945, see here.
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Landscape, the Pink Wall
Henri Matisse, French, 1869–1954
Landscape, the Pink Wall, 1898
Oil on canvas
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
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We all know who was Henry Matisse, the painter of  “Dance”, ” Pink Nude” and”Luxe, Calme et Volupte”. But who is SS officer Dr. Kurt Gerstein?. Well he was not an anonymous figure in the gigantic death machinery of the Nazi regime. He volunteered for the Waffen-SS, and in 1941 was  assigned to its hygiene institute as a contamination expert. Early in 1942, Gerstein was appointed to head the Technical Disinfection  “Department within the Health Technology section. In this capacity he worked with Zyklon B (Hydrogen Cyanide) and was  responsible for transporting Zyklon B, the gas used for mass killing at the Nazi death camps, see here and here.
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Dr. Kurt Gerstein Waffeh SS

Kurt Gerstein

The story of Kurt Gerstein is a special one in that after seeing what really was the use of Zyklon B he tried by all means to  …”ascertain the facts of the machinery of destruction and then shout them to the whole world. Gerstein’s first contact was with Baron Goran von Otter, a Swedish diplomat, whom Gerstein met by chance on the Warsaw-Berlin express train while “, returning from Belzec. Gerstein was also in contact with Bishop Otto Dibelius, of the Confessing Church; Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, the Papal Nuncio in  Berlin; and members of the Dutch underground. His efforts to make known the, facts of the mass murder had little success.”..see here, (search Kurt Gerstein).

The looted art exhibition in Museum Israel brings together Matisse’s painting “Landscape, the Pink Wall”, Waffen SS dr. Kurt Gerstein, the provider of the gas Zyklon B to the extermination camps, and the anonymous perhaps dead or living owner of Matisse’s painting.

Henri Matisse circa 1950

Henri Matisse circa 150.

German New Comics

Germany launches comic book on Holocaust.
I quote..”New book part of effort to combat anti-semitism in Germany, which has a rapidly growing Jewish community”..”Created by the Dutch cartoonist Eric Heuvel”…”The book, based on fact, describes how Jews in Germany and the Nazi-occupied Netherlands experienced the genocidal Nazi persecution that took the lives of 6 million European Jews.”…” Through pictures and realistic dialogue, the book depicts the suffering and humiliation that Jews endured as they were stripped of their livelihoods, ostracized and, finally, sent to camps to be worked to death or gassed…”[The] comic book is called “The Search,” and tells the story of Esther, a fictional Jewish survivor of the Holocaust.”…see here.
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The Search
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Comics book and Holocaust is an oxymoron: something like “being dead”. It is hard to find some comic attributes in this gigantic massacre. Looking at the comics and their style reminds me directly of “Tintin et Milou”, the know comics characters made by the Belgian Georges Rémi, alias Hergé.
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Tintin et Milou
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Now, the “Tintin style”  has the same oxymoron quality by trying to illustrate a feroce reality of death with beautiful drawings.  Taking a look at the Eric Heuvels drawings and comparing them to the real photos of the Nazi regime, we see:
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1933 - Nazis stage boycott of Jewish shops and businesses
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Boycott pickets outside No. 79 Grindelallee, 1st April 1933.
Boycott pickets outside No. 79 Grindelallee, 1st April 1933, see more.
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The Night of the Long Knives
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200 synagogues were burn
“SS leader Reinhard Heydrich reported 7500 businesses destroyed, 267 synagogues burned (with 177 totally destroyed) and 91 Jews killed”, see here.
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Transport of Jews. 1941
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Razzia of Jews
The first major raid in the Amsterdam jodenbuurt, at the end of February 1941. At the Jonas Daniel Meyerplein were arrested, driven together, see more.
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I am aware that the German edition of this comics book is intended for pupils of the German schools . But there are people, much older, in their fifties and sixties, who remember the veritable atrocity of the Nazi Era-  atrocity embellished here for an educational purpose by the Tintin-style style and so perhaps leading by inadvertence kids or parts of the today general public to  made the colossal unforgivable mistake that the Holocaust is a super comics adventuresee here and here.
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I published this story on NowPublic and add here the comments by  NowPublic editors and contributing members.
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good stuff:korzac, interesting observations, thank you for posting.

However, I think that there is a place for the graphic novel to tell the stories of tragedy. In relation to the Holocaust, I think the best example is the Maus series. And In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman’s graphic novel about 9/11 he presents another tragic topic in this medium.

To be specific about Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’, he sets the stage, to show by a ‘metaphorical’ rude way of drawings and telling the storie, that the tragedy is on the limit of the visible, another planet, created by the Nazis. A graphic novel  like ‘The Search’ is a nice superficial didactic ‘skin’ having its own legitimacy, but it is only a facade. “Maus” is not a facade..

ryan, thanks for the comment and the flag

I appreciate that distinction.Do you think Spiegleman’s work is different becuase of his personal history and experience?

Art Spiegelman’s work is different because he has an unique talent to make it different. He was born in 1948, after the war. His ‘experience’ comes from the history of his family who did not survive the Holocaust. “Maus” is the story of millions of Jews based on this own recollection of his family story. I can see myself as a kid and my family in Belgium and in Poland, in the characters of ‘Maus’. I cannot see the same in the graphic novel ‘The Search’.To do this I need the real photos. With ‘Maus I don’t need photos, I feel the awe the dread and the pain.

good stuff: Constructive discourse about difficult topics, no matter the medium, is positive in my opinion.  Rugs can only hide so much.

Thanks for the comment and the flag.

This story fascinated me, and I had not heard of it before. I think however, with a subject matter as controversial and young as the Holocaust, a comic book has no place here. It will be interesting to see however how the Jewish community in any country reacts to it, and I suppose if it’s well received there then I have no business commenting on it in the first place!

Let it be a movie a book, poetry, visual art and media publication, having as their subject matter the Holocaust, their publication will arise a controversy.The survivors interpret any objective historical study as blaspheming…The Dutch German comics cannot overcome their feelingsBut see what German students say. I quote …..”It sounds a bit blunt but I think it’s dangerous if students can’t differentiate between a Holocaust comic and Mickey Mouse,” said Henning Küppers, a history teacher at a high school in Stuttgart.”….  …”Others point out that “The Search” can hardly compare to other Holocaust comics, in particular Art Spiegelmann’s famous   “Maus” which is considered a classic and a revolution in the genre.”… .”In an interview with Berliner Zeitung, Tobias    Strunk from a specialty comic book shop called the Anne Frank Holocaust comic book “a bit forced.”… see here.

amyjudd,thanks for the comment.

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Four more comics drawings and photos,(not included in the above post)
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Transports of Jews
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Transport Jews Lodz 1942
Loading transports of Jews at Lodz station, 1942, see here.
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After the selection gaz chambers Jews
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Selection Auschwitz
Selection at the Auschwitz ramp in 1944, where the Nazis chose whom to kill immediately and whom to use as slave labour or for medical experimentation, see here.
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Gaz Chambers and Crematorium
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Auschwitz Gaz chamber door
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Gaz Chamber
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ZyclonB
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Crematorium
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Crematorium
Crematorium furnaces in the Gusen concentration camp after the liberation. (May 6-30, 1945) see here.
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