Today I was visiting Emmerich am Rhein – a town on the border between Germany and the Netherlands.
Suspension bridge over the Rhine at Emmerich
While I was walking through the town centre, I came across a group of brass Stolpersteine – small plaques in the pavement reminding passers-by that holocaust victims had once lived in the house they are passing. Stolpern means to stumble – so these are literally stones that you stumble across.
This set remembers a family of three from Emmerich who fled the national socialist regime and escaped to America.
The Gompertz family fled to America in 1939 and survived the Holocaust.
This was the first time I’ve seen Stolpersteine remembering people who actually survived the war – most of them record death in one of the concentration camps. I hope the Gompertz family settled in America and had a long and happy life after the war.
I was sorry today to learn of the death of Cheetah the Chimpanzee. As most people know, all elderly Americans retire to Florida at some stage, and the well known actor from the Tarzan films was no exception, living out his twilight years in an old chimps’ home on the panhandle.
What not so many people know is that Cheetah was one of the best impersonators of Hitler in Hollywood. As a fitting obitury to the great actor of the Tarzan films, I’d like to share this clip of Cheetah in his best role. Enjoy!
For those of us who grew up on the output of Pinewood studios, the last role you ever wanted to be cast in was the German soldier. They always ended up being outsmarted by the cunning but underdog allies. Your last line was always something like “Gott im Himmel!” before you were taken out by a bouncing bomb, or your zeppelin went down in flames or something.
A quick trawl through some of the photo material available at the Bundeschiv suggests that there’s another side to the German military… and I thought I’d share. So next time you get cast as the idiot sleeping sentry, at least you’ll know it wasn’t all the way the script suggests…
Steve McQueen, eat your heart out!
Helmut...I think we lost something
Who stole my pint?
Rappers, Herr Oberst. Hundreds of them!
Maybe we could get a role in the Carry On films instead...
The latest victim of the dioxin scandal is Germany’s favourite snack of all time. Readers, a moment’s silence please as we mourn the passing of the currywurst.
As Germans abandon their normal diet of ham, bacon, pork, chicken and eggs for fear of ending up looking like Viktor Yushchenko, the sausage stands lie deserted on our street corners.
The currywurst has to be one of Germany’s oddest inventions. For the uninitiated, I should point out that it bears almost but not entirely no resemblence to curry. It is a sausage, usually cut into slices, covered in a steaming hot ketchup sauce and sprinkled with curry powder. It is served either with chips or with a bread roll.
The currywurst is thought to have been invented in Berlin shortly after the war when the British army imported ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and curry powder. The sausage seller who is credited with creating the first currywurst is Herta Heuwer, on September 4th 1949. The site of her snack bar is marked to this day with a plaque. I’m surprised the invention-date has not yet been declared a national holiday.
But now that German pork has become contaminated with dioxin, maybe we need to erect a memorial to mark the passing of the currywurst itself. After all, it is already something of a museum-piece… as well as a rock-legend…
This evening we went to a concert in the world’s most heavily fortified church.
The Bunkerkirche in Düsseldorf has to be one of the most unique churches in the world. The land was acquired in 1928 with the intention of building a church on the site. Lack of funds during the 1930s depression meant that although plans were drawn up, construction was delayed for over a decade and then in 1940 the land was confiscated by the Nazis.
In 1941 the site which had been intended for the church was used to build an overground air-raid bunker. The building was deliberately constructed to look like a church from the air, in the hope of deterring allied bombers from targeting it.
After the war, the land (complete with fortified bunker) was returned to the Church and the bunker was converted and consecrated in 1949, in a lovely symbol of turning swords into ploughshares.
Interestingly, for a building which was constructed for entirely different purpose, it actually has rather impressive acoustics.
The concert (works by Schütz, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Bach, sung by the excellent choir and the fabulous Stringendo orchestra from Meerbusch) was a real treat… and the experience of being in such a historically unique setting added to the experience.
This has to be one of the most bizarre spoofs on Youtube…