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Posts Tagged ‘Britain

Der Spiegel ist im Krieg

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Nein, sowas aber auch, SPIEGEL! Da lief auf dem Liveticker der BBC doch glatt die ERSTE Strophe unserer Nationalhymne – “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”! Und ein aufmerksamer SPIEGEL-Online-Leser hat’s gemerkt! Das war wirklich wichtig.

Aber im Krieg sind wir doch, oder? Haben wir nicht gestern England besiegt? Hast du doch selbst gesagt, oder?

Spiegel Online: "Besiegtes Land"

Spiegel Online: "Besiegtes Land"

Darf ich Ihnen, also demjenigen, der diesen glorreichen Untertitel über die Story setzte, mal etwas sagen? Also, entweder sind Sie noch nicht so ganz damit fertig, dass der Blitzkrieg am Ende doch nicht so recht gefunzt hat, oder Sie verwechseln die zwei Hälften des Spielfelds in Bloemfontein mit Merry Old England – die Lions haben ja auf beiden Hälften je zwei Brandbomben Tore gefangen, nicht?

Im letzteren Fall vermute ich, dass Sie entweder ein Trottel sind, oder aber für einen solchen gehalten werden möchten.

Was ich für den ersteren Fall vermute, das schreib’ ich lieber nicht.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Tai De

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Written by taide

June 28, 2010 at 10:50 am

Bishop Käßmann: Emo-Bomb on Afghanistan

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“Nothing is good in Afghanistan.”

The statement is from the Germany’s leading protestant bishop, Margot Käßmann, made in her New Year’s Sermon on January 1 this year, and I believe the words she has chosen show what is bad with the Evangelical church here.

Words are central media in a protestant church. In some of the churches Käßmann is heading, words weigh more heavily than the sacraments. There is no excuse for saying that “nothing is good” in whichever country.  Not even if your country has stationed liberating or occupying forces there.

That was bad enough. Eight days earlier, in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung, she criticized the forces that ended Germany’s Third Reich for not having strategies before the war: “Why didn’t they strengthen the opposition? Why didn’t they bomb the railtracks that lead to Auschwitz?” (Warum gab es vorher keine Strategien? Warum wurde die Opposition in Deutschland nicht gestärkt? Warum wurden die Gleise, die nach Auschwitz führten, nicht bombardiert?).

Appeasement hadn’t impressed Hitler, the interviewing reporter suggested.

“Still, war releases a potential of violence I see no justification for. There is injustice, destruction, rape in its tow line. I have seen soldiers recently who can’t cope with their experiences.” Yes, Mrs Käßmann, sure. That’s what our troops are there for, in Afghanistan. j

And there was no storm of protest among the sheep.

This is no longer a church. It’s a sect. I’m off then.

Asma al-Assad is the Queen Diana of the Orient, Die Zeit says (not)

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Ooooh! Aaah! Wow! Asma al-Assad is so cool! Her Chic even outshines  Michele Obama and Carla Bruni! And she’s so unassuming, she even takes her and her awkward and stiff husband’s (that’s the president of the Syrian Arab Republic) children to the kindergarten herself! And beside her housework, she beguiles us on the national and international stage!

OK. Anyway, Germany’s weekly Die Zeit, a paper which traditionally minded its reputation as a serious news source, it absolutely beguiled. Asma al-Assad belongs to the growing circle of modern Arab first ladies who – skilled and self-confident – know how to act on the international stage (the term “stage” is used for the second time in the article here), and claim their public position at home, too, Die Zeit advises us.

Why does this picture make me think of... [click on the picture]
Why does this picture make me think of…  [click on the picture above]

And what’s the sensation? Syria’s first lady grew up in Britain. Did Die Zeit believe that wearing a burkha and never inching outside her home without her husband is in an Arab woman’s genes?

At least they don’t refer to her as the Lady Di of Arabia. They only quote Paris Match, a gossip magazine (yes, that how a gossip columnist with Die Zeit refers to gossip magazines) as saying so. Or, rather, Queen Diana, Die Zeit says Paris Match says.

Or who says so? Die Zeit doesn’t mention the name of the article’s author.

Or was it really mohdsuak who wrote it? That’s right, the Die Zeit article is also available in English – everything you ever wanted to know about the Queen Diana of the Orient! If the link should get lost, let me know, and I’ll post the English article here in full.

So was the original in article in German or in English? Was it bulkware written by a histrionic intern writing bulk articles for a news agency? Did he or she meet Mme Assad in the real world and conduct an interview with her?

Who knows? And who cares?

Written by taide

September 12, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Lt. William A. Rautenbush, born 1920, KIA 1944

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Verden’s 1990 local almanac includes an article by Dr Peter Clasen, a physician with interest in local history, with further information about Lieutenant Rautenbush – Verdener Heimatkalender, 1990, pages 198 – 203.

Lieutenant William A. Rautenbush set out from Southern England in a P-51 Mustang  early on May 8, 1944, to fly escort for B-17 Flying Fortresses. They flew in formations from somewhere above the North Sea and reached the mainland at the height of 20,000 feet. The groups came from the North West, with Berlin as their destination, and were attacked by German pursuit planes above Verden, Luttum, and Neddenaverbergen. Rautenbush, an experienced pilot, tilted his plane and started chasing the German machines. He apparently expected his adversaries ahead, but one German pursuit plane came from behind and opened fire.

Rautenbush’s plane crashed into a small forest near Hohenaverbergen. Water rose in the crater where the actual hull of his P-51 had hit the ground, and after the war, his remains were recovered and taken to the American military cemetary in the Belgian Ardennes: site D, row 5, grave number 53. In 1983, local residents found more fractions of the hull, the landing gear, and cross-ties, but when finding bits of a leather uniform jacket with a legible name badge, they cancelled their search and put it all back into the crater.

crash site

crash site

Dr Clasen found some additional information. Rautenbush’s army number was -08-803453, and he belonged to the 375th Fighter Squadron. His awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, The Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart.

He was born on April 11, 1920, lived in a Chicago orphanage until he was eleven, and then lived with foster parents, Mrs and Mr Arthur Ritchie, Greenwood Farms, Route 3, New London, Wisconsin. His stepbrother, Mr Donovan Ritchie, remembered him well, and in 1988, a memorial was inaugurated in 1988, with American military, among them Lt Colonel Horn, participating. Horn’s father had flown a B-17, one of the planes the P-51’s were escorting on the day when Rautenbush lost his life in their defence.

Verden Kills

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It was nice to shut down in Verden’s pubs during the 1980s. There was the Pedro in the Grüne Straße, and Vienna and Litfass in Am Lugenstein. Once a year, there was the Domweih, the biggest annual donnybrook in town. Occasionally, there was trouble with the Brits stationed here back then, mostly because of some NATO mattresses, but it was usually no problem to avoid our friends and allies, and one hour before midnight, military police treated those of them  to pissed to get away with solid ash wood clubs and collected them into Landrovers to cart them back into the barracks.

"sports" bar

Verden, "sports" bar

I haven’t been to our pubs for some twelve years. Ten years ago, an idiot visited the Domweih with a Kalashnikov, about one year later, someone opened fire on a doorman, some two years ago, a twenty-year-old was almost sent to kingdom come by twenty stabs, probably one for every year of his life.

Early in the morning on Tuesday, a thirty-year old patrolman was knived and seriously injured by a 19-year old in a pub next to the railway station. BILD-ZEITUNG means “picture paper”, and they duly deliver a picture of the crime.

I enjoy my life. And I’ll happily stay away from my home town’s night life to live a bit longer. Anyway, even if this town was safe – just to see the faces of certain people there would spoil the party.

________

From Verdener Nachrichten Online, talking with Jürgen Menzel, police speaker, four days after the knife attack:

Q: Have there been expressions of sympathy from local politics?
A: No.

Syria: Visitors Welcome, but “Sick of Processes”

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France’s foreign minister Bernard Kouchner visited Syria on July 11 and 12, as he announced in advance, within the framework of the extremely constructive dynamics that characterize the new relationship with Syria. The United States are about to restore full diplomatic relations with Syria, after semi-suspending them following the assasination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Kouchner received assurances from Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad that Syria would not meddle in the formation of the Lebanese government (that’s how Al-Shorfa, a website sponsored by USCENTCOM puts it, let’s assume that al-Assad and Kouchner used more diplomatic expressions). Their discussions also included an adoption of a comprehensive peace plan between Palestine and Israel, but France’s plans in this regard received rather offish treatment in a meeting between British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. “They’re pretty sick of processes”, suggested Miliband. Mouallem and his country are now looking forward to a visit by U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell as “the first step of dialogue.” President Obama‘s envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, will be in Damascus on Sunday to meet president al Assad, ahead of meetings in Israel with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The American government may be sick of processes too. “If the Syrians or anyone else can persuade [Hamas] to take a positive path forward, well, clearly, I think the Palestinian Authority and others would welcome that”, secretary of state Hilary Clinton reportedly said.

France isn’t at the centre of the process. That may hurt. Then again, maybe it could also be an opportunity. An NGO would like to remind the French foreign minister that there are issues besides Palestine, the Golan Heights, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Lebanon. Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) points out that five cyber-dissidents are still in prison, among them Habib Saleh and Firas Saad. A Palestinian journalist and expert on Israeli affairs, Helmi Musa, was arrested in Damascus  on July 5 for unknown reasons.  The Syrian Press Law of 2001 prevents any liberalisation, criticizes RSF. Only the prime minister may authorise work permits for journalists, and the press law provides many reasons for arresting journalists, such as damaging the the reputation or dignity of the state, national unity, or the morale of the army.

Aleppo, satellite dishes: You can watch, but You better not Blog

Aleppo, satellite dishes: You can Watch, but You better not Blog

More than enough for Bernard Kouchner to take care of, while Washington and London are doing the sweet-talk. Someone has to be the bad guy after all.

Then again, if he gets the impression that talking with Damascus about Lebanon is more than just a process, maybe he will prefer to  stay nice.

_____

Related: Is Sarko just “showy”? – July 13, 2008

Written by taide

July 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm

German Warriors

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My great-grandfather was buried on Verden’s forest cemetary (Verdener Waldfriedhof). His grave is still there, and it is a nice one, because through all the past nine decades, my family people didn’t have to pay a single Pfennig or Eurocent in fees – it’s a hero’s grave.

He was a Private, but he was in such a hurry to take Paris that the German artillery didn’t keep step with him and his comrades. Many of them died in friendly fire, and on the spot. Great-Grandpa was less lucky. He pegged out several month later, in the Annastift in Hanover, minus most of his back.

When he was dead at last, they decorated him with the Iron Cross.

Then there was the second world war.

German society is post-heroic. Heroes too, are only victims in German eyes. The Bundeswehr is a citizen army, and  the federal parliament’s army. It still knows no heroes, and every embarrassing try to change that has been doomed to fail. Medals and cenotaphs give most of us the creeps, rather than causing respect.

Germany succeeded in building an army with uniformed citizens. The old military caste – fortunately – doesn’t matter in the army any more. Families with military traditions like they exist in Britain, France, or America, and which send officers into the army don’t exist in Germany any more.

But this also means that the soldiers won’t earn much respect here when sacrificing their lives for the nation, and its allies.

Some surveys suggest that about three quarters of Americans believe in circumstances which justify war. In Germany, 25 per cent may believe that. 170 years ago, Carl von Clausewitz coined the saying that war is merely a continuation of politics with the inclusion of different means (“Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik unter der Einbeziehung anderer  Mittel”). Most Germans don’t agree with this any longer, and they want no such extension of our foreign policy.

During the past eight years, German politics avoided the word “war” like the plague (which it obviously is), our politicians enacted a reconstruction operetta in Afghanistan which seemed to benefit everyone and to hurt noone, and they risked no candid communication with their constituencies about combat operations. Now the public (which never seemed to care much until now) is finding out that we are at war (the German defence secretary keeps cursing everyone who dares to use this dirty word), and obviously, few people are inclined to take our duties within NATO as serious as they should – those who accept the need for force of arms are the minority in this country.

Dishonourable? Maybe. But anyone who wants to criticise Germany’s sometimes convenient pacifism should also remember how hard it was to finish German militarism in the first place, and how many of their grandfathers died in the struggle. Having ones cake and eating it is yet another challenge. We are learning. But it will take time, and some more decent politicians. What the Social Democrats’ Peter Struck said about Afghanistan last month could be a beginning.