Fotoeins Fotografie

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Posts from the ‘Jewish-German History’ category

Past and present histories of Jewish communities and culture in Germany

Counting year 18 in Germany with an accent on Austria

Above: Vienna’s streetcar route 5, with a historical vehicle leaving Praterstern for Westbahnhof (Kurt Rasmussen, Wiki).

With two-country Eurail pass in hand, I’m in Germany for the 18th consecutive year. However, my emphasis throughout May will be in Austria. While my extended time in Austria is primarily divided among Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Vienna, I have multiple side-excursions, many of which will involve chasing good spring light and “(wide) pictures in the green.” I doubt I’ll adopt an Austrian accent to my spoken German, but stranger things have happened …

Noticeable below is no mention of Salzburg’s “The Sound of Music”, for which many Austrians have little awareness or knowledge as residents do not consider the film representative of people or country, and about which others online have already described. My interests in Austria lie elsewhere: they lie in my ability and advantage to speak German; the culture of bistros, cafés, and wine taverns; border crossings wiped out by Schengen; Jewish history; Jugendstil and Secession; salt mines; science; and urban art.

2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage and is also the year of Vienna Modernism, marking the 100th anniversary year of the deaths of Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Egon Schiele, and Otto Wagner.

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IHolocaustdenkmal, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: observations from Germany

Primo Levi, Italian-Jewish author, chemist, and Auschwitz survivor, delivered a set of essays about life and survival in Nazi extermination camps in his 1986 book “The Drowned and the Saved”. Levi wrote:

… For us to speak with the young becomes even more difficult. We see it as a duty and, at the same time, as a risk: the risk of appearing anachronistic, of not being listened to. We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experiences, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental, unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It took place in the teeth of all forecasts; it happened in Europe; incredibly, it happened that an entire civilized people, just issued from the fervid cultural flowering of Weimar, followed a buffoon whose figure today inspires laughter, and yet Adolf Hitler was obeyed and his praises were sung right up to the catastrophe. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.

On 27 January 1945, Soviet Red Army troops liberated the Nazi concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in south-central Poland. Over 1 million men, women, and children were murdered.

The United Nations declared January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day; the designation came during the 42nd plenary session of the United Stations when resolution 60/7 was passed on 1 November 2005.

Accepting and openly stating responsibility are critical first steps, but spending time, money, and effort to ensure the simple motto of “never again” is also an ongoing reality that isn’t solely up to the citizens of Germany. It’s a collective responsibility that we all should have to remain vigilant; that we all have to recognize and bolster actions which encourage and strengthen the universality of human rights, and reject the erosion and withdrawal of those rights.

I also believe responsible tourism includes paying appropriate respect at a memorial, especially the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. It’s my view this important memorial is not (supposed to be) a playground.

And yet, there’s something to be said about freedom in the early 21st-century which allows people to laugh and frolic in the public space, an undulating sculpture of featureless massive grey cement blocks, a testimonial to the systematic murder of millions of people.

Naturally, you have the freedom to take selfies and play here. But it doesn’t mean I’m gonna laugh with you.

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The Joys of Yiddish, Mel Bochner, Haus der Kunst, Muenchen, Munich, Bayern, Bavaria, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: The Joys of Yiddish (Munich)

Around the facade of the building for Munich’s Haus der Kunst (House of Art) is a long-term public sculpture by American artist Mel Bochner. His piece is called “The Joys of Yiddish.” Here’s how the Haus der Kunst describes the work:

A word chain in bright yellow letters on a black background contains Yiddish slang words that have found their way into contemporary American English. The colors are reminiscent of the armbands and patches the National Socialists used to stigmatize the Jewish population. An inherent tension exists between their visual impact and the words Jewish ghetto residents used to express unity and defiance during the Third Reich. This connection between the perpetrators’ color and the victims’ language is typical of the subtle provocation that runs through Bochner’s work.

KIBBITZER, a wise guy
KVETCHER, a chronic complainer
NUDNICK, a pain
NEBBISH, a sad sack
NUDZH, a pesterer
MESHUGENER, a crackpot
ALTER KOCKER, a crotchety old man
PISHER, an immature brat
PLOSHER, a blowhard
PLATKE-MACHER, a troublemaker

The Joys of Yiddish, Mel Bochner, Haus der Kunst, Muenchen, Munich, Bayern, Bavaria, Germany, fotoeins.com


I made these two photos on 23 February 2017. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9vI.

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Intl. Holocaust Remembrance Day (2017)

January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

•   United Nations
•   Yad Vashem
•   US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Outside the Old Jewish Cemetery near Hackesche Höfe in Berlin’s Spandauer Vorstadt is Will Lammert’s sculpture “Jüdische Opfer des Faschismus” (Jewish victims of fascism). The sculpture shows men, women, and children with horror and despair on their faces, directly confronting visitors with an equally direct question: “why?”

More from me in Berlin

•   City’s oldest Jewish cemetery
•   Grunewald train station, track 17
•   Memorial to murdered Jews in Europe
•   Memorial to murdered Sinti and Roma

I made this photograph on 21 November 2012 with the Canon EOS450D, 18-55 kit-lens, and the following settings: 1/25s, f/5, ISO800, and 28mm focal length (45mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-8WN.

Juedischer Friedhof, Heiliger Sand, Jewish Cemetery, Holy Sand, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

Worms’ Holy Sand: The Rabbi and the Patron

From Worms to Rothenburg, and back to Worms

Located near the entrance to Worms’ old Jewish cemetery are gravestones of two important figures in medieval Jewish-German history. The cemetery is also called “Holy Sand”1, and is one of many places of interest in the medieval ShUM league of Jewish cities. The gravestones for Rabbi Meir ben Baruch (centre) and Alexander ben Salomo (right) are shown in the picture below.

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