Persons, Places

Was lange währt …

Some moons ago (nearly seven years) I mentioned European castrated slaves (Carzimasier), and we had a little conversation about the topic of European slavery.
So for the one (or two) readers, who still remember this, it may be interesting to learn that a conference is announced that will address exactly this subject :
“Spuren des Sklavenhandels im Heiligen Römischen Reich und seinen Nachfolgestaaten: Diskurse, Praktiken und Objekte, 1500-1850” will take place in Bremen at the end of November / start of December (link), s’il vous plait. There should be answers to the questions from some years ago. A publication is planned for 2019. À votre service



While I slept, worked & tried to get rid of unwanted memories, the world kept on turning. Strange things happened.
I did not follow the speech of The Leader, the usual melange of spin, half-truths & plain lies, but two things found me scratching my head. The remark about Northern Korea, some idiocy about a “bloody nose” – does Donny Dipstick really want to start a war ? He’s sick enough for this.
The second thing was the whole enactment, the stage production. I am not familiar with these speeches about “the Uniom”, so I do not know whether this is the regular proceeding, but I found it pretty disgusting : Especially when The Leader generously waved at his pack of sycophants and allowed them to rise for the standing ovation. Way to go, Donny : In 30s Berlin and today’s Pyongyang they jump(ed) up when da leadah was / is only looking at them. I think at least one person did not get up – and thus surely learned what it means to be different. The hype about this “memo” is just nonsense, it is a smokescreen. The only thing it proves is that The Leader really has something to hide, and is ready to use any means to save his lousy arse. Possibly even a war.
Regarding war : In occupied Poland Germany erected extermination camps. The actual Polish gouvernement just passed a law that prohibits to speak of “Polish camps”. What at first glance seems to be a legitimate thing is sadly a part of the national-conservative rulers’ (so far succesful) attempt to re-write history. This is the reason for historians from Israel to oppose this law. The leaders of the PiS-party simply want to establish that the Poles were all innocent victims of the German aggression and had nothing to do with the extermination, with the holocaust. What is simply wrong. Poland had & has a history of antisemitism. Through the second world war there was collaboration – not only in Poland, but in any country we invaded – and there were  (of course !) Polish individuals who became guilty as Kain. There was not “only” Jedwabne (1941), but Kielce (1946) too (see). But PiS is re-writing history – and of course yells for compensation for the damages of the war, happily ignoring international treaties that already have solved anything in this regard. It is pretty sickening.
Sickening too is what happened in the German parliament some days ago. A member of the neonazi party gave a speech concerning his party’s ideas about the reunion of refugees’ families. It was stuffed with nazi formulations and showed nothing but a concept of man Himmler would have approved. The head of the Green Party finally had enough and yelled at the fascist. The President of the Parliament did nothing. When questioned he said something along the line that “it must come out”. He meant that those brown swine shall expose themselves. I only hope that his trust in the stability of the German democracy is justified, but, frankly, I have some doubts about this. The nazis are elected, they are now, while the Social Democrats form together with the Conservatives the ruling coalition again, left as the largest opposition party. This does not show me the fears & angst of the electorate, to me it shows its barbaric dumbness and aggression.
And sadly enough, dumbness, aggression & ruthlessness is what these three depicted situations have in common. We live in an age of shamelessness – and I do not mean naked skin or presented tools of procreation. On the contrary, there seems to develop a new kind of prudery when pictures of breasts are not allowed on so called “social” media, when museums unhang paintings (!), and a breastfeeding woman is looked at as a monster.
But you can shamelessly belie like a president, shamelessly lie about historical truths like a Pole, and shamelessly use nazi-speak about human beings like a German “politician”. If 2018 continues this way it will be remembered as
“The Year of the Shameless Swine”.

Sunday Music

Sunday Music, Monday Edition

I spent the weekend mostly sleeping, coughing, or in hot water in my bathtub. Yesterday I went out and visited the university’s library, for the first time in ages. I need to refresh my knowledge on some specific subjects, preferably fast & over the next few days. I hope the cerebellum will jump-start without spluttering.
Work was work, mostly uneventful.
Some interesting things happened in the world, for example the German Bundestag, our parliament, came together for its first & constituent meeting after the election (Ger., Eng.). With more than seven hundred members it is a pretty large convent nowadays, and fascists are there too, 94 to be precise. One should not forget that the fascists are the strongest party in Saxony. Experience from the state parliaments shows that they fail in these institutions, usually. One may wonder what will happen here in the future.
While fascists came into the Bundestag our Eastern neighbour, the Czech Republic, elected a new “leader”, who fits perfectly into the pattern of Eastern European “leaders” we have to deal with now. Austria included. In fact it all looks a bit like “K.u.k”-revisited. On the same day the Hungarian “leader” gave a speech. He declared East-Central Europe for “migranten-frei” / “migrant free”, not a mean feat against the combined efforts of “Europe” and the “Jewish capital” – heck yeah, this is what he said : It’s the good old “Welt-Finanzjudentum”. Don’t get fooled : This guy knows exactly what he says, knows exactly what words he uses, this is no mistake.
It is all pretty sickening, I really thought we would have left this shit behind us. But obviously there are societies that prefer old “explanations”, and prefer to repeat all the inhumane nonsense previous generations already have lived through : There is no progress in human development, there is no automatic enlightenment, there is no “learning from history”.
But there is automatic learning – and I find this very very interesting : I talk about the new “go” playing computer / software / intelligence.
You may remember that roughly 18 months ago a machine won (Ger., Eng.) over the then reigning world champion, Lee SEDOL (Ger., Eng.). This computer was called “AlphaGo”, consisted of pretty powerful hardware, and used at least two nets of “neuronal software”, among other sophisticated stuff. This “neuronal” software is good at learning, and “AlphaGo” learned, it was fed thousands of human go-games, and played against itself.
Soon a better version came, “AlphaGo Master” – it still learned by the input of human games, and swept away the best sixty go-players of the world in early 2017.
Now we have “AlphaGo Zero”. With only one neuronal net, with remarkably less sophisticated hardware, “Zero” was given the rules of the game only – nothing else, and played against itself. After three days “Zero” played against his “grandfather”, the machine that had triumphed over SEDOL – and beat the older machine 100:0.
After additional training – that is, playing with itself – “Zero” stood against “Master”, and beat it 89:11.
The remarkable thing about all this is that the new machine was not given any examples of how humans play the game : The machine did learn it all out of itself.
Read it here.
I have no clue what this will mean for us humans in the future, but I know that it is important. Many things in our daily lives are already run by algorithms, by machines, by software. Now it learns – without our example : The thing emancipates itself.

But enough, the future is in a murk – what a nice word, MsScarlet gave it to me when she described her outlook towards Dartmoor (here she shows her garden).
But this Sunday Music not only needs, but lives from “murk” – Truls MØRK (Ger., Eng.) and the Artemis Quartet give us their version of movement 3 Scherzo of SCHUBERTs String Quintet D956 (Ger., Eng.). I hope you enjoy the music, may we all have a peaceful week without crashing computers, and nasty “algo”-rythms.



Persons, Places

… That Becomes Even Stranger

The mentioned “Aktwerk” contains 24 photographs by 14 different photographers, all names unknown to me – here’s the list : Willy Zielke (3), Heinz von Perckhammer, Bruno Schultz (8), Carl Semon, Alfred Grabner, Viktor Hayd, Trude Fleischmann, Max Rothkegel, Franz Grainer, Heinz Hajek-Halke (2), Franz Kepler, Ewald Hoinkis, Ursula Lang-Kurz und Heinrich Iffland.
I looked through the names and read wikipedia-articles, as far as they exist, and the last one – yes, I do lists from behind, the “wrong” way ; I simply do this, I can’t explain – and the last one was Willy ZIELKE (Ger.) (1902-1989) “…. photographer … expressionistic … who did “Das STAHLTIER” …” – ?
What ?
I thought I knew the canon of expressionistic German fillums from the 1920s & 1930s, but this one had escaped me. Also ZIELKE’s biography. He learned in Munich at the Staatslehranstalt für Lichtbildwesen in 1923 and 1924 (what later became the Fachakademie für Fotodesign), and was teaching there from 1928 until 1936. He took part in the Werkbundausstellung “Film und Foto” and so became known to a wider audience. In the early 1930s he started to make films, his first independent solo work was “Arbeitslos – Ein Schicksal von Millionen” (Unemployed – One of Millions) from 1933.
ZIELKE was commissioned to produce a film for the hundredth “birthday” of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, this is the already mentioned “Stahltier” from 1935. The heads of the railway expected a nice advertisement or promotion picture, and were less than underwhelmed with the finished product – much to ZIELKE’s shock and dismay.
He constructed a story around a Werkstudent / student employee who has to complete field training with a group of workers ; the relationship between the group and the “intellectual”, ongoing engineer, develops, especially because the young man knows the history of the railroad and tells & explains it to the workers. As I read the picture does not follow ns aesthetics, does not use contemporary symbols, depicts neither student nor workers as aryan superhumans or lies about the history of the steaming engine. In fact ZIELKE did an aesthetically outstanding artful picture in the category corporate film / Industriefilm that the purchaser did not like : They blabbed something about “communist aesthetics” and threw the thing in the drawer.
Interestingly this film later was used within the training of cameramen for German propaganda units, as example for what is possible.
After the war a complete copy was found in Paris, but the successor of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, the Deutsche Bahn, still regarded the film as “not publishable”, and urged ZIELKE to shorten his work. So from circa 1955 onwards exists a crippled 50 (?) minutes version of the original 70 minutes film. Only much later, in the 1980s, the uncut original was shown publicly.
ZIELKE’s STAHLTIER (GOd, what a title !) brought him to the attention of Leni RIEFENSTAHL. She had him as collaborator for her Olympia films, and ZIELKE independently made the “Prolog” for the pictures. There was a contract, and he had it notariazed, nevertheless he is not in the credits of said picture(s), RIEFENSTAHL just dispersed him.
What follows is disputable. It is a fact that ZIELKE from February 1937 until August 1942 was held as patient in the mental asylum / Kreisirrenanstalt Haar. He describes it as kidnapping and accuses RIEFENSTAHL of pulling strings. I am not convinced, RIEFENSTAHL simply would have not needed to do something like that. She was in a nearly untouchable position in Nazi Germany. Earlier she even had shown the STAHLTIER to GOEBBELS and argued for the picture – in vain, GOEBBELS simply did not like it.
I think ZIELKE suffered from a nervous breakdown, the diagnosis “Verfolgungswahn” / paranoia / delusions of persecution may be valid or not, I have no clue. ZIELKE was castrated while in Haar, against his will, but according to the law, as a German judge told him after the end of the Third Reich when he asked for compensation. ZIELKE says he was subjected to experiments, but I think that was not verified. He was glad not to be executed (Ger., Eng.), Haar was part of the murder machinery.
In August 1942 RIEFENSTAHL – of all humans ! – took him out from Haar, and used him as cameraman for Tiefland (Ger., Eng.).
ZIELKE survived the war, started to produce small films in the 1950s and worked as cameraman again. I read that at the beginning of the 1970s, when he was completely out of the public’s eye and forgotten, a French collector “borrowed” his collection of negatives, and “forgot” to give it back. At least one of his negatives was sold for a pretty large sum via an auctioneer’s house while ZIELKE had to live from benefits. He died in June 1989, 86 years old.
What a life.


The only account of ZIELKE’s biography and his film is found here (part I) & here (part II) (Go there for pictures !), written by Manfred POLAK. Of course my scribble heavily relies on Herr POLAKs work.
It would be very helpful if the article by Herr POLAK would be translated professionally into English. Also English versions of the German wikipedia articles about ZIELKE and Das STAHLTIER would be very helpful.