Tag: Dr. B

Wednesday

Finally I got my act together and got up early enough to drag my bonesack into town. Visiting the local Staatsarchiv, filling in some form sheets; wandering down the street and entering the Diözesanarchiv for the same procedure; time to have a cup of chocolate and pay a visit to the Stadtbücherei
Back in the diocesal archive I was handed a box with the literary remains of a 19th century colleague, he had a nice handwriting. He collected a lot of excerpts from first hand sources regarding the history of the monastery and the village, but for me that would really go too far now. I just had a glance at his unbound diary and at a stack of letters still in original envelopes, stored it all in the box again and gave it back.  The scientific archivist in charge – we “know” each other very distantly and I treated him with utmost respect –  assured me that there is nothing else to search for: They simply have no stock or portfolio of archivalia from the monastery – all this went to the juridical successor after 1803 and that was in this case (and most often elsewhere) the brand new Bavarian State. So its the Staatsarchiv again.
There I received a nicely written instrument on pergament which told me nothing new: They founded the monastery, yoh! Used a really fat sigillum. Book number 523 also told me nothing new. But number 524 brought a nice surprise: Close to the end, folio 140 seq., the administrator tells about the monastery’s rights regarding sheep – and this piece was never used before in the very small in number secondary literature: The colleagues were too lazy to go through the boring file. I submitted an application for digitalization of the pages in question and next week I’ll get a jpg.file on CD.
Dr. H.-E. is in charge here and she is a very friendly and competent historian and archivist, it is a real pleasure to work with her. When she realizes that one has it together, she thinks even harder and comes up with literature one would not have thought of – and obviously DID not. 
She was proud to show me a newly installed system, visitors now can use internal databases directly for research. She did some retrieval and came up with a book I forgot Jeanne wrote and all of a sudden I was back on the evening of the exhibition and after all the “important” speakers and hot air pumps finally had shut up, we stood around and she told me about the difficulties and the printing, less than four years ago ? I realized the alarmed look on Dr. H.-E.’s face, pulled my shit together and explained shortly that I knew the author. Terrible idea to bring her in an embarassing situation. I left, maybe a little rushed.
Perchance I flipped through yesterday’s local newspaper while waiting for my box in the diocesal archive and came upon the notice of Dr. B.’s death. He died on the 20th of February in his 97th year. On the 25th he would have turned 98. I was sure he’d make the hundred. He spent the last months in a home for assisted living (if this is the right translation for betreutes Wohnen), because he had really troubles walking. Since I learned to know him a little closer he could not stand right up, it was simply too late to replace joints. His span of awake alertness over time became smaller, he needed more rests. When he was awake, he was quick and sometimes witty, always the master of his own situation. Independence is the word that would describe him best.
I wunder what the library will do to his collections, what the heirs will do to his unique library. Some years ago I asked him about this situation and he simply saied “It agglomerates, it disaggregates”: 
Es ballt sich zusammen, es zerteilt sich: Das gilt für alles.
Tomorow I will visit bat country. Early. Wish me luck.

November ’18

…yesterday I visited the battlefield of last year. The place was scarcely recognisable. Instead of a wilderness of ground torn up by shells, the ground was a garden of wild flowers and tall grasses. Most remarkable of all was the appearance of many thousands of white butterflies which fluttered around. It was as if the souls of the dead soldiers had come to haunt the spot where so many fell. It was eerie to see them. And the silence! It was so still that I could almost hear the beat of the butterflies wings… (Letter from a British officer, 1919)

90 years, Armistice Day. General Foch and Matthias Erzberger sign the armistice at 5 o’clock french time in a train waggon in the forest of Compiègne. The slaughter is over. Erzberger and others will later be assassinated by “officers” of the old army for “stabbing the army with a dagger”. Ludendorff, Hindenburg and Groener, the leading generals and de facto rulers of Germany from 1916 onwards, simply do not want to accept their responsibilities. Soldier Hitler is in hospital for a minor gas poisoning; when he hears the news that the war is over he hysterically becomes blind. Golo Mann says that all his politics afterwards are aimed at restarting the war, doing the war again – but this time “the right way”, avoiding the “mistakes” the imperial army and gouvernment commited.
On this day the war ended, but not one problem was solved. To understand what happened on this day in the year 1918 means to understand all that will follow in German and European history, like Weimar, the “Third Reich”, WWII, 1989 and the Balcans wars of the 1990s.

The battlefields had to be cleared. This task was solved in part by German prisoners of war, French troops and with the help of Chinese koolies. I never found a history of that. Shortly after the war a kind of tourism set in, and Mary Riter Hamilton painted. It was the first fully photographed war with private cameras all over the place; it was the first exhibited war on both sides; it was the first fully mechanized murder with machine guns, automated grenade launchers, flying machines and tanks. It all was there 1918 – and what was left over was later used in the Chaco War nobody remembers today. It was the first war in which people from all continents and nearly every country were fighting, on Flander’s fields died more Indian soldiers then Belgians. See here, but be warned, no nice pictures.
Dr. B. remembered once that he saw the first man with black skin in the hospital his father was running in Wuerzburg 1918, it must have been a French colonial soldier.

The war is over.
Nun danket alle GOtt.

Procrastination?

Tried to load up photographs I took today, but blogger does not want that. The server manages to commit a “temporarily mistake” – what he managed this afternoon already … Achach I should write a last paragraph on my brainshattering text about “Fischerstechen”, tomorrow I’ll meet Dr. B. at ten in the morning … It is Sunday! There is sunshine! And now it is too late: My brain is melting. I wanna read or stumble through the web or just sit and watch, but not write … And now I even do not have the excuse that I had to show photographs to the world.

Help me, Rory!

Yes it would have been too easy, just become healthy again, feel strong, check out, re-arrange and move on, it’s no Hollywood-pic here. I was with a very old man today, and had not the guts to talk with him about death. One last book is what he wants, and he wants me to do it. He wants me to finish it when he dies, what is imminent, because his strength is shrinking, his ability to write becomes smaller and smaller, the pain in the worn joints greater and worse. His eyes changed. You know it when you see it. His birthday is in this month, open house, yes a lot of people will attend in these two hours – “just look and drink, no gifts” – it will be a nice get-together, even a kind of party. The last one. I know him for some years now. Under other circumstances I asked him some direct questions he answered very clear. I guess that is why he kept me around him, he could easily have other people doing things for him, writing, a little research, ah bah … he wants to talk. And I backed out. I feel ashamed. He obliged me.