An Ugly Story to Start With …

It was Joyce (an old lady who lives in a house somewhere near the Great Lakes, Green Bay ?, who sadly has not blogged since 2012 ; maybe she died), who once used the expression “down the rabbit hole” for my meandering through “stuff” : One starts “here”, gets distracted, follows leads and detours, only to come out over “there”, having created a thread, on one hand unique, but meant to be followed by others, so not so unique any more.
I like the image of the rabbit going down, sub terra, following subterranean routes, weaving a fabric, a tissue, ein Gespinst, that underlies what we see, or better, what is shown. The mycelium under the mushroom. If one is not so friendly, one may call it prattlebabblerigmarole …
While I recover from this nasty infection I spend too much time online. Lately I scrolled through a site with old photographs, and saw a pretty unimpressive nude study (Halbakt, semi nude, is the correct term I think) ; what caught my eye was not the lady’s bust, but the caption : “From Deutsche Aktwerk”. Frankly, I first thought this to be a joke : this title must be something satyrical from the sixties or seventies ; but no, it is a real publication – here is a more or less actual, American advertisement.
Looking in a trusted search engine (hint : not gargle) lead to the wikipedia-article about Herr Bruno SCHULTZ (Ger.), who was the editor of said “Aktwerk” (here is a correct description by an antiquarian, German only, sorry ; 24 b/w images on cardboard, pretty good print, Berlin 1938).
Sadly the article is in German only, and gives no dates, I would very much like to know what happened to SCHULTZ after the war. SCHULTZ was from 1927 to 1938 editor of Das Deutsche Lichtbild, a magazine open to avanteguarde and generally progressive artists, lauded by so different persons as Reichskunstwart (Ger., Eng., not an ns institution !) REDSLOB (Ger. only) and Bauhaus-professor MOHOLY-NAGY (Ger., Eng.).
After 1933 SCHULTZ marched onwards, the 1934 edition was dedicated to the FUEHRER “in endless love”. SCHULTZ became a Hauptmann, captain that is, in the propaganda department of the OKW (Ober-Kommando der Wehrmacht), no doubt a “Druckposten” he got via “Vitamin B” (Ger.), something administrative friends made possible for him, anything but the front, yeah.
He finally became a swine in 1944. His flat had been bombed and together with his wife he was relocated to a villa near Berlin. There also lived the writer KNAUF (Ger., Eng.) and the caricaturist OHSER (Ger., Eng.). OHSER did not keep his mouth shut in the air-raid cellar and in February 1944 SCHULTZ denounced both in writing directly to GOEBBELS. End of March both were arrested. GOEBBELS was pissed off and told FREISLER (he may rot in hell eternally, Ger., Eng.) to make it snappy, so the “lawsuit” started on 6th of April. OHSER hung himself the night before the “trial”, KNAUF’s head was chopped off on 2nd of May ’44. His widow, Erna, was charged with 585,74 RM for proceedings and execution.
Some place freed in that villa.
History is stories. History is human lives. Nothing else.
But I did not want to tell this ugly story from the German forties, in fact I found something else.
I am very sorry to stop right here & now, but I am tired, and have to read additional stuff. I’ll jump the rabbit hole tomorrow again, all for your pleasure. Of course.

Inter Stellas

Lets first get out of the way that my knowledge about wormholes, quantum mechanics and stuff relating to natural science in general, is very limited.
The world is saved. Again. No Clingons hurt.
This is the good news. Malicious tongues may greet the fact that Anne HATHAWAY (Ger., Eng.) in the end sits alone on a planet in another galaxy, behind the wormhole left (or right, or where ever, it’s behind the wormhole). Don’t get me wrong, I like Ms HATHAWAY. She looks cute in my eyes, and I am sure that she could act, if someone would give her a chance to do so. She has not much to do in this film but stare with large brown eyes & open-mouthed out of her helmet. She does a good job doing so. Nice teeth.
I have sympathy for the old warhorse Sir Michael CAINE (Ger., Eng), who impersonates the head of what is left of NASA and sends all these people out in space, through a wormhole – and is basically a big liar. Yes, this is  a spoiler, sorry.
Sir Michael has a nice little role and finally dies. Perhaps from laughing on his way to the bank, but again, only malicious tongues would say something like this.
Finally, there is the hero. He does hero-stuff, and in some sequences I think he’s really good, a certain Mr MCCONAUGHEY (Ger., Eng.).
So what’s it all about ?
If I understood it correctly it’s about saving crop farmers from extinction. Yes, they are saved in the end. But why not allow Mother Nature to run its course – and have another Mad Max-chapter ? Would be too easy perhaps, not philosophical enough, and GOd knows, have you seen one explosion on the big screen it’s enough, they look all the same, don’t they ?
Basically the world (or better: The US of A) turned into a kind of desert, being an engineer is a big no-no, history is re-written (moon-landing is a big hoax – I knew it!). Finally our hero meets (no details here) Sir Michael and is sent through the wormhole with some other people – their job is mostly do die in due course, HATHAWAY survives. Hero’s daughter stays behind, with her grandfather and her brother on a farm in the big dust bowl, and a ghost that communicates with her by throwing books out of the shelves. Yes, they have books, and they even read them, Mr Hero hates farming, damn intellectuals.
There was an earlier expedition to seek a new world, three still send data. Planet one is close to the wormhole, time is bent to the effect that hanging around on this surface costs a lot of earthen years. There is nothing, close escape, one man kia.
Second planet would have been the right destination, that’s where Ms HATHAWAY always wants to go to – bad luck. The surviving crew members doubt her decision, and insinuate that it’s based on her inclination towards the researcher who sits on this rock and not on rock-hard facts.
Third planet is seemingly nice somewhere (basically they sit on a piece of ice), according to what the surviving researcher says – it’s all fake, he just wanted to be saved, tries to kill Mr. Hero and wants to escape with the space-station.
Doesn’t work, much damage. Mr Hero finds himself in the middle of the wormhole and finally ends up behind his daughter’s bookshelf desperately trying to communicate with her by throwing books.
He seems to be successful, the strange place where he is, gets folded, Mr. Hero drifts into the big nothing.
The film could end here, but his daughter on earth puzzled all together, understood what Daddy had to say, and somehow saved the crop farmers. She even realised that Sir Michael once had a cunning idea and somehow managed to start all this, but please don’t ask me about it.
So in the end Mr Hero wakes up on a station on our side, from where they have started, of the wormhole, visits his daughter while she’s close to dying from old age, finds his farm musealised and decides that all this is damn boring & sterile. He steals a modern space machine and sets out to travel to Ms HATHAWAY, who is – as already mentioned – sitting on that third rock that looks a bit like Arizona, maybe, I never have seen Arizona.
Scotch me up, Beamy. Sadly they sold no Stella (Artois or other) in the pause.

I enjoyed the company of my friend, who had me invited to join him for this evening. I was impressed by the technical possibilities of modern cinema. I do not think that “Interstellar” is a must-see ; perhaps it wants to be too much, a dystopian vision, a space odyssey, a kind of meditation about love, I do not know. It was a nice dissipation after all.

Interesting Women : Arletty

From “La Defence” to Paradise, and back. *
Léonie BATHIAT (1898-1992) (Ger., Eng., Fr.) was a French actress … and much more is in her biography.


She was born into a working class family in the Parisian suburb Courbevoie (Ger., Eng.), near the old fortress La Defence (Ger., Eng.) – later the ambiguous title of her autobiography. Her  father worked in the tramway repair shops and died early from a work accident. Through WWI young Léonie was working in the war industry, later she became a revue girl. She was twenty at the end of The Great War.

She had learned the typewriter and was eager for independence, and soon she entered the stage, singing nice and not so nice chansons, best together with her friend Sacha GUITRY (Ger., Eng.). She spend time in the Berlin of the late twenties, and finally made it from the boulevard theatre stages into the film industry, her first role 1930, later she was filming in Babelsberg (Ger., Eng.). Her friend in those days (and until his death in the 1960s) was a certain Jean-Pierre DUBOST, whom she refused to marry despite his offers. She said that she did not want “husband or sons slaughtered in the next war” – right she was : the next war came right to her front door in Paris.
When her fees increased she lived in a luxurious hotel, the Lancaster near Champs Elysée, and in 1941 a Luftwaffenoffizier named Hans Jürgen SOEHRING (1908-1960) (Ger.) crossed her path. Ten years her younger, it was passion, and they lived it.


SOEHRING was by no means a super-aryan-yippyayeah-nazi burning for the Fuehrer, but a well-educated and cosmopolitan man.
He was born in Istanbul, the son of a German diplomat went to schools all over Europe, even in Germany. Finally he studied Rechts- und Staatswissenschaften in Leipzig, Berlin, Grenoble ; he had visited the London School of Economics, later was trained in Santiago de Chile & Valparaiso ; he spoke of course English, Spanish and French with a small accent, and came to Paris in the rank of an Oberstleutnant (Ger., Eng.). In fact he was a Feldrichter, a judge responsible for inner-Luftwaffe jurisdiction.
He was not an opportunist, he simply wanted to survive, at least that is my opinion about him. They met & and made the best out of it.
SOEHRING did not wear his uniform at social occasions, only when it was not to be avoided. ARLETTY sure realised how many poisoned glances & glimpses she got, (” J’étais la femme la plus invitée, je suis la plus évitée.” she said after 1945), and SOEHRING was not too dumb to ignore it.

The French society of forties’ Paris did not like this liaison, the German command either. So at the end of 1943 Hans Juergen was degraded (for what reasons ever) to NCO and shown the direct path to the front. He served in Italy (Montecassino, spring 1944, no fun) and was promoted there from Unteroffizier to officer again (Leutnant, later Oberleutnant). Finally he was transferred back to the Reichskriegsgericht (Ger.). His job at this institution was to put together files about the Bund Deutscher Offiziere (Ger.) and the Nationalkommitee Freies Deutschland (Ger., Eng.). I guess one could call this intelligence work.

ARLETTY and SOEHRING always held contact, even managed to see each other, but their ways parted. She made him write, and that is what he did. And interestingly enough Hans Juergen SOEHRING is a founding member of the famous Gruppe 47 (Ger., Eng.) – he was there at the very first meeting in Bannwaldsee.
While SOEHRING was fighting, ARLETTY had the most important role of her life : She was Garance la beautè / la reine in Les Enfantes du Paradis (Ger., Eng.) – one of the most important films of European cinema – no matter whether you like European, especially French, cinema, or not – this is one of the most important fillums ever made – how and why and what is a novel in its own right. And ARLETTY is an important part of it.


Life moves on – and while Les Enfants was shown in France, ARLETTY was doin’ time : She sat in Drancy (shortly before used by the Nazis for the Jews, Ger., Eng.) for some months and later had to appear before a tribunal d’épuration, a court for cleansing. They had her hair not shaven, and seemingly were not quite clear about the points of accusation – she had not collaborated, never had appeared in a German (propaganda-)film, never visited Berlin to meet Goebbels – she had had an affaire with a German officer, was a star, and it did not feel right.
And ARLETTY was not shy. She told the judge “Si mon cœur est français, mon cul, lui, est international !” – as fine at this is, it does not help in the face of a humiliated nation. She was sentenced, banned from appearing on stage, and was not allowed to come near Paris at a distance of 80 kilometers ; for two years. She could not reconnect to her pre-war success when she had stared for example besides a young Jean GABIN (in Le jour se lève, 1939 ; Jean would then go to Hollywood, where Marlene was waiting, nervously, perhaps) – she returned into business, but it was not the same as before.

SOEHRING married (perhaps, was married ; two sons) and joined the German Foreign Office in 1951. He became Consul in Luanda (Ger., Eng.) (Angola) in 1956, then (seemingly in the same year) Generalkonsul in Leopoldville, today Kinshasa (Ger., Eng.), and finally in June 1960 full ambassador, after the founding of the Republic of Kongo (Ger., Eng.).
The family went to a swim in the Kongo River (Ger., Eng.), Sunday 9th of October 1960. Hans Juergen SOEHRING simply vanished in the river and never was found – heart attack, maelstrom ? Possibly a crocodile.
ARLETTY had a good relationship with the family, of course she visited. She had no more major success in film or on stage. In 1966 she received an injury from an accident and lost her eyesight totally. She lived in Paris, at last in some social housing, near to poverty and basically forgotten, until her death 1992. Here she is (via).
What an interesting woman.


This post is largely based on the article Eine Liebe in Zeiten des Krieges by Klaus HARPPRECHT (Ger., about), in : Die ZEIT, 8. X. 2009 (32, 2009) (here).



If you are interested in European history of the 20th century, and especially the aftermath of WWII, the book by Igor LUKES On the Edge of the Cold War. American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague, Oxford 2012, maybe interesting for you. The American ambassador STEINHARDT (Eng.) seems not to have been on top of the game, the services got it all wrong – they simply did not understand the special situation of the CSR (Ger., Eng.), STALIN’s aims and politics and the role of BENEŠ (Ger., Eng.). The review is very good, it seems worth a read.
Another topic that always comes up when speaking about the end of the war is the escape of war criminals to South America. A new study sheds light not on the escape routes (Rattenlinie, Ger., Eng.)), but how the American states (with an emphasis on Argentina) dealt with the problem: Daniel STAHL, Nazi-Jagd. Südamerikas Diktaturen und die Ahndung von NS-Verbrechen (= Beiträge zur Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts 15), Göttingen 2013. The reviewer calls it an “impressive work”.
And finally – if you have nothing else to do in the next spring, why not attend a conference on Schloß Kuenburg in Tamsweg (Ger., Eng.) (Austria) in April 2014 and discuss your favorite exploitation fillum Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält (Ger., Eng.) (1970). Of course, if you prefer the sequel from 1973 Hexen geschändet und zu Tode gequält (Eng.) you are at the right place too, and I am sure you’ll meet like-minded connoisseurs.
Next one will receive a BA for sitting through all that mondo-crap (Ger., Eng.).


Two titles dropped in that continue the cold-war-theme signalised in the previous works – of course not in the fillum, I wonder whether some cineast would dare to read Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält as cold war narrative, all is possible.
Anyway, the monograph by Toni PERUCCI Paul Robeson (Ger., Eng.) and the Cold War Performance Complex. Race, Madness, Activism, Ann Arbor 2012, looks at the early cold war and the McCarthy-“era” in a cultural-historic way and under the aspect of performance, as the title says. The reviewer calls the work innovative and inspiring.
Jon WIENER takes a look at what’s left from the cold war: How We Forgot the Cold War. A Historical Journey across America, Berkeley, CA 2012, visits 50 places that deal with the memory of those years. It is a journalistic travel book, not a scientific text,  that brings the reader into strange corners of the US, well written and impressionistic.
WIENER finds to his (and mine) astonishment that more than 30 original parts of the Berlin Wall are presented in the US, including the pissoir of a Las Vegas casino. Maybe someone took utilitarism a bit too far.