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The history, art history and architecture of Britain and its Empire, Europe, the Mediterranean and North America, 1640-1940.
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    Once Hitler came to power in 1933, Germany’s 572,000 Jews faced catastrophe as was made perfectly clear in Peter Nash's book Es­cape From Berlin (Impact Press, 2017). So how did some European Jews receive visas to the Far East? Just as the German industrialist Oskar Schindler saved the lives of 1200 Jews in Poland, three less-known diplomats helped Jews to get to Shanghai.

    In 1940 Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese consul general in Lithuania. He issued visas to 6000 Jews, against his Tokyo sup­eriors’ instructions, allowing Jews to transit through Japan. When he ran out of authentic visas, Sugihara threw signed sheets of paper stamped with his consular seal to the Jews as the train left Lithuania to take him back to Japan.

    Ho Feng-Shan was Chinese consul general in Vienna. After the Ansch­luss in 1938, the only way for the 200,000 Austrian Jews to escape was to get an entry visa from a foreign nation. Against the orders of his superior in Berlin, Ho issued thousands of visas for refugees going to Shanghai. Until he was ordered to return to China in 1940.

    Tadeusz Romer was the Polish ambassador to Japan. When many of Sug­ihara's Jews reached Japan, they could still have been sent back to Nazi-occupied Poland. So Romer intervened, granting them new pass­ports and visas to neutral countries. When the Polish embassy was shut down in 1941, “his” Jews were sent to safety in Shanghai.

    Nachemstein/Nash family
    Born in Berlin in 1936, three-year-old Peter Nachemstein and his parents were forced to escape Nazi Germany by fleeing to Shang­hai. The SS Scharnhorst was a German liner that they boarded in Genoa in April 1939. They almost missed the boat. When the Nachem­steins were served with an eviction notice straight after the inf­amous Kristallnacht destruction in Nov 1938 Herbert and Ingeborg wanted tickets to Argentina. When that failed, Ingeborg's father saved them.

    The voyage took Peter (aged 3) and his family through the Suez Canal with stops at Colombo, Manila and Hong Kong before the ship finally docked at Shanghai. Despite their fine surroundings on the Scharnhorst, the Nach­emsteins were in fact "boat people". They were persecuted refugees who had fled their homeland with little more than their clothes. And they were disem­barking, without visas, funds or language, at a Chinese port that had been invaded by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1937. Fortunately in those final few months before Hitler invaded Poland in Sept 1939, Shanghai was an open treaty port, a haven that accepted refugees without an entry visa.

    Peter's friends, the Witting family, fled Berlin and arrived in Sh­ang­hai in May 1939 on the SS Conte Verde. The Wit­tings were met by Jew­ish repres­ent­atives and taken to the Heime/-former refugee camps military barracks. Although 30 people packed into double bunk beds, the Wittings were fortunate. Relatives in South Africa sent money, allowing them to rent a single room in Hongkew, for eight years.

    Today this massive Chinese city is glamorous for tour­ists. In WW2, less so. Shanghai was divided into four distinct zones along the north­ern banks of the Yel­low River: a] Old Chinese City, b] Fren­ch Concession, c] International Settlement and d] Chinese Districts which had most of the city's 4 million population.

    New arrivals were issued with a blanket, sheets, tin dish, cup and spoon, and access to a soup kitchen. There were var­ious Shanghai Relief Aid Commit­tees which received funds from over­seas donors, especially the American Joint.

    The trickle of European refugees that began in the mid 1930s had become a flood by late 1939. Meanwhile thousands of impoverished Chinese were pouring into Shang­hai, seeking work. Beggars were everywhere. Death was every­where; coolies pushed carts around, picking up Chinese bodies.

    The Jewish Designated Area, 

    A Jewish coffee shop, White Horse Cafe
    Hongkew 19139-49

    The small room had 2 beds, sink, stove, table and cupboard. The Nachmensteins shared an unsewered toilet and a bathtub with two oth­er families. Every morning Chinese workers arrived and cleaned out the toilets. The tap water had to be boiled.

    Fortunately the women could collect food each day from the Heime kitchens. Survival in Shanghai was risked by poor diet, bad sanitation and low resistance to tropical diseases, but it was much better than any alternative. Comp­ared to Eur­ope’s death camps, Shanghai was a haven of safety.

    Any Jewish refugee who could raise enough money would leave the Heime. Most hoped to settle in Hongkew in the Internat­ional Settlement, which had been partially destroyed by 1937 bombs. As streets were cleared and houses rebuilt, Hongkew offered the Nachem­st­eins one single, subsidised room in a terraced house in Hongkew.

    By Nov 1940, the Shanghai authorities were trying to stem the tide of refugees by issuing entry visas. Just in time, Inge­borg's sister and brother in law took the only escape route - they caught the train from Berlin to Moscow, the Trans-Siberian Express to Vladivostok and a boat to Shanghai. Then Hitler declared war on Soviet Union and escapes ended.

    The Shanghai Jews did not have to face anti-Semitism. Neither the Chinese nor the Japanese, Con­fucianist or Bud­dhist, treated Jews any differently to other foreigners. Life was stable until Dec 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbour. Suddenly Shanghai was swamped with Japanese military and civilian per­sonnel searching for housing. A very polite Japanese family moved into the Nash’s terrace house, occupying the entire first floor. The Jap­anese only target­ed American and British nationals. Some Sephardic Jews from the Mid­dle East or India had British passports and were treated brutally, but only because they were British!

    The real change didn't come until Mar 1943. Under pressure from senior Nazis, the Japanese agreed to move all the state­less refugees into a Designated Area i.e Shang­hai Ghetto in Hongkew, patrolled at night. The one villain was the brutal Japanese commander of the Designated Area, Kanoh Ghoya.

    At its peak, Shanghai had a Jewish community of c35,000 people with a school, synagogue, hospital, refugee hostels and bakeries. Both Nash and Witting attended the Shanghai Jewish Youth Association School, established by the famous Kadoori family, Middle Eastern Jews who’d had a commercial base in Shanghai.

    Shanghai was liberated by US troops in Aug 1945. Peace freed 3.5 million Chinese residents in this city, 6,000+ foreign cit­izens interned in the Civil Assembly Centre and 23,000 Jewish refugees in the Shanghai Ghetto. Most of the Shanghai Ghetto residents re-applied to the countries where they had orig­inally wanted to go, back in 1939.

    Shanghai had been the Nash family’s sanctuary, albeit a chaotic one. They left Shanghai for Australia in Feb 1949, as soon as their application for entry was finally accepted. For 60 years, the Shanghai survivors in Australia shared regular Hongkew newsletters and reunions.

    In 2015 thePeople’s Republic of China and the World Jewish Congress commemorated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Shanghai Ghetto and the end of WW2. The photo credits belong to WJC. Jewish Refugees in Shanghai was displayed at Sabes Jewish Community Centre in Minnesota in 2015. The Prague Jewish Museum opened an exhibit on the Jewish Refugees living in Shanghai ghetto in 2016. The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museumis always worth visiting.

    Peter Nash, now 82, retired after a successful career in the textile industry. He launched his book Es­cape From Berlin at the 2017 Sydney Jewish Writers Fest­ival. Thanks Australian Financial Review for some of the details in this post.

    The Jewish Museum of Australia in Melbourne had a fine exhibition in the 1990s called The Story of a Haven: The Jews in Shanghai. To read of the earlier waves of émigrés, see a] Jews fleeing persecution in Czarist Russia who arrived just before WW1, settling in Shanghai's French Concession and b] German speakers who arrived after the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933.

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    Brave New World: Australia 1930s is a special exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV in Melbourne until mid Oct 2017. The 1930s was a turbulent time in Aus­tralia’s history.  Major world events, includ­ing the Depression and the rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe, shap­ed our nation’s evolving sense of identity during this decade.

    See a multitude of art­istic styles, both progressive and reactionary, which were practised during the 1930s: fash­ion, commercial art, architecture, industrial design, film and dance. The exhibition presents a  detailed picture of this dynamic time and reveals some of the social and political concerns that were pertinent then.

    The life saver and the Sydney Harbour Bridge
    Celebrating the bridge's opening in 1932

    The exhibition charts the themes of technological pro­g­ress and its antithesis in the nostalgia for pastoralism; the emer­gence of the New Woman; nationalism and the body culture movement; mounting calls for Indigenous rights and the increasing interest in Indigenous art; the devastating effects of the Depress­ion and the rise of radical politics; and the arrival of European refugees. During the very turbulent 1930s high-rise buildings, fast trains and engineering marvels like the Sydney Harbour Bridge were up against the Great Depression, con­ser­vatism and a looming WW2.

    The Brave New World Exhibition is accompanied by a top quality, fully-illustrated hardback publication, featuring essays by leading writers on each of the exhibition themes.

    Artist and Designers
    The exhibition presented 200+ works spanning photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture and décor­at­ive arts as well as design, fashion, film and dance. Abstraction, Surrealism and Expressionism emerg­ed, and women artists arose as trailblazers of modernism. Consider modernist artist Grace Cossington Smith with her flat colours and abstracted forms. And Hilda Rix Nicholas.

    Modernism in architecture, interior design, industrial design and advertising was becoming fashionable. In Melbourne a group of designers was the first to pioneer modern design in Australia eg furniture designer Fred Ward at his home-furniture workshop in Eaglemont. In 1932 Ward opened a shop in the City, selling furniture, linens and Scandinavian glass. Fabrics for curtains and upholstery were printed by Australian designer Michael O’Connell with bold designs.

    When Robert Menzies (later Prime Minister) proposed the form­at­ion of an Australian Academy of Art, Melbourne modernists were con­cerned that their departure from conventional art would be marginalised. Especially when Menzies opened the Victorian Artists' Society show in April 1937 and singled out for attack a wall of modernist art.

    It took time before design and architecture became closely integ­rated with the changing realities of contemporary life... when the last vestiges of the conservative art establishment were unpopular.

    Fashioning the modern woman
    In the 1930s the new Modern Woman emerged as a more serious version of the dizzy 1920s flapper. A working woman, she often lived alone in a new block of flats, vis­ited night clubs and show­ed less interest in traditional marriage and child rearing. And she valued loved urban living, freedom and equality. With clothes introduced by French cout­urier Jean Patou in 1929, her lean body type was enhanced by leng­th­ened hemlines and defined waists. In addition to the clothes, the Modern Woman was fashioned through her gestures, behaviours, beliefs and self presentation (eg smoking casually).

    The Modern Woman became one of the most potent images of  1930s life, being celebrated in women’s magazines like "Australian Women’s Weekly", launched in 1933. Such magazines congrat­ulated the Modern Woman and promoted new con­sumer goods to her, yet at the same time she was criticised by conservative comment­ators.
    Portrait of modernist artist Peggie Crombie, 
    painted by Sybil Craig
    1932, NGV.

    Sun and Surf 
    The beach was a complex location in the Australian creative imagin­ation. It was a democratic site in which the trappings of wealth were abandoned as people stripped down to their bathers. It was a place of hedonistic pleasures that offered sensuous engagement with sun and surf, where natural forces restored exhausted city bodies.

    Note artist/photographer Max Dupain’s iconic depictions of the Australian body and beach culture. It was a tourist play ground that was considered distinctively Australian. Male lifesavers were used by artists in promoting Australia to tour­ists: a poster commemor­at­ing the Sydney Harbour Bridge opening in 1932 cited the lifesaver as the quintessential representative of Australian manhood and virility. His muscles were as strong as the steel girders above.

    The lifesavers that helped protect the beach-going public were reg­ularly praised as physical exemplars who could build the eugenic stock of the nation. As WW2 approached, the conn­ection of these trained lifesavers to military servicemen bec­ame painfully apparent.

    The body beautiful
    The terrible physical losses and psychological traumas of WW1 changed Australian society and prompted anxiety about our strength. For some this meant an inward-looking isolat­ionism, a desire that Australian culture should develop untouched by the degenerate influences of Europe. The search for rejuvenation involved explorations of the vulnerabilities of the human body. For artists, corporeal forms came to symbolise nationhood, often expressed via Classical Greek art. So the evolution of a new Australian type was proposed – a white Australian drawn from British stock, but with an athletic and streamlined shape honed by years spent swimming and surfing on local beaches.

    Enthusiasm for body culture with its undesirable fascistic overtones is now seen as problematic.

    Dance in Australia
    Modern dance embodied the 1930s’ restless vitality and the quest for a different kind of subjectivity and expression. To many, modern dance was the pivotal art form for a mid C20th concerned with plast­icity, the expressive body and tensions between the individual and its collective formation.

    The 1930s were framed by the 1928–29 tour of Anna Pavlova’s Dance Company and the three tours of the remnant Ballets Russes companies (1936–40) that excited many aspiring modernist art­ists. These tours predicted subsequent ballet narratives in Aust­ral­ia, because the eruption of war in 1939 meant that Ballets Russes dancers, including Helene Kirsova and Edouard Borovansky, stayed here and established ballet companies.

    Aboriginal Art and Culture
    During the 1930s the Australian Government continued to enforce a divide and rule assimilationist policy. Determined by eugenics, this entailed removing Aboriginal people of mixed descent from their families and reserves, and absorbing them into the dominant Anglo society. Increas­ingly, Aboriginal people formed their own organisations and agitated for full citizenship rights.

    The exhibition explores artists’ responses to the call for Indig­enous rights during the 1930s. Albert Namatjira astonished Melbourne audiences at his first solo exhibition at the Athenaeum Gallery in 1938. His 41 watercolour paintings sold in three days! The following year South Aust­ralia’a Art Gallery purchased one of Namatjira’s works. Indigenous art also in­spired non-Indigenous artists like Margaret Preston, who appropriated design elements in their works, to travel to the outback to appreciate Indigenous history.

    Australia tuned into the world by radio
    Radios in the 1930s at a time when this new method of communication became an integral part of every home. They reflect the rapid spread of the streamlined style to Australia from Europe and the USA, where industrial designers applied machine-age styling to everyday house­hold appliances. The use of new synthetic plastics (Bakelite) and mass production helped to make radios affordable for ordinary people, even during the Dep­ression, and radio transmission brought the world into every Aust­ralian home.

    Colourful and elegant radios of the 1930s are now loved as core examples of Art Deco styling, and one of the first expressions of art meeting industry. Alas the exhibition’s radios were too high for my grandchildren to see, to change channels and to listen to an old news broadcast.

    The Great Depression and the brave new world of cities
    Unemployment rate rose to 32% by 1932, second only to Germany in awfulness. The photographer F. Oswald Barnett displayed powerful images of impoverished inner Melbourne suburbs, with hungry children and decrepit houses. In paintings we see similar images, firstly in the works of emigres Danila Vassilieff and Yosl Bergner. Then Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker became committed to depicting Australia’s unemployed workers and destitute families.

    The towering Manchester Unity Building emerged in Melbourne
    in 1932, giving employment to Depression-hit workers.

    Efficiency and speed depicted modernity. Many artists celebrated the city and technological advancements in works utilis­ing hard-edged forms, flat colours and dyn­amic compositions. The engineering marvel of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, opened in 1932, fascinated artists, as did city buildings, industry and modern transport.

    The skyscraper was THE powerful symbol of modernity, once the Great Depression seemed to stop progress. In 1932, as the Depression hit rock bottom, Melbourne’s tallest building was opened: Man­chester Unity Build­ing. With its ornam­ental tower and tall spire, the building became a new symbol of enterprise and confidence, and provided much-needed employment during the Depression.

    Efficiency, speed and great design depicted modernity
    Poster of The Victorian Railways, 1937

    Australia's pastoral cult
    A national myth evolved around the Australian bush. Although most Australians lived in cities, the post-WW1 nation learned that the bush was a nostalgic touchstone of trad­itional values. The classical pastoral ideal of a land in which only sheep and cattle roam became a dominant theme in landscape art. Elioth Gruner depicted the Aust­ral­­ian bush as a respite from the frenetic pace of modern city life.

    Pastoral landscapes were admired above all as representing the ant­ithesis of decadent modern life. Conservative gallery director JS Macdonald said such art would point the way in which life should be lived in Australia, with the maximum of flocks and the minimum of factories. Of course such works affirmed white landownership.

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    The Museum of Manufactures and the Government School of Design were located in Marlborough House, an impressive Pall Mall residence. When a new home for this Museum (later Victoria & Albert) had to be found in South Kensington, they used the estate bought by the Commissioners for 1851’s Great Exhib­ition. The Museum was established in 1852 with 3 founding principles i.e to make works of art available to all; to educate working people; and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. All plans had to be approved by Prince Albert, including approval for Sir Henry Cole (1808–82) to become first V & A Director. The financial surplus from the Great Exhibition went to the V & A!

    The South Kensington site architect was Captain Francis Fowke (1823-65), Inspector of Science and Art. Instead of Gothic architect­ure, Fowke proposed to focus on a North Italian Renaissance style, two storeys high, with a grand Lecture Theatre complex as centrepiece.

    In 1861 designer Godfrey Sykes (1824-66) was invited to London by Henry Cole to as­sist with the horticult­ural gardens and arcades. The decorative schemes in the North and South Courts were mainly Sykes’ work, especially the choice of terracotta as the decorative medium.

    In the showpiece Lecture Theatre building’s main feature was the red brick, terr­acotta and mos­aic-faced façade, three large recessed ar­ch­es and ter­r­acotta columns bearing fig­ures. Portraits of key mem­b­ers of the Mus­eum team, and names from the arts and sciences, appeared in the mosaic panels, lunettes and door panels.

     Gamble Room with pianist

    The Gamble, Poynter/Grill & Morris/Green Rooms were to be the interlinked Museum’s restaurants. Although they were to be functional spaces, these restaurants would highlight the Museum's lavishly de­corated public face. Victorian designer Will­iam Morris had been Pre-Raphaelite friends with architect Philip Webb, Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1861, all partners in the int­er­ior decorating-furnishing business. Henry Cole was truly avant-garde in his determination that these three eating rooms should re­flect the simplicity of Morris Company's designs.

    A] The walls and columns of the Gamble Room, influenced by Prince Albert's Frog­more Dairy of 1858–61, were faced with Minton majolica. The lofty and light room was opened in 1867, and The Building News in 1870 found the room bright and cheerful, like a richly adorned cafés of Paris. BHO noted that John Everett Millais (1829-96) selected the colours. But in 1874–5 the plaster ceiling was replaced by the Enam­elled Iron Company with one of sheet-iron enamelled in colours suggested by the metal ads on rail­way stations. Visitors ate at attractive tables.

    Opposite the Museum’s main entrance, the Gamble Room was the vis­it­or's first view inside. The am­az­ing dec­or­ation was part of Cole's concept of a “museum restaurant as a way of getting people to enjoy culture”. The windows and frieze were full of Victorian sayings on the joys of eating and drinking. Ventilation grilles in the ceiling of the Gamble Room were sur­r­ounded by heavy en­amelled-iron railway-type plates. The ceramic tiled walls and columns were provided a hygienic, washable site for eating.

    Edward Poynter Grill Room

    B] The smaller flanking rooms needed other decoration. Edward Poynter (1836-1919), so successful at the Royal Academy, was invited in Nov 1865 to tender for the decoration of the eastern restaurant, the Grill Room-Poynter Room. Designed by Poynter himself, the tile panels were painted in a tile-painting class for female students at the Schools of De­sign. For women to be engaged in so public a commission was very progressive. This radical spirit at South Kensington found popular expression in the altern­ative Arts and Crafts designs of the 1880-1910 era.

    And he designed the windows and the iron-brass grill. The décor­at­ion of the meat grill, particularly in the app­lied brass, look­ed modern. The room was opened in 1867.

    The Poynter Room was furnished with small iron tables with white marble tops. The catering contract­or offered a long breakfast menu, divided according to social stand­ing. The 1st class menu was elab­or­ate and expensive; the 2nd class menu was more limited and cheap­er. The 3rd class menu was only available to workmen at the Museum. In a related theme, the V&A was the first public museum in the world to be artificially lit. Workers could come in the evenings, “furnishing a powerful antidote to the Gin Palace”, and giving working families culture instead of booze.

    This room shows that in the later C19th many designers were infl­uen­c­ed by Japan. The wave patterns on the stove doors, the peacocks on the frieze tile panels, and the flower motifs on the blue-and-white tiles … all come from the east.

    C] The west­ern ­most room, the Green Dining Room-Morris Room, was designed by Morris. The sub­dued gold and greens colours of the scheme show that he was still under the sacred influence of the Gothic Re­vival. He dec­or­ated the walls with Elizabethan wooden panelling, below a sect­ion of green plaster with olive branches in low relief. And the stained-glass windows had female figures painted by Edward Burne-Jones and Philip Webb. Each table had matching myrtle-green Burleigh crockery.

    In 1864 the Museum bought some stained glass from Morris, Marshall & Faulkner Co. The estimate for the windows was accepted in Sept 1866 and the estimate for the ceiling and panelled dado was accepted in Oct 1867. The work was finished in 1868–9. Burne Jones' dado rail art displayed the signs of the zodiac and his designs for the wind­ows showed medieval domestic tasks.

    William Morris Green Room

    The rest of the decoration was by Morris' friend, architect Philip Webb. Webb took his inspiration from medieval and Eccles­iastical sour­c­es eg a font in Newcastle Cathedral for the frieze, and medieval manuscripts for the ceiling decoration. The four hanging lights were designed much later, from a drawing by Philip Webb, and were installed in 1926. Morris’ pattern-making was in the plaster-work on the walls – Tudorish leaves, flowers and berries.

    Sir Henry Cole retired in 1873 but by 1889, public opinion demanded that Museum work be somehow com­p­leted. The Victoria and Albert Mus­eum was built from 1899 and opened in 1909, representing a return to the idea of the museum of priceless treasures in marble halls. The lavishly decorated, historic refreshment rooms that stunned and delighted visitors in the Victorian era were way beyond my personal taste, but these treasures are still well worth visiting today.

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    Nigel Caw­th­orne’s  book Sex Lives of the Kings and Queens of England (Carlton Publishing, 2004) proposed that there was more to fascination with royal sexual antics than mere prur­ien­ce. Throughout history, the sex­ual part­ners of royals could be a matter of life or death. Pol­itical alliances were often made on royal marriages, so the suc­cess of a marital relat­ion­ship could influence the nation’s foreign policies. Yes the British royal family no longer enjoys the power it once did, given that the constitutional monarchy is only a Head of State. Yet he also proposed that gross sexual mis­conduct by any of them could seriously undermine the position of the monarchy. How could those views compatible? I would have loved the author to provide his sources.

    Prince of Wales' great love affairs.    Photo credit: Daily Mail

    I loved every chapter, but my favourite was The Greatest Love Story Ever Told that dealt with the Ed­ward Prince of Wales (1894-1972). During WW1, the Prince was taken to a Calais brot­hel where he found the sight of female genitalia re­volt­ing. He had his first sexual experience in Amiens, then took up with a courtesan in Paris.

    Back in London, the Prince courted Lady Sybil Cadogan, his sister’s best friend, and wanted marriage in 1917. The next affair was with Lady Rose­mary Leveson-Gower, a soc­iety beauty who the prince wanted to marry in 1918. Edward loathed his parents, incensed that they prevented him from marrying Lady Rose­mary. Anyhow she married William Ward, 3rd Earl of Dudley, in March 1919.

    Then Edward chose married woman - the still-mar­r­ied Mar­ian Coke, his much adored lover Freda Dudley Ward (divorced wife of an MP who was vice chamberlain of the Royal Household) and the married Americ­an heiress Aud­rey James. Best of all was Lady Thelma Furn­ess, the daught­er of an American diplomat who eloped at 16, divorced and then married the shipping magnate Viscount Furness. Thel­ma joined the Prince in Kenya in 1928 where the two fell pass­ionate­ly in love.

    In time Thelma complained her royal lover had been poorly endowed and was a lacklustre performer. Did Thelma’s lack of excite­ment come from the Prince’s homo­sexual prefer­en­ces, as des­cribed by the writer Lytton Strachey (1880–1932)? Luck­ily Thelma soon met the well-endowed playboy Aly Khan, son of the Aga Khan.

    Louis Mountbatten drew up a list of 17 eligible young royals, including Greek Princesses Margarita and Theodora, and 18-year-old Princess Ingrid of Sweden who arrived in London in 1928. But for the Prince of Wales in his mid-30s, there was little of interest amongst these royals.

    Note that Thelma Furness’ best friend was the American Wallis Simp­son whose first husband had been the sadistic, bi-sexual navy flier, Earl Winfield Spencer (married 1916). To make married life less mis­er­ab­le, Wallis had aff­airs with foreign diplomats. In Shang­hai and in Peking she enjoyed delightful affairs with wealthy American men, then a fine lesbian affair with Admiral FH Sadler’s wife. And Italian men must have been very attractive to Wallis Simpson since she went out with the Italian Naval Attache Alberto de Zara and with the married Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s son in law & Italy’s Foreign Minister.

    Wallis returned to the USA and met British shipping executive and Cold­stream Guards offic­er, Ernest Simpson. As both Wallis and Ernest were married to other people, they had to arrange hasty div­orces. They marr­ied in 1929 and returned to Britain to live. Soon Wal­l­is travelled to France with Consuela Thaw and Gloria Vanderbilt, who was in the middle of a torrid, gay affair with another aristocrat.

    Freda Dudley Ward, Prince Edward, Viscountess Furness, Prince George of Hanover 1932. Photo credit: Daily Mail

    By 1935 King George V was alarmed that his son was having an affair with Wal­l­is Simp­son, but the Prince didn’t care.

    Wallis noted the ext­reme lack of virility that Thelma Furness had comp­l­ained so explic­itly about years ago and it is doubtful whether the coup­le ever had sexual intercourse. Wallis taught him erotic games based on nanny-child scenes in which he was happily sub­missive.

    Although Wallis was entertaining Edward's foot fetishes, she still had her own needs. While Nazi Germany was invading the demilit­ar­is­ed Rhinelands, Wallis was having an affair with Germany’s ambassador to Britain, Joach­im von Ribbentrop. Rib­ben­trop believed that the Prince of Wales would eventually dictate British foreign policy, so he con­vin­ced Hitler that the Nazis had the Prince's support. How much did the German ambas­s­ador know from the Prince of Wales himself, and how much did he learn in bed from Wallis?

    Wallis made it clear in her letters that she did not love her Prin­ce, but she enjoyed her power over him. He was a masochist who liked being degraded, as Freda Dudley Ward had also noted.

    Prince Edward admired Hitler's economic and social reforms, infur­iating the British govern­ment by saying that Britain should offer the Nazis friend­ship. Edward wanted to speak priv­ately with Hitler and claimed he would abandon his eventual throne, if the British Prime Minister declar­ed war on Germany.

    In Jan 1936, King George V died & Edward was crowned King Edward VIII, still determined to marry Wallis! A divorce was speedily arranged for Mrs Simpson, but prime minister Stanley Bald­win said it wouldn’t help – the king could never marry a multi-divorced foreigner. When the scandal broke in the British newspapers, Wallis fled to France. But King Edward abdicated in Dec 1936 any­how, after only one year. Wallis’ divorce was finalised in May 1937.

    The Duke and Duchess with Adolf Hitler, 1937

    The Duke of Windsor finally got married in June 1937. Cut off from the British royal family, the Duchess became the closest friend of Diana Mit­ford, wife of the British Union of Fas­cists leader Os­wald Mosley. Diana’s sister Unity, an intimate of Hit­ler's, had introd­uced Diana to the Fuhrer back in March 1935. Note that Lady Mosley’s marriage took place in Joseph Goebbels’ home, with Adolf Hitler as guest of honour.

    Edward wanted to become a figurehead for an international movement for peace on Hitler's terms, meeting the Fuhrer at his moun­tain retreat of Obersalzberg. He also met Hit­ler's deputy Rudolf Hess twice, planning to see him re-installed as puppet monarch, if the Nazis invaded Britain.

    In 1947, Cawthorne reported, the Duke was involved in a torrid affair with Jimmy Donahue, New York heir to the Woolworth fortune. Noel Coward, who became a close friend of the Windsors after the abdication, also liked Jimmy Donahue. The Duke, Duchess and Donahue travelled together, but the menage a trois foundered because of the growing entourage of rent boys.

    So I don’t mind if Edward was straight, gay, celibate, submissive or a pole dancer. No do I mind that Wallis was divorced, foreign and sex­ually exotic. But I do care that both of them were close to Nazi politics, soc­ial policy and economics. They had an association with the British Union of Fas­cists, Os­wald and Diana Mosley, Hitler, Goebbels and Hess, and planned to retake the British throne on behalf of the Germans.

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    The Early Years

    Richard Bruno Heydrich was director of Halle Conserv­atory of Music and Theatre which he had founded in 1901. He comp­osed and performed choral works, songs, orchest­ral works and operas a la Richard Wag­ner. Heydrich’s wife Elisabeth taught piano at the Halle Conservat­ory and Elisabeth’s father had been the director of the Dresden Roy­al Conservatory. Clearly the Heydrich family was a very culturally and financially import­ant family!

    Reinhard Heydrich (1904-42) was born in Halle NW of Leipzig, son of Richard and Elisabeth. Music was an integral part of family life; the young lad dev­eloped a passion for the violin and cello. He excelled in science and athletics at the Reform-gymnasium. But he was whipped by his mother and bullied by children for his high voice and possible Jewish ancestry.

    Too young to fight in WWI, Heydrich got lucky. WW1 ended with Ger­m­any's defeat in 1918. In Feb 1919, strikes and clashes between left and right-wingers took place in Halle, so a right-wing paramilitary unit was form­ed under the Def­ence Minis­t­er and ordered to control Halle. Tall, teenage Heydrich joined the Volun­t­eer Rifles.

    Because of the Treaty of Versailles, hyper­inflation spread across Germany and incomes collapsed. By 1921, few townspeople in Halle could afford a musical education at Bruno Hey­drich's conservatory. As the family struggled economically, strikes and street battles in Halle meant revolut­ionary chaos surrounded young Reinhard. A relatively late convert to Nazism, he joined the anti-Semitic National German Protection & Shelter League.

    But instead of fulfilling his father's dream to study music, Reinhard joined the navy in 1922. Impressed by the security, free education and pension it offered, he became a naval cadet at Kiel, Germany's primary naval base. In 1924 he was promoted and sent to officer train­ing at the Naval Acad­emy Mürwik.

    Naval officer Heydrich specialised in signals and communic­ations. And he specialised in sexual affairs. In Dec 1930 he met Lina von Osten at a sports club ball. They soon announced their engagement, so he left another senior naval officer’s daughter to whom he had been engaged. A military court of honour found him to have dis­hon­oured the officer corps of the Reich Navy and forced him to resign his commission in 1931. Hey­drich’s dismissal was ter­rible; he was suddenly unemployed. In Dec 1931 he married Lina, already a convinced Nazi Party supporter, and went on to have four adorable children.

    Reinhard Heydrich
    Robert Gerwarth's book
    published by Yale University Press, 2012

    But instead of fulfilling his father's dream to study music, Reinhard joined the navy in 1922. Impressed by the security, free education and pension it offered, he became a naval cadet at Kiel, Germany's primary naval base. In 1924 he was promoted and sent to officer train­ing at the Naval Acad­emy Mürwik.

    Naval officer Heydrich specialised in signals and communic­ations. And he specialised in sexual affairs. In Dec 1930 he met Lina von Osten at a sports club ball. They soon announced their engagement, so he left another senior naval officer’s daughter to whom he had been engaged. A military court of honour found him to have dis­hon­oured the officer corps of the Reich Navy and forced him to resign his commission in 1931. Hey­drich’s dismissal was ter­rible; he was suddenly unemployed. In Dec 1931 he married Lina, already a convinced Nazi Party supporter, and went on to have four adorable children.

    THE SS 
    Heydrich was introduced to SS chief Heinrich Himmler in Mun­ich. Seek­ing to create an internal intelligence service for the Nazi par­ty, Himmler was so impr­es­sed by Hey­drich's proposals and his Aryan characteristics that he brought him into the SS. By Jan 1933, the Intelligence Agency/SD under Hey­drich's leadership had become an important agency in the Nazi party.

    29-year-old Heydrich played a leading role in the Night of the Long Knives in June 1934, leading to further promotion within the SS. In 1934 Heydrich was given command of the Berlin Gestapo, a position that suited his very skilful brutality. Under his leadership, they compiled comp­lete details about potential spies and enemies.

    The SD entered Austria after the Ansch­luss in March 1938; and then entered the Sudetenland after itsannexation in Oct 1938. They quickly sec­ured intelligence and arrested Germany’s enem­ies. In Nov 1938 SD exp­erts and police provoked the violence of Krist­all­­nacht through­out Nazi Germ­any, exclusively directed against Jewish synag­ogues and homes. In the wake of this pogrom, they implemented the first roundup of c30,000 Jews.

    When Ger­m­any invaded Poland in 1939, six Einsatz-gruppen Mobile Killing Units moved into Pol­and behind the front-line troops. They killed thous­ands of members of the Pol­ish nationalist and cult­ural elite.

    Hitler and Himmler
    comforting Heydrich's sons 
    at the Berlin funeral, 1942

    After Germany invad­ed Poland, Himmler formally linked the Sec­urity Police and SD by estab­lishing The Reich Main Security Office/RSHA in Sept 1939, under Heydrich's command. Like Himmler, Heydrich had to “guarantee the security and sur­vival of the German race” and they did it by suppressing all internal and ex­ternal enemies of the Nazi state: World Jewry, Marxists (Commun­ists, Social Democrats, trade unionists), churches who opp­osed the regime (eg Jehovah's Witnesses), traditional nationalists & Freemasons. The Gestapo incarcerated these groups in camps.

    When the previously dormant Czech communist resistance movement started carrying out acts of sabotage, Hitler dis­missed Reich Prot­ect­or Konstantin von Neu­r­ath (Germany’s ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs). Instead he appointed Heydrich as Acting Reich Lead­er of the Prot­ectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from Sept 1941 on.

    Heydrich first ordered a terror campaign against real and possible leaders of the Czech communists. In Oct-Nov 1941, German Pro­tectorate courts had 342 people executed and gave 1,289 to the Gestapo. Heydrich opened Theresienstadt camp-ghetto in Nov; under his rule 14,000 German and Austrian Jews, plus 20,000 Czech Jews, were deported from Theresienstadt. The But­cher of Prague’s role was to stamp out all Czech reb­ellion via terror and mass executions.

    Nonetheless I was surprised to read that Hey­drich became known as one of the main architects of the Final Solut­ion. In Jan 1939 Herm­ann Göring au­thorised Heydrich to develop plans for a Final Solution to the Jewish Question in the German Reich. By Jan 1942 Heydrich had invited key officials from various Reich Min­istries to a con­f­er­ence at a villa on the Wannsee Lake, in SW Berl­in. At this Wannsee Con­ference he presented plans, authorised by Hitler himself, to coord­inate a European-wide Final Solution. Hey­drich and the SS had to coordinate the resources of the Reich, and submit the final plan. To guarantee success, he requested the active participation of all Ministries represented at Wannsee.

    The Special Operations Executive/SOE was an espionage and reconnaissance unit created by Winston Churchill in June 1940. The BBC reported that the British SOE planned the assas­s­ina­t­ion of Heydrich in Prague. In the top-secret Operation Anth­ropoid, the SOE trained a group of Czech resist­ance members to kill Heydrich. Operation Anth­ropoid reported to Winston Churchill and to Edvard Benes, President of the Czech-government-in-exile.

    Heydrich was so self-confident that he travelled around Prague in an open vehicle. In May 1942, as he was travelling to the airport to fly to Hitler's headquarters, two Czech part­is­ans rolled a hand gren­­­ade under Heydrich's car. The gren­ade splint­ers throughout his body led to an infect­ion that killed him a week later.

    Hitler was so enraged by Heydrich’s assassination that he ordered murderous rep­risals against the Czech population; the SS troops cap­tured the two Czech towns of Lidice and Ležáky, executing every man and destroying every home. At Heydrich’s state funeral in Ber­l­in, both Hitler and Himmler mourned one of their best Final Sol­ution Exec­utors, a skilled killer of the Enemies of the Reich.

    Bodies of  the adult male civilians of Lidice,
    murdered in reprisal for the assassination of Heydrich. 1942

    Heydrich, the man from a cultured, educated family, oversaw Occupied Czechoslovakia and the murderous death squads. His utter brutality was high even by Nazi standards. The details of the British SOE's involvement in his assassination are still unclear.

    Thanks to Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich by Robert Gerwarth and The History Place.

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    The 1889–1890 Flu Pandemic was similar to the great Spanish Flu pandemic and might have prepared doctors and armies in WW1. It was first noted in different countries: China (1888); Athabasca in Canada (May 1889); Greenland (summer 1889), Tomsk in Siberia and Bukhara in Uzbek­istan (Oct 1889), St Peter­sburg in late Oct 1889, and expanded rapidly via railway across Europe. In Paris, the first cases were recorded on 17th Nov; in Berlin and Vienna on 30th Nov; in London in mid Dec, and in southern European countries in late Dec. The flu spread overseas to Boston and New York in Jan 1890. And then throughout North and South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania by mid 1890. The most tragic period was between Dec 1889 and Jan 1890; the majority of the million deaths were older than 50.

    So how different was the Spanish Flu Epidemic of WW1? Even before the arrival of air travel, Spanish flu swept around the world in just 3 catastrophic months from Oct 1918 to Jan 1919 - and killed more people than WW1 had.

    The 1918 flu came in two waves. The first wave was a benign bout that began in March 1918 in Spain. The epidemic was remarkable for the millions of victims struck down; high temp­er­atures; aching limbs; headaches and sore throats. Mostly the ill­ness quickly passed and few deaths occurred.

    An early pandemic occurred in the British military base at Étaples (1916–1917) in North France. This military base, situated near sea mar­sh­es with migratory birds, was occupied by 100,000 soldiers within 12 sq ks.  Presumably the epidemic came from a mixture of very crowded sold­iers, ? infected birds and mutagenic war gas. Or perhaps the virus originated with pigs kept near the British troops at the camp, and then jumped species over to humans.

    As France lost its own men in The Great War, hund­reds of thousands of troops in indigenous army units were organised in the French col­onies in Africa, Asia and Oceania. Of the 50,000+ Indo-Chinese sold­iers sent from the old Annam kingdom (now Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia) to France, half of them were assigned to active battalions, or as nurses and lorry drivers on the Front. But was there a connection with flu?

    Medical records reported that an American flu epidemic began in Feb 1918, in Sing-Sing Prison in New York. Others mentioned an acute infect­ious outbreak among young farmers in Haskell County in Kansas. This too occurred in Feb 1918, especially once these young farmers en­listed and were incorporated into Kansas’ Funston military camp. The later link to the Spanish Flu in Europe might have been explain­ed in terms of the Chinese workers in Kansas i.e to the new c­om­­b­in­ation of viruses  of Chinese and Indochinese origin
    Camp Funston, Kansas, 1918
    Photo credit: Kansas WW1

    The Paris ASSA archives affirmed that the first cases of flu in France appeared in the Third Army in Villers-sur-Coudun and in the Fère-Briange training field in April 1918. At the same time, flu broke out in the American army which was based in the outskirts of Bordeaux. And there were flu cases reported in 1st and 2nd battalions of the British army in France, in the German army at the Western front, and in the Military Hospital of Cabour in Belgium. Without a vaccine or antibiotics, public health authorities watched as the pandemic raged. People best avoided in­f­­­ection via face masks and staying away from crowds.

    But after a period of calm in mid 1918 the virus mutated, becoming extremely virulent. This more deadly second wave probably first start­ed in Spain. Thus the label “Spanish Flu”. Spain had been neut­ral in the Great War, but it permitted the pass­age of Portuguese troops, workers and merchandise towards Fran­ce. This important com­munic­at­ions hub between the Iberian Peninsula and Paris was in the Basque Count­ry, at the outlet of a marshy bird-filled river - a frontier region that could have been one of the places in which the virus mutated and became in­v­asive.

    From Oct 1918 on, the flu mov­ed to the general population across Spain, eventually affecting Portugal, then French and Italian cities. Frightening mortal­ity quickly emerged. Fluid entered the lungs; faces turned blue; the cough brought up the blood-stained sputum and the feet turned black. The lucky victims quickly drowned in their own lungs. The unlucky victims developed bact­er­ial pneumonia as an agon­is­ing secondary infect­ion. In the morning, the dead bodies were stack­ed about the morgue. But between the speed of the flu outbreak and effective military cens­orship in WW1, families didn’t know what had happened to their loved ones.

    The Allies had been boosted by hundreds of thousands of strapping young American recruits pouring into France aboard every trans-Atlantic troopship. How tragic it was that these fit young men who appeared most suscep­t­ible to the flu virus; in the crowded troop ships and training camps they fell ill and dropped dead. In October 1918, while 50,000 Americans died in battle, 70,000 of them were hospit­al­ised with flu, of whom 32% died. The Allied offensives almost ground to a halt because so many soldiers were sick. Had the Allies known it, the starving Germans were worse off.

    Australian Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment members, 
    working as flu doctors in Sydney, 1918. 
    Photo credit: Australian War Memorial

    The Great War, which had ravaged Europe for four years, was end­ing. But in the week in which The Armistice was signed, 11th Nov 1918, flu deaths in Europe reached their peak. British prime min­ister and US president, who met in Paris to design the Treaty of Versailles, both caught the flu and lived. But Sir Mark Sykes, whose Sykes-Picot Plan was to carve up the Middle East, died from flu.

    I thought snow protected citizens against the flu, but the Spanish flu reached Sweden in June 1918, and a one-third of the population became infected. c34,500 persons died from flu during the pandemic or from acute pneumonia.

    A milder third wave occurred in early 1919, while the fourth wave spread during early 1920. The majority of those who died were young, healthy adults aged 15-44 but mortality rates varied between countries. By the end of the epidemic, in less than 2 years, 50+ million people had died world­wide.

    The Spanish Flu pand­emic was inext­ricably linked to the millions of young men in army barracks, military camps and trenches; this is where the Flu virus developed, became virulent and spread worldwide in Oct-Nov 1918. Soldiers and workers, from Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Oceania, mixed on French soil. The causal fact­ors were poor liv­ing conditions, stress, fear, war gases used indis­crim­inately, shocking winters, and contact with birds and pigs.

    Thanks to the main references: "Origins of the Spanish Flu pandemic (1918–1920) and its relation to the WW1" by Anton Erkoreka and "When the World Sneezed" by Nigel Jones in History Today magazine, 5th May 2009. 

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    I’ll soon be seeing Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, directed by Alexandra Dean, at the Jewish Film Festival. The festival programme says: Known for her striking looks and electric onscreen persona, Lamarr’s fans never knew she possessed such a beautiful mind. An Aust­rian Jewish émigré who acted by day and drew mechanical and electronic inventions by night, Lam­arr came up with a secret communication system to help the Allies to beat the Naz­is. Bomb­shell is for lovers of history, film and science. But locating the truth about her life was tricky. All the facts below come from Encyclopaedia of World Biography.

    Hedwig Kiesler (1913–2000) was born in Vienna. Her parents were Jewish and cultivated; her father Emil Kiesler was a Bank of Vienna director and her mother Gertrud Lichtwitz a concert pianist from Budapest. Hedwig attended schools in Vienna then was sent to a Swiss finishing school.

    After an unsuccessful audition with her acting teacher and stage director, Max Rein­hardt, Hedwig moved into films. Her screen career began in 1930 with two Austrian films.

    Hedy Lamarr and Clark Gable
    Comrade X, 1940

    She had several other small German-language roles, but it took con­troversy for Hedwig to be famous. In 1932 she made the film Ecstasy in Czechoslovakia, released in 1933. The film told of a young woman whose husband was impotent, causing her to seek a younger man. Two scenes were responsible for the film's notoriety and bans: a] Hedwig ran nude through a sunlit forest and b] a sex scene in which she experienced an intense orgasm.

    Ecstasy attracted the attention of mil­lionaire Aust­rian arms dealer Fritz Mandl, whom teenage Hedwig met in Dec 1933 and then married. Mandl had converted from Judaism to Cathol­icism in order to be able to do business with Germany's fascist regime, and Lamarr al­so converted from Judaism to Cathol­icism in 1933. App­ar­ent­ly Mandl tried to buy and destroy every outstanding copy of the film Ecstasy. Whether out of revuls­ion to her husb­and's polit­ics or not, Hed­wig packed a case with jewellery, drug­ged her maid and fled to Paris, London and New York in 1937.

    Hed­wig began negotiating with producer Louis B Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who wanted new exotic Euro­pean talent. Hedwig had refused Mayer's dismal contract offer in London, but by the time the ship docked in New York she had a handsome MGM contract and the brand new name of Hedy Lamarr. Mayer called her The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

    Lamarr's first American film was Algiers (1938) opposite French actor Charles Boyer. A successful launch for her Amer­ican career, this film was followed by two flops, Lady of the Tropics (1939) and I Take This Woman (1940), co-starring Spencer Tracy. The actress's fortunes improved in 1940 with Boom Town star­ring Clark Gable, and Comrade X, an anti-Communist romance.

    During WW2 Lamarr was an American sex symbol and star with Come Live with Me (1941), Ziegfeld Girl (1941), The Heav­enly Body and the steamy White Cargo (both 1943), in which Lamarr played a mixed-race prostitute on an African rubber plantation. In 1943 Lamarr wanted the Casab­lanca role that eventually went to Swed­ish actress Ingrid Bergman.

    Lamarr also appeared in celebrity gossip columns. She dated silent comedian Charlie Chaplin in 1941, and had flings with Burgess Mered­ith. Lam­arr married producer Gene Markey in 1939, then divorced. Then she was married to English actor John Loder and had child­ren. Later Lamarr was married three more times.

    Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature
    Samson and Delilah, 1949

    Modernist American composer George Antheil also played an important role in Hedy's life. Antheil was as well-connected as Lamarr; he met & in 1925 mar­ried Hungarian Boski Markus, niece of Austrian play­wright Arthur Schnitzler.

    Lamarr knew maths very well and had cleverly picked up practical munitions-engineering know­ledge from Mandl. In 1940 she “solved” the problem of controlling a radio-guided torpedo. Electronic data broadcast on a specific frequency could easily be jammed by enemy transmitters, so Lamarr suggested rapid changes in the broadcast freq­uency. Anth­eil, who had experim­ented with electronic musical instruments, de­vised a punch-card-like device that could synchronise a transmitter and receiver.

    The pair were jointly awarded a patent for their important discovery. But credit did not help the frequency-hopping idea; it was never applied by the military during WW2. The real payoff of frequency-hopping came only decades later, when it became integral to the operation of cellular telephones and Blue-tooth systems that enabled computers to communicate with peripheral devices. Too late for Lamarr and Ant­heil's patent.

    Experiment Perilous (1944) was a great film. As was the Cecil B De­Mille film Samson and Delilah (1949), with Victor Mature and Lamarr as the stars. The film combined a Biblical evangelical Christ­­ian mor­alism combined with hot sex!

    Lamarr made several films in the 1950s, outside the Hollywood sys­t­em. In the Italian-made feature The Loves of Three Queens (1954) she played Helen of Troy, and then Joan of Arc in The Story of Man­kind (1958). But her heyday was past. In 1950 she auctioned off her possessions and retired from films.

    raunchy poster for White Cargo, 1943

    In 1967 she published an autobiography, Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman, but sued her ghost writers, claiming that the book was scan­d­alous. She complained that she’d had a $7 million income but was now subsisting on a grotty pension. More litigation followed in 1974.

    Lamarr was reclusive in her last years. The story of her radio transmission invent­ion became widely publicised and she received an Electronic Frontier Foundation Pion­eer Award in 1997. She died in Jan 2000 and was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

    For a biography that focused on Lamarr's scientific skills, see Richard Rhodes' book Hedy’s Folly (Doubleday).


    Now my own questions. Undoubtedly Hedwig fell for Fritz Mandl’s charming personality, and was very impressed with his business acumen. But if Mandl's ties to Mussolini and Hitler were very close, how did Hedy’s Jewish parents allow their teenage daughter to marry him? And if Mandl’s own parents were Jewish, how did Hitler agree to buy the Nazis’ munitions from him? How did Hedy keep her Jewishness a total secret throughout her American life? Why was it only after her death that her child­ren learned they were Jewish.

    Why did Mussolini and Hitler attend lavish parties at the Mandl home during their marriage? If one of Mandl's favourite topics at these gatherings was the technology surrounding radio-controlled missiles and torpedoes, did the American government acknowledge Hedy’s military knowledge and want to exploit it? If Lamarr was involved in a system that would allow American torpedoes and guided bombs to always reach their Nazi targets, were the Germans interested in how much knowledge she took with her to the USA after 1937? And in how much expertise she was developing with George Antheil in the USA?

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    We were often told that Eugene von Guerard (1811–1901)’s Australian landscapes of the 1860s and 70s were indebted to the romantic art of Caspar David Friedrich, two generations earlier, or that there was an affinity between­ his work and that of Amer­ic­an landscape painters like Frederic Church. But Christopher Allen (The Australian 8th Oct 2017) wrote that if von Guerard’s style was dist­inct­ive, the sociocultural milieu within which he worked in Australia was also significantly differen­t from that of the Americans to whom he was sometimes comp­ar­ed.

    The USA established the core of its identity as a nation around the Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1776. The found­ing fath­ers of the new nation were men of the Enlightenment. A century later, America was a great modern industrial nation that had absorbe­d many more influences, including romantic sensib­ility and religious re­vivalism. So by the time Church and his colleagues painted their luminous, sublime landscapes, America was already an established nation with a strong sense of its own identity. Their landscapes evoked westward expansion, and the discov­ery of the­ wilderness as a spiritual symbol.

    In von Guerard’s time Australia had not yet reached a comparable level of national identity. Federation (1/1/1901) was still more than a gen­era­tion away and post gold-rush colonial society was growing rapidly, with a boom in urban population. Australia was still transitioning from a coll­ect­ion of small colonies.

    Bourke Street West, 1886, by Tom Roberts,
    Credit: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 

    Down on his luck. 1889, by Frederick McCubbin
    Credit: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

    Two decades later, in the 1880s, the Heid­elberg School was named after an area in outer Melbourne where they started painting en plein air. Fred­erick McCubbin (1855-1917), Tom Roberts (1856–1931), Arthur Streeton (1867–1943), Walters Withers (1854—1914) and some­times Charles Conder (1868–1909) achieved a more con­fid­ent sense of belonging. Admit­ted­ly drawing on naturalist and Impress­ionist ideas, they turned from inspiring sub­jects to farming set­tings. They sought to capture Australian life, the bush and the harsh sunlight that typ­if­ied this country, and a more confident sense of settlement. 

    Some of the loveliest pictures done by the Heidelbergers were the little oil sketches on cigar box lids that composed the fam­ou­s 9 x 5 Impression Exhibition in Melbourne in 1889. Note the use of the term Impression­ist here, as explained in Table Talk magazine in June 1889.

    So why did the 2007 exhibition at the NGV, Australian Impress­ion­ism, call the most loved group of Australian artists “impres­s­ionists”, not “Heidelbergers”. The title of the 2007 exhibition reflected the view that Heidelberg School art was a credible Australian expression of the move towards natur­al­istic, plein-air painting that was popular in France, acr­oss Europe and in North America. Aust­ral­ians were part of internationalism and modernity!

    Even as recently as 2016, the Nat­ion­al Gallery of Australia sent Australia’s Impressionists Exhib­ition to London’s National Gal­l­ery. But British critics were puzzled. Streeton’s Fire’s On! (1891) was far from what they thought of as Im­pressio­nism, and Roberts’s A Break Away! (1891) could not be fitted into a European framework.

    I created the same mix-up in this blog, absorbing the spec­ific­ally Australian Heidelberg School into International Impres­sion­ism. “By 1901, Elioth Gruners first work was accepted for hanging in the Society of Artists Spring Show. See the small oil sketches of Sydney beaches 1912-4, very much in the tradition of the 9 x 5 Impressions shown at Buxton’s Rooms in Melbourne in Aug 1889. Gruner claimed his big influence was Roberts, possibly explaining why he was event­ually seen as the heir to the Impress­ion­ist past­oral tradition of Australian art of the Heidelberg school”. 

    Now Allen is asking us to understand the specif­icity of C19th Aus­tralian art, distinguishing it from the superficially com­parable Impressionism in Europe or the USA. Consider the times. In 1870-71, France was humiliatingly defeat­ed in the Franco-Prussian War, Emperor Napoleon III abdicated, the republic was proclaimed and Paris was besieged by the German army. Then it was taken over by a radical movement called the Commune 1871, which was quickly put down in a bloody repression.

    There was little sign of any of these traum­at­ic ev­ents in the Impressionists’ art. French Impress­ion­ism was specif­ic­ally react­ing to historical circumstances by avoiding the pain. Their emphasis was on the per­s­onal, authentic experience of transient phenomena. In  Claude Mon­et’s idyllic Le bassin d’Argenteuil (1872), the emph­asis was on delight in the clearing clouds and dawn light. French Im­pres­s­ionism wanted nothing to do with nat­ionalist themes.

    The Heidelberg painters, on the other hand, were intimately connected to the nationalist spirit in pre-Federation Aus­t­ralia. For ex­amp­le see Roberts’s por­trait of a young Austral­ian woman, An Aus­tralian Native (1888). And Streeton’s Golden Summer Eaglemont (1889) was an early morning scene with long dawn shadows and moving shade. The emphasis here was about inhabiting this land. The rising sun covered the Australian land in typical baking hot heat.

    Charles Conder was never as clearly focused on nationa­list identity as Roberts or Streeton. But Conder still contributed to the theme of being at ease in a new land, in works like The Yarra Heidelberg (1890).

    Australia’s Impressionists exhibition in London, 2017
    Credit: National Gallery London
    Fire’s On, 1891, by Arthur Streeton is on the right hand side. See it more clearly in Australian Bush Fires in Art 

    Of course these images had little in common with Monet and the other Im­pressionists’ palette. Rather than a high-keyed French palette, most of the pictures were tonal a la JAM Whistler. And they were less often studies of natural effects and more about modern life in Mel­bourne­ or in the rural outer suburbs, the booming economy and travel.

    Allen made a couple of exceptions. The late paintings of Mc­Cub­bin and turn of the century work by Emanuel Phillips Fox, Ethel Car­rick Fox, John Peter Russell and Tudor St George Tucker were more directly taken from French Impress­ionism, but only because those artists had direct contact with the Fren­ch. I agree. Phillips Fox had no major social or political theme, and the lei­sured life he depicted was not particularly Australian. Phillips Fox left Australia in 1887, before the inspirat­ion of the Heidelberg artists’ camps had fully developed. And he was outside Aus­tralia during all the nat­ional­ist excitem­ent leading up to Federat­ion. Like Mary Cassatt, Auguste Renoir and Berthe Morisot, Phillips Fox’s long white Ed­wardian dresses capt­ur­ed the light and atmosphere of a summer's day anywhere. 

    The exhibition "Australian Impress­ion­ism" is open at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra until the end of Oct

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    Dr Henry Lew wrote Smitten by Cath­er­ine, the story of Catherine Rachel Mendes da Costa (1678-1756). Lew was stroll­ing through an auction house looking at furniture, and noticed a sp­ec­ial C18th watercolour copy of a Rubens oil painting, att­rib­uted to Catherine da Costa. Since I am particularly interested in the era when Jews were permitted to return to England in mid C17th, my question became: who was this little known artist?

    Lew started the story back in Spain and Portugal, from where the Jews were expelled in the 1490s.  The author focused on the strength of Manasseh Ben Israel whose family had fled to Amsterdam from Madeira in Por­t­ugal. In his 1652 book, The Hope of Israel, Manasseh noted that countries tol­er­ant of Jews were also those that flourish­ed economically. Man­asseh had tried to find a solution to counteract the Chris­tian concept of the oppressed homeless Jew; he reminded Whitehall that Jews always displayed civic loyal­ty. Manasseh was a man of grand vision, and had his portrait done by Rembrandt in 1636. But the man was a realist - he  had to accept less favour­able terms for Jews, if they were to be tolerated in England eg synagogues would only be permitted inside private homes.

    Catherine’s father, Fernando Mendes (born 1647), came from the town of Trancoso in Portugal, which had a Jewish community surviving as crypto-Jews. Under difficult circumst­anc­es, Fer­nando eventually moved from Portugal in c1660, first to France and then to England. His timing was excellent; Ol­iv­er Crom­well had allowed Jews to be readmitted as recently as 1656.

    Henry Lew's book cover
    The Victorious Hero... Concludes Peace, 1723
    by Catherine da Costa

    Fernando Mendes was sent to study Medicine at Montpellier University in 1666, graduating with his Doctorate in 1668. In 1669 he returned to London and went into business with his very wealthy first cousin, Alvaro Rodrigues da Costa. Alvaro was a man who was hugely successful trading inside the East India Company. So clearly Dr Mendes never had to rely on Medicine as his sole source of income. The quid pro quo for a successful life was that neither men could be Jewish - Fernando was a Catholic and Alvaro became a Protestant.

    Catherine de Braganza came from a senior noble house in Portugal, and lived there until she married King Charles II of England in 1662. An article of the marriage treaty was that Queen Catherine was allowed freely to practise her faith; her chapels in St James’ Palace and Somerset House were the only two places in London where Catholics could legally worship. Once again timing was critical. In 1678 Dr Fernando Mendes was app­oint­ed physician to King Charles II and Queen Catherine de Braganza. Mendes was paid a salary, and was provided with his own apartment in Somerset House, the Queen’s royal palace in London.

    Dr Mendes married Isabel Rodriques Marques, daughter of a devout Jewish merchant. Their first baby was born in Somerset House in late 1689. Queen Catherine, who could not have any babies herself, was del­ight­ed with the little girl, had her baptised in the palace and asked that she be called Catherine. Even after King Char­les’ death in 1685, Dr Mendes remained in the Dowager Queen’s service. And Catherine Mendes remained the god-daughter of Queen Catherine.

    I am sorry we learn so little about Catherine’s values, hopes and goals in the book. We DO know that she became a pupil of the famous min­iat­urist Bernard Lens III (1682-1740), a painter at the courts of kings George I and George II. In 1707 Lens became the first British artist to replace vellum, the most common material for miniatures, with ivory. (As Catherine did later). Catherine’s copy of Lens’ painting, The Vict­orious Hero Takes Occasion to Conclude Peace, must have been very influential on the young woman.

    In 1698 Catherine married her cousin Anthony Moses da Costa, a young merchant, and had three children. Like his father, Anthony became a leading figure in East India trade, and in banking. He was ad­mired by Voltaire, rejected by the Russian Company because of being Jewish and was appointed commissioner for the new American colony of Georgia.
    Top: Bernard Lens, Portrait of a Lady called Mary Queen of Scots (1720)
    Middle: Catherine da Costa, Self Portrait (1720)
    Bottom: Catherine da Costa, her son Abraham (born 1704)

    Anthony and Catherine lived in two lovely homes in London. She was exposed to the impressive operas and oratorios of contemporary George Frederick Handel. And she read the Enlightenment philosophers Locke and Hume. Yet Jewish life in England was ambivalent. Catherine knew that Jews often hid their Jewish identity, that inter-marriage and conversion were common, allowing access to important nat­ion­al organisations. Moreover Catherine witnessed impoverished Sephardi Jews, still fleeing persecution. These Jews could become the subject of anti-Semitic stereotypes in England.

    Why would a Jewish artist paint a Madonna and Child? Henry Lew re­iterated that Portuguese Marranos had been living as Christ­ians since the 1490s. And remember that Catherine’s father Fernando and her father-in-law Alvaro were both committed Christ­ians. Perhaps Catherine saw Sofonisba Anguis­s­ola’s Madonna and Child (1556, p65) and adored it.

    Catherine’s oeuvre was worth examining. Her Self-Portrait was my favourite (1720, p64); the well-dressed artist was busy working at her easel. The Portrait of her Father Dr Fernando Mendes showed a well dressed gentleman in a wig, in front of his impressive library (1721, p46). And her portraits of her son Abraham da Costa (1714, p66) and her Double Portrait of Two Children were sensitive (not dated, p68). Only the portrait of London mer­chant Francis Jacob Salvador (1720, p67) was, in my opinion, not very sensitive.

    Dr Lew, an opthamologist for 40 years, authored 6 other books. For Smitten by Catherine, he has published a limited edition of 500 copies in hardback. This beautiful book was complete with plates of Cath­er­ine’s art, works by her teacher Bern­ard Lens III, and the original painting by Rubens that Cath­erine cop­ied. Readers might like to locate an old catalogue of the exhib­it­ion Jewish Artists in England 1656-1956, held at the White­chapel Art Gallery, Nov-Dec 1956.


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    Coal was essential for military production during WW2; somehow Britain had to match the quotas needed to keep fact­ories churn­ing out the munitions required at the front. And as Britain was unable to import coal in wartime, the production of coal from local mines had to be increased. But how? 36,000 miners were already cons­crip­t­ed for army duty and had left their collieries.

    Ernest Bevin, wartime Minister of Labour and National Service and a former Trade Unionist, believed the short­age could be remedied by using conscripted men to fill the vacancies in the mines, keeping production at the rates requir­ed. In Dec 1943 he announced a scheme in Parliament.

    A ballot would take place to put a fixed perc­ent­age of cons­cript­ed men into the underground collieries rather than into the armed services. “We need 720,000 men continuously employed in this industry. This is where you boys come in. Our fighting men will not be able to achieve their purpose unless we get an adequate supply of coal.” Any refusal to comply with the Direction Order would result in a heavy fine and/or imprisonment under the Emergency Powers Act in force back then.

    Bevin Boys' first day down the mine
    Photo credit: Express

    Bevin boys training with a pit pony
    Photo credit: Bevin Boys Photo Grallery

    Every month, 10 numbers were placed in a hat; 2 numbers were drawn and those whose National Service registration number ended with those numbers were directed to the mining industry. Along these ballotees were the optants, men who had volunt­eered for service in the coal mines, rather than the armed serv­ices. From 1943-8, 48,000 young men between the ages of 18-25 were conscripted for Nat­ional Service Employment in British coal mines.

    After medical examinations, travel warrants & instructions, the men had to report to one of the thirteen Government Training Centre Collieries in England, Wales and Scotland. Accommodation was provided in either a purpose-built Miners Hostel similar to an army camp, or billeted out to a private home at £1.25/week from a weekly wage of £3.50.

    Each new miner was taught mining in a 6 weeks training course: classroom lectures, surface-and-underground training and physical fitness. Only a minority of Bevin Boys were actually employed cutting coal on the coal face, and others worked as colliers' assistants, filling tubs or drams. The maj­ority worked on maintaining haulage roads, or con­trolling underground con­veyor belts. The few who had previous electrical or engineering experience were given similar work in the collieries.

    This alternative to army service caused much dismay; many of the Bevin Boys wanted to join the fighting for­c­es, or felt that as coal miners they would not be valued.

    The Bevin Boys came from a range of backgrounds and skill sets. A few were true conscientious objectors who were being consc­rip­ted for essential but non-military work. Some were sons of privilege, and many were lads from big cities who had never even seen a coal mine. Whatever their background, by Dec 1943 one in ten conscripts found themselves in the mines instead of at the front.

    6 weeks of training for each intake of conscripts
    in classrooms, via vigorous physical training and in the underground mine
    Photo credit: PressReader

    A large proportion of the 48,000 Bevin Boys sent to Britain's coll­ieries disliked their time spent there. This was partially because they had been hoping to join the army, as noted. Plus many suffered vicious taunts from by-standers; coal miners wore no distinctive uniform so moral judgements were often made about the lads “shirking” from war service. Even the police would stop and question men of military age, if they suspected the men had avoided conscrip­t­ion.

    Finally a large number of reserved occupation miners also dis­liked the Bevin Boys. They saw the lads as a threat to their live­li­hoods and also as dangerous liabilities, given that most did not come from mining backgrounds. Worse, the local mining fam­ilies had already seen their own sons conscripted into the armed services, only to be replaced by very young, reluctant outsiders.

    Unlike the ordinary miners, who wore their own clothes, Bevin Boys were issued with overalls, safety helmet and working boots. But it was unfortunate that Bevin Boys a] were not given an identifiable war service uniform and b] were not released from their coal mines until several years after the war ended. This was long after their counter­parts in the armed forces had been demobbed.

    The mine-work was done in appalling conditions with no toilet facilities, working in areas that were hot, cold, wet, dusty or dirty. The constant noise of machinery was deafening. And there was always the fear that there could be an explosion resulting in fire or rock fall. [I am claustrophobic. That would have been my worst fear].

    The ballots were suspended in May 1945, with the last of the 50,000 conscripts working in the coal mines. The Bevin Boys had all been demobbed in 1948. A small number stayed in mining after the war, but most couldn't wait to leave.

    Unlike other conscripts, they had no right to go back to their previous occupations, they received no service medals, demob suit or even a letter of thanks. And because the official records were destroyed in the 1950s, former Bevin Boy ballotees could not even prove their service, unless they have kept their personal documents.

    Bevin Boys in Durham
    They were just teenagers, away from home for the first time
    photo credit: WW2inColor

    Many men who spent their war on the so-called underground front went unrecognised for almost half a century. Perhaps they were still embarrassed about not serving on the front. In any case, some men did eventually form the Bevin Boys Association in 1989 in Dorchester Dorset. The first official Bevin Boys reunion was held at the former Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum in 1989.

    It took until 1995 for the British government to form­ally re­cog­nise the contribution of these men, by then old age pens­ion­ers. The Queen made a speech and unveiled the Home Front Mem­orial in Coventry. And in 2007, the Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that a special honour was to be presented to all conscripts who served in the mines. This was on the 60th anniversary of the last Bevin Boy being demobbed. Any living Bevin Boys are now officially allowed to take part in the Remembrance Day service at Whitehall.

    Many thanks to The Forgotten Conscripts by Warwick H Taylor  and the BBC’s The Coal Industry in Wartime by Dr Martin Johnes.


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    Michael Barclayinvited us to share his sensitive obituary. Gordon Downie (1964-2017) was born near Kingston Ont, to Lorna & Edgar. He was the 4th of 5 children, the one who played goalie for Amherst­view’s successful hockey team.

    Downie moved to Kingston to attend Kingston Collegiate Vocat­ional Institute. Coming from a rural area, his out­sider status became part of his public identity: the poet in the bar band; the rock star slumming it with indie kids while cosying up to intel­ligent­sia; the artist with a commer­cially successful cushion who thrived on chall­enging himself with new collab­orators and varied disciplines like dance, painting and act­ing. The rest of the Tragically Hip were scions of the King­ston elite. Downie could at least boast that he was connected to hockey royalty.

    He joined a punk band called The Slinks; their friendly rivals at the school were a Grade 13 group The Rodents, featuring bassist Gord Sinclair and guitarist Robbie Baker. A young drummer, Johnny Fay, watched with interest. Four of those five young men played their first gig as the Tragically Hip in Nov 1984, in a small white room at the King­ston Artists Association. Paul Langlois, son of the school's sports coach who Downie befriended, joined a year later; by that time, Downie was studying film at Queen’s and drinking.

    In the band’s first three years, they played ’60s cover songs by the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, Mar­vin Gaye and the Monkees. Downie’s on-stage improvisations were a main part of the band’s appeal, though he was not yet a lyricist. As original material slowly seeped its way into the set, it was Gord Sinclair who wrote most of the lyr­ics. It wasn’t until the 1991 release of the band’s second album, Road Apples, that Downie seized the lyrical reins entirely.

    The Tragically Hip released their first EP in Dec 1987; a year later they headed to Memphis to record Up to Here. It became one of two Hip albums to eventually sell more than a million copies in Canada. They tapped into rock-n-roll’s primal energy in ways that had been largely forgotten by the late ’80s: they were a dressed-down, no-frills road­house bar band whose videos were rejected by MTV, a band whose sound was far removed from the era’s pop stars, stadium rock, ageing Boomers, newer bluesy bands. And they were too traditional and aspirational to be Alter­n­ative.

    It was their live performances, where Downie’s unusual charisma electrified everyone who saw them. No other act back then was embraced with the fervour that Hip fans displayed toward Downie as a performer, but it was his lyrics that inflamed his fans. In a genre prone to cliché, outright nonsense and occasional misogyny, Gord Downie wrote memorable lyrics.

    Canadians watched him command 40,000 people at outdoor appearances during the 1990s, singing songs that were summer soundtracks for an entire generation. Video clips didn’t do justice to the energy in the room generated.

    Downie’s specifically Canadian references were all but alien on radio playlists. He prized the anomaly - he’d arrive on stage and make strange Canadianisms, for no discernible reas­on. But there were likely to be as many American refer­ences as Canadian ones in Tragically Hip songs. So it’s telling that the album on which he made the most Canadian references was also their most commercially successful: Fully Completely 1992.

    Gord Downie

    His first solo, Coke Machine Glow 2001, had songs his Hip bandmates had rejected and works culled from an accom­panying book of poetry. And it set sales records in a corner of the pub­lishing industry. The album was raw, experimental and far removed from the rock radio world the Hip inhabited: droning organs, atonal guitar screeches and accordions compet­ed for sonic space with Gord’s vocals atop opiated folk-country songs. The press and music industry were baffled; among his peers, and especially among non-Hip fans, it remained a beloved and influential record.

    Solo albums were a pressure-release valve for Downie in the early 2000s, as the Hip became elder statesmen in danger of being taken for granted. Record sales and radio play declined somewhat. Later in the decade, he pushed the band to record two albums with Bob Rock and he helped broaden their sonic palette. His later solo records, including a rollicking, punkish 2014 album rec­orded with the Sadies, were remarkably conventional comp­ared to Coke Machine Glow. Downie loved to make rock records!

    And Downie directed his attention to envir­onmental issues, specifically those endorsed by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, a Canadian water charity. Downie’s political aware­ness had been tweaked in 1993, when the Hip invited Australia’s Mid­night Oil on a sum­mer Canadian tour; that band’s singer, Peter Garrett, was an outspoken activist who later served as an Aus­tralian minister. Garrett and his bandmates became invest­ed in the fight against clear-cutting in BC, and convinced the Hip to join them. Years later, when he decided to be more vocal, Downie relied on research and science rather than on his celebrity.

    By 2016, when he released his Secret Path project to address the legacy of residential schools, he knew his celeb­rity was now his best asset: he had the country’s att­ention. The reluctant nat­ional­ist used it to focus specifically on an issue he felt was a glaring stain in Canada’s hist­ory. He quickly transformed the old tale of a 12-year-old boy who froze to death running away from residential school in 1966 into a current concern. This tragic symbol launched a Canadian conversation about compassion.

    Though he relished his role on stage, Downie’s app­r­oach to cel­ebrity was always tenuous. He rarely granted int­er­views, and generally eschewed red-carpet events. The entire band val­ued their privacy, and Downie even more so: perhaps because of the adulation directed his way, but also because of the way he was raised. It was, in a way, a very Canadian approach to celebrity.

    In 2015 the Huff­ington Post ran a rare piece of celeb­rity news about Downie, who’d steadfastly shielded his four children and wife from the public eye. That year the couple had separated, prompt­ing the sale of his Toronto home. And his beloved fath­er, Edgar, was ail­ing; Gord spent a lot of time with him in Kingston while rec­ording the Hip’s Man Machine Poem at a nearby studio. Ed­gar died in Nov 2015.

    The Tragically Hip, in London

    3 days after dad's funeral, Gord had a seizure. The hosp­ital diagnosed a primary glioblast­oma, an aggressive brain cancer. Months of surgeries and therapies followed. The band broke the news in May 2016, while simultaneously announcing a tour to promote the new album.

    It would be the last. Lead singer Gord Downie performed with band members Paul Langlois, Gord Sin­clair, Johnny Fay and Rob Baker at the Memorial Centre to launch the band’s latest Man Machine Poem tour. Once the show hit the road, there was a public outpouring that few could have pred­icted: a year of Downie transforming from an aging rock star to tragic hero.

    Here was a man wrestling with notions of mortality in his work for years. He was the poet who once asked “When are you thinking of disappearing? When are you falling off the map?” This was a man invit­ing us to his own wake. Everyone was prepared for the funeral at any moment.

    He made it. The final Tragically Hip show at the K-Rock Centre in Kingston in Aug was broadcast live on the CBC to 11.7 million viewers, with 20,000 people from across the continent assemb­led in Springer Market Square to celebrate. Then three more live shows, in Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

    In his last public appearance, Downie appeared at a WE Day event as part of Canada150 in Ottawa, once again calling on Canadian youth to reckon with the legacy of resid­ential schools. A children’s choir sang The Stranger, and the emotion and pride on Gord’s face was palpable.

    Downie’s lyrics imbued Canada’s mus­ic scene with mystery and magic and presented them, poetically, to a wide mainstream aud­ience. Do the work. Create the spark. When he finished, Gord Downie left an eternal flame. He passed away in Oct 2017.

    Michael Barclay's The Never-Ending Present: Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip will be released Ap 2018.

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    I have never been to Romchamp and didn't know that Le Corbusier designed a 1950s chapel. But I was eavedropping on two Francophiles in a Melbourne espresso bar, and after buying them a cheesecake each, got the following brilliant blog post. Many thanks sisters, for your passion and for your European Traveler article by Henk Bekker.

    Ronchamp (pop 3000) is in the French region Franche-Comté, 418 ks SE from Paris, on the Swiss border near Belmont. In 1950, Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier(1887-1965) was comm­is­s­ioned to design a new Catholic church in 1950. He initially declined the invitation, but apparently became inspired by the site on a hill top that offered views in all four directions. Like the orig­in­al stone C4th pilgrimage chapel that was bombed during WW2, Chap­el­le Notre Dame du Haut de Ron­champ was to sit among a wooded terr­ain, 150m above the rest of the village.

    Chap­el­le Notre Dame du Haut de Ron­champ 
    consecrated 1955

    When Corbusier agreed to design Ron­champ, it had to be mod­ern, not just in its mat­er­ials and designs, but because it would fun­ction as a religious scul­p­ture. The Church leadership wanted to get rid of the chapel’s old decadence and ornament­ by embracing mod­ern art and arch­it­ect­ure. The chapel needed to be rebuilt as a med­itative and reflect­ive space void; spatial and relig­ious purity thus became one of Corbusier’s main focuses.

    The walls were mostly stark, whitewashed concrete, because restricted access required most of the structure to be produced onsite. Stones from the former church were used in the construction. Up to 2.7m thick, the southern wall was pierced by 27 windows of various sizes in glass. These window frames were like small tunnels that allowed soft light to be reflect­ed at a variety of angles throughout the day. There was no connection to stained glass; Le Corbusier considered that this form of illumination was too closely bound to old, Romanesque and Gothic architectural notions.

    The curving walls acted as a practical method of sup­p­orting the concrete and masonry construction, as well as the mass­ive curvi­linear mushroom roof which appeared to peel up to the heavens. The curve of a massive grey roof of the chapel seemed to be a mirror of the curve that the chapel sat on. It rested on embedded pillars hidden in the walls, rather than on the walls themselves, giving the imp­ression of the roof floating 10cm in the air. The cler­es­tory windows, fitted between the top of the walls and roof, helped provide the interior with more light.

    The Le Corbusier-designed chapel was consec­rated in 1955. It had an interior space for one altar, three chapels and c200 worshippers. The concave eastern wall had a second outdoor altar which allowed services for 1000 outdoor worshippers.

    As today's visitors always note, the light enters into the chapel where it appears inside as a washed-out, ethereal atmosphere. The effect of the light evokes emotional qualities that create height­ened sensations in tune with the religious activities. We know Corbusier designed small punct­uring apertures on the façade that amplified the interior light by tapering the window well in the wall cavity. Each wall became illuminated by these differing window frames, which in conjunction with the stark white washed walls, still gives the walls lum­inous qual­ities punct­uated by a more intense direct light.

    Above the plain altar, the east wall has several pinhole-windows and one substantial window with the Madonna and Child in silhouette. 

    Lunimous light coming  over the pews from 27 differently angled windows

    On the wall behind the altar in the chapel, the lighting effects create a speckled, starry pattern. And there is a larger opening above the cross that emits a flood of light, creating a powerful religious and emotional exper­ience.

    The church has three towers of between 20 and 27 m high. These provide space for the side altars inside the church and are lit through wind­ows fitted below the cement canopies. The chapel has no bells. The light is what gives meaning to the chapel.

    Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut de Ronchamp's interior has very limited décor­at­ions. The main nave is 25 x 13 m with the floor fol­l­owing the nat­ur­al uneven slope of the hill towards the main altar. Eight rows of wooden benches were added at the insistence of the church authorities – Le Corbusier would have preferred worship­pers to remain standing. Clearly this design was not typical of Le Corbus­ier’s rational, rather boxy funct­ionalism; instead it was to be an early postmodern design in a sculptural style, a modern response to a religious site. Still maintaining Le Corbusier’s principles of pur­­ity and openness, this is one of the most instantly recognisable designs of the mid C20th.

    The whitewashed concrete post-modern Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut is still a popular site for religious pilgrims and architecture lovers. The large enamelled door in this wall is used only for special pilg­rimage events such as Assumption of Mary Aug 15th and Nativity of the Virgin Mary Sept 8th. Three thick white walls curl inwards from the outside to create smaller chapels at the sides of the main space. Two sit on either side of the north entrance and one in the south-east corner next to the main entrance.

    Ron­champ has been on UNESCO's World Heritage List since 2016. The Le Corbusier chapel is privately owned and thus one of few places of Christian worship in France that charges admission fees. Buy guidebooks in the bookshop.

    See the small Pyramid of Peace designed by Le Corbusier and mostly constructed from rubble from the previous church. It is a mem­orial to the soldiers who died during the liberation of Ronchamp in September 1944.

    And see a modern monastery that was built into the hill in 2011 to house seven nuns. The project was criticised for ruining the app­ear­ance and the acropolis-like approach to the chapel, but it didn’t matter. The monastery was built into the slope of the land and was barely visible from the chapel.

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    The Arts Club was founded in 1863 to provide a haven for people who had professional or non-professional links to the Arts, Literature or Sciences. According to the club’s own home page, a small group of friends including Dickens and Trollope got together and drew in new members like Tennyson, Monet, Manet, Rodin and Winston Churchill soon after. In 1896, the Club relocated from its original home on Hanover Square to its present elegant C18th townhouse at 40 Dover St, offering its members a comfortable, arty and impressive base in Mayfair. In the basement, there is a live music club room and there is a contemporary art collection that looks like a professional gallery.

    Since then, the Club gave membership to many outstanding figures in the history of art, literature and science: writers like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins; mus­icians like Franz Liszt; and artists Frederic Leighton, Walter Sick­ert, John Everett Millais, Auguste Rodin and James Mc­Neill Whistler, as well as famous professionals. The Arts Club sur­vived two world wars, despite a direct hit during the 1940 Blitz.

    In Sep 2011, the Arts Club was renovated and re-launched. The curr­ent mem­bers are involved in art, architecture, fashion, film, music, literature, perf­orm­ance, photography, science and theatre. It proud­ly contin­ues to be a hub for creative and entrepren­eurial patrons to come together to dine and participate in the events; thus the Club has reclaimed its central place in London’s modern cultural life.

    The Arts Club drawing room 

    The Arts Club’s collection includes the permanent display of works by three modern artists, alongside the Club's historic coll­ection of British/internat­ional artists and temporary exhibitions. And to show that there is more to the Arts Club than drinking oneself to a standstill, there are regular lectures and recitals.

    London’s other private members’ clubs continued with expan­sion. After WW2, clubs were still filled with the arts, but had to be louder, more hip and more sexy. Annabel's was founded in 1963 by entrep­ren­eur Mark Birley, the very educated son of the artist Sir Oswald Birley, favourite portrait painter of the royal family. Mark Birley had worked for Hermes, the luxury goods maker. When his friend John Aspinall turned a large Palladian house into the Cler­mont Club Casino, he offered Birley the lease on the base­ment. Ap­parently they needed somewhere to party, after an evening's gambling.

    Birley turned the basement of the Clermont Club Casino into a nightclub and blocked off the private staircase going up into the Clermont above. Since 1963, this intimate Berk­eley Square basement has attracted a gilded, glitt­ering clientele and aristo­crats. Named after Birley’s glamorous wife, now Lady Annabel Goldsmith, the club proudly declared it was a safe haven from journalists.

    Parts of this elegant and exclusive Mayfair site had a sumptuous interior: vaulted Moorish ceiling, pillars covered with antiqued brass and outstanding coll­ection of objets d’art. Each year there was a week of fashion shows, de­vised by the later fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

    Pavel Tchelitchew was the Russian-born surrealist painter, set designer and costume designer. Tchelitchew was born to a noble landed family, a man who left Russia for Berlin and then Paris in the 1920. Tchelitchew’s watercolours were perfect for two reasons. Firstly Birley was fascinated with Russian ballet. And secondly Tchelitchew was close with Gertrude Stein and the Sitwells.

    Posh yes, but Birley wanted to create some space that had the feel of an English country house. The room and bars and the little nooks were furnished with comfortable sofas, a large Buddha, soft armchairs and a wide range of art: oil paintings of Birley’s dogs next to works by Augustus John.

    Against this contemporary club backdrop, some of the older clubs in London that once serviced the wealthy and the glamorous have been getting a bit dusty, banking on exclusivity. Even Annabel’s also had another look at itself. In June 2007, after more than a year of negotiations, the clothing businessman/Ivy Restaurant owner Richard Caring bought Mark Birley’s valuable trio of Mayfair hangouts – Annabel’s, Harry’s Bar and Mark’s Club.

    Annabel's could now modernise, largely thanks to Guillaume Glipa, executive director of The Birley Group. Annabel’s was moved to a spect­acular Grade I-listed Georgian town­house at 46 Berkeley Square, just two doors from its current site in Berkeley Square. The new club was designed by Martin Brud­nizki, who was also respons­ible for the makeover of The Ivy.

    The new Annabel's has taken over 4 floors and will be offering three restaurants, two private dining rooms, six bars and a nightclub in the basement. New designs for the club include a £4 million retractable glass roof over a hidden garden-dining ter­race behind Berkeley Square seating 100 people. There will be a barber’s in the men’s room, with mother-of-pearl doors, a cigar shop and a wine shop. The 1963 club and restaurant is being turned into a health and wellbeing spa. The day club will be open from 7am to 4am.

     Annabel's dining room

    Annabel's mirrored room in the basement

    A bar at Annabel's       
    The Evening Standard has been inside. Annabel’s com­m­issioned the best craftsmen, design­ers and art­isans to use the most beautiful colours, textiles, materials and objects. The original Nina Campbell inter­iors have been updated for the C21st, while retaining Annabel’s trademark dusky mood. Note the hand-pleated crimson silk walling fabric and paisley-print carpets in the Indian Room.

    When this smart townhouse venue re-opens in Nov 2017, Berkeley Square will never have been so hot.

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    After thwarting the Turkish attack at Romani in Aug 1916 the Australian Light Horse brigades advanced with victories at Rafa, but were twice beaten at Gaza. There followed plans to capture Beer­sheba, which would allow for another attempt at Gaza.

    Today (31st October) the Australian Light Horse and New Zealand Mounted Rif­les were engaged in a battle that was the ANZACs' greatest charge ever.  The Auckland Mounted Rifles captured Tel el Saba from the Turks, a key to taking the outpost township of Beersheba. And today was the last great mount­ed charge by the 12th Light Horse Regiment of the Aust­ralian Imperial Force. Capturing Beersheba in 1917 was the turning point in the British campaign to ex­p­el the remnants of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

    The Light Horse troopers horses were the famous Walers, mostly bred in the Hunter Valley. And most of the men were farming lads from the country, including from the Boorowa area of NSW.

    Australian Light Horse brigades

    Now for the centenary celebrations in Beersheba, let us add a smaller, but significant element to this history. Caroline Overington has written in detail about Albert Tibby Cotter (1883-1917) , the youngest of six sporting sons born to Scottish immigrant parents. His was not a poor family: they lived in a two-storey, solid brick mansion with its own stab­les, in the Sydney suburb of Glebe. The Cotter boys played cricket, rugby and boxing, and all attended Forrest Lodge public school. Then Tibby went to Sydney Grammar, where he played school­boy cricket.

    Tibby made his cricketing debut for NSW in 1901 at 18, and his Test debut against England at the end of the 1903-04 series. In his second Test, at the MCG, he starred. Cotter’s bowling style was fast and powerful; often he shattered the stumps, which teammates would then hold aloft, symbols of his power. During his first match in England in 1905, after he struck the legendary WG Grace a painful blow with his first full toss, England demanded that he stop bowling at the body, and Cotter’s fame was assured. His face was soon on the cover of newspapers throughout the British Empire.

    Thunder of a light horse charge' as the cavalry rides towards Beersheba,
    Oct 1917

    Cotter loved the limelight! A week before the 1907 Ashes began, he was arrested in Brisbane for being drunk in public, but bailed in time to open the Australian bowling. At the SCG in Dec 1907, his match-winning performance had the crowd stomping the boards in appreciation. In a nine-year international career, Cotter played 21 Tests, taking 89 wickets at an average of 28.6 runs. 

    When WWI broke out in 1914 Cotter was already 31 years old and work­ing as a clerk. He rushed to enlist, joining the AIF in April 1915. Despite having no great riding ability, Cotter was accepted into the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment, serving as a stretcher bearer alongside fellow soldiers with vastly more skill (some were former stockmen, many of them Aboriginal; some were horse-breakers from NSW pastoral stations). He served at Gallipoli during the final stages of the campaign and upon his regiment’s return to Cairo, he was disciplined for being two weeks absent without leave.

    Later he transferred to the 12th Light Horse, where he was commended for his fine work under heavy fire during the second battle of Gaza. Cotter was promoted to lance corporal, but at his own request rev­ert­ed to the rank of trooper. He was part of the now famous Aust­ral­ian cricket team that played in slouch hats against an English side in the Palestinian desert in 1917. At the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, there is a photo of Australian soldiers taking part in a cricket match on an improvised pitch in the Sinai.

    Australian National Cricket Team, 1909
    Tibby Cotter, leading wicket-taker in the series. was at right end of the second row

    In the last cricket game he played, Cotter told a fellow soldier-cricketer that he did not think he would survive the war. On 31st Oct 1917, the 4th Light Horse Brigade captured Beersheba in a cavalry-style charge. Aust­ralian soldiers tore across the desert, and jumped over the Turkish trenches, cap­turing the town and its wells, and winning a decisive victory for the Allies.

    Cotter was among a handful of Australians that did not survive the battle. The story commonly told was that Cotter was shot by a sniper as he peeked up over a trench. But the Australians were not in the trench­es. Or as a stretcher bearer, was he killed by a Turk who had not been disarmed? Or did he jump straight into the battle with the charging soldiers, and got hit?

    The death of this interesting character sent the nation into mourn­ing and while he was the only Australian Test cricketer to die in WW1, many other international sports stars did. The names of the dead had filled column after column in the news­papers, for years. But Cotter's name stood out - he was hugely admired across the British Empire and was mourned by millions.

    Cotter was 34 when he died and his family was informed. They also had to grieve for Cotter’s older brother, Private John Cotter, who had been killed serving in the infantry in Belgium (weeks earlier in Oct 1917). Cotter’s remains were buried near where he fell, in Beer­sheba. 

    Recently his life has barely been celeb­rated, something that may change with today’s cent­enary of that great charge. The prime ministers of  Israel, Australia and New Zealand and other dignitaries are participating in the Beersheba Centenary.

    Australian horsemen commemorating the centenary of the Australian soldiers 

    You might like the book Tibby Cotter: Fast Bowler, Larrikin, Anzac, written by Max Bonnell and Andrew Sproul (Walla Walla Press, 2012). And Beersheba: Travels Through a Forgotten Australian Victory by Paul Daley (Melbourne University Press, 2011).

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    Art historians often cite rabbinical rulings against all Jewish art in the Middle Ages. But any such restrictions were limited to the geog­raph­­ic community where each ruling was given!! And in any case, they were no longer applicable by the C19th. Even better, national art schools and academies formally opened their doors to Jewish students in the C19th, in Britain, Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Romania etc.

    Talented Jewish artists emerged. Moritz Oppenheim (1800-82), Solomon Hart (1806–81), Jozef Israels (1824–1911), Alphonse Levy (1843-1918), Maurycy Gottlieb (1856-79), Solomon J Solomon (1860–1927), Samuel Hirszenberg (1865-1908), Boris Schatz (1867-1932) and Ephraim Lilien (1874–1925) were certainly creating worthy careers for them­selves. Max Liebermann (1847-1935) was regarded as a pioneer of modern artistic dev­elopment.

    But in my opinion, the most import­ant of all C19th Jewish art­ists was Hungarian-born Is­­idor Kaufmann (1853-1921). Young Kaufmann studied at the professional art academy of Bu­d­apest, and Vienna, for a total of 5 years. Then he married a synagogue cantor's daug­hter in 1882, and had 5 child­ren. This was a painter who knew the outside art world but who was also very much a part of the large, traditional Jew­ish community in Vien­na.

    The question to ask is: could Kaufmann and these other young Jewish artists join the modern art world or would they be limited to de­p­icting religious events, Biblical characters and rabbis’ portraits? Richard Cohen in “Jewish Icons: Art and Society in Modern Europe” said that Kaufmann was less concerned than Moritz Oppenheim with encompassing the Jewish holidays, but more involved in uncov­er­ing the inner spirit of the Eastern European Jews in their daily life. I want to test Cohen’s view.

    Kaufmann, The Chess Player
     Sotheby's New York, 23rd June 1983, 
    26 x 21 cm 

    From the mid 1880s, Kaufmann began produc­ing detailed ge­n­re paint­ings i.e subjects taken from everyday life. Luckily he was an excel­lent draughts­man and colourist. There paintings were very small in size and in sub­ject mat­t­er, but then genre paint­ing has nothing going for it except for honesty and domesticity. The paintings were set in cold, bare and totally un-idyllic contexts, but with lots of pleas­ure coming from friendship, family closeness or religious studies. And the details of a family home were painted with the same meticul­ousness that we might have expected from Ver­­m­eer, con­cent­ra­ting on the archit­ect­ural detail of rooms and on the psychological auth­en­ticity of his mod­els. There was not much politicising going on here.

    The Chess Player sat on a bare chair in a room of bare grey walls, his red nose, heavy coat and top hat suggesting the coldness of the space. But the cold didn’t matter. Intellectual pursuits were more important that fine furnishings: books remained open on a table, ready to be read again, once the chess strategies had been decided.

    The Chess Pl­ay­ers (c1886, not shown) there were two ordinary workers, friends sit­ting down to a quiet game at home. Their clothes were a very ordinary and they apparently couldn't afford to put even a rug on the fl­oor, but the men were enjoying the contest and tak­ing it very ser­ious­ly. We assume that each chess decision was carefully considered, be­f­ore each move was made.

    Kaufmann, Chess Problems
    c1889, 31 x 40 cm

    Chess Problems dealt with a similar event, but this time the two men were considerably better dressed and the room was furnished with comfort and with style. While the compos­ition of this paint­ing was similar to the composition of The Ch­ess Pl­ayers, and the attention they paid to the game was sim­ilar, were the bare headed men were not Jewish? Presumbly it would not have mattered, in Vienna's contemporary world.

    Kaufmann, Two Pairs of Shoes
    c1889, 38 x 31 cm

    In Two Pairs of Shoes, an elderly Jewish man was shown assessing his stock from the table top where he sat. Perhaps business was going well enough; there seemed to have been a quiet smile on his face, and a satisfying cigaret­te in his hand. Clothes and shoes were heaped everywh­ere, in the suit case, on top of the table and over the screen. Note the det­ailed attention paid to the books, clock and vase in the back of the room. 

    Kaufmann, Commerical Instruction 
    1890-1, 40 x 31 cm
    private collection 

    Commercial Instruction used a title similar to Business Secret but was more tender. Using virtually the same furn­i­t­ure and lights as The Rabbi's Visit, this painting told the story of a religious father and son spending time together. However instead of bonding over religious studies, this father was teaching his son about business. The lesson must have been appealing because the little boy was fascinated.

    Kaufmann, Business Secret 
    c1894, 33 x 28 cm

    In Isidor Kaufmann by G Tobias Natter (1995) I found eleven small, wonderful genre scenes painted in 1884-95. Two Pairs of Shoes, The Chess PlayersNo Fool Like An Old FoolChess Pro­blemsRabbi's VisitBusiness SecretCom­merc­ial Inst­r­uct­ionA Business Transaction etc were all pain­ted in the corner of a lounge room, usually with one or two fig­ures. In this short per­iod, Kauf­mann st­ruck a gold mine, as it were. He creat­ed detailed, finished and pain­terly works, about small issues. Pl­easure, religious or secular, was depic­ted.

    Business Secret showed two poorly dressed men talking conf­identially about secondhand items for sale. A third man poked his head through the window, possibly eaves­dropping on the deal. By stres­sing the shabby hawk­ers with blatantly Jewish features, Natter suggested this painting verged on the cartoonish. But I think it was painted very much in the same tender vein as the others.

    Consider the wide range of C19th Jewish artists who operated outside both ancient Rabbinic tradition and stark, secular modernism. In the suddenly mobile, changing world of the latter C19th, how could Jewish artists come to terms with their own identities and approach the task of represent­ation? Appropriately The Emergence of Jewish Artists in C19th Europe, at New York's Jewish Museum 2001, presented 21 painters who offered radically different responses to this complex question. The book by the same name (Susan Tumarkian Goodman ed, Merrell Publishing NY, 2001) is excellent. 

    Richard McBee suggested Jewish artists like Kaufmann were able to address a broad public for the first time; they were interested in representing Jewish life and showing it to be on a par with Chris­tian life. Their art documenting everyday life was shaped by the community and changed by modernity, so it had to do a balancing act between emancipation and assimilation. Kauf­mann reminded the modern viewer that Jewish art acquired a changing and vital importance as an aspect of cultural iden­t­ity.
    Kaufmann, Rabbi with a Young Student, 
    53 x 68 cm, 
    Sotherby's New York, 19th Dec 2012 

    Then something changed for Kaufmann. Viennese genre scen­es no longer satisfied the need to discover his vibrant Jew­ish roots. In the later 1890s, he chose to go in search of mat­erial in Jewish towns across the Austro-Hun­g­ar­ian Em­pire and Po­land. He travelled every summer and returned to his Vienna studio to turn the sketches into completed paintings.

    A work from this later era was Rabbi with A Young Student. Kaufmann reflected the pride he felt for the traditional religious life. The teacher displayed a sense of solemnity and perhaps wisdom. The young student was caught in a moment of rapt attention, his eyes focused on the text before him. Learning was clearly the hallmark of traditional Jewish life. The walls were plain but the book case was handsome, filled with beautiful leather bound volumes.

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    Built in Belfast by the British shipping company White Star Line, the three Olympic-class ocean liners were RMS Olympic (1910), RMS Titanic (1911) and HMHS Britannic (1914). For both Olympic and Titanic, the pas­s­enger accommodation was of unrivalled extent and magnific­ence, and the excellent result defies improvement. The Olympic and the Titanic could each carry 3,295 people: 2,435 passengers and a crew of 860. Travellers were separated into 3 classes: 689 in first class, 674 in second class and 1,026 in third class.

    First class stair case

    RMS Titanic had ten decks: cabins and public areas were located on the Promenade, Bridge, Shelter, Saloon, Upper, Middle and Lower Decks. The other three decks were reserved for the crew, cargo and machinery.

    The first class public rooms included a dining saloon, reception room, restaurant, lounge, reading and writing room, smoking room and the veranda cafes and palm courts. During Titan­ic's design, entirely new features were added: swimming pool, Turkish baths, squash courts and a gym. The saunas were decorated in an Arabian style. For whom were these luxurious facilities intended? A complete list of all first class passengers, their ages, fares and professions, can be seen in The Encyclopaedia Titanica.

    1] First Class Accommodation. Titanic had 39 private suites. All had up to five different rooms: 2 bedrooms, 2 wardrobe rooms and a private bathroom. These expensive, exclusive staterooms boasted excellent fittings, decorated in different periodic styles including Louis XVI, Louis XV, Georgian and Queen Anne.

    First class accommod­ation also held 350 cheaper standard cabins with single beds.

    First class cabin, bedroom

    First class cabin, private loungeroom

    2] The First Class Reading and Writing Room was really designed for use by travelling first class women. It was painted in white and furnished very elegantly. There was a huge bow window that enabled the ladies to lookout on to the Promenade Deck. There was a large fire which burned intensely adding warmth to the room.

    3] The First Class Lounge was situated on the Promenade Deck and was elaborately fitted out. This room was dedicated to reading, con­ver­sation, playing cards and other social interactions of the day. It was decorated in the French Louis XV style. The craftsmanship was exquisite. The walls were covered with elaborate wooden carving which gave the room a distinct symmetrical appearance.

    4] Towards the back of the Promenade Deck was the very fine First Class Smoke Room. The walls were panelled in mahogany, carved in the Georgian style and were inlaid with mother of pearl. Above the centrepiece fireplace was a painting by Norman Wilkinson called the "Approach to the New World”. Those who required an after dinner drink could find exactly what they want­ed in the well stocked bar. Others enjoyed walking around the room looking at the painted glass windows depicting different ports from around the world, and other White Star Line ships. On the port­side of the room was a small Veranda area, which led to the Palm Court areas overlooking the aft Promenade Deck. Walled trellises with climbing plants gave the impression that the room was part of a con­ser­vatory. Passengers could sit on wicker chairs to finish their drinks.

    5] The First Class Grand Staircase was GRAND. It was 60+’ from the lower landing to the glass skyline above. It had a C17th William and Mary style with solid oak carved panelling running all the way around. At the foot of the stairs was a Cherub light with a dist­inc­t­ive wood carving clock behind.

    6] Behind the Grand Staircase was the spacious First Class Reception Area. It was decorated in the Jacobean style and had a white ceiling and a dark rusty colour carpet. Before dinner, saloon passengers could gather to discuss the day's activities aboard the ship. Some would sit on one of the many floral patterned Grandfather Chairs to be found there. The Reception Room led directly to the Dining Room.

    7] Elite passengers certainly dined in style. The First Class Dining Room was 114’ long and spanned the full width of the ship. Seating 532 passengers at once, it was the largest dining room ever seen on a ship. The room was decorated in attractive Jacobean style, painted in peanut white and filled with luxurious and comfortable oak furn­iture. The decoration had been the result of research based on Hatton Hall in Derbyshire.
    First class dining room

    The Last Dinner on the Titanic, by Gary Fisher, found that there were only two menus recovered from the Titanic for the last night aboard. The first-class menu started with the First Course (Oysters Hors D'Oeuvres), the Second Course (Cream of Barley Soup), the Third Course (Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce) and continuing until the din­ers staggered through until the Tenth Course (Waldorf Pudding, Peaches in Chart­reuse Jelly, French Ice Cream Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs). After the tenth course, fresh fruits and cheeses were available, then coffee, cigars and port.

    In the last years of the Edwardian era before WWI, priv­il­eged families ate and drank freely, guaranteed to increase the waistline and to shorten the lifespan. Food was rich and fatty, and each course was accompanied by a special wine or liquor in large quantities. My feeling is that the food consumed in the first class dining room, in the short time at sea, could have fed a small African nation for a year ☹

    8] The A La Carte Restaurant served the finest meals that were not included in the fares of its guests. It added an extra touch of class, since the room was decorated in Louis XIV style and had floor to ceiling panelling in French light brown walnut. Spec­ially mounted ornaments and mouldings gave a regal effect, candle-style lamps hung in the centre of the panels and silk curtains covered the large bay windows. Passengers could sit around the tables in groups of 2-8 people while an orchestra played from a raised platform.

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    On 11th of October each year, the United Nations celeb­rate In­ternational Day of the Girl Child, emphasising the needs and challenges that girls face. So this year I was interested in looking over my own posts on Fanny Hensel (1805–47), Felix Men­delssohn’s sister, compos­er and under-valued musical advisor. Unfort­unately I didn’t find very much.

    However it did get me onto a totally different search: for Maria Anna Mozart (1751–1829) aka Nannerl, Wolf­gang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91)’s older sister. They were the children of musician and composer Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria Pertl of Salzburg.

    Maria Anna was taught harpsichord by her father Leopold. So they enjoyed a great childhood, indulging their musical creat­iv­ity and creating their own musical world. In fact Leopold took the two children to tour the most cultural cities across Europe, perform­ing together as child prodigies. Acc­ord­ing to all reports, the youngsters impressed both audiences and critics.

    But it was possible that the Mozart girl was really the better musician. Leopold Mozart confirmed it in writing, saying “My little girl plays the most difficult works which we have… with incredible precision and so excellently. What it all amounts to is this, that my little girl, although she is only 12 years old, is one of the most skilful players in Europe.”

    Wolfgang and Nannerl Mozart
    by Eusebius Johann Alphen
    portrait miniature on ivory, c1765

    Birthplace Museum, Salzburg

    As Nannerl and Wolf­gang’s musical talents developed, her ador­ing youn­g­er brother loved her work. At a con­cert, when Wolf­gang an­n­ounced that the piece he has just played was writ­ten by his sister, Leop­old was furious. He ordered Nannerl to never comp­ose music again!

    Clearly Nannerl must have composed. Note in 1762 when the two children played for aristocrats in Munich, Count Karl von Zin­zendorf wrote: “The little child from Salzburg and his sister played the harpsich­ord. The poor little fellow plays marvel­l­ously. He is a child of spirit, lively, charming. His sister’s playing is masterly, and he applauded her.” When Wolfgang was in London working on his first symphony during 1764-5, she wrote it all down and orchestrated it for him. And when she sent one of her com­pos­itions to her brother in 1770, he responded in a delight­ful let­ter, filled with admiration for her work. So why are we not familiar with the music Nannerl composed?

    Note the oil painting commissioned by Leopold Mozart at Salz­burg and created by Johann Nepomuk della Croce. Wolf­gang and Nannerl were shown playing four hands on a forte-piano. Leopold had his violin and quill, showing that he was both a musician and a writer. The portrait on the wall was of the late Mrs Mozart. And the figure of Apollo represented the family’s music talents.

    Mozart family: Nannerl, Wolfgang, father Leopold and portrait of their late mother, 
    by Johann Nepomuk della Croce, 1780-81

    Leopold had already stopped Nannerl from touring across Eur­ope and from then on, Leopold focused all his attentions on Wolf­gang. Despite being noted as an outstanding forte pianist, her father thought it inapp­rop­riate for his daughter to have a pro­f­essional career, regardless of her talent. Leopold exp­lained that only noble women were allowed to play, unpaid, at their own dinners and cult­ural salons. Yet Nannerl had to remain at home and give piano lessons to wealthy students, to finance her brother’s Italian tour! Nannerl obeyed her father, but became very depressed.

    By the time Nannerl reached marriageable age, her father vetoed her first choice of husband. So she did not marry her eventual husband, the magistrate Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg (1736-1801), until 1784.

    Then there were huge demands on Nannerl’s energy. Berchtold’s first two wives had died and he had been left with five child­ren, whom Nannerl helped raise. Plus they had three children of their own: Leopold (born 1785), Jeanette (born 1789) and Maria Babette (born 1790).

    Did Nannerl stop composing? None of her music was known to have survived, so there are three possibilities. 1] She did continue composing, but the material was lost or destroyed, 2] she did con­t­inue composing, but her works were wrongly or sneakily attributed to Wolfgang, or 3] she never composed ag­ain. All that is cert­ain is that while Wolfgang became world renowned, Nannerl did not.

    New research by Australian scholar-conductor Prof Mart­in Jarvis identified Maria Anna’s musical handwriting, a disc­ov­ery that suggested she composed works used by her younger brot­her to learn piano. It has long been known that the note­book was used as a pedagog­ic­al aid by Mozart’s father, to teach Wolfgang to play piano - particularly the pieces the lad used early in his (short) career.

    Nannerl and Wolfgang’s relationship was beset by years of sep­aration and the preference of their father for his son, over the needs of his daughter. Nannerl’s dreams were over, and it seemed as if her depression was deepened by the ever-growing distance from the Mozarts. The siblings wrote to each other aft­er Leopold’s death, but Wolfgang's letters to her dealt only with the formal dispos­ition of Leopold's est­ate. I am not even sure if she associated with Wolfgang’s wife Constanze Weber and their children.

    When Wolfgang Mozart died in 1791, Nannerl dedicated herself to hon­our her brother by coll­ect­ing all his compositions and erect­ing monuments to him. After her husband Berchtold died in 1801, Maria Anna returned to Salzburg and supported once again by giving piano lessons! How ironic! She died in 1829, and was buried in Salzburg.

    Sylvia Milo’s play The Other Mozart: the forgotten genius of Mozart’s sister, opened in 2015. Milo wrote it because she had visited Mozart’s house in Vienna and saw a painting of the two sib­l­ings together. It showed a woman sitting next to Wolfgang Mozart, clearly look­ing like his equal.

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    After Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was devastated. Fortunately the Queen became very close to her gillie John Brown in Balmoral, a warn friendship that lasted for decades. When Brown died in 1883, Queen Victoria was devastated for a second time. Now we can analyse the third male relationship in the queen's life that started in 1887.

    But how close to real history is the film Victoria & Abdul, directed by Stephen Frears? Queen Vict­oria, Empress of India (Judi Dench) took her Indian responsibilities very seriously. She asked for two Ind­ians to travel from India to share in the Queen's Gol­d­en Jubilee in 1887.

    Mohammed Abdul Karim 1863–1909 (Ali Fazal), a Muslim born in British India, was selected to give the queen an Indian gift. But when the Queen wanted to employ these two Indian servants for the entire Jubilee year, Karim and Buksh had to be tutored in English and in British etiquette. After a journey by rail from Agra to Bombay then by mail steamer to Britain, the men arrived at Windsor Castle in June 1887. By Aug Karim was teaching the queen Urdu.

    After Karim told the Queen that he’d been a clerical worker in India, he was prom­ot­ed to the position of Munshi/teacher in Aug 1888. This was so that he would stay in Britain.

    The Queen's let­ters noted that her discussions with the Mun­shi were social, philosophical and political. Undoubtedly the Queen found in Abdul Karim a connection with a distant part of the world, and a confidante who could discuss intellectual issues with her. At Scotland’s Balmoral Castle, Karim was given the room once occupied by the late John Brown.

    In Nov 1888, Karim spent months back in India, in honour of his father Waziruddin. So the Queen wrote to the Vice­roy of India, Lord Lansdowne, demanding action on Waziruddin's pen­sion. Unfortunately the film didn’t mention Karim's many trips back to India and the very close bond with the father. [Note that in June 1892, Wazi­ruddin visited Brit­ain and stayed at both Balmoral and Windsor Castles!]

    Poster for the "Victoria and Abdul" film, 2017 

    On the other hand the film made it crystal clear that Karim's swift rise instantly angered the members of the Roy­al House­hold, who would never have socialised with Indians out­side the nobility. The Queen naively expected them to welcome Kar­im. As did Karim.

    The rapidity of Abdul’s advancement would have led to his unpopularity in any case, but racism was ev­ery­­where; it went hand in hand with a strong belief in Britain's global dominion. Because the queen found racism intolerable, her private secretary Sir Henry Pons­onby (played superb­ly by Tim Piggot-Smith) had to neg­otiate between the Queen and her courtiers after each incident.

    The film clearly showed them at Balmoral in Sept 1889 when the two of them stayed overnight, in an isolated house on the estate where Victoria had been with John Brown. The film also showed the “Queen vis­iting Abdul twice daily, in his room taking Hind­ustani lessons, sign­ing her boxes, examining his neck, smoothing his pillows.” It was almost dom­es­t­ic.

    Clearly the ageing Queen did not trust her own son and the Royal Household to look after the Munshi after her death. So she asked the Viceroy of India, Lord Lans­downe, to grant Karim land near Agra. The Viceroy reluctantly cooperated.

    In May 1892 Karim was in India on leave and re­turned to Britain with his wife and mother-in-law in hijabs. They were put in roy­al houses at Windsor, Balmoral & Osborne. And partic­ipated in Christ­mas presentations.

    Note the connections. When Lansdowne's term ended in 1894, Lord Elgin took over. Ponsonby's son Frederick was Elgin's aide-de-camp in In­dia, then an officer in charge of royal horses in Brit­ain. Fred­erick wrote to Lord Elgin in Jan 1895 about the court's discomfort with the Indian.

    In the Queen's 1895 Birthday Honours, Karim was appointed a Com­panion of the Order of the Indian Empire, despite the political oppos­it­ion. After Britain’s 1895 general election, Prime Minister Lord Rosebery and Secretary of State for India Henry Fowler were re­placed by Lord Salisbury and Lord George Hamilton. Lord Hamilton suggested the Indian might become a tool in the hands of other, more dangerous men. In fact some of the resent­ment at court and in government occurred because of the Munshi did, or might have, tak­en political advant­age of his position.

    The advisors also feared Karim's link to Rafiuddin Ah­med, an Indian political activist/student in London who was con­n­ected to the Mus­lim Patriotic League. They suspected Ahmed extracted confid­ential information from Karim to pass to the Af­ghanistani Amir. As the political anxiety in Britain cont­inued, why didn’t the film discuss these political fears?

    And there was another concern. Lord Elgin was warned by Lord Pon­sonby that the Queen gave his letters to the Munshi to read, and that consequently his correspondence to her should not be seen as secure. Most people agreed with the suspicions of her House­hold that the Munshi could have influenced the Queen's op­in­ions on Indian issues, biasing her against Hindus, in favour of Mus­lims. But suspicions that he passed secrets to Rafiuddin Ahmed were later discounted.
    Karim never had any children. The Queen's Dr James Reid explained it was because Karim had VD.

    Queen Victoria and Abdul preparing correspondence
    in c1890s

    In Mar 1897 as members of the Household prepared to depart for Cimiez in southern France for the Queen's annual visit, they in­sisted that Karim not accompany the royal party, and threatened to resign en masse if he did so. Dr Reid even warned the Queen that her attachment to Karim led people to question her san­ity.

    Even as late as 1899, members of the Household were still main­taining that Karim could not accompany the royal party when they on holiday. Nonetheless Karim asked Victoria for the title of Nawab, and to app­oint him a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire. Despite a hor­rified Lord Elgin, Victoria gave Karim the order in 1899.

    The Munshi returned to India in Nov 1899 for a year. Lord Cur­zon, Elgin's replacement as Viceroy, died in June 1900. By the time Karim returned to Britain in Nov 1900 Victoria was facing death. He'd served her during the final 15 years of her reign, taking her from tired and grumpy, and gaining her maternal love.

    Filmed in exquisite detail at Osborne House, this excellent film ended with the Queen’s death.  The newly crowned King Edward VII (Ed­die Izzard) sent the Munshi family back to India, and had almost all of Victoria and Karim’s letters burned. At last the king and all his aristocratic lovers were happy at court.

    The Munshi died at Karim Lodge, on his Agra estate in 1909. He was placed in the Agra cemetery bes­ide his father. Having no children, Munshi’s nephews inherited the estates. The family continued to reside in Agra until the partition of India in Aug 1947, after which they emigrated to Pakistan.

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    The cultural and linguistic diversity of Australia's resident population has been reshaped over many years by migration. In 2015, 28.2% of the resident population was born over­seas (6.7 million persons). As would be expected from a major member of the British Commonwealth of nations, the greatest proportion of these migrants came from the United Kingdom (5%) and New Zeal­and (3%). And increasingly, migrants are arriving from China (2.0%), India (2%), the Philippines (1%) and Viet­nam (1%). The fastest rate of increase over this period was for people born in Nepal, Pakistan, Brazil, India and Bang­ladesh.

    As a result of this diversity, Pauline Hanson's party, One Nation, has arisen as a strongly nationalist, right-wing and populist party in Australia. One Nation was founded in 1997, by then-member of the Conservative Party in Federal parliam­ent, Pauline Hanson. Dis-endorsement came before the 1996 federal election because of comments she made about Indigenous Australians, Muslims, Asians & immigration. Hanson also critic­ised the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

    Condemning multiculturalism, One Nation has rallied against government immigration and multicultural policies. Along with Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, she once drew a link between African migrants and “crime, HIV, TB and leprosy”. Hanson said "You can't bring people into the country who are incompatible with our way of life and culture. They get around in gangs and there is escalating crime that is happening."

    Hanson's maiden speech in the Australian Senate, 2106
    photo credit: SBS

    Does it matter what One Nation believes? Yes, it does. At the 2016 Federal election the party polled only 4% of the nationwide primary vote in the Senate, but in Queensland her party gained 9+% of the Senate vote! The primary effect at both state and federal levels could be to split the conservative parties’ vote and in particular to threaten the National Party's support base in Queensland.

    When Pauline Hanson made her incendiary first speech to the Senate in 2016, all the Greens senators walked out. She claimed the nation was "in danger of being swamped by Muslims" with its people "living under sharia law and treated as second-class citizens" if urgent changes weren't made to immigration policies. She claimed they "bear a culture and ideology which is incom­pat­ible with our own" and called for an end to all immigration. She called for an end to halal certification and for a ban on the construct­ion of any further mosques - with those existing to be monit­ored, saying she did not believe Australia could remain secure under current immigration policies.

    Just in case Australians didn't understand One Nation’s racism, Hanson added "Muslims are imprisoned at almost three times the average rate. The rate of unemployed and public dep­endency is two to three times greater than the national aver­age. Muslims are prominent in organised crime with associated violence and drug dealing. Anti-social behaviour is rampant, fuelled by hyper-masculine and misogynist culture. Multiple social surveys find that neighbours of Muslim settlement are suffering from collapsing social cohesion and fear of crime."

    Since being elected to the parliament, One Nation has voted with the Conservative government on welfare cuts and to rest­ore the Australian Building and Construction Commission ag­ainst unions. Pauline Hanson also called for penalty rates to be abolished entirely, but failed in that endeavour. She opposed the plan to extend the taxpayer-funded paid parental leave scheme because it “could encourage women to get pregnant to access government benefits”.

    What will happen in the upcoming state elections in Queensland and in the next federal elections, if they have to be declared earlier than expected?

    Golden Dawn in Greece
    photo credit: New Statesman

    If you think that after WW2 an uber-nationalist, anti Semitic, anti-migration, anti-welfare party could never gain the bal­an­ce of power in civilised European countries, I urge you to examine re­cent polling results for:
    1. the far-right Freedom Party in Aust­ria;
    2. the Anti-European Union, Anti-Islam Party for Freedom in the Netherlands that incites discrimination against Muslims;
    3. Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party. The neo-Nazi group, The Radical Camp organised a huge white-supremacist rally in Warsaw and flew racists from Slovakia and Hungary to join in.
    4. Hungary’s right-wing, anti-Semitic Fidesz party and its ally even further to the right, Jobbik;
    5. France’s anti-immigration and anti-European Union National Front party;
    6. Greece’s most prominent neo-Nazi movement, Golden Dawn who found a new surge in support following Donald Trump’s ban on travellers from some Muslim-majority countries into the USA;
    7. Alternative für Deutschland in Germany is anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic and Eurosceptic; and
    8. The True Finns are strongly nationalist, Eurosceptic and anti-globalist.

    I cannot directly compare Trump in the USA with Europeans because he is Head of State and not a politician in the nation’s parliament. However examine his executive order temporarily banning imm­ig­rants, travellers and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries - it perfectly defines his “disdain for human rights”. Examine his “rampant sexism”, “obsession with national security”, “obses­sion with crime and punishment”, and “rampant corruption and cronyism”. Of all the Early Warning Signs of Fascism on the list, so far “fraudulent elections” is one of the few than can be excluded from Trump’s list of achievements.

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    Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924} was born into a well educated, middle class family in Simbirsk, east of Moscow. The children grew up in comfort but with a strongly developed sense of justice. But when in 1887 the oldest sibling was hanged in St Petersburg for conspiring to assassinate Czar Alexander III, the family was horrified.

    At university, Ulyanov absorbed the writings of Marx and Engels. On graduating law from St Peters­burg University in 1891, Lenin became a leader of a Marxist group, distributing revolut­ionary pamphlets to work­ers. He was carefully watch­ed by the police, arrested in 1895, convicted of dist­rib­uting propaganda and sentenced to 3 years in Siberia. Nadezhda Krupskaya, a young fellow traveller, join­ed him there and they married. Now called Lenin, the couple returned from Siberia and in 1906 chose exile in Western Europe.

    Moving between Prague, London and Bern, publishing a radical news­paper and trying to organise an international Marxist move­ment, Lenin wrote how to transform Russia from a feud­al society into a modern workers’ paradise. He argued that revolution would come from a coalition of peasants and factory workers, the proletariat.

    The longest, coldest route imaginable for travelling from Zurich to St. Petersburg 1917
    Press map for details

    Zurich By early WW1 in Aug 1914, Lenin & Krupskaya were in Zurich, living off family money. They had no children. 

    The Altstadt is a cluster of medieval alleys that rise from the Limmat River. The Spiegelgasse, a narrow cobblestone lane, winds past the WW1 Cabaret Vol­taire and enters a leafy square with a stone fountain. #14, a tall building with a gabled rooftop, has a commemorative German plaque saying that from Feb 1916 until Ap 1917, this was the home of “Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution.”

    When Lenin lived in the Altstadt, it was grotty. In Rem­in­is­cences of Lenin, Krupskaya described the dingy old house and smelly courtyard, over­looking a sausage factory. Luckily for Lenin, the owners were working-class people with a revolutionary value system, who con­demned the imp­er­ialist war. Today their rundown rooming house is renovated. 

    Lenin spent his days writing tracts in Zurich’s Central Library and playing host to a stream of fellow exiles. Lenin and Krupskaya strolled along the Limmat whenever the library was close. Hammer followed Lenin’s route on the riv­er’s east bank, gazing across the narrow waterway at Zurich’s landmark church and clocktower of St Peter. Famed for its unchanging Art Nouveau décor, the popular Café Odeon was one of Lenin’s favourite spots for reading newspapers.

    The Lenins rented a one-room flat in this Zurich block in 1916-17
    as the block appears today

    In March 15th 1917, a young revol­ut­ionary raced up the stairs to the Lenins’ room, yelling “There’s a revolution in Russia!” Appar­ent­ly enraged over food shortages, corruption and the disastrous war against the Central Powers, thousands of demonst­rat­ors had filled the streets of Petrograd, clashing with police; soldiers loyal to the czar switched their support to the prot­es­ters, forcing Nich­ol­as II to abdicate. The family was placed under house arrest. The Russian Provisional Gov­ern­ment had taken over, sharing power with the local Petrograd Soviet. Sov­iets/committees, made up of industrial workers and soldiers had begun to form across Russia.

    Lenin made plans to return home. He pro­mised to pull Russia out of the war and to eliminate private property. “The people need peace, the people need bread, the people need land. And the Prov­isional Government gives you war, hunger, no bread” he declared.

    Lenin, joined by 29 other revolutionary exiles, waited for the train from Zurich to Russia in April 1917 where he planned to take power on behalf of the prol­etariat. Other Russians was enraged that the revolutionaries had arr­an­ged passage by negotiating with the German enemy.” Did German financiers secretly fund Lenin and his circle, at the very time the German gov­ern­ment was in a brutal war against Russia? It didn't matter. Lenin travelled in a sealed train, one that moved internationally without its passengers being recognised as entering or leaving the nations they crossed. 100 years ago later, Joshua Hammer decided to retrace Lenin’s trip, curious to see how the great Bolshevik imprinted himself on Russia and the nations he passed through, on this epic train trip.

    On board Lenin wrote by telegram to the Bolsh­eviks in the Petrograd Soviet, urging no comp­rom­ise: “Our tactics: no support to the new government;...arming of the proletariat the sole guarant­ee; no rapprochement with other parties.”

    A Deutsche Bahn regional train second-class compartment took Hammer across Germany to the Baltic port of Rostock. Stepping onto the deck on a cold, drizzly night, he passed the last jetty and headed into the open sea, bound north for Trelleborg Sweden. The sea was rougher when Lenin made the crossing aboard a Swedish ferry, but Lenin had stayed outside anyhow, joining others in revolut­ion­ary anthems.

    SwedenPloughing through the blackness of the Baltic night, Hammer could imagine the excitement that Lenin felt as his ship moved homewards. After standing in the drizzle, Hammer headed to his spartan cabin to sleep, before the vessel docked in Sweden at 4:30 AM. From Trelleborg, he caught a train north to Stock­holm, as Lenin did, riding past lush meadows and forests. Once in the Swedish capital, he followed in Lenin’s footsteps down the crowded main commercial street, to the elegant Hotel PUB. Swedish social­ist friends brought Lenin here to be properly outfitted, before his arrival in Russia.

    Across the canal to the Gamla Stan-Old Town is a cluster of medieval alleys on a small island, the site of another monum­ent to Lenin’s Swedish stay. Situated in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art, it consists of a backdrop of black granite and a strip of cobble­­stones embedded with iron tram tracks. The work honours an iconic photo of Lenin in the Vasagatan, wearing a fedora and umbrella.

    To the north, Haparanda is a lonely outpost in the Swedish Lapland tundra. It was once a thriving outpost for trade in minerals, fur and timber, and the main northern crossing point into Fin­land over the Torne River. Vestiges remain of the town’s rustic past: wood-shingle trad­ing houses; Stadshotell Inn; and Handelsbank, a Vict­orian building with cupolas and a curving grey-slate roof.

    Finland The horse-drawn sleds along the frozen Torne in Hap­ar­anda in April took the comrades across to Fin­land, which had been annexed by Czar Alexander I in 1809. They expected to be turned back at the border or perhaps det­ained, but they were warmly welcomed instead.

    In Finland the white dome of the C18th Alatornio Church rose over a forest of birches. Inside the monumental neo-Classical brick railroad station, the waiting room has a bronze plaque mounted on a blue tile wall: “Here Lenin passed through Haparanda on April 15th 1917, on his way from exile in Switzerland to Petrograd in Russia.”

    Hammer spent the night in bleak Kemi, walking in the freezing rain through the deserted streets to a concrete-block hotel near the water­front. Then he took the train south to Tampere, a riverside city where Lenin briefly stopped on his way to Petrograd. Later the Finns turned the Work­ers’ Hall meeting room into a Lenin Museum, filling it with Lenin souvenirs.

    Enthusiastic crowds welcomed Lenin to Finland Station in Petrograd, April 1917.
    Painted by Mikhail Sokolov in 1930
    Photo credit: The Economist

    As the train had crossed Scandinavia, watching the frozen ground endlessly flash by, Hammer “felt” Lenin, reading, dispatching messages to his comrades, looking out at the same vast skies and infinite horizon. In the morning Hammer boarded the Allegro high-speed train at Hel­sin­ki Central Station for the 3.5-hour final trip. He settled into the first-class car, sped past birch and pine forests and soon approached the Russian border. And finally into Finland Station, Petersburg.

    Russia Hammer followed Lenin’s route to Petrograd: Kshes­inskaya Mansion, an Art Nouveau villa. See the elegant block-long villa, interconnected structures built of stone and brick, featuring decorative metalwork and coloured tiles. This villa, including the office where Lenin worked daily until July 1917, was later declared a state museum.

    At first Lenin and his wife lived with his sister and brother-in-law, director of a Petro­grad marine insurance company, in Lenina St. The building’s curator showed the salon where Lenin once strategised with other rev­ol­utionaries. Hammer noted Len­in’s samovar, piano and a chess table with a secret com­partment to hide materials from the police. [The Provisional Government had turn­ed against the Bol­sheviks in July and Lenin was moving between safe hous­es].

    Smolny Institute, an early C19th school for rich girls became the staging ground of the October Revolut­ion. In Oct 1917 Trotsky, chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, mobilised Red Guards, rebellious troops and sailors, and prepared them to seize power from the now disliked Provisional Government. On Oct 25 Lenin entered Smolny, and the Bolsheviks swept aside their socialist rivals in a coup d’état. Smolny was chosen by Lenin as Bolshevik Centre (now a Museum) and remained his home for several months, until the national government was moved to the Moscow Kremlin. 
    Smolny Institute today
    with a Lenin sculpture in the foreground.

    6 months after his return to Russia, Lenin was the ruler of his country. Hammer had followed the trajectory of a figure that changed the world, even after Lenin died in 1924.

    In perfect time for the 100 year anniversary, Catherine Merridale wrote a fine book called Lenin on the Train, published by Metropolitan Books in 2017.

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    Otto Plath (1885-1940) was the father of poet Sylvia Plath (1932-63) but nobody seemed to know much about him. Scholars of Plath now have newly discovered FBI files, not knowing that biologist Otto had ever been investigated over alleged pro-German sympathies. Although Otto died in 1940 when Sylvia was 8, he exerted a lifelong hold on her.

    The FBI started in 1908. During WW1, FBI investigators' files revealed that this Alien Enemy was det­ained over susp­ected pro-German allegiance. Otto told investigators that his family got to the USA from Grabow in Germany because of the better conditions, but he defended his homeland.

    Otto apparently encount­ered discrimination at California University, and was passed over for a scientific post due to his birth in East Prussia, though he had moved to the USA in 1901 in his mid teens. The files revealed that he lost a salesman job for not buying Liberty Bonds to aid the war effort, and it was implied that he had a less than whole hearted attitude towards WW1 and to America. The FBI concluded that he was a morbid man who made no friends, and with whom no-one was really well acquainted.

    Otto Plath 1930

    When FBI officers noted Otto's morbid disposition, was that because he had a German character and a German accent? The FBI files recorded that Otto could not get teaching pos­itions. Later however, having graduated from North Western College and the University of Wash­ing­ton Seattle, he did obtain positions. Nonetheless they said that he had been turned down for assist­ant's roles partly because he has not the pers­on­ality that was required of an instructor at the University, being very nervous and not being able to interest students. Except for one, apparently - his wife.

    From academics who knew Otto, the FBI investigators reported that his scientific work was excellent. So the officers suggested his brooding was over the bad luck he was having making a living due to his nationality and that he felt persecuted. No wonder he was brooding. Unemployment was horrible for anyone, let alone a talented university graduate.

    In any case, being pro-German early in the C20th was not the same as being pro-Nazi in the late 1930s. Could it be that Otto simply missed the lost land of his childhood, the taste of German food and the country’s smells, sights, customs, language?

    Family life before WW2

    In 1932 he married Aurelia Schober (1906–1994 daughter of the Austrian Franz Schober), a young master's student at Boston University. That year a rather elderly Otto fathered Sylvia Plath, and later her brother Warren. 

    Peter Steinberg and Heather Clark told an international  conference at Indiana university: "Sylvia had a conf­licted attitude towards her own German-Austrian identity." Her mother was of Austrian descent. It helps explain this hard-driving, intense immigrant work ethic that Plath in some ways inherited. People talk about her perfectionism as being almost part of her neurosis.

    In Letters of Sylvia Plath: Vol 1 1940-1956, the first letter was written in 1940 when Plath was eight as a get-well note to Otto. He died six months later and she was shattered. I’ll never speak to God again, she told her mother. The determin­at­ion to regard herself as a victim, evident in her later poems, could be trac­ed back to Otto’s death.
    Sylvia, mother Aurelia and brother Warren, 1949 

    Sylvia’s earliest memories indicated that Otto was prone to depress­sion, which may suggest that he did indeed pass on a curse to his brilliant daughter. But her father’s premature death in 1940 was THE traumatic experience for the young girl, the most significant turning point in her mental health.

    In her journals, she suspected that he deliberately died to spite her. All her life she had been stood up by people she loved; daddy leaving her was the start of it. Even after WW2 was well over, Plath had mixed emotions about her father, writing in her journal in 1958: "He … heiled Hitler in the privacy of his home." She wrote in her vicious poem, Daddy:

    "I have always been scared of you,
    With your Luftwaffe, your gobbled­goo.
    And your neat mustache
    And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
    Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--
    Not God but a swastika."

    Otto was thus posthumously stigmatised in this poem. But was Sylvia Plath’s daddy ever pro-Nazi? Clark disagreed that Otto had Nazi sympathies before and at the beginning of WW2: He was a pac­ifist! Maybe Sylvia was mis-remem­ber­ing, or was angry towards him.

    Is was possible that young lass was angry, grief-stricken, aband­oned, mortally wounded – but still found momentary release in offensive, black comedy. Peter Steinberg and others wrote Plath’s poem Daddy seemed to make light of and cons­cious­ly used the prejudices against him.

    Letters continued from Smith College, Mass and then from Newnham College Cambridge, where Sylvie studied English as a Ful­bright scholar. And in her journals she unleashed a blitz of man­iacal self-hatred: She never loved Otto. She killed him. She was deadly as a cobra: What a luxury it would be to kill her, to strangle her skinny veined throat.

    From Smith she wrote to her mother “Graduate school and travel abroad are not going to be stymied by any squalling, breastfed brats.” From Cambridge she wrote with fury, denouncing Newnham undergraduates as “prim, scholarly little British bitches”, and longing to strangle them. The female dons at Newnham were “Victorian grotesques”, and her own “vital curiosity” was superior to the “grubbing detail” required for a graduate thesis.

    And mum Aurelia copped vitriol as well. In her diary Sylvia wrote brutally about her hatred for her mother, to whom she felt inescapably attached but whom she blamed for the death of her old father when she was eight.

    Plath married another poet Ted Hughes in 1956, and had two children, Frieda and Nicholas Hughes in 1960 and 1962. She suffered from depression for much of her adult life and committed suicide, at 30, in 1963. She had placed her head in a gas oven.

    Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, 1959

    The FBI files were discussed in Oct 2012 at an international Plath sym­posium at Indiana University. Readers can read the Conference papers as evidence, not of Otto’s pro-Nazi views, but of the conditions that ailed Sylvia. And read reviews of Plath's letters by John Carey in the Sunday Times and David Sexton in the London Evening Standard.


    If the tendency to depression and suicide is genetic or learned, note that Plath's son Nicholas hanged himself at his home in Alaska in 2009. He was only 47.

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    I have just spent the best part of a week exploring Australia's Northern Territory which has one of the most extensive examples of rock art in this country. There are c5000 sites found so far and another c10,000 still waiting to be found.

    To me, Kakadu National Park was the most interesting and impressive site. This 20,000 sq km park has been returned to, and is managed by the indigenous owners. Aboriginals have occupied this area for c50,000 years ago. The simplest of figures eg shadows of hands & stick figures of kangaroos and crocodiles, were created over 8,000 years ago.

    Lightning man Namargon (centre) and his wife/sister Barrgini (below)

    The thylacine/Tasmanian devil is depicted in Kakadu National Park, but this animal has been extinct on the main-land from the end of the Ice Age, 14,000 years ago. Today the thylacine is only found in Tasmania, a much colder area.

    As sea levels rose 6,000 years ago, fish like barramundi and catfish were depicted, then crocodiles.

    Mythical figures began to be depicted at this time also, depicting figures of cultural significance to the Aboriginals. Until the modern era (late C17th) the aboriginals have had an undisturbed presence in this land. The whole of this vast continent of Australia was occupied by Aboriginals, divided into clans who shared the land with their neighbours. The boundaries were defined by the elders who handed down this information orally, from father to son etc. Although they were hunters and gatherers, they had their preferred camping areas, depending on the season.

    The clans did not have property, apart from what they could carry, so they developed their sharing culture as a result. And as they were constantly on the move and living off the land, there was no written tradition. The land and the animals were bound by culture to everything they did. When a child was born he became culturally tethered to an animal eg a kangaroo; the young ecologist spent his life caring for and protecting that animal and land.

    When they were at a camping area for some time, families depicted their culture on the rocks under which they were sheltering. The area at Kakadu where the art is found is under sandstone shelters, caused by splitting and erosion of the overlying cliffs. These galleries provided shelter for sleeping, washing and protection from the elements.

    Thylacine/Tasmanian devil

    Fly river turtle, 

    The material that was used to make the art was found in the surrounding area. Ochre was ground up iron oxide rocks, which are plentiful all over North and West Australia; they were mixed with water, spit or egg to enable it to stick to the walls. Ochre seeped into the sandstone and lasted the longest. Ground up rocks such as lumonite (yellow), kaolin (white), charcoal from the fires (black) and others were used. Their brushes were made from hair, reeds or feathers.

    Their creation stories were depicted by the artists to be a record for the future generations. Images such as the lightning man Namargon and his wife/sister Barrgini depicted punishment for breaking ancestral law; they became Ginga the great saltwater crocodile. Other images depicted Mabuyu i.e stealing.

    Aboriginal occupation occurred across residual, detached parts of the Arnhem Land plateau around East Alligator River. Groups of Aboriginal people camped in rock shelters around Ubirr Rock to take advantage of the enormous variety of foods available from the river, flood plain and woodlands. The rock extension of the main gallery provided an area where a family could set up camp. Food items were regularly painted on the back wall, one on top of the other, to pay respect to the particular animal or to ensure future hunting success. Animals painted in the main gallery are barramundi, catfish, mullet, goannas, long-necked turtles, pig-nosed turtles, rock ring tail possums and wallabies.

    Fishes and turtle, 
    Kakadu National Park

    The art often appeared under sandstone "galleries"
    Ubirri Rock, in the East Alligator region

    There are dozens of art sites at Ubirri Rock, located mainly in shelters. Early paintings were painted over with large multi-coloured art. European buffalo hunters employed Aboriginal people to help them hunt; thus we can assume the buffalo hunters were painted in the 1880s.

    Mythological Rainbow Serpents were powerful Creation Ancestors that were known to tribes throughout Australia. At Ubirr the Rainbow Serpent is called Garranga'rreli. In her human form, she was called Birriwilk and travelled through this area with another woman looking for sweet lily roots. As she passed through Ubirr she painted her image on the rock to remind people of her presence. She rested in the forest at Manngarre, digging a hole in the cool sand.

    The Namarrgarn Sisters were painted at Ubirr pulling string apart. They lived in the stars from where they could throw down pieces of string, attach them to people's organs, quickly travel down the string, and make people very sick.
    Map of Northern Territory and Western Australia
    Press to find Kakadu and Alligator River
    From Map Top End Journey

    A painting by Mimi spirits can be seen high up on the ceiling of the overhang. Aboriginal people describe how the Mimi spirits came out of the cracks in the rocks, pulled the ceiling rock down, painted the yellow and red sorcery image, and then pushed the rock back into place.

    Rock Art is not being produced anymore but the Aboriginals who now own their land are taking great care to protect these ancient sites. Visitors who come to Australia will love to travel north to see the beauty and serenity of this untouched gem. And read Kakadu and Nitmiluk by Dean Hoatson et all, Canberra, 2000.


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    Sacred sites in India have long been associated with water; the Golden Tem­ple at Amritsar seems almost to float in a vast shimmering pool. The pool was created from a forest lake, which the Buddha himself is said to have visited and at which the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, meditated.

    When the site later became the main shrine of Sikhism, the lake was enlarged and given the name Amritsar/nectar of immortality pool. Building of the Sri Harmandir Sahib/abode of God, began in the late C16th for the fifth Sikh guru.

    Golden Tem­ple at Amritsar and causeway,
    surrounded by a large pool

    Pure gold urns that line the terrace

    This Sikh place of worship welcomed those of all faiths and of all levels of society. It was constructed so that the architecture itself suggested openness and reflected the central tenets of Sikhism. Once inside, visitors had to observe respect by removing their shoes and washing their feet, covering their heads and refraining from smoking, eating meat or drinking alcohol. 100,000 people visit daily, especially for the huge canteen that serves free food. Sharing meals with strangers is important in Sikhism, being bound up with the principle of equality.

    The most important shrine in the complex is the Harmindir, built by Arjan Dev to house the holy scripture of Sikhism. In the C19th, Maharaja Ranjit Singh covered the temple with gold. The dome, an inverted lotus, is decorated with gold and precious stones and the holy scripture rests on a throne. The complex also contains holy trees with special powers, planted by the first high priest.

    The other sacred shrine is the Akal Takht, which symbolises God’s authority on earth.

    The Guru is carried around on a golden throne

    Guru Granth Sahib/central religious scripture of Sikhism, 
    under a bejewelled canopy

    All about Sikhs has provided all the following information on Hari Mandir Sahib’s Art and Architecture.  Major Cole described the Temple as an adaptation of Mohammadan styles, flavoured with a good deal of Hindu tradition. Once taken over by the Sikhs, this synth­esis of Hindu and Muslim influences evolved into the wonderful Indian rococo art often seen in the Punjab. Instead of building the temple on a high plinth in the Hindu style, Guru Arjan had it built in a depression so that worshippers had to go down the steps to enter. Also it had four entrances, sym­bolising the fact that it is open to all faiths and castes without distinction; it is not elevated, so people have to walk down into it; and it is surrounded by holy water. The Hari Mandir, the causeway and Darshani Deorhi were probably completed in 1776.

    The main structure rises from the centre of the sacred pool, 150 metres square, approached by a 60 metres causeway. An archway on the western side of the pool opens on to the causeway, bordered with marble balustrades, and standard lamps set upon marble columns. The 52-metre square-based Hari Mandir, to which the causeway leads, stands on a 20-metre square platform. Its lower parts are of white marble, but the upper parts are covered with plates of gilded copper. Inside on the ground floor on a raised platform is the Guru Granth Sahib/scripture, placed under a gorgeous canopy and studded with jewels.

    The interior of the Shish Mahal is ornamented with small pieces of mirror, skilfully inlaid in the ceiling, and walls richly embel­l­ished with mostly floral designs. Further above the Shish Mahal is again a small square pavilion, considerably small both at its base as well as in its elevation, surmounted by a low fluted golden dome, lined at its base with a number of smaller domes. The walls of the two lower storeys, forming parapets, terminate with several rounded pinnacles. There are four kiosks at the corners. The combination of several dozens of different domes of gilded copper create a unique and dazzling effect, enhanced by the reflection in the water below.

    So the typical art and architectural features of the Golden Temple can be summed up as (1) chhatris-pavilions which ornament the parapets (2) use of fluted domes covered with gilded copper (3) balconised windows thrown out on bay-windows with corn­ices and (4) enrichment of walls, arches and ceilings by mural art.

    Maharaja Ranjit Singh repaired the principal building in 1802. To roof the temple with sheets of gilded copper, he donated Rs. 500,000 and the first plate on the temple was fixed in 1803 and completed by 1823. The archway under the Darshani Deorhi was embellished with sheets of gilded copper by the Raja of Jind. Being the central shrine of the Sikhs, almost every Sikh leader of any pretension contributed to its architectural and decorative additions.

    Amritsar's position on the Indian border with Pakistan

    Modelled on the Golden Temple's dome, a mammoth gate now greets those entering the holy city of Amritsar.

    The mural paint­ing decorations are floral patterns interspersed with animal motifs. There are about 300 different patterns on the walls, which look like hung Persian carpets. The only mural depicting human fig­ures is on the wall behind the northern narrow stairway leading to the top of the shrine, representing Guru Gobind Singh on horseback. The lower mural works were in embossed copper, ivory inlay and other materials, whereas the upper portions of the walls of the Golden Temple are covered with heavily gilded, beaten copper plates. The designs are Mughalish, but the introduction of human figures, never seen in Mughal decorations, reveals Sikh origin.

    The ivory inlay work is to be seen only on the doors of the Darshani Deorhi. The gate is made of shisham wood, the front overlaid with silver, the back inlaid with ivory. The silver-plated front is ornamented only with panels. At the back are square and rectangular panels with geometrical and floral designs, and animals.

    In June 1984, supporters of a militant Sikh were demanding the establishment of Khalistan, a separate homeland for Sikhs. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent in the army, but the supporters were well armed and hundreds of soldiers were killed. Event­ually the order was given to shell the sacred Akal Takht. Many more people died. Six months later, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

    The Golden Temple is a regularly renewed symbol, glowing in richness and colour. But as part of the essential machinery of a living faith, it is a shrine and not a museum.

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    Ingrid Carlberg’s book RAOUL WALLENBERG: The Biography has 3 parts: the early years; Budapest heroism; and the family’s post-war attempts to get him home. I have concentrated on the first two parts, backed up by Jan Larsson’s journal article. And from my mother in law who lived in Budapest in 1944-5; she would have loved this book.

    Raoul Wallen­berg (1912-?) was born near Stockholm. The family had been lead­ing bankers and diplomats for many years. His father was a naval of­ficer and a cousin of two of Sweden’s best-known C20th financiers and indust­rialists. But dad died just before the baby’s birth.

    After compulsory mil­itary service, in 1931-5 Raoul studied archit­ecture the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Then grand­pa sent him to Cape Town to train in a Swedish building mater­ials firm. Finally grandpa arranged another job at a Dutch bank in Haifa where Wallenberg met German Jewish exiles for the first time.

    After returning to Sweden in 1936, Wallenberg went into inter­nat­ional trade. Through the Wall­en­berg network of business world links, he was introd­uced to a Hungarian Jew, Koloman Lauer, who ran a Swedish based food import-export firm. Wallenberg spoke fluent Swedish, Russian, Eng­lish and German, and could travel freely around Europe, so he was a per­fect business partner for Lauer. Wallenberg was soon a major shareholder and the international manager of the Hungarian firm, making frequent trips to Hungary.

    Wallenberg’s diplomatic passport, 1944 
    Photo credit: Stockholm Jewish Museum 

    Beginning in 1941 Hungary had joined forces with Germany, against the Soviet Union. When the Germans lost the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, Hungary wanted to follow Italy’s example and ask for a sep­­­­arate peace. At that point, Hitler summoned the Hungarian Head of State, Miklós Horthy, and demanded solidarity with Germ­any.

    By early 1944 Hitler’s plan to annihilate the entire Jewish popul­ation in German-occupied countries was finalised. Only Hun­gary still had its 700,000 Jewish residents alive! Then the Fascists started putting Jews from the Hungarian rural areas into deportation trains to Polish death camps.

    USA's government-backed War Refugee Board/WRB wanted to send an emissary, under Swedish diplomatic cover, to save Hungary’s Jews. The choice of Raoul Wallenberg as the WRB’s emis­s­ary proved inspir­ed. In June 1944 he wrote to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, ask­ing for dec­ision-making independence from Budap­est’s Swedish ambas­sador. Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson and King Gustav V agreed!

    Even before Wallenberg arrived, the head of Swedish Red Cross Valdemar Langlet was assisting the Swedish Legation. Langlet rented buildings for the Red Cross and named the buildings Swedish Library or Swedish Research Institute. They were then used as hiding places for Jews.

    Horthy hadn't started deportations of Bud­ap­est Jews, but the city's residents knew that their deaths would follow. Many of them sought help from the embassies of neutral states who did issue temporary passports to Jews who already had spec­ial ties with these countries. But it was too few, and too late. Wall­enberg personally intervened to secure the release of bearers of protect­ion documents from the columns of marching people.

    Horthy received a letter from Swedish King Gustav V in Mar 1944 with an app­eal to stop Jewish deportations. Horthy bravely attempted to assure that justice prevailed and the deportation trains were can­celled. Horthy even discussed making peace with the Allies, to halt the inev­it­able assault from the East.

    A Swedish Schutz-Pass/protective passport 
    identifying this Hungarian woman as a Swedish citizen 
    August 1944

    Hitler occupied Hungary, and the Fascist Arrow Cross seized power in March 1944. The new govern­ment resumed the dep­ort­ation of Hung­arian cit­izens on trains to the exter­min­ation camps. Note that the Hun­garian Nazis were feared at least as much as the German Nazis. [Post-war, all Arrow Cross commanders bar one were exec­ut­ed].

    When Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in July 1944, time was run­ning out. As first secret­ary of the Swedish dip­lom­atic mission with few resources, he quickly built up a team of helpers. Luckily his office was in the same building as the American Embassy. The WRB rescue mis­sion was an initiative from American authorities, created as an unoff­icial cooper­ation with the neutral Swedish government.

    Under Adolf Eichmann, the Germans had already deported 400,000+ Jews in freight trains; there were only c200,000 Jews left in the capital. Eich­mann’s plans to exterm­inate Hungarian Jews were rel­entless. So Wallen­berg issued Swedish schutz-pass/protection certif­icates to enab­le Hungarian Jews to claim immunity from persecution as “foreign citiz­ens". He interv­ened in Nazi and Arrow Cross raids to save Jews from tran­sport­ation to the death camps. He rented buildings and made them Swedish territory, to give hiding spaces.

    When conditions were desperate, Wallenberg issued a simplified version of his protective Swedish passport, a mimeographed page with his sig­nature! The new Hungarian Nazi government immediately ann­ounced that all prot­ect­ive passports were invalid. But Baroness El­izabeth Liesel Kemény, wife of the foreign minister, allowed Wall­enberg to get his protective passports reinstated. As the freight cars full of Jews stood in the railway station, he heroically climbed on top of them, ran along the roof of the cars and handed bundles of protective pass­ports to the occup­ants. He then demanded that those Jews who received his protective passports be allowed to leave the train!

    Hungarian Jews rescued from deportation trains by Wallenberg, 
    Nov 1944 
    Photo credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum

    Wallenberg successfully used every tech­nique available to him, including forged docum­ents, bribery and blackmail. Yet in Jan 1945 friends urged Wallenberg to seek shelt­er, especially since the Hungarian Arrow Cross were sear­ching for him. He had been responsible for saving the lives of 30-40,000 Hungarian Jews.

    In Jan, Wallenberg approached the advancing Soviet troops, saying he was the Swedish chargé d’affaires for the parts of Hungary liber­ated by the Soviets. En route to Soviet military headquarters in Debrecen, Wallenberg stopped at the Swedish houses, to say goodbye for the last time.

    In the end Wallenberg had to place his faith in the Rus­sians; thankfully the Soviet troops did heroically free 100,000+ Jews in the seal­ed Budapest ghetto.


    When reports showed that Wallenberg had disappeared, the Rus­sians first claim­ed he’d been murdered by the Hungarian Arrow Cross. Later the Russians admitted that he’d been swallowed up by the Moscow prison sys­tem in 1945. Worse still, the Swedish government did not help the Wall­enberg family get their son returned to Sweden, and they stop­ped the Wallenberg story appearing in Swedish news­papers. Sofar the Russian files have not yet been opened to historians :(

    Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Memorial, erected 1953, stands to the Jews murd­ered by German, Hung­arian and Ukrainian and other Fascists. The Avenue of the Righteous has 600 trees planted to honour the memory of Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews. Wallenberg is the best known hero there. In 1981 the late Raoul Wall­en­berg was dec­lared an honorary cit­izen of the USA, Canada in 1985, Israel in 1986 and Australia in 2013.

    The Raoul Wallenberg memorial 
    Linköping, Sweden.

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    As in other European societies, New Zealand women were excluded from any involvement in politics in early colonial times. Most people accepted the idea that women were naturally suited for domestic affairs i.e home and children. Only men were fitted for public life and the hurly-burly of politics. New Zealand History has provided the first half of this post.

    Some women began to challenge this narrow view. New opportunities were opening up for women, especially those from upper or middle-class families, in education, medicine, church and charities. Attention soon turned to women’s legal and political rights.

    The suffrage campaign in New Zealand began as part of a broad late C19th movement for women’s rights that spread through Britain and its Empire, the USA and northern Europe. This movement was shaped by two main themes: a] equal political rights for women and b] a desire to use them for the moral reform of society eg through prohibition.

    New Zealand’s pioneering suffragists were inspired both by equal-rights arguments of philosopher John Stuart Mill and British feminists, and by the American-based missionary efforts of Women’s Christian Temperance Union - WCTU.

    Some of New Zealand’s leading male politicians, including John Ballance, supported women’s suffrage. In 1878, 1879 and 1887 bills or amendments extending the vote to female ratepayers only narrowly failed to pass in Parliament.

    Outside Parliament the movement gathered momentum from the mid-1880s, especially following the establishment of a New Zealand WCTU in 1885. Led by Kate Sheppard, WCTU campaigners and others organised huge petitions to Parliament: in 1891, in 1892 and finally in 1893 tens of thousands of signatures were obtained, a quarter of New Zealand’s adult European female population.

    By the early 1890s opponents of women’s suffrage were mobilising. They warned that any disturbance to the natural gender roles might have terrible consequences. The liquor industry, fearful that women would support growing demands for Prohibition, lobbied sympathetic Members of Parliament and organised counter-petitions.

    The suffragists’ arch-enemy was Henry Smith Fish, a boorish Dunedin politician who hired canvassers to circulate anti-suffrage petitions in pubs. But this tactic backfired when some signatures proved to be false or obtained by trickery.

    The Liberal government came to office in 1891 and was divided over the issue. Premier John Ballance supported women's suffrage in principle, but he was anxious that women would vote for his Conservative opponents. Many of his Cabinet colleagues, including friends of the liquor trade, strongly opposed women’s suffrage.

    In 1891 & 92 the House of Representatives passed electoral bills that would have enfranchised all adult women. But on each occasion opponents sabotaged the legislation in the conservative upper house, the Legislative Council.

    In Ap 1893 Ballance died and was succeeded by Richard Seddon. Suffragists groaned, but following the presentation of the massive third petition, another bill easily passed in the House. Once again, all eyes were on the Legislative Council. Liquor interests petitioned the council to reject the bill. Suffragists responded with mass rallies and telegrams to members. They also gave their supporters in Parliament white camellias to wear in their buttonholes.

    Voting in Auckland, 1899
    photo credit: Ministry for Culture and Heritage

    For the women of New Zealand, Sept 1893 was a special time. Seddon and others again tried to torpedo the bill by underhand manoeuvres, but this time their interference backfired. Two opposition councillors, who had previously opposed women's suffrage, changed their votes to embarrass Seddon. The bill was passed by 20 votes to 18.

    The battle was still not over. New anti-suffrage petitions were circulated, and some members of the Legislative Council petitioned the governor to withhold his consent. In a buttonhole battle, anti-suffragists gave their parliamentary supporters red camellias.

    Lord Glasgow finally signed the bill into law in Sept. Women celebrated throughout the country, and congratulations poured in from campaigners in Australia and overseas: New Zealand’s achievement gave new hope to women struggling for emancipation across many countries.

    Not everyone in New Zealand rejoiced at the outcome. For some men at least, the prospect of such activists influencing politics was an evil thought. Men opposing female suffrage could only call in the aid of the women who would prefer to leave the game of politics to men.

    Suffrage opponents had warned that delicate lady voters would be jostled and harassed in polling booths by ‘boorish and half-drunken men’. But the 1893 election was actually described as the ‘best-conducted and most orderly’ ever held in New Zealand.


    Invigorated by the New Zealand suffrage victory in 1893, Mary Lee and Elizabeth Nicholls, like many other WCTU activists, travelled all over the South Australian colony to obtain signatures for a suffrage petition. The WCTU suffragists were critical to the success of the campaign, first in South Australia and, eventually, nationally. So it is not surprising that in Australia, women were first able to vote in the State elections of South Australia in 1894.

    Western Australia followed in 1899. But it was only in 1902 that the newly federated nation allowed white women to both vote and stand for Federal elections on a universal and equal basis with white men. This dual right, the complete electoral franchise AND eligibility to sit in parliament, was what political philosopher John Stuart Mill called perfect equality. In New South Wales women gained the vote for State government in 1902, in Tasmania it happened in 1903, in Queensland in 1905 and Victorian women gained the vote for state government in 1908. Indigenous Australians were excluded from Federal elections for decades more.

    The Christchurch Memorial, made by sculptor Margriet Windhausen, 
    3.3 x 2m bronze bas-relief.  Unveiled 1993.
    The camellia and white ribbons were symbols of the suffrage campaign. 

    In the same year, 1902, Vida Goldstein was in Washington DC as Australia and New Zealand’s sole delegate to the International Woman Suffrage Conference. She addressed huge American audiences on one of the most pressing global issues of the day: Votes for Women. Alas by 1908 only Finland and Norway had joined New Zealand and Australia in enfranchising women.