Another arrest in Green Vault Heist

German Police told media early this morning, another suspect linked to the spectacular Green Vault Heist was arrested. They are still looking for his twin brother.

As plenty of you remain interested: Guardian has a short article: Fugitive Twin arrested; as does Deutsche Welle: Dresden Green Vault heist.

A day later: German police raid various addresses over the Canadian Gold Coin theft.

If you kept track of developments and read reports, you know members of the same gang that robbed Dresden’s Green Vault, were involved in the theft from Berlin’s Bode Museum.

Guardian: Berlin police raid homes
Deutsche Welle: German police launch raid

Canadian coin exhibited at Bode Museum likely melted down after theft.

Museums: some opened, others remain closed

In some European countries, museums are open again. In Germany, it depends on policies of individual states, but quite a few museums are open. Luxembourg is taking things step by step. In Belgium, many museums reopened per Monday or Tuesday 19th of May. The Netherlands follows its neighbours: most museums reopen per June 2020.

Continue reading

Just imagine

While Trump claimed he had been vindicated – and therefore his Russian headache and cloud had lifted (fake news and alternative facts, as usual) … While Theresa May had created a big, huge, enormous splitting headache – for herself, her party, plenty voters who had supported her … I accidentally hit upon a very bad idea.

Continue reading

Book review: “Nina Schenk” by Konstanze von Schulthess

This is an interesting biography, written by a daughter about her mother and family. So what? Well: nearly everybody is familiar with the husband and father. Hardly anybody is interested in the mother, wife, family of the man who tried to blow up Hitler.

Continue reading

Meet the author: Karin Kalisa and her novel “Sungs Laden”

It just failed – only just – to snow. So it was a relief to enter the warm venue, peel of the wet and heavy winter coat and take a seat. What I and quite a few others were unaware of: we would shortly head for Vietnam! Not physically, but through Karin Kalisa’s new novel.

Continue reading

Meet the author: Stephanie Bart and “Der Deutsche Meister”

Totalitarian states usually need to destroy, reinvent, rewrite, in an attempt to support their distorted views and right to exist. A recent example is IS and a less recent one is Nazi Germany.

Deutsche MeisterStephanie Bart’s novel “Der Deutsche Meister” is based on historic events. It describes how the Nazis nearly got away with obliterating all traces of a sporting match. In 1933, Johann Wilhelm Trollmann won his country’s middle weight boxing title and became “Deutsche Meister” – boxing champion.

In 1933, the Nazis were already so powerful, they were able to manipulate and control practically everything and everybody. Trollmann was a Sinto. To Nazis it was of course unthinkable that a non-Aryan won sporting matches and titles. It did not fit their values, ideas, ideology.

Once you’ve read this book, which only records part of the 1933 events, you’ll be aware this is an example of incidents which took place and are still taking place under regimes throughout the world. The human suffering caused by such self-aggrandisement, ruthless egoism and opportunism, manipulation and justifications of distorted ideas, opinions and views – is of course immense.

This is not Stephanie Bart‘s first novel. In 2009, “Goodbye Bismarck” appeared. A year later, so ms Bart told her audience during a “meet the author”- event, she read three sentences about a temporary memorial. The topic lodged itself firmly in her brain.

She explained she usually needs at least a year to mull over a book topic. This is followed by extensive research. In this case: trying to find people to talk to, gather information, learn about boxing, taking up boxing, watching a great many boxing matches. All this turned ms Bart from a totally non-boxing fan into a firm admirer of this ancient sport.

Writing the novel took her another two years. “Der Deutsche Meister” appeared in 2014. It was awarded the Rheingau Literatur Preis 2014.

The novel records events just before and after Trollmann wins his match against the Nazi favourite in 1933. It shows how Nazi supporters tried to block him being awarded the title. The novel ends just before another Nazi-fixed match will take place, which Trollmann is supposed to lose.

Stephanie Bart did go shortly into what happened to Trollman afterwards. He divorced his wife, to try to give her and his daughter a chance to survive the war. They and a few other family members did.

Trollmann himself was drafted into the German army, arrested in 1942, and – as is so often the case under totalitarian regimes – interned under a false name so he could be declared dead. In 1944, an SS-Kapo actually beat him to dead.

During this “meet the author” event, ms Bart read from her book. It contains humorous and highly entertaining scenes. The description of the boxing match is of course fabulous. The scenes which erupt when it becomes clear the Nazi supporters did not want to award the title to Trollmann, show violence by present-day football hooligans is not new.

What was interesting was to learn that we still consider Sinti, Ziganes, Travellers and others as having no fixed abode. Ms Bart righted this presumption and explaining how some groups only travel a few weeks a year. So like we do during our summer holidays. It is revealing that even now, our summer holiday camping does not brand us as outcasts – yet ensures other members of our countries are still stigmatised for doing exactly the same.

Another thing I found upsetting was discovering that the 2010 Trollmann memorial was a temporary one. After all these years, it’s apparently still problematic to have a more permanent memento. Fortunately, what happened in 1933 to a German boxing champion, is now commemorated by Stephanie Bart’s novel.

“Der Deutsche Meister”, Stephanie Bart, 2014. No English translation available yet.
German CD, Kindle, Ebook versions available.

YouTube: Stephanie Bart reading an excerpt from her novel

Travelling with panthers

The old lady and her walker overtook me in a neat sprint. I gasped. She was at least two decades older than me.

We were both running. A nice chap stood in the doorway to ensure we both made it – just. She got a seat, way before I jumped on board the last carriage of the local tube.

Both still breathing heavily, I congratulated her on her speed. Boy: she started out way behind me, then overtook me as if I was a tortoise. She said a walker was a great help, even when loaded with overstuffed shopping bags. Silently, I wondered which brand hers was: Ferrari Formula I, or a simple rocket launcher?

At the next stop, two panthers got on: one black and the other spotted. All the passengers craned their heads. It’s a spectacle you see here only once a year.

They were hungry. They started feeding on crackers and fruit. Inside different panther print jumpsuits, there were two young lads. They were obviously heading south.

The old lady and I wondered aloud,m if the two were heading for Mestrich? No, no, no. They were on their way to Lampengat (Lamps-hole). No, you won’t find that on Google maps.

They had their personal belongings, money, more food in small plastic carrier bags. They demonstrated how they’d put their plastic bags into the jumpsuits, zip up, pull down the hoods. They hadn’t decided yet, if they were going for make-up or masks. I dared not mention their stuffed bags inside the suits made them look like pregnant kittens.

They’d join a crowd of friends in various other suits, to celebrate carnival non-stop for three days. At least: that was the plan. There was probably a “mopping up” band playing on the platform of the train station to welcome them: a brass band playing special carnival music.

Yes: in dull cloggy country, they do celebrate Carnival. No, they don’t celebrate it the Venetian or Brazilian way. Yes, cloggies also celebrate Caribbean Carnival. It’s organised during what’s supposed to be summer, so-called Summer Carnival. London’s Notting Hill one is far, far grander.

For a cloggy Summer Carnival, you head off to Rotterdam in July. Of course, no guarantee it’ll be sunny, warm, brilliant weather. But hey: you’re there for the pretty girls, rhythms, steel bands – I presume.

For ordinary carnival you also quit Amsterdam. In some places it starts the Saturday, in others Sunday, or Monday before Lent. Fun ends on Ash Wednesday.

Some places have a traditional Carnival church service. Others don’t. Many have a special show: a long line of rolling floats. These contain comic and satirical scenes with as subjects local power-brokers, national politicians, world affairs. Practically each town and village has its own music, Prince Carnival, traditions.

Most northern cloggies don’t understand carnival. So all carnival lovers head south, though there are a few towns in northern regions, which also celebrate it. This is either because these towns sport universities; or because historically, they were Catholic pockets in a mainly Protestant country.

But the best regions to celebrate carnival remain the provinces of Limburg and Northern Brabant. If you end up in Maastricht for instance, it’s only a bus or short train journey to Cologne and other German towns. Both provinces also border Belgium. So if you find cloggy carnival boring, there’s nothing to keep you from hopping across the border to join celebrations in Germany or Belgium.

Of course, like both panthers, you’ll need to dress up as something. And of course, you’re not travelling to Eindhoven, Nijmegen, ‘s Hertogenbosch, The Hague, and any other places known by Google Maps. For three days, these places disappear from the earth.

Instead, you travel to Lampengat, Knotsenburg, Oeteldonk, Mestrich, Kresidentie (pronounced “crazydancy”) and other otherworldly names. For a list of place names during cloggy carnival: alternative place names.

PS: I wanted to include a pic of several German floats focussing on Charlie Hebdo and other world events. Unfortunately enough, I received a message that pics of these floats are so dangerous access to the server(s) was barred.