1. Anzac Day
I guess I’ve never been big on Anzac Day. I grew up in a settlement of farmers of German ancestry. My Dad taught in German in primary school in the Barossa Valley until they changed the rules. He was too young to enlist when WW1 broke out, but could have joined a bit later. Being a third generation Australian, I’m sure he would have fought for his country. The tradition in Europe was that you fought for whoever ruled you at the time. Frederick the Great invaded Saxony so that the Saxons would be fighting for him rather than against him when he picked a fight with Maria Theresa’s Austria. However, Napoleon found that 30,000 Bavarians swapped sides when they saw what they were up against in the Battle of Leipzig.
As it happened, my mob were fingered as German during WW1 and not to be trusted.
My wife has no German heritage. Her mother lost two brothers in WW1, but never spoke of them.
However, Australia’s loss was very high. A quick check reveals:
- According to the First World War page on the Australian War Memorial website from a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. The latest figure for those killed is given as 62,000.
Scaling up to today’s population, that would mean about 300,000 killed. Understandably, there are memorials all over the country.
The question has been asked, why Anzac? As a pointless campaign in a pointless war, it is probably appropriate to remember the futility of war through Anzac.
This morning I woke to go to the loo exactly when the sun was rising. The bagpipes playing, and it was very moving. Otherwise we have done nothing special today in this household.
2. Kerfuffle in Quinceland
Here in Qld there was a minor controversy when our Chief Medical Officer was accused of being power hungry, because she put the kybosh on a four-plane flyover on Anzac morning – ‘Power hungry’: LNP slams Queensland top doctor’s coronavirus advice.
Premier Palaszczuk has made it clear that as a mere politician she has given the power of decision-making to the CMO on what is permitted under the vris lockdown. It is clear that the LNP would have done no such thing. I’m not sure that the current authority structure is the best possible. Angela Merkel is taking advice from an ethics Council which has a minority of virologists and includes philosophers inter alia. However, Paluszczuk has been quite consistent and is clearly trying to take the politics out of the issue.
I don’t expect to agree with every decision Dr Young makes. On this occasion I have no opinion either way. It’s OK to disagree but let’s have a bit of civility and respect.
BTW it’s wrong to say “the government allowed 80 people to congregate for a funeral”. I understand Dr Young specified up to 80 people could attend, but in the event about 30 did.
At least the Brisbane Times gave Dr Young the right of reply, unlike the ABC who routinely give the LNP the last say.
3. Making art out of necessity
Hoarding toilet rolls was not universal, but far from unique to Australia. While experts pondered why, Turkish Hamburg-based artist Sakir Gökcebag made art out of toilet rolls, masses of art:
Many other artists have had a go. To me the function of art is to reconcile inner and outer worlds, yielding insights, but art also points to reality and meaning beyond what ‘truth’ statements can express.
This article collects some of the street graffiti art inspired by Covid 19. I’ve chosen this one:
Berlin artist EME Freethinker looks as though he/she (I’m betting he) has used the remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall where artists paint over previous work. When we were there in 2015 it was all amazing quality, but I guess renews itself to represent current themes and ethos. To me there is a clear reference to the creature Golum from J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
4. The day Hitler died
Adolf Hitler died presumably by taking a cyanide tablet on 30 April 1945, so the 75th anniversary is coming up.
Three years ago I collected material to write a post with the working title The Day Hitler Died. I don’t have the time or head-space to finish it now, so it will remain in the unfinished draft file of the blog, which now numbers 158 (mostly, but not all mine).
Hitler retreated to his Führerbunker on 16 January, 1945. Towards the end of April the Americans were closing in from the west, but the Russians were already in Potsdamer Platz, which is a stone’s throw away. In September 2015, when we were in Berlin, towards the end of a walking tour of the city we were shown where Hitler’s bunker is:
It’s deep under that tree, with no visible sign to mark the place.
Nearby is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, comprising 2711 slabs of concrete or ‘stelae’ each 2.38 metres (7 ft 10 in) long, 0.95 metres (3 ft 1 in) wide and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.7 metres (7.9 in to 15 ft 5.0 in). Here’s my photo:
Architect Peter Eisenmann is quite unhelpful about what it all means. The best I can come up with is:
- Architect Eisenman explained that he wanted visitors to feel the loss and disorientation that Jews felt during the Holocaust.
Understandably, controversy has raged in Germany. The tour guide gave us an explanation equally enigmatic, which I’ve forgotten, but it roughly meant ‘make of it what you will, but you will feel differently when you are there’.
Update: See also ‘Stumbling stones’: a different vision of Holocaust remembrance:
- Known as “Stolpersteine”, or “stumbling stones”, there are now more than 70,000 such memorial blocks laid in more than 1,200 cities and towns across Europe and Russia. Each commemorates a victim outside their last-known freely chosen residence.
The stones represent a new vision of urban remembrance. If Eisenman’s large monument, set in the governmental heart of Berlin, emphasises the scale and political culpability of the Holocaust, the Stolpersteine focus on its individual tragedies.
The inscription on each stone begins “Here lived”, followed by the victim’s name, date of birth, and fate: internment, suicide, exile or, in the vast majority of cases, deportation and murder.
Together, the Stolpersteine now constitute the largest decentralised monument in the world.
4. Extreme stupidity of POTUS Trump
POTUS Trump has gone to new lengths of distraction as Trump suggests injecting disinfectant to fight coronavirus.
I listened to the full tape, which Indira Naidoo played to Andrew Romano in their weekly ABC cross last night. Trump was not telling people what to do; strictly he was telling his virus experts what they should investigate, but with enthusiasm for expected miracles.
It was always ridiculous and dangerous, to the degree that the makers of the product issued a warning against people using the stuff in any other way than it was designed for.