Tag Archives: Germany

The Aftermath Book Review

War, by the nature of the beast, is messy and complicated. So is the aftermath of war.

Rhidian Brook’s 2014 novel, The Aftermath, is set in Hamburg, Germany in 1946. Rachael Morgan’s husband, Lewis is a Colonel in the British army. His job is to rebuild the city was destroyed during the war. Rachael’s reunion with Lewis looks to be a happy one, especially for their surviving son, Edmund.

Their new home is a shocker for Rachael, a mansion that belongs to Stephan Lubert, a widower with a teenage daughter. Instead of sending father and daughter away, Lewis has offered to let them stay in the house. As tensions outside of the house flare up, tensions within the house threaten to burn up all involved.

Before I go any further, I have to state that I saw the movie before I read the book. As with many books when they are made into films, there are changes to narrative and/or characters.

As with the movie, I wanted to like the book. I wanted to get sucked into the story and the drama. Unfortunately, I found the book to be dull at points and was nearly ready to throw in the towel part way in.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History

Immigration Is Not A Black And White Issue: Thoughts On The Accused Killer Of Mollie Tibbetts And The Deportation Of Jakiw Palij

The myth about America pertains to the thorny issue of immigration. While Emma Lazarus‘s immortal poem, The New Colossus has greeted new American immigrants along with The Statue Of Liberty for generations, the immigrant experience has never been an easy one.

In 2018, the complications have become magnified, thanks to you know who.

Last month, college student Mollie Tibbetts went missing. This week, her body was found. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who authorities have identified as an illegal immigrant originally from Mexico was accused of her murder.

My heart breaks for those who knew her and loved her. May her memory be a blessing.

It didn’t take long for certain political factions in this country to use this girl’s murder as a reason to paint all illegal immigrants with broad brush. Most, if not all immigrants, regardless of their status, did not come to America to become criminals. They came to this country for the freedoms and opportunities that for many immigrants are not available in the countries of their birth.

This case also bring to light two scourges on our global cultural landscape: sexism and racism. Some of the news reports stated that Mr. Rivera approached Miss Tibbetts.  When she rebuffed him, he didn’t understand that no means no. Racism comes into the picture because this case amplifies the myth that all men of color are predators when it comes to white women. Therefore, white woman need to be protected by white men from the men of color who might have less than honorable or harmless intentions.

The other news story that  brings into light the shades of grey when it comes to immigration is the case of Jakiw Palij.

In 1949, he came to America, claiming to be a farmhand and factory worker. Since then, he has lived in Queens, New York. According to news reports, Mr. Palij was actually a Nazi labor camp guard at Trawniki concentration camp and lied on his immigration paperwork. He is being deported back to Germany.

While I understand that he is 95 years old, justice must be served. From my perspective, when an immigrant is deported, the government must have a solid reason to send him or her back to their country of origin. In this case, I cannot disagree with his deportation. While it would be impossible in 2018 to prosecute every member of the Nazi party who stood by while their Jewish friends and neighbors were being murdered, the prosecution of Mr. Palij must proceed. The message must be heard loudly and clearly: those who had a hand in murdering Jews and other minorities during World War II will be judged and prosecuted for their actions.

Despite the promise of America, immigration will never be a black and white issue. It is my opinion that unfortunately, it’s taken Americans over 200 years to realize that fact.

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Filed under Feminism, History, National News, New York City, Politics

Thoughts On Charlottesville, One Year Later

In 2018, many of us think that we live in post racial society. Last year’s rally in Charlottesville proved otherwise.

On one hand, one could argue that we are on the way to a post racial society. The counter protesters were made of Americans all backgrounds, colors and creeds who represent the idealistic American society where every citizen regardless of labels has the same rights and privileges. But, on the other hand, the white nationalists who started the protest prove that discrimination, prejudice and racial barriers are still alive and well in America.

A year later the statement “Jews will not replace us” still sends a chill down my spine. One should be able to say that this particular statement is relegated to newsreels of Germany in the early 1930’s. But the reality is that this statement was spoken by Americans in the early 21st century.

My hope (as faint as it is) is that the Charlottesville Rally is a turning point for American. The rose-colored glasses have been knocked off our faces and our eyes are opened. Heather Heyer did not die in vain. She gave as much to her country as any soldier fighting overseas.

Only time will tell how future Americans will judge our current generation. The only thing I know is that the events in Charlottesville one year ago will never be forgotten.

 

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Filed under History, National News, Politics, Thoughts On....

Those Who Save Us Book Review

For some of us, the past is the past. Who we were and the choices that we made at that point in our lives is no longer of consequence. That is, until the past rears is head back into our lives.

In Jenna Blum’s 2004 novel, Those Who Save us, Anna Schlemmer emigrated to America from Germany just after World War II with her American soldier husband and young daughter. Fifty years later, her husband is dead and Anna is determined to let the past remain in the past. But her now grown daughter, Trudy, is a professor of German history and curious about her mother’s past. Finding an old photograph of herself and her mother with a German officer, Trudy is determined to find out the secrets that her mother has been hiding for half a century.

This book is remarkable. While normally I would say that a slow narrative does not bode well for finishing a novel,  the slow burn towards the end of the story is well worth the emotional payoff that ends the novel. Adding to the suspense is the sometimes tenuous relationship between middle-aged Trudy and senior Anna.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Germany, 1933 Here We Come

America is supposed to be land of the free, home of the brave. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are one of the corners of our country, both culturally and legally.

One of the news items that has not been on the front page (but should be) is that the Department of Homeland Security is compiling a list of journalists and so-called “media influencers”.

While it is unknown what will be done to the individuals and organizations whose names appear on the list, the thought that this is happening in the United States of America in 2018 sends a chill down my spine.

Suppression of the free press is not something that happens in the United States. Suppression of the free press happens in countries like Iran and North Korea.

If this is not a sign that you know who and his minions are shredding the standards of American democracy to meet their own needs, I don’t know what is.

I only know that we still have the right to vote and we should all be using that right come the fall. If we don’t, the democracy that is the United States of America may soon be no more.

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Filed under History, Politics

We Can Love Each Other

70 years ago, millions of innocence people were persecuted, tortured, starved and murdered by the Nazis and their cohorts.

While we cannot bring back the dead or undo what has been done, we can find a way to move past hate and find a way if to coexist.

We can learn to respect and love each other. We can find a way to share this life and this earth while respecting each other’s differences.

If the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Nazis can sing Hatikvah, then love, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence is possible. We just have to find a way to make it happen.

Enjoy your weekend.

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Filed under History, Life, Music

Daniel Deronda (Book and Movie Review)

Daniel Deronda is George Eliot‘s (born Mary Ann Evans) final novel.  Published in 1876, it blends two different stories with one central character.

Gwendolen Haroleth is down on her luck. Gambling the last of her money away at casino in Germany, she meets Daniel Deronda, a young man who saves Gwendolen by returning to her a necklace she had gambled away the night before.  There the story breaks off into two different stories: Daniel’s and Gwendolen’s.

Gwendolen’s mother has recently become a widow for the second time. She takes her children and moves in with her brother. Knowing that she has to marry and marry well, Gwendolen meets Henleigh Grandcourt, an older man with a mistress, several illegitimate children and a less than warm personality. He proposes marriage to Gwendolen and she accepts him, despite knowing that her marriage will disinherit his children and break previously made promises to his mistress.

Daniel has been raised by Sir Hugo Mallinger, a man he believes to  be his father. But his heritage and his true parents are a mystery. As he is boating on the Thames, he prevents Mirah Lapidoth, a young Jewish singer from killing herself. Mirah is looking for her family. Daniel through meeting Mirah, begins to connect to London’s Jewish community and answer some questions about his unknown past.

In 2002, Daniel Deronda was made into a miniseries with Romola Garai as Gwendolen, Hugh Bonneville as Grandcourt, Hugh Dancy as Daniel and Jodhi May as Mirah.

I enjoy the book and the movie. In a literary era when the only Jewish character is Fagin from Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, Mirah and her brother Mordechai are drawn as fully formed human beings, with good and bad qualities.  The movie has an excellent cast with as much taken from the book as any adaptation from novel to the screen can be taken.

I recommend both.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, George Eliot, Movie Review, Movies

Throwback Thursday Part II- Swing Kids

Being an adult is full of difficulties. Sometimes, as adults, we have to make choices in life, and deal with the consequences, whatever they maybe.

In 1993, the movie, Swing Kids was released. Taking place in 1930’s Germany, the story revolves around a group of young men who love American swing music and British fashion. But as the Nazis begin to tighten their grip, they find they must make tough adult choices.

Peter (Robert Sean Leonard) and Thomas (Christian Bale) are best friends.  Their way to relax and unwind after a long day is to go the swing  clubs and dance the night away. But American swing music is banned in Germany. After being caught by the police for theft, their punishment is to attend classes on the new regime. Peter is confused about the new rules while Thomas seems to have no problems fitting in.

Is this movie the greatest ever made? No. But the story of becoming an adult and making tough choices is timeless. And the music and dancing are totally cool.

 

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday