Category Archives: Educational affairs

97-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor scoring high on TikTok

Tik Tok a youngster gadget

We know already of Hadassah Tirosh who has amassed over 2 million followers on TikTok, where she proudly and openly shares about her Jewishness. She is not only Jewish, but also a Mexican Israeli trans content creator. whose early content, which begins in December of 2019 was posted under her previous name, David, who she remembers fondly and has taken the time to thank for helping her become the person she is today — she’s seen proudly wearing different colourful kippahs, her Star of David necklace and being generally proud and open about her Jewishness.

In 2021 Tik Tok is the seventh most used in the world, with the majority of its users being millennial and Gen Z. But it might be a very high surprise to find a 97-year old lady being a “hipster”.
Lily Ebert isn’t your typical 97-year-old. In June, after only joining the platform earlier this year, Ebert reached 1 million followers on Tik Tok and has now amassed over 1.2 million in total.
How?
Ebert is a Holocaust survivor and, together with her great-grandson Dov Forman who runs her account, is teaching the internet about her remarkable life and experiences as a survivor of Auschwitz and how she made a life for herself after liberation.

Lily Ebert from the camps

Lily Ebert

Lily Ebert, born in Bonyhád, Hungary on 29th December 1923

Originally from Hungary, Lily Ebert, the eldest of six children in a happy and loving family. When the Nazis invaded Hungary in March 1944, her family got to face the worst nightmare one can wish for.

Shortly after Germany invaded Hungary, Lily, her mother and her siblings were sent to the ghetto, and soon after were put on a train, crammed into dark and almost airless cattle wagons, to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Lily at the age of about 4 or 5 had received from her mother a small gold pendant. Even then it wasn’t very expensive or unique but young Lily was very pleased with her present and now in the camp she did not want it to be taken by the Nazis. The small pendant had gone hiding, safe inside the heel of her mother’s shoe. Lily and her mother wore the same size of shoe and as they arrived at the camp her mother asked Lily to swap shoes with her.

Although this happened over 70 years ago Lily can still remember her arrival at the camp. After the long and terrible journey, ‘everyone was half-dead’. They were ordered to climb out of the train and stand together five in a row. There was a man with a stick in his hand. It was Dr Mengele, the notorious Nazi doctor who became known as the Angel of Death for his brutal experiments on inmates, though at the time Lily didn’t know who he was. With one movement of his hand Dr Mengele sealed the fate of the people before him. He sent people right or left — to life or to death. When they had arrived, Lily and her two sisters Renee and Piri were sent in one direction, while her mother Nina, brother Bela and sister Berta were sent to the left, the way to the gas chambers and crematorium. Lily never saw them again.

Lily had put on her mother’s shoes and was ordered to take a shower, whereafter her hair was cut, and their remaining belongings were stolen. It was her only remaining possession and a reminder of her happy childhood. It was a link to her murdered mother and a symbol of defiance. The Nazis would not be allowed to steal it! The Nazis left them with only their shoes, not having any idea of what was hidden in the heel of Lily’s shoe, the tiny pendant Lily’s last link with her mother. When the shoes wore out, she placed the pendant in her daily ration of bread. After about four months in Auschwitz, the sisters were transferred to an ammunition factory near Leipzig. The pendant went with them.

March to liberation after a human and a viral war

When the Front started closing in on the area, they were forced to leave Leipzig and sent on a two-day march. After seeing and suffering unimaginable horrors, on the second day of the march, April 13, 1945, they were finally liberated by Allied forces.

Lily tried to rebuild her life. She wore the pendant every day in memory of her murdered family. Eventually, she married and had children. In 1953 she was reunited with Imre, one of her brothers, who had been imprisoned in a Nazi labour camp. In 1967 she came to London with her husband and three children.

Having become a proud grandmother she came to face another life-threatening struggle: COVID-19. In January, she struggled with a brutal bout of the virus, but true to her nature, she fought through. For her it was her second chance to be alive.  It was then that her great-grandson Dov Forman decided to share a photo of his great-grandmother to Twitter celebrating her miraculous recovery.

Dov Forman

My 97-Year-old Great Grandma, Lily Ebert BEM – Auschwitz Survivor, has just recovered from Covid- 19. Today she went on her first walk in a month after making a miraculous recovery. A fighter and survivor

Image

The response was extraordinary; the photo has since been retweeted over 17,000 times and has received more than a quarter of a million likes, with people from all over the world responding to send their well-wishes and express their admiration for Lily’s strength and bravery.

Finding viral fame

On the back of this unexpected reaction, Dov set up a TikTok account for Lily. At first, their videos mainly consisted of Dov introducing his great-grandmother and encouraging people to follow the account in order to have her story reach as many people as possible. But once they started building up a following, people quickly began expressing an interest in the details of Lily’s extraordinary life.

Soon enough, the account became dedicated to answering followers’ questions about the Holocaust and Lily’s experiences of it, with questions ranging from asking what they ate in the camp, to what happened to babies that were born there, and what the sleeping conditions were like.

She also remembered some Hungarian poems and recites them on the application.

No human anymore, but just a number

Though it is not always easy to answer all the questions she gets, she finds it a necessary act:

“Of course it is hard but if I could survive it, I can talk about it. And for the future, to ensure that something similar [to the Holocaust] cannot happen again, I have to talk about it.”

Lily’s most viewed video, now with over 20 million views, shows her answering the question,

“How did it feel to get your number in Auschwitz?”

Revealing a faded tattoo on her left arm, Lily confidently tells her followers:

My number is A-10572. That is what I was, they did not call us by our name. We were no longer humans. We were only a number and we were treated like numbers.”

The video now has over 29,000 comments from people expressing their solidarity with Lily and gratitude for her honesty and strength.

Downsides of Tik Tok and Twitter, also platforms of hate talk

However, despite the overwhelmingly positive reactions and encouraging words of support, like all social media platforms, TikTok comes with its downsides, too. For Jewish creators on TikTok, the fun comes with a hefty dose of antisemitism.

It seems as if the kids on TikTok are churning out a new trend nearly every week. The never-ending scroll of the “For You Page” sends users on a twisting path of all sorts of niches and topics. The app truly has something for every interest, from sea shanty challenges to tortilla wrap hacks to — antisemitic caricatures?

In May, around the time when violence was escalating between Israel and Palestine, Ebert’s account received a slew of hateful antisemitic comments. In one particular instance, under a video of Lily simply wishing her followers “a lovely, peaceful weekend”, and by a repeated similar wish in Hungarian, her native language, she added “Shabbat Shalom,” despite the mundanity and kindness of this video, it quickly became the subject of a swarm of hateful comments. it went even so far that she was called to be responsible for the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Another said, “Happy Holocaust,” while another said,

“Ask her if she thinks the treatment of Palestinians reminds her [of] the treatment she got in the camp.”

Another response was

“Peace be upon Hitlar [sic]”

to one which asked if she believed the treatment of Palestinians reminded her of her treatment in the camps. All of this for a grandmother’s simple greeting. Sadly, this experience of antisemitic hate isn’t exactly unique.

Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert's TikTok account was hit with antisemitic messages. (Campaign Against Antisemitism via JTA)Although these comments were clearly abhorrent, unjustified and unacceptable, like everything else Lily and Dov handled them with the utmost dignity. Posting to Twitter, Dov wrote:

“Over the past few days my great Grandmother (Auschwitz survivor) and I have continued to receive messages of hate on Tiktok and Twitter… We will not allow this to stop us from educating about the horrors of the past, and what hatred can lead to. Hate only breeds hate.”

Hero Magnus, a university student and TikToker, explains how her Judaism-related content would often get slammed by offensive comments.

“The really vicious comments are usually from actual Nazis, and I just block and delete. When I was making a ton of Jewish content, I would get a couple of those on practically every video,”

she explains.

“I often also got casually mean stuff from Christians or culturally Christian atheists who wanted to tell me that Judaism is backwards, cultish or stupid.”

Additionally, Jews of Colour on TikTok experience vitriol both from outside the Jewish community and within.

Shekhiynah Larks, a Black Jewish TikTok creator, describes that, in fact, most of the antisemitism she experiences on the app comes from white Jews and Black non-Jews, not Neo-Nazis.

“When I do receive antisemitic comments, it’s more coded with anti-Blackness at the same time,”

Larks says.

“It’s more people posting ‘free Palestine’ on my page and asking me how I can be Black and a Jew, I’m being brainwashed by white Jews, and that I don’t care about Black people.”

She also notes that many white Jews comment on her videos asking her invasive questions that probe into her Jewish identity and conversion, showing they don’t really view her as Jewish enough.

Aviva Davis writes:

There are many white and white-passing Jews using their platforms to share information and educational resources about systemic racism and anti-Semitism and how one’s identities intersect and influence the way one is treated in society. This is great! Better yet, share resources created by Jews of Color (hint hint, nudge nudge).

Aviva Majerczyk remarks

While the invalidation of Jews of Color is rampant throughout the Jewish community in real life as well, on TikTok, these racist commenters may feel more empowered to voice their backwards views behind anonymous accounts.

Still going strong

Lily Ebert keeps going strong. She still wears the tiny gold pendant and shares its remarkable story with all those who have time to listen.

As part of their mission to teach people about the Holocaust and its devastating effects, Lily and Dov have now co-authored a book together called “Lily’s Promise: How I Survived Auschwitz and Found the Strength to Live.” to come out coming September.

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Earth’s pandemic and T-shirts for young people

We at the Belgian Christadelphian office have passed a certain age, so that it would not be appropriate to walk on the street with a T-shirt. As elders, we tell the visitors in our churches about the task we as human beings have when living on this planet. We talk about our responsibility and the task God has given us. But we do know the majority of inhabitants of this planet are not believing in God and are mostly concerned about gaining as much money as possible, whatever the cost may be.

The last few months, lots of people were very worried about the Covid-pandemic, but for years there has been another big virus circling around us, which most people seem to ignore. Though for more than a decade, several of the Boom generation with the millennials and the Generation Z have been writing essays, articles and making posters for awareness about global warming and cried out into the world to save our planet. Because that planet is getting very ill. People have used and wasted earthly resources, if nothing. In our so-called ‘civilised’ countries most citizens were and are not concerned about the pollution they cause.

For us the time of publicly protesting and going on the streets, protesting for this and that, may be gone or not so appropriate.
But for young people, we would like to introduce some very interesting clothing and tote bags with a different angle. We are namely very concerned about the world where we and our children and grandchildren but also next generations have to live in. Therefore, we do find it five past twelve to call on all the responsible people to use their senses and to do something against the horrible state we have brought our planet. We cannot sit still and do if global warming does not exist.

Everybody can use his own voice to bring awareness to others. A T-shirt is a wearable message board that can pull the attention to our planet and to what we have to do about it. The world needs to change as we are currently hurtling towards climatic changes that will alter the way the planet is configured. This will certainly be to the detriment of humanity if not cause its extinction. Crazy you may say but 99.99% of all species that have ever lived have gone extinct so just because we can walk and talk and use a smart phone does not mean that we will not go the same way.

Scientists and philosophers don’t in general want to be celebrities but it is important that we listen to what they have to say because they offer the only way out of this current crisis. So enjoy our range and change the world at least in one tiny way, an environmentally friendly piece of clothing. {Scientist and Philosopher}

It is not bad to have a look at their products to make others aware of this dramatic situation.

Keep it cool V1BNo planet B design 1 V1B shopping bag

> A collection to highlight the need for us all to stop and think. > Think

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Find also to read

  1. Weather, climate-change and man-made global-warmingGlobal WARming: An Overlooked Pandemic
  2. Hot weather
  3. Global Warming
  4. Global Warming Was Explained in 1856. By a Woman
  5. Environment
  6. Climate explained: how the IPCC reaches scientific consensus on climate change
  7. Rapid Climate Change Makes It Hard for Butterflies and Moths to Adjust
  8. From CNN: Unprecedented heat, hundreds dead and a town destroyed. Climate change is frying the Northern Hemisphere
  9. Time to write again, getting the word out, climate change is a reality
  10. Too Dumb to SurviveThe Arctic’s last ice area
  11. Last Ice…
  12. Update on Climate Referendum in France
  13. Julia Conley: ‘This Is Our Future’ Without Climate Action, Advocates Warn After Pipeline Causes Fire in Gulf of Mexico
  14. IPBES/IPCC Report: Tackling the biodiversity and climate crises together
  15. The Climate Crisis Is Accelerating – Now What?
  16. An Actual Space Laser Shows How Devastating Sea Level Rise May Be
  17. Climate Change & Joshua Tree National Park
  18. Highest Ever Temperature Recorded In Finnish North
  19. Why Polar Bears are on The Verge of Extinction
  20. The monarch butterfly cab use our help to stay alive by Kalpana Sutaria, Austin American-Statesman
  21. Seabird Salvation
  22. Impeach Bolsonaro and Topic on Climate
  23. global participation…

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Filed under Activism and Peace Work, Announcement, Being and Feeling, Crimes & Atrocities, Ecological affairs, Educational affairs, Fashion - Trends, Lifestyle, Nature, Social affairs, Welfare matters, World affairs

For readers and travellers MU Library Treasures

The last few months, lots of people got more time to read. They were restricted to travel but by searching on the net they could go around the world in their head whilst staying in their own living room.

With vaccines rolling out across the world, international travel may soon be on the cards again. This does not mean we all have to rush to other countries without respecting social distancing and forgetting the restricting health measures.

In the main libraries of the industrial countries, there are treasures to be found. This way you might find the Special Collections & Archives at Maynooth University Library comprise the historic mid-nineteenth century Russell Library and the new state-of-the-art Special Collections Reading Room in the recently extended John Paul II Library one of those treasures you may not miss. It would be a loss to your cultural expedition if your imaginary travel guide would leave it alone.

The Russell Library houses the historical collections of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. The reading room was designed by renowned British architect and designer Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) and completed in the year 1861. The Library contains approximately 34,000 printed works with imprints from the 15th to the mid-19th century.

Special Collections & Archives in the JPII Library features a modern reading room and environmentally controlled storage area which houses over 3,600 printed works with imprints from the late 15th century onwards. Noteworthy archival collections include: The Ken Saro-Wiwa Archive, The Teresa Deevy Archive and The Pearse Hutchinson Archive. {About MU Library Treasures}

Good thing in the present time is that you do not have to leave the house to go to RUSSELL LIBRARY , St. Patrick’s College, MaynoothCo. Kildare to search their treasure cabinet.

They offer licensed, digital collections, typically consisting of text, image and audio-visual content. Typically, they represent a digital version of an original analogue primary source, such as an archival collection. Thus, although the original resource may well have been unique, the digital version is not – it can be subscribed to by any library.

The library has longstanding traditions in the humanities, and has worked to complement its print collections with access to as broad an array of digital sources as possible.  They offer access to a wealth of these resources such as State Papers Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Early English Books Online, the Irish Newspaper Archive and much more.

Noo Saro-Wiwa with archivist Ciara Joyce in MU Library

Find to read:

Clericus: A View of 225 Years of Students

A 550-year-old book comes to Maynooth!

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Filed under Cultural affairs, Educational affairs, Knowledge & Wisdom, World affairs

What can each individual do to lessen the burden in times of pandemic

Ms. Sarah Ibershimi, a third year medical students, studying at ‘Universiteti i Mjekësisë Tiranë (UMT)’, in Albania. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting, for which she wrote an article about mental health in times of pandemic and what each individual can  do to lessen the burden.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has spread rapidly between and within countries and it has sickened more than 2.5 million people all over the world. Pandemics are not only health emergencies in which human life is threatened but they are also human dramas that cause psychological disturbances. Due to the emergency caused by the novel coronavirus, the governments put their countries on a lockdown, in order to break the chain of transmission. But, what are the consequences of social isolation on mental health and what can be done to mitigate these effects?

The coronavirus outbreak is clearly shaping our lives. Coping with unemployment, mobility restrictions, social distance and excessive fear in such a short time, is not easy at all. In terms of mental health, this emergency exceeds the capacity of the population to handle on the situation. Moreover, the psychological effects are more marked in vulnerable groups such as elderly people, children or even those who have a lack of resources and access to social and health services. Regarding this, there are a lot of effective initiatives that we can undertake to lessen the burden.

> Continue reading: Mental Health in times of pandemic: What can each individual do to lessen the burden?

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Find also to read:

  1. Making deeper cuts than some terrorist attacks of the near past
  2. The unseen enemy
  3. Under-reporting the total number of coronavirus cases
  4. From the Old Box: Coughs and sneezes spread diseases
  5. Remembering what happened in the previous influenza pandemic
  6. Staying at home saves lives
  7. A new start when the lockdown comes to an end
  8. Time to add value

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Filed under Being and Feeling, Educational affairs, Health affairs, Lifestyle, Social affairs, Welfare matters

Hosting a Virtual Seder During a Pandemic

Dear readers,

Hopefully, you are all in good health.

On April 02 there are 5,552 people registered in Belgium that are infected with the novel coronavirus who are receiving treatment in Belgian hospitals.
That there are only 1,143 deaths of the CoViD-19 virus at the moment is thanks to the exceptional precautions that the government has taken and which a large part of the population adheres to.

The coming week brings us, what in normal circumstances would be the busiest time for gatherings, in our effort to remember how God has liberated us, and to make sure that the younger generation would come aware how we always should remember how God Helps and Guides His People.

14 Nisan is normally the Day of The Memorial Meal.
This year that shall be different from all other years.

In Lockdown times, best not to meet too many people and to keep social distance, nowhere in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal shall there be an open public Memorial Meal or Pesach Seder.

While you might not be able to physically gather around the seder table this Passover, do not forget that you can come together online.

Check out our 10 tips for creating a meaningful and fun seder experience for your family and friends, near and far.

  1. Use the same Haggadah. 

    You could make and can use a Haggadah you could send out by e-mail beforehand and/or screen-share it with your guests, or encourage everyone to print their own copy.

  2. Designate an e-Moses.

    It can be very helpful to pick someone to lead the virtual seder. Make sure this person has experience successfully using Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc..

    He can play Moshe and let us remember how Moshe ditched his desert aesthetic and returned to the Egyptian palace to deliver God’s message, with the help of his brother and hype man, Aaron.

    Telling the exodus story he may not forget to bring forth how Moshe spoke about God commands and how God clapped back at the Egyptians. Children perhaps can have drawings made of the pathway formed between the walls of water and the Israelites who made it to the other side without harm.

  3. Make a “seating and speaking chart.”

    This year there can best not swapped places. Best is to have everybody all night using the same place at the table, and if possible having enough distance between each household member.

    But this year we should also account for the virtual seated next speaker. Figure out ahead of time who is going to read what. Throughout the seder, text the person you’d be sitting next to.  Be careful when all speakers are on there shall be too much echo and everything could become too chaotic. Therefore, let everybody stay muted and follow an order of speaking plus having put up an arm or (funny) sign requesting to speak.

  4. Maintain that there are no excuses for why people can’t attend.A danger of such critical times as these, is that people come a bit lazy or like to avoid their religious obligations.
    Unless, you know, they don’t have internet and/or a device to connect to it. Anyone can be part of your Passover experience.
  5. Have a practice run.The organiser best has several contacts beforehand with those who would take care of the surprises.Also, send instructions for accessing your virtual platform of choice ahead of time so nobody holds up the seder by not knowing their Wi-Fi or other password.For those who do not have their computer enough secured and therefore had best their camera taped, they have to be encouraged to take the stickers or tape off their cameras.
  6. Eat and drink with measure spread over the long time of gatheringAs usual at a seder have the different courses interrupted by animated talks, readings from Scripture and prayers.
  7. Work with what you have.

    With all the panic shopping, it can be intimidating to venture out to get everything you need. That’s OK. Get what you can and improvise the rest.
    Our people have survived greater quandaries with a little ingenuity and determination.If you can’t get matzah, cut some cardboard into squares or large circles (you can even put dots on them with a marker for texture, but do not consume—this is purely decorative). Swap out sriracha for horseradish. Use literally anything green. Squish trail mix into a charoset-like paste.Use a regular plate as a stand-in for a seder plate. It’s the thought that counts.
  8. Bring a little Purim to Passover.

    Never forget to make the long evening pleasant enough or entertaining enough to the children. Remember this night should be a night of remembering and giving it further to the next generation.Nobody would be against making some good fun and nobody would object to have people being dressed up as Moses, Aaron, Miriam, etc.Got kids? Great, they can be the frogs. Or the lice. It depends how stressed they’re making you.
    Got teens? Do the whole seder using Snapchat filters, then do a TikTok dance break in the middle of the seder for added social media cred. But only if, like, you know the choreo.
  9. A night different from all other nightsAlso do not forget that 14 Nisan is ‘super special’.Laugh a little hysterically and cry only a tad when you get to the Four Questions and someone has to ask, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
  10. A Liberation to celebrate

    Do your best, have fun and remember that though we are in isolation to protect ourselves, friends, families and fellow human beings everywhere, we are still free to be Jewish or Jeshuaist and celebrate our heritage and salvation by the Highest and Strongest!

Let us not forget to show our love to God by remembering what He has done and still does, and let us show our love to others by taking enough precautions to keep everybody safe and in good health. Even when we might be very isolated in our own cosy home, let us feel the union with brothers and sisters all over the world, and let our prayers be with them all.

Please pray:

I will seek to make this world a better place, for all people, today and tomorrow. To this, in their memory, I pledge myself. Ani ma’amin. Am Yisrael chai.

A Jewish community eating the symbolic Passover food during the Seder evening, the evening before the Passover festival (picture-alliance / dpa / Robert Fishman)

As you come to the end of the seder, remember that this uncertainty, while it already feels like 40 years of wandering in the desert, is temporary. The Israelites made it eventually. So will we.

Next year, in person!

For 2020:

Keep safe and well, having a lovely Passover seder.

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Preceding

CoViD-19 warnings

Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

Hope on the Horizon: Pandemic Anxiety Management II~

Pandemic Anxiety Busters~

Mel Brooks saying “go home” to Max Brooks

Christian Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

7 Ways To Boost Your Immune System in Lockdown

Love in the Time of Corona

Recrafting our World

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Reminders

  1. The unseen enemy
  2. Under-reporting the total number of coronavirus cases
  3. Coronavirus on March 11 declared a global pandemic on March 31 affecting more than 177 countries
  4. No idea yet for 14 Nisan or April the 8th in 2020 Corona crisis time
  5. Only a few days left before 14 Nisan
  6. First time since Nazi time no public gathering
  7. Voor het eerst in jaren weer een Pesach in isolatie
  8. Even in Corona time You are called on to have the seder
  9. A meal as a mitzvah so that every generation would remember
  10. A night different from all other nights and days to remember
  11. Let’s Think About Redemption Differently
  12. At the Shabbat HaChodesh: readings about blood, liberation and purification
  13. Zeman Chereisenu – the time of our freedom
  14. Ki Tisa – Torah Portion
  15. Egypt, Moshe and Those who never felt they belonged there
  16. In Every Generation: The Return of Anti-Semitism – Pesah Day 1, 5779
  17. The Most special weekend of the year 2018
  18. Call to help others
  19. How should we worship God? #7 The Breaking of Bread
  20. How should we worship God? #8 Love one another

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Interned and tortured at Breendonk before deportation to Auschwitz and later Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen.

Catherine Annabel, who established in 2012 “Inspiration for Life” loves to write about the things that interest, challenge and move her. She is retired after many years working in higher education administration, most recently for the University of Sheffield.

She gave a talk at the 2019 Conference, Violent Spaces, of the Landscape, Space & Place group from the University of Nottingham, where she mentioned Winfried Georg Sebald who was born in Bavaria in 1944, in the last months of the war.

Born in Wertach, Bavaria Winfried Georg was one of three children of Rosa and Georg Sebald. From 1948 to 1963, he lived in Sonthofen, having his grandfather as the most important male presence in his early years, because his own father being in prison as a prisoner of war until 1947. His father had served in the Wehrmacht, but after he returned home, having spent a couple of years as a prisoner of war, the things that he had seen, and done, were never spoken of.

While at school in Oberstdorf the boy got to see images of the Holocaust. –  probably the liberation of Belsen – it looked unbelievable. No wonder that no one knew how to explain what they had just seen, because those who had to speak about it, where at the time of the events ‘part of the system’.

writes:

It was, in a way, what we’d now call a box-ticking exercise. Because, of course, the teachers were part of the context. Sebald, like many of his contemporaries, was unable to accept this collusive silence, and his increasing alienation from his homeland led to him working first in Switzerland and then moving to the UK, where he spent the rest of his life, teaching at UEA until his death in a car accident in 2001. {Marks of Pain: Architecture as Witness to Trauma in W G Sebald’s Austerlitz}

Sebald’s work imaginatively explored themes of memory as they related to the Holocaust. His novels include Schwindel, Gefühle (1990; Vertigo), Die Ausgewanderten (1992; The Emigrants), Die Ringe des Saturn (1995; The Rings of Saturn), Logis in einem Landhaus: über Gottfried Keller, Johann Peter Hebel, Robert Walser und andere (1998; A Place in the Country: On Gottfried Keller, Johann Peter Hebel, Robert Walser, and Others), and Austerlitz (2001).

Catherine Annabel writes,

The Holocaust, indeed, became a presence in his poetry and his prose writing. It seems never to be very far away, invoked maybe by the name of a place, innocent in itself, but carrying the weight of history. In many of his works, it is addressed obliquely, but the figure of the refugee appears in several of his books.

Max Ferber, one of the four protagonists of The Emigrants, left his home in Munich (capital of Bavaria) in 1939, following Kristallnacht, his father having obtained a visa for him by bribing the English consul. We are introduced to Ferber via the narrator, who does not ask about his history, why or how he left Germany, until their second meeting, at which point Ferber tells how letters from his parents ceased, and he subsequently discovers that they were deported from Munich to Riga, where they were murdered. In Sebald’s final work, Austerlitz, the Holocaust becomes text, not subtext, foreground rather than context.

Sebald’s (fictional) protagonist, Jacques Austerlitz, is an architectural historian, with a particular interest in what he calls ‘our mightiest projects’ – fortifications, railway architecture, what they used to call lunatic asylums, prisons and law courts. {Marks of Pain: Architecture as Witness to Trauma in W G Sebald’s Austerlitz}

We meet the narrator first in a carceral space – Antwerp’s zoo. After his first conversation with Austerlitz, he is moved to visit Breendonk, one of the fortresses that Austerlitz had mentioned.

But it is not the history of how such places were designed, the flawed theories of defence against enemy incursion, that confront him there, but the much more recent past, Breendonk’s conversion into a concentration camp in the Nazi era – a transit camp for deportation to Auschwitz, and a place of torture.

    • Originally built for the Belgian army 1906-13 to protect Antwerp – ‘it proved completely useless for the defence of the city and the country’
    • Covered by a five-metre thick layer of soil for defense against bombings, a water-filled moat and measured 656 by 984 feet (200 by 300 m)
    • Requisitioned by the Germans as a prison camp for political dissidents, captured resistance members and Jews
    • Infamous for prisoners’ poor living conditions and for the use of torture. Most prisoners later transferred to larger concentration camps in Eastern Europe
    • 3,590 prisoners known to have been imprisoned at Breendonk, 303 died or were executed within the fort itself and as many as 1,741 died subsequently in other camps before the end of the war. {Marks of Pain: Architecture as Witness to Trauma in W G Sebald’s Austerlitz}

Sebald brings in a human witness here, the Austria-born essayist Jean Amery, born Hanns Chaim Mayer, who by his participation in organized resistance against the Nazi occupation of Belgium got detained and tortured by the German Gestapo at the Auffanglager Breendonk in Fort Breendonk, afterwards to be brought to other concentration camps, Auschwitz and later Buchenwald and finally being liberated at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. After the war the former Hanns Mayer changed his name to Jean Améry (the surname being a French-sounding anagram of his family name) in order to symbolize his dissociation from German culture and his alliance with French culture. He settled in Belgium, where he  lived in Brussels, working as a culture journalist for German language newspapers in Switzerland. He did not write at all of his experiences in the death camps until 1964, when, at the urging of German poet Helmut Heißenbüttel, he wrote his book Jenseits von Schuld und Sühne (“Beyond Guilt and Atonement”). It was later translated into English by Sidney and Stella P. Rosenfeld as At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and its Realities.

Haunted by nightmares of the horror he had witnessed he committed suicide in 1978.

Our narrator finds Breendonk to be a place of horror. The darkness inside is literal, but also metaphysical, and it becomes heavier as he penetrates further into the building. He begins to experience visual disturbances – black striations quivering before his eyes – and nausea, but explains that

‘it was not that I guessed at the kind of third-degree interrogations which were being conducted here around the time I was born’,

since he had not at that point read Amery’s account. Sebald is telling us that the narrator’s reaction to Breendonk is not, therefore, personal, not related in any way to his own experiences or even to things he had read, but intrinsic to the place, as if its use, or abuse, has changed its very nature, violence become part of its fabric.

Breendonk is the first of the trio of Holocaust sites around which the text is structured.

It’s built to a star shape, a six-pointed star. This was a favoured design both for fortresses, designed to keep invaders out, and for prisons, designed to keep wrongdoers in. {Marks of Pain: Architecture as Witness to Trauma in W G Sebald’s Austerlitz}

According to Austerlitz this is a fundamentally wrong-headed design for a fortress, the idea that ‘you could make a city as secure as anything in the world can ever be.’ The largest fortifications will attract the enemy’s greatest numbers, and draw attention to their weakest points – not only that, but battles are not decided by armies impregnably entrenched in their fortresses, but by forces on the move. Despite plenty of evidence (such as the disastrous Siege of Antwerp in 1832), the responses tended to be to build the same structures but stronger and bigger, and with inevitably similar results. {Marks of Pain: Architecture as Witness to Trauma in W G Sebald’s Austerlitz}

As the design for a prison, the star shape makes more sense. It does not conform to the original layout of the panopticon, but it does allow for one central point of oversight and monitoring, with radial arms that separate the inmates into manageable groups. The widespread use of existing fortresses as places of imprisonment for enemies of the Reich was primarily opportunistic, of course, but the ease of this transformation illustrates Austerlitz’s arguments quite well. {Marks of Pain: Architecture as Witness to Trauma in W G Sebald’s Austerlitz}

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What might there be interesting or not to miss to read

In this world there is so much to read. I just have no time enough to read everything which might catch my interest. I also know there are certain articles and books which certainly deserve my and your attention.

We can help to bring more eyes to such interesting writings, be it articles and books for adults but also for children.

On the net we may find lots of interesting writings from people who write about the things they have experienced. Lots of people bring a self-reflection, and share a view on their self-awareness. Many also give their thoughts about society and social issues.

Some also mention they would love to find like-minded people or want to share their thoughts. With “From Guest Writers” there is a place for many guest writers, people who do not mind sharing their ideas, be it musings, poetry, thoughts about our way of living, criticism, reviews, etc..

Martijn Scheijbeler, currently VP Marketing at RVshare RVshare, wrote blog posts (2019, 2018, 2017 & 2016) listing the books that he read in the past year and that he wanted to be reading during that year. Problem with him, as with me, is to find time to read all those books one wants to read.  He confesses,

As always, the past year I didn’t read all the books that I’ve listed out in the blog post as I discovered some new ones and changed my focus on some others. But I did read a lot, as I finished ~25 books (and put two books aside that weren’t worth finishing). {What books am I reading in 2020?}

Saadia Peerzada is one of those many bloggers who

Hope to help people, let them know that all emotions are valid and necessary, they are pointers to where we should or shouldn’t go. {About}

She always had a special place for books written for children, be it the unassuming descriptions, marvellous adventures, vivid descriptions of the country and food or the lessons that many adults seem to have missed out on. As parent and later as grandparent we are confronted by bringing something inspiring to our kids and grandchildren, which we do hope can give them some lessons for life. Peerzada presents a list of 10 such books that have brought not only her sustained joy (10 Children’s Books that will bring you Joy).

We would love to find such writers who also could present our readers such lists and reviews of stories to be known and read.

Are you an avid reader? Do you think there is something interesting to read? Let it be known to us and our readers.

Help us to build up a “Readers Digest”.

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Historians why not having your say?

A big problem with our present society is that lots of people do not know their history. Because they have no idea what went on, right or wrong in the past, they do not see certain dangerous trends.

I find historical teaching a necessary subject in the education of people and in the formation of a society.

People also have to understand that different views on a specific subject should be tolerated, but also be known. Therefore, I would love to find some people who would not mind to write on “From Guestwriters” about what happened in the past and how we have to look to the future in perspective what history can teach us.

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a Path to explore more

When I started with this website, I wanted to share common thoughts or give similar minds an extra open door to reach others, as well as to present a selection of websites, blogs and writings I thought (and think) worthwhile reading or looking at.

For years on all my websites I also presented a “Related” articles list, to give my readers other opportunities to find more writings on the subject. After the many complaints having linked to their article, and having to search for placed links I was asked to remove, from this year onward, I stop to invest time looking for related articles, investing time to read them for after approval, placing links after the posted articles. Now much more time shall come available to publish more articles which are in unison with my thoughts and not bringing readers away from my own sites. (From the statistics more readers from this site went looking at the mentioned site, than receiving readers from the linked site.) At the same time on my websites I shall not any more bringing people to websites which are against me or my beliefs.

After giving all my energy to the world of dance my body could not fit any more the physical world of exuberance and graceful unlimited mobility. Having reached a certain age where they consider a human being not able enough to give enough to the world, I was made redundant, considered to be part of the ‘third age’ group.
First having been very disappointed by the way I was treated, the first two years I did not want to do much with ballet or theatrical dance. Not having to work full time for our living, receiving retirement fund, I could spend more time to my church work. My religious activities started even taking so much time I had less time to write at my own personal blog. (Because pensions not enough to survive I still have a few days a month I work for my living.)

I feel blessed that I am allowed to work at three Bible translations, even when it might consume also a lot of time and lots of thinking-work, being it a seriously very faithful responsibility, not to add or change anything in the saying or purpose of the original words supplied by God. Therefore, those translations in Judaic Dutch (Yiddish Dutch or Flemish), with the eye of two (or three) different groups (namely a Jeshuaist, a Jewish and an Orthodox Jewish public) is and shall be a time-consuming job with lots of thought and consideration).

This does not take away that I would have lost my interest in humanity and how man treats other people, animals and plants. I even became more active, spending also time in meetings concerning our way of life, necessary political actions a.o..
I must admit at meetings and conferences I seem to belong to a minority who strive to get unity in Europe, with some liveable world for everyone. Convinced we have to do something against this capitalist greedy world which does not show respect to the gross of people, animals and plants, I keep going strong and letting my voice being heard.

From  the moment I got retired I did not stop to seek a connection of like minds, to share common positive beliefs, and to be able to learn from each other about how to live life to the fullest.

Jonathan Hilton seems also on such a track. He writes:

Even when things don’t go as we plan, we all know no matter how hard we plan, life will throw us curve balls designed to engender growth. Our lives are defined by the lessons we learn at this moment and the way we handle ourselves. {Mind Connections}

Raising his level of consciousness has become Jonathan Hilton’s passion in life.

and understanding that when I follow and focus on certain core principles in my life and live in alignment with them, things go well. {Mind Connections}

He writes on the opening of his blog Mind Connections, admitting:

When I fall off, and my focus isn’t so sharp, then things are not so pleasant. Conscious thought about where my attention goes allows all of my energies to flow in that direction. {Mind Connections}

With the knowledge that each viewpoint may bring a different set of emotions, a different thought process, and a different reality to the perceiver it only can be enriching to share thoughts and to get to know more people from all over the world and getting to know how they manage to make the best of their life.

We have little control over the perceptions of others, but we may not forget that when we utter our ideas, share our thoughts, we might bring others to other ideas too.

How often do we not wonder if what we are doing is or would be right? How often do we not wonder if we should openly write what we think or if we should write in ways and words others would love to hear? I always have been a bad one at that. By creating my ballets I did not mind criticising the way our society was moving. I never tried to be popular by my creative works. [Choreographing fashion shows was a totally different matter, there I tried to bring the customers to find a connection in a future world to form. (We always had to be seasons ahead, manipulating the fashion trends – and yes, there stimulating human desires of consumption.) There it was also part the business to know beforehand what others would love to wear and see. ] In such way I also kept busy to try to find out what others would like to see and read.

On the surface, it is a simple choice, but in reality, it is a constant battle, {Life is a Mirror}

Hilton notes.
According to him

story-of-your-lifeThere is only a short time allotted to each of us to write the story of your life and with that time, we are tasked with a lot of things to accomplish. You have really only one life to get things right and sing the song that you want to sing. {The Story of Your Life}

We can try to make our dreams so compelling, that we will that we can’t wait to work on them, because waiting to experience them, in reality, is too painful. Often it is that enthusiasm which gets us to be restless and gets us up in the middle of the night to scribble something down or even to write certain texts.

A difficulty might be to:

Tune your enthusiasm to the size of your goals and attack it like your story depends on it because it does. That is how you write the story of your life. {The Story of Your Life}

At this blog I want to give, as many people as possible, the opportunity to share their thoughts which they and I find interesting enough to think about. I keep chasing my dreams that we can find enough people all over the world willing to bring others to see how we have to be careful which way of life we want to choose. As a Christian I also would love to see more people sharing the faith in One God and in His Gift and Good News of the coming Kingdom.

Once more, I dare to invite people to join us to share positive thoughts, but also to bring warnings how to tackle ecological and other problems.

Please do not hesitate to contact me, for becoming a part of joining hands across this globe.

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Kathy Millington, Executive Director of World Citizen, tells her story how she became committed to the work of World Citizen

Executive Director of World Citizen, Kathy Millington often reflects on why the Board members, staff of World Citizen, and people like us who try to spread peace, stay committed to the work of World Citizen. She knows that there are as many reasons to this passion and commitment as there are individuals who serve, donate, and participate.
She believes that the one common denominator that we all share is the desire to empower communities to educate for a just and peaceful world by actively engaging in our Five Peace Actions. Implementing our mission through our Five Peace Actions are the key to achieving the ability to live, work, and play together respectfully.

Identifying that each of our board members and staff have “A Story to Tell”, She brings her story in our publication at the beginning of this year.

This will also provide you with a snapshot view into the passion of our Board and staff as individuals.

“My commitment to peaceful problem solving became a priority when I was an Elementary Principal. I was able to see on a daily basis the positive impact peaceful problem solving made within a classroom as well as an entire school community. When substitute teachers would share with me, the administrator, that they only wanted to accept substitute teaching assignmentsat my school because of the peaceful and respectful climate,I knew we were doing something right!

This became a testimony to the hard work of students, staff, and parents who participated in fostering this climate.”

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